A Trust has been created by Kit & Jennifer Speanburg to ensure Chris' physical, emotional, medical and transportation needs are met for years to come. All gifts will be greatly appreciated.
In Marching Band Chris plays the Tuba.
Each year he looks forward to Band Camp, Friday night Football games and Marching Band competitions.
Chris' Sophomore year was his 1st year on the diving team.
The week before his accident the Honors Choir went to Disney World to perform.
August 3, 2019:
Update on Chris & the family: Chris seems to be doing well, all things considered. Besides the left lung still giving him a few problems, he is making strides each week. We still have a target date of October 10th for him to come home. His left lung is still collecting fluid while his right lung is working perfectly. The trach is going to be in until his left lung works as well as his right lung. Each day is a constant rotation of physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy. In physical therapy he is working on strengthening his upper body (arms, chest, back, shoulders & neck). Occupational therapy focuses on everyday things. For short periods of time he can use some adaptive tech and play on his phone. He is only able to do that with his left hand. Being right handed and not having complete control of his left arm there is certainly a learning curve. We’ve trying different power chairs and currently he is in one that will put him in a standing position. It’s also very sensitive to the touch. He’s currently off his blood pressure meds and his body is still trying to adjust. Each week he is taking in more calories through regular eating. He can’t feed himself at the moment, but we have no reason to believe it won’t happen someday. Everyone that sees him is impressed with his progress, considering the level of his injury. The house is coming along as we continue to plan for his return home. Only 2 months to go! We’re still not sure what the plan will be for schooling. Those plans will be coming together sometime soon. We’re pretty sure he won’t be back to school full time right away.
July 18, 2019:
Update on Chris: Sorry the updates have been so scattered. There’s a lot going on in preparation for his return home. Hopefully he will be home before October 10th if not sooner. We’re not sure how the whole school thing is going to work yet but we have time to figure that out. Chris is getting stronger every day. His physical limitations are still extreme but what does work is gaining strength. His breathing is solid and he is consuming around 1/3 of his diet by eating. Physical Therapy is focusing on his trunk and core muscles. Part of Physical Therapy is using a standing machine. We’ve finally gotten to a point where that has become easy for him. It’s also something that will continue once he is home. They’ve ordered a demo power chair that will have the capabilities to put him in a standing position. Excited to see that in action. Occupational Therapy is focused on helping him do everyday things. He still can’t bring his arms up to his face, but we’ll get there. He is experimenting with using a computer. Quite challenging when your hands don’t work. But where there’s a will there’s a way. Overall, we haven’t had any setbacks in the last couple of weeks and his confidence is growing. He’s started to not be afraid of his situation. We might be getting to a point soon where mom doesn’t need to be there 24/7. Home modifications are going slowly and we might need a helping hand in early August if any of my local friends are seasoned “DYI”ers. Not sure if that’s a word😊. I’ve got some things that require more than 1 person. Overall things are going as well and we’ll keep pushing forward as this journey unfolds.
July 5, 2019: Just a short update. Chris is doing well. He passed his swallow test! Things aren't working perfectly but nothing is going down the wrong tube. Jen is now trach certified and he did take a shower!
July 1, 2019:
I just wanted to provide everyone with an update. Chris is doing well. We had some digestive issues about 9 days ago. It took about 5 days to get them under control but we’re back on track. He was cleared to take his neck brace off. He’s still a bit nervous about leaving it off all the time but it does make life much easier. Milestones we’re hoping to achieve this week: Jen (mom) will become “trach certified”. This will allow him to go outside and roam around without requiring a nurse to be present at all times. If something happens with his trach, Jen will be trained to handle it on her own. Swallow test on Wednesday. If he does well, he can start to eat some food on his own. His blood pressure management is getting better and he’s able to sit more upright for much longer. So we might even try an actual shower this week. It’s been “bed baths” only since April 16th. They are trying to reduce the amount of time he is “on the vent”. He is being slowly weened from breathing assistance during the daytime hours. On another note, home modifications are underway. It looks crazy at the moment, but I know it will all come together before he comes home in October. Overall he's doing well. We hope everyone has a wonderful Holiday week and stay safe!
