Thursday, September 29, 2011

some changes...


John's spirits are up. We are excited to get to visit him this weekend. Kaitlin has been asking for him a lot (She sees his car in front of our house every day).

On another note, this blog has now been opened up to the world. This means that you all can let others know about this blog and the blog address. Pass it along!


Thursday, September 22, 2011

My brother, the ROCK STAR

Jen here:

John had his 2nd visit to PT today... wow.
Jennifer has him practicing picking up things with his right arm.... phenomenal, I think... and he's using his fingers to pick up stuff and EAT BY HIMSELF - grapes, cut up carrots, etc. HUGE!!!

Lots of new exercises to get his fingers moving. There is still a lot of swelling - so we have some things to do for that, too. I am amazed at this whole process of getting John back to independence. John is such a ROCK STAR that everyone he meets (gals at the front desk of PT, assistants, etc) is blown away by his attitude - they are jumping through hoops to help him. Not that it surprises me (or anyone who knows John) - but it's inspiring!

Call him on his cell phone! Chris hooked him up with a new, very comfy bluetooth that he loves... and he is using the voice dial on his phone, too. Your calls MAKE HIS DAY. 650-759-1834

news from the man himself

i'm actually typing this on my own and can't quite pull off caps and symbols so cut me some slack...

1st off - thanks for all of the calls, cards and well wishes. they do help.

i met my new hand surgeon on monday and was relieved that he immediately started treating me like this was no big deal; almost like he sees 3-4 guys in my condition every day. he said that it didn't look like he'd have to fix dr. galpins work - a compliment? - but i might need some work before the toe/thumb switch

Jen here now... John's fingers gave out :)

Yesterday I went to PT and tested range of motion (ROM) - lots of work to do in the hand, wrist and fingers... but this is her gig. Jennifer (the PT gal) also made me a CUSTOM thermoplastic removable splint/ cast. If you've ever had a mouth guard - same stuff. I've now got "homework" to do - to keep me moving. I go again today... and then it looks like 3x/ week until they say so :)

I'm going to have another specialist for my right arm - haven't set that appointment yet - will do so after the next meeting with my surgeon (Oct 3).

ready for his Coke - so gotta go!
Jen (attorney in fact for John Caughlin) - ha!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I just want to add this tidbit... feel free to spread it around as people ask...

This is the official paypal donation link for John.


Monday, September 19, 2011

Keep the Love Light On

I cut and pasted this article from an online article in SWIM COACH DIRECT

John Caughlin
C/o The Dorsey's
1210 Green Orchard Place
Encinitas, CA 92024
Every now and then we MUST look to a greater power for strength.

Today that power is John Caughlin.

On Saturday September 3rd John participated in the Annual Maui Channel Swim. Instead of being a part of the numerous relays he decided this year he would give it a go solo. He made all the usual sacrifices to get himself ready. And was he ready! Many of his friends and fellow swimmers were going with him - spiritually. Some of you who read this blog are already open water compatriots of John's - even though you perhaps have never met him. Some of you have swum the English Channel. Some of you have swum in the Sea of Cortez, or the Gulf of the Farallons.

Suffice it to say that all long distance open water swimmers share many bonds.

John was about 200 yards from shore and the finish when he made a defensive move to protect himself from a power boat, raising his arms to protect his head. As a result of the collision John suffered life changing injuries to both arms. His right arm was amputated above his elbow and he lost the thumb and forefinger on his left hand.

The lingering image from that tragedy is seen in his picture...what a smile of inspiration! Make certain that smile is indelibly etched in your memory forever. Next time you think you are having a tough day remember John's smile. That's all you need to keep moving forward. It is actually that simple.

John and his sister Jennifer (at his side in the picture) arrived in Southern California on Saturday the 17th of September. John is spending some time with his family at the address above.

His words..."I had my swim and then I had an accident. I will come back sooner than later and finish the swim." Awesome attitude doesn't really capture the power of John Caughlin.

Before email, text and twitter there was snail mail. It still works today. Maybe send John a note, card, flowers, something...let him know you are with him...we are certain you will make a difference in his life just as he has in yours.

Be grateful when you go in the water this week...
Don Swartz & Ken DeMont

Friday, September 16, 2011

Finding sympathy

Dr. Galpin, John's surgeon, explained where we could find sympathy:
"between 'shit' and 'syphilis' in the dictionary"

John on Thursday...


