Dec. 2012 accident

David needs your help now! Two ways to make a contribution to help David and his wife Debra:

DONATE online:



Send a check! Please make your check payable to: David W Oaks Irrevocable Trust

Please send your check directly to:
David W Oaks Irrevocable Trust
c/o Chase Bank
1100 Willamette St.
Eugene OR 97401

The bank tells us it would help them if you referenced account number 3008433244 in the memo line of your check. Be sure to put your return address on your envelope. Every week, Debra picks up the deposits from the bank along with the envelopes and David’s mom tries to write a personal thank you note to each and every contributor.

Note: your contribution to the David W Oaks Irrevocable Trust, while a gift, is not tax deductible and, of course, it is not refundable.

Read David’s Personal Message to the World

Please fill out this simple form if you’d like to register your interest in helping with David’s recovery, including meal prep by schedule, etc.

If you’d like your words of “well wishes for a FAST recovery!” posted on this web site: please go ahead and fill out the form here and make sure to indicate that it’s OK to post on the web site, which is public.

————————————————————————(latest updates up top)————————————————————

David W. Oaks at a Colorado Rockies baseball game

May 6, 2013

After two snowed out games, David finally makes it to a Rockies Game.

The weatherman promised temps in the mid sixties. It was 59 just before the national anthem. Luckily we brought a blanket and a warm jacket. By the 7th inning stretch it was 55 with a 10 mph NE wind.








April 23, 2013

Maggie works with David on hand eye coordination or else it was Talk Like A Pirate Day.







April 22, 2013

One more chance for David to drive in the snow and ice. — with Cindy Smyth.







March 24, 2013

Please read David’s latest blog, “TOP 5 Benefits of Breaking Your Neck


March 21, 2013 (from brother Tony on Facebook)

David takes time out from his reading to pose with Ryan Harris of the Houston Texans and Eric Decker of the hometown Denver Broncos.

WAY cool Dave! 🙂







March 13, 2013 (from brother Tony on Facebook)

David rolling towards recovery,has told surgeon he is A-OK! Extubation was also successful, so stop in the ICU probably won’t happen.

REMINDER: Right now, the best way to make a contribution is to make your check payable to:

David W Oaks Irrevocable Trust

The bank tells us it would help them if you referenced account number 3008433244 in the memo line of your check. And please send your check directly to:

David W Oaks Irrevocable Trust
c/o Chase Bank
1100 Willamette St
Eugene OR 97401

Be sure to put your return address on your envelope. Every week, Debra picks up the deposits from the bank along with the envelopes and David’s mom tries to write a personal thank you note to each and every contributor.

Note: your contribution to the David W Oaks Irrevocable Trust, while a gift, is not tax deductible and, of course, it is not refundable.

March 12, 2013 (from brother Tony on Facebook)

David is scheduled for a laminectomy tomorrow at 7:30 am. The purpose is to relieve pressure on David’s spinal cord especially in the space immediately above the site of his injury. There is potential for both long term and short term benefits. The procedure should take about two hours. We are hoping David will be back rehabbing early next week. David may be a little loopy the first day or two after surgery. Mayo clinic and WebMd websites both explain that standard operating procedure is a lot of painkillers during recovery. I will post again tomorrow after Debra and I get the surgeon’s report – 9:30 ish (Mountain time).

March 7, 2013

A new spinal surgery is scheduled for about 8 days from today.  It’s to repair complications from the first surgery. Cards and letters would be most welcome and re-assuring.
Thank you!

