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Attorney Reeder's recovery is amazing

Back on the job without impairment after sudden brain hemmorhage

by: Photo By Susan Matheny - Balloons welcome attorney Don Reeder back to the office on June 13.


   After a sudden brain hemorrhage put him in the hospital, where he quit breathing and had to be revived twice, it seems incredible that Madras attorney Don Reeder, 58, is back at work and suffering no ill effects.
   April 20, the day of his trauma, Reeder had gone home from work and was upstairs late at night watching TV when he fell asleep. He remembers getting up to walk to the bathroom, but that's all.
   "My wife Cindy heard something weird upstairs, so she came up and found me with a blank stare on my face, then tried to grab me as I fell," Reeder related.
   Cindy Reeder had just happened to return home a day early from the Willamette Valley where she was helping their daughter Shelbi with wedding plans.
   "If Cindy hadn't found me, I probably wouldn't have lived," Reeder said.
   There was blood on his pillow, apparently because he had bitten his tongue while having a seizure.
   She immediately called the ambulance and he was taken to Mountain View Hospital, then transferred to St. Charles Medical Center in Bend.
   He remembers Bob Ringering, Norma Barnes, and Loy and Carol Petersen visiting him briefly in the intensive care unit before doctors put him in a drug-induced coma while they investigated the problem. Tests showed he had a brain hemorrhage.
   The next day, April 21, Reeder suffered another seizure during which he "coded," or quit breathing, and had to be revived. A CT scan revealed a golf ball-sized blood clot on the right side of his brain.
   "Dr. Kent Yundt (a neurosurgeon) did surgery and took it out. I praise Dr. Yundt; it was amazing what he was able to do. Dr. Lieuallen said later he saw my CT scan and thought I wouldn't make it," Reeder said.
   By another coincidence, his son Steve Reeder, who is studying to be a physician assistant, was scheduled to work a rotation at St. Charles Medical Center, and was able to be there at the same time as his dad.
   Steve Reeder wrote a daily blog on the "CaringBridge," website to translate medical jargon and update his dad's coworkers, relatives, and friends so the family wouldn't be overwhelmed with phone calls.
   His April 22 blog entry noted, "Dad had surgery and they removed the blood clot, but they couldn't find the cause. After surgery, there was no further sign of bleeding."
   Steve and other family members were there when his dad woke up following surgery.
   "I remember (doctors) trying to get me to count backwards from 100 by sevens, and spell the word `world' backwards. Then they asked me to get up and try to walk or speak, but I didn't know why or understand what was going on," Don Reeder said.
   He later was told the requests were to test for deficits following the surgery. With a right brain trauma, there could be deficits on the left side of the body, he learned.
   Several days later, three blood clots were found in Reeder's right leg and he had to undergo a second surgery to place a blood clot filter in his leg. He was put on blood thinners, one of which was administered as a daily shot in the stomach. He was also given pain medication for the excruciating headaches he was suffering.
   On April 28, he was transferred to rehabilitation at St. Charles where he worked on listening, focusing and conversing skills, and progressed to the point that he had 100 percent on the physical and mental outpatient tests.
   On Mother's Day, May 5, Reeder was able to come home to Madras.
   "I guess I beat the odds in that less than 10 percent of all patients with my brain injury and treatment have the capacity that I do," his blog entry said. "All the visits from family and friends helped pull me through," he added.
   He said he wanted to thank Madras Free Methodist Pastor Rick Russell for supporting him and his family, attorney Paul Sumner for taking over his work on the Jefferson Scholarship Committee, the attorneys and staff at his law firm "for picking up the slack, because I have a very heavy workload," Dr. Doug Lieuallen for the excellent aftercare, and everyone in the community for their thoughts, kind words, prayers, cards and posts.
   "It's like waking up after you've had a funeral, and finding out you're alive, and seeing how many people are concerned about you. You're very humbled by that," Reeder said of the community's outpouring of concern for him.
   He was amazed to see how much Madras had changed in his absence, with the Madras Cinema 5 theater completed, and the COCC building well on its way. "I felt like Rip Van Winkle returning home," he said.
   His doctor's instructions said he was not to go to the office until he was released from care. Instead, he was given jigsaw and word puzzles to work on, which he did not relish.
   "So, I had Kathy at the office bring things to me at the house twice a day. Like any good attorney, I found a loophole," he chuckled.
   On June 13, Reeder was released to return to work half days, and said his only problem is stamina. "To not have any physical or mental deficits with this -- it's a real miracle," he said.
   "Unless you have experienced it, you don't understand what people go through," he said of brain trauma and rehabilitation.
   "When I was in rehab, I was able to walk down the hall and look into some of the rooms at St. Charles.
   Some patients could hardly get out of bed or speak, and those are the people that should be admired," he said, adding, "I can't imagine what they are going through, and I just praise them for fighting and coming back."
   Reeder still doesn't know the cause of his brain hemorrhage. While he admitted his job is stressful, he said he has low blood pressure, no cholesterol problems, and doesn't smoke.
   Now, he's just glad to be back at work, and is planning to take the time to play a little more disc golf.
   "When something like this happens, you just enjoy each day, because you never know if it will be your last," Reeder observed.