Posted by: aceanderic | May 9, 2009

Saturday, May 9th – 1 year since the accident

Saturday, May 10th, 2008
I woke up at 3.02 by nose bleeding. I opened my eyes, wiped off the blood; the bed next to me was still empty. I got a calm feeling over me and I knew Eric had been hurt. I got out of bed at 3.05am to listen at Eric’s phone message. I called him back but there were no answer so I went back to bed. Eric got hit at 2.44am.

I had a busy day ahead of me. It was Saturday and I had to go into work to proofread the 140-page book I’d been working on, it was finally going to print today. I called Eric’s phone several times but there was no answer. I went upstairs to see if he slept in our guest beds, I don’t know why I did that; I knew he wasn’t in the house. I normally could sense when he’s around but I felt the loneliness, and deep inside I knew something was wrong. A realtor called me when I walked the dogs. His client wanted to see our house for the second time. I needed time to clean the house, plus I had to go to work so we arrange a meeting at 11am. I got home, called Eric again and this time I left a nasty voice mail about how rude he was for not calling me and for not coming home. This might be our chance to sell it, where the hell is Eric? At 10am the phone rang, I didn’t recognize the number. It was the police. “Do you know why I’m calling, Mrs. Davidson”, he asked. My heart stopped. “There’s been an accident”, he continued, “Eric got hit by a hit-and-run driver, and he hurt his leg. He’s at the hospital now and he’s going to need knee surgery”. “Is his head ok?” I asked. I don’t know why I said that; I never asked that question before. “Yes mam, but you should get over the hospital as soon as possible. Do you have anyone that can drive you?” A few minutes later the phone rang again, and it was from the hospital. The surgeon needed my permission to operate on Eric’s knee, and then someone else needed permission for something else. My head was spinning. “Yes, please do what ever you need to do”, I said.Then I asked if they needed to amputate. I rushed over to our neighbor, banged on the door, feeling totally dizzy. I grabbed my laptop, purse, put the dogs in the backyard and off we went. I was still in working mood so I called my vendor and said that the catalog files would get delayed a day. I was sure I’d be back at work by Monday again. Damn Eric, I thought, having me rush to the hospital when I need to work, just because of a small knee surgery. He should be able to call me from the hospital and tell me where he was. I’d called Eric’s brother-in-law and told him that I’d found Eric. He’s at the hospital for a knee surgery. “He’s at ICU West wing, and he’s a respirator connected to him for breathing support”. All this was at the time just words for me with no meaning, Paul heard the words and he told Marci to get ready to drive down to Portland.

I made it to the front door of ICU; I lifted up the phone to ring for someone to open the door. A voice answered and said that someone would come and meet me shortly, and she asked me to wait there. At the same time a man walked out so the door opened and I walked in. As I walked to the center area of ICU I felt small and completely lost. My husband was here somewhere, but where? A nurse approached me and said that I couldn’t see Eric yet because I wasn’t sterilized. A Social Worker led me into the waiting room and asked me to wait. I was confused, why should I sit here and wait, I wanted to see Eric. The social worker came back with Eric’s nurse and she said something about Eric being serious injured and the rest was a different language and a blur. I was told about Eric’s injuries, that it’s going to take a long time for him to recover and something about permission, paper work, surgery and if I had family in town for support. Eric got hit on the right side when the car hit him. His right lung was bruised really bad, part of the kidney died, and the liver was damaged. The spine was fractured, he had to lay perfectly still in bed to not damage the spine more, his right knee was damaged, broken ribs, a fractured scapula, part of the neck bone chipped off, cuts and bruises all over the body, and then she said that the brain was damaged too, but we didn’t know to what extent. My head was spinning, I felt calm but confused. I thought to myself, “It’s a good thing I walked the dogs this morning because this is gong to take a while”.

I finally saw Eric, it was hectic and everyone was running and talking fast. I walked up to him and looked at his face, there was blood on the side of his face, in his ear, and hair. He had cuts and scrapes all over his body. It looked like he was sleeping. I saw the tubs but I didn’t register the amount of tubes. “Where is his wedding ring? I asked someone and the same person pointed at his backpack in the corner of the room. “All of his belongings are in that bag“, he said. Someone approach me and needed me to sign some papers, and at the same time I was asked to answer some questions about Eric’s medical history, and another doctor wanted to show me an X-ray. I don’t think Eric wanted to donate his organs if he died so I answered no on that question, and he didn’t have food allergies so that was a no as well.

Eric had to get his knee taken care off so I was asked to go home and rest, someone would call me when the surgery was done. I grabbed Eric’s daypack and I noticed that the back was full of dried blood, and the shoulder straps were cut off in the middle. I knew Eric would get really mad when he found out about that; this daypack has traveled around the world with him. He loves this daypack. “I’m going to have to fix this before he wakes up”, I thought. I left the room and drove home. I called Pam and asked her to come down, it was more serious then I’d thought, she was already on her way with Gina and Marci. I called the realtor and canceled our meeting due to a family injury, and he got offended and angry with me. Once I got home I started cleaning the house. I also thought about making dinner. As I was scrubbing the bathroom floor on my knees I thought to myself that I must be in chock, why else would I be cleaning like this? I called the hospital and found out that Eric was back from surgery so I figured it was time for me to head back.

After getting lost a few times I finally made it back to Eric’s room. He had a large white wrap around his knee. I stood there for some minutes and just watched him. “This isn’t that bad, Eric will be back in a few days”, I thought. It’s Eric, he always ends up in trouble but he will be ok, just like all the times before. I had to see the restroom so I walked out in the hallway and that’s right when Pam, Gina and Marci showed up. I warned them that it looks worse then it is. “Eric is sleeping but he will be fine a few days”, I said. Marci started crying as soon as she saw Eric, Gina couldn’t take it and had to leave the room. I was confused, why were they so upset? Eric is going to be ok. Just shortly after more family members showed up. I got ticked off but didn’t tell anyone because I didn’t want to hurt their feelings. But there were no reason for why they had to go through all this trouble to see Eric. Eric’s going to be upset when he founds out about this, I thought. He’s going to be just fine, it’s just going to take a few days. How embarrassing, I thought.

My phone start ringing. It was all over the news that a man named Eric Davidson had been hit by a car and taken to Emanuel Hospital with life threatening injuries. Friends called me to see if it really was MY Eric the news were talking about.

It was later in the day and it was still hectic around us, more papers, questions and someone asked for insurance info. I didn’t have Eric’s insurance card on me so I handed in mine, which caused some major issues later. We were all standing by Eric’s bed, looking down at him. His eyes were closed but I could see his eyes moving back and forth. His arms were tied down in bed for safety. His muscles were working; his fist and legs were tightened. I could see him fighting inside the body; he must have been in excruciating pain. Someone told me that a man named Jeremy Jordan had been arrested for hitting Eric with this car. I thought it was a good thing the accident happened on a Saturday morning, this would give him some time to heal before Monday came and we all had to go back to work. I didn’t know at the time that I was never going back to work at Nemo Design again and that Eric would stay at a hospital setting for six months, and on top of that, never be the same person again.

It’s a year ago today, and so much has happened since. The sun is shining just like last year. And I’m sorry to say that just like I had to wake up alone a year ago, someone else will too tomorrow. This same person will also get a call from the police about their spouse being hurt and rushed over to ICU…. Who ever you are; be strong my friend and have lots of patience, you’ll need it. And please, never give up hope, no matter what the doctor tells you. Never give up hope!

Posted by: aceanderic | May 4, 2009

MAMMA MIA FUNDRAISER – Friday, May 29th

I’d like to invite you to a Swedish fundraiser on Friday, May 29th, doors open at 6pm. The location is Laurelhurst Club, 3721 Southeast Ankeny Street Portland, OR 97214

All proceeds from this party and silent auction will go towards Eric’s future care, which as you know, is absolutely critical for his recovery.

How: Please join the Swedes in Portland for a fun night ABBA style. Light Swedish Food and a welcome drink are included in the ticket price of only $25/person! Dancing is free! Cash bar. Surprises. Silent auction. Raffles. Guaranteed Fun.

Please write a check for $25/person to Eric Davidson and mail it to: Anna Salita, 5005 Hartford Place, Lake Oswego, OR 97035. Please invite your neighbors and friends and let her know you are coming by May 15, 2009. Questions? Contact Anna at ajsalita@hotmail.com or Erika at erika.ballinger@comcast.net

Thank you!!!

