Friday, February 11, 2011

Home at Last!

Michele has had a busy week. Her first night home was Wednesday, February 9th. That is 2 months and 1 day after the accident. She had about a month in Denver and a month at the Doak Walker Care Center. She is so excited to be home. Although she had great care at both facilities, there is just nothing like your own environment to speed up the healing process. My Steve brought a nice bottle of Silver Oak up to the Dunklin's house and we all celebrated her homecoming Wednesday. It was painful and exhausting for her the first night with the transport but she stuck to her pain medication timing. I would have given her drugs long before she was due, but she stuck it out till the allotted time - very strong and brave!  Sam was already busily replacing the kitchen sink as all of us talked about where she had been and how far she has come. Thursday was another travel day with a doctor and physical therapy appointment. Right now she is on her way to the High School to watch Zach's B-ball game (the first she has seen in a very long time). Her movements are slow and deliberate so there will be no walking without her walker, carrying anything, laundry, cooking, cleaning, or driving for some time. Her reaction time, pain medication, and healing of her wound and ribs will all play a factor in how fast she gets back to functioning on her own again. Right now she is just concentrating on healing.
Many people and  churches have been very generous with their food donations - thanks so much! I don't want to single anyone out in fear we will forget someone or don't make you feel as needed and necessary as all your donations of time, food, prayers, thoughts, visits, monetary donations, etc... have been, but I just have to say that Stevie D seemed really excited with the Spencer's thoughtfulness!  He is so thankful to all.
Michele is hoping to go to church on Sunday but the mornings are when she is in the most pain, we shall see what Sunday brings....

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Walking all over the place...

Michele's sprits were very high today and she was walking all over the place while her room was getting spit shined clean. We went to the North wing and sat and chat for a bit then to her room (still getting cleaned) then to the physical therapy room where she rode the bike for 20 minutes then we walked back to her room (still getting cleaned) then down to the south wing where the pretty birds and the kitty all live then back to her room (still getting cleaned), but was almost beautiful, then back inside. She did all of this without the help of oxygen or any assistance. She has a brilliant red walker with wheels, brakes and a seat. Its really a lot more than an old fashion walker with no wheels and old tennis balls - its more like a powerful foreign sports car. We asked if she could borrow that one when she goes home. It may be a donated one and she can keep it till she needs only a cane. She had another right of passage moment today when the therapist took off her portable oxygen. She has been three days now with no oxygen.
The doctors still have not said 100% when the official going home date is but we are all under the impression it should be early this week. She sure is ready to be home and Steve even more so. I know he just wants his family under one roof. He had a joke in the ICU waiting room that he was sick of waiting since the very large acronym sign leading from the hallway of the ICU rooms to the ICU waiting room that read ICUwaiting. He was tired of Michele being in ICU now tired of her being at Doak. Everyone is thrilled she is going home soon. Hang in there Michele it won't be long!!!!
Tomorrow night is Diva at the Doak. She is so excited and has already requested a shower  so she can be pretty:) Speaking of pretty, she is ravishing. She looks like the old Michele minus a bunch of weight. She is a skinny-minnie now and although she has a lot of scarring on her mid section, her face is without a trace of the accident. Have fun on date night tomorrow night Michele & Steve! Thanks Diva in advance for tomorrow night - PS Michele likes her steaks medium while Stevie D is more on the rare side.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Just say "NO" to oxygen

I have great news again! know Matt's news article said Michele hopes to be out of the Doak by Valentine's day, but she is doing so great it may even be early next week, the doctors told her. In the last 24 hours she has been completely free of her oxygen and is doing quite well without it.  Soon you will see her out and about (well soon she will be transported home and will need weekly visits to her doctor to keep an eye on her progress and the leg wound.). Yesterday she had x-rays on her hip, lungs and ribs, but no report yet from the doctor on his findings. God is so good not just to save Michele but now a release is just around the corner.
In anticipation of Michele's release please remember to check in on the care calendar:
Euzoa Bible Church now has the Care Calendar up and running. Please check it out at:
     CALENDAR ID      :   64101
     SECURITY CODE :   4021

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

No school today...

The biggest news in Steamboat today is the school was closed for the first time in over 20 years due to the temperatures dropping to -40 below. It was a stay at home day for most of us.
It is definitely looking like Michele should be released sometime the week of February 14th. The last hurdle is healing up the leg wound. The dressings still need to be professionally changed daily. Her physical therapy is taking her for long walks and even maneuvering around the kitchen at the Doak, so she can be more prepared for home.
Sam and Linda are preparing to make the journey out to help care for Michele and Sam's task is to install a new kitchen sink after he arrives.
Monday night is date night at the Doak. Cafe Diva is planning a wonderful 5 star meal for Michele, Steve and Zach. I can't wait to hear how that goes - Diva at the Doak, who would have imagined - this town is so awesome!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Care Calendar & More of the Interview....

