News and Updates

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News Archives


July 2005 to August 2005

Updates are arranged from bottom to top chronologically

Sunday, August 28, 2005


The following article written by Mary K. Reinhart appeared in The East Valley Tribune

today:  Hit-and-run victim goes through rehabilitation.  Those of you here in our

local area who get the paper may have seen the photo that accompanied the article. 

It showed Nick's hand being massaged.  The caption said they were his mom Elaine's

hands, but they were actually Nick's male cousin Chris' hands.  We had to chuckle at

the large "man hands" being attributed to his small mom!


Friday, August 26, 2005



Hello everyone, this is Nick.  I had hyperbaric oxygen therapy today, which is where

you sit in a chamber and they give you a mask which pumps oxygen.  It works from

the inside out, releasing oxygen already in your cells.  I have heard it works miracles

and it takes about a month to work, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.  I also had

acupuncture on Tuesday which was relaxing.  They said it takes about two weeks to

see any results.  So I'll be doing that in between my hyperbaric therapy.   I'm

handling the feeding tube okay, but I miss my treats and tasting food.  


Wednesday, August 24, 2005


Hi this is Nick.  I want to start off by saying thank you to everyone.  It makes me

feel so good to know I have so much support.  I Also am lucky to be alive and I see

every day as a blessing.  I Also know I will walk again some day, hopefully within the

next couple of months.  If everyone will say a prayer for me I know it will help. I also

can't wait to go back to school at ASU.  Next semester I'm going to take some online

classes.  Again thank you.  Nick


Monday, August 22, 2005



Nick had a hard time sleeping last night probably from getting so much sleep the

night before.  He was finally discharged around 11:00am this morning.  We were told

to take him home and wait for the home health nurse and the supply of food (cans of

liquid) to arrive so that he could have his noon feeding.  They were supposed to go

over everything with us before the first home feeding.  At 2:30 when neither had

come, we went ahead and gave him a can of Ensure with his meds through the tube,

as he was very hungry and late for his meds.  The nurse and the products both were

very late today but finally came around 4:30pm.  It's a good thing we hadn't

waited!   The nurse was very good and will be coming regularly for awhile in the

morning to make sure everything is going well.   Nick is scheduled for his first

acupuncture session tomorrow.  We are very hopeful that it will help his pain.    


Saturday, August 20, 2005



Nick was admitted to the hospital last night only to find that the procedure would not

take place until morning.  He was not allowed to have anything to eat or drink and

was not given any of his medications for spasm control, which only contributed to his

level of discomfort.  At 10:00am this morning they took him in for the feeding tube

insertion.  He was a real trooper, although he said it did hurt.  He was finally given

his usual meds and slept all afternoon.  He will not be given any food through the

tube until tomorrow morning.  He is expected to be released to come home on

Sunday afternoon if all goes well.   


We are hopeful this is a temporary condition and that with the proper treatments, he

will be able to gradually go back to a regular diet.  He said he is really going to miss

all the chocolate treats and Aunties cooking!


Friday, August 19, 2005



The past few days have been really tough.  First the Botox seems to have had little

effect at all.  In fact, Nick feels like his wrist hurts more than ever.  We keep hoping

and praying that it will give him some relief.  Then on Wednesday, Nick had to go for

a Barium swallow test.  He has been having a lot of trouble with choking while he

eats and drinks.  The test confirmed our worst fears that Nick was aspirating food

and liquid into his lungs.  The technician was amazed that he hadn't developed

pneumonia yet!  Apparently his epiglottis is not closing fully and he actually is

aspirating particles into the lungs each time he eats or drinks.  We just got a call that

Nick will need to be admitted back into Scottsdale Healthcare Osborn Hospital to get

a feeding tube reinserted while they work on his swallow problem.  This is definitely

a hard thing for all of us!  Nick is taking it well (probably better than the rest of us!) 