Posted by: aceanderic | March 30, 2009

MONDAY, MARCH 30

We’ve had bad weeks and weeks more encouraging with progress and laughter since my last posting. Eric is now spending three days a week at a Day Treatment Program, their mission is to provide physical, psychological, cognitive and behavioral rehab opportunities for TBI survivors. The place is called CEC but we call it “Work”. Work is exactly what this is, and it’s been great for both Eric and I. CEC have taken a lot of stress off my shoulders. When he’s at CEC I have the security of knowing Eric is safe, and being physically and cognitively challenged. Some days Eric gets hardly anything done at CEC, he’s tired and won’t participate in the exercises, and some days he’s really motivated, working out hard and making jokes. One day Eric got off the buss with a huge smile; he’d planned to take me out for dinner, he said, so we went to the restaurant down the street from our house. It wasn’t really a surprise to me; CEC had called me earlier to discuss his plan with me to make sure it was ok. I was ready to “hit town” with Eric when he came home, and so was the restaurant I’d forewarned them too incase Eric would get aggressive or out of line. Eric was treated with respect and we had a great time with good food. I have our neighbor to thank for this dinner; they gave me a gift certificate for my birthday! Being out in public with Eric is terrifying! It’s normal for a survivor during the recovery process to be inappropriate to others in public, and as I’ve said many times; Mr. Inappropriate is Eric’s nickname and he still is inappropriate. One day he managed to yell at three people during the minutes it took us to park the car and step into the doctor’s office. Then once we met with the doctor he yelled at him too for saving his life. Eric’s been deeply depressed about his present state, he’s fed up with it and wants it to end, he says. He’s sad about the things he can’t do anymore, the words he can’t speak, the memory he can’t find, and for the old friends who’s not calling him. He’s wondering why nobody wants to help him; I think he’s looking for the same magical pill I’m looking for that will cure him. Unfortunately, the “magic pill” is hard work and patience. Eric needs to find a new meaning with his life; he needs something that will keep him fighting and keep going. That’s a pretty big task, I’d say. When I had the hardest time I learned to look for the small thing in life that would give me hope, and I’m trying to teach Eric the very same thing. I tell him that one day he will see the light in the end of the tunnel, Eric is not going to stay like this, he is going to get better but he doesn’t believe me. He’s lost hope. We’ve both been depressed lately, we’ve both been lost, and scared. Having Eric at home and being his 24/7 Caregiver has been the biggest challenge in my life. What Eric needs, besides feeling safe and loved, is more then one person can give him. He needs a strong team of different individuals that can help him get his independence and life back, and he needs his family. The last two months has been busy. I’ve hired a contractor to finish the bathroom project Eric was working on when the accident happened. Our house is going up on the market this weekend. I’m packing up our life to move to Seattle to live closer to Eric’s family. The family and I are currently working on transferring all information to WA State, which is a huge but possible task.

Posted by: aceanderic | February 21, 2009

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 14

Hello! This is Marty.
Here is a post of time that Eric and I spent together while Ace was taking a much-needed break.

This was the first time that someone other than Ace would be with Eric for an extended period of time. I don’t know who was more nervous, Ace leaving the country, or me, filling in for Ace, or Eric who was now going to have a new caretaker. Wow, what a job! Medicine schedules, dog schedules, rest schedules, doctor’s appointments, food intake, water intake, the ever changing needs of Eric. The Davidson’s are truly amazing for their strength to move forward everyday in a new world faced with the challenge of learning how to live again in a new life. I know I wouldn’t have been able to help out if it wasn’t for Ace’s meticulous notes, forethought into her husbands needs, ability to talk to us when needed (even at 9 hours difference, thank you Ace!), and to the dog walkers, neighbors, and other volunteers, thanks.

So…

Through the summer I was fortunate enough to sporadically see Eric and Ace. It was a window to Eric and Ace’s recovery that was time lapsed. When Ace and I talked about her going on vacation, I thought it would be interesting to see the steps that would transform in an extended stay.

Many attributes will form over years of knowing an individual. Eric and I definitely have some unique ones. Being here was a gateway to seeing some of those attributes come forth again. Some were cloudy, and others were plain as day. Some brought tears to our eyes and the rest made us laugh or think about the past and future. We tried to include as much laughter as possible to get through some difficult times, and sometimes it backfired, sometimes it worked.

The start of this stay would be riddled with the uncertainty that Ace mentioned in the previous blog. There was a change in medication, the added days to the day program, you’re loved one leaving, someone else watching your schedule, someone else living with you, the food being prepared differently, sorry bro! How would Eric react to all these changes? Would he know the difference? Would he remember? To see Eric work through these changes and be able to adapt was frustrating and rewarding.

Each time I come out here, Eric amazes me. I look back to the five, ten, then 20 minutes of walking with a walker in the hall at the hospital, then hours of rest. Now he walks with trekking poles a couple blocks to local market and back with no breaks. Sometimes, “Mr. Inappropriate” comes out when crossing the street, but only if he picks up on the vibe that the waiting cars are in a hurry. If the vibe is good, you get a “thumbs up” of respect once he has crossed, Mr. Inappropriate turns into Mr. Nice Guy. In Eric you can see when he gets frustrated about situations in his head that he can’t control. It is read in his facial expressions and in body language.

Another item that has been interesting to be apart of is the “routine.” The routine is the daily and weekly schedule that is in place. Who would ever think that you would have to learn what time it was again and how that relates to morning, noon, and night or even what day of the week it is. Mornings with Eric have never been easy and now they are “not” easy. Most mornings Eric got out of bed with minimal coaxing, surprising to me compared to my stay before the holidays. Now, once he is up, he is up. A step that needed to be in place before Eric could get to his new day program. This program challenges him in a cognitive manner as well as physically. Best of all, he enjoys it.

Eric’s energy level is on the rise as well. This was a fun one for the week as he started to make his own agenda. After dinner one night, Eric decided that he was “going out.” It was good to hear him pronounce, “going out” enough to understand him. On the other hand it was after dinner and, where was he planning on going? Next thing you know Eric had walking sticks in hand and was headed for the door. Just like old times. Eric doing what he wants when he wants. We walked to a neighborhood restaurant so he could make reservations for Valentine’s Day. Unfortunately the restaurant was closed which took some explaining. He couldn’t understand why they were closed when he was there to make reservations. At least he got another walk in and stayed on task of getting there and back.

Ever have one of those days where all emotions, stresses, and feelings are hitting you at once. Now imagine only being able to express one of those feelings or emotions at a time and not being able to control another emotion. This is challenging in the fact that there is a routine to try and follow but the motivation is not there to follow it, and now you’re depressed and you can’t control it. Watching Eric this week deal with the fact that Ace is not here was tough. At first he was confused and scared, and later, sad and longing for her. They have been inseparable since the accident, Ace always by his side. As the week progressed and he made it past the halfway point, his spirit lifted, but then fell. It became easier to feed him, get him up in the morning, and watch him take more water by himself, if his spirit was up. As soon as he got down it would be almost impossible to get him out of bed, or fed, or to get any therapy done.

The day of remembering! After transportation dropped Eric off one afternoon, Eric said to me, “Reservations!” It was pretty clear what he said as I didn’t ask him to repeat it. Even more amazing to me was the fact that a couple days prior he was headed to make reservations for dinner and now he remembered the task again. He pointed his fingers towards the restaurant and starting walking. I told him to wait for me so I could get the house closed up. Eric’s reply was “I am not fast” as he kept pointing down the way. I cracked up laughing as he had this funny smirk on his face. A little attribute you pick up along the way to friendship is the ability to do a little mind reading. The smile on his face only meant one thing, go lock the doors and catch up.

Ending this post by abbreviating a quote from something Eric wrote to Ace long before the accident that reflects on what Eric and I have talked about regarding his road to recovery.

“I can’t wait for all this to be over and have things back to normal…I’ll be happy when it’s all over”

Posted by: aceanderic | February 4, 2009

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 4

During our TV interview last week we were asked what the biggest challenge has been. My answer came from the heart when I said that the biggest challenge has been the unknown, and our financial struggle. I’ve asked every professional, and I’ve spent multiple nights researching the Internet for the answer to “how long”, “when will Eric be ok”; but there are no answers. Every person on this planet is unique so every brain injury is unique too; only time will tell the answer to my questions. Living the unknown daily is a challenge words cannot describe. I still haven’t accepted it. I find myself constantly bragging to medical TBI professionals about what Eric has achieved, hoping that the answer will be “Well that’s great, that means that Eric will be cured next week….” Like that ever will happen! But there is another thing I’ve kept to myself, something that is much more horrible. It wasn’t until I heard it from another woman while crying in her arms at RIO I came to say it out load. Her husband is also a TBI survivor. I don’t expect you to understand, not many do. The biggest challenge to accept is that “The man I married is dead!” How the heck do you ever accept that? The man in our house, Eric is his name, is a different man and he will never be, sound or look the same as the person he was up until that sunny spring evening on May 9th, 2008.

Writing this blog post I’m on my way to Sweden for a well-deserved break. I’m able to go home thanks to our very good friend Marty who will stay with Eric, plus thanks to my air miles. I’m an absolute mess right now, been crying for hours; how will this go? I’m wondering what the lady next to me is thinking; she hasn’t asked but I know she can see my tears. Eric has been worried about me leaving and I’m wondering if Monday’s chaos had something to do with it, or if it was something the doctor said or did? Monday meeting with the doctor ended up with Eric being helped out from the hospital with two security guards. He’d completely lost it earlier, he felt threatened, which ended up with a trashed office. The doctor is now worried about my safety and wants Eric to move to a foster home, I told him that Eric would never hurt me. And I know he won’t. He believed me in the end. It sure wasn’t easy to leave this morning to the airport. So I’m on the plain crying but I don’t know why. Is it because of Eric’s all lost dreams about a good and healthy life? Am I crying because what the doctor told me about Eric’s current state….? Is it stress? Is it the unknown around the corner? Is it happy tears for finally seeing my family again? Or am I crying because it’s dark, snowy and 25F in Sweden??

