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.