Sunday, December 23, 2007

christmas eve eve

Barbara and I are home, me watching the Seahawks and Barb addressing Christmas cards. We are having a quiet peaceful day before the flurry of activities during Christmas week. The three older granddaughters are all in town. All of Bob's family and our family will all be getting together tomorrow for a Family breakfast. Christmas this year may be almost normal for us. We are adjusting better and are having more good days than bad days lately. Even managed to go out for dinner this week.

Am in the process of getting some wall pulley weights to work out at home so I will not have to go to physical therapy any more. It has been a hassle to get in the wheel chair van and have Barb drive me there once or twice a week. Now I will just have to have the discipline to use it. It is crucial that I keep my arms strong.

Great video of Christy and the kids.

Hope to start raising funds for the International Justise Mission after the first. IJM.Org for more info.

The Lord is Good and we feel very blessed.

Best Wishes

Monday, November 26, 2007


Surprise - Surprise - an updated blog - This will be a long one to cover for all the ones I didn't write.

Daily life:

Up about 8:00 - 8:30 for breakfast, pills.
9:00 - 11/12 Hired help.
1) exercises my legs to keep them healthy.
2) assists me getting on the portable potty for any where between 30 to 60 minutes.
3) twice a week helps be get on to a bench on the tub for a bath.
4) helps me get dressed, pants shoes, etc.
5) helps me get into my wheelchair for the day. I use what is called a sliding board to get from the bed to the chair.

12:00 - lunch

afternoons: once or twice a week Barb takes me in our wheel chair accessible Van to the hospital for physical therapy - a rather rigorous work out to strengthen my upper body.

I nap almost every day and people stop by to visit.

See my family a lot. Christy and Greg, Suzanne and Jamie and their two kids and Tim who works two weeks on and two weeks off on a boat. He expects to get his Captain's license any day. Had a big gathering at Suzanne's on Thanksgiving day.

I was one of three speakers at Church a week ago on a thanksgiving theme. Following is what I said:

About the third week I was in the hospital, I received a phone call from an old friend. I was too tired to talk to him so he talked to my wife. He asked her "How is his faith". When Barbara told me this is made me mad as I took it as a kind of insult. What is the world was he asking or implying? Was he curious to know if my injury has caused me to disbelieve in God? Or was he asking if my injury had caused me to disbelieve in the goodness of God or was he asking if my injury as caused be to disbelieve in the promises of Christ. This is silly. My faith and I hope your faith is founded on historic facts related to the life and death of Christ and his promises, primarily his promise that he will never leave us or forsake us.

There is a minister in New England by the name of Robert Farrar Capon who wrote a book called Hunting the Divine Fox in which he relates the following story:

A man was traveling late at night in the middle of winter over a mountain pass when his car quits running. He gets out of the car and opens the hood and sees no obvious problem. As there was no traffic he begins to fear that he may freeze to death when he sees a light coming up the hill. He begins to have hope but then sees that it is not two lights like a car would have but only one light. As the light gets closer he senses that that light comes from a figure and he begins to think that it is Christ. And then realizes that in fact it is Jesus and he is excited. What does Jesus do? He takes the man by the hand and they go and sit in a snow bank while the man freezes to death.

I then asked the congregation to repeat with me three times the promise "I will never leave you or forsake you".

How are we doing? Better but it is not easy.We are gaining hope that we can get our life back.

My over riding emotions are fatigue and frustrations. Living in a wheel chair is more difficult than I imagined but it is getting better. I attend a group that is all wheel chair people. They say it takes about two years to get fully adjusted and I believe it. I still have trouble believing that this has happened.

More blogging later today.

Off to physical therapy


Sunday, November 18, 2007


(since Dad is not updating his blog I'm taking the liberty of telling you that I am talking about him over on my blog: Adventures In Daily Living.)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Oct 30

Hi Blogger Fans.

I don't write often as there is little to write about. We work hard to get through each day with some good days and some not so good. We watch Videos and read and get out several times a week for therapy. Big accomplishment this week was getting from my chair via the sliding board to the bench in the bath tub for the second time. Funny what makes news. Getting stronger each day from therapy and work at home.

Finished the biography on John Newton. Barb is reading "Inside the Third Reich" which I had read before. 600 pages by Albert Spears who was Hitler's architect and munitions head.

Friends stop by but not too many. Like to visit with friends.

Am taking pills to help my legs not flinch but it makes me sleepy.

Barb is leaving for Hawaii next week so my friends will be filling in.

Did you hear about the little girl who was beaten by several sets of foster parents and when asked where she would like to live said that she wanted to live with the Nebraska football team because they couldn't beat anybody ( My sister in Nebraska sent me that).

In talking to other wheel chair people, they say that it takes about 2 years to adjust to wheel chair life so I will be half way on Dec. 14th. I believe them.

We are doing quite well.


Friday, October 19, 2007


Finally in mood to update.