June 19, 2019:
This Friday will mark 2 weeks in Rehab! Chris is doing well. It’s a slow process but we haven’t had any major setbacks. He is still on the Trach but we’re taking him off the vent 3 times a day for about an hour each time. We’re still feeling confident that the Trach is not going to be a permanent, but we just don’t know. His lungs are clear and healthy. The trick is to keep them that way. In physical and occupational therapy, he is receiving electronic stimulation to help activate muscles. With his injury, there are a few signals getting through the damaged part of his spinal cord. Not many, but a few. He can even slightly activate a muscle in his left leg. It’s small, but it’s there. I can’t tell but his therapist can. His left arm is winning the race at the moment. We’re working on helping his right arm catch up. They are also starting to work on upper body strength as well. Hopefully the neck brace will come off in 10 days. Hopefully he can regain swallowing within the next 2 weeks. They have him in a power wheel chair. The other day he was zipping up and down the hallway. Every day it seems we accomplish something. No matter how small, we celebrate it and build on it. Again, thank you to all who have supported our family. So many have been so generous. We’ll most likely hold some more fundraisers after the summer. We’re learning everyday of things that will help him when he get’s home.
June 14, 2019: Chris has had some good days at Rehab this week. He has been fitted for the power chair he will be using during his time at Rehab. His arm and wrist are not quite strong enough yet to control the chair but progress will be made. We get to drive the chair for him. It's much like a video game controller but a touch more sensitive. His days are super busy! Unfortunately it takes so darn long to get him in and out of bed with all the tubes and such still connected to him. Hopefully we are able to take off the neck brace in 13 days. His spirits are good most days. He still needs the trach to keep his lungs pressurized. In short, we're just going to spend the next couple of weeks figuring out what muscles have the most potential. They are also working hard on putting some wight back on him as well. Everything is slow and steady but progress has begun.
June 10, 2019: Chris had a fairly quiet weekend at Rehab. The staff is getting to know him. His breathing is solid and routines are being established. The real work begins this week! We're really looking forward to see what he can accomplish. I wish I had more exciting news to report but this is a slow process. We did learn that they may want to keep him for up to 16 weeks. That would mean a late start to school. So we're not planning on getting him home until the beginning of October.
June 7, 2019: Yesterday Chris was discharged from UPMC Children's Hospital Intensive Care Unit and was transported over the Rehab. The day was packed with excitement and change. Once arriving at Rehab Chris was overwhelmed with doctors, nurses and therapists all wanting to introduce themselves to this person they had heard so much about. One of the 1st things they did was perform another ASIA test. Results: Chris has gone from a Grade A Complete to a Grade C Incomplete. So his body is healing. He has some sensations below the level of his injury. Chris is, of course, still paralyzed. The new environment has inspired new hope. Chris is feeling confident and looks ready to tackle the next 12 weeks. We want to thank everyone for all the support you have given our family and wish everyone a safe and enjoyable summer. Today is the last day of school at the Moon Area School District. Chris wished he could say goodbye, in person, to all the graduating seniors who touched his life. Be safe and strong as you head off to the next phase of your life. If you desire to visit Chris at Rehab please submit the Visitor Request form at the top of the page. Chris' mom is coordinating the visitors.
June 4, 2019: Chris is doing well. Trach change was a bit uncomfortable but successful. Rehab is on the horizon. Thank you to everyone that attended the Mike & Tony's fundraiser. It was great to see so many people come out. Open Swim at the Moon Area High School Natatorium Wednesday from 6PM-8PM. Sounds like it's going to be a fun event. Sapo Lauta will be selling handcrafted soaps and other goodies at the Moon Township Farmers Market to benefit Chris on Wednesday from 3PM-6PM. We hope you can stop by.
June 3, 2019: We had a fairly uneventful weekend. So let me catch everyone up. A little over 24 hours after the surgery the team deflated to balloon allowing Chris to pass air over his vocal chords. Yes, he has been able to talk for the last couple of days. He sounds like himself. The doctors are very pleased with the healing progress and are hoping to put in the permanent Trach today. Things are going well. His breathing is solid and things are moving along as they should. They may want to scope out his lungs one last time before sending him to Rehab this week. Hoping for Wednesday or Thursday. He developed a runny nose which is a pain in the butt because at the moment he can't do much about it. Other than that, we're getting close to getting out of there! Remember: Mike & Tony's all day today!
