Saturday, February 12, 2011

Update from David & Jill

Aloha to our Ohana,

I'm writing this update from the Kona airport, waiting for the red-eye
flight to bring me back to my beloved Theresa in time for Valentine's week
(because with all we've been through, we deserve more than just a day to
celebrate our love.) The past three weeks of separation were difficult but
the Lord does work in mysterious ways because sitting here now, I can't even
recall where much of the time went. It seemed like just the other day that
cousin Darien greeted me here and now she's sending me off again.

Even though we are currently separated by over 3500 miles, it's been a busy
week for both Theresa and me. I was occupied for the most part with catching
up on the office and home fronts, sorting through hundreds of e-mails, phone
messages and other documents at work and then repeating those tasks at home.
Funny how work and home life seem to merge into one and the same sometimes.
But David doesn't want to be a dull boy so I also took the time to visit and
enjoy an occasional meal with both old and new friends. There were plenty
(or as the locals say, plenny) of hugs and tears to go around and sometimes,
the conversations went into the wee hours. Still, it was worth losing some
shut-eye to renew my energy and the faith that comes with being around such
loving friends.

For Theresa, her week was chock full of nuts too. In addition to a fully
booked rehab therapy schedule, our friend Jill flew out from San Francisco
and spent the week with Theresa, supporting her through her various
therapies and braving more than a few hospital meals and blizzards along the
way. Overall, Theresa and Jill had a great time together but that's almost a
certainty when Jill is around. She has an infectious and brilliant smile
that rivals Julia Roberts and she's a wonderful and giving person. Jill took
the time after each long day at Craig Hospital to give me an update by phone
or e-mail so I am presenting selected passages for your enjoyment. Thank you
to Jill and to our Lord for sending this angel in our time of need.



Hi David,

I hope you had a good day. I've decided to write every night as opposed to
calling you. I'd like to go to bed early every night this week to read and
rest and prepare for the next day. It's a blizzard here. Luckily I know how
to drive in the snow from living in NYC, but it's quite draining.

So, Theresa: today was a long day for her. When I got there, she was having
breakfast with Dr. Weintraub. They seemed to be having a good conversation.
He seems like a good guy, very attentive. He really likes you a lot. He is
looking forward to your visit next week.

After breakfast she went to Speech Therapy (ST) with Katie. Katie is really
good with her, even when she jokes around in ST. She is very close to
passing her daily orientation test. She is getting better and better at
remembering her present reality and past timeline. She also took a
concentration/follow directions test and did very well.

In addition to ST today, she had OT with Holly where she did some math and
got some homework.

At PT she practiced getting out of her wheelchair and onto the mat using the
slide board, rolling over and getting up, and did some strengthening of her
arms. It was very tiring for her, but she did great. She wore her new splint
(the one for her right leg to gently stretch it out as it heals from the
surgery) for 2 hours today; one hour in the morning and one hour in the

After lunch she was stood up by her psychologist, (he had a conference) and
seemed upset. I only know she was upset because I met Dr. Wang today. She
was frustrated and did some button pushing with me (she told me that I was
meeting Dr. Wang), but I'm patient and I understand that she has had brain
trauma and needs to feel in control where ever she can to stabilize herself.
I think I passed her test, but she was seemingly frustrated with me for not
reacting negatively to her. I think in the end, she and I have built more
trust and respect. Yesterday I was "a friend of David's" and today she
called me "a friend of ours..." That's good stuff.

I watched the Seizure education video and passed the test with a perfect
score, so now I can take Theresa to her appts w/o an aid present. I've also
learned how to be the "2nd person" for the Lifting mechanism that gets her
in and out of bed.

I'm learning a lot and building very good rapport with the staff and the
other patients and their families. More importantly, I think Theresa
appreciates my presence there, and that's all that really matters.

I'll give you another update tomorrow night.



Dear Jill,

Thank you so much for your daily reports. Now I know how it feels when
others read the updates I send out. Talk about our Lord working in
mysterious ways! If it is okay with you, I would like to incorporate parts
of your update into my regular one.