PS. 24 hours later and I’m posting this blog. I might know now why I cried earlier…my two heavy check-in bags have gone missing. Lovely!

Posted by: aceanderic | January 25, 2009

SUNDAY, JANUARY 25

Last week Eric asked me “What are you doing during the days?” I’ve never been this stressed out in my life, so when he asked me this I almost smacked him with the frying pan. Who needs to work out at the gym when you have a disabled husband living with you in a house with a basement and a second floor? It feels like I’m running around all day long and probably loosing tons of calories, and still not getting everything done. Eric forgot that I don’t work at NEMO anymore and didn’t realize that I’m with him 24/7 as his Caregiver. Today he said, “It can’t be easy taking care of me so thank you for all your help”. That’s some progress I would say, and I answered him the honest truth; “You’re a pain in the butt and it’s not easy at all, but that’s ok, and thank you for acknowledging it.”

I’ve noticed progress is many areas since my last blog post. Two months ago Eric walked 40 steps at the dog park from the car to the park bench, and then 40 steps back to the car. Last week, he took a 20 minutes walk in our neighborhood with his trekking poles as help to keep his balance. Progress! His walker has retired to the garage and I’m looking forward to the day I can sell it; he’s currently using his trekking poles for walking outdoors and actually no support indoors besides walls and furniture. He’s also walking stairs without support. His balance and his strengths are coming back slowly but steady. He’s had a few falls but nothing major. Progress! Eric’s still really confused, and his short-term memory is still extremely poor and we don’t know how much of this he will recover but some days he remembers more then others. Eric is writing a diary almost daily to help remind him of the day’s activities. Eric is so fortunate to still remember how to use his computer and his iPhone. Since his friends has a hard time understanding him, the iPone is his gate to the world and it helps him stay in touch with friends, and he’s on that thing constantly. Progress! Eric’s speech still needs tons of work, but you know what; we’ve hade progress in this area too. During our first meeting with his new SLP we discovered that if Eric concentrates on HOW TO SAY IT, it makes it easier for us to understand him. You and I are only concerned about WHAT we say, and even then, we get it wrong occasionally. Eric needs to add on top of that, how to say it, which I have no doubt must be exhausting. But it’s working and I’ve seen progress even in this. One day Eric will be walking and talking like the rest of us, and it’s going to be difficult to see his main injury. Brain injury is called “The silent epidemic” because you can’t look at a person and tell he’s sustained a brain injury; but it’s there and will be there for the rest of his life. And it’s going to complicate our lives forever.

My advice to people is; if you see a man walking unstable, with help of trekking poles; don’t ask if he’s going skiing. Obviously, a young man would rather BE skiing then wobble in to the therapy room at the hospital. I can’t blame Eric for screaming back at that old lady, or the nice man in the elevator; I would too. The only difference is that Eric, due to the injury, can’t tell the difference from right and wrong so he’s really showing his feelings! Eric’s nickname is still Mr. Inappropriate!

Posted by: aceanderic | December 31, 2008

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 31

New Years Eve, the last day of the year and the last rush for us to get things done. With “done” I mean getting the last doctor visit done for the year. Our deductible has been reached so we’ve been taking advantage of getting services done while the insurance is covering the cost. This is the reason why I’ve kept Eric extremely busy the last two months with outpatient therapy, and multiple doctor visits in different areas. Today was a busy day with three visits at two different hospitals. Eric got radiation treatment on his knees today plus speech therapy. Radiation therapy is suppose to be an effective method of preventing Heterotopic Bone increase, the result will tell in about two weeks.

We have been on a role, we only missed one appointment due to the “snow storm”, and that’s because the eye doctor kept the place closed due to the weather. I was determined to get everything done, nothing could stop me so when Portland got two feet of snow, our friends thought I was nuts when I left for Seattle. There was no way I would celebrate Christmas in Portland with only Eric and I; I had cabin fever and needed company. I packed the car with Christmas gifts, handicap equipment, gear for a week for the two of us, snacks for the ride, dogs and dog stuff, and off we went. The hardest part was to leave our street but we made it to Seattle without any problems. I’m used to drive in the snow, being a Swede and all so it sure would have been embarrassing if I had wracked the car!

Our week in Seattle with Eric’s family went surprising well. Eric’s nieces and nephew kept him busy with playing Wii, which he actually won several times. This game is known to be used as a therapy tool with success so I was extremely happy to see that his family had purchased a Wii set for Eric. This really was a wonderful Christmas and it will help Eric practice his balance, memory and all kind of other things. At Christmas Dinner over at his auntie’s place, Eric was treated like royalty. I actually think someone even referred Eric as “The Sopranos”. I had sent out an email in advance to give his family a heads up about his condition, and they took this to their hearts. Eric sat on the king throne while family came up to him to talk with him, give him massage, etc. Eric who had missed his family a lot was in great mood and truly loved the attention. Who wouldn’t?

I have big plans for 2009 for Eric’s recovery. It’s going to be more structured on a weekly basic, which is important during his recovery. Starting next week, Eric will participate in a day-treatment program for TBI survivors. With start twice a week this will provide him with a five hours daily consistent therapeutic activity. It’s been really stressful to be the main and only person, expect his therapists, to support his recovery so I’m looking forward getting professional assistance. I’m also looking forward getting some of my life back, and I hope to have a job soon.

Today was a stressful day so the New Years Dinner I had prepared will have to wait until tomorrow. Eric requested….pizza for the evening. Sad huh? 2008 was a sad year so cheers for 2009. May this coming year be a heck of a lot better then 2008!!

Posted by: aceanderic | December 11, 2008

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 11 (day 215)

It feels weird to not write this blog daily anymore, it was helpful but I honestly don’t have time. Every minute of the day is planned on my end. When Eric is resting I have a list of things to get to, and when he’s awake we’re either scheduled for therapy at the hospital, seeing doctors or are at home taking care of our daily routine. Friends ask me; “So how is Eric doing these days? He looks great!” How do I answer this question? Eric wakes up every morning hoping that everything was a nightmare, and that he’s back to normal again. One minute he’s confused and gets lost in his own house, and one minute he’s attending a business meeting almost like the old days; all in one day. He used to be extremely active outdoors, owner of a mortgage company, and he would always have something to say and he’d say it with a loud voice. Today he’s walking with a walker and uses sign language more then his broken voice. Eric would be the first among his friends with a mountain season pass for snowboarding, the bag packed and ready to hit the mountain once the first snow arrived, today I can’t even get him to go outside. Yes, it’s depressing, his current state is horrible but he’s recovering and has come a long way, and he’s going to recover for the rest of his life; so how do I answer this polite question without being rude to someone who doesn’t understand what he’s going through?

Eric’s vision got damaged at the accident; he’s having problems with left peripheral so he’s starting Visual Therapy next week as an attempt to improve his visual performance. Visual Therapy will train the brain to “communicate with the eye again”. He used to have excellent vision, now he needs glasses for distance sight. I laugh so hard in the exam room so I cried when Eric tried on these special glasses to test his vision; he looked like a dork. Eric laughed too; it was nice and we both needed this break badly.

One issue that’s not as funny is the knee pain Eric’s dealing with; it’s called heterotopic bone. Doctors are not sure what causes heterotopic bone formation; it has something to do with connective tissue cells change their characteristics into bone forming cells. It is not known why the cells change function but it is thought to be some type of inflammatory reaction associated with brain or spinal cord injury. It’s extremely painful and it’s preventing Eric from progressing in the speed he’d like. Radiation therapy is known to be a method of preventing heterotopic bone from increasing and we have an appointment next week to start this therapy since the medicine he’s on isn’t helping for the pain.

We are constantly looking for things that can bring ease to our days and help Eric’s progress. With brain injury, it becomes even more crucial then before to get proper nutrition. If it were up to Eric we would eat pizza every day so it’s stressful for me to come up with health food that he will eat. During one of my late nights in front of the computer I stumble across an article about Nutrition related to brain injury. A recovering brain needs optimal food and the article talked about antioxidant food. By increasing your intake of antioxidant foot it sparks the growth of brain cells. I’m now training myself in how to cook cheep, healthy antioxidant food, which won’t take too much time; and at the same time…taste good. My goal is to “spark the heck out his brain cells…”☺

Our friend Marty has spent some day with us, which took a lot of burden off me. He took care of the dogs, drove Eric to therapy when I had a meeting, was here when I needed to talk, and he hanged out with Eric so I could run errands. Christmas is around the corner, my favorite holiday of the year and the worst for Eric. I compromised with him by decorating the house with half of our holiday décor, and no Christmas tree…but it’s still a lot of Santa’s around the house. Our neighbor Dave helped us decorating the exterior with blue lights. I think we need some magical Christmas spirit around the house. Christmas makes me happy and you never know if your wish will come true around the holidays….