Tuesday, August 16, 2005



Nick got his second round of BoTox injections Monday.  His doctor concentrated on

his ankle, wrist and shoulder.  The needles were about 4 or 5 inches long.  The

doctor stuck the needle in, let it hang while adjusting an electrical device, moved the

needle around, then pumped the BoTox into the muscle, then reinserted it and did it

again.  She used four needles and each one was stuck in two places.  It hurt to

watch but Nick didn't even flinch.  He said he was looking forward to the results so

the pain was worth it. We should know in 2 to 3 days how effective it will be.  If the

necessary results are not attained other treatments will be considered.


Sunday, August 14, 2005



Nick has been busy this week.  Much time was spent working on exercises to try and

break the tone (muscle spasms,) especially in his left arm.  Although he is getting

better at it, the pain is still such a distraction to him when he is trying to do other

things.  Tomorrow he will have his second BoTox treatment.  We are really hoping

this will give him some relief from the pain and also help his left foot to relax so he

can begin walking on it again.  The wound on his foot, where the cast rubbed, is

beginning to heal but it may take awhile.  Nick's fine motor skills in his right hand

are improving and he is now able to hold a pencil, write legibly and do math

problems.  Although he used to do calculus, he is now relearning multiplication and

division.  Lynn, who he refers to as his "coach," is setting up an online course for him

to work on.  He really wants to be back at ASU, so she is creating an on-line class

simulation to see if he can handle it before we actually enroll him in anything.  The

course will be on surreal art, with a visit to the Phoenix Art Museum tied in.  


At church this morning, it was announced that a special collection had been taken to

help us provide Nick with some special rehab equipment.  They actually took in a lot

more than they expected and it will go toward bills that are not covered by

insurance.  We are overwhelmed with gratitude for the outpouring of support we

have been given.  One of the pieces of equipment is the pool lift.  This will enable

Nick to do aquatic therapy.  When he was at Barrow Neurological, he was doing

water therapy and it really helped him relax.    We're been having monsoon thunder

storms for the past week, so we decided not to go into the pool today.    


Wednesday, August 10, 2005



The cast on Nick's left foot was removed Monday to see how the skin was holding up

against the pressure of the spasms that were causing so much pain.  A large sore

had developed on the top of his foot so the cast was not replaced.  A week of severe

pain for nothing and a set back in the progress he was making walking.  Because of

the sore he can not use the "cam walker" on his foot for support to stand and walk. 

It is a soft cast that was being used prior to the hard casting.  His next BoTox

injections were moved up to next Monday.  The injections will focus on his ankle,

shoulder and wrist.  When the ankle is more relaxed and the sore heals, the casting

procedure will be tried again.


Nick was in a very good spirits all day Tuesday.  His writing continues to improve as

the range of motion in his fingers and thumb on his right hand increases.  Time

between daily chores and therapy was spent drawing and writing.  


Sunday, August 7, 2005



The weekend for Nick was mixed with good and bad.  His wrist, ankle and shoulder

are causing him a lot of pain.  He was hesitant to walk on the casted foot Saturday

because even though it allows him to put weight on it and walk, he knows it will hurt

a lot afterwards. The cast will be removed tomorrow for evaluation of the skin.  If the

skin in not too severely broken, the intent is to reposition his foot and recast it. As

painful of a procedure this is, (he says it is the worst pain he has ever had), it is

really his best chance of walking again and he knows it.  Enduring the pain

sometimes seems like more than he can bear.  It is a helpless feeling seeing him this

way and not knowing anything else we can do to help.  His wrist has been more

tightly cramped the last few days which also causes increased pain.  We spend a lot

of time massaging his arms and packing him with ice packs.


On the good side, Saturday night he went to Central Christian Church for services in

which they acknowledged his presence and talked about the miracles in his life. 

Sunday after sleeping in, he wrote a letter, which was very legible, normal size

lettering and composed very well. His signature is almost like before the accident. 

Nick also answered an e-mail by pecking out the words, again very well composed

while listening to music he had downloaded.  He is getting back into using his

computer and seems to enjoy it.  In the afternoon he went to the movies for the first

time since the accident.  He liked the movie and company but was uncomfortable

because it was very warm in the theater.


