Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Stranger than fiction

Yesterday was Mom's first day in Outpatient day therapy at Stallworth. Although quite successful in a number of ways, it was certainly an arduous and harrowing beginning.

Mom and I arrived bright-eyed and bushy-tailed about 8:20am so we could turn in all her paperwork early. We then sat around a bit before the first therapist came to meet us. Mom started with occupational therapy testing (fine motor control, current state of independence etc). This lasted about an hour, at which point we were left to wait for Mom's next activity. About this time the power went out in the building and it switched over to emergency lighting. Mom decided she needed to go to the bathroom which necessitated a little rigging as there was no lighting in the bathroom.

After we returned to the therapy area, we were met by another occupational therapist who oriented us on the 'check-in' procedure and stationed Mom to copy down her schedule at a high-ish counter. This was a bit unnerving for Mom as she was to copy her schedule while standing and remembering not to put weight on her bad leg. In addition, as the cast was new, she didn't have a very good feel for balance with the differnet weight on her leg. Mom persevered as usual but then the man directly to her left collapsed onto the floor and started having clonic tremors. Yikes!!! This was terrifying, as you can imagine. Once the nurses stabilized the man and the paramedics came, a process that took probably 45 minutes, Mom resumed writing her schedule out. How fun.

The rest of the day was less eventful but still very stressful as Mom received further testing from each of the therapy arms. Drawing on a well of pluck and strength that continues to astound me, Mom soldiered through and finished out the day. Afterwards, Kelly met us to chat with Mom and we had a cup of coffee at Provence before returning home.

Completely worn but good-natured about it all-


Audrey and Katherine

Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
Although it is tempting to quiz you guys on what is different in this photo, I won't!

Monday was a huge and arduous day as Mom, Nicole and I went first to her orthopedics appointment (7am) and then to her trauma appointment (9:15am).

As all of you should realize by now, we love Dr. Kregor. He is a wonderful and compassionate doctor and human. But that doesn't mean that appointments are always a cakewalk.

First off, Mom no longer remembered Dr. Kregor from the surgery and so was nervous about him. Secondly, Mom is scared of doctor appointments by nature so she didn't get much sleep. Thirdly, it is hard to be relaxed when you have to get in by 7am. BUT realistically, most of the challenge is simply in having someone futz with an ouchy body part.

Jeanene met us as usual- she is so kind to continue to accompany us on these tedious visits! Then we were taken back by a nurse who remembered Mom from before and was suitably impressed by her improvement. Another nurse, Pleas Sturtevant, met us to remove Mom's splint. He had previously applied one on the 28th of February and was also thrilled with Mom's progress. I really like Pleas-he has consistently been gentle and patient and kind, even when we were obviously the only thing keeping him from going home.

We then gathered everything back up and toodled down the hall to get follow-up X-rays of the ankle. More waiting, Mom's favorite. The X-rays went without a hitch, thanks to a sweet technician named Cassandra ('Why my mother named me that I don't know as they have ALWAYS called me Casey.') Mom really took to her.

More waiting for the films to develop and then back to wait for Dr. Kregor. Jeanene offered to rub some lotion into Mom's foot while we waited, a service for which Mom was very grateful.

Eventually Dr. Kregor joined us and reported his satisfaction with the X-rays and Mom's incisions. Pleas then removed the stitches, probably about 45 of them and no fun, and placed a cast on the ankle. This part was especially unfun as they increased the flexion of Mom's ankle to prevent Achilles contracture, causing Mom some discomfort/pain. She remained brave, even while crying, which is the true heartwrencher for me. Pleas offered Mom a choice of colors and, no surprise, Mom picked pink.

By this time, we were late for the second appointment though they were fairly unconcerned when I called up to warn them. The trauma nurse, Shelley Atkinson, was able to see Mom very soon after we checked in and was a veritable Godsend. Charming and funny, she gently teased both Mom and me about sundry items.

In the best of news, Shelley gave us the all clear to throw away the collar. For that alone any of us could have kissed her. She took time to answer all of our questions and made a little extra time to just sit and chat.

We loaded up the car from the hospital about 11am and headed home. Mom and I were completely fagged and mainly sat around staring into space. Poor Nicole didn't get much interaction from either of us after that!

As you can see and probably appreciate as never before, given her hair is currently not impeding the view, Mom has a neck either of the Hepburns would envy!

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Nicole in Wonderland

Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
After a very humorous night out (post coming soon), Nicole and I enjoyed heading out on Easter to the Opryland Hotel and Opry Mills.

In spite of my efforts to prepare Nicole for the strange and wonderful place that the Opryland Hotel is, Nicole simply wasn't ready. For those outside the Nashville area, I humbly submit the following photos to share a little of the splendor.

The Opryland Hotel is a magnificient structure, striking in its beauty with echoing cavernous halls and muted Old Money refinement. The hotel has been expanded three times, each bringing with it another astounding addition to the conservatory running through the hotel.

At this juncture, the conservatory contains ~6 individual restaurants, as well as a small Riverwalk city. The city is located in the Delta and is surrounded by a 'moat' containing fish and ducks. Boats waft lazily along the Delta, as you will see, and guides narrate the trip.

Fire swamp

Fire swamp
Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
A little collection of burping fountains and lilies breaks up the 'monotony' of luxuriant waterfalls, blooming palm trees, and moss topiary monkeys.

Note two restaurants nestled in the rocks in the background.

Open the doors and see all the peoples

Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
A tour group floats along the Delta, enjoying the view of the island town, the staterooms above and the racing fishes.

Gay ole Opryland

Gay ole Opryland
Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
I originally titled this photo Gayland, before I realized how easily it would be misconstrued. The Opryland Hotel, like most of Nashville, has been purchased and improved upon by a person of the last name Gaylord.

His empire is vast and ponderous and his reach long. Were we characters in a comic book film, Gaylord would be the prospering megamillionaire with hidden megalomaniac tendencies and the inevitable unearthing of a death ray...


Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
This photo was taken on Saturday when we took Mom out for her first 'stroll' in the neighborhood. She did a great job wheeling herself about though she was challenged by the continuous ups and downs of the area. I helped a little bit as she looked around and chatted with Nicole and Rol.

It was a delightful day to be out and about!


Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
Here Mom sits on HER OWN BED doing a sort of her clothes as we held them up for review. With all the clothes purchased to fit her current needs, things were kind of crammed in tight. A problem when one is trying to pick things out while balanced on one foot with a collar around one's neck...

Inadequate car?

Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
Can you believe that Nicole has issues with Mom's car?

This shot is the view from the backseat where Nicole was crammed against the wheelchair and walker (which couldn't go in the trunk because the weatherstripping has an issue with doing its job).


Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
As you may or may not have realized from the previous photos, Glenn's hair has gotten out of hand without Mom around to coif him. As it was another thing reminding Mom continuously of how long this ordeal is lasting, we decided on Easter to do something about it.

Nicole held the dog while Mom and I took turns shaving him. Well, actually, it was a heck of a lot more complicated than that.

After I brushed him out thoroughly, Nicole and I bathed the dog. We then fluffed and folded him in the bathroom with aid of a hairdryer and our sturdy senses of humor. Once [mostly] dry, we settled the Glenn on the ottoman in front of Mom where Mom served primarily as technical adviser, Nicole as general subduer and me as old Eddy Scissorhands. It was a little hit or miss, but we survived the clip without puncturing an eye (Glenn's), cutting off a finger (mine) or bursting into tears (the three of us girls).

After we finished the hateful coif-job, we treated ourselves and Glenn to a little cheese as payoff for good behavior. All in all, quite a lark.


Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
As you can see, this is definitely something Mom is better at than Nicole and I are. But the hair is gone and he looks a little more like 'himself.'

As they say, 'Good enough for government work.'

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Happy Easter!

As you may know, I have gone home! It's a great blessing to be with my family and in my own bed!!

Thank you again for all your love and support. I am sure I would never have regained the bit of strength I have had it not been for the prayers, good thoughts and love of each of you. I am more grateful than you can imagine!

It is going to be a long haul to health. My injured brain tires easily, and my stamina is short lived. I am trying hard to follow doctor's orders and be patient with myself! I am grateful for happy hours and my wonderful family.

On this Easter day, I am filled with the joy and hope of rebirth and new beginnings, and wish you all the best.

Love, Pam

Thursday, March 24, 2005


Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
Though terrified on the inside, anyone would consider this woman completely together as she prepares for her first car ride since the accident.

Such a big step! [Almost] Impossible to fathom that soon she would be home in her own house to continue her strides toward her old life.

The car ride home was uneventful yet harrowing as we worked through the emotions lurking beneath the surface. A little scare when we got home as Mom had some difficulty remembering how to get up onto the deck. She had practiced it quite a bit at Stallworth, but there is nothing like the 'real thing' to stimulate detail-oriented amnesia.

After a failed attempt and a distressed panic-laden moment, Mom successfully negotiated the step and into her home.

Girl and dog

Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
Once vanquishing the deck. Mom worked her way through the house to her normal spot on the couch.

Two simultaneous fears, fear of Glenn and fear of Glenn not remembering her, were extinguished. Glenn proved to be as harmless as ever, unlikely to tangle in the legs of the walker for fear of getting stepped on. In addition, if he had been any closer, he would've been behind her (as the great Groucho Marx once said). Once planted at Mom's side, Glenn would not leave her for anything. It was an excellent reminder of the great love of animals and their healing powers.

The day has been very taxing as I skipped from chore to chore, and Roland also had a full plate. Our loads were certainly lightened by invaluable assistance and pluck from the Christies. (No surprise there!) The neighbors have been just fabulous as well- there to help but understanding of Mom's need for quiet and limited stimulation. Their love and care for Roland and myself since we returned to Nashville and again now for us all is another wonderful blessing.

Hopefully, we can now take a little breather and just rest a bit. Doctor appointments and therapy start soon enough, and we have all been taxed by the anticipation and planning required for the move.

More tomorrow from 'base camp' to you all-


Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Homing pigeon

Well, the time has come! As of tomorrow morning, we are officially homeward bound!

The last week has been a bit scattered and very stressful but we have found our way through. Mom is scheduled for discharge in the morning. As you can all imagine, this is a source of great anxiety for Mom as the fear of going home battles the equally disconcerting fear of not going home. Still, she has pushed through like the amazing trooper she is.

Going home will bring its own host of challenges as we readjust to things that once were effortless. There will certainly be hard moments and hidden issues to unearth but it will also be a wonderful time of discovery of all the things that haven't been lost.

Before leaving town Brian fixed a number of potential problem areas and there is a lot of gear being shipped to the house in the next day or so. Tonight I will work on moving me back in and emptying the car so that Mom can be moved in the morning. We will then have three days to sort out daily living before a slew of doctor's visits and intensive outpatient day therapy ensue.

We are hopeful that, after the first couple weeks, we will have a little time to come up for air and say hello again to some of you personally. Please bear with us in the interim as it takes very little to overload Mom. I also have a number of pictures to upload of the last day or so but will probably not get to that till Friday as I have much to do yet tonight.

As always you are never far from our thoughts, and Mom and I enjoy reading your comments together. Though this post is brief, it contains immeasurable gratitude and love for all the help and support you have provided me as well as my family. From one little chickie to the rest of the flock, I remain as ever-

jackie chris

Monday, March 21, 2005

A note of thanks and appreciation

Dear friends,

After a long night, I am emerging into the day. There are no words for this experience. My understanding of it is still vague at best, but it has changed my life. Your care, thoughts, kindnesses and thoughtfulness have blessed every one of my days.