We continue to adjust to our new life. Still have trouble believing this has actually happened to us and I do mean us as it is huge adjustment for Barb as well as me. Our Van is working out well. Go to out-patient therapy one or twice a week and will probably continue to do so for six months or a year.
They sometimes work me pretty hard to build up my arm strength. I am not in any pain but life is very difficult and frustrating. Nothing is easy.

Watch lots of football and news. Read lots. Just finished a biography of Sidney Potier and John Newton. We joined net flix on the twice a month program.

See lots of our kids and grandkids. Juliana and Andrew are a kick. They are doing great with their language. Barb was fixing lunch for Andy and asked him what he would like. And he said "Anything you fix will be appropriate". A year ago he did not know a stitch of English.

In case you are curious, we have had not had any major medical expenses because of all this. Medicare and our supplement have worked wonderful.. The joys of being over 65. YEH.

We are not church-shopping but are going to visit a church this week. They meet every other week in the evening for a pot luck before worship. On alternate weeks they do community service projects. Interesting.

What you like to hear about in my blogs?


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

flu shots

Psst . . . just a gentle reminder to get your flu shot, particularly if you plan to visit my parents this winter.



Sunday, September 23, 2007

doing well

Hi to all those in Blogger land. We are still adjusting to the situation. I have developed much sympathy for all who struggle in life. Lots of folks struggle for a variety of reasons. I don't know what God's plan is for all of them is but I know they are not forgotten.

Reading a biography on Sydney Poitier and John Newton. I suspect that I will get a lot of reading done in the next few years. Can you suggest some good books or videos?

With our new van we are getting out some - a good thing.

My family continues to be of immense help so the burden on my wife is somewhat manageable.

Best Wishes to all,


Sunday, September 9, 2007


Nothing but good news lately. We have been getting out more now that we have a wheel chair van. Found my new pair of glasses that have been missing for 10 days. I had been laying on them under the sheet. They are titanium and very bendable so they were still o.k. Been getting good reports from our three grand daughters, one teaching school in L.A and the other two in school at Westmont and Whitworth. Suzanne and Jamie and their two kids are on vacation in Vancouver Island and Barb is going to join them next week for four days.

Have been able to get out side more as the weather has been beautiful.

Has been fun watching a local boy make good as the Washington Huskies quarterback - Jake Locker.

Barb is grateful for the many phone calls and cards of encouragement and so am I.

Just finished reading the Glass Castle - interesting true story about a homeless family and their advendures.

Now reading Ninety Minutes in Heaven about a man in a terrible accident, 'went to heaven for 90 minutes' and his struggle to get his life back.

We are making daily progress in our new life.


Sunday, August 26, 2007

doing great

WE are making great progress every day.
We have purchased a Van. I can't drive it but Barb can and haul me around like a sack of potatoes.
It is quite comfortable. I have to duck as I drive in but have lots of head room after I get in side.
It has a very good lift for my chair. WE have been out several times and it gives us a lot of freedom on our own schedule.
My sister Carol and her son Brent from Nebraska have been her for several days. We spent part of the afternoon by a ocean beach with a lunch. It is great to get back to doing regular things.

I fell asleep in my chair and fell on the ground a few weeks ago. Barb was nearby and called my brother and his son to pick me up. I was quite comfortable laying on the ground for 45 minutes.

Read a lot and watch sports on T.V We also rent Videos.

Will try to keep more current with the blog

Saturday, August 25, 2007

(missing a Sunday post)

Dad didn't post last Sunday so you didn't get to hear about
  • falling out of his chair onto his head
  • buying his van
  • going in the van to a family party in a park
Maybe if he is besieged with comments clamoring for news he'll keep to his 'post every Sunday' post. Just maybe.

It's worth a try.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

day by day

Sorry I missed blogging last Sunday - two days late.
Big week last week. The mens group from my church met here on Wednesday. This first time I have been with them since last year. Also the book club met here on Saturday - six couples.

We are hoping to get a Van soon so we will not be dependent on the city disabled bus.

I am sitting up most of the time. It is good to not be so tied to the bed.

If previous blogs have sounded a bit depressing they are probably accurate. We seem to be doing better now but it has taken a while to adjust.

Got to church again last Sunday.

We finished the last Harry Potter book and liked it a lot.

If you have specific questions I will try to respond on the blog site.


Sunday, August 5, 2007


Still here.
Each weeks gets better.
Went to Costco by myself on city handicap van to get new glasses.
Having our book club meeting here this week. First time I can go to our book club since last year.
We have been meeting for over 25 years.
I am able to read a lot.
Hope we can get a handicap van soon so we are not so house bound.
Spend lots of time in the yard throwing the ball for our dog Emma.
Having quite a number of friends stop by which is much appreciated.
Still don't know what our life is going to be like in the long run.
Need to find some way to justify my existence beside just staying alive - any suggestions.


Sunday, July 29, 2007


We went to church for the second time today. Using the public bus transportation to get there.
FHinished the new Harry Potter book this week and was no t disappointed.