Friday, August 5, 2005



Nick had another good day of therapy.  Today he walked with a lot less assistance

and a more natural gait.  He was able to go up and down four stairs today (with

assistance) and is feeling so much more independent.  In his words, "It has been a

monumental week!"  His temperature is normal now, though his lungs still sound

congested.  It may just be allergies with all the wind we have been having.  


Nick is looking forward to church this weekend.  Central Christian (Lindsay and

University) is including a segment on Nick during their services.  


Thursday, August 4, 2005



The medication Nick was given has helped his pain a lot and after an initial period of

severe pain it is now tolerable.  He is making steady progress with the therapists,

especially with physical therapy now that his foot is casted and he can put weight

fully on it.  They actually had him go up two stairs today!  He is getting stronger

every day and is now able to stand himself with very little assistance.  Nick is

running a low grade fever today so we are watching it carefully.  He is still having

trouble with his swallow and often chokes when eating and drinking.  They are

concerned about aspiration pneumonia. His doctor has ordered a special swallow

imaging test to make sure everything is working properly.  


It's great having "Auntie" here.  She is such a help and the kids (who are both very

close to her) are being spoiled with home baked banana bread.  


Monday, August 1, 2005



Nick had a pretty quiet weekend.  His pain was still consuming him and he was

heavily medicated to help relieve the spasms and the resulting pain.  Nick's Aunt and

cousin came from Washington for a visit.  "Auntie" will be staying to help out for the

next two months.  


Today Nick had the first in the series of foot casts put on his left foot.  His foot has

curled in so much that he is unable to stand flat on it.  The casts will hopefully

correct this condition and allow him more opportunities to put his weight on it. 

Things seemed to go well at the doctor but after he got home he started having such

severe pain, we had to take him in to the emergency room.  Naturally it was packed

with people, so it took forever to get a shot and a prescription.  Nick is sleeping now

and hopefully will feel better in the morning.  


Friday, July 29, 2005



It has been a busy week for Nick.  He has in home therapy every day and is

progressing slowly but surely.  The pain in his left shoulder and arm is still a

problem.  They started a new treatment yesterday called a TENS machine.  

Electrodes are applied to his arm around the areas of pain and he uses it for 20

minute increments.  He is also using a new type of pain med that makes him quite

drowsy.  He is responding to the treatments and his ability to work through the tone

in his muscles is getting better.  The simplest things that we all take for granted are

exhausting to him, but he keeps trying.  We have a caregiver who is helping us with

Nick now.  His name is Ty.  He's 26 and going to college at night.  He and Nick have

a lot in common and he seems to enjoy having him around.  We really needed the

help, especially since school will be starting soon and Elaine will be returning to

work.   It really helps Nick when friends drop by to see him.  Any time in the

afternoon or early evening is usually good.  


Tuesday, July 26, 2005



Nick started the day with combined physical and occupational therapy.  With his new

walking brace and both therapists here, they were able to support him enough to get

him on his feet and walking.  It was a lot of hard work, but he managed to walk

about 20' with their help.  


Nick spent most of the afternoon at the doctor's office in Phoenix.  She has decided

to start serial casting his left foot.  Due to the muscle spasms, it has curled in and is

very painful for him to put weight on.  Casting it will help to straighten it and

hopefully reduce the tone in the muscles.  The concern is that his skin will break

down.  He is already taking all the medication he can to try and help so this is the

next thing to try.  We are also looking for a good acupuncture doctor that specializes

in tone.  Let us know if you know of one.  


Monday, July 25, 2005


8:00 AM

Nick had his first outing, except for doctor visits, since he has been home Saturday

night.  He went to Central Christian Church's young adult group session with his

sister.  This group has been very supportive and has done a lot to help Nick and his

family since his accident. The music is Christian Rock and was pretty loud.  Nick said

that he enjoyed himself but was a little over stimulated, (over stimulation causes the

dystonia to worsen).   He said that they made him feel very special.  Getting out of

the house was good for him.