David W. Oaks
c/o Guest Services
Craig Hospital
3425 S. Clarkson St.
Englewood, CO 80113 

Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013

Dave’s first extended test drive of his new powered wheel chair in the Craig Hospital Basketball court. Wheelchair rugby and basketball are important therapeutic strategies. Having a big open space to practice driving is also fantastic asset. (recorded 2/22/13)


Cards and letters are welcome!
Please send them to:
David W. Oaks, c/o Craig Hospital
3425 S. Clarkson St.
Englewood, CO 80113


Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013 (Tony via Facebook)

Picture of Dave with his new “arm boom.” The arm boom temporarily makes Dave’s driving arm weightless enabling him to drive his own wheelchair without fatigue. With enough exercise, Dave may not need the arm boom, but for now it makes a huge difference. The arm booms are made by an engineer (also named Dave) who works in a machine shop in the basement of Craig. Like one of Dave’s doctors and one of his nurses, Dave the engineer/creator of the arm boom is a wheel chair rider himself.




We’re getting fancy here these days! 🙂 Video made by Tony Oaks featuring your favorite unstoppable activist, David W. Oaks and his amazing wife Debra Nunez:


Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013 (via Tony on FB)

David had urinary tract infection that acted up the night before. I don’t think he got much sleep and he was still feeling uncomfortable in this morning. The docs had started antibiotics, gave him some Tylenol, let him nap and rest all afternoon. He was back to his old self by dinner time. He even felt well enough to join a group of patients watch the movie, “Ted” with Debra at his side.


Prepped for flight to U of Colorado Craig Hospital -“Who’s the head Bull Buffalo on this ward?”

Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013 (via Tony on Facebook)

Craig Hospital spinal cord injury program makes a great first impression. President of the Hospital came out of his office to greet Dave as he rolled by. Next rolled by Kathy from admissions who said “Welcome to Craig David, you’re in Room 302.”. We had about 5 minutes to catch our breath between when the air ambulance crew got David into his bed and staff start coming in one by one to introduce themselves and explain their role as members of David’s team. Initial assessment began with a photo of every red mark on Dave’s body followed by measurement with a ruler. Only then did they take a picture of Davids face. They took a “straight” picture and then one with the clown nose. Five minutes later in came Dr. “J” the lead doctor on David’s team. He introduced himself by saying he did not recognize David without his nose! As great as ORC was, this place really seems like the place for David.



Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013 (from Tony via Facebook)

David, Debra and I are headed to Craig Hospital, leaving Oregon Rehab Center at 9:30 AM tomorrow. David and I think our mom Violet will be ok during the next 28 days (or so). David found a great assistant (Julia) who should be able to hold down the fort while we are gone. Debra plans to come back to Eugene on Monday (in order to go back to work) and supervise the construction back home. I will stay with David until he throws me out or we get back to Eugene (whichever comes first). We are hoping that Craig Hospital [Denver, CO] will soon hook Dave back up to the internet and the telephone network as well as do all their other magic. Stay tuned.


Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013

Dressed and ready to report for work at ORC.
Notice the collar is gone and tracheostomy is now closed up for healing.




Saturday, February 2, 2013 (from Tony via Facebook)

Visiting hours for David at ORC are going to be different, if you are going to be a hands-on caregiver for Dave, you’re pretty much invited most of the time. If you are dropping by just to chat, ORC requests we save our visits for after 4:00 pm or else try to schedule things on Sunday. Debra is hoping her cold/cough goes away so that she can do sentinel duty the first two nights at ORC. While ORC is open to someone staying with the patient, most of the rooms (except for two) are very small. So Debra will be our scout. Look for new visitor calendar and instructions sometime around Wednesday.

Friday, Feb. 1, 2013 (from Tony via Facebook)

Oregon Rehabilitation Center representative came in and said we may be moving Dave to ORC as soon as noon on Monday.

Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013 (Via David’s friend Dale on Facebook)

Visiting David in the hospital. He looks very good. First time I have seen him in 3 weeks and I am very happy with his recovery. He says he feels good and we should keep planning for “Creative Maladjustment Week” this summer.

Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013

The family has agreed to allow visitors to see David. Please read the instructions here. Thanks again to all who have expressed interest in seeing him! 🙂

Friday, Jan. 25, 2013

A visitors calendar is being prepared to allow two visitors to the ICU at a time for BRIEF visits. Check this page again daily for updates on the details. Stay tuned.