Going to out patient therapy once or twice a week. Will probably continue this for a year or so.
They work me pretty hard.

We are getting our routine at home down pretty well and things are better for both Barb and I.

Looking for a wheel chair Van and hope to have something with in a few months.

Have been to two movies lately so we are getting out a bit more.

This whole process of adapting to live in a wheel chair has been a lot more difficult than I imagined. I am up in m wheel chair almost all day now.

Looking forward to a visit from my sister Carol from Nebraska next month.

More next Sunday.

Thanx for your prayersl


Sunday, July 22, 2007

Birthday Bash

Much progress this week and feeling great. Saw the HP movie last week and also saw
this week. Had a birthday party here today for four family members. MANY family members here with much noise and conversation.

Life is beginning to get good again. Working on getting a Van that I can drive- hope to have some thing within a few months.

Reading the new Harry Potter book - the last one. Kara, Kelli and Suzanne all have finished it thought it was great.

Spend most of the day up in my power wheel chair. Can get around well in the house and the yard. The Whatcom transportation authority is wonderful. They will pick up and take me home from anywhere in Whatcom County for free. I have been out with them about 8 times and will continue to use them until I get a van.

We have gotten our routine down so it is quite manageable for Barb and I. I think my sister and brother in law from Nebraska are coming up for a visit in August. Very much looking forward to having them here.

Will try to post every Sunday.


Sunday, July 15, 2007

doing better

Hi Bloggers

Made my first fun outing (doctor visits don't count) Friday evening with Barb, our daughter Suzanne and two grand daughters to see Harry Potter. I am a big fan of the Potters series.

Also make it to Church for the first time today. It was exactly seven months ago today ( Dec 14th) that I got hurt.

I have felt better and stronger the last few day than I have since the accident. It has been a long and difficult struggle both for Barb and myself. I spend the morning with hired help. Get up about 9:00, eat breakfast that attempt to use the portable potty which is sometime successful and some time not. We then exercise for about ten minutes to strengthen my arms which have now become crucial to getting back to a normal life. I then get up using a sliding board to get into my wheel chair for the day. A sliding board is a piece of wood about two feet long and eight inches with that acts like a bridge between the bed and the wheel chair. I sit up in bed, push my legs over the side of the bed, put the sliding board under my bottom and then with my arms slide into the chair. This used to be real difficult but is now becoming much easier.

I read a lot, visit with friends who stop by, throw the ball for the dog and enjoy the nice weather. Suzanne stops by often and I get to play with the two Russian grand kids which is great fun. My older grand kids: Kelly is home from Witworth College for the summer, Kara is home for a few weeks, Kayti is working at a Berry farm store. I see them a lot. I am getting to the place where life is good again. For a while I did not think it could happen but it is happening.

Several verses from the Bible have kept us going: "I will never leave you or forsake you" "The suffering of this present world are not worth of being compared to the glory that shall be revealed in us."

If you have question I would be glad to answer. I have obviously lots of time on my hands.

I have no idea how I will put my time to good use but am very optimistic about the future.

Best wishes to all and thanks for keeping me in your prayers. I will attempt to update my blog every Sunday.

Don Holmes

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


There are some nice pictures of Dad on a few of my recent posts on my other blog.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

update from don

Hello to all -
Difficult for me to sit up and type - Balance still not good
so my blog is out of date. It is harder than I expected to adjust to my new life. Everything is hard until I get more strength in my arms. I am able to sit up about 4-5 hours a day and making slow progress every day.
Family has been great. Barb going to Hawaii (Kauai) the end of the month with Christy for a week long well deserved break.

Best wishes to all.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

mountains falling into the heart of the sea

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea. ~Psalm 46: 1-2

Sunday, May 20, 2007

finally a note from me

Sorry to be so slow with my first real blog. This is the first day home where I have felt like sitting up out of bed for any length of time. After laying on my back for four months, I get light heading sitting up. Very normal I hear. This have been long ordeal and very difficult for Barb as a full time care giver. She and my kids have been great.

I have never been in pain from the very beginning. A real blessing. I think it will be several months before we discover what our lives will be like. I am now in a wheel chair and learning to adjust. We have hired some part time help to help get on the throne and roll in bed - Have to roll from side to side every four hours to avoid bed sores which can become a serious problem. Look forward to the time when I can sit up most of the day in my wheel chair and read and do stuff on the computer. Some one has given us a power wheel chair so we will have to acquire a vehicle to carry it. Probable a month away for this.

What can I say about the whole process? The three months in the nursing home were tough waiting for the operation to heal so I could get to therapy. Therapy for five weeks was hard but it was the final step before I could get home.

I still have a lot to learn about taking care of myself. It may take quite a while. For the present I sleep a LOT and do exercises to build up my arms.

This has not been a spiritual experience. Getting hurt should not effect a person's beliefs. Nothing has changed. Truth is truth and getting hurt is irrelevant.