Another new medication to reduce the cramping and resultant pain was started

Friday.  It does seem to reduce the pain somewhat but makes it harder for him to

speak clearly and makes him more lethargic.  There are no therapy sessions today,

but Nick has an appointment this morning with his primary doctor.  He needed a

doctor that takes both of Nick's insurances and this is the first time he will have seen

Nick.  Later this afternoon he will be taken to be fitted for a new brace for this left

ankle which, hopefully will allow him to put weight on this left leg.


Thursday, July 21, 2005



It's hard to believe it is Thursday already!  Time really flies by just helping Nick with

his daily living needs, med schedule, and therapies.  We are hoping to get a

caregiver soon, as Elaine will be returning to work when school starts.  Nick's spasms

and the resulting pain have been especially bad this week.  The doctor called in some

new meds for him to try starting tomorrow.  Let's hope they work.  The bad news is

that they may help the pain but make his speech less clear.  Right now getting the

pain under control is a priority.  


The temperature here in the Phoenix area is still above 112, so we are staying in as

much as possible.  The lift for the pool won't ship until next week but it will be really

nice to get him in the pool for therapy and relaxation.  Nick's OT and PT were very

excited about his progress this week.  They really feel if he had a good leg brace for

his left foot that he could walk!  We are trying to find a company that can work with

tone and knows how to make it.  


Monday, July 18, 2005



In spite of the fact that it reached 116 degrees yesterday afternoon, we had a great

turnout at the Open House! (Thank heaven for air conditioning!!!) We all enjoyed

seeing so many of you who have lifted us up when we needed support.  We are

continually thankful and amazed by your caring and generosity.  Nick was so

appreciative and seemed to really enjoy himself.  One comment people mentioned

often, was that he looks so much like his picture on the home page now.  His hair

has grown back and yes it's still curly!   Last month when he was so skinny, he

hardly looked like himself but he has really filled out.


He has a lot of work to do today so we need to get busy!


Friday, July 15, 2005



Nick had a wonderful birthday!  We had a few of his friends over for a barbeque and

he really enjoyed spending time with them.  He is so thankful just to be alive and

has a new appreciation for everyone in his life.  He has been working hard every day

with his home therapists.  


Our days are very full just trying to help him care for himself or in many cases caring

for him.  We are doing much better with all the transfers as he becomes stronger. 

He is still having a lot of difficulty with his speech.  He is often hard to understand. 

He knows what he is trying to say it just isn't clear to us.  We are working on over

articulating and singing to get him to use more expression.  He is also playing games

to help with reasoning and problem solving.  He is beating all of us at times so he's

still got the competitive spirit!  


We have met many wonderful people we did not know before Nick's accident.   One

of them is Lynne McClure who contacted us after reading about Nick in the Tribune. 

She survived after being in a coma for four months at age 16.  Her family was not

given much hope that she would be able to do much of anything.  She has since

earned a PhD from ASU and is now retired from owning her own successful

business.  She has been an inspiration to Nick to believe that anything is possible. 

The brain is a mystery and it is amazing to see the progress that has been made and

will continue for years to come.


We hope you will join us this Sunday, July 17, for an Open House.  Nick and his

family would love to thank you in person for your support.


Open House on Sunday, July 17, from 2:00pm to 5:00pm, Nick's family


Please contact info@nickruppert.com if you need directions


Wednesday, July 13, 2005



Happy birthday, Nick !

We will be celebrating Nick's 22nd birthday today, and we couldn't be more grateful. 

He asked us to tell everyone "thank you for supporting me".  


Tuesday, July 12, 2005



Nick is much happier now that he is home; it is much easier to get him to smile and

even laugh.  Home does create new challenges.  Some of the equipment that Nick

was sent home with does not work well around the house.  The biggest problem is

his bathroom equipment.  A new unit which includes an attachment to easily transfer

him in and out of the shower is on order, as is the pool lift.


