Bill's Obituary

William Ryan
William Thomas Ryan, age 68, of Seymour, the beloved husband of Dawn E. Williams Ryan for 49 years, entered into eternal rest on August 4, 2009 at Bridgeport Hospital due to complications from a serious burn accident, surrounded by his loving family.

Bill was born in Milford, CT on October 9, 1940, the beloved son of the late Howard and Helen Macfarlane Ryan. He was a former member of the Great Hill Methodist Church. He was a Master Mason of Ansantawae Lodge #89 A.F. and A.M. of Milford. Bill was also a member of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, Valley of New Haven, as well as the York Rite Commandery #2, Hamilton Commandery #5, and the Pyramid Shriners #9, Milford.

Bill was a resident of Seymour for 37 years and was the Owner and President of Ryan Contractors and Builders of Seymour. He was a Board Member of the Inland/Wetlands Commission of Seymour and a Board Member of the Seymour High School Building Commmittee. Bill was a former volunteer member of the Devon (Milford) Firefighters Company #4. He was also an avid custom car enthusiast, a voracious reader, and enjoyed gardening and skiing.

He will be sadly missed by his family and many friends. His loving family, in addition to his beloved wife, Dawn, includes his cherished children, James Ryan and his wife, Jackie, of Maine; his daughter Nancy Smerekanicz and her husband Joseph, of Southbury; and his daughter Kerry Smith and her husband, Noel of Ansonia; his loving sister, Cora Nichols of Oxford; his caring brother, Howard Ryan and his wife, Maureen, of Southbury; his cherished grandchildren, Jamie, Jeremy, Samantha, Ashley, Brandon, Elizabeth, and Ellie and four loving great-grandchildren, Charity, Taner, Trinity, and Wynter; and several caring nieces and nephews. He is predeceased by his beloved brother, Jim Ryan.

Friends and relatives may call at the Funeral Home on THURSDAY evening from 4:00 to 8:00 pm. Interment will be held in Mountain Meadows Cemetery, Seymour. A Masonic Service will be held at 7:00 p.m. Thursday evening, at the Funeral Home.

A Funeral Service in celebration of Bills’ life will be held FRIDAY at 11:00 am in the chapel of the MILLER-WARD FUNERAL HOME, 260 Banks Street, Seymour, (across from Klarides Village) with the Reverend Walter Pittman, Pastor of the United Church of Christ, Southbury, officiating.

In lieu of flowers, the family strongly requests that memorial gifts in Bill’s name be made to The Bridgeport Hospital Foundation Burn Fund, 267 Grant Street, Bridgeport, CT 06610.

August 4, 2009

With heavy hearts we said our goodbyes to Bill, Dad, Grandpa, PaPa, Great-grandpa, Uncle Bill, Billy, and our thick-headed Irishman.

At 2am he passed away and is now in the hands of our Lord.

Our family would appreciate hearing any short stories or anecdotes you may have about Bill. Your previous comments have really shown how many lives he has touched in so many different ways. Your comments have brought us to tears and have also made us laugh.

Details of arrangements will follow.


August 3, 2009

At 11:30 pm last night, the surgeon decided that Bill needed to once again go into the OR because his condition was not improving. His abdominal cavity was flushed to remove any remaining contamination that may have been contributing to his decline.

He made it through the surgery, but it did not help improve his situation. He underwent a dialysis procedure this morning because his kidneys have shut down. The dialysis did not go as well as expected due to his blood pressure dropping. He also experienced issues with his heart most likely due to a high potassium level. His liver is also declining.

We met with the doctor in charge this morning who informed us that things are bad. It was decided to give the family 24 hours to reconcile with letting Bill go.


August 2, 2009

We are sorry to say that Bill took ten steps backward today. He is critical and seriously unstable.

At 2am he was rushed to the OR to remove a perforated colon. After 5 hours of surgery to remove the colon, the surgeon decided to temporarily close off his ileum (the last portion of the small intestine) and try to stabilize him for 24 hours. Tomorrow he plans on giving Bill an ileostomy, which provides a new path for waste material to leave the body after part of the intestine (colon) has been removed. The surgeon may also remove Bill's gallbladder, which is contributing to some of his complications.

The surgeon brought us very grave news that Bill has a small chance of recovery due to so many factors and complications. The main concern is that a perforation of the colon releases lots of toxins into the abdominal cavity, and from there into the blood stream, affecting other organs.

We spent the day praying, gathering around Bill and holding on to that small chance of hope. As of 10pm tonight we continue to be hopeful, because he made it this far.

He is receiving large doses of antibiotics, a lot of fluids, pain, blood pressure and sedation medicines to help him remain stable. His heart rate was good throughout the day.

Please pray for Bill.


August 1, 2009

Bill is progressing nicely although he remains in critical, but stable condition.