I talked to John again on Thursday... He is in high spirits and is facing his challenges head on, one at a time. I think he is ready to leave Maui and go to San Diego. He said that he really hopes, once he is in San Diego, that he gets physical/occupational therapists that used to be drill sergeants and that they will work him extra hard. As long as I have know John, he has never backed away from a challenge once he accepts it. Here comes that gritty character trait again!

I also want to thank Lisa Piumetti Farland, the Executive Director of Alumni Relations and Annual Giving at Loyola Marymount University. Below are excerpts of emails from her for John.

John Kovacevich informed me of John Caughlin's terrible accident. Please let John and his family know I've spoken to Fr. Robin who has notified the Jesuit Community. John and his family are in the Jesuits daily prayers. I've also spoken to Fr. Erps in Campus Ministry. Fr. Erps is including John in our special intentions during the prayers of the faithful in our campus liturgies this week.
It's hard to imagine what you are all going through...John, his family, his friends. Thinking of all of you and praying John's days ahead are filled with hope and God's grace provides all that he and his family will need during this very difficult time.
Lisa Piumetti Farland


Just checking in to see how John is doing. Please let John and his family know that he continues to be in our special intentions at our campus liturgies. In particular, I wanted them to know he will be remembered at the Alumni Reunion Mass next Sunday, September 25, where we expect over 800 to attend the liturgy in Sacred Heart Chapel.

Thinking of John and praying for God’s healing grace.

Thanks to everyone for the prayers and thoughts!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Just want to put some stuff here so we have it readily available when the time comes...

This is stuff about prosthetics.

Chunk of email from Jacques--Matt's brother in law:
Just thought John would be interested in some of the prosthetics out there. There's some crazy cool stuff out there. This hand that the maker of the Segway is developing looks AMAZING. This video is 3 years old too so I'm sure it's farther along. In fact, I think it's in clinical trials right now.

Here's a link to the companies website. Looks slicker in the current pictures:

Here's some stuff about transferring Motor and sensory nerves so that you can use the original nerves to control a prosthesis.

Just thought he might appreciate this stuff at some point. :)
Chunk of email from Jeff and links from Jeff showing off the work of his old neighbor (Jeff and his family moved from Oak Park, Il to the Atlanta area.

Our old neighbor in Oak Park, Todd Kuiken, is a world famous Dr who has been working on essentially creating bionic limbs. He can do some sort of nerve graft with a prosthetic to create a working limb. I don't really understand it too well but it is amazing what he can do. He is even an exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry. Todd is also just a really great all around guy who has lots of experience with amputations and I'm sure could be an invaluable resourse. I emailed him about Johns situation and here is his response. I know it is not San Diego but it may be worth a consultation. We have lots of friends and family in the area and I am sure we can find somewhere for John to stay if need be.

Here is a link to Todd's info at the Rehab Institute.

Some interesting clips of Todd to look at:

Stuff from Tim's friend Chad whom I think is part of the group, "stumps".

I wrote my prosthetist and found out info on a good arm guy. Here is the info (Hanger is the largest Prosthetics company in the U.S.):
The guy to see is Jim Kaywood, Hanger Vallejo. He has more experience than anyone in the area and only does arm


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

More on the backstory...

Most folks who have talked to John about this swim, or any other swimming he has done, have heard him say that he has no technique and that he is slow. I have heard him say all that he is trying to do is not swallow too much water! I have always thought that John's technique lends itself to rougher water. I theorize that John developed this technique early in his life when skipping school and going body surfing. Anyway, here are links to John and Mike swimming the Maui Channel Swim a couple of weeks ago. Sure looks to me like John and Mike are kicking arse!

Boat ride out to Lanai:

John and Mike about 2 hours in:

John and Mike about 5 hours in:

Thanks Nell for taking the videos!


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A hui hou

"A hui hou" - until we meet again. We bid farewell to Joel and Gabor (Half Moon Bay swim crew) and Bill (friend since college) last night after a wonderful visit. They delivered cards and stories and love from all over. John was so happy and moved by all of the support. The guys even brought the ocean (in a bucket!) to John - we took him outside and he was able to get his feet back in the ocean he loves so much. Amazing. As difficult as it was to say goodbye, John was happy to send his love back with them to share with all - until he can do it in person. Mike Spaulding came by for a visit (and an inspirational side trip for Jen, Joel and Gabor to the sacred waters). John had a good night last night... And today has been a gift. Hug your family and friends and be well. Jen (John's sister)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Sunday evening...


