Kirsten is out of hospital, now an outpatient
Sunday, December 30, 2012
I’m very pleased to say that I am now officially an outpatient! This means that I will continue my recovery by regularly meeting with physical therapists, occupational therapists, and a lot of other therapists, but that I get to live at my parents home!
I might be the first 28 year old this excited about living with my parents . But it is obviously a huge step up from being a hospital resident.
As far as my recovery goes, I’m walking everywhere, going up and down stairs, and inching my way back to being able to do my yoga and pilates again (yes, I’m excited about that!).
As far as how I’m doing emotionally, I continue to feel immensely indebted to my family members and friends who have given so much to me and my parents during the past few months.
I’m incredibly indebted to the care from my doctors, nurses, and the professional support staff from Craig Hospital in Denver and Waikato Hospital in New Zealand.
It’s because of all these people that I’m able to sit here this morning, updating the blog, sipping coffee, and chatting with my parents about New Year's plans.
I lost the love of my life. But I’m lucky to still have this much love in my life. And that gratitude helps me get closer and closer to normal.
Hoping all had a wonderful Christmas holiday and wishing you a Happy New Year.
Kirsten's condition continues to improve
20 December 2012
10 November 2012
Kirsten’s condition continues to improve as she needs much less medical support and is primarily facing more and more physical and occupational challenges.
She is strengthening herself with workouts with the PT team, meeting the trials of getting back into the things we all do in life, and keeping all those doctors and nurses from bothering her all the time.
She is much more mobile now getting around the facility with ease.
Her amnesia of recent events continues, but more and more current activities are being recalled.
She is greatly appreciative of all the cards and emails she is receiving and they decorate her walls. It’s not yet time to have visitors as the added excitement conflicts with her need for rest and relaxation. Her mind and body need to heal.
The therapists are doing a wonderful job of continuing her rapid progress, but this takes a toll on her stamina.
Kirsten’s wit and humor are dominating her daily interactions with all the staff. They are always on guard for an unexpected quip or comment that surprises them all.
Quote of the week from Kirsten:
“Sometimes it’s good to have something like this happen, because you learn you can live through it.”
Keep in touch with Kirsten's journey.
Kirsten arrives home safe and sound -Thursday 26 October 6.15am
Kirsten Steinke's FlightAware plane touched down at Centennial Airport in Denver, Colorado at 8.51am on 23 October (3.51am NZ time 24 October).
Back in the USA - Waitomo News feature
Homeward bound 23 October 10.15am
Thank you New Zealand! Kirsten Steinke is in the air heading to her home in Denver, Colorado.
Her flight took off from Hamilton International Airport this morning with her mother Gerri aboard.
The staff at Waikato Hospital finalised all the complexities of her return by working through the long holiday weekend.
She has attained the strength to make the long journey half way round the world.
Kirsten will be reunited with her network of friends, co-workers, and family.
We thank all of the people that have prayed and energised her spirit to enable this day to happen.
We have recorded every email, every letter, and every inquiry and will continue to communicate her miraculous journey to all.
We had a wonderful experience with the New Zealand media on Monday.
They were considerate, insightful, and completely respectful of the situation.
Questions were to the point, of interest to the New Zealand population, and accentuated the continuing need to support first response systems like the trauma network of the Waikato district.
Equipment like the helicopter and first response teams do not have an infinite life. Our network will commit to support this effort as a way to pay forward the life of our daughter.
Some of New Zealand’s finest provided an escort to Auckland Airport Monday night.
Air New Zealand added some special touches to ease the journey home.
Video and audio from media conference 11.15pm
Thanks to Indie Films, we have the media conference available in video. We also have the full audio transcript.
We appreciated all the messages from the United States - Kirsten will soon be home and she goes with much aroha (love). Her spirit and courage have touched us all. :)
The Waikato Rivertones are in Denver, Colorado this week for the world harmony championships.
Some of our staff are participating so if you can support them, they would love it!
Haere ra Kirsten, Jim and Gerri. Mary Anne Gill
Statement From Kirsten’s Father Jim Steinke - Monday 22 October 11.15pm
We travelled to New Zealand with Gary and Jean Stithem, the parents of Kallan Stithem, and arrived in Hamilton at Waikato Hospital on Saturday 22 September with no plans for our personal needs.
The staff here in Hamilton have been generous with their time and attention and made this unique journey for us much easier.
The very first conversation we had with Waikato District Health Board staff was an assurance that everything possible was being done to ensure the survival of Kirsten, eliminated all the concerns we had with unplanned travel, and assured us we were welcome to stay so close to our daughter in Hilda Ross.
The generosity, support, and kindness of the people here in Waikato and New Zealand has been exemplary.
Jenny Dorrian from the trauma team has been an angel sent from God to help us through this.
