Mark has been transferred to a step-down ward with one nurse to four patients. A nurse stays in the room the entire night. Bands attach Mark's upper and lower teeth to keep his mouth stable so the fractures can heal properly. He is now able to eat soft foods, but has to be spoon fed as it is necessary he wear mittens to keep from pulling out the tubes. For brief times throughout the day he wears a device on the trach opening which helps to amplify his voice. He has started to speak ... sometimes with clarity, sometimes as though he is hallucinating.
- October 11th
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Teri is going over the menu choices for Mark's dinner tonight, October 21st. For a few days he began eating regular foods as long as it was cut up very tiny. Because an ulcer recently formed in his trach, Mark is back to eating only soft foods such as yogurt or soups.
The ulcer that has formed in Mark's trach continues to bleed when he coughs. This has put any discussion of rehab on hold. He continues to wear the same size trach as it cannot be downsized and removed until the ulcer is completely healed.
Because of this condition, Mark is no longer able to wear the device that allows his voice to be heard as it gets clogged with blood every time he coughs. Although he has been told not to talk, he tries anyway and all that comes out is an inaudible whisper. He immediately gets frustrated when he is not understood. The only thing left to do is write his thoughts. One word may clear, but the rest of the letters are either written on top of each other or are jumbled, and the message illegible. Teri remarked today at how beautiful Mark's penmanship always was and how eloquently he wrote. While she takes the time to try and understand his message, Mark will doze off.
When the nursing staff is changing Mark's IV, remaking the bed and cleaning the trach, Teri takes a break in the waiting room. She says she watches out that window and imagines living in Miami.
- October 21st
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The second team meeting took place today at the rehab center. The doctors and therapists recommended Mark go home on November 5. Teri is worried about how little therapy Mark has had in the past couple of weeks. The therapists reassure Teri that he will progress more quickly at home, but she still worries that Mark will be home alone during the hours she has to work.
- November 3rd
Mark's first hours at home. Teri is going over the prescriptions that were called in to the pharmacy. Mark will continue to take several medications including antibiotics and pain killers.
- November 5th
Mark does the balancing exercises very slowly as he thinks about every move he is making.
- November 3rd
The first half hour of the day's physical therapy is exhausting. Mark takes a short break before moving on to the balancing exercises. His jaw is in constant pain which is a distraction.
The doctors were unable to align the jaw properly since surgery had to be done he was still wearing a neck brace to keep the fracture in his vertebrae stabilized. The only way to straighten out the jaw at this point would be to break it again; an option that is not in the plans. The trach opening is covered with gauze to protect it from infection. Doctors said the trach opening is not to be stitched up and that it will close up on its own within a few weeks.
- November 3rd
After warming up his arms and legs, Mark works on the stairs. They live on the 5th floor of a 6-story walk-up. Since the staircase in their apartment building has a railing only on one side, Mark practices with one railing.
- November 3rd
This website was first published October 6, 2013.
The latest update is January 24, 2014.
Miami photos to be posted very soon!
The Grand Jury was originally scheduled in October, but the defendant requested to make a statement so it had to be rescheduled. The city provided a limo to and from the courthouse on this dark and snowy December 10th. Mark was told by the Assistant District Attorney that he would also have to appear before the Grand Jury. He is talking about what he might say to them, but has absolutely no memory of the attack and only remembers what Teri tells him. His conversation during this long rush hour drive went in many directions and sometimes not making much sense.
Mark is distracted by the constant pain in his mouth. His jaw doesn't sit right. The plate turned out to be too small and must be replaced because his jaw is not healing properly and is in threat of infection. All his teeth are crooked any many of them are loose. The wires have cut the inside of his cheeks raw despite the wax he smears over his gums several times a day. He still only eats soft food.
All along Teri was given the impression the city would remit many of her living expenses but she was just informed this week they would provide only transportation expenses covering subway fares plus a few late night gypsy cabs home from the hospital. Certainly not much of a consolation. This warm limo was a momentary respite in luxury on an extreme anxiety-filled trip.
- December 10th
When they arrived in the hallway of the Manhattan ADA's office, Teri and Mark were met by a second witness that had not been revealed to them before this day. Apparently he was walking out of the apartment building during the attack and had immediately called 911. He is a beautifully articulate and creative person and a welcomed surprise. It was a relief to see that Mark's acquaintance would not have to be burdened as the only witness in this case. The two young men are incredibly brave individuals. Everyone involved, including attacker Mark Spencer, lives within a few buildings of each other and can easily come in contact on the streets of Inwood.
In addition to the testimony of the two witnesses, there is also several minutes of close-up surveillance coverage from a security camera mounted on the front of the apartment building where the attack occurred. The video was only shown during the appearances of the two witnesses.
Mark is watching as the first witness is being escorted to the Grand Jury.
All the while Mark was hospitalized and adjusting to being home, their friend Mike had been helping to care for their sweet dog, Sasha - sometimes several times a week. Sasha and Mike would go for long walks in Inwood Hill Park. During that time they became very good friends.
Before heading south, Mark and Teri stopped at Mike's home for a quick dinner. This gave Sasha and Mike a chance to say good-bye to each other.
The entire day was terribly emotional.
- December 23rd
The movers shocked Teri with news that she had greatly underestimated the amount of their belongings so moving fees cost twice as much. Mark looks on but is not able to comprehend anything that is happening or to even understand the enormous pressure Teri is under. The movers took longer than she had expected, much longer than even they expected, so stress was mounting. At this point all she wants to do is get in their rental car and to her mother's home in Tennessee in time for Christmas Eve.
Teri decided it was best to move to Miami as soon as Mark got home from rehab. Fortunately Mark's parents were able to make the right contacts to allow them to rent an apartment in their condominium complex. This is moving day in Manhattan on December 23rd.
The tragedy of not having insurance is that all therapy stopped for Mark as soon as it was safe enough for him to be at home without risk of infection or causing harm to himself by falling or losing his balance. The doctors simply, efficiently and miraculously saved his life. But that was it. Aside from the physical pain in Mark's mouth, unbearable at times because of sores caused by wires holding his jaw in place, Mark is unable to function well enough to even help Teri pack. Before the attack Mark was a very meticulous organizer, handling their finances, planning ahead, caring for their animals. Today he is unable to pack or even tape up a box. Teri worked her job and coordinated all the moving plans. Today was overwhelmingly stressful.