Reading a book about Obama. Very interesting person.

Thanks to all who have sent me emails and cards and phone calls. You have all meant a lot to me.

This whole thing in not a tragedy - just a great big nuisance.

Love to all,


Thursday, May 10, 2007

dictated from Dad

Hi wonderful friends!

I am happy to be at home and I am trying to make life as easy as possible for my wonderful care-giver, my wife.

In the next days I'll post a long blog for everybody.

Best wishes to all,


Friday, May 4, 2007

every day is better

Every day he is stronger, but we've a ways to go.

Mom is tired. I am tired. Looking after Dad is a non-stop project. If you are considering helping, please do. Specifically, we need people to commit to coming by between 5 and 6 in the evening to put him in his chair for dinner, and then again between 8 and 9 in the evening to get him back to bed. We will need this for the next month or so.

We have hired in help for the mornings from 9-12, and then I go over from 12:30 to 4 with kids in tow. Paid helpers only come for 3 hour minimums, so it seems a bit silly to bring them in for 15 minutes of help.

Helping him transfer is really a matter of helping him stay balanced. It is not laborious, but it is more than Mom can safely do.

Other than the transfers, we can handle his therapies and other needs.

If you would like to help, please email me at and I will add you to the LotsaHelpingHands website from whence you can sign up for whatever help suits you.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

home at last, home at last

Dad ate dinner last night at his own table. His yummy dinner was provided by his lovely niece-in-law Kristi.

Saturday, April 28, 2007


If you asked to be added to the list, you were. I have a whole bunch of you that show up on the "Added but not ever Signed-In" list. You need to confirm you participation by responding to the email that you got. I'm guessing that some Junk Email filters sent the email to never-never land, so I just sent another. Check your inboxes. It should have a subject line like this: [LHH] blah blah blah.

The instructions are easy to follow. Give me a call if you need a walk-through. 398-7687

That being said, we need meals on Wed and Thur of next week. Thanks to those of you who already signed up.

I've never in my life seen my Mom on the receiving end of this sort of help. She is usually the Helper. She is thrilled to hear that dinner is coming.

Through all this, the outpouring of love and support from my parents' friends and even the children and friends of my parents' friends have been a great sustainment to all of us. Even more than ever, I want to be like my folks when I grow up.

Autonomic Dysreflexia

Last time I visited Dad, I learned about Autonomic Dysreflexia.

I'll try to explain it in non-medical terms. Something goes wrong in the body, the sort of thing that would, in a non-paralyzed person, result in discomfort or pain and action to relieve the discomfort or pain. In paraplegics, it can happen that the nerves sends the pain or discomfort to the 'auto-pilot' part of the brain but of course no message reaches the part of the brain that can do anything to relieve the discomfort or pain. Well, the body still knows that something needs to give, so it ramps up its response, basically starting a physical panic response in the body of someone who doesn't have a clue that he or she is in crisis. AD can be life-threatening.

Speaking of life-threatening, did you know that the statistics indicate that if a person survives the first ten days of whatever caused them to become paralyzed, they usually live at least another ten years. The far-and-away leading cause of death for paraplegics is, however, pneumonia, so if you are sneezy and wheezy, don't visit my folks.

Anyway, back to AD; if you would like to learn more, click the link above.

Why am I getting all medical on you? Because many of you have offered to help, and if you are like me, the more you know the more comfortable you are. So I'm just going to share whatever comes my way.

Friday, April 27, 2007

questions you haven't asked, but probably have wondered about.

As we are ramping up (har har har) for Dad's big move home, I thought I'd guess what your questions might be. How'd I do?

What muscles work? What ones do not?
Dad has good back muscles. He can control his forward tilt with his back. He has no tummy muscles, so flopping backwards is a problem. His range of loss in the front is about two inches below the nipples.

What about, uhm, er, tolieting?
These websites should answer all your questions and perhaps then some: #1 and #2.

Any chance of recovery?
Not so much. The neurosurgeon said that the injury was complete, which means that the whole spinal cord was damaged. An incomplete injury means that the front or the back or some part of the cord was not damaged, and those folks have more function than Dad. Dad's spinal cord was not severed, but all parts of it were damaged by the bits of crushed vertebrae.

By the way, lots of folks tell stories about people who broke their backs and are walking again. Therein is the difference between damaging your spinal bones and damaging your spinal cord.

Any chance of improvement? Absolutely. He regularly has twitchy legs in response to his legs being bumped or touched. This is a good sign, even though the twitches are involuntary. Today the therapist was trying to get some good twitches going so that Dad could, on an up-twitch, grab his leg in preparation for moving it off the bed.

Where did he get that fabulous haircut? I did that. Dad can be glad he wasn't my first haircut, featured here. I don't charge anything and I think they both overpaid.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Dad's website at LotsaHelpingHands is so cool.

Once you are signed up you can log in and see a list of what is needed for each day and where the gaps in. What a great resource!!