May 29, 2019: Chris had his trach put in yesterday, late afternoon. He also had a feeding tube surgically put into his stomach to provide a better delivery system for nutrition. Both procedures went well. The good news is there are no more tubes on his face! We are hopeful both procedures are temporary. Once we can get him to rehab he should get stronger. Once he is able to focus on strengthening his body things should begin to work themselves out. The initial healing time for both procedures is about 5 days. It's a bit scary but both procedures should make him more comfortable in the short term. 2 Big Fundraisers coming up soon. Click Here
May 28, 2019: Chris is scheduled to have his tracheotomy tomorrow at 12:30PM. The reason for the tracheotomy is almost all of his energy is being put into his breathing and clearing his lungs. The trach should provide much needed relief. The machine will not be doing the breathing for him. The machine will assist, providing him the energy he needs to focus on other things. If he can make his body stronger then the lungs should fall in line. At that point the trach will come out. Never any guarantees but that's the plan. His spirits have been good. We have been introducing him to other people that have gone through his injury. Most we have met and talked to so far have very similar stories. The underlying message is always the same: things will get better! Chris won't be able to talk for the 1st week so it will be and interesting 5-7 days.
May 27, 2019: Chris and the family are hanging in there. We've settled into a routine and are just hoping to get past the weekend without too much hassle. The mornings are always a bit rough. Every morning we have a little difficulty clearing his lungs but once we do the day seems to go fine. He did go outside yesterday. He wasn't feeling great but he became himself later in the day. Chris has a few visitors lined up today. That always cheers him up. His biceps seem to be getting a little stronger. We have a stressful week ahead of us with the tracheotomy. He won't be able to talk for about a week. He'll have to learn how to get used to it. I don't expect it will be fun. Home modifications are underway. The bathroom is down to the studs and the sidewalk is going in to accommodate the ramp into the home. It just seems to make all of this more real. The support we've received has been amazing. We've sold over 250 T-shirts! They will be available to order all summer. We'll also have them at the Mike & Tony's fundraiser on June 3rd. We hope everyone is enjoying the holiday weekend. The weather has been nice. We'll try to let everyone know how his procedure goes as soon as we can. Wish him luck!
May 24, 2019: Let me thank all that came to Primanti's yesterday. It was great event. Chris' update: Unfortunately we're losing the battle with his breathing and we have scheduled a tracheotomy for Tuesday, May 28. He won't be leaving Children's ICU for a little while. There is no telling how long it will need to be in but it seems to be the ticket to where we need to go. Please remember to put June 3rd on your calendar. Mike & Tony's Gyros will be contributing 30% of the days sales to Chris!
May 23, 2019: Just a real quick update. Still not in rehab! They are taking a close look at his breathing situation to insure rehab can handle whatever he is going to need until it improves. He did get to watch Avengers End Game in ICU last night. Children's gets Disney movies on DVD about a week after they hit the theaters. They brought in a big TV and everything. But no popcorn. He did turn to his mom at one point and tell her for a moment he didn't feel as though he was in the hospital. It's the little things that keep us going.
May 22, 2019: OK. Here's what they are telling us. Rehab on Thursday. So long as his respiratory issues remain stable. It was a hard day for him yesterday but not all bad. Physical Therapy started to introduce some harder exercises that he didn't like at all. It's only been less than a week from his latest spine surgery and it was painful! But it needed to happen. It needs to happen every day. Overall he was able to go the entire day without a nap. He played games, had a visit from a good friend for over 3 hours and is getting stronger. Once in rehab his mom will be managing the visitor schedule. You'll be able to submit a visitor request from this site. That will be up and running once we are settled in over there. Primanti Brothers this tomorrow! Mike & Tony's Gyros on June 3rd! See you there!
May 21, 2019 6AM: Overall a better day. Swallow test did not go as well as we had hoped. The team is confident this is only a temporary issue and will be resolved in time. Yesterday there was a big focus on getting him moving. Extra Physical Therapy ( as much as they could do in the ICU). Extra in and out of bed into a chair. They are still wanted him to stay in ICU until his breathing becomes more stable. The last thing they want is to send him to rehab and have him come back. But overall it was a better day.
May 19, 2019 8 PM: Today, Sunday, was a significant day. We finally got him to wake up a bit and focus on getting better. The last 3 days have been a struggle with the amount of meds he has had in his system. We've been battling a breathing problem with the right lung over the past 36 hours but we think we caught it early enough that it has become manageable. The more we can get him out of bed the better chance he has of going to rehab this week. Another swallow test tomorrow. The amount of strength he gains in the next 18 hours will be key. He did finally start to feel better today. Biggest issues now are energy level and motivation. A big shot out to the Moon Area High School Honors Choir for a wildly successful car wash today to benefit Chris. Dad and sister were able to stop by. We couldn't be more appreciative. Remember the next fundraiser is at Primanti Brothers on Thursday. It's an all day event. So don't be afraid to go for lunch. T-shirts on sale there from 3PM-9PM. Marcus Corson, the owner of Darkside Demon Clothing will be there to meet and greet as well. His company is supplying the T-shirts.
