Family Has Been Living at Hospital By His Side Since Accident on September 27.
|Nick Stegner and Joel's aunt Holly by his bedside. Provided.|
Stegner is also a freshman at Eastern Kentucky University, majoring in Forensic Sciences. Stegner's family lives in Fort Thomas.
He has several broken bones to his face and legs, a brain injury and was unable to breath on his own. He was airlifted to the University of Louisville hospital and has been there since.
Joel's family dropped everything to be with their son.
"We got a call from clergy at the hospital 8 p.m. on Sunday. She had Nick (Joel's father) identify him by his tattoo," said Joel's step-mother, Gina Stegner. "We left our Fort Thomas home immediately for Louisville's hospital. It was the longest two hours of our lives."
Stegner was sedated for more than a week after multiple surgeries, including a rod placed in his femur and plates in his face.
Nick Stegner is calling his son "Ironman" after an Ironman mask was recovered from Joel's car after the accident.
|OCT 1: Joel is gonna be Iron Man when all is done. I bought this for him today. Provided.|
Friends and family poured in support by visiting, texting, calling and showing up for the family in Louisville. Gina and Nick have been by Joel's bedside since his accident.
Sleeping in the lobby and final receiving refuge at the Ronald McDonald house in Louisville, they are relying on friends and family to help take care of their two teenage kids back in Fort Thomas.
Through their Facebook posts, it's easy to read their breadth of emotions. Hope, fear and gratitude all shine through as they come to terms with what happened to their son.
|The Stegner family sleeping in the lobby of the Univ. of Louisville hospital. Provided.|
SEPT 28: Just wanted to let everyone know what is going on with Joel. There has been posts about him being in an accident. Well...he was in a bad car accident and is currently in the hospital in Louisville. He is in surgery at this very moment. Extensive injuries...but, the doctors are positive and are working hard on him. Please keep him in thoughts and prayers. Joel is a strong kid! We will get through this. He has a long road to recovery...but, he is alive and that is a blessing!!
SEPT 28: Joel update...one of many surgeries done. Worked on his right eye. Had jagged lacerations. Doctors feel good about it. Surgery on his leg next. Family appreciates all the love and support. He is alive. I get to keep my son!!
SEPT 28: My step son Joel P. Stegner was in a bad car accident Sunday evening and is in a Louisville Hospital. It is pretty serious but I know he's strong and will get through this. Please pray and send positive thoughts.
SEPT 28: Ran home this morning to grab some stuff. Couldn't leave this behind. Joel P. Stegner thinks he's Batman... He is definitely my superhero. You got this Bud!
SEPT 29: I will never understand why all hospitals aren't setup like Children's with a fold out bed in the room. Just because our loved one is over 18 doesn't mean we want to be with him any less. At least we got a couple hours sleep and we did have our own chairs to lay on last night. Keep praying! Thanks everyone.
SEPT 29: As Gina was speaking to Joel this morning, he turned his head a bit. I think it was her morning dragon breath.
SEPT 29: I know everyone wants updated. Joel P. Stegner strong. He has had 2 surgeries and gotten his back brace. He has surgery scheduled for tomorrow. He is not awake but he let's us know he's pissed when the doctors and nurses mess with him. Just keep praying and sending positive thoughts.
SEPT 30: Joel's hemoglobin levels are low so his facial surgery has been postponed. We are bedside and talking to him. He is still not awake...but, he occasionally moves his arms when we talk to him (or when he gets ticked off at the nurses when working on him). Some AWESOME news...HE MOVED HIS LEG AND TOES!!!!
|The Stegners and Holts. Provided.|
SEPT 30: They lowered Joel's pain meds a bit to get him active. My boy opened his eye a bit. He wasn't happy...but, it sure was AWESOME!!!!
SEPT 30: Joel P. Stegner moved his leg and toes today, which is awesome! His hemoglobin and platelets are low so no surgery today. Maybe tomorrow or Friday. Prayers for the counts to go up are needed. Thank you
SEPT 30: We have been asked to ask our friends and family to consider donating blood or platelets to replinish what we are using. This would not go directly to Joel P. Stegner but just help the Red Cross keep their stock up. Thank you
OCT 1: Our fourth night sleeping in a waiting room. I can't sleep... Just got asked by a man passing out rosaries, for the second night in a row, if we were homeless. "No sir just worried about our boy." Sleeping on this hard bench seat is nothing compared to what he's going through.