Posted by: aceanderic | November 27, 2008

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 27 (Thanksgiving)

Seriously? Over 100,000 hits since I started this blog! As mention earlier, I thought this blog would live for only a few days and my expectations was to only tell near friends and family members about Eric’s status. In my mind, Eric would be fine in a few weeks and back to work in no time. I was in Denial then, the first stage of the Five Stages Of Grief. I’ve gone through Denial, Anger, Bargaining, and finding myself currently in Depression. This stage is the hardest one so far. You’d think the beginning was hardest, after all Eric almost died, but since I was in Denial, it made the situation easier to handle and I actually felt strong. The adrenaline I had from the chock helped me multi-task in a way, which is out of this world.

I’m cooping with a stress these days that’s unbelievable. As someone said, “If a brain injury won’t teach you how to be patience, then I don’t know what will”. Seeing Eric so confused and fatigue is hard, he could sleep all day if I let him. But I won’t, and I can’t let him sleep all day. Therapy is extremely important the first year of recovery so I’m trying to get as much therapy in with him in a day. Everything I say to him has a meaning behind it to get him to think or to start an activity. I don’t talk to him as husband and wife anymore; I’ve transformed into Eric’s caregiver, which is depressing for both of us. What’s hard about being a caregiver to your husband is not only seeing him disable but also the loneliness that comes with it. Eric’s brain injury is preventing him from realizing the needs of others and it’s not even considerate. The content of his speech and performance is self-centered and immediate. I could win a million dollars and his respond would be thumbs up and a smile. Eric’s inappropriate behavior, which also is caused by the injury, is not only affecting people around him but also our dogs. Eric has mistreated them so it’s to the point where the dogs are afraid of him. They both have been overly active lately and are jumping up on me; according to the little I’ve read, this is a sign of stress or lack of socializing. Trying to take care of the needs of my three boys prevents me from taking care of myself; I need to make some dramatic changes to keep my family and myself alive.

I’m sure the first night in jail was scary. That very same night Eric wanted to call his dad. You can imagine the chocking pain Eric felt when we had to tell him that Michael had passed away ten years ago. He didn’t remember that his dad was in piece along with several other closed family members. Eric had to relive the grief of loosing all; all in one moment. It was heartbreaking. On the positive side, our days are not only depressing and stressful; we do have good times too. What puts a smile on my face are the moments when I see progress, or when Eric is “there” and gives me a hug for no reason, we joke around, or he tells me how grateful he is for having me there with him.

Some of the negative readers on this blog have told me how wrong it is of me to tell our story and that I should keep this to myself. I know my story isn’t unique; 5.3 million Americans have a similar story about their disability resulting from brain injury. Another word for brain injury is the “silent epidemic”. It’s a silent epidemic because you can’t look at someone and tell that this person has sustained a brain injury, which makes it difficult for the average person to understand the complications that comes with the injury. I’m hoping we can turn this around and make it more public knowledge about the extremely difficulties a TBI survivor and families are challenged with; it’s been silent about this injury too long, so I won’t shut up.

Today is Thanksgiving. His carsickness, and sensitiveness to too much activity prevented us from celebrating with his family in Seattle so it’s the two of us at home this year. I’d like to take the opportunity to thank everyone for supporting and caring for us in various ways. You know who you are; which is more then I can say since some of you are anonymous supporters. Your generosity and kindness is graciously accepted, and you’ve helped us in many ways. Thank you!!

Posted by: aceanderic | November 21, 2008

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 21 (day 195)

The drunk hit-and-run driver was sentenced to 70 months in prison this morning. I was there with my attorneys while Eric’s mom was home taking care of Eric. Her challenge was to get Eric’s morning routine done, which is a difficult task and he challenged her big time. In order to get Eric to do anything we have to encourage him and talk him into it in a positive way over and over again. I’ve figured out it’s easier to get him going by giving him choices of two or three activities. This forces him to think which seam to kind of wake him up easier. I’ve learned the hard way not to ask a question in the form of “do you want to….”, because he’ll only get the answer “no” back. Another very common change after a head injury is an increase in irritability. Due to the damage, Eric is unable to block out excessive environmental stimuli. I’m super nervous to take Eric out in public due to this, and I hope this phase will past really, really soon. He growled at a poor old lady at the hospital, he pointed finger at a nice man who’s only intention was to help us…oh man, how embarrassing!

A new challenge is that Eric gets really car sick, and every outpatient rehab visit at the hospital is not only mentally exhausting for him, his face also turns white from the car ride. Yesterday when we arrived back home from outpatient rehab I got him situated on the couch so he could rest while I took take care of the dogs. Our lovely creatures had discovered the dog food in the garage and had their own party while we were gone. They had eaten so much so their bellies were swollen up shaped like a furry sausage, and they had difficulties moving around normally. On top of this they had their party in the Portland rain so they were soaked. My three boys at the house were all ready to puke and were whining for my help. I didn’t know if I should cry, laugh, or pull my hair; it was a mess! Oh, good times…

Posted by: aceanderic | November 18, 2008

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 18 (day 192)

I don’t know if the dogs were more restless then I today so we went to the dog park leaving Eric behind alone in the living room. He was busy any whey with reading a several page Survivor Guide for Brain Injury Survivors. At RIO they told me to never leave Eric unsupervised, and they also told me that Eric MIGHT be able to read short stories. Eric did just fine by himself for a half hour, he actually didn’t move from the couch and he was still reading when we came back. I can’t tell you how much he actually remembers from his reading but at least he’s reading and that’s great for him. This day has been out of control relaxing, Eric was so tired this morning so our daily schedule fell behind, instead of working hard with his therapy, we found ourselves spending quality time together next to the open fire. We have a pretty good routine down by now, which changes daily but we get at least one hour speech and one hour physical therapy done a day. I also try to have him focus on a game or a puzzle daily, which is working out fine. Outpatient rehab has started so we have a trip to the hospital scheduled almost daily. Some of our hard worked showed result yesterday when Eric walked 23 steps without any assistance. Woo Hoo!!

Besides learning how to walk and talk again, mental fatigue is a big struggle for Eric. Fatigue and TBI seam to go hand-in-hand, as it’s extremely common for a brain injury survivor to get fatigued in the afternoon; it’s like running out of energy and your body just shuts down. For Eric it’s the opposite (of course!), it’s very difficult for him to wake up, and his mornings are SO slow. His best time of the day starts around 2pm so I’ve made sure to get as much out of him then. This makes it extremely difficult to get enough things down. I’m worried long-term this might make it difficult for him to get a job, and short-term it makes it hard to sign him up for Day Treatment Programs specialized in TBI as these starts in the morning.

Being a Caregiver isn’t an easy job. I’m quite bad at it as a matter of fact. I thought managing a Production Department was stressful but this is a different stress. For example, it’s hard enough to make sure I’m drinking enough water throughout the day, and now I have to make sure we both drink enough, plus eating healthy food. Today is a celebration because Eric almost got all the 64 oz of water finished! The goal is to get him to actually drink the water so I don’t have to give it to him through the feeding tube, it sure would be nice to have the tub removed soon.

Posted by: aceanderic | November 10, 2008

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 10 – 1st week at home

Almost a week has passed since Eric came home and we’re slowly adjusting to our new lives. It’s been one busy week, and at the same time relaxing because I don’t have to go to a hospital to see my husband. I’m constantly by his side day and night, and I don’t mind taking care of him. It’s been so long since I cooked him a meal, talked with him in our living room by the fire, had him in the house so I actually enjoy assisting him, but it is draining and I know we can’t have it like this for long. I have a few meetings planed with in-home caregivers and I hope to find the perfect fit.

I can tell that Eric is really struggling, but he’s doing a good job and he’s positive with things for the most part. We went out for brunch last week on a weekday with a friend. The restaurant was almost empty with just one small group of guests by a table when we arrived. I’d given Eric a heads-up that it’s going to be challenging for him to just be outdoors, he didn’t understand me until he tried. He made it through the meal at the restaurant, but he was exhausted afterwards and slept almost the whole day when we came home. Same thing happened today when we went to the local market; like any brain injury survivor the florescent lighting at the store was really difficult for him to handle, even with sunglasses on. I’ve had the opportunity to leave the house a short time daily, thanks to friends and family who’s been over. I’ve spent this time with the dogs; they act so confused, and they are scared off the walker so it’s been nice for all of us to take a break.

It’s nice to see that Eric hasn’t lost his sense of humor. I’ve seen glints of “the old Eric” in between the confusion and his disability, which is really nice to see. He’s brought me many laughs these past days. I’m sure he’s surprised many of his friends with a phone call. Some who came to see him at our house found themselves struggling with holding the emotions and tears back. I understand your feelings and I appreciate your effort in giving us a helping hand.

