Tuesday, April 24, 2012

One week out

Dan is one week post-surgery today.  Still in a sling, but the bruises are healing, he is doing his exercises as he can, and we are very optimistic about his recovery.  His follow up is May 2.  He still has to sleep in the aft cabin (easier bed to get into) so we say goodnight and go our separate ways (!).  Funny.  Kind of Ozzie and Harriet. 

He has to wear his jacket over his sling so that is awkward for him but he is managing with my help and, with a bit of a struggle, on his own.  But you know this redheaded guy of mine.  He is determined as heck and so fiercely independent and that can only serve him well.

I'll post again soon with more detail!



Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Home Sweet Home

We are, amazingly, home.  Dan had a nerve block plus a light general anesthetic.  As I write this he is barely groggy (if at all) and Dan is beginning to be able to move his fingers.

The team was incredible!  Everyone took their time talking to us and checking in with Dan's condition and feelings about what was about to happen.  It felt like we were among friends.  The atmosphere pre- and post-surgery was relaxed but clearly professional.  It was one of the best experiences I have had and could have hoped for.

The doctor is pleased with the outcome so far - feels that Dan will make a good recovery. It took a little over three hours and I had Sarah & Julia with me on and off the whole time.  Sarah came up on breaks from work and Julia popped in with things we forgot from home and then returned after an appointment to help us get home.  We are so lucky!

As the numbness wears off, Dan is beginning to feel the discomfort.  He just moved to the couch after eating and as he laid down said, "Oh.  There it is."  So we popped another oxy.  Or, rather, he did.  We'll keep that up.

It's been a long haul since August.  This is hopefully the last biggie.  We're now on the road to healing the shoulder.  Then we get back to focusing on brain injury, numb foot and leg, and residual rib pain.  We'll get there!



Repair of the Red Head

I am sitting in a cafe across the street where Dan is having his surgery.  He has about an hour to go.

Very impressed with the surgical team.  They spent a lot of time talking with us and weighing anesthesia options to minimize possible exacerbation of the brain injury and slow its healing. The surgeon (who is from NYC - lower eastside!) said a prayer before surgery with us, asking for smooth sailing and good results and continued healing from the accident.  It was amazing.  I felt that we were surrounded by good people who cared and were profoundly competent.  The anesthesiologist said, "I try to think about and treat my patients as family members - whom I like!"
Now I'm back in the waiting room with a full tummy and a cup of coffee.  I wasn't really hungry but, since I run support programs for caregivers, I have to practice what I preach and take care of myself.  Julia is here with me, Sarah works downstairs, Aileen is coming over later to check on us, Kevin has lots of advice and experiential wisdom...  We are well supported.

Dan will be groggy for a while and then on pain meds.  I expect that he will be sleeping a good deal of today and tomorrow as he recovers and as the anesthesia works its way out of his system.  It's a long walk down the dock which has me a bit worried but we'll figure it out.  Maybe that will help clear his head.

I plan to stay put for a day or two.  I have food cooked and the boat is clean and the bed is changed and ready for him. Dan will sleep in the aft cabin because it's easier to get into with his arm pinned to his chest where it will be for six weeks.  I thought about getting a baby monitor!  Anyone have a spare?

The doctor should be out momentarily.  I'm going to sign off but will continue to update the blog for a while now.



Monday, April 16, 2012

Surgery Tomorrow

By now you have probably stopped checking the blog...  but we are still living it every day!  However, "more of the same" does not make for exciting reading.  So I stopped posting.

Here is news, though.  Dan has shoulder surgery scheduled for tomorrow around noon. They will repair a tear to his rotator cuff and a problem with his right clavicle. It will be a day surgery but has a 6 month to one year recovery window.

6 weeks of inactivity followed by..
6 weeks of gentle stretching followed by...
3-9 months of physical therapy.

We've tried the conservative approach (PT) but his shoulder causes such discomfort that the decision was made to repair it surgically. 