As I continue to get well, it will be a long time before I can personally express to each of you my gratitude and appreciation. Please have patience with me and know that my thoughts are there with you. A brian injury robs one of energy, of emotional and physical energy, and makes one more tired than you can imagine. But this will pass. And I am confident, with my fabulous doctors and family, that some day I truly will be back to normal. Thank you.

With profound appreciation and love,


Fido fun

Fido fun
Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
Yesterday was a very very big day. For me at least.

As Sunday is the international fun day, we had done some planning and decided on 'Movie Day'- I brought the movie (The Incredibles), Roland arranged the chairs, and Kelly and Bill brought the popcorn. It is a quite charming flick but fully feature length! We watched a bit over half of it before deciding to take a break.

After stretching our legs, Mom had back to back therapy sessions. Sundry errands later, I returned for a great chat with Mom. She ended up getting antsy around 3:30 and wasn't worn out by laps around the nurses station using the walker. We discussed the matter and Mom decided a trip outside would be good 'if I don't start freaking out.'

As I could think of no reason she should freak out, we geared up and headed out. We initially we planning on a little suntime in the pseudo-park at the corner of 21st and Blakemore. But the weather was nice and the traffic light so we decided to head to Provence for coffee and potentially a little nibble. This required, for readers outside the Nashville area, crossing the street.

It was terrifying in concept but quite smooth in execution. There were several very, very nice and helpful students hanging out outside that rearranged the furniture and held doors for us. Lunch was delightful. We had soup and coffee and creme brulee. Hurray for brulee!

After, I was going to head across to Fido to pick up a latte and Mom volunteered to go with. This required crossing another street!

Mom and I were both secretly scared of the street crossings but pushed through. Mom's observation was that she didn't think it likely there were any evil vans lurking about Hillsboro Village on Sunday.

As you may all imagine, we were pretty whipped from negotiating traffic so settled into a cutthroat game of Yatzee on our return. Mom whupped me and then Roland once he returned from errands.

All in all, the day was a rousing success.

love- j

Sunday, March 20, 2005

There is a hole in my net...

Sorry about the delay but difficulty finding a connection the last couple days. Fido's has been down and I try not to go online at night in case Mom calls.

Mom is doing well. She is currently balancing the desire to get 'more normal' against the exhausting and somewhat frightening effect of visitors. Therapy is going houses afire though and we are talking more about feelings and fears. There are a number of them, as everyone can imagine, especially now that Mom's brain is getting less fuzzy and the prospect of going home looms. Still, it is all forward progress.

Last night, as Mom was agitated and at loose ends, I stayed late late and we played Scrabble and watched Moonstruck. It was wonderful to be able to do things together. Keeping her going a little later at night is also a key factor in helping her sleep more solidly through the night.

I really have little to share right now. More quiet and contemplative mood but some of that may be the effect of a lovely book I am finishing (Father Joe by Tony Hendra). Mom is hoping to write a post soon for you all so keep tuned in.



Thursday, March 17, 2005

One Hot Mama

One Hot Mama
Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
Undoubtedly the most beautiful woman in the world. More so because she doesn't believe it.

Today was a fairly good and exciting day.

Today Mom continued to make great strides with her therapy and learned how to go up one step with her walker. It looks like she will have this mastered before she leaves so we won't have to build her a ramp to get into the house.

In addition, Mom had her first meeting today with a psychologist who specializes in traumatic head injury. Mom liked him and felt that speaking with him was helpful. Not because he had anything profound or insightful to to share, but because he reinforced everything we were saying. He also pointed out what great strides she has made, how well she continues to do, and what a great support network she has. She is scheduled to meet with him again next week. As he also works with the outpatient clinic, he can continue to meet with Mom once she is released.

Speaking of which, there are rumblings that suggest Mom may be ready to go sooner than originally anticipated. No date to share yet as we have all learned anything can change at any moment, but we are encouraged by Mom's many successes and look forward to getting her home a little bit sooner. Once I have something more concrete on this, I will let you know. But I suspect it may be a bit like the Beatles reunion- often forecast before coming to fruition.

Well, as you can imagine, I am quite fatigued by this flurry of update, but there had been no time before to catch you all up between Mom's doctor visits and Team Shellener illness!

With love and returning stamina-

jackie chris


Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
Here Mom stands, fresh as a daisy from her first shower on her own!!! Doesn't she look pretty?

But we all must keep reminding her- NO RUNNING!!!


At this point we were an hour and change into the appointment. We then battled our way through another grueling round of sitting. Mom was quite cranky after we had moved from the waiting room back into an examination room and sat a bit. I pointed out it had only been five minutes since we had been moved and then she truly had no aprreciation for waiting as she had missed LA.

Five minutes further and a nurse came in to double-check everything already completed to this point. In was a mere five minutes later that we met our doctor. Glorious cute doctor. Who proceeded to scratch his head and ask us why we were seeing him, as he is a sinus specialist, and Mom needs an ear specialist. sigh.


he did have a reasonable amount of good news for us.

First he went over the results of Mom's testing, which the technician had already done (to ease Mom's concern). After explaining that the problem was peripheral to the nerves, he looked in Mom's ear (otoscopic evaluation) and said the drum was intact.

At this point, I slipped into conversation that Mom had had evidence of broken ossicles on her head CT (advanced imaging). This, he said, could indeed explain Mom's hearing loss. After reviewing the CT report in the computer, he said it might be a fixable problem.

He gave orders for an appointment with a doctor specializing in ear canals. This doctor turns out to be the one who put in the ear tubes for Mom in January for her allergic ear disease. She likes him. Woo hoo.

The doctor then added on a temporal bone study to her follow-up head CT so that the next doctor will have everything he needs to plan a potential repair. Should Mom's ear problem be amenable to surgery, it sounds like it would be an outpatient procedure. Way less taxing than the orthopedic thing. Thank God.

Then it was just a wink until we were tucked back in at Stallworth, a mere two plus hours after we left.

Whew. We were both beat.

But it is definitely progress. And relatively good news. So we are going with that.