His home therapy sessions began Friday.  The physical therapist who came Friday

did not have much experience with dystonia.  She is going to attempt to find

someone in their organization who is better at dealing with Nick's main problem. 

The occupational therapist who came Monday seemed very good.  Today he has

physical and speech therapy.  Home sessions will be three times a week, an hour

each time, by all three specialists, none on weekends.  Insurance covers a total of 60

home visits, within that time, about a month, an outpatient facility must be found for

Nick to get treatment. 


Open House on Sunday, July 17, from 2:00pm to 5:00pm, at Nick's home.  

Please contact info@nickruppert.com if you need directions.


Friday, July 8, 2005



NICK IS HOME!!!   It took longer than expected for Nick to get discharged

yesterday, but he finally left the hospital around noon.  There were a lot of goodbye's

to favorite staff and promises to come back and visit.  As you know he had a big

banner waiting for him on the house that said "Welcome Home Nick".  As he came

around the corner he was surprised by neighbors, who were waiting with smiles and

balloons and clapped for Nick as he arrived.  He got lots of hugs, had some lunch

and then said he was exhausted and quickly got settled in and took a long nap. He

said it felt great to finally be home.   The family couldn't agree more!  Nick slept well

last night and enjoyed sleeping in this morning.  His blood pressure was perfect this

morning which indicates that he is already doing better.  


Nick had his first in-home physical therapy session this afternoon.  He worked hard

and worked up an appetite and is resting again.  He is still craving chocolate which is

a big change for him as he rarely ate candy or sweets before his accident. Nick's

family is working hard trying to keep him comfortable, fed, and on his schedule for

meds, which are given around the clock.  Nick has much to accomplish to meet his

goals of recovery, his "what ever it takes attitude" and your continued support and

prayers will get him there.


Thanks to all of you who sent your names for the banner.  We would love to be able

to respond to each of you individually but there just isn't time.  We went ahead and

included names of all of you who had sent cards or emails earlier.  We just want to

say how wonderful it has been to have your support and prayers, and we can't thank

you enough.  It is amazing how far and wide the support has spread due to the web

site.   Nick's cousin, John, from Seattle set up Nick's web site when he was at the

hospital in the first days when things were so crazy and our phones were ringing off

the hook.  John's sister Ellen, and her husband PJ helped to expand it and we have

all taken turns with the daily updates.  We are so grateful to them as this has been a

great way for us to communicate.


If you are in the area and would like to stop by for a short visit, we will be having

anOpen House on Sunday, July 17, from 2:00pm to 5:00pm, at our home.   We

would love to see you and thank you personally.  Please contact us at

info@nickruppert.com if you need directions.


Wednesday, July 6, 2005



Nick's last therapy day at Barrow Neurological Institute, tomorrow he goes home for

good! He is in the pool at 7:30 then a very full day of physical, occupational and

speech therapy.  He continues to work hard and maintain his great attitude, "what

ever it takes" has become his standard comment when achievement goals are

discussed.  He continues to eat well and gain weight; he is at about 142 now.  The

dystonia continues to hinder him.  Nick is getting very good at transferring from the

wheelchair, bed, toilet seat, and recliner using a transfer board.  Wheelchair to car

and visa versa hasn't been mastered yet, but will be soon. This allows his mom not

to have to lift him and risk falling or injuring her back more.



e-mail to: info@nickruppert.com


Saturday, July 2, 2005




A large banner is being created to welcome Nick home on Thursday, July 7th.  The

family would love for Nick to know all the wonderful individuals, organizations,

churches and prayer chains that have been supporting and praying for him and his

family.  Please contact us at info@nickruppert.com with your names, city & state. 

Your information will be included on the banner.  


Although Nick is coming home and this is a huge step, his work is far from over.  He

will continue his therapy at home for three hours a day until insurance dictates out

patient care. Out patient care will continue as long as required.  Nick's family will be

working with him at home in addition to any professional care he is getting.  Please

keep him in your thoughts and prayers.