Saw Dad today. He is great.

Jamie was talking to someone on the phone tonight and the term handicapped came up in reference to Dad. Jamie said that he has having a hard time getting his head around that word in connection to Dad. I was staring at Jamie slack-jawed. It had never ever occurred to me that Dad is handicapped. Well DuH! I suppose he is. But the thought had not crossed my mind.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Lotsa Helping Hands

Just want to explain a bit more about the Lotsa Helping Hands resource. Here is what can happen:

easy peasy

  • You email me ( to ask to be added.

  • You receive an email that explains how to get set up and includes your special one-time activation info.

  • You follow the instructions in the email.

  • You get signed up and logged in.

  • (Karen McKay and I load the site with all the times, dates, and details of what is needed.)

  • You peruse the needs and see what fits your skills and time available.

  • You sign up right then and there.

  • Think of all the phone calls this will save!!

    Saturday, April 21, 2007

    Why, yes, you could help!

    It's time. All those offers of help are about to be called in. Karen MacKay has graciously offered to coordinate the volunteers and is using the excellent online resource LotsaHelpingHands to keep us all organized.

    The easiest and most efficient way for you to get on board is to visit the sign-up page and, after agreeing to the terms, clicking on Contact a Coordinator at the bottom of the left sidebar to email me at This will send a request that you be added to the Don's Helpers community. After a coordinator adds you as a member, the system will send you an email with your sign-in link. You must use the email to sign in the first time. After that you can go directly to the website.

    In addition, Karen may be calling you. :)

    Friday, April 20, 2007

    Don's Field Trip

    Dad got to go home for a couple of hours this week. They needed to test drive the ramp and confirm that the doorways, restroom, etc. were all going to work for him. It was a real treat to see him under his own roof again.

    Tuesday, April 10, 2007

    after 7 please

    Dad is working really hard every day and has asked that we don't visit him until after 7:00 pm as he needs the late afternoon and dinner hour to rest up. He loves visitors, but do wait until after 7 please.

    Monday, April 9, 2007

    email update

    We are about to close down the notesfordon gmail account as it has served its purpose.

    If you want to send email to Dad (and please do) use the link to St. Joe's form in the top right corner of this page. It will get printed and delivered to him, though he will not be able to answer it. I would expect that in May you can start to use Dad's old gmail address and he will be able to both receive and reply to your mail.

    If you want to send mail to Mom, she is the new owner of her very own email address and a laptop with which to use it. You can mail her at bjlholmes @ gmail . com -- take out the spaces.

    I'll post bigger and easier to see pics of the ramp in the next few days.

    Saturday, April 7, 2007

    Wednesday, April 4, 2007

    The New Normal

    If you haven't been to see Dad yet, or if it has been awhile, you may be feeling sorry for him, imagining or remembering him frail and weak. You really ought to go see him. He is indeed a bit thinner and more horizontal, but his mighty presence is glowing strong and he is getting used to the new normal

    The best time to visit is in the evenings.

    Tuesday, April 3, 2007

    coming along nicely

    Dad is super! I heard him say to visitors today, "I'm okay, this is all just a big nuisance."

    I went to therapy with him one day. You can try this. Lie down on your side. Put the lower arm over your head, palm down. Get up without using your legs or your tummy muscles. It's really hard.

    Saturday, March 31, 2007

    Answering his own phone


    Friday, March 30, 2007

    One month

    Dad has a discharge date. He'll be back home this time next month.

    Today the kids and I accompanied him to therapy. We watched and cheered as he moved himself, with only a little help, from lying down to sitting up. You try that using ONLY your arms and chest, no abs, and no legs for leverage. He is making fabulous progress.

    Thursday, March 29, 2007

    It's going to be okay . . .

    The last three times I have visited Dad it has seemed like a normal visit, not a lot different than dropping by the house for a chat. He is transitioning from a patient to a person, if that makes any sense. I didn't need to DO anything for him, just share my kids and the news of the day and hear his news.

    He happily ate the Burger Me! burger we took him. He is 180 pounds at six and a half feet tall, so he needs fatty high protein foods.

    He is happy. He is well. He is strong.

    Sunday, March 25, 2007

    ring ring

    Tonight my phone rang and it was my Dad. This is the first time since Dec 13 that Dad has picked up the phone and called me. We exchanged news of the day, just like old times. I cannot possible articulate what this meant to me. It was as if he is moving back into his old spot in our lives.

    Thursday, March 22, 2007

    All Settled In

    Dad is so happy to be back at St Joe's Rehab. The staff there are just the cat's pajamas.

    The guesstimate is that he is four weeks from moving home. I get all teary just thinking about it.

    Tuesday, March 20, 2007

    Moving Day!!

    Tomorrow is the BIG DAY! Dad is moving to St Joe's Rehab Center - South Campus. We are all so excited. This is the beginning of the last bit before home.

    He can receive email there if you use the St Joe's form. Put South Campus Rehab in the spot for room number.