Dr. Weintraub is definitely a character, kind of like a modern day version
of an old west gunslinger (but don't tell him I said that.) I look forward
to discussing Theresa's progress with him next week in the family

You certainly passed Dr. Wang's torture test and earned her respect today.
Her stare alone can be uncomfortable and has been know to make grown men cry
(or at least this one.) I usually just play dumb and eventually she gives up
the sour mood, probably pondering how she could have chosen someone so
idiotic for a life partner.

Hey Jill, you did better on the seizure test than me, I forgot the PACE
acronym but nurse Karen let it slide. Thankfully, you don't need to take the
respiratory care and lung suctioning class. It's just creepy sticking a foot
of tubing down into someone's lung and forcing them to cough.

I'll pray for your safety on the roads and for the strength to endure these
long days. I am so thankful to our Lord for your being in our lives at this
time of separation.

Looking forward to seeing you this weekend, want anything from Hawaii
besides warmth? I've tried scooping some up but it always ends up looking
like a baggie of sand.



Hi David,

Of course, you can share my daily updates!

Today was a good day. It started out very busy. Theresa was visited by
several of her doctors first thing in the morning. The best news that
started the day was that the most recent CT Scan of her neck looked so good
that she no longer has to wear the neck brace. She was very pleased and I
think it set her positive, determined mood for the whole day.

Her ankle is healing well from the surgery and her sutures look good and
clean. Her dressing was changed and she has less padding which makes her new
dynasplint more comfortable. Today she wore the splint for 1.5 hours this
morning, and 1.5 hours this afternoon. According to her PT this week,
Janice, she is tolerating it very well and has minimal redness from wearing
it. The flexibility in that ankle is already improving, even though she is
still not weight bearing.

Her first appointment of the day was ST with Katie. She and Katie have a
great rapport and it was a very good session. Theresa passed the daily
orientation test for the first time today. She will have to take it a few
more times to make sure that her memories of the present are strong and
sure. For better utilization of her orientation notebook, Theresa will have
to write in what she eats at mealtimes and what she does during downtimes.
She and I worked on that today and will continue throughout the week. She
has signs up in her room to remind her to write in her notebook, and her
nurses and techs have been asked to help her remember to write in it, and
refer to it if she is confused about anything. She remembered very well on
her own today (positive, determined...)

Next we went to PT with Janice. Holly, the OT, shared the first half hour
and Theresa stood up on her left foot for 10 whole seconds (with their
help). During that session, she actually did that twice! She was exhausted,
but felt a deep sense of accomplishment (positive, determined...)

After lunch Theresa had a psychotherapy session with the psychologist (I
opted not to go to that one), then we had another half hour of OT with
Holly, where she wheeled herself around the Gym (almost by herself) for the
first time since getting to Craig (she has been given the green light to
move her arms/shoulders/wrists/hands, as tolerated). They want her to
practice wheeling herself from now on, so that she can become independent in
the wheelchair (until she starts walking again). They also worked on her
math homework from yesterday.

After taking a much needed afternoon rest, Theresa had a refreshing shower
and we had a nice dinner together. After I left, she was scheduled to have a
facial and manicure. I hope she was able to stay awake for that, but she was
awfully pooped. I'll find out tomorrow.

I had a great day with Theresa. We had some great conversations over lunch
and dinner. We talked about her childhood and your childhood. It's fantastic
that she was born in the village where you lived as a child. The two of you
were "meant to be together..." That's what she said, and I believe her.

Much love to you, David. See you on Saturday. No need to bring anything but
you, safe and sound.

Hi Jill,

Mahalo for the detailed and very inspiring update. I'm sure glad to know
that Theresa is doing so well and the two of you are like old friends
sharing good memories.

I just got home after attending the Kona Brain Injury Support Group meeting,
giving the members an update on Theresa's amazing healing journey of grace.
Some of these people have lived with their brain injuries for as long as 25
years so it is a testament to their sheer will and God's grace that they are
living full lives day by day. One of the members is a coffee farmer and he
gave me a few bags to bring to Colorado. If you're a coffee addict, there's
one with your name on it.