May 18, 2019 10 AM: Yesterday was fairly uneventful. Simply in the process of managing pain. As of this morning we're trying to get him off the morphine. He can't be on that stuff if he wants to go to rehab on Tuesday. He's hanging in there. Keep fighting! Mom got to come home yesterday for a few hours to unwind and reload. She misses her bed. That's all for today.
May 17, 2019 5 AM: Yesterday was the first full day of recovery from the surgery on Wednesday. There's not much to report. Still a painful recovery process but so much better than the 1st twelve hours. It was nice to see him back in the habit of striking up conversation with everyone that comes into his room. It's a little funny because the staff that deliver the medications to the room are trained to just get in and out without too much fuss. They are not used to patients wanting to know about their lives. A few of them really don't know how to react. He is allowed to take take small sips of liquid again. Chris' recommended drink of the day is Starbucks "The Pink Drink". The Speech Therapy team actually went down to Starbucks bought him one. Remember we have an all day fundraiser at Primanti Brothers on Thursday.
May 14, 2019 9 PM: Surgery started at 9 AM this morning. It last over 5 hours. It went as well as everyone had hoped. In fact, he came back to us with no breathing tube! His lungs are strong and he is awake and able to talk. Unfortunately this is a very painful surgery. Morphine will be his friend for the next couple of days. The muscles they need to cut are those muscles everyone likes massaged during a neck rub. After the rods and screws were put in they had to sew those muscles back together. The plate in the front was removed and he already believes he can swallow better than before. Recovery on this one will be hard. But this was for the best. The next 3 days will be rough but he'll make it through. I pick up the T-Shirts tomorrow that we'll be selling at the Moon Area Gymnastics Association 30th Annual Spring Exhibition. 7 PM Moon Area School Gymnasium. Thank you everyone for your continued support.
May 14, 2019: I apologize for the delay with today's update. Usually I write them at 5 AM. But we've had an eventful 24 hours. Monday, Chris had his swallow test. It did not go well. The doctors determined the plate that was installed during the 1st emergency surgery was getting in the way of his ability to swallow food and drink so that nothing would go down into his lungs when he swallowed. The "fix" is to go in and take out the plate. To prepare for the plate removal the doctors needed to determine that the spine had healed enough to allow the plate removal. So they did an MRI. Unfortunately, that did not go well either. They discovered that his C2 & C3 vertebrae were beginning to slip. Not enough support. If they did nothing he would not have the ability to hold his head up in the future. So they made the decision to go in and extend the rods and screws up to the C2. These surgeries will be taking place at 9:30 tomorrow morning. This will mean he will be intubated ( breathing tube) for another 2 days or so. Rehab has been set back. The neck brace he is wearing will be on for another 6 weeks. Chris could use all the positive energy anyone reading this post can provide. If it is within your power, tomorrow morning when the clock strikes 9:30 please close your eyes and send Chris all the positive thoughts you can muster. No one is giving up, especially Chris. He's actually happy they are going in and removing the plate. He knew it was the problem for weeks, now the doctors finally agree. There is a certain satisfaction finding out your were right, even in his condition. It's just he would really like to catch a break soon. Hopefully your thoughts and prayers will find him and keep him safe.
May 13,2019: Yesterday was Mother's Day. Chris spent all day with his mom. No real changes from the day before. Most of the day he was strong and talkative. He got a bit tired at the end. Even his big sister came to visit. Happy Mother's Day to all!
May 12, 2019: Weekends at the Hospital are different that the weekdays. Chris had to adjust to medical staff he had not had before. So the morning was a little rough but the day got much better with a few select friends that were invited to visit. His breathing in the morning was weak but as the day went on it got much stronger. The more he talks the stronger he gets. Our son does love to talk! His throat is getting better as well, especially since he has been able to drink liquids. Swallowing is getting stronger as well. Hoping we can ace the swallow test on Monday. The details for the Moon High School Honors Choir car wash are in: "Cars for Chris" will be held on May 19th at the Howard Hanna parking lot in Moon from 10AM-2PM. T-shirts should be available for sale at the event.