    Dad will be very busy during the day, so the staff asks that visitors wait until after 6:00. He should have a phone in his room and as soon as I know the number, I'll share it.

    Monday, March 19, 2007


    . . . so sorry about the rather grouchy posting yesterday. If you read yesterday's post on my other blog you'll probably forgive me.

    Sunday, March 18, 2007


    Thank you for all your recent emails. Especially from you NE folks (You know whom I mean).

    Just so you all know, neither Mom nor Dad is checking the old holmesdb@*****.com email address. I just spent TWO hours cleaning out the 756 emails that had accumulated in it. I would much rather spend this time playing with my kids. So, if Don and Barb are on your email list for your ministry or small group or whatever, please take them off the list for awhile.

    Personal notes, on the other hand, are always welcome at

    Wednesday, March 14, 2007

    Farewell to Turtle

    Today is the three month marker of Dad's accident and is the first turtle-free day. He is so pleased to be without it. He can now sit straight up without the brace.

    It was warm and balmy here today so Dad got to sit outside with the sun on his face for about an hour. He is in good spirits and looks much like his old self, just thinner and more horizontal.

    Tuesday, March 13, 2007

    a wee delay

    St Joe's is in the middle of a big remodel so they won't have a room for Dad until the middle of next week.

    Saturday, March 10, 2007

    a letter from Dad

    From Don:


    Dear Faithful and Wonderful Friends Far and Wide,

    Too many people have contacted me by various ways for me to be able to write a personal note. Please understand that your cards, phone calls, and emails have been a great encouragement. I won’t deny that lying on my back for three months has been difficult.

    I’m delighted to report that next Wednesday on March 14th I am scheduled to be relocated to St Joseph’s Rehabilitation Center, if they have a vacancy. I’ve been told that rehab will take between two and four weeks. There I will learn how to dress myself and how to move from bed to wheelchair to car and to take care of myself. I have been in very little pain and my mind is clear and I am very optimistic about the future.

    I hope to spend some time raising funds for International Justice Mission.

    I do not understand how people who know not Christ endure the hardships in life.

    Best wishes and God’s Blessing to all and with tears in my eyes thinking of all of you.


    P.S. My wife and family and Emma-dog have been bricks. They have been here everyday.

    Thursday, March 8, 2007

    Counting down the days . . .

    . . . to the big move.

    On Wednesday, Mom and Dad took the bus over to St Joe's Rehab Center for a tour. As soon as Dad's turtleshell comes off -- sometime next week -- he is ready to transfer. St Joe's is the last stop before home.

    Sunday, March 4, 2007


    Dad's email address is still and he still loves to get email. (hint-hint)

    Saturday, March 3, 2007

    Turtles we love, and one we are weary of

    My favorite kind of turtles are the ones with pecans and caramel and chocolate. Certainly not the plastic kind with Velcro straps that my Dad will be wearing for another two weeks.

    Thursday, March 1, 2007

    Yes, please come visit

    Dad is doing rather nicely these days and welcomes your visits in the late afternoons and early evenings on weekdays and about anytime on weekends. He is very much looking forward to transferring to St Joe's in about two weeks.

    Tuesday, February 27, 2007

    A good patch

    Dad is in a good patch nowadays. My dear cousin took my germy kids for an hour-and-a-half and I got to go see Dad. He has had a good five days: sleeping, eating, and doing therapy well. His spirits are good.

    Tomorrow he will go by ambulance to Harborview in Seattle to see his surgeon. The surgeon will determine whether or not it is okay to take the turtleshell off. Once the turtle is off and Dad can do three hours of therapy, he can transfer back to St. Joe's and start his "Going-Home" work.

    Dad looks forward to, and welcomes, visitors. If you would like to see him, please do. Around 7 in the evening works best for him, but some other times (especially on the weekends) also work. Just give me a call at 360/398-7687 or 360/920-4699.

    Wednesday, February 21, 2007

    A better day

    Mom called to report that Dad had a much better day. He used the beazy board to both get into and back out of the wheelchair, he sat in the chair for an hour and a half without getting dizzy, he did an hour of his arm exercises, and he ate. I even got to talk to him on the phone for a minute or so and he sounded much improved.

    Monday, February 19, 2007

    all the news

    Dad informs me that it was not a kidney infection, merely a UTI. Sorry for the misinformation.

    He has not had a particularly good week. His tummy is upset (probably the antibiotics) and he is not eating well. He weighs just a tad over 200 pounds now. If you are praying for him (and we do hope that you are), please pray that his appetite and taste-buds would be renewed. It is very hard to see him so thin.

    Monday, February 12, 2007

    Weekend Report

    Dad had a hard weekend. He was nauseated and feverish and generally ill. Turns out that he had a UTI that ended up as a kidney infection.

    I got to go in last night to see him. Bear (his dog) went with me and was very cuddly and well-behaved. Dad and I got to have a nice long visit; these are rare for me as I usually have small people in tow.