Matt's article yesterday was great - he is a good reporter - thanks Matt!
There were several things that I learned from the interview I would like to mention as well.  Bryan Rickman who was the first official responder to Michele said when he arrived a couple was with Michele who were comforting her. They were doctors and married, I believe he said they were anesthesiologists, but not sure. If you are out there and have followed Michele's blog please know that the Dunklin family and all of her friends and relatives are so grateful you were there to keep her calm and comfort her.
Bryan also said one of  his off-duty guys was in the area when this took place and he came and helped on his day-off, by driving the ambulance, so Bryan could be in the back with Michele - thanks also to that fireman! Bryan said Michele was answering all her questions  - she said her back hurt and it was hard to breath - she told him her who husband was and where he worked - she was responsive and  talking the whole time to Bryan until they intibated (sp?) her at the hospital. We then all deduced God didn't want her in Heaven yet because he had not sound proofed her room. You all know one of the things we love most about Michele is that she is loud:)
Matt reported that Michele only remembers that she was coming home from Craig then the next memory is Stevie D. in her face. This part was pretty funny. Steve's concern is that  one day she will have these nightmares of his head in her face. Time will tell on that one.
She also has not wanted to know a lot about what happened to her body since she is concerned about nightmares and afraid if her memory comes back it will be too scary to relive. She heard more during the interview then she had previously known - especially the details of the impaled object. She knows in time she will want to know more, but for now she likes being in the dark of the gruesome details. Steve did say once she could speak when she was in the ICU,  her first concern and words were if anyone else was hurt. The answer is only one driver had a small cut to his thumb and was not taken to the hospital - God was truly with all involved. She has not read the blog yet, since she knows we tried to document everything for her. When she is ready it will be here for her. Jody Spradlin was at the interview with her husband Chris (pastor at Euzoa) and understands. She also said she would have liked to have known about what she missed when she lost her leg in an accident. For those of you who don't know Jody, she was hit by a drunk driver when she was a teenager. She is now armed or should I say legged with a mighty stick should Chris get out of line. I can only say this because I know Chris and Jody and they will be laughing - she has probably already threatened him with it.
God is my final thought for the interview. Although Michele gave credit to the men who saved her she emphatically gave the ultimate credit to God. Yes their faith is drastically increased due to living out these miracles, but she knew without God, Bryan or the doctors could not have done what they did.  As Michele gets better I tend not to be as reaching for your prayers and kind wishes nor do I talk about God and his role in all of this as much, but please keep her in your prayers and thoughts. It's like when you have a baby everyone comes and offers help in the beginning then a month later the new mom is faced with a crying eating pooping peeing machine. Where is the help then? Michele will certainly need our support for a very long time.  God is with her every step of every day and she needs Him - as we all do.
God, I don't mean to leave you out of the blog - we know you are just as much with Michele during her recovery phase as you were in saving her. If I forget to give you as much credit as you deserve its only because I am human and I know you have already forgiven me for my oversight, but just wanted you to know that. You know I tend to forget about you when things are going good - my bad. I am going to try harder to remember you in this blog and at all times:) Please stay with Michele to keep her spirits up, her attitude positive, and her will to strengthen her body  as strong as ever.... Thanks God!

 Also remember, the account at Vectra is still active - Steve would prefer I am sure not to mention this, since everyone is hurting financailly in this down economy, but I know the bills they are incurring are astronomical. Thanks!

Euzoa Bible Church now has the Care Calendar up and running. Please check it out at:
     CALENDAR ID      :   64101
     SECURITY CODE :   4021

The HELPER logon is used by family and friends
that would like to sign-up to help a loved one.

To access Steve & Michele Dunklin's personal CareCalendar site,
the following information in the appropriate spaces:

     CALENDAR ID      :   64101
     SECURITY CODE :   4021

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Steamboat Pilot & Today Article on Michele by Matt Stensland