OCT 1: Joel P.Stegner's blood counts are up. Surgery scheduled for tomorrow morning and another will happen early next week. Just keep praying and sending positive vibes. Thanks.
OCT 1: Joel is scheduled for his 3rd surgery tomorrow for his facial fractures.
OCT 1: Hug your kids extra tight tonight. life could change in a blink of an eye. And hey Highlands parents... if you see my kids, give them a hug from me! But only if they know you.
|Gina, Joel and Nick Stegner. Provided.|
OCT 2: Iron man is watching over Joel P. Stegner. Please keep praying.
OCT 3: People are asking for updatea. Condition is the same. He still isn't awake and has a few surgeries planned for the week. Just keep the prayers coming.
OCT 3: Thanks to the many people that came to see Joel today. His cousin, Keegan, was a bright light on a gloomy day. Joey Holt and Andi Holt finally got to see their brother.
OCT 3: Nick Stegner and I are settling in at the Ronald McDonald House in Louisville. It's very nice. Just never thought we'd need the Ron in a million years. So thankful for it though. Gina and I are blessed with this option!!
OCT 4: Feeling refreshed after a good night's sleep at The Ronald McDonald House. Okay Joel P. Stegner, it's time to wake up buddy. Show us those beautiful eyes!
OCT 4: I saw Joel P. Stegner's left eye ball today! He opened his eye wide and looked right at me. It was only a few seconds but it was nice to see. Facial surgery (several broken bones) Monday. Prayers and positive thoughts please.
OCT 4: Joel's Iron Man mask was retrieved from his car.
OCT 5: Even highly drugged right now he just opened his eye real wide and moved his lips like he was trying to say something. He squeezed Gina'a hand when she asked him to. Joel is a warrior!!
OCT 5: The love and support for Joel and my family keeps pouring down on us. AMAZING! I am outside soaking it all in and reflecting. He is in surgery right now for the facial damage. I will update everyone as soon as he comes out. Thank you EVERYONE!!!!!
OCT 5: Joel P.Stegner's face surgery is over. It went great. Leg surgery tomorrow. Keep praying.
OCT 6: Our boy Joel P. Stegner is opening his eyes and looking at people on request. This is awesome. We wore him out so he's back to sleep and awaiting surgery.What everyone has been waiting for. Joel, you are a superhero!!!! Gina Stegner
OCT 6:Joel P.Stegner's femur is fixed and surgery went well. Go Joel! Joel out of surgery. Went great
OCT 6: Iron Man, Joel, has been opening his eyes and looking at me on command this morning!!!
OCT 6: Since Joel P. Stegner was sedated for surgery today so we really aren't expecting him to be very active tonight. Hoping he will be again tomorrow. He will be getting a G tube for feeding tomorrow. I think the next big goals are to get his BP down and get him off the breathing tube. We will still be here a while but we are making progress.
OCT 7:Another good day for Joel P. Stegner. Tracking us with his eyes and answering yes and no questions with head nods. He still has the trach but starting to breathe better on his own.
Back in Northern Kentucky, friends and family have begun stepping up to help with the day-to-day activities to make sure their family is as uninterrupted as possible.
Pam Frink's son, Clay, was in an accident at the corner of Highland and Fort Thomas Avenues in 2012. She set up a care calendar and Facebook page, Stegner Strong, to help back home in Fort Thomas.
"Having been the recipient of such a gift during Clay's accident, I knew how much it would help to take the worry off the parents knowing meals were covered while they traveled," she said.
You can sign up for the Care Calendar here (link). Use the Calendar ID: 221329 and Security code: 1480.
Kelly Chzanowski set up a GoFundMe Page to help with Joel's medical expenses and transportation, temporary housing and food expenses. (link)
"My husband Dave and I have been friends with Nick since high school. We wanted to set-up the go fund me account to show the Stegner and Holt families our support," said Chzanowski. "Nick and Gina are away from their families, jobs and daily routines so anything we could do to lessen the financial burden and extra expenses they're incurring will be helpful and very much appreciated by them."
"Each day is getting brighter," said Nick. "The Stegner/Holt family appreciates the community support."