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The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The First 100 Days

Zach SutterfieldPhoto courtesy of Julie Schniers

Zach Sutterfield

Photo courtesy of Julie Schniers

Editor’s note: Zachary Sutterfield, Texas State student, is a burn victim of the July 20 Iconic Village apartment fire that left five residents dead. The following is a recounting of his first 100 days in recovery by the Sutterfield’s media spokesperson.
By Julie Schniers, media spokesperson for the Sutterfields.
The Sutterfield family has celebrated Zach making it through many milestones. The first surgery, the first 72 hours, the first time Zach spoke.
(On Oct. 27), we celebrate Zach’s 100th day (after the fire)! 100 days is how long Zach Sutterfield has been fighting for his life. 100 days is how long Karl and DJ Sutterfield have cheered their son on as they navigate the pieces of this new life. 100 days of ups and downs in the Brooke Army Medical Center Burn ICU.
As the Sutterfields walk back through the highs and lows of the first 100 days, they remember where it all began and how their journey has continued to unfold.
Day 1 – I was relieved when I first saw him because I did not think it was my son. The doctor informed me that it was indeed Zach and I remember my wife hit the floor. I just stood there looking at the doctor, not understanding what I was being told. We were told that Zach had a 25% chance of living at that time. – Karl Sutterfield
Day 3 – Zach cleared the 72-hour window. Now he has at least a 50% chance at surviving. – DJ Sutterfield
Day 14 – The staff is allowing me to help with Zach’s care. I’ve brushed his teeth and helped with bandages. – DJ Sutterfield
Day 29 – Zach has four infections. Knowing that infection is the number one killer of burn patients makes this a fearful day. – Karl Sutterfield
Day 30 – We spoke to the EMT’s who helped Zachary the morning of the fire. Zachary did walk to the ambulance! He spoke to the EMT’s. They said he was so polite. I am so thankful to the EMT’s for taking such good care of my baby. – DJ Sutterfield
Day 56 – Today they capped the trach. In a lucid moment, we hear Zach say his first words since the fire, “I love you guys.” It’s one of the best days of my life. – Karl Sutterfield
Day 58 – Zach has a 20 minute conversation in an extensive allusive moment with his high school speech and debate coach. They talked about how strong he was, how he can fight through this, and more. The room was filled with hope and amazement. – Karl Sutterfield
Day 60 – Zach has his first taste of banana cream pie pudding, one of Zach’s favorites. He says, “Oh my, that tastes marvelous!” – DJ Sutterfield
Day 69 – I was allowed to give him a kiss. After 69 days I was allowed to kiss my son. – Karl Sutterfield
Day 71 – Zach is infection free and got to tell his momma Happy Birthday. I cried. I was shocked and happy. I did not think I was going to hear my son say Happy Birthday to me this year. – DJ Sutterfield
Day 79 – Zach continues to heal. He is having a tough time right now, but he is continuing to be amazing. He is starting to realize his situation slowly. – Karl Sutterfield
Day 83 – The feeding tube is gone. He can eat most things. He has to consume 6,000 calories a day. He doesn’t seem to know from day to day what is going on. The staff reassures us this is normal for burn patients and individuals subjected to long-term care in the ICU. – DJ Sutterfield
Day 87 – Zach walked over 500 feet today and ate half of a cheeseburger, five fries and some chocolate, banana and peanut butter milkshake. – Karl Sutterfield
Day 90 – Zachary’s 19th surgery went well. They are doing a cat scan on his face. Docs are concerned the swelling could be an infection. I just want to scream. Two steps forward and 10 steps back. Zachary enjoyed his dinner. We made him schnitzel and fried potatoes with gravy (one of his favorites). For dessert, he had a slice of banana nut bread and a cookie. I enjoy cooking for him, it makes me feel useful. – DJ Sutterfield
Day 94 – A family that we have become very close with, that also has a family member in the ICU, lost their loved one today. They put another purple butterfly on a door. Everyone’s worst fear. It has been an emotional day – Karl Sutterfield
Day 96 – Zach is exhausted. The rare, lucid moments that we get when he’s more aware and we actually have conversations, he’s sarcastic and funny, but he seems to really need his sleep after therapy and wound care. – DJ Sutterfield
Today is day 98. Today is surgery number 20. Every surgery day is a step in helping Zach, but every surgery day is tense and scary. Zach being in the ICU is a constant reminder that we are still sitting at a 50% survival rate. That has been one of the hardest things to deal with.
Dealing with the hard parts of Zach’s journey is far from over. Zach is still fighting and the fight is still a difficult one. However, being surrounded by the amazing staff at BAMC, feeling the support of strangers that have grown into a family, and treasuring each day with their son is worth celebrating.
“As we sit in the seat of the unknown on this roller coaster, we can not help but be thankful for every single day we have with him,” DJ Sutterfield said.
“We are just dealing with the pain of watching someone suffer that you love so much,” Karl Sutterfield said. “I sit with him every day and hold on to the hope that lingers in those lucid moments. That’s when you get Zach.”
Getting Zach back is still the goal the Brooke Army Medical Center staff are working towards every single day. In honor of your first 100 days, we are so proud of you Zach. Keep fighting for 100 more.

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