Archive for June, 2009

Report on Aunt Bon (at Adam’s Blog)

June 29th, 2009 | Category: General

2009.06.30

Jackie (My mother-in-law) and Emily (Aunt Bon’s daughter) have both reported back on Aunt Bon today. Bonnie is still progressing. Although the pace still seems fast, it sounds like there are varying speeds of her progression. From what I can gather it’s a two steps forward, one step back kind of dance. The speech therapist issued some tests with mixed results. She was able to read the bottom of a Kleenex box aloud. However, she struggled with making lists. When asked to list 5 fruits she was eventually able to do so. When asked to make a list of 5 vegetables–she had trouble and was not able to complete the test.

I’m also told she was rather insistent about the removal of her feeding tube. So much so that the moment her husband (Doug) and daughter (Emily) turned their backs she removed it herself! GAH! The nurses, Doug and Emily expressed their concern to Bonnie about this bold move–but she insisted it was not going back in. Her first “real” meal today was Beets–an apparent favorite of hers. Later they will try mashed potatoes–also a favorite of hers. If she consumes food regularly they will not reinsert the tube.

Her speech and movements have improved. I’m told that from time to time she’s been a little disoriented in her conversations. Although she still speaks slowly and deliberately, I’m told that it is a little faster than before. Even though she’s easily exhausted, she’s also following movement commands better than in previous days.

To quote Emily, “The doctors continue to be amazed at her progress.” They should be moving Auntie Bon from Acute Care (step down) to “General” care (but still in the Neurology division) sometime in the next day or two. The doctors are hoping to move her to an entirely different building for rehab in the next week as time and availability allows.

[Read in reverse order (from the bottom to the top) for the full story.]

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2009.06.29 PM

Heather’s mom said Auntie Bon slept restlessly last night. The neurosurgeon came in today and said Auntie Bon will likely not need any more surgeries for her skull or brain.

Bonnie is not talking much this morning, but the doctors are now planning to work an “awake schedule” with her and begin her physical therapy. This will include things like standing up and sitting back down and eventually (but maybe not today) walking. She was asked again to try moving limbs and fingers (right vs left) and did really well.

We’re home now so we won’t be able to update in as much detail as before. I’ll write a little more here later.

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2009.06.28 PM
Upgraded to serious from critical and moved out of ICU. She’s in the “step down” room. More to come…

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2009.06.28 AM
After a very good day yesterday of removing the respirator tubes and minimizing medicine, Bonnie has been waking and sleeping most of the day and night. She also had the chance to see her grandson yesterday and reached for him and smiled. She managed to whisper “I love you.” not once but two times.

This morning, Doug, Heather, Aunt Cindy, and I went into her room in ICU. She had been propped up in a medical chair. This is to help her bruised lungs recover. Her chin splint had been removed and the swelling her extremities has gone down yet again. She immediately awakened when Doug spoke. Even though her vocal chords are damaged from the respiratory tubes she was able to speak. Her first sentence although a bit slow and forced was, “Am I dying?” Tears welled among us and Doug through a low giggle and tears told her, “No. You’re going to be just fine.” Over the course of several minutes, she has had a lot of questions and concerns. Some of them included:

“Am I going to be OK?”
“What happened?”
“When can I go home?”
“Want to help.”
“I’m scared.”

It was at that time the doctor came in. He was very matter-of-fact and Bonnie had more questions. She was able to ask what happened to her and the doctor obliged with the details. She asked how long her recovery would be and he told her that she was progressing well but that they would have to “get her better” over the next many weeks. Bonnie’s speech is not like you or I speaking. This was a very difficult moment for her. But Doug and her sister Cindy were right at her side smiling and crying and reassuring her.

She remembered her grandson’s visit from the previous day.

She’s having trouble remembering what happened, but we’re told this is normal. The staff refers to the disorientation as ICU-itis. It comes with the heavy dosage of drugs and the disorientation of not knowing where you are each time you wake.

Bon does realize she’s in ICU. (She is–after all–an employee at this very hospital. I thought she was a nurse but she works in a different department.) She won’t be in ICU for long. They’re moving her to the “Step Down” room shortly. This means that she’ll have an address and that soon she’ll be able receive letters, cards and of course flowers.

The doctors are amazed with Bonnie’s progression. In 4 days she has come a long way. Keep the prayers and thoughts coming and if there are more monumental steps today (as there have been every day) I’ll try and update.

TTYL, gang.