I just talked to John tonight and he is in good spirits. I think getting a little sun helped him out today. That is Joel, Billy, and Gabor hanging with John.

I don't know how many units of blood John has gotten since the accident but if you all want to help out, please visit your local blood bank and make a donation!

Also, if you know other people who you think should get this blog, please email me, or leave a comment and let me know.


Saturday, September 10, 2011

John on Saturday, 9/10


I talked to John yesterday.. he is doing pretty good. Yesterday, Matt left and is now back in Petaluma. Today, Billy and Joel (and maybe Gabor) arrive to hang out with John for a few days.

It would appear that John is, "working to hard" according to his doctor. So, after a stern talking to about letting his body rest because that is what it needs, the doctor said he wanted John to stay in the hospital a bit longer. It now looks like John will be traveling to San Diego on Saturday (1 week from today) instead of Tuesday or Wednesday as previously thought.

As most of you know, I am an outrigger canoe paddler. In Hawaii, about a year ago, a paddler who is well known in the paddling community, and who is a canoe builder, was participating in a race and he got hit by a boat and suffered injuries from the prop. He has heard about John and recently blogged a bit about the subject--including John.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

just adding some of the email posts.

Just giving you an update on John...

He is still doing well. He is roaming the halls 2-3 times/day. Tomorrow, he is scheduled for a follow up surgery to finish up some ligament and tendon work, wound cleaning, and just an overall check. The doctor said that if the surgery goes well (and he thinks it will), that John should be able to get out of the hospital this coming weekend or Monday. The doctor said that he would not discharge John unless he thought John could travel to the west coast.

That said, John's return date to the west coast has not been determined yet but might be very soon! John will be going back to San Diego to Jen's house where he will get a new hand/orthopedic surgeon who will then be in charge of John's care. The immediate future has John recovering from tomorrow's surgery--he will have a soft cast on his left arm since he has a broken wrist and other bone damage. John should have that on for 4-6 weeks and once after that, he will be off and running on learning how to use his left arm. There is a possibility 2-3 months down the road, that John will shed a toe to become a thumb on his left hand. After that, prosthesis for his right. Until he gets his cast off, he is going to be dependent on his family and friends while living at his sister's house. The doctor says that after the cast comes off, that John will gain his independence by leaps and bounds!

John has been touched by the love/prayers/thoughts of everyone and is accepting the challenges that are ahead of him.

The backstory....

This story is about my friend John. He has many traits but I am going to focus for now on his grit.

On September 3, 2011, John swam an event called the Maui Channel swim. He swam it solo (most folks swim it as part of a relay). It is roughly 10 miles going across the channel from Lanai to Maui in Hawaii. He completed the event with one of his swim buddies Mike. They did it in roughly 6 hours and 15 minutes in some very rough conditions. John likes to talk about the fact that they did not come in DFL (dead f'in last). I have yet to see the official results, but it would appear that John and Mike beat many of the relay teams! They really kicked some butt out there!

This had been a goal/dream of John's for over a year and for a year, he trained and trained. Not only did he put in a ton of time but he liked to make it even harder on himself by how he trained. Most open water athletes up in our neck of the woods (San Francisco Bay Area) don't even dare going into the water without a wetsuit. John on the other hand, decided that he wanted to be part of the tough folk gang that swim in an ocean that hovers around 50-55 degrees in just his speedo, a swimcap and some goggles. John truly has grit in his character.

So why call this blog lifeafter615? Well, an event occurred at the very end of the swim, that is going to call up every bit of grit John has. His life is forever changed by his swim (finished in 615) and what happened at the end. Two hundred or so yards from the finish line of this swim, in an area that was supposed to be free of boats, John got hit by a boat. John suffered great trauma to his right arm and left forearm/wrist, including loosing his left thumb and pointer finger from the prop on the boat. He had a super fast rescue performed on him and at the hospital he underwent surgery. The surgeon was unable to save John's right arm and it was amputated just above his right elbow. The surgeon put John's left arm back together as best he could and in the end, John would have a broken wrist, pins/plates/screws holding his left forearm, wrist and hand together, and lots of "wound" that would need to heal. John's left thumb and pointer finger are now part of the great ocean that he loves to swim in.

So, John now has a new challenge in life, one that began after 615.....