[June 14th, 2007] 2:15pm
Anna met with Zach's doctors and the rest of his team yesterday and they gave her a lot of updates. The first thing they looked for were micro-bleeds in his brain from the MRI scans, and didn't find any - good news! He was sedated yesterday because they tried to force his cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) to flow back into his spinal cord instead of out of the catheter. But unfortunately the pressure built up so much they has to release the clamp to let fluid flow back out of the catheter. They will continue to do this until his CSF is able to push through the blood (which is heavier and sits at the base of his brain) into the spinal cord, which is where it normally would be reabsorbed.

Two days ago, Zach's pneumonia was getting worse. But yesterday it remained the same, and today it looks as if his right lung is getting better. Such a relief, as he needs to be as healthy as possible to refocus all his energy on healing the brain. The team is not overly concerned because Zach is still breathing well on his own, with only a slight increase in oxygen in his ventilator. So even though doctors say it's a small step back because of the pneumonia, he's young, strong and healthy so we should remain positive.

Zach's white blood count is higher than normal in his CSF so they sent a culture to check for infection in the catheter. Doctor's have already given him antibiotics as a precaution for the possibility of a CSF infection. Today doctors will attach an isotope to his white blood cells. This allows them to scan and chart where his white blood cells are concentrating to see if there is any other infection in his body.

Support has been great from everyone. Yesterday Anna said, "A guy came up to me in the waiting room and asked me if I was Mrs. Sowers. I said yes and he said he was so sorry to hear about Zach and that he was from Frederick as well. He was there for a family member in a coma, too." It's so nice to see how many people have heard about Zach and are praying for his return to good health.

In Zach's room I got to hear the all to familiar "Zaaaachhhy, wake up!" from Anna. His mouth was moving and he gave us a yawn, as if he needs the sleep! We are all hoping he wakes up very soon to start his recovery, it'll be a long road, but we'll all here for him.
[June 13th, 2007] 10:45am
Wow, such overwhelming response from the news stories. It's great to see there are so many compassionate people out there who are affected by this senseless crime. Thanks so much for writing to Zach.

MRI results show there is damage to Zach's brain stem, which they already knew about. This is the biggest concern right now. The bleeding in his brain seems to have stopped and the fluid is very clear from the catheter. Over the next few days doctors will slowly remove the catheter. He is still fighting the pneumonia but continues to receive antibiotics. Breathing is good, and with his tracheotomy, he looks very comfortable.

When I walked into the room yesterday Zach was sitting up and Anna was yelling, "Zaaaaach! Zaaachy! Wake up, you've been sleeping all week!" Then she asked me, "Want to see a trick?" Of course I did. So she takes out Chap Stick and rubs it on his lips, and he puckers and rubs his lips together. It was amazing to see him responding and left me feeling so hopeful.

He's making great progress and looks better everyday, except for the scruffy beard I'm sure he hates. It's actually the first time I've ever seen Zach with facial hair. I'll be sure to take a picture so we can laugh about it later. Hang in there buddy, you're doing great!
[June 12th, 2007] 11:45am
4 arrested in June 2 street attack -- Read the Baltmiore Sun article, posted today.

Zach's tracheostomy was a complete success thanks to the wonderful doctors at Hopkins. He's still keeping his food down and he's swallowing on his own, which doctors say is a great sign of neurological activity. Another MRI should give a better picture of his progress to date and we should know more this evening.

The biggest news is they caught the teenagers who attacked Zach. It's so hard to believe after reading the details of the attack that they did this for a watch, some DVDs and gas. Detectives did a great job in finding these guys and it's a huge relief to know they are off the streets and behind bars.
[June 10th, 2007] 10:30pm
Tomorrow Zach will be given a tracheostomy at 11:30am by the head of the tracheotomy team, Dr. Bhatti at Hopkins. He personally called Anna and told her he will perform this procedure on Zach, and is coming in while on vacation. This is so awesome and means so much to Anna. Dr. Mirski, who is the head of neurological critical care unit, will be the anesthesiologist.

They are still giving him small amounts of morphine for discomfort, and he is keeping his food down. He's still having problems with heart rate, blood pressure and temperature because of the part of the brain that was injured.

There's not much else to report today, but he is looking so much better as he's healed this past week. Ashley and Terry had to leave for California today and I know Zach will miss them. We all will.
[June 8th, 2007] 11:15pm
Yesterday evening Kim, Anna & Will were in Zach's room while the nurses were adjusting his bed and he opened his eyes for a second -- we know you're in there buddy, keep those eyes open!

They have Zach sitting up because the pneumonia and continue to give him antibiotics. They changed out all of his lines and replaced them with new ones and are testing the old lines for any signs of infection. They should have those results tomorrow.