Posted by: aceanderic | November 5, 2008

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 5 (day 178)

Almost six months has passed, and our story still continues. We’ve turned the page to chapter two of our “book”, and we have multible chapters left to go. I’ve learned how to be patience, and measure advances in tiny increments, too small on some days but they are there. Eric told me that he can’t see the progress he’s making, so I hope one day he will. We’re going to set up goals together, I’ve created checklists so he can go back and see what’s been accomplished. Step by step, Eric is coming back. Our day today was relaxing, and yet stressful at the same time. I spent more time making sure he’s getting enough water, food, taking his medicine on the correct time, so I forgot to take care of myself. But overall it was really nice to just be at home together. We will slowly learn how to live our new life together, and Eric has already made a few good suggestions. Our near future circles around outpatient rehab visits, rehab at home, in-home care, day programs for brain injury survivors, doctor visits, quality time together with friends and family members, making sure we financially survive, dealing with insurance, paper work and attorneys. Our long-term future is still unknown, but I hope Eric one day will be able to work again. A few weeks ago the doctor told me that Eric most likely won’t be able to work ever again. I’m not worried since we’re proven the doctor wrong a few times throughout this process, and I’m almost positive he will do so again.

Six months ago, we were slowly packing up our lives to move to Sweden to fulfill our dreams about a higher quality living with less stress. Our lives took an unexpected turn and I have instead agreed to do volunteer work as a project manager with Brain Injury Association of Oregon (www.biaoregon.org), a job which hopefully will lead to a paid position shortly. I’d like to help others in a similar position as myself, I hope I have more to give because there are so many out there needing help. Every 23 seconds, one person in the US sustains a Traumatic Brain Injury. An estimated 5.3 million Americans currently live with disabilities resulting from Traumatic Brain Injury. Who would have thought Eric would be one? I’ve decided to take a step down from maintaining this blog daily. Our lives will go on and this blog will too, but in a different shape and reason. Expect to see a change soon.

Eric called several of his friends today to let them know he’s home, and he’d like to see their faces again. He miss you guys, and said he’s been lonely for too long and wants your company again. Instead of reading the blog, please come and visit us, pick up the phone or send Eric an email. Please do keep on checking this blog for updates and other useful information about TBI.

I have to run now, Eric is ringing the bell I put up by the bed for when he needs my help. He’s already used this bell several times today, he’s getting too darn smart for himself; he knows he can get me do do anything for him (for now!).

Posted by: aceanderic | November 4, 2008

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 4 (day 177)

First day at home with Eric and I’m out of words. I have no idea what happened to him since last night but I like it. The man sitting next me right now, is definitely not he same man I left at the hospital last night….something happened and Eric took a gigantic step forward. I can’t get him to STOP talking!! Sadly, I don’t fully understand him but that doesn’t stop him from talking, oh boy. We had some issues with the pharmacy so we still don’t have all of Eric’s medicine. Turns out that the walker I got for Eric is too small so that’s another thing we need to fix.

While I unpacked, Eric was in bed with my laptop watching the election status. While video ichatting with his sister, he also ichatted with our friend, at the same time. I tell you, Eric is on a roll!!! Oh, and we had popcorn too ;)

Posted by: aceanderic | November 4, 2008

DISCHARGE PARTY!!!

Please join me in welcoming Eric home. After almost six months at the hospital, with only three short visits home I’m happy to finally have Eric back at home. We’re having a big welcome home party here on the blog, and you’re all very much welcome to attend. It would be awesome if you could send Eric a positive note; anonymous or not, it doesn’t matter. I would like for him to see the support I’ve seen, as I know this will encourage him to keep going. There’s approx 500 hits per day, and that my friend, are a lot of welcome home greetings.

Cheers!!!!

Posted by: aceanderic | November 3, 2008

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 3 (day 176)

I haven’t seen Eric smile as much since May 9th as he did today. He was in the most happiest and goofiest mood ever and he made everyone smile back. We had a great time, and it’s because he knew he gets to come home tomorrow. He did awesome in therapy, and he was accused off “holding back” earlier because he did so great. He was able to walk the four steps up and down without any assistants, which is huge! I was on standby assistance but I didn’t have to help him at all. We do however have a problem with his knees. The X-ray on his knees showed a problem and he needed to run more tests. Eric was taken to the Nuclear Medicine room for a Bone X-ray. This kind of X-ray shows the active living process of the bone. Turns out that his bones are growing into his muscular in both knees, an issue that only happens to brain injury and stroke patients. Now, that’s gotta hurt!!! Thank goodness we got this figured out before we leave. We spent the whole day talking about going home so in the end it must have been too much for Eric. He wanted to go home this evening and he accused me for holding him there one more night for no reason. We went from having a great time to a difficult time. Eric called me a liar for keeping at RIO for no reason, he hated me, and he asked why I was scared off brining him home…. Yes, I’m scared but that’s not the reason for why he had to spent the night. The doctor still needs to write up the discharge summary, etc.

I had a little chat with our dogs this evening about the changes we’re facing. They both gave me their paw, looked at me happy and confused, which is exactly how I feel…. happy and very confused about having Eric coming home. Here we go…..

Posted by: aceanderic | November 2, 2008

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 2 (day 175)

There are two different kind of commends I’ve heard about Eric coming home; everyone means well and the differences goes something like this;
1. From friends and family who doesn’t have any experience or minimal knowledge about brain injury: “I am so happy to hear how Eric is progressing. You much be so excited to finally have him home! Keep up the good spirit, you’re doing a great job.”
2. From a brain injury survivor, spouse or a professional in the field: “Stock up your storage with food, and supplies because you’ll get stranded at the house for a while. What kind of support do you have, you’ll need a big network that can help. You cannot do this alone. One day at a time; it’s the only way you can face this right now.”

Eric has done a tremendous progress, and yet he has a very, very long road ahead. It’s amazing how damaged your body can get in just a blink of a second. Eric’s life will never be the same; this has affected virtually every area of his life — including his relationship with family members, friends, our dogs, myself, and others close to Eric.

I know many of his friends find themselves struggling to cope with changes in his behavior and physical limitations. I know Eric is struggling too to adjust. If you find it difficult, think about how hard it must be for Eric. Some of you will choose to walk away from us, and some already have. I’ve been told this is the nature of the injury; it’s too much for some to understand and cope with, so therefore they will walk away from it. And at the same time, distance friends will be closer then ever. New friends will fill in and time will move on. I will not judge you if you walk away, and I will accept your decision. My hope is to have enough friends and family member that can help us through the rough time we’re facing after discharge from RIO. I can not do this alone.

Posted by: aceanderic | November 1, 2008

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 1 (day 174)

Things are starting to come to place at the house. Handrails are up, I’ve purchased most of the safety equipment, put up reminder notes throughout the house, organized, etc. I still have a long list to get to before Tuesday. It’s hard to know what to plan for so I figure we’ll have to make changes as we go. It was a really mellow day at RIO, which was nice; Eric needs to rest as much as possible. I had a long talk with one of his therapies and she was so pleased with how great he’s progressing. His moments of “being completely there” will start getting longer in time, and appear more frequently as he progresses, she said. I love to hear all the positive feedback about his progress and I hope we can get more things crossed off as “well done”, before he gets home. I’m really looking forward to Tuesday, but yet I’m extremely nervous about having him live at home.

Posted by: aceanderic | October 31, 2008

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 31 (day 173)

I had yet another day with not so many hours with Eric but the time we had together was fun. I was running around taking care off stuff for the house while Eric did his therapy. Everyone was pleased with his performance during therapy and he was in a good mood all day. By the time I finally got to RIO, Eric was on his last therapy session for the day, which was physical therapy. I saw him walk with the walker without assistance and he did great. He also did a bunch of exercises for the legs. We spent almost two hours of fun taking pictures of the dressed up RIO staff and Eric was the photographer. I saw this is an awesome therapy thing while Eric just had plain fun taking pictures. He used to be a very good photographer. It wasn’t like a regular day at RIO today, Eric had for example a Bumblebee and a Butterfly helping him today; how often does that happened? He had the biggest smile while taking pictures, which was awesome to see. I haven’t seen him smile like that for a very, very long time. In the end he asked me to bring him home so once again I had to tell him the reason for why he can’t come home yet. He needs to hang in there for just three more day.

Happy Holloween!

Posted by: aceanderic | October 30, 2008

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 30 (day 172)

I didn’t have time to spend that many hours with Eric today. It takes time to get the house ready for his discharge date, plus buying safety equipment and therapy tools, which is what I’ve done during my “free time” this week. Eric’s day was ok; he was tired but managed to get through with all his therapy sessions as scheduled. His doctor spent some time explaining for Eric what a closed head injury mean, what’s damaged and the importance behind therapy to recover. It was so depressing to hear. There is however one positive thing with this nightmare, and that is that we’re now allowed to park the car at the handicap spots, or as we call it; Rock Star Parking!

Eric has been complaining a lot about pain in his knees and the doctor finally listed to us and ordered an X-ray for both knees, which we had done today. Once we came back to the room Eric’s bed had been replaced. The bed he’d been sleeping in for over a week had a safety net wrapped around the bed so he couldn’t get out at night. He had to use this bed when he was a risk at harming others or himself. It was a scary looking bed, impossible to get out off from the inside, and it’s very common use among patients at RIO. Despite what happened yesterday, Eric is finally back in a regular hospital bed. Woo Hoo, one little accomplishment crossed off from the list.

