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: chndlrs@msn.com .

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. notesforDon@gmail.com .

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 notesforDon@gmail.com 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.