    Tuesday, February 6, 2007

    The Official Word

    Mom called this morning to report that Dad met most of his goals last week.

    Every morning he shaves and brushes his teeth by himself.
    He puts on his own shirt.
    He puts on his pants with moderate help.
    He can roll from side-to-side unaided.
    He can sit on the edge of the bed unassisted (!!) for five minutes.
    He can lean on his elbow on one side and then transfer to the other side with a little help.

    I do wish I could see him.

    Sunday, February 4, 2007

    Poor poor me

    I've had a cold for the last week and have not gotten to see Dad as bearing germs into his room is a big no-no. Apparently he has had a terrific week, chatting and partying all hours. Everyone says that he looks great and is better tolerating sitting up and is general perky and engaged. Everyone says they've had lovely visits with him.

    So, the reason you haven't had any posts to read is that I've been very busy sitting on my pity pot.

    Tuesday, January 30, 2007

    Change in Visits

    They have revamped Dad's therapy schedule such that he is all tuckered out at 4:00. His new window for visiting is after 7:00 in the evening. If you scheduled a 4:00 visit, don't be surprised if we call you to move or cancel it. Sorry about the changes; Monday brought him a new regime.

    Monday, January 29, 2007


    Dad is now ready for visits, but no more than one visitor a day. He has asked me to arrange his visiting calendar, so if you would like to go see him, please call me. His visiting windows are around 4 pm or after 7 pm.

    My cell phone is 360/920-4699 and my home line is 360/398-7687. If you call on my cell phone and the connection is sketchy, please redial on my home line; I have dreadful reception at home.

    If you want to make arrangements before 9 am or after 9 pm, please use email: .

    There are three questions that he tires of answering, so we've put them in the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) column to your left.

    Saturday, January 27, 2007

    Super Saturday

    Had a great day with Dad today. He was reading the newspaper when I got there and sustained active conversation about the greater world for a full three hours. He ate most of his dinner, feeding himself and occasionally commenting on how tasty the food was. He really does seem to have entered a new phase of daily improvement.

    Tuesday, January 23, 2007


    Dropped by to see Dad today and went home singing and smiling. He is perky and slept well and was nibbling a little on snacks. He is nearly six weeks post-accident and seems to be gaining on it daily.

    Saturday, January 20, 2007

    Turtle Shell

    Inquiring minds (well just one actually) have asked about the turtle shell. Here is an illustration that is similar to what Dad wears. It helps hold him up as his spine heals. They did surgery on Dec 16 and at that time said "3 months", so we are expecting to be done with the turtle shell mid-March.

    Friday, January 19, 2007

    Friday Update

    Got to see Dad today. He was sitting up and joined in the every-other-week care conference. Goals for the next weeks include getting him up in his chair twice a day for at least an hour-and-a-half each time. You've no idea what a big deal this is. Sitting exhausts him, but the only way to get stronger is to do it, so he is facing weeks and weeks of having to exert himself whilst wanting nothing more than a good nap.

    An hour into the sitting, his blood pressure was 106/60, which is really good for him.

    Wednesday, January 17, 2007


    This is the time of the week that I don't get to go see Dad much, so all my news is second-hand. Mom says, though, that he appears to have turned a corner and is sleeping and eating well more often than not. Tomorrow will be the five week marker of the accident, and we've been told that for healing ribs, week four is the worst, so it is nice to get that behind us.

    Mom and Dad have asked me again and again to thank you for your cards and letters. You may never know how much your notes mean to them. Reading the daily mail is the highlight of the day, and we portion out the readings so that they last the day. Thank you (and keep 'em coming).

    Monday, January 15, 2007


    Yesterday I spent the morning and early afternoon with Dad. He ate a lot and was awake most of the time. He very much enjoyed, and is still enjoying, all the birthday cards and emails.

    We ended up taking Bear, the younger border collie, to our house and Emma travels with Mom to the nursing home each day. When I stopped by this evening, Emma was snuggled up with Dad in his bed. Right now Bear is sleeping on our daughter's bed, so the doggie situation seems to be resolved.

    Still no visitors please. Thanks.

    Saturday, January 13, 2007

    Weekend Report

    Many apologies for the lag in posting. It's the first week of school for me, and even though I am only doing some administrative work, it all adds up.

    Anyway, thanks for the deluge of cards and emails. Dad had a huge pile of birthday greetings.

    Every day he is a little stronger and can do a little bit more. Little being the key word here. He is definately moving in the right direction, but it is slow slow progress. Fatigue and lack of appetite are the big hurdles right now.

    He is not receiving visitors at all. When we are there with him, we don't talk much, just sit and hold his hand and fluff his pillow. Occasionally he is chatty, but it is a rarity which we are, frankly, hoarding.

    Again, thank you for the cards and letters. They are a great blessing.

