Anthony and Kim Fly To Atlanta

Everyone was great to work with, but it just took forever. First and foremost, we had to make sureBlue Cross Blue Shield was going to approve Anthony’s stay at Shepherd. Many angels have crossed our path as we travel this journey, and one of them is named Eleanor. She communicates directly with Blue Cross about Anthony’s care and progress. She works for Alere, which works with the families of injured love ones. They are paid by the insurance company, but they are the patient’s advocate. They help move the process forward, advise the family and help to make sure the injured family member is getting the best care possible.

Anthony's Stay Strong logo.
Anthony’s Stay Strong logo.

On Feb. 2, when Kim and I arrived in California and found our way to the Stanford Hospital intensive care unit, it was all about survival. Now we are working on rehabilitation and recovery, and our hearts are full of much hope. The second week at Stanford, Dr. Harris, the head neurosurgeon, discussed with us the different locations for top-notch rehabilitation. That was the first time Kim and I had heard about the Shepherd Center. The story of the emotions and planning to reach our goals are a roller coaster ride like Kim and I have never taken before.

This part of the roller coaster ride, getting Anthony to Shepherd, started with weeks of intense planning and discussing ways to get Anthony and Kim back East. We had the cost, the dates and multiple other challenges, and Tara was right there to answer our questions. One of Shepherd’s outside case managers, she was great to work with. Kim and I worked like a hand and glove. She was there at ground zero at Kentfield Rehabilitation and Specialty Hospital in California. If Tara or Eleanor needed something from Kentfield, they would call me and I would text or call Kim. When she could, between helping taking care of Anthony, she would walk the halls to find the people, paperwork or reports we needed.

There were many steps, including dozens of calls and lengthy conversations with Critical Care Medflight, the company that would furnish the flight nurse who would take care of Anthony during the flight. Our conversations involved how much, when, how and who would do the transfer. Other concerns and questions: Can we request a male nurse? Would Critical Care Medflight take care of the ambulance in California and Atlanta? Could Anthony handle the five-hour trip? Would Delta allow Anthony in first class? What kind of complications might arise?

Kim and I would sometimes would flash back on the stressful move out of Stanford’s ICU unit. But this move would be all the way across the country.

We can’t forget about the doctors at Kentfield. They were compassionate and knowledgeable, and they wanted the best for Anthony. They insisted on talking to the head of Critical Care Medflight’s critical medical team. They wanted to make sure everyone knew about Anthony’s conditions. If the doctors hadn’t agreed to release Anthony from Kentfield, we would not have been able to move forward with our plans to move him to Shepherd. Until we knew that, I couldn’t book tickets or hire Critical Care Medflight.

I have to stop here for a second. Remember I spoke of all the angels who have entered our lives since Anthony had his accident? I never knew so many angels lived in Mount Pleasant and Charleston. All this time, I thought Charleston was named the Holy City because of all the steeples and churches.

Anthony's event April 13 was a blessed day. these are the angles who produced the show.
Anthony’s event April 13 was a blessed day. These are the angles who organized this special event.

Now I think it’s because of all the angels who live here. (Pictured here are the angels who organized Anthony’s benefit on April 13.) Our family would have had a very hard time paying for the flight for Anthony and Kim to Atlanta from San Francisco. Kim, Anthony and I cannot put into words how grateful and blessed we feel to have been engulfed by so many angels. There have been times when all we can see are their wings stretched out surrounding our family, giving us the peace of knowing we do not have to go through this alone.

Back to the task at hand. As we got close to making the trip a reality, I started calling Delta to find out about the seat configuration. And we needed to make sure Delta would allow us on the plane. Kim and I kept praying about Anthony getting on the plane. I would think of things such as: What happens if Kim, Anthony and the nurse get through security and Delta doesn’t let them on the plane because of something we overlooked? Attitude is everything and I’m sure this would adversely affect Anthony’s attitude. That was the most important thing. We had other concerns, like what would happen if we had to go back to Kentfield. Would they allow us to come back? Could we get an ambulance? My mind filled up with hundreds of possible scenarios.

Sam Anthony's traveling nurse was on the flight from San Francisco April 22.
Sam Anthony’s traveling nurse was on the flight from San Francisco to Atlanta April 22.

We needed three seats in first class, two of them next to each other for Anthony and his nurse. (Anthony is pictured here arriving to the Shepherd Center with his nurse Sam.) On Wednesday, April 17, I finally secured the seat configuration we needed. I wanted to get Kim and Anthony to Atlanta earlier, but between the seat configuration, the release forms and several other items, we finally purchased tickets for a flight on Monday, April 22, leaving San Francisco at 7:30 a.m. and arriving in Atlanta at 3:14 p.m. We knew Anthony was strong enough; we just needed to make the flight with the smallest amount of stress possible. Anthony got his trach out April 15, so that would make the trip a little easier.

The two weeks leading up to this week were intense, but it was all worth it. I arrived at the Shepherd Center before Kim and Anthony. I wanted to take care of any paperwork and housing so I could concentrate on Kim and Anthony when they got there. Monday was a combination of one of the most stressful and happiest days of my life.

Anthony arrives at the Shepherd Center Monday April 22 at 4:00 pm
Anthony arrives at the Shepherd Center Monday April 22 at 4:00 pm

Anthony and Kim arrived at Shepherd around 4 p.m. Seeing Anthony in back of the ambulance (see photo) and Kim getting out of the front of the ambulance was a beautiful sight. There were a few traveling challenges, but, for the most part, the unfortunate scenarios I had imagined never materialized. Delta, Critical Care Medflight and Sam, Anthony’s nurse, were just wonderful to work with.

All the prayers, good wishes and continued support made this day possible. And, oh yes, let’s not forget about the army of angels that continues to raise us up and direct Anthony toward a healthy recovery.

5 thoughts on “Anthony and Kim Fly To Atlanta”

  1. Thank you again for the update…Anthony is looking great! We are sure there must be some relief having him closet to home base! God Bless Everyone…we hold you in our thoughts and prayers daily! Keep pushing on!

    Love and Warm Hugs to All

  2. Through Him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
    (Romans 5:2-5, ESV)

  3. Praying for Anthony’s full recovery – he is such an amazing person and his strength is inspiring. You are so blessed to have such an amazing son! Thank so much for the updates on his condition!

    David and Janet DeBruhl

  4. Praise God! We are so happy that Anthony is on this side of the world now. We are so glad to know that he is doing so well at Shepherd’s. We are also so grateful for all those who have opened their hearts and wallets for Anthony!!

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