His pain and sedation medicines are slowly being reduced and he is tolerating the decrease well. His blood pressure, temperature and heart rate are stable.

He continues to open his eyes - usually when he is being "fussed" with - bedding changes, dressing changes, respiratory care, chest x-ray, etc.

A much needed quiet day today. We'd like this to continue for a few days so his grafts will have some time to adhere.


July 31, 2009

Today, we held a family (seven of us) meeting with the doctor and nurses to discuss Bill's progress and where he's headed these next months.

The doctor said we can be cautiously optimistic, but to remember we are not out of the woods yet. Bill will be considered in critical condition as long as he is on the ventilator.

The main concern as we go further is infection.

The next steps will be decreasing sedation and pain medicines. Sometimes emergence of patients can take up to a month. Then, they will work on getting him off the ventilator and on oxygen. Physical therapy will be continued throughout. He will go back for surgery a couple more times to re-graft donor skin and areas that have not adhered.

After our meeting we all felt Bill is receiving the best care possible. All our questions were answered or addressed. The nurses and staff have been caring and patient with our unending questions!

Thank You for all your positive comments and heartfelt prayers for Bill's recovery and family. This gives us hope and keeps us strong for him.


July 30, 2009

Thank you to everyone for your thoughts and prayers - they helped tremendously because yesterday's grafting surgery went quite well!! They took him down for surgery around 3:30pm and he returned around 7:30pm. We were able to visit with him after he was settled in his room. He opened his eyes in response to voices again.

The donor skin on his upper right arm was replaced by his own. His right hand was re-grafted with his own skin because it didn't adhere the first time. He received donor skin on his chest.

He also received a tracheotomy to replace the intubation tube in his mouth. He remains on a respirator through the tracheotomy, which continues to breathe for him. He also has a feeding tube in his nose and another in his mouth for suction.

His face is no longer wrapped in gauze. It's wonderful to see him! He looks as if he received a really bad sunburn - all pink. He's a little swollen in his face and neck due to surgery.

Today, ALL his vitals are GOOD. He continues to respond to voices by opening his eyes. Things are finally looking up - yeah!


July 28, 2009

The Big Guy had a good day today. His blood pressure remained stable. His temperature was a little low, but okay.

He is receiving a new antibiotic due to yet another discovered infection. We were told that different courses of antibiotics are commonly given to burn patients due to the many different types of infections that inevitably arise.

Now, for the great news!! Bill opened his pearly blue eyes today while a nurse was working with him. Dawn asked him to blink if he heard her - and he did! Then, she asked him to move his foot - and he did this as well! He opened his eyes a couple hours later when his arm was raised for another procedure. It seems as if he was wondering "What are you doing to me now?" This does not mean that he is "waking up". We are sure he won't remember a thing but boy, it was so nice to see him respond.

He is still on track for grafting surgery on his chest, upper right arm and possibly his face tomorrow morning. If all goes well with the grafting, he may also receive a tracheotomy to replace the intubation tube.

Please keep the Big Guy in your prayers, as tomorrow is an important day for him.


July 27, 2009

Bill's blood pressure continues to be an issue. Because of this, he will not have grafting surgery today. He is scheduled for this Wednesday if all goes well.

Infection is also a factor these days. He is still receiving antibiotics for a blood infection. The site where he receives his medicines will be changed to his upper left arm due to infection.

His temperature has returned to normal today and his "Bear Hug" blanket has gone away. His blood pressure is stable since this morning. Yeah!

We are realizing that we have to take things SLOWLY - sometimes hour by hour. It's tough to predict what or how Bill might be doing tomorrow.

He has not been conscious since the night of the accident due to sedation. This will most likely continue for awhile. So, we watch and wonder if he hears us.


July 26, 2009

Bill is critical and unstable.

Unfortunately, for the past two days Bill's blood pressure has not been cooperating. Currently, he is on a different medicine to increase his BP. So far, he has received 4 units of blood to help with blood pressure issues.

He is not breathing on his own and continues to be in a drug-induced coma. He still can not communicate with us, but we are certainly giving him a piece of our minds to keep on fighting!

Feeding was a little unstable for the past two days, but for now he is back on track.

He has a "Bear Hug" blanket on him because his body temperature is too low. The blanket gives him more heat - we all want one!!


July 24, 2009

After many stressful days today is, thankfully, a little calmer.

Since the kidney stone issue was addressed, Bill's BP has stabilized. His "baby formula" is now at his intake goal. Things are "moving along" well. He finally POOPED!!! The nurses are thrilled!

If you are having difficulty adding a comment to this blog, try addressing your post as "Anonymous"


July 23, 2009

Today was quite a day filled with many ups and downs.

Last night Bill had a full body CAT scan because his blood pressure went too high yesterday and once more this morning. The anesthesiologist decided that due to variations in his BP, grafting surgery would not happen today.