She has been an advocate for Kirsten’s well being, donated countless hours and energy to make our stay easier, and added in many hugs and prayers to add to the worldwide energy generated on Kirsten’s behalf.
Also thanks to the medivac and emergency department teams that responded and undoubtedly saved her life. We don’t know any of their names, but they also deserve a thank you from grateful parents. Thanks to the police, at the scene particularly Jacqui Fitzgerald, and to the rescue services including the Westpac Waikato air ambulance.
The ICU nursing staff have been kind, giving, and many have taken a personal interest in Kirsten’s recovery.
I cannot remember all the names, but Brian, Sally, Anthony, Megan, Emma, Leah, LeeAnne, Nikki, Anica, Jane, Cheryl, Kathy, David, Cathie – Jill, Diane, and Jo – Colleen and Robert that run these units, Matthew, Caroline, Annette that herd the cats, Drs McCracken, and Jogia who was so responsive to our needs when we were still in the US and then here again in New Zealand.
Then there are the teams in the high dependency unit and the ward Kirsten is currently in before her return home. I thank each and every one of them.
I am sure I have missed some, but only because they all performed so well in what must be a very difficult place to work. Thanks to all and we will find a way to keep them informed as Kirsten progresses back to her life in the US.
Drs. Evans and Lau juggled their schedules to find the time to repair Kirsten’s jaw. This as Dr Lau was preparing to go on holiday to Australia and Dr. Evans was not scheduled to be in hospital.
This has given her immeasurable relief and we are sure is contributing to a miraculous recovery.
Mary Anne Gill has eased our efforts to communicate to the many that we and Kirsten have wanted to update around the world. She is a true professional in her role, and has kept so many people informed with her communications skills.
She helped us contact the truck driver so we could meet and provide him with some comfort to regain pieces of his life that are forever scarred. They gave Kirsten a Maori pendant for her safe journey over water. Very sweet and touching. Gerri and I have also been given Maori pendants from the police here in Hamilton for our safe travel and we thank them.
We asked if there was any way we could return some of the kindness and agreed on the Philips Search and Rescue Trust.
See pictures of the media conference on Facebook.
Jim Steinke held a media conference on Monday 22 October, 2012 at 11am. Media advisory. VIDEO: Statement From Kirsten's Father Jim Steinke (Full Story)
Philips Search and Rescue Trust and Prime Minister gives cheque to air ambulance.
Sunday 21 October 3.25pm
Thanks to her Smith spirit as well as the care she has received from the nursing and support staff, Kirsten continues to become stronger and more independent every day.
The physiotherapy staff continue to challenge her to build her strength preparing to head back home.
She is now in a quieter room to allow her much needed rest. Many of the cards, letters, and personal notes people have sent adorn her walls.
Emails continue to come in and are read by the family every day. Many are read to Kirsten and she is now reading some on her own.
The support and concern of so many Kiwis is appreciated by the family every day.
Monday 15 October, 3.30pm
Kirsten Steinke has been moved from Waikato Hospital's High Dependency Unit to a ward in preparation for her return to the United States.
She is in a stable and improving condition. The ward is much quieter and more peaceful to give her some needed rest.
Parents Jim and Gerri Steinke say the care their daughter received in HDU enabled her to improve her strength and become far more independent.
"Plans are being made to return her home in the near future.
"Thank you all your prayers, support, and caring."
* Hundreds of emails, letters and messages have been received from both New Zealand and the US for Kirsten.
Thursday 11 October, 4.30pm
Kirsten continues to improve daily, gathering strength, starting to request things, wanting all these medical people to stop poking and prodding her.
We are reading the email, cards, letters to her. Keep them coming. She smiles and recognises so many that have come from her friends and relatives.
We are so grateful for all this support and all the prayers. They are working a miracle right before our eyes.
Thank you from Jim, Gerri and Kirsten Steinke.
Tuesday 9 October, 11am
American Kirsten Steinke, 28, who was involved in a car accident near Waitomo Caves on 20 September in which her husband Kallan Stithem, 31, died, has been transferred out of intensive care to the newly opened high dependency unit at Waikato Hospital.
Her condition has improved to the point that she can begin her recovery and gather her strength, her parents said today.
Jim and Gerri Steinke say their daughter was continuing to communicate with them and hospital staff "thanks to the world wide efforts of support and prayer by so many."
Her condition is now listed as serious but stable. Messages of support from New Zealand and the US have been emailed to email@example.com and posted on Waikato DHB's Facebook and Twitter pages.
"We would like to take this time to thank all the nurses, consultants, support staff, and registrars in the ICU for their tireless efforts in caring for Kirsten.
"We would like to give a special thank you to Annette Forrest and maxillofacial surgeons Steve Evans and Simon Lou for ensuring that Kirsten's jaw surgery was accomplished before more serious problems developed.
"Daunting obstacles of staffing, coordination, and unexpected emergencies were overcome to speed Kirsten's healing," the couple said.