    Wednesday, January 10, 2007

    CS Lewis

    Included in The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume 3: Narnia, Cambridge, and Joy, 1950 - 1963 is a letter written to Dad by C.S. Lewis in which Lewis answers three questions that Dad asks. The book was recently published and Dad was right pleased to find that his letter had been included. Dad had donated the letter to the Marion E. Wade Center at Wheaton College (his alma mater) about 40 years ago. For your reading pleasure, I'll try to borrow the book and type in the letter -- as well as the reconstituted questions to which the letter responds.

    Tuesday, January 9, 2007

    Tuesday Newsday

    The sparkle is back! Dad had a great day and his big round green eyes had sparkles in them when we visited tonight. It was indeed a high-tide day.

    Monday, January 8, 2007

    Random Thoughts

    In the first weeks of Dad’s paralysis, I kept thinking how awful this was, how could such an awful awful thing happen to him? As I’ve visited with the other families that we met in the hallways of the various hospitals and wards, I’ve come to see that paralysis is not the awfulest thing ever. I’ve chatted with a woman whose Mom can walk around, dress herself, eat, listen to conversations, but she cannot produce language. Her stroke damaged the part of the brain that makes words, so she can’t talk to her family. I think that is more awful. This morning I met a man whose Dad, just like ours, was busy and active and then boom! a stroke, and out went the lights. His Dad’s body is frozen, but healthy, and his mind is fragmented. This is more awful.

    I know it sounds as if I am taking comfort in the fact that others are more miserable, but it’s not that, really. I think it’s that paraplegia is more rare, so we perceive it as more dreadful. But these families that have weathered strokes would probably trade places with us in a heartbeat. Dad’s mobility is changed, but his person, his intelligence, his humor, his fortitude, all the parts that make him the man we know and love, those parts remain.

    On another topic, please don’t worry when you read that he is weak and tired and that weensy ordinary things (like eating or chatting on the phone) wear him out. This is normal considering how much trauma his body has endured and how recently he was injured. Most of the people who come in to work with him comment on how well he is doing. Today he is feeding himself and tugging his own covers and initiating taking a drink. He could do none of this a week ago. So, yes, he is indeed weak and tired and is not taking phone calls and is shooing visitors out. From a medical point of view, this is normal at this stage. It will pass.

    And on a third topic, whenever I talk to him he asks about emails and his dogs. I know that most of you cannot help with the dogs, but you can email. Big thanks for the ones that arrived today. .

    Saturday, January 6, 2007

    Friday's Care Conference

    On Friday we met with the care team and outlined the expectations for the next few weeks. This upcoming week they will be working on getting Dad into his turtle brace every day and then raising the head of the bed up so that his sitting tolerance can be improved. The following week he will work on sitting on the side of the bed and eventually moving into a chair for sitting. Sitting is the key to everything: healthy breathing, self-care, etc.

    Friday, January 5, 2007

    Emma and Bear

    Do you have a fenced yard and long for some doggish activity? We have two lovely border collies that need some temporary housing as their current home-life is rather lonely. If you could help us in this way, you would be giving the blessing of peace of mind to mom and dad.

    Thursday, January 4, 2007

    Private Room

    Dad was moved into a room without a roommate this evening. This is much better for mom as she has a place to put her things and can nest a bit. He had an off day today, not much energy and not much eating. His vigor seems to ebb and flood like the tide. We are hoping that tomorrow is a high tide day.

    Wednesday, January 3, 2007

    Birthday on the Horizon

    A week from Friday (Jan 12) is Dad's birthday. Let's deluge him with birthday cards.

    Don Holmes
    c/o 6017 Medcalf Road
    Bellingham, WA 98226

    I put my address instead of Mom and Dad's as I didn't want to broadcast their home address across the worldwideweb. However, if you know their home address, feel free to use that.

    Don't worry if you have a hard time knowing what to say in the face of such a profound life change. It's left many of us rather at a loss for words. But who doesn't like being remembered on their birthday?

    Dad started feeding himself and is eating reasonably sized meals and is able to do a few things for himself (pull up covers, adjust pillow). He was just too weak up till now. Every day he is significantly stronger than the day before.

    Tuesday, January 2, 2007


    Dad's new place does not have email. If you want to send him notes, you can send them to and I will check his mail and print the emails and take them to him.

    And on a completely unrelated topic, this afternoon I spoke with one of Dad's old friends who did not know that this last fall we adopted children in Russia, so the cute quotes in Russglish that I had shared had made no sense to him. So, in case you didn't know, our children's first language is Russian and they are learning English.

    New Year -- New Location

    Even as I type Dad is getting bundled up to move to his new place, the Alderwood Park Convalescent Center. This is a place where he can regain his strength and let his ribs heal before moving back to St. Joseph's for rehab.

    He is sleeping well at night and eating a bit more every day, so we are headed in the right direction.

    We do need to ask that you refrain from visiting at this time. We are all looking forward to entering the next stage, the one in which visitors are the highlights of the day, but we are not there yet.