Please keep us in your thoughts and, if you do so, prayers...  It'll be tricky.  They are giving Dan a  block rather than general anesthesia to minimize impact on his already injured brain.  What a brave, brave boy to agree to that.

I'll be in the waiting room and hoping to feel your good vibes!  Send 'em along!



Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year

Hello friends!

After a long period of silence I am writing from Panama with an update on D.D.H.   Prior to this post, we were so unbelievably busy and things happening around Dan's recovery were kind of status quo - moving more slowly now that he's plateau'd.  So I put the blog on the back burner and decided to resume once my head cleared a bit.  So here I am!

It is New Year's Eve Day.  We left rainy, cold Seattle in the wee hours of December 15 and have been in Panama on Isla Taboga since the 16th.  Sun, warmth, salt water swimming, pool swimming, sleep, good food, rest...  The best prescription of all and we are loving it.

La Playa
Sarah & Julia were with us for 2 weeks and left just a few days ago.  We had Christmas together and spent some sweet moments of gratitude and cozy family time together.  Our Christmas was simple, Julia's 20th birthday celebrated Taboga style.  Right now, I am sitting in our kitchen, looking out at a view of the water with huge ships in the distance making their way to and from the Pacific side of THE canal.
View from our bedroom

Our days are typically like this:  We wake up, Dan makes coffee while I lounge in bed a bit longer.  We drink coffee on our patio and wake up slowly.  I do a little yoga, a little writing either before or after.  Dan chats with other folks in our complex of 7 condos - nice people all and good friends.  Then we putter around fixing things up, working on projects.  It is very therapeutic for Dan whose brain injury is still quite apparent to me in the way he processes things.  It takes longer and he relies heavily on the A.B.O.D.E. system he learned in cognitive therapy class.  Basically, he is working on rewiring his brain as it heals by using this system and the projects he is doing down here are perfect for that.

He also goes into the pool every day and does his exercises using water as resistance.  Kevin gave Dan some aqua dumb-bells which we filled up and he is using those as well to keep his strength up and protect the still-injured and sore parts of his body.

One ongoing problem is his numb foot and leg.  He goes up and down stairs like an old man and has trouble feeling the road.  One day he went off the edge of the sidewalk and nearly turned his ankle because he just couldn't feel the edge.

So - we are taking it slow and easy and making rest and healing our main priority.

This trip has been as essential for me as it has been healing for Dan.  I am slowly finding my way back to my center and allowing myself to do nothing all day long if that's what ends up feeling right.  Honestly, it is too hot in the middle of the day for much else.  Siestas definitely make sense - and Dan usually takes a good long nap in the afternoon.  Me, I sit on the patio, drink a beer, skype or write or read.

We have three weeks left and I can only imagine that it's going to get even better and the healing - at least emotional healing - will grow roots.  Deep roots.

In the meanwhile, we are ready to bid farewell to 2011 and welcome in 2012.  Dan is very happy to put the year behind him.  And we are  grateful to have all that we have to anticipate in 2012.  Especially an intact family and a functioning Dan.

I'll write more as I can.  But for now - time for a walk to the beach and the healing waters of Taboga!



Monday, November 21, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

It's Monday morning.  Dan is at Physical Therapy, I dropped him off and then went to the gym.  Now I'm on the boat waiting for him to call so that I can meet him where ever his bus drops him off and then we can continue on with errands and the day's projects.

Mondays are my day off from work so I try to help Dan get things done that he wants to do but can't because of his driving restriction.  It's forcing us to be organized and purposeful with our free time.  We have settled into a new way of being - a new "normal."

Dan still has therapy 4-5 times a week (Physical and Cognitive).  He is able to take the bus to most appointments.  I am working really hard now - so busy at work around the holidays.  Then we collapse on the weekends - but just for a bit.  Saturday usually begins with our morning ritual of talking for a couple of hours over strong coffee.  Then we do errands, drop off laundry and anything that might come up on our "to do" list.