May 11, 2019: Chris was given a rare opportunity to leave the ICU floor and go to a "Prom" themed event on floor 6. They usually don't let ICU patients leave the ICU floor. But Chris has won the hearts of the entire Hospital and through great effort was given the go ahead to enjoy life outside his Hospital room for an hour. He was joined by a very close friend and was even able to meet Ryan Switzer of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Thank you to everyone who has donated time, money, gifts and warm thoughts. It's literally impossible to publicly recognize everyone. I hear the Moon Area Honors Choir is going to be holding a car wash. When I have more details I will add them to my fundraiser page. The owner of Sopa Lauta will be selling handcrafted soaps at the Moon Farmers Market on June 5th will proceeds going to support Chris. The support is overwhelming. But he still needs more help. If your reading this please share his story.
May 10, 2019: Another great day! Our 3rd in a row! Chris received a visit from a fellow high school sophomore (different SD) who suffered the same injury during a football game in late 2018. The 2 boys are only 6 months apart in age. They had the same UPMC surgeon, same ICU, same nurses and will be going to the same rehab facilities. This young man was remarkable and only 8 months after his injury was able to show Chris what's possible with a lot of hard work. We think Chris was finally able to understand where he is today is only a starting point. Chris also received the go-ahead to drink liquids in small sips. Official swallow test will be on Monday. If all goes according to plan with no set-backs we will be moving from the ICU to Rehab Tuesday morning! It was a really good day.
May 9, 2019: Another good day! Left lung issues seem to be stable. We're off the high flow cannulas. Chris was hoisted into a gravity chair today where he sat for about 2 hours. Swallow test should be the next hurdle. If he does well we might be able to eat food soon. He was given a sip of Ginger-ale. It was a big emotional boost. His throat is still bothering him. We're thinking it's still recovering from the 5 days with the breathing tube. He's avoiding talking too much because of it. We hope it starts to feel better soon because he definitely wants to talk more.
May 8, 2019: We had a good day! We are cautiously optimistic as Chris seemed to make significant progress today. The UPMC team has him on high flow cannulas during the day and BiPAP at night. This moved allowed one his his NG tubes to be removed. When told, "You look better." He responded, "I feel better." Doctors have given no indication we're sliding backwards. Only moving forward. UPMC Children's Hospital Things You Didn't Know: After 21 days you don't have to pay for parking anymore! They put you in the staff lot. Hoping tomorrow's update is just as good.
May 7, 2019: Rough morning but the day got a bit better as the UPMC team is becoming very aggressive in regards to getting him to a place where he can get over to rehab. The sooner we get there the better. Less BiPAP each day. It's time to start fighting! He was able to move his left wrist in a way he hadn't been able to before. Something in that left arm is starting to come back. Baby steps.
May 6, 2019: Rough day yesterday. Being in bed for so long he is getting uncomfortable. Hoping today is better.
May 5, 2019: Chris was on 24 our BiPAP yesterday. We did take (2) one hour breaks where he could talk and interact. Boy, he enjoyed being off that BiPAP! He watched the WPXI news story and shed a tear. He actually smiled a good handful of times when we discussed the outpouring of support we are receiving from everyone. The goal for today is to see continued improvement with that pesky left lung.
May 4, 2019: They took Chris off the breathing tube and put him on 24 hour BiPAP to help keep his lungs open. If he is able to keep his lungs open on his own they will slowly reduce the amount of time he is on BiPAP each day. Fingers crossed!
May 3, 2019: Chris has been on a breathing tube for almost a week because his left lung has been filling with secretion and he is too weak to cough it out. We are excited to learn that the machine has done it's job and he is getting the tube out today. Communication over the last week has been interesting. It will be nice to hear him talk again.
May 1, 2019: Chris is Still in ICU and hopes to have his breathing tube taken out tomorrow.
There are so many ways to support Chris. Please feel free to share his story.
Donations can also be mailed to:
Chris Speanburg Irrevocable Trust
136 Elmhurst Drive
Coraopolis, PA 15108
Make checks payable to : Chris Speanburg Irrevocable Trust
All donations will be distributed to an Irrevocable Supplemental Needs Trust created by his parents, Kit & Jennifer Speanburg with Chris as the beneficiary.
136 Elmhurst Drive, Coraopolis, Pennsylvania 15108, United States