Thanks, ~John

Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013 (from  Debra via David’s cell phone)

David had been off of the ventilator for a straight 48 hours with only a percentage of oxygen support (called trach-oxing).
48 hours being the requirement for being weaned off of a ventilator.At 7:15 am this morning the respiratory therapist tiptoed into davids room and quietly rolled away the respirator. She whispered to me “this is a big deal….he’s been successfully weaned off! He’s still asleep and doesn’t know yet.”


Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013 (via Tony)

Major milestone in Dave’s recovery: he went 24 hours without breathing assistance from the ventilator. Hopefully we can complete his ventilator “weaning” process before the insurance company drops the big bomb.

Not sure the insurance industry understands who they are dealing with here. Debra “happened” to have a Register-Guard reporter scheduled to interview Dave in his room the day the hospital social worker stopped by to tell us the insurance company was starting to turn the screws.


Saturday, Jan. 19th, 2013 

from John (me): Spent the night with Dave in ICU. His spirit and mood seems much better. Obviously, he’s not happy that it’s so difficult to make himself understood (his voice is so weak that I can barely make out a quarter of the words, but he tries so hard to annunciate in case I can read his lips). Overall, energy and mood: good; temperature: normal (so glad about this!).  This morning, when the nurse asked how he slept last night, he replied, “pretty good.” That’s great as far as I’m concerned! He needs all the rest he can get so his body can focus on healing. He needs to get off the ventilator for good. The respiratory care therapist had a chance to do quite a bit to clear out his lungs last night, so that helped him get the rest he needed.  His name is Rob. Thought I’d mention him because he deserves recognition. He is awesome!

from Tony: Dave and Debra had a meeting with David’s primary “intensivist” doctor. All energy must be directed towards getting Dave weaned off the ventilator. While many “C-level” spinal cord injury patients, especially those with ankylosing spondylitis, need continued breathing assistance from a ventilator, a ventilator would severely limit Dave’s choice of rehab facilities. Dave is now on a talk diet. More strawberry milkshakes and less talk. In fact, No more than 10 minutes of talk in an hour. This sounds easy but it ain’t. We may have to get duct tape and a straw. Dave’s record this week without the ventilator was 19 hours.


Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013 (via David Zupan)

The latest update from Debra today is that David is feeling much better and is smiling again though he is still weak and has lung problems. But she says he’s now able to move his hands a little like he could when he first arrived and is getting back towards where he needs to be after some very difficult setbacks.



Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013 (via Tony)


What a difference a day makes! Still silent Dave insisted on a breath of fresh air today. Dave’s favorite nurse (Rick) once again pulls off a miracle. Lots of good smiles all around. Definitely the best I have seen Dave all week.


Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013 (via Tony)

Dave’s fever this weekend was more serious than we initially thought. He has been having high temps ever since he got into the hospital. Spinal cord injuries mess up the body’s thermostat. So we thought no biggy while it was happening. Turns out this one spiked early Saturday at 107.6! Docs think they found the culprit, a urinary tract infection that apparently went septic.

Via Debra: He is on antibiotics to stop the urinary tract infection now.  Good news: I and the physical therapist on hand told him that he was slightly moving his arms a bit and again when the PT assisted him. He is able to push back a ltlltle even in his weakened stage.


Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013

Setback for David. David has been moved back to ICU with more intensive attention. David’s doctor felt he needed more close watch after discovering David had trach-induced pnuemonia. He said unfortunately it happens often with trach users. They have David on heavy antibiotics and extra oxygen due to his labored breathing. His wife, Debra said, “I feel so relieved to have him back here with the extra level of attention.”

More as soon as I get it. ~John

Monday, Jan. 7, 2013 (via Tony)

David is slowly recuperating from whatever knocked him for a loop late Thursday and most of Friday. Today he woke up when my mom and I walked into his room. He continues to be challenged with talking (only a faint whisper). Also finding the alphabet board challenging. Docs were going to try to sweep his lungs late this afternoon. Hopefully that will perk him up.

Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013 (via Tony)

Dave’s fever seems to have abated. He is Getting a lot of sleep. The family is starting to hear rumblings about moving Dave to rehab.


Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013 (via Tony) –  see photo (left)

Sporting a new high and tight haircut (a parting gift from his favorite nurse-Rick ), Dave reflects on a long day that included his first wheelchair ride and first breath of fresh air.

Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013  (via Tony)

Dave started the new year today with his first sip of coffee in month.

Monday, Dec. 31, 2012  (via Tony)

Major milestone alert! Dave successfully passed his barium flavored “swallow test”. His speech therapist celebrated by substituting a strawberry milkshake instead of the usual ice chip!


Dec. 30 (via Tony) –  see photo (left)

He’s got the hat, now he just needs some cattle! — with Phil Schulman and Violet Oaks at Sacred Heart Medical Center – RiverBend.


Dec. 28th (via Tony)

Report from Eugene: as Doctors promised, Dave was no longer flat on his back. Propped up, he was able to see TV and guests
without resorting to the rear view mirror I bought him last week.



Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012

6:45PM: GOOD NEWS! David’s 2nd surgery was a success!! He is well and resting post-surgery!


2PM: The 2nd surgery is finally underway today! Doctors estimate that it will take about 4 hours.


Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012

Word from Debra:

The doctors feel David’s lungs are in good shape and that he’s ready for his 2nd surgery. (Yay!) They think it will happen tomorrow (Thursday).

Stay tuned.

NEW: Read David’s Personal Message to the World


Sunday, Dec. 23, 2012

David’s condition remains stable. He is in good spirits and very grateful for all the cards and letters and emails of his kind family, friends and supporters.
He and his family remain optimistic that the doctors will operate soon after Christmas.
Happy Holidays  to all!


Saturday, Dec. 22, 2012

Debra has informed me that a special trust fund has been set up to allow people to donate for expenses that are not covered by insurance or Medicaid.
If you’d like to donate to this fund, please make your check out to: “David W. Oaks Irrevocable Trust
and send it to this address:

1100 Willamette St.
Eugene, OR 97401

Thanks in advance for your kind generosity in supporting David in this time of personal crisis.

Kind regards,
John Jordan-Cascade


Friday, Dec. 21st:

No change in his situation, except to say that the new rotating bed his doctors set him up with is working very well to keep his lungs clearer. Yay!

David’s brother, Tony, asked me to pass along this message along to all who read this page:
Happy Winter Solstice! 🙂


Wednesday, Dec. 19th:

Word from Debra, David’s wife…

David’s temp is down! He’s without fever for the first time in 2 weeks. (Yay!!)

He’s also able to talk for 15 minutes every few hours or so.

He’s on a ‘Roto-Bed’ and that helped keep the fluid from settling in his lungs. She said that they had been manually rotating him from back to stomach, but they were worried about the pressure that might put on the break in his neck. They put him in a bed that gently, automatically rotates him.


Monday, Dec. 17, 2012

David’s temperature is down today. He’s still using a reader board to communicate.


Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012

David, has unfortunately developed pneumonia, which is common for those for those who are bed-ridden in the hospital for long periods. He’s on an anti-biotic regimen. Doctors say they caught it in time.


Friday, Dec. 14, 2012

Update from Martha Evans:

David had a tracheotomy today and it was successful!  The surgery was short and David is off the ventilator and can talk  in a whisper.  His voice will get stronger.



Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012

7PM: The word from Debra: the procedure to clear out David’s lungs was successful! Yay!


Monday, Dec. 10, 2012

7 PM: Word from Tony, David’s brother: the procedure to clear out David’s lungs from fluid is scheduled for tomorrow (Tues.) morning. After that, docs will evaluate his condition to see if he is re4ady for the 2nd surgery.

9 AM: MindFreedom released this news item on their web site today describing what happened.

Sunday, Dec. 9, 2012

Got a call from David’s brother Tony. The docs are planning a procedure to clear up David’s lungs tomorrow (Monday). They will then evaluate his condition and determine if he’s ready for surgery on Tuesday.