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2009.06.27: (3 Days after the initial trauma)
Bonnie was fully awake this morning. Uncle Doug asked her if she wanted to know what happened. She nodded yes. He explained that she was in an accident and that she was hit by a young girl who was in her lane. He went on to say that she hit a telephone pole that had fallen on her. She looked worried. Doug told her the girl was alright. Bonnie smiled. She was glad the girl was alright.

She’s been awake on and off since we’ve been up here. Long road ahead but the news is getting better and spirits are high.

She’s been responding well by indicating yes and no. When asked if she wanted to go back to sleep she emphatically shook her head no. Yesterday when Doug escorted Heather and I in to see her for the first time, she opened one eye and reached for Heather. Last night when she had more visitors, she also woke up. The nurse asked her to give a ‘thumbs up’ and she did! Though no one can imagine what she’s going through, with each baby step toward recovery and awareness the family’s spirits are lifted.

They are currently removing her breathing tube. She is breathing on her own.

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2009.06.26:
My aunt-in-law, Heather’s aunt, Bonnie Dressen, has been in an awful car-accident.  She was in a convertible going about 50-60 mph when she was hit by a teenage driver and careened into a telephone pole.  The pole broke and fell on the unprotected car.  She has sufferred sever head trauma and is currently in critical condition at SMDC (where she works incidentally.) The following updates (in reverse order) are to keep friends and family updated.  Click here for caring bridge updates. Also see Heather’s site here.

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Chancellors of Fate

June 14th, 2009 | Category: Close to Home,creative,Shopping

Queue the theme from Dragnet.

“The story is true…”

One bright and sunny afternoon, Adam and Heather left their home for an afternoon of furniture shopping. Although Adam didn’t particularly care for the lemming-ridden maze that is IKEA, he decided to keep his wife company.

They headed out into busy Saturday traffic. Along the way, there was a girls soccer team washing cars where the corner of the street they were on and the highway entrance met. Adam turned to Heather and said somewhat in jest, “Ha! Maybe we should get my dirty car washed!” Agreeing that their 2006 Black Ford Escape was dirty, she replied, “Yes.” However, in the interest of continuing on their journey, the couple opted at the last moment to continue on uninterrupted.

Adam and Heather were happily cruising along now. Four minutes after leaving their home, they enjoyed the dulcet tones of the stereo, the warm rays of sun and pleasant conversation. Ikea was a mere 20 minutes away—or so they thought. It turns out that two of the main motorways in the Twin Cities where they lived were shut down for the weekend. They had both reminded each other of this fact moments before they came up on their first traffic jam. Adam said to Heather, “Maybe we should get off on Penn?” Heather concurred. This seemed a reasonable course since they would at least be moving.

They turned off the main highway and headed south. Although a side street, it was two lanes wide in both the north and southbound directions. To avoid getting stuck behind any cars attempting a left turn, Adam maneuvered the vehicle into the right lane. Their enjoyable chitchat continued.

As they traveled along, the conversation turned to a somewhat saccharine dialogue of relationships and how lucky they were to have one another. They both lamented their past relationships for a time before deciding that the circumstances and experiences they both had been through ultimately resulted in their being together. The following dialogue may not seem profound at first glance; however, it lacks no irony where a philosophical debate such as this is discussed. “Do you believe that we would have somehow ended up together regardless of our past?” Heather asked. Adam replied, “I supposed that depends on whether or not you believe in fate or chance. I for one do not believe in fate. I believe that fate, if it exists at all, is determined purely by chance.” It would be in that moment that their exchange would immediately halt due to a matter of uncontrollable circumstance.

A driver in the northbound lane, waiting to turn left, decided he would no longer wait for the busy side street to empty out. He gunned his motor and shot through the intersection. He passed through left lane of the southbound traffic unscathed. Ultimately his path left him with only one stop–a black Ford Escape.

There wasn’t much warning, but Adam simultaneously slammed on the brakes and veered to the right. Heather gripped the safety handle and braced herself. With a crushing blow both cars skidded to a halt at the uncontrolled intersection. Though the engines of the cars were still running, the world appeared to momentarily stop for the three people in the accident. Call it chance. Call it fate. Whatever you prefer to call it, one of the hypothetical decks of probability had been stacked–and Adam and Heather had just been dealt their hand.

Adam checked to see if Heather was alright and immediately unbuckled. Aside being a bit shook up, a seatbelt burn on Adam’s left shoulder and a mild bruise on Heather’s shoulder they remained remarkably undamaged. Adam had to forcefully pry his door open to exit the crunched vehicle. He glanced down at his fender and front driver’s side wheel and noticed it had broken against the axle.