I am sure all of Michele's Steamboat friends read Matt's article today in the Pilot - it was front page:) For all of Michele's family, friends and relatives outside of Steamboat,  here is Matt's article cut and pasted directly from the Pilot:  
Steamboat's Dunklins grateful for community support, ‘Michele’s miracle’
By Matt Stensland Saturday, January 29, 2011
Get updates on Michele Dunklin’s condition at
Steamboat Springs — Michele Dunklin walked outside the Doak Walker Care Center on Friday, closed her eyes, looked at the sun overhead and took in a deep breath.
“It feels very nice,” she said.
Before Friday, the last time the 47-year-old Steamboat Springs woman got to take in the mountain air was briefly on Jan. 10 when she was being transferred from an ambulance to the Doak, where she would continue her recovery from a near-fatal Dec. 8 head-on car crash.
Those who have cared for her have been astonished by her recovery. They call it “Michele’s miracle.” Dunklin has trouble grasping the generosity shown by her friends, family and the community as she recovers from the horrific wreck that has brought her family closer and affirmed her strong Christian beliefs. Rehab has been a daily battle. On Thursday, she climbed a flight of stairs for the first time since the crash. She hopes to return home in two weeks, where there are 22 steps, one for each of the ribs she broke.
Heroes at work
Dunklin credits two people for saving her life. The first is West Routt Fire Protection District Chief Bryan Rickman, the first emergency responder on scene after Dunklin tried to pass a semitrailer on U.S. Highway 40 outside Hayden and hit a pickup head-on. Rickman on Friday described it as the worst wreck he had seen where everyone survived.
Dunklin was the only one injured in the crash, the force of which broke all but two of her ribs. A piece of her vehicle also had stabbed Dunklin in the side and hit several organs.
Dunklin’s condition was critical, and she needed a trauma surgeon. Instead of tediously extricating her from the car, Rickman lifted her off the piece of metal stabbing her and pulled her out the passenger door.
“She was talking like there was nothing wrong with her,” Rickman said.
Dunklin was answering questions and said her back hurt and she couldn’t breathe.
“We made one very quick trip to Steamboat, to say the least,” Rickman said.
After traveling the 30 miles to Yampa Valley Medical Center, Dunklin was rushed to the operating room, where she met her other hero, Dr. Alan Belshaw.
Assisted by Dr. Mark Hermacinski, Belshaw removed Dunklin’s spleen to stop the bleeding, closed a hole in her stomach, and repaired the lung and diaphragm.
“At one point in the operation, she bled so much that her heart was almost empty,” Belshaw said. “In just a few
minutes, we replaced her blood volume.”
The metal object had missed Dunklin’s heart by an inch.
“Everyone stepped up,” Belshaw said. “There wasn’t a lot of panic. It went very smoothly.”
The surgeons had repaired her life-threatening injuries, and Dunklin was flown to Denver Health medical center. Doctors there had planned to take her straight to the operating room, but no surgery was necessary, and Dunklin instead was taken to the intensive care unit.
Dunklin’s husband, Steve, manager at Cook Chevrolet and Subaru, arrived in Denver along with close friends and family. Michele occasionally would wake for a few seconds, and Steve would rattle off the names of the people who were there.
She remained in the ICU for most of three weeks and underwent numerous procedures.
Michelle Diehl, a close friend of the Dunklins’, set up a blog and updated it regularly to let friends and family know how Michele was doing. It included benchmarks such as when Michele took her first post-crash steps Dec. 23 and when Michele got to eat a burger and fries Jan. 2.
“The best part is that Michele is completely off the ventilator, trach and no more worry zone,” Diehl wrote. “We are going to be headed home soon!”
The blog provided some relief for Steve, who had been getting more than 100 text messages a day.
“It’s been really good because we have friends everywhere and family everywhere, so they were able to stay in touch,” Steve said.
Home in sight
Feb. 14, Valentine’s Day, has special meaning for the Dunklins, who have been married 16 years. It is the day the two met and the day Michele might get to return home to Steve and their 14-year-old son, Zach. The family has only grown closer since the wreck.
“Ever since the accident, I realize how much I really enjoy hanging with you and dad,” Zach recently told his mother.
The couple’s love for each other was apparent as they exchanged words with tears and laughs Friday in a sunroom at the Doak.
“You have been a rock,” Michele said to Steve. “You’re my right hand. You’re my strength. You’re my other half. Without me I don’t know what you would do without me.”
The Dunklins are hoping for a full recovery. Michele said she looks forward to returning home and being around people, because she loves people. She wants to be home with her family and live a normal life again, which includes doing the laundry, a chore she loves and her husband appreciates.
“I was the one who suffered … but it was more of a test for you to see if you could do all the jobs I did,” Michele said to Steve.
Michele also said she looks forward to rejoining her congregation at Euzoa Bible Church.
“Once I get out of here, that’s the first place I’m going,” Michele said. “I’ll be wheeling in there. No, I’ll be walking.”
The Dunklins’ faith remains strong.
“We call it Michele’s miracle, but we know whose miracle it really was,” Steve said.
The support from the close-knit Steamboat community also has played a major role in helping the Dunklins through the tragedy.
“Anytime there was something missing in the puzzle, someone was just like, here it is,” Steve said.
The support has been overwhelming at times. It is something Michele greatly appreciates and is thankful for but does not quite understand.
“What’s so special about me that people reach out to me?” Michele said. “I’m not a pastor. I’m not like Bryan (Rickman), who saves people’s lives. I just hope one day I can give back.”
Steve tries to help Michele understand.
“I think your strength has been an inspiration for us,” he said. “You’re an inspiration to a lot of people.”
— To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247           970-871-4247      
 or e-mail