The other news here, and it's what's kept me busy for much of the week, is
that the police have completed their investigation into the accident and are
forwarding the report to the prosecutor's office to determine if negligent
injury charges will be filed.

Ever since the press release, I have been inundated with calls from the
print and TV media for interviews. It's a tiresome chore but at least it
keeps Theresa front and center in peoples' thoughts & prayers. I can't
imagine what the publicity will be like when Theresa finally comes home but
we may have to retain you as a Paparazzi shield.

Whatever the outcome, I harbor no ill will towards the other vehicle
occupants and have already forgiven them in my heart. I will pray that their
lives are not adversely affected by these events.

Hi David,

It's so good that you are in the Kona Brain Injury Support Group. The more
support you have, the better. I pray that it will continue to be a source of
support for you when you and Theresa are back home together. Thank you for
the coffee offer, but I'm a tea drinker, so save that bag for yourself:).

I'm relieved to know that the investigation and subsequent case are moving
forward. Please keep me updated. I don't know how much good I'd do with the
paparazzi, but I definitely want to come and visit you and Theresa when she
is finally home.

Today had ups and downs. I arrived at 8:45 this morning because I knew that
Theresa's OT had scheduled time with her from 8-8:30 to create a morning
routine inclusive of Theresa beginning to get herself ready for the day
instead of depending upon the Aids and Nurses. When I got there, she was
dressed with her hair in a ponytail, and eating her breakfast in her
wheelchair with her tray. She seemed to be in very good spirits. She showed
me her manicure from last night!! Her petite hands look terrific and she
also enjoyed her facial. She said that while she was getting them done, she
was serenaded by two men with guitars (Therapeutic Recreation (TR) booked
musicians for the "spa hour"). She was disappointed that they didn't know
Blue Hawaii, but she said she did some hula to the music anyway:).

After breakfast we went to ST. She will be with Julie for the remainder of
the week, as her regular ST, Katie, is taking a few days off. Julie gave
Theresa the orientation test again, and she passed it with a score that was
one point higher than yesterday! Once she passes it again tomorrow (I feel
certain she will), she will be officially moving out of her Post-traumatic
Amnesia. Such good news. Julie coordinated with Angela in TR to schedule
several activities for Theresa so that she will have less downtime (they
really want to keep her stimulated because she is improving so well. They
want to keep her brain moving!) She will have activities every night this
week and on the weekends.

After ST, Theresa had an hour to herself before PT/OT, and she used it well:
she had a fantastic bathroom time. She's been eating well, drinking lots of
water, and eliminating better and better. It seems to make her feel great
after she has been able to eliminate. Starting this week, Pat, her best
nurse in my opinion, has gotten her out of Depends and into underwear. She's
still unsure sometimes and asks for Depends when Pat is not around, but
today, for the first day that she was only in underwear all day, she did not
have a accident, and she asked to go to the bathroom without anyone
prompting her.

The combo PT/OT session was hard on her today. They got her up to kneeling
and keeping herself upright while she was kneeling. It worked her hips
(which are a little stiff from sitting in the wheelchair so much), and
shoulders (which are also stiff from limited range of motion). She was in
pain and expressed it verbally, but she was a trooper and held herself
upright on her knees for a full minute. It was great, but she was pooped

We then had a nice lunch and were joined by a patient and the parent of a
different patient. They were talking about their accidents, then the economy
and job market, then politics in general. Theresa and I were relatively
quiet during the conversation. I could tell that she was not interested in
the chatter, but she was very polite. I was relieved when they got up and
left before we did. She and I had a good little chuckle about what she
called, "the complaining that goes on here..."

Tomorrow morning at 8am she will start her day with an ASIA test. It is a
sensitivity test that she will have with her PT and OT. They test all of the
parts of her body for sensation to determine if there is any lack of
sensation anywhere. This test is commonly given to people with severe spinal
cord injuries, but they want to know where Theresa is with the feeling in
her body. She will be disrobed for that one, so I will go to Craig a little
later than usual (9:15 or so).

I'll report more tomorrow. I'm off to bed.



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