After a brief exchange with the driver Adam quickly determined that although not hurt, the driver of the offending vehicle was not operating at full capacity. That is to say, even though this driver didn’t look drunk or otherwise “under the influence”, he was showing signs of mental incapacity. Adam phoned the police.

A passerby was kind enough to stop and offer himself, his wife and daughter as witnesses. “We saw everything and it could have been us! We’ll be glad to assist in any way possible.” the Good Samaritan stated.

To add to the adventure, the offending driver at one point decided it was time to leave. He reentered his still running vehicle and began to put the car into gear. Adam, fearing he would flee, ran to the front of his vehicle and stood his ground. Realizing that it would take some effort for the driver to pilot his vehicle back into traffic, Adam banked his decision to stop him on two immediate thoughts:

  • He didn’t believe this gentleman truly wanted to flee. He was just scared.
  • If he were to manage to move forward Adam would be able to move out of the way in time as there was too much traffic to simply run off.

Adam dialed the police a second time and expressed that he believed the driver was not operating at full mental capacity. “I suggest you get someone here quick, because this guy’s tryin’ to leave!” he exclaimed. Adam then turned his attention to the drive and said firmly, “You might want to get out of your car and turn it off, sir. The police will be here soon.” The driver reluctantly emerged from his car. “This is not my fault! I was just trying to make a left turn and ‘this guy’ came out of nowhere and hit me!” he yelled. “We’ll see who’s fault this is!” he dared. Adam stood his ground to insure that their new “friend” wouldn’t leave the scene and remained quiet. His new Good Samaritan-friend did not. The gentleman who had witnessed this incident decided that was enough! He approached the driver and yelled in concise terms that the driver was indeed at fault and he should keep his [explicative] mouth shut! Secretly, Heather and Adam were both amused and taken aback. They also felt some compassion for this poor man who really didn’t seem to realize the levity of the situation.

Defeated yet still somewhat defiant, the upset man slowly circled his vehicle toward Adam. Realizing that taking the driver’s mind off of getting back into his car might be the best approach, Adam politely asked to see his insurance. To Adam’s astonishment he complied without hesitation. The man fumbled for his license and obediently handed it over. “Ah ha!” Adam thought for a moment. “He just needs some direction to get his mind off of our situation!” Indeed this man’s mental state had reverted to that of a young boy who had been caught stealing. In that moment, the Sheriff arrived accompanied shortly thereafter by two additional squad cars. Literally relieved, Adam turned over the driver’s insurance card and walked back to his beautiful wife, gave her a hug and looked in dismay at his bludgeoned truck.

The police report read as follows:

For the purposes of the following transcript, Unit 1 refers to Adam & Heather’s Ford Escape and Unit 2 refers to the offending driver’s car.

Narrative:
 Unit 1 was SB on Penn Ave. S. in the right lane.
 Unit 2 was NB on Penn Ave. S. in the left lane.

 Unit 2 proceeded to make a left turn to enter a
 shopping mall parking lot in the 6500 block of
 Penn Ave and collided with unit 1.

 Driver of Unit 2 appeared disoriented and confused
 of what happened.  He did not seem to track when
 officers were talking to him.  He stated that he
 was suffering from bipolar and depression.
 He stated that he takes medications every day.

Even though their friend in Unit 2 could have easily driven his car, the police had the foresight to convince the distraught and confused man that he would be better off not driving.  They called for a tow of both vehicles.  They also managed to calm him down and help him understand who was at fault.  They filled out the above report and even let him go pay his cable bill–which was what his original mission had been in the first place.  He returned and apologized to Adam and Heather repeatedly for his transgression.

Things had finally calmed down. During the scuttle, Adam was able to phone a friend who gladly picked Heather and Adam up and brought them home. Their small, sad SUV was towed to a local body shop. The axle, fender, wheel, headlamp assembly, scratches, dents and other items on the Escape would need serious repair. Thankfully, as fate would have it, Adam and Heather would not.

*  *  *  *

Adam and Heather took a moment to be thankful for their fortuitous outcome.  They sat in their home and made a few phone calls to update their friends and family of the events of their day.  They enjoyed the evening sipping on Jameson and Gingers and enjoyed a nice dinner from the grill. Later that night, they recalled their conversation about fate and chance as they sat around a warm campfire.

Whether it was “fate or chance” will probably be a subject of debate for years to come. The most important thing is that Adam and Heather have time to discuss it.

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