Kind. Genuine. Compassionate. Loyal. Strong. Loving. Brave. Adventurous. Generous. And, a smile that brightens any room. Alone, these are all just adjectives or descriptors. Together, these make up the wonderful human being who is my brother, Matt Clark, a 31-year-old, active young man.
Matt has an appetite to try new things. After having played four years of football in high school, his senior year he decided to take up Track & Field for fun. As the “big guy” on the team he loved to be underestimated by his opponents and show his incredible strength when it came time to race.
September 30, 2020
We’ve got Goals! Goals! Goals! Holding and drinking a tall glass of water. Holding – using hands, gripping the glass. Drinking – the instant refresh ice cold water brings you when it hits your mouth. This combination of holding and drinking a tall glass of water is one of our many goals. In the meantime, Matt negotiated to have a Camelback and a Hydro Flask filled with ice bedside to quench his thirst.
Almost every day in September me and Matt started our day by sharing the top three things we were grateful for. Support, Family, and Friends were consistently in the mix from Matt. See attached Word Cloud for all the gratitudes from the month, with the repeats being larger and bolder.
Matt’s done really well at Camp VMC for the last couple weeks. No surprise, he made friends with all the amazing VMC medical staff. His feeding tube was removed and he slowly progressed through purées to modified solids and no diet restrictions yay! And, Matt certainly hasn’t lost his sense of humor. He’s continually made bets and bargained with hospital staff for special food or snacks. He may or may not have called in reinforcements from friends doordashing treats for his first bites post clearance from the docs for solids. In true Matt fashion as the loyal Burrito Ambassador he is, Chipotle was his first meal of choice.
Matt also graduated and no longer needs assistance with the ventilator and if all continues to go well, his trach will be removed soon. The one thing that is holding him up right now is a pain in his a**, a bed sore from his ICU stay, just above his sacrum. Sigh………..
Over the last couple weeks we embarked on another journey as a family looking at Matt’s options for his physical rehabilitation. The last several weeks at Camp VMC have been solely dedicated to Matt’s respiratory rehab and with the amazing team of VMC medical professionals Matt is ready to move on to the next phase, physical rehab. Sparing you the painstakingly long version, Matt was in a fortunate position to be able to choose to either stay at VMC or go to Craig Hospital in Denver, Colorado for his physical rehabilitation. Both are top medical institutions for spinal cord injury recovery in the U.S.
After many family conversations, discussions, weighing the pros and cons, talking to alum of both programs, and endless conversations with insurance, Matt, with the support of our family, decided he wants to pursue his physical rehab at Craig Hospital in Denver. One of a few deciding factors is that he’ll be able to have the support of my parents in-person throughout his rehab. Up until this point, this has not been possible except for two quick visits when Matt was nearing the end of his stay in the ICU at Sutter Hospital.
So, off to Craig we go. Today, Matt was transported via air ambulance with my mum. I can only imagine how comforting it was for my brother to not only see, be with, and fly with my mum, but also have the reassurance that she’s a legit and seasoned life flight medical professional. While traveling in Europe on our honeymoon, my husband and I ran into a couple of docs from Stanford. I shared my mum did life flight for Stanford Labor and Delivery. Their response which I will never forget, “wow, those life flight people are legends, we always let them cut in line in the cafeteria.” #jobperks My dad is taking a later flight out and will join them later this evening.
Matt will be in Colorado, we hope through the better part of December. The longer, the better. The longer, the stronger he’ll be. The longer, the more opportunities he’ll have to be exposed to and learn new things. Matt is excited to begin this next phase of his rehab and we are all excited my parents will be able to be there in-person to cheer him on and support him in any way possible.
Over and out,
Colorado Clark Crew
September 5, 2020
Today, marks the start of a new chapter of what we’re calling “Camp VMC,” the acronym for Valley Medical Center in Santa Clara where Matt will be starting his rehabilitative journey.
Matt had a stable week with an upward trajectory of progress which allowed the transport today to happen. This past week he spent more and more time in the chair upright and less and less time on the vent with lowered settings. Yay! He also received his voice box trach which allowed him to communicate with us and medical staff via a soft whisper. This meant less lip reading, guessing, and corresponding eye rolling from Matt when we weren’t even close to figuring out what he was trying to say.
On Wednesday, I welcomed the surprise midday FaceTime call from Matt. It was the first time I was able to talk to him with his voice box trach. I was in the middle of juggling my remote work “new normal” and simultaneously trying to solve a mystery. The “golf gang” had received an email from Setton Farms California Pistachios located in Terra Bella, California, who generously offered to be a towel sponsor at Matt’s upcoming golf tournament. After doing a quick inventory, we confirmed nobody knew anyone from that area and we had no idea about the very welcomed and appreciated connection. I exclaimed to Matt, “perfect timing, you can talk now, can you tell me about the nut farm outside Bakersfield and how they know you?” He laughed, shared it was a connection from a former co-worker, and chuckled “NUTS on CLARK!” If you’ve ever visited Chicago or transited through one of its area airports, you know about this famous nut shop. It’s basically an inside family joke beginning when we were young because we never made it to try the NUTS on CLARK despite everyone telling us we had to try them, especially given our last name. I ended the call by blowing him a kiss. Matt blew a kiss back moving his arm/forearm and wrist up to his mouth and making the gesture several times. Mystery solved, a laugh, and a perfect end to our call.
Between being able to talk with the voice box and also squeezing in a couple more unexpected visits with my parents, Matt was all ready to head off to camp this morning and begin this next chapter.
The Clarks know how to do camps. From soccer to football, Boy Scouts and even golf camp, we’ve done it all. Camps are where you learn new skills, meet new people, and embark on new adventures, and this camp, the most important camp of Matt’s new life, will be no different. VMC gave my parents the run down and the ins and outs of what to expect at camp. We were given lists of necessities to set Matt up for success – shoes w/no ties, workout attire, and a few “comforts from home.” Mum packed his bag, labeling his clothes, making sure he had all he needed, and more. First, Matt will start in the speciality rehabilitative trach unit while integrating some physical rehab where he can tolerate it. The goal of phase one of camp is to get rid of the trach by building up Matt’s breathing strength and then he can move on to the more rigorous physical phases of camp.
Undoubtedly, it will be a daily battle requiring both mental and physical strength, but as everyone says, if anyone can do it, it is Matt Clark, and we’ll make sure to remind him of his incredible community of supporters who will be there for him along the way. #rally4clark #clarkstrong
Message from Mum:
Matthew Clark & Family Gratitudes
In true Matthew style- Can I hear a Loud AMEN for the Army of Prayer Warriors and love across religions:
Refuah Shlema; Mi Shebarach prayers
2 Timothy 1:7
The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass on September 12, at 8am -Church of the Nativity (Menlo Park, California)
Photo Galleries (1)
October 13, 2020
The golf tourney was great! So well organized. Such a good turnout of people who love and support the Clark family. Will try and play next year. Hang in there, Matt!
October 13, 2020
Matt, I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers. The thought of you always puts a smile on my face. I don't remember anything from our ASL class, but I gained you as a friend. If anyone can beat the odds, it's you! Keep the faith, buddy! Love, Lynette & Nikki
October 10, 2020
Thank you to Sierra and Dillion for introducing Matt to everyone. You are much beloved. You are a warrior!!!!
Kathy L Brenner
October 7, 2020
Matt - We just read about your accident and are heartbroken for you. It sounds like you are making great progress and I hope you've settled in at Denver. I've heard great things about Craig Hospital. I hope this doesn't affect the fun-loving, goofy personality you always have! Keep your mind positive and strong. We will be thinking about you and your family.