* Meanwhile doctors and nurses from Waikato Hospital will arrive in Denver, Colorado today for the 2012 American College of Emergency Physicians Scientific Assembly from 8 to 11 October. Read more about their trip.
Thursday 4 October, 4.35pm
Kirsten Steinke remains in a critical but stable condition in Waikato Hospital's intensive care unit.
Wednesday 3 October, 4.40pm
Kirsten Steinke is responding to her parents' voices as they read the emails that have come in for her from around New Zealand and the United States to the firstname.lastname@example.org website and to Waikato DHB's Facebook account.
While she is still in the intensive care unit, Kirsten's condition has improved to critical but stable.
"Keep those messages coming," said Jim Steinke. "We know she's responding to them."
Monday 1 October, midday
A 36-year-old Auckland man is in a critical condition in Waikato Hospital's intensive care unit foolowing a motocross accident on Sunday 30 September.
The Westpac Waikato Air Ambulance transported a Waikato Hospital ICU team to Taupo Hospital to retrieve the man who crashed while riding at the Taupo Moto-X track. The man suffered massive chest injuries, with multiple fractures. He was flown to Waikato Hospital in critical condition after being stabilised at Taupo Hospital.
Kirsten Steinke update - Monday 1 October, midday
Jim and Gerri Steinke and Gary and Jean Stithem have today thanked everyone for their continued support, offers of help and immeasurable kindness following the fatal crash at the Waitomo Caves intersection on SH3 on Thursday morning 20 September.
Kallan Stithem, 31, died at the scene while Kirsten Steinke, 28, was brought to Waikato Hospital by the Westpac Waikato air ambulance where she remains in a critical condition in intensive care unit.
Mr and Mrs Stithem returned home to Denver, Colorado last week with their son's ashes. A vigil attended by more than 100 people was held for him in downtown Denver last Thursday night US time (Friday afternoon NZ time).
"We have very little ability to thank everyone as our focus is on Kirsten," said Mr Steinke today.
"But please be assured we are reading every email and every message passed onto us. In time we will respond to them," he said.
Messages for Kirsten to email@example.com
Request a high resolution copy via the photo gallery.
Sunday 23 September 2.45pm
The parents of American newly-weds Kallan Stithem, 31, and Kirsten Steinke, 28, have paid tribute to all those involved in looking after the couple following the fatal crash at the Waitomo Caves intersection at State Highway 3 on Thursday morning 20 September.
Gary and Jean Stithem and Jim and Gerri Steinke, both from Denver, Colorado arrived in New Zealand yesterday morning and drove down to Waikato Hospital where they were reunited with their children.
Kallan died at the scene and his body was brought to Waikato Hospital’s mortuary.
Kirsten remains in a critical condition in Waikato Hospital’s intensive care unit.
Both parents thanked all those who responded so quickly at the scene including fire fighters, two midwives, emergency service personnel and the Westpac Waikato air ambulance.
They also singled out the service provided by Air New Zealand as part of their bereavement policy. From the moment both couples checked in at Los Angeles International Airport, Air New Zealand ensured they were “red tagged” right through to Auckland Airport and fast tracked through Customs with the help of the New Zealand Police.
From New Zealand they thanked Matt Brady of Pan Pacific, consular officers from the American consulate, Jacky Fitzgerald of New Zealand Police (Te Kuiti) and staff at Waikato Hospital, particularly the intensive care unit, emergency department and communications.
“We also want to express our heartfelt appreciation for the generous offers of assistance from New Zealanders who understand our sorrow and tragedy. The enormous generosity of so many people of this nation has touched our hearts. Thank you all,” said the couples.
Condition updates will appear on www.waikatodhb.health.nz/kirsten
Attached is a picture taken on the Kallan and Kirsten’s wedding day. No on-sales please. The family are sourcing other photos which may become available after tomorrow.
Saturday 22 September 12.30pm
Kirsten Steinke still remains in a critical condition in intensive care at Waikato Hospital.
Saturday 22 September 6.30am
Kirsten Steinke, 28, remains in a critical condition in intensive care at Waikato Hospital. We hope to provide updates today including an indication of what members of the couple's family are travelling to New Zealand.
You can subscribe to the Waikato DHB Twitter account @WaikatoDHB for updates on Kristen. @CUDenverNews is following them now. Send messages of support to firstname.lastname@example.org
21 September 2012 - Update from NZ Police
Police can now name the American couple involved in the fatal crash at the Waitomo Caves intersection at State Highway Three yesterday.
The deceased was 31 year old Kenneth Stithem. His 28 year old wife, Kirsten Steinke, remains in Waikato Hospital.
Friday 21 September 6.05am
A 28 year old American woman is critical in intensive care at Waikato Hospital following yesterday's fatal collision at Waitomo.
Waikato DHB is unable to make any further comment at this stage.