Buzz test

Buzz test
Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
Technically, this is not where the Buzz part was performed. But I don't know what this test was called and have no silly name for it. Basically Mom sat still while the technician tried to achieve an airtight seal to determine some unknown thing about her ear.

Mom did great at sitting still. Go Mom.

Beep test operator station

Beep test operator station
Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
This is the area from whence beeps originate.

Mom had a lovely 'beep operator' who was very helpful in explaining her part of things in layperson's terms.

Beep test contestant booth

Beep test contestant booth
Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
This is the exciting Beep test contestant booth. I stayed with Mom and tried not to make any noise. This is a higher tech version of the test you remember from elementary shcool where you say when you hear a noise.

In this version, Mom has a clicker to click when she hears a beep. In phase 2, the operator (visible to Mom through that window) hides her mouth and says words to one or the other ear and Mom has to repeat the word. Phase 3 is where the beeps are repeated with a thingy on Mom's head behind the ear to evaluate bone conduction.

By comparing her success in Phases 1 and 3, deficits can be localized to auditory structures versus nerve and brain.

In Phases 1 and 2, Mom had mild to moderate loss in the mid-range and moderate to marked loss in the higher and lower ranges. But Mom was determined to have excellent 'reception' in Phase 3. The upshot of this is that there is a problem somewhere in the hearing apparatus or eardrum causing the hearing loss.

The doctor can then use his (in this case) otoscopic findings and results of advanced imaging to determine what is busted and what to do. [Don't panic if you don't know the technical words- more on these follows.]

Step 2: and load

and load
Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
Perhaps it should be load and lock in this case... or lock and unload... but hey. Whatever sinks your boat.

After a very uneventful ride one block over to the clinic, Bob took us up to the ENT clinic and checked Mom in before heading off.

Then commenced an arduous period of sitting. Followed by an equally arduous period of not finding a current magazine. Then we were joined by Jeane for a second grueling round of sitting. Things were looking quite grim for our heroes when suddenly we were whisked off for Test 1.

Step 1: Lock

Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
This photo represents a very exciting step for Mom- she has transitioned from ambulance transport for her appointments to van rides facilitated by congenial Bob.

Here Mom has been successfully locked into place using four corner tiedowns to keep the ckair from tipping. This was the exciting start to a tedious day of doctor visit.

Still, the time had finally come to figure out what the problem with Mom's left ear was, what could be done and when, and involved or scary it might be.

Mom had already survived a full and taxing day of therapy compressed into one morning. Her spirits were certainly better than mine as my intestines had continued to claw at my body wall in search of an exit to a better life.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Nauseous versus nauseated

As Mom and I feel that both adjectives deserve equal representation until the raging debate in English usage (see Miriam-Webster dictionary of English usage for full treatise on subject) is resolved, we have gotten sick together. The troublemaker is a delightful stomach bug that causes general malaise, nausea, projectile vomiting and intestinal unrest. Happily, the fact I am sick also rules out a more sinister cause for Mom's signs and decreases interest by Mom's medical team in trying to medicate her for said cause.

Who knew this road we are traveling could become so strange that I would be grateful to suffer Exorcist-style vomiting?Suffice it to say that all visits are currently suspended and communications will probably also cease for a few days.

Content in the knowledge that this will be less ghastly to recall than to experience-


Barista in paradise-

Mocha love
Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
just in case you were wondering what a well crafted mocha should look like. Thank you Fido!!!

Spicy pirate Jack- Arr.

Spicy pirate
Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
It has taken close to 3 decades, but I finally have my revenge on my mother for my eyepatch. I had amblyopia as a child and was forced to suffer a patch (too young to really enjoy the possibilities).

As Mom has been having difficulty convincing her eyes to get along, she has been awarded a patch to facilitate reading and social interaction until such time that she is well enough for a visit with the neuro-ophthalmologists. This is a bit of a hard core testing procedure and reported to be quite taxing. One of this week's fun tasks will be patch decoration. Woo hoo- I'm bringin' the glitter!

[The title is a nod to one of my favorite TV ads-for those who were wondering.]

Gilbert and Sullivan eat your hearts out!

Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
Yesterday was a good day in many ways. We had a particularly rough start for a variety of reasons but stuck it out and the day got better. Mom has been doing so well with her respiratory therapy exercises that she has graduated from supervised work. As long as she does okay with doing her exercises three times daily, they will only be back to check the final closing of her stoma.

In addition, Mom continued to knock the socks off of her therapists with her gains in all areas. She is currently working pretty intently on increasing her endurance for physical activity and actually has been sneaking in a little extra exercise with me in the evening when she is restless. She is hopeful that this will aid in normalizing her sleep cycle.

Her depression is a bit better and she is starting to look for ways to facilitate her return to work, albeit in a limited capacity. She knows it is still too soon and that getting home is our first priority. But self-stimulated problem-solving is a very important marker of certain stages of mental healing.

Mom and I took some time over the weekend to make lists of short, medium and long term goals so that Mom has a better ability to gauge her progress. This should help with her depression as well as focusing her energy. We also got her a journal to track each day's activities in and record her successes and challenges. As with everything else, this is a process of trial and error for us, but generally it is going well.

Well, off to spend time with my favorite lady-


Monday, March 14, 2005

Memory device

Memory device
Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
Saturday night, Mom had a spot of trouble. She wanted to go to the restroom but could not find the nurse call button thingie.


She got out of bed and used her walker to hop out to the nurse's station to ask if there was a nurse that could help her go to the bathroom as she knew she wasn't to go alone.

We decided she deserved 50% credit for remembering the part about not doing things on her own. Even though she did. Of course, she really was perplexed and distressed for trying to do the right thing yet still 'messing up,' so we made her this guide to help her in the night.

Poor Mom.

Never a moment's peace.

She is such a trooper and good patient, too. Even when she doesn't want to do something, like go outside, she goes along with it because I have asked her to do so. (Going out stimulated a small panic attack but she is plugging through.)