I am posting the well wishes from friends and supporters on this page:
Please fill out this form if you want your words posted there.

If you believe in the power of prayer and thoughts of loving-kindness, please send them to Springfield, Oregon (Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend).
Love and blessings,

Saturday, Dec. 8, 2012

No change. The surgery is being postponed until David is physically ready for the rigors of a major surgery.

I delivered the words of encouragement you’ve sent via the form on this web site to Debra today. She intends to read it to David when she’s able to.
She was very appreciative of all the wonderful, kind thoughts, wishes and prayers from David’s friends and supporters. THANK YOU!



Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012

David and Dale prepare to cheer up his Doctors!

Photo provided by LaTonya, MindFreedom staffer–taken by David’s brother, Tony. Thanks, Tony and LaTonya! 🙂

7PM: From Debra: “Cards and letters of support…can be sent to our home, 2000 City View, Eugene, OR 97405 or to the MindFreedom office at 454 Willamette St. Eugene, OR 97401.”

More soon…

Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012

7:30 PM

Word from Dale who was at hospital today: David’s surgery postponed again. He reports that David is aware, willing to communicate (through a clipboard with letters on it) and “very much himself.”

3 PM

From LaTonya (MindFreedom staffer):
I had a call earlier in the day from Debra. She couldn’t talk long as she was going to a meeting. She said David was stable enough to head into surgery between 1 and 2pm. She said cards to the MindFreedom office would be great and encouraging for David.  She also thanked everyone for their support!

I just got a voice mail from David’s brother, Tony. He said surgery will happen, but not for another half an hour or so. Tony says that David is anxious for the surgery so that he can have the ventilator tube removed. We’ll know the results of this surgery after 6 or 7pm PST.

CARDS can be sent to:
David Oaks c/o MindFreedom International
P.O. Box 11284
Eugene, OR 97440-3484 USA


Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012 – 7:30PM

No surgery today. Doctors are postponing until they feel he’s ready.

Update from Debra (8 PM): Surgery possible tomorrow or Thursday. David is happy about that possibility, as that will allow him to remove feeding tube and respirator so he can breathe on his own.

What she said they would need a lot of help with will come in the time after leaving the hospital (est. he will be in ICU another week).
When he is moved into a Rehab unit (probably campus branch of Sacred Heart), they will need volunteers to go to encourage his rehab progress and that’s when meal prep will also be quite valuable.

Reminder: if you haven’t already, please fill out the form I created to indicate how you’d like to help out and I will coordinate the people who will contact you when your help is needed.

Blessings, John


Monday, Dec. 3, 2012

Word from Dale Kegley (Debra left him a message):


NO SURGERY TODAY – they will try again tomorrow.

If you need to make a call, please DO NOT call the ICU for updates. Try the MindFreedom office: 541-345-9106 during business hours or office staffer LaTonya at home: 541-484-7078.

NOTE to those who would like to share this web page:
I created an easy to remember web address to pass along to those who’d like to know David’s progress:
That will take people to the page you’re now reading.

Please let me know if you’d like to be on my list for meal contributors when the time comes (unknown at this point):
Blessings, John


Date: Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012

1st surgery today to remove blood clot was successful!

surgery scheduled tomorrow to put in rods to create a brace for spine support (est. 7 hours)

Debra will be sleeping in room with David this evening

David will likely have to stay in hospital a week

once he’s back home, we will need to create a coordinated schedule to provide meals to them (my comment: I’m sure Debra will be overwhelmed!)
Send me an email if you’d like to be included in that duty rotation, please.

I am making plans to get an estimate for putting in a ramp for a wheelchair.

Susan is planning on heading up the effort to investigate what needs to be done for insurance. Thinking ahead, I’m guessing it might be valuable to work on raising some emergency funds to help them get done whatever insurance doesn’t cover. Don’t do anything yet, but you can check in with me if you like the idea and would like to help with that.

7PM UPDATE: docs are saying David will not be able to have visitors until Friday they say.