A kidney stone and gall bladder stones were discovered from the CAT scan. Pain from the kidney stone along with the burns may be driving his BP too high. Issues with the kidney stone were addressed through a procedure which took about 30 min and Bill tolerated it well.

It looks like he will have a few days rest before he goes in for his next graft surgery on his chest and possibly face. We are hoping for surgery on Monday, if Bill cooperates!


July 22, 2009

Today is a big day for Bill.

Variations in blood pressure continue to be a major issue. The Drs. are looking into the causes of this. He gave everyone quite a scare this morning when his BP spiked into the 280s. Fluid input was lowered, his ventilation was changed and he was given nitroglycerin for a few minutes. He responded well to these changes and was stable long enough for the grafts on both arms to be checked.

Great news - both arms look good! The grafts have taken and look as healthy as expected. However, his hands may involve more grafting in the future.

He is scheduled for a chest graft tomorrow morning. The Drs. will take skin from his abdomen for this. They also anticipate replacing the donor skin on his upper right arm with skin from his abdomen. They may also need to graft on his face depending on the severity of the burns.

He continues to be in critical, but stable condition. He has an infection in his blood and is being treated with antibiotics. Infection of any type is a serious threat to Bill's recovery and the Drs. want to minimize this threat as much as possible. Therefore, visitation is being restricted to family members.

He looks like a mummy all wrapped in gauze. The swelling in his face seems to have decreased and his eyelids look unharmed. They gave him a short haircut and we can see some short silver spikes at the top of his head. He remains on the ventilator and does not communicate. However, this doesn't stop us from chatting with him!

Thank you for all your prayers and concern - it gives us strength.


July 19, 2009

After some difficulty yesterday of reinserting Bill's feeding tube the nurse was patting herself on her back as she did the job successfully. He is still on a respirator, EKG monitor, PIC line, sedation and pain meds.

He can't talk to us due to his sedated state, but we still talk to him hoping he can hear something. As we watch the monitors, we can see that he is trying to breathe on his own at times. He now has a "fancy" bed which slowly moves him from side to side helping his circulation.


July 18, 2009

Bill is stable and continuing to go forward. The donor sites on his thighs are open to the air to promote healing. The Drs. are telling us that they will debride and skin graft his chest sometime next week.

Please keep him in your prayers. Thank You, Dawn and family


July 17, 2009

Bill had a good night. He went to the operating room this morning at 9:00am for his debriding and skin graph surgery. They worked on his hands and arms. They were able to use his own skin from his thighs with a small amount of donor skin on his upper right arm.

He returned to the room around 3:30pm. He did well throughout the operation. He's still following predicted expectations! We find it amazing that he's following directions.


July 16, 2009

Today Bill is still critical, but stable. Doctors continue pushing fluids. He is VERY swollen and wrapped in gauze (like a mummy). He will remain like this for the next couple of weeks. His bandages are changed daily to monitor for infection.

He began a high protein liquid through a feeding tube. It was decided not to scope his esophagus and lungs because all indicators are showing no signs of damage (good news!).

At times, sedation is lessened to check his normal respiration, blood pressure and heart rate. When this happens, he becomes a bit agitated but it shows that he's fighting and strong!

So, far, he's behaving and following the predicted expectations.

Tomorrow, if all goes well tonight, he will have his first surgical procedure. Doctors will debride his burns and apply temporary donor skin grafts to the third degree burned areas.


July 14, 2009

Hello everyone. We thank you so very much for your prayers and well wishes. It means the world to us that so many of you care about Bill. We'd like to use this blog as a way to communicate in lieu of the many phone calls and to give updates of Bill's progress throughout this ordeal. PLEASE add comments to this post or any future posts (see Comments at bottom).

So, we'll start with the day of the accident...
Bill, his grandson and a neighbor were attempting to start an old car. They had taken many precautions before they started such as keeping the car away from the house, fire extinguishers on hand and putting the gas container away from the car.

To help start the old car, Bill poured a small amount of gas from a cup into the carburetor. As he did this, a flashback occurred resulting in Bill being seriously burned. 911 was immediately called and the extinguisher was used to put out the flames. The ambulance arrived and transported him to Bridgeport hospital.

Bill was coherent, able to see and speaking when he arrived at the hospital around 6pm. The family was updated around 9pm with the news that 20-25% of his body was burned. He has second degree burns on his face, left arm and hand. He has third degree burns on his right arm and hand. His chest has both second and third degree burns. A breathing tube was put in because they did not know if he sustained any internal damage due to inhalation. He was heavily sedated and in a drug-induced coma.

Around 1:30am July 15, Bill was finally transferred from the ER to the Burn Unit - 4th floor, Room 4014 where he is in stable but critical condition.

If you visit Bill, please sign the white guest book in his room so the family and Bill will know you were there - thank you!