Posted by: aceanderic | October 29, 2008

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 29 (day 171)

I walked into Eric’s room with wonderful news to tell him, and my worry that he wouldn’t take it the way I did came true. RIO managed to pull some strings for us, totally unexpected; we’re now approved to stay until next Tuesday. The reason for this is because Eric has progressed steady for the past days and his potentials  for progressing even further is high. I’m so excited; this opportunity rarely happens, I’ve been told. All Eric wants is to go home so he got really upset about this. He’s been at the hospital for almost six months so I can’ blame him. The whole morning went wrong; after having the luxury of being alone in the room for three weeks, Eric now has a roommate as of this morning. On top of this change Eric found out that he needed to stay longer at RIO. Changes for a TBI patient could be very stressful, and Eric got two large changes within a few hours. My 30 minutes of hell included several nurses, one Eric, one doctor, two admin staff, and three security guards. While the nurses tried to calm Eric down in his room, I blocked the door from getting the security guards entering the room. One little Swede against three armed guys! They didn’t understand the reasoning behind Eric’s behavior; their concern was to protect him from harming himself or others. Luckily this happens constantly at RIO, the staff was awesome and knew how to deal with everything. Eric finally calmed down and in the afternoon he was up on his feet again to participate in therapy. He did great! Before I left for the day I told him what a great opportunity we have been given, and how excited I was to stay longer. I guess my approach worked because Eric thought it was awesome too, and he promised me to work hard until we leave.

Posted by: aceanderic | October 28, 2008

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 28 (day 170)

We had yet another positive day at RIO. I’ve said this a few times since the day Eric got injured, and I’m happy to say it again; something happened and Eric took another big step forward. That’s not a medical statement; it’s coming from me as his wife, and the face expressions of joy from Eric’s rehab and doctor team. Eric is more alert, focused, stronger, and his short-term memory is slightly improved. Part of his OT session this morning before I got there was shopping. Eric purchased a lovely card for me which he picked out himself, paid for it and wrote a love not. When I walked into his room he immediately said that he had something for me (he remembered the purchase he’d done several hours earlier), and he had a big goofy smile. Yep, it was impossible to not cry!

We both attended the weekly discharge meeting today, and we heard nothing but very positive commands about Eric’s progress from the doctors and rehab team. That wasn’t the best part, it was that Eric stayed focused, participated, listen, and asked questions. He’s eager to know the exact story with his injury and his prognoses. I’ve told him this story many, many times but I think it’s going to be different this time. His doctor will go over everything with him tomorrow.

I’ve had many recommending me to get on Medicare for assistants. I thank you for your help; unfortunately we can’t apply for Medicare until 24 months from now.

The handrails along our stairs are installed for Eric’s safety thanks to our friends Scott and Ian.

Posted by: aceanderic | October 27, 2008

MONDAY, OCTOBER 27 (day 169)

“Wow”…”Oh, I wish we had more time to work together”…”Eric, nice job!!”…”Eric I can understand you so much better today”…..”Wow again” These were just a few of the commands we heard today from the staff at RIO. His schedule has never been so busy with therapy sessions as today but Eric pulled it all off, and he did great. He was tired but he did great. I’m being trained to work with him and I’m soaking in as much information as I possible can. We still have one more argument with the insurance company to get them to allow Eric more days but so far it doesn’t look good. The discharge date is set for October 30, which it hit me today is THIS coming Thursday! I got a slight heart attack when I realized that; the date sounds further away when you say it then it really is. Eric is coming home and I’ll be his wife, caregiver and therapy trainer in all areas. For over five months we have had the security of a nursing, doctor, and rehab team assist in the care of Eric. Come Thursday, that responsibility becomes mine, and the team will surround us. There’s no way you can equip yourself for this challenge of taking care of your disable husband at home, so I’m just going to dive right into it and hope for the best. Eric will attend outpatient rehab sessions but we don’t have that many hours allowed of this service with the insurance, neither do we have enough in-home care allowed so I need to cough up the “big bucks”…. I guess I should buy a lottery ticket!!

What Eric first and foremost needs is a routine, safety, and organization. It will take us some time to get this routine figured out and I’d appreciate any help the community would offer. I don’t know how often I will be able to leave the house without Eric, and Eric needs constant supervision. If you’re interested in helping out with walking the dogs, grocery shopping or donate a prepared meal, please sign up at our community site schedule listed on this right page, or shoot me an email. I’m also looking for any mind games, 25-50 piece puzzle, and workout equipment I could use for Eric’s rehab.

Posted by: aceanderic | October 26, 2008

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 26 (day 168)

Eric made me so proud today. He is so far away from having his old voice back, he may never sound the same as he used to, but today he pushed himself really hard in his speech therapy session so I almost cried. I was very proud of him. By puffing his cheeks, forcing the air out and pronouncing the word at the same time it actually came out ok. Just a week ago, Eric wasn’t able to fill his cheeks with enough air to make the cheeks puff; think about that for a moment. During physical therapy I had the laptop in my lap to get some stuff done, I didn’t pay that much attention to Eric until I looked up and there he was, walking towards me without a cane and without a walker. Eric was walking with minimal assistants from his therapist. Unbelievable. He concentrated so hard on taking one step at the time so he didn’t see the tears in my eye.

Eric is obviously progressing but is it enough for the insurance company to approve his stay for one more week? Eric’s setback was due to medical reasons, it wasn’t his fault so I’m now arguing for another week at RIO to gain what we missed, and I want the insurance company to pay for it. We are up for a big challenge this week, and possible another war with the insurance.

Posted by: aceanderic | October 25, 2008

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 25 (day 167)

It was a mellow day at RIO today, not only for Eric but the whole unit seamed quiet. It’s common for patients to get a day-pass over weekends, which will allow them to leave RIO for the day. Unfortunately, Eric isn’t at this stage yet. He got plenty of rest today between the few planned therapy sessions. When I walked into the waiting room at RIO I found Eric tucked up alone in a corner in his wheelchair with his head down and eyes wide open. It was awful to find him like that and I felt terrible. Sometimes I wish I could be at two places at the same time so he wouldn’t have to be alone. He begged me to bring him home and as so many times before, I told him he’s not strong enough to go home yet. He needs to get stronger because I can’t care for him in his current condition. That must have done the trick because he did excellent in the therapy session after, and the one after that as well. His therapy was done for the day at 3pm and he actually wanted to stick around and do some more leg exercises with me. I take any minute I take any chance I get to squeeze in more training with him between his sleep and already busy days.

I encourage Eric’s friends to come and visit him, especially over the weekend or weekday evenings. I know he’d love to see you in person and catch up with the real world. It’s also good for him to feel your support.

Posted by: aceanderic | October 24, 2008

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 24 (day 166)

I dropped off Eric’s mom at the train station today, she spent the morning with Eric and I spend the afternoon. According to his Neuropsychologist Eric’s morning wasn’t good; he’d been very sleepy, slightly aggressive again, and didn’t want to cooperate as much in conversations or therapy. This phone conversation made me worried since I for sure expected to hear the opposite. Everything was improving I thought. I went over to Eric earlier then planed only to find Eric…smiling. What is going on?? The hours I spent with him today was great. He was happy. He read part of the article about us in the local paper, gave me a thumbs up about front page, I pointed out all the errors and he just smiled. His PT was very pleased about his performance in the afternoon and so was his OT, and SLP. Eric and I spent several hours in his room watching movie clips on YouTube, reviewed our FaceBook account and watch pictures from our “old life”. We were not able to do any of this just a week ago, he’s clearly coming back. We discussed his injury and I explained for him the reason behind some of his behavior and what we need to do to get him better. Intensive rehab and plenty of sleep is what I told him. He wanted to help, but I said he needs to focus on getting better while I take care off all the bullshit around it…. He’s worried he will stay like this for the rest of his life and I told him he’s not, he will progress for many years to come but he needs to fight and stick with the program. The doctors are now trying to figure out why he’s so against everything in the morning and so strong later in the day. They are running more tests, perhaps it’s still the medicines fault or perhaps it’s just as simple as he needs more sleep than RIO allows him.

Posted by: aceanderic | October 23, 2008

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 23 (day 165)

I was lucky to have yet another day outside the hospital while Eric’s mom spent the day with him. Don’t take me wrong; I love my husband and love spending time with him but it’s nice to have alone time and catch up with the life outside the hospital. I don’t get these days that often anymore. Pam and I did however go to court this morning. It was a big day. For several weeks I’ve been stressed out with the thought of having Eric discharged and possible come home on October 30, while the trial date was set just a few days later. Today, Jeremy Jordan pled guilty to the crime and accepted the 70 months prison time. We are no longer going to trial.

Back at the hospital, Eric had an uneventful but positive day. He’s doing so much better and he keeps on surprising his therapists and making them and all of us proud. Sounds like he worked hard in all the sessions today. We lost almost two weeks due to his setback but he’s slowly but steady gaining his strength back. Eric walked with a walker without assistance, which is what he did just a few weeks ago and now relearning this again; he did great. He has also taken the step up from eating “mechanical food” to “regular food”, he’s now allowed to eat anything and everything. Today’s dinner was a cheeseburger with bacon, and French fries on the side. Eric was smiling big time during dinner. I stopped by to see him this evening right before dinner and it was so nice to see him smile again. I looked him in the eyes and I can tell he’s back; my job now is to really encourage him to keep fighting to get stronger both physically and mentally. I know he can do it, and I’ll anything to help him believe it too.

Eric met our dogs after dinner and I could tell the three of them have missed each other. Our big babies haven’t seen Eric since we were at the last place so it’s been a few weeks. Eric had smuggled some of the bacon out to the dogs so they were really happy to see him. I ended my evening with a glass of red whine; today’s agenda had a lot of things to celebrate so my wine tasted extra, extra good.

Posted by: aceanderic | October 22, 2008

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 22 (day 164)

I believe we’ve turned the corner; Eric felt much better today and was a much happier person. While I stayed home, Eric’s mom spent the day with him and she was very pleased about how well today went. He showed no sign of anger; his only inappropriate behavior was flirting with the staff…. His PT jumped up and down because she was so pleased; she worked with him on resistance strengthening and he did great. During speech therapy Eric did great with all the silly facial movements to strengthen the muscular around his mouth. It’s not medically confirmed the medicine caused his setback but based on today’s performance I’m pretty sure that was the reason for it. I’m hoping we’ll hear from the doctor tomorrow. It’s with much relief I’m writing this today and I hope tomorrow will be even better. Everyone who saw Eric today said that he looked great!! I was very proud of my husband today.

Posted by: aceanderic | October 21, 2008

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 21 (day 163)

During today’s discharge meeting with Eric’s team of doctors and therapy team we were told that we might see a change in Eric’s cognitive awareness and strength by tomorrow. They have slowly reduced the medicine, which means if the reason for this past week’s setback is due to the medicine, most of it will be out of his body by tomorrow. So cross your fingers and let’s hope this nightmare is medicine related. Eric’s day was scheduled with full of different kinds of therapy and overall he did pretty well. He was still sleepy and acted aggressive towards the staff but he did perk up in the evening. His appetite seams to be coming back and he ate most of his dinner. He even smiled!!! Before Pam and I left for the evening I asked him to try to keep strong for ten more days. “Can you stay focused and do what the staff is asking you to do for? You’ll be out of RIO in ten days so that’s all I’m asking for”, I told him. His answer was “Yes, yes, yes, I can do that!” Oh my goodness, Eric has said “no” to everything and everyone for weeks and now he said yes three times and smiled. Could this be a sign of recovery? We’ll hopefully find out tomorrow.

Posted by: aceanderic | October 20, 2008

MONDAY, OCTOBER 20 (day 162)

Eric’s Physiatrist and Neuropsychologist consulted with other doctors on the floor today and they are all scratching their heads. All test results looks normal, everything looks normal but it’s very obvious that something is wrong. It’s so frustrating to hear a brain injury expert tell you “he’s never seen anything like it”; that’s not what I want to hear. I like it much better when Eric’s odd behavior is normal behavior to them and they know how to fix it. Eric’s injury and/or medicine are making him very angry, none cooperative, lethargic, and I can’t understand his speech anymore. Something is definitely wrong; Eric is not acting like the Eric he was when he got admitted to RIO. They called in the internal medicine team of experts to review Eric’s medical report and we should hear back from them soon I hope. I asked to have the acting Physiatrist replaced with another Physiatrist at RIO. This new doctor pulled a miracle on Eric back in July by simple changing his medicine. The next day after this change Eric was like a new person and that’s the day we saw Eric smile for the first time. He’s pulled a miracle then, my hopes are that he can do it again. So in other words, today was the first time I ever fired someone. I choose to use the word “replace”, the doctor took it well but he still calls it “fired”…oh well.

As much as he needs professional help from doctors right now, I may be faced with pulling Eric out of RIO this week unless they can figure out what’s wrong with him. We don’t want to exhaust all his inpatient rehab days in our insurance benefits if he can’t take advantage of the daily therapy. I don’t know where he’d go next but I do know that wherever we go, he will not get the medical treatment he’d need to come out of this. I truly love the American healthcare system!!!

Posted by: aceanderic | October 19, 2008

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 19 (day 161)

Both Marci and I have only one thing to say after seeing Eric today; Eric’s acting frightening depressed and we are all worried about his condition. I’m not saying he is depressed, it could be something else. I need all the doctors on his team to spend some serious time reviewing the report tomorrow morning and help him because this isn’t good. I’m really, really worried, and it’s getting to the point where Eric might danger the staff at RIO or himself.

On a more happier note I’d like to send a big hug and a thank you to my friends who helped me getting our backyard ready for winter. Much appreciated!

Posted by: aceanderic | October 18, 2008

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 18 (day 160)

Today was better than yesterday but in a weird way.  Eric was a little bit more alert and definitely more aggressive than yesterday.  When I arrived Eric was getting dressed and ready for the day.   He had PT on his agenda first.  We went to PT and met Heather.  She was going to work with Eric today.  Eric walked around the wing with the walker doing very well.  Then we played catch with a soccer ball, working on balance. He did great with that as well.  In fact I think he enjoyed it, not that I could tell from his blank expression, but he was really focused.  After that we had to really talk him into walking with the single point cane.  He was done but with a lot of pressure from me he finally gave in and walked down the hall and back with the cane- well done.  We went back to his room and Eric got back in bed.  He seems so tired these days.  I read to him while he rested.  I didn’t think he was listening but when I asked him if he could hear me he gave me the thumbs up (I could not get him to talk at all today).  So I read on until lunch arrived. Eric ate about half of his pasta lunch- not bad.

At about 2:00 pm it was time to go back for speech and PT again.  Eric DID NOT want to go- he was tired and wanted to sleep.  Of course we made him go and he almost punched the nurse out.  She had her back to him and thank goodness I saw Eric ball up his fist and begin to strike.  I yelled very firmly NO!  He put his hand down but kept the fist.  OH MY GOSH- we escaped that one.  Once downstairs Eric did not lift his head hardly at all.  He did a little in speech and then quit.  In PT he was able to walk the stairs up and down then when asked to do it again he refused.  He was done.  I tried everything to get him to climb the stairs again, but to no avail.  At that point Heather (PT) said that Eric could go if he wheeled himself to the elevator.  He was mad and he started to kick me and grabbed Heather by the clothes- not good.  He was flipping everyone off.  At one point he grabbed my leg and pinched me then when I bent down to tell him to knock it off he took a swing at me.  Lucky for me he is a bit slow so I saw it coming and he only got me lightly on the chin.  Whew!  He is so strong I would hate to be behind his balled up fist.  I totally understand where his anger was coming from so I was not bothered by it.  I just kept telling him firmly that he can not act like that , it is unacceptable behavior.

I am very sad that Eric has dropped back down to this level.  He was past all this.  His not talking is the worst part.  It was so nice to talk with Eric last time I was here.  That is all gone.  Also, his being so tired and sad.  I hope the Dr’s can figure out what is going on and bring the Eric from a few weeks ago back.

Anna-Carin seems to be handling it well at the moment but I know her heart is heavy with worry.  Maybe a nice warm meal with a friend would needed right now.  Everyone has been so great but after a while people forget her daily struggle.  Good friends and family are what get us through these tough times.  Thank you to all who have helped already and those who are still wanting to help.

Posted by: aceanderic | October 17, 2008

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 17 (day 159)

After a long drive from Seattle to Portland I finally arrived at RIO to see Eric.  I was very worried all week and almost sick to my stomach on the drive down.  I did not want to see Eric like what Anna-Carin had described lately.  When I walked into Eric’s room he was asleep.  I tried to wake him up but he just looked at me then went back to sleep.  After a few more minutes I woke him up, he smiled at me and reached out to give me a kiss on the forehead.  I thought that was a good start to my visit.  Things just went down hill from there.  Eric is not the same man I left here a few weeks ago.  He is slow, lethargic, and not talking.  I don’t know what happened.  It is like the last month didn’t even happen.  He hung his head most of the time I was there only answering questions with a nod or shrug.  This is the Eric of old not the new Eric………..what he heck happened.   I am hoping that this is only a set back.  I have been reading for quite some time that TBI patients often have set backs, we have been pretty lucky that Eric had SLOWLY just moved forward.  It funny to even say we have been lucky under the circumstances but none the less he has move forward through out this nightmare.

I am hoping that tomorrow will be a better day!  I say my prayers every night and every night they are the same……..God, please just bring Eric back to us.

Praying for a better day-Marci

Posted by: aceanderic | October 16, 2008

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 16 (day 158)

Nothing really happened today, which is the scary and stressful part. We’ve been faced with a major setback and no one knows what’s wrong with Eric. He hardly spoke and the words he said were extremely difficult to understand. He wasn’t even able to swallow his own salvia, which I haven’t seen for a long time. We never heard back from Eric’s Neurosurgeon today. Instead of calling him I actually walked into his office to “demand an answer” but according to his nurse he’d been in surgery all day and hadn’t even looked at the CT scans yet. I decided to not make a scene. Somewhere in an ICU waiting room there’s a family waiting for the result of their son, husband, or father’s complicated head surgery performed by Eric’s Neurosurgeon. At least Eric is alive, and I hope he saved more lives today. In the meantime Eric was in bed rest, drooling, throwing up, and unable to participate in any rehab. Eric’s Physiatrist thinks the problem has to do with the medicine so we’re going to clear out Eric’s body from all the medicine and start over to see if that will help.

The time is ticking and I’m getting stressed out about the missing therapy. The temporary discharged date has been set for Thursday, October 30 and he’s most likely coming home on this date. I’d love to see an extension but our dear friends at the insurance company would only allow us 30 days of inpatient rehab. The expectations of Eric’s time at RIO was that he’d reach a much higher cognitive and strength level by this date but I’m not so sure about that anymore. I’m not even sure if he can come home yet. But…a miracle could still happen, tomorrow is a new day with room for the unexpected to happen.

Posted by: aceanderic | October 15, 2008

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 15 (day 157)

I was on a mission to get Eric’s CT scan done today, no matter what. The nurse wasn’t able to get it done last night because Eric had blocked the door to his room with the empty bed next to him to keep everyone out. Don’t ask me how the heck he was able to move that bed, but he did. The CT scan was scheduled and I had four hours to convince Eric go with it. His morning was ok and I talked with him about all kinds of stuff, while slowly getting him used to the idea with the scan. Then all of the sudden the plan changed again and we had to get ready right away. Just as Eric and I left his room three nurses showed up in front of us to “assist” him to the second floor for the CT scan. Did they not learn anything from yesterday’s situation?? I told everyone to back off, and I said to Eric that we were running away. He totally went with my little game. But then things went wrong. He knew something was up so he grabbed my phone and dialed 911 for help before I was able to stop him, he pointed finger at some random muscular guy who happened to pass us in the hallway. I prayed this large man wouldn’t pay us any attention; it wasn’t time for Eric to have a black eye! I was able to get Eric up on the bed for the scan after a long conversation, and then we wrestled for a while. The nurse in the room tried to take the pictures but Eric wouldn’t lie still to save his life. That’s when I told Eric that he’d won; we would not do the CT scan because he wasn’t able to do it. I asked him to prove me wrong – a very smart thing of me to say. Eric decided to prove me wrong in deed and lied perfectly still while we finished the CT scan. We got it done, and I so tricked him. That whole experience was absolute exhausting!!

Eric’s nurse told me later that his Physiatrist had not seen a bleeding on the scans but the location of his shunt looked off. We are now waiting for Eric’s Neurosurgeon to look at the CT scan, and we will know what the result is tomorrow. The Physiatrist should have an alternative plan incase this isn’t the reason for his setback. I will find out about this tomorrow as well.

Posted by: aceanderic | October 14, 2008

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 14 (day 156)

Eric was more lethargic today then ever and I wasn’t the only one noticing it, everyone did. He really tried to keep up in his rehab classes but it didn’t work so well, something is definitely holding him back. A CT Scan was scheduled for later this evening, and just as I was telling Eric about the plan his nurse came in to the room and said that plans had changed and he needed to get ready for the CT Scan in five minutes. I thought that was excellent news but that’s when everything went downhill. Eric decided that we all needed to chill and wait until tomorrow; as he said. He didn’t want to cooperate at all. He turned extremely aggressive towards us, fought back with the nurses and I. I’ve read that it’s difficult to force someone with a brain injury into doing something, or even try to rush a person. We did that and got nowhere but backwards. It was absolute horrible. I think Eric in his mind, got so frighten so he did everything in his power to not do what was asked off him. All he really had to do was to lie on a bed for five minutes beneath the machine, but he didn’t understand this concept and wouldn’t cooperate. I took a step back to let the nurse handle the situation but he only made Eric more upset. I heard Eric screaming and he sounded so scared so I rushed over to just hold him tight to help him calm down. He just wouldn’t understand that he might have an internal bleeding in his head which could get worse any minute, day or second, and this bleeding is holding him back in his overall recovery. I tried to tell him but he didn’t understand. It was horrible. It’s really nothing a person can do to convince Eric the opposite besides wait for the aggressiveness to pass, yet another lesson in how to be patience. My hopes are they will have better luck later tonight with the CT Scan so we can find out the results tomorrow. I had to leave for my own sanity during this chaos. I did what a woman got to do during upsetting times to calm down; eat chocolate and window shop…

Posted by: aceanderic | October 13, 2008

MONDAY, OCTOBER 13 (day 155)

Eric’s mood from yesterday was the same this morning. He was angry about his condition, which I can’t blame him for at all. He was especially angry with me for no particular reason. It was really hard to coach him to participate in his rehab session while he pointed a finger at me…. I know it wasn’t Eric; it was the injury causing him to do so. He was aggressive until noon and then something interesting happened. It was like turning on/off a light switch, and all of the sudden he was Mr. Nice Guy again. I remembered turning off the light when leaving his room…could THAT really be the reason for his change?? Man, if I’d known that earlier I’d turned off the light long time ago! Eric was so positive, gentle, funny and motivated the whole afternoon. He did great in PT and OT. His PT who he’d given the finger to in the morning was no a victim of Eric flirting with her. So weird.

There’s still something off with him and I’ve expressed my concern with Eric’s team of doctors several times. Gina mentioned it to the doctor too. Eric is extremely slow, lethargic and his speech was harder to understand today. I had yet another meeting with the doctor today about this subject, which made him just scratch his head in confusion. The medicines Eric is on shouldn’t have a side effect like this, the test results looked normal, he said. He was confused until I mention Eric’s similar situation back in mid-July when I’d noticed Eric was more lethargic then normal, and he was rushed in to the ER for a CT Scan. The result of that CT Scan showed a new internal bleeding in Eric’s brain but it was minor and no procedure was necessary. But yet, Eric had to stay at the hospital for two weeks observation. After my meeting with him today, Eric’s doctor immediately consulted with the other doctor and a new CT Scan is scheduled. There is a possibility something similar happening to Eric’s brain again which might explain why he’s so slow.

Posted by: aceanderic | October 12, 2008

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 12 (day 154)

To witness what Eric’s sister Gina took part off today is very difficult to deal with. Part of me is happy I didn’t see Eric today because it’s so hard to see, and part of me wish I’d been there to support her and to help Eric. He had a very difficult day and it sounds like Eric was upset, not motivated at all, and very angry for the most part. All his negative actions, words and emotions are due to the injury. I don’t know how many times we have heard the doctor say, “This isn’t Eric, his actions are due to the injury”…”It’s the injury talking; not Eric.” I’m not sure how much he got out of his therapy today, the feedback I got wasn’t positive.

I called RIO later in the evening to check in on Eric and to see what the plan is to make his condition easier on him. He’d finally calmed down but he had a rough dinner as well. I hope the doctor will evaluate his medicine tomorrow morning and make some change. It’s weird how fast things changes. Friday I thought we were back on track, Eric was motivated and positive enough to push himself in therapy, and today was the complete opposite. It’s a good thing we’re surrounded by brain injury experts who knows how to help him. Eric’s physiatrist and rehabilitation team has a plan for Eric. What the family and I can do is to support Eric through this, and patiently sit by the sideline and watch their plan take place. I find myself just waiting, and waiting…. every day I’m hoping for “that special something” to happen.

Posted by: aceanderic | October 11, 2008

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 11 (day 153)

“I’m lonely… where are my friends?” Eric said to me today. I told him a few were at his home helping around the house. A BIG HUGE thank you to Scott for helping with the railing and Tom and Erin for all the pruning and yardwork, we are grateful!!! You rock and are VERY appreciated. True friends are a special blessing, and when the chips are down, you really discover who your friends are. I know that I am truly blessed, beyond measure, with the friends that surround my life, thank you all (and you know exactly who you are :>).

Eric seemed a bit down today. He told me, “my head hurts” “this sucks” “How long am I here?” “When can I go home?” “How long are you here?” I explained to him that he’s in a good place that will help him get stronger, both physically and mentally, so he can go home and be successful in whatever it is he choses to do. He didn’t really have much of an expression but seemed to understand. Eric had speech therapy with him a few times today both with eating and sounding out words. He did well but seemed disinterested mostly. When he’s not able to communicate in words, Eric writes out what he’s trying to say and that seems to work.

Tom, Erin and the kids came down from Bellingham right after they found out what happened to Eric. We had a great visit with them and look forward to more time together.

After lunch Eric was pretty tired so I held his hand while he took a nap. He kept reaching out for my hand and patting my leg. I sat as close to the bed as I could without crawling up into it with him. :> I felt so sorry for him, my heart was heavy and I felt like crying but didn’t. It’s a very rough place to be in as a big sister to your youngest brother who