He's still being given a low dose of morphine, but his neurological activity has improved over the last few days. Doctors measure this activity by reflex tests and said he is much more responsive, especially his right side. Again, this is slow and steady progress, but in the right direction.

Because of possible damage to his vocal cords, Zach will be given a tracheostomy. This is where they cut an opening in his neck to allow for the ventilator and any other tubes to his stomach. This sounds like a bad thing, but it's actually very good. It will relieve a lot of discomfort by not having anything in his mouth and nose, and is completely reversible. The ventilator is on the lowest setting and is just used as a precaution.

Cranial fluid is starting to clear up and pressure is still low. There are no clots in his legs after a scan and he now has braces on both legs and hands. The braces will keep his hands and legs straight to prevent them from locking in a curled position. This will help him during his rehabilitation. He's keeping his food down today and they removed the neck brace. He's looking more and more like the Zach we all know and love each day.

His room is now filled with tons of photos of friends and family, he has decorations and music, and it would be a good place to hang out if it weren't for the whole hospital thing. At least it's usually filled with people that love him and are hoping and praying for him to wake up soon.
[June 6th, 2007] 9:30pm
Today they stopped the morphine drip completely that was keeping Zach sedated and replaced it with Demerol. The Demerol is only given to Zach when he shows signs of discomfort though. The part of the brain that suffered the most damage is the hypo thalamus, which regulates body temperature, and doctors have increased his oral medications (Tylenol, etc) to keep his body temperature under control. This has helped him and he is no longer shivering.

Chest X-ray showed his lungs are slightly puffy which might be a beginning sign of a lung infection. He's already been given antibiotics in case there is an infection. Zach also received another CAT scan which showed that his cranial pressure has remained the same, if not slightly lower. His left arm is also a little swollen and nurses found a small blood clot. Luckily it's not in a major vein that could travel to the heart and they are going to thin his blood slightly and monitor the clot, but feel it's not anything to worry about for now.

Nester, Zach's good friend from Canton, has been hogging most of the visiting hours with his non-stop flow of humorous stories, which I'm sure Zach is enjoying. Taylor, Zach's younger sister, is trying out her "poke and annoy Zach" technique by flicking his eyelashes which are now starting to move once in a while now that the swelling has gone down.

The family continues to be in good spirits because Zach's vital signs are still very good. It's hard to wait day by day for him to wake up, but it's encouraging to look back at the past few days and see how things have progressed.

"How can I help?" So many people have been writing asking what they can do to help out Anna and Zach's family. Angela Weir has already begun to set up a fund at Kim's bank in Zach's name. All the preliminary work is being done now, the account should be up and running by tomorrow afternoon. The fund will be called The Zach Sowers Support Fund. For more information, click here.
[June 5th, 2007] 11:30pm
Some of the best news yet came out of today's doctor visit. The entire staff is so positive and hopeful of Zach's chances for a good healing and recovery. Another CAT scan today showed there were no more damaged areas in the brain, and the swelling has gone down. They plan on taking the catheter out of his head over the next few days (this is a slow and careful process) and they have also stopped giving him the sedation drugs. Instead they are putting him on medicine that will help with any pain to keep his body temperature under control during recovery.

The next step is for Zach is to wake up on his own. The first signs he is coming out of his coma is watching for movement on his own without any stimulation, and having his eyes start to open. Again, this could take days or even weeks and doctors insist that it's hard to measure his progress day to day -- the best way to view it in weeks.

Zach's had many visitors** today and friends from all over drove down to talk with him. One thing doctors really want to stress is Zach's body is in a very fragile state right now. So if you want to visit Zach but are feeling ill or sick in any way, you should not come to visit. His chances of catching sickness is considerably higher in his weakened state.

**A note to Zach: Jimbo bought another car...a truck actually...ok a Dually, just shy of a semi. If there's anyone who can appreciate that as much as I do, it's you. And Eileen of course (who is undoubtedly rolling her eyes).

As far as the investigation is going I can't say much, other than they are making progress. Let's just hope it's swift.

Today in the waiting room the energy was completely different. This is the first time I've seen Kim smile when I walked in the waiting room, and she's hopeful and confident for her son's full recovery. I can't tell you how good that made me (and everyone else) feel. This is going to be a long and exhausting recovery for Zach and his entire family. Your overwhelming love and support mean the world to them (I know, they tell me constantly) and they will need support long after this first week is over. There have already been several very creative ways that people have helped out like gas money to family members driving hundreds of miles, pictures and stories of Zach and his experiences, and flowers, food and favors for Anna. Thanks so much for all your generosity and compassion, they are appreciated beyond words.