Here is a brief description of our journey through hospitals and the steps we made to come back to Berlin from Cape Verde.
After the accident happened I joined Jan and ambulance crew to go to the Mindelo hospital.
Jan didn’t have any sensational left from mid of his chest and lover then elbows. Also, He didn’t feel any pain only in his neck.
Cape Verde, Sao Pedro island, Mindelo hospital
At this time we find out that Jan broke his neck.
It was c4-c5 spinal cord injury which made him paralyzed down from mid of his chest.
Immediately after diagnosis at the same evening when we arrived doctors stabilized the neck.
They advised to organize Jans delivery back to Germany as soon as possible and to do more neck stabilization operations.
First days in Mindelo hospital Jan was breathing by himself, talking clearly and he was fully conscious all the time.
The fever started on the second day.
Las Palmas, University Hospital of Gran Canaria Dr. Negrin
On the second day after arrival, Jan received a neck stabilization operation.
At this time he was breathing through a tube installed through his mouth. This was extremely uncomfortable and Jan instinctively was kept on biting into the tube which was very dangerous in case he would make a hole in it.
Doctors decided to give him medication to make him calm and sleepy.
Jans colleagues Joerg and Ben organized the flights for them including me to come to Gran Canaria and follow the process with Jan. Jans mother and brother Max joined us.
We came on the day when Jan was operated and in the afternoon we visited him in the hospital.
He seemed to recognize us and was smiling when listening to our voices. Next days he was more in a sleeping mode. When I ask him now if he remembers this time, he can’t say much.
Berlin, Charité hospital
Jan finally came back to Berlin.
However, he looked very weak.
Lung infection was on its peak. High fever and the breathing through the mouth tube was irritating Jan. At some moments in this time, Jan would stay awake and looked conscious.
His mood was swinging from being very lovely and giving smiles to all of us till very intense angry or scared.
In Charité he received tracheostomy (a surgically made hole that goes through the front of his neck into his trachea). This was released some of Jans stress and he was breathing more comfortable.
Later doctors diagnosed delirium tremens. Jans conscious was confused after a long time aggressive medicament and drug treatment. His body had to clean up from all these external chemicals.
Obviously, he was hearing and seeing something more than us around him. I wish doctors would say about this diagnosis earlier and we would be more prepared before it happened.
One thing was clear, Jan still doesn’t know about his condition clearly, therefore he can’t work with his emotions.
At this period of time, the complications were:
- Lung infection. There were bacterias in Jan’s lungs and few antibiotics applied to Jan were not working till then.
- Lungs filling with liquids from his mouth and lungs itself, because the body is not moving.
- Heart arrhythmia, it happened once already that heart stopped for a few seconds. Doctors explained to us, that after such an injury like Jan has, the body experiences huge stress and has to adapt to a new situation. This can take around 1-2months, depending on the patient and an injury.
31 July – 9 August
Berlin, UKB (Unfallkrankenhaus) hospital
Here some obvious progress starts. First days Jan was still very weak, but after some time he was more and more time awake and finally, we got his clear response to us.
Although it happened two more times in this hospital that Jan’s heart stopped for a few seconds. But all went good at the end.
He is practising breathing on his own every day. In the beginning, it was not for longer than 15min and later for a couple of hours.
He still can not speak. He needs to become fitter and then he would be switched to another machine supporting him with breathing which allows speaking function.