‘Miracle Man’ Liam Ferguson Vastly Improved Since August Brain Injury
“I know at one point I referred to Liam as Miracle Boy, but from now on I’m going to be calling him Miracle Man.”
That was the sentiment of George Ferguson, who just over a month ago witnessed his son, Liam, being hit in the head by a falling tree at their Newtown home, resulting in a life-threatening traumatic brain injury.
But miraculously, as of September 22, the Ferguson family was actually allowing themselves to consider what accommodations would need to be made in preparation for Liam’s return home — an eventuality they only prayed would come as the former first-responder laid in the Yale New Haven Hospital Neuro Intensive Care unit on various life support measures.
George Ferguson, along with Liam’s mom, Kathleen, and his sisters, Kaitlyn and Casey, have taken turns visiting Liam, awestruck by his progress as they also witnessed his enduring the peaks and valleys of recovery.
Over the several weeks since The Newtown Bee last updated his condition, the young man had his breathing tube and then a feeding tube removed, began to form words and, more recently, carry on logical conversations, transitioned from liquids and soft foods to consuming cheeseburgers and a coke, and been transferred from Yale to the Gaylord Hospital, a renowned recovery and rehabilitation facility in Wallingford.
As far as recovery is concerned, Liam’s family and medical team still recognize he has a long way to go since losing a significant patch of his skull in the Sunday afternoon accident August 23.
Family members provided a few snapshots as the young man who formerly volunteered at Sandy Hook Fire & Rescue progressed through the more recent weeks of his recovery.
As of The Newtown Bee’s previous check-in on September 3, Liam just had his ventilator tube removed and was breathing on his own for the first time in three weeks. The following excerpts are from the family’s Go Fund Me site, which to date has helped raise nearly $122,000 toward the astronomical medical bills the family is expecting to face in the coming months and years.
September 4, Kaitlyn posts: “Pneumonia is getting better. Lots of productive coughing. Today was the last day of antibiotics so hopefully that continues. No fever. He said some words today, including his name. His voice comes out extremely soft and breathy because one of his vocal chords is weak.
“It broke my heart to not always know what he was asking for, but so happy that he’s saying anything at all,” Kaitlyn Ferguson continued, “Now for the fun stuff. Liam initiated a handshake with me (using his right arm). Then we practiced it a bunch.”
September 5, Casey posts: “Doctors are watching him closely, and if all goes well, in a couple of days he’ll be moved to a step-down unit and then after that to rehab. He recognized letters of the alphabet (“Liam, point to the letter K; the letter H; the letter W.”). He tried to spell something but then got tired. At one point he asked for Honey Nut Cheerios. It was low, raspy, breathy, but clearly Honey Nut Cheerios. ‘It’s all you,’ Liam’s doctor said to him today. ‘I’m just watching.’ It was a good day.”
September 7, George posts: “Kathleen, Kaitlyn, and I were able to video chat with Liam. He had a little more of a voice today than he’s had up until now. He’s mentioned passion fruit in the slightest of whispers a few times over the last couple days, but we weren’t sure what he was referring to. Today we were able to clarify: Liam likes and wants Passion Fruit Iced Tea.”
“I spoke with his doctor and his nurse and they advised that they are still waiting for a bed in the step-down unit and he will be moved there when one opens up. The doctor (she is wonderful) let me know that a swallow test has been ordered for Liam, and when he passes he will be able to have the feeding tube removed from his nose.”
September 8, Kaitlyn posts: “Liam was moved to a step-down unit this morning and got settled in his new room before I arrived at 2 pm. A step-down unit is a middle ground between the ICU and a regular hospital room and being moved there means Liam has made a lot of progress. They had to put the feeding tube back in, which again, he wasn’t thrilled about, but he’s taking it like a champ. He also had his staples and sutures removed, which the resident said were healing really well. He’s not impressed with himself, but we sure are.”
September 11, Kaitlyn posted: “Liam is recovering really well. PT said he’s in the top 10 percent recovery of those who have suffered this type of brain injury. He is looking so much better every day, his voice is coming back a little more every day.”
September 12, Kathleen posted: “The doctor called to tell us that surgery for a PEG (percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy) is scheduled for tomorrow. In this procedure a tube is passed directly into his stomach through the abdominal wall and will eliminate the need for the feeding tube which currently runs through his nose into his stomach. This will get Liam to rehab sooner.
“With the PEG in, they’ll contact Gaylord first thing Monday morning, and, if the moon and stars align, he’ll be moved within 24 to 48 hours. Once at rehab, the doctor said, his swallow test will be repeated and the PEG can be removed as soon as he is ready.”
September 14, Kathleen posted: “Today’s Headline is “Liam Had Cream of Chicken Soup for Dinner!” Today the doctor ordered that Liam be given nutrition and a swallow test. And he passed! Which means no PEG surgery! I ordered a king’s banquet from the hospital’s food services, and Liam dined on mashed potatoes, cream of chicken soup, chicken broth, beef broth, cherry Italian ice, cranberry juice, and orange juice. Then to cap off a wonderful day, the nurse came in and removed his feeding tube, the last of the many tubes and lines running every which way just 12 days ago.”
September 16, Kathleen posted: “Today, 24 days after his accident and eight days after leaving Neuro ICU, Liam began the next leg in his journey to recovery. He left Yale New Haven Hospital (and all the wonderful doctors, nurses, and medical staff there) this afternoon and was brought to Gaylord Specialty Healthcare in Wallingford.
September 17 brought one of the shortest family updates, but certainly among the most joyous: “Hallelujah! No more purees or thickeners! Liam’s dinner tonight: 2 cheeseburgers + mashed potatoes with gravy + a coke.”
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