That list is pretty long right now because of a pending trip down to Panama.  We leave on 12/15 and will be there until 1/22.  OK - put those jealous, hateful thoughts out of your head.  We had this planned way before the accident - but just 2-3 weeks.  Then, when we lost our summer vacation following the accident, decided to tack it on to this trip.  We have the blessings of Dan's doctors AS LONG AS he promises to keep up with his daily therapies while he is down there.  (He does - in fact he is the one asking for a full regimen of instructions and exercises that he can track.  And I'll be sure he does.)  The warmth (as opposed to icy, slippery docks) and stimulation (a different culture and language, which we will be learning) will be good for his body and brain.  His therapists agree.

There is someone else in this equation as well.  ME.  I am so tired that I can't get rid of the heavy fatigue feeling that plagues me constantly now.  I plow through it just as we all did when our kids were tiny - but it doesn't lift and I am convinced that I need a long recuperation from the emotional, physical, organizational, mental strains of the last 4 months.  So we're off!

Sarah & Julia will be with us for 2 weeks so we will celebrate Christmas and Julia's 20th birthday together.  This is their first time down there so it will be very special, indeed.

I'm sorry to have been such an absent blogger of late but we have been busy and - yes - tired.

Our new "normal" is very much tied into Dan's accident/injuries/recovery - but then again, we do have long stretches of just doing stuff and living our lives that are acutely noticeable and make me feel hopeful.  Ain't that great!

Still no driving or working for Dan.  Still hurting from certain physical injuries - and - he has a way to go for his brain healing.  But we are positive and keep our eyes forward.

Happy Thanksgiving to all our friends and family.  (15 weeks since the accident on Thanksgiving Day.)  We have so much to be grateful for this year.  So much.

Love to you all.


Thursday, October 20, 2011


Hello friends!  I'm back!  Sorry for the hiatus in writing...

Here's the latest as we hit the 10 week mark.  Our life pretty much goes this way now...

Each week, Dan goes to a combination of Physical, Occupational and Speech Therapy sessions.  He also has 2 "classes" a week - one a cognitive therapy class and the other a neuro psych group.  He is being extremely cooperative and dedicated to his therapies.

A couple of weeks ago, he had a comprehensive neuro-psych evaluation in which he scored highly  in certain areas (yay Dan!) but alarmingly low in others.  His neuro doctor told him, after this eval, not to drive or work for some time yet.  He wants to do another evaluation in February.  So we're in it for quite some time yet.  I am very content being the chauffeur, especially when I think about the alternative.  And Dan is becoming adept at the bus system in Seattle, making his way to the hospital when I am working and our schedules don't align.

Physically, there is still pain in his rib areas.   Soft tissue around the broken ribs will be a problem for a while.  Also, there are new aches and pains popping up as he compensates, loses muscle tone, etc.  So as one thing may start to feel better another becomes a problem.  We are working to get answers and figure our way in, around and through the system to optimize Dan's time and therapy.  It's complex and has not quite let up yet.  But we are positive and optimistic  and more than willing to do the work this will take to get Dan back to where he was before August 11.  Dan very much wants to get his body back and be able to do what he used to do.

Work is picking up for me and I am getting busier by the day.  This is typical for this time of year.  I'm feeling quite weary but making sure to use the weekends to rest.  Hanging in there until we can take a vacation in December!  Meanwhile, looking for a little weekend retreat sometime soon...

It's been 10 weeks.  2+ months.  70 days.  None of those numbers seem huge when I think what happened to Dan. 

A couple of nights ago, I met a friend for a drink.  She was about a half hour late so I ordered a beer and sat and waited, watching the sun go down and feeling the quiet, the stillness wrap itself around me.   People were talking and laughing but not at my table....    I was alone and completely content to be so.  I thought about Dan and how glad I was that he was just down the road on the boat.  And I felt a wave of fatigue waft over me. It was almost a relief in a weird sort of way because it was so true, so uncomplicated, so lacking in any distractions.  Just plain tired.

But we are resilient and determined.

Hope to see some or all of you very soon!