How we love her so. As, we know, do you. With love and laughter-

Jackie Chris


Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
Here Mom wheels herself about. She has become quite handy with her chair and enjoys an occasional jaunt about to tire her arms.

But you know what they say about all work...


Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
All work and no play makes for a stick in the mud!

So this is Mom before we set out on an adventure.


Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
Yesterday was my birthday!

Well, okay, February 4th was my birthday. But we obviously weren't going to have it then. As Mom had worked hard all week and had earned a break from all the 'sick' stuff, we decided to celebrate my birthday yesterday. There were presents (I have been carting them round the country until Mom was well enough to enjoy the opening), lunch out with friends, and a 'cake'. Roland picked up a spectacular fruit tart from Provence that was absolutely just the right thing.

This picture is us out at lunch. For those of you playing along from home, from left to right are Roland, Brian, Mickey, Mom, me, Kelly and Bill (far right behind the camera!). It was quite delightful.

We are hoping to celebrate Roland's birthday in a couple weeks (it was the 3rd of March). Given our family's distribution of birthdays, we figure we can do a birthday every 2-3 weeks for a couple months!


Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
Isn't this just the cutest little guy you ever saw?

We figured Glenn needed a little something to take his mind off not having his Mommy at home right now...

Friday, March 11, 2005

Sometimes hard to be chipper

Sometimes hard to be chipper
Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
but we just keep plugging away at it.

Mom is, without a doubt, the sweetest patient they've had in a while. One of the nurses came by twice while Mom was in therapy to introduce her tiny beautiful daughter.

Hopefully, this weekend, as we lay off a bit on the therapy, we can just have some fun!

Flower Garden

Flower Garden
Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
Mom finally gets a chance to read her flowers. They continue to amaze me with their loveliness and thoughtfulness.


Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
Its an art- a special little art...

The blinds bearly close

Bear hunt
Originally uploaded by jacquichris.

More toys

More toys
Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
Other families have started getting performance anxiety as they cannot live up.

Flower Garden

Flower Garden
Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
Mom finally gets a chance to read her flowers. They continue to amaze me with their loveliness and thoughtfulness.


Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
Its an art- a special little art...

Alert, alert! The bat light has been activated...

Calling all DVDs, calling all DVDs-

Mom has put out a request for lighthearted and silly DVDs to play through the night. She is a bit underwhelmed by the selection on the television and often wakes in the night to be assaulted by the Michael Jackson trial. A fate worse than death in some ways.

I have looked at the TV and can input an auxillary feed. I am going to be hooking up a DVD player to the television so the nurses can keep Mom in pleasant white noise. We are requesting that anyone with silly DVDs bring them in ASAC (as soon as convenient) and leave them in Mom's mailbox at Blair or with Kelly. Make sure to label clearly with your information via labeling on the case so that you get them back. Also, post a comment if possible so I know where to pick them up.

Thanks in advance for your help with this not so trivial problem.

With great love from Team Shellener,

Jackie Chris

T.O. ain't got nothin' on this

As some of you may know, I am currently staying with my Grandma. Over the years, Grandma and I have become default roommates when together due to a constellation of factors-my chronic singleness, her chronic singleness, our unusual ability to get along under strange circumstances and fondness for adventure. Probably the groundwork was laid early as Grandma took me on my first transatlantic trip when I was ten.

Since that time, we have had the fortune and wisdom to take special trips together-a road trip from Tennessee to California with bonus visits to the Grand Canyon and through Death Valley, a wonderfully discomfitting and magical adventure in Belize in 2003, a less exotic but delightful trip to St. Paul last year for my first round of specialty boards and a planned trip for May for the second part of my specialty boards. For interested parties, I can provide excellent anecdotes [and potential blackmail] about Mickey from each outing. In addition, we always bunk together on the Florida trips and pretty much anywhere else we go as a family. The long and the short of the matter is that we get on well and have few personal space issues. Now you know where Mom got it.

Those who have been to Mickey's place know that her couch is a mediocre and unforgiving futon. Fine for sitting but not so hot for sleeping. Anyone who has ever been within earshot of Mickey knows she is bossy and likes to get her own way-something else maternally inherited. So when I say we've been bunking together, I mean it.

Now, I am sure you are just dying to know why I have chosen to share this very odd and off topic tidbit. Well, with the new move to Stallworth and the recent dirth of timely anecdotes, I figured I owed you one.


As you can easily discern from the recent posts about the Round Wing setup, I haven't had much sleep lately and have been pretty concerned about Mom's self-safety and dysphoria. Monday night it seems I gave Grandma quite a jolt when she got up in the night. Confused about where I was and who she was, I apparently grabbed her and tried to knock her back down onto the bed.

So Tuesday morning, Grandma asks me whether I am sleeping okay. Well enough, I figure, having forgotten I almost tackled her in the middle of the night.

oops. hee hee. ahem.

Boy was I embarassed.

But then I assured Grandma that I was indeed sleeping well enough. Given how little I am normally around other people outside work and how many places I have been recently (none my own bed or home), I just got a little disoriented. No biggie. Grandma gives me a skeptical look but lets it drop.

Wednesday, as you will all recall, was a scattered stress-filled day as we worked to successfully get Mom transferred back to Stallworth. That night I am sleeping and suddenly someone is getting out of bed. But I remembered having had the conversation with Grandma and did not wish to make the same mistake. I try to remember where I am supposed to be sleeping, where Mom is supposed to be (part of my confusion stemmed from a nurse asking if I would be staying at Stallworth the first night with Mom), squint (terrible vision I've got) and simply am not sure who it is or where I am. So, figuring the potential price would be very high if I screwed up and let Mom fall, I grabbed and yanked.

A startled querulous yelp.

Grandma again. Gonna have some explaining to do in the morning. But boy does the room have similarities in layout and level of clutter.

Hey, its not my fault that Grandma keeps sneakin' off to meet strange men...


Thursday, March 10, 2005

Willie would be proud

After reflecting on her previous demise, Mom and I spent the morning packing and chatting. She was very anxious to 'get the hell out of Dodge' and back to Stallworth. She kept looking at her wrist, finally commenting, 'I used to have a watch.' Having finally caught on, I told her the time and when we were expecting to hear something, also reassuring her that her watch would be back any moment but had to be removed for surgery.

There was a momentary panic phase in the middle of the morning where Kelly and I were given the impression that Mom might not get to go to Stallworth because of some recommendations for limited use of the ankle for another day or so. It was a very very bad thing to contemplate, especially when hormonal. Happily, several people were 'activated' that helped pull everything together (special thanks to Jeanene, Michelle and Kelly).

About 2pm, we found ourselves once more loading Mom up on the gurney and me with the bags waiting for an elevator. We wheeled into the elevator and Mom tilted her head to look at me. 'It is kinda sad, I suppose, that I feel sort of like I am going home, isn't it?'

Hell no! This is our last stop on the road [again] to home. Now there is just hanging at Stallworth till Mom is ready for home. And, true to form, the nurses at Stallworth were awesome getting her settled back in. They did a superspeed room strip and change so they could move Mom into a better room. Super special kudos to Katie for easing our anxiety with the move.
Hopefully I will get a chance to upload some pictures of her room in all its glory for you a little later in the day.

Love as always,


On being dead

Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
Yesterday was a very interesting day. The dysphoria had basically worn off and Mom was back to her normal, high-energy self. We took some time first thing in the morning to read more cards before getting ready for a new day.

Mom had just read a lovely card from one of the members of the ACDA. The ACDA had already sent these unbelievably lovely flowers-glitter gilded roses and cyclamen. With her usual wry humor, she commented,'They must feel really bad, killing me and all. I wasn't even on their board.'

That is how Mom refers to the post-accident period when she speaks of it directly- 'when I was dead' or 'they must have really been expecting me to kick it.' I have pointed out that, in fact, she was only actually mostly dead all day. That we shouldn't rush her. But she isn't quite ready to believe it.

I would probably feel the same way.

Stoker's green

It is very easy to get behind when the webserver is acting up. It is not my fault. Honest.

Okay, it is sort of my fault. But sort of the server's fault.

Just so we are clear, this is the post I was supposed to get up yesterday.

After the last post on Mom's progress, she continued to improve. The initial dysphoric challenges were emergence of a previously unappreciated Lady Godiva streak and severe agitation. In spite of being quite cold at times, we had little to no ability to keep Mom dressed for the first day. That seemed to wear off on its own and was replaced by an increasing level of agitation about everything and nothing. Poor Mom. Tuesday was the last day of severe agitation as it directly correlated with the amount of morphine Mom received and her pain dropped off quite well on Tuesday.

The other major problem encountered in this stage was the lack of an appropriate restraint system in the orthopedics wing. The choices basically appeared to be do nothing and hope for the best, stare at her continuously and hope not to fall asleep or tie her down while agitated and frightened. As you can imagine, we were underwhelmed with the options. Now, we believe for the most part at least that Mom is out of the danger zone for trying to get up on her own. But the risks should we be wrong were too great. One of the nurses recommended a service that we could pay to sit with Mom in the night so that we didn't have to worry about falling asleep. This seemed a brilliant idea and Kelly jumped on this problem with her characteristic vigor. Turns out you are supposed to make reservations two weeks in advance.

Does this make sense to any of you? To me, that is like trying to make advance plans for an emergency appendectomy...

Happily, as usual, Kelly simply steamrolled them into submission. This left us with 7am to 11pm to cover- much more tenable for Rol and I. Just to be clear- I know what you are thinking... you are thinking, 'Why did they not call me? I would happily have stayed up all night sticking myself with a safety pin to stay awake or covered for a few hours during the day.'

We know you would! You guys are amazing. Unfortunately, the dysphoria made being around Mom disquieting even for hardened medical professionals and made her resist being around anyone but Rol and me.

Anyway, this definitely were improved by Tuesday and there was even some talk about shipping Mom to Stallworth then. Blood work showed that Mom's red count had dipped a bit from an already lowish zone and so it was decided that it would be in Mom's best interest to receive a transfusion instead on Tuesday and transfer Wednesday. The anemia is probably mostly the result of a syndrome called 'anemia of chronic disease' where the body stops making red cells when sick to avoid having free iron around for bacteria to use as a growth medium. There is a heck of a lot more to this but this is probably a plenty good explanation for government work. There was also probably a small component of red cell loss from the surgery but the main thing was that having severe anemia is exhausting and makes everything harder so it made sense to fix it.

So Mom received two units Tuesday and we all counted the hours till we could transfer back to Stallworth...

Tuesday, March 08, 2005


Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
Courtesy of Dr. Kregor- the post-op shot of the ankle repair.


Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
Here is a package that has gotten around! We just got it yesterday...

Monday, March 07, 2005


Tonight I find myself listening to the rain and thinking of the past. A movie wraps itself up in conclusions about the inconclusiveness of time and combines with the rain to remind me of a night so very very many years ago. Two, maybe even three, lifetimes ago, when I was young and more shiny and less familiar with my 'me' and therefore more fragile.

I danced in the warm summer's rain in a drainage ditch with a friend from high school. We sang an old pop song in two part harmony as I led, so very badly, and the water sluiced along entangling our feet. To this day, almost a decade and a half later, I have yet to experience another night with such potential, a rain with such warmth. That night I felt boundless promise and hope-hope for life, for love, for the general human condition.

Tonight, as I listen to the rain, knowing it would disappoint me with its chill, I feel that way again. Because tonight I have had a peculiarly special conversation with Mickey, my grandmama. A conversation about honest things, human things, frail and fragile things. It is seeing these things, facing and embracing them, with people whom I love so very very much that reminds me how blessed we are indeed. To have each other to muddle through with, to have the wisdom and strength to recognize muddling for the great art it is.

So tonight I am grateful. For the warm summer's rain so many moons ago and for the chill rain with love held close this moon. Wrap yourself up in it as I do and let the water sluice between your toes. The rest will take care of itself.

With joy and love,

Miss Jackie Chris


Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
Today Mom remains profoundly dysphoric and agitated. But if you look carefully, you will note the lack of a certain red cap, eg the trach was pulled today.

Right now, I have to get back to Mom but will try to update the post later tonight.

Diary entry

Reflections from last night:

Today was filled with good news, jarring contrasts and disheartening revelations.

The good news is that Mom did great under anesthesia and the doctor achieved good alignment of the bone fragments. A large cartilagenous flap was discovered in surgery that increases the likelihood that Mom will eventually need a joint fusion but this is a relatively minor thing in the grand scheme of things. The doctor, Dr. Kregor, was wonderful and kind with Mom before the operation and with me after it. We are very delighted to have lucked into having him on our team.

Post-operatively, things have been much less 'fun.' 'Compared to what?' you might ask in imitation of Mom. 'Compared to almost anything she has had to experience,' I would answer. When we arrived to Mom's new room, she was incredibly agitated and fearful. In addition to having severe pain in her ankle, Mom was quite doysphoric and has remained so all night. She alternates between talking semi-coherently, yowling abruptly in pain, crying piteously and attempting to sleep. It was remarkably excruciating. This continually new kaleidoscope of technicolored pain and drama truly embues in me a new appreciation of the great price paid by unflinching artists, musicians, and writers in their search to capture the human condition.

Finally, having survived the night with Mom prior to surgery, the self-parodying experience of completing pre-surgical paperwork, and the first five hours of a long long night post-operatively, I was forced to an unpleasant realization.

First, though, a confession.

Over the last week, I have noticed a strange emotional change in my landscape. Rage has been sneaking in-burbling, gurgling and belching like a stream winding out of sight near a hiking trail. At first I wondered if it was that I needed more time alone, more sleep, more exercise, more support or more silliness. Next I questioned whether it was simply a matter of the long road exacting its toll. Each possibility I have carefully weighed and discarded as the source of the anger, though almost all of these are real issues that I balance daily, as I am sure do you.

But this last twenty-four hours leads me to posit the following:
There is a huge problem in the medical system when I can unequivocally say that I would not treat a dog the way that people in this leading medical institution treat my mother. Furthermore, I cannot honestly say that I know of a single peer, student or supervisor that would consider such discourteous behavior conducive to healing.

'To what grievous excesses do you refer?' I hear you cry.

Nothing grievous, nothing excessive. Worse somehow in the smallness of the problems.

Mom was woken while sleeping every 30 minutes for over 2 1/2 hours the night before her surgery (Visit 1: wake to take blood pressure and heart rate; Visit 2: give pills; Visit 3: wake to check pulse ox reading; Visit 4: wake to ask if needs to go to bathroom; Visit 5: wake her to tell me to get them should she need to go to the bathroom). Each visit involved turning on the overhead lights without warning and waking her even when they came to talk to me and I wasn't sleeping! By the time I finally convinced them to STOP bothering her, she could no longer go back to sleep. So we sat up in the mesh bed and talked about what was going to happen, and I tried to reassure her that it would be alright in the end. As she wailed to Dr. Kregor on the phone, 'I'm only a musician!' it was hard work trying to calm her. Finally she got back to sleep at about 1 am to sleep until 3ish. Then up again and frightened. Back to sleep about 4:15am but the nurse came in at 4:30 to tell me to let her know when we got up so she could ultrasound Mom's bladder. This was their behavior even after knowing that Mom had a prolonged orthopedic surgery the next day and needed rest!

The presurgical forms and night post-op were just more of the same. It wasn't till I was almost home (driving the back way) that I truly recognized what bothered me so. It was the fact that each individual saw my mother as a job attached to a case with a potential situation brewing in the wings. VERSUS seeing it as a treatment order for a woman who had suffered a catastrophic and life-changing accident with an impending surgery. Had any of them seen the latter, they would have taken a moment to see if there was a way to lump their orders to limit the amount of disturbance they created the night before surgery.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Bad joke

Aaannnnndddddd, we're off! Though it did start like a joke: Four anesthesiologists and an orthopedist walk into a bar...

Mom has just been wheeled in for surgery and was superbrave in her send-off. Hopefully she will be out by 3pm. More once she's out.

Saturday, March 05, 2005


Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
Truly out. Mom and I snuck off to the Sportsman for lunch. We split a cheeseburger, fries and onion rings. It was traumatic for Mom at first but great overall. Today was another of those weird days of depressed progress and general disinterest in seeing people.

Mom did enjoy a nice visit with Deborah Shiflett (Mom's spelling on her list- I apologize if it is incorrect) with a chocolate bunny and a microscopic purse. It was good for Mom to have a visit and know that, as promised, it was someone she asked for. Thanks to Deborah and thanks to everyone else who has not beaten down Mom's door. She is easily overwhelmed and very hard on herself but is coming back more and more.

Tomorrow is slated as The Day. The day the damned thing hopefully comes off Mom's leg (that is how she sees it). She isn't necessarily so keen on the rest of it (the ankle reconstruction, anesthesia etc) but figures losing the bars and, I quote, 'the shiny skewers impaling my bones' will be worth it. Boy, I hope she's right and I hope its tomorrow.

Well, the time has come for me to cruise back over for Mom's dinner. Everyone keep your fingers crossed and I will post as soon as I can tomorrow so you all know what's happening.

With love,


Not sure

Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
Yesterday Mom and I went over the wall, or out the front door- potato, potahto. She was not quite sure this was my finest of ideas but did not panic about seeing traffic and being outside. I considered that a big step. In addition, she is doing a better job remembering small day to day things although she is still convinced everyday that it is the 5th of some month in some year in the late nineties. Today will be nice because it actually is the 5th...

Good idea?

Good idea?
Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
As you can see, Mom is not too sure this is a good plan. First, she tried to convince me that she had done enough work for one day and so should get the rest of the day off. When I reminded her that she was only halfway through, she then wanted to get back in to get started on getting it over with as quickly as possible. It took a lot of work to convince her that she was simply going to have to wait until it was time for her next therapy session to get going. At that point, she settled in for a mini-nap in the sun.

Today should be nice as she has only two sessions instead of six. Rest is an important part of healing and hopefully the weekend will do its trick in refreshing her reserves.

Tomorrow is still a crap shoot- we won't know until we are there whether or not she will be having surgery. Please feel free to join us on our mental pins and needles as we wait and see.

Enjoying a bracing latte and 'Death by Chocolate' cake for breakfast. But it is really time I head over to Stallworth. I will try to write again later tonight-


Friday, March 04, 2005

A strong woman

So to finish up yesterday, Mom continued to do excellently all day. When her doctor came by to check on her, Mom was on a break from doing leg exercises while lying on her back. Although she was supposed to be resting, Mom was tracing circles in the sky with her ex-fix and doing kickouts with the ankle weight on her other leg. They had had to add weights to get her to use the good leg-the exercises were too easy for her. Dr. Coxe stared at her for a moment, shook his head in disbelief and said, 'That is one strong woman.'

Midday, the weather was so nice that we bundled Mom up and took her to the courtyard. It must have been incredible to really breathe fresh air for the first time in a month. We got to spend about 15 minutes there before she had to start therapy, some of which they did outside as well. I am quite hopeful today stays nice so we can get her out again today, even if only for a few minutes.

Although totally worn out by the end of the day, Mom was still bouncing her good leg. Her normal frenetic energy at rest is back and is driving her nuts. So for dinner, I recommended she try wheeling herself to the cafeteria. Mom made it 2/3 of the way before she wanted to stop. I chaufferred her the rest of the way and she had a nice dinner with a man who has been at Stallworth a month and is leaving today and his wife. After dinner, Mom wheeled herself the whole way back to her room without resting. As Grandma can attest- this is quite a trek and a huge accomplishment!

I cannot wait to see what new accomplishments Mom will make today and what old ones she will maintain. With love-


Thursday, March 03, 2005

Drag racing

Wow! So far today is a good day- the first one since Mom decided to self-concuss. Which probably makes it time to catch you up on what actually happened. Previously, with her having not-good days, I have been a little too stressed to really go into all the dirty details...

SO- Tuesday morning Mom woke up somewhere around 5:30am and decided to go on walkabout. She had previously woken up at about midnight and set off the bed alarm sitting up. For unknown reasons, the bed alarm thing did not go off when Mom decided to leave on her own so the fall was not witnessed. She was found within about 10 minutes of the fall as they had been checking on her at least twice an hour all night. She had a large knot on the side of her head with some oozing just over her right eyebrow. The swelling decreased dramatically within the first 6 hours but it was pretty obvious that the fall had a negative impact on Mom's mental status. As Mom is on warfarin and low-molecular weight heparin. any head trauma carries the risk of fatal intracranial hemorrhage and so Mom's attending ordered a head CT to rule out bleeding. The CT was performed that evening but results were not available to us until the next morning. Happily, the CT showed continued improvement in the hematomas bilaterally and no evidence of new hemorrhage.

Mentally Mom has been very scattered and agitated and apparently she knocked half her vocabulary out of her head when she thonked it. In addition her vision has been fuzzy at best and she has been very dizzy with spontaneous vertical nystagmus. The last two days have been very tough as a result. Today, though, she seemed to have regained her concentration a bit, has cleared vision and does not feel dizzy. As a result, she has done quite well in therapy and has gone much longer before becoming plaintive and scattered. Her physical stamina is quite up, impressive to everyone around her, and today she took her first spin at driving her wheelchair herself. I sense drag racing will not be far behind.

Well, it is time for me to get back so I will have to wait to share recent zingers until I get back. Hoping you all take a few moments to enjoy the sunshine-


Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Summertime fun

Summertime fun
Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
Like setting up a tent in the living room or making a fort of sheets and chairs- the Vail bed has definite ffuuunnnn potential. This is Mom's first nap in the dealie-wopper and I must confess to gizmo envy, though I know this thing is going to really piss her off once the confinement aspect really hits home (eg. her next attempt to go over the wall).

With love from a regressing adult-

jackie chris


Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
It is a shame this thing probably costs thousands of dollars. It is actually quite a cool little gizmo and could make an excellent fort!

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Clonk #2

Clonk #2
Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
As Mom can't do anything in half-measures, she decided this morning to go on walkabout and cracked the right side of her head as she fell from the bed. She is currently pending CT to make sure there is no intracranial (inside skull) bleeding to go with the external goose-egg.

As a result, tonight Mom will begin the dance of seven veils, okay one Vail bed. This is basically a human Sherpa bag that is attached to the bed to keep her from trouble without all the unpleasantness and injury of extensive restraints. It should be just quite fabulous.

An aside while I am thinking about it- Mom has finally started making a list of people she wants to see. It is a curious list with her wanting people I wouldn't have imagined and not wanting people I would have thought she would really want to see. But it is her list, not mine. People on that list will be hearing from us in the next day or so- everyone else remember this is about her healing in the way she needs.

Because a tiara makes anything better

What a great time this was for everyone... unfortunately it was exactly this sort of thing that has led to the delay in her surgery. Hard to say which is the lesser evil- being still or delaying surgery.

Nonetheless, the upshot of the meeting with Dr. Kregor is that Mom has too much swelling to have the surgery right now so it has been pushed back to Sunday or Tuesday, depending.


Originally uploaded by jacquichris.

Princess with lambie Scarlett

Princess with lambie Scarlett
Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
Nothing like a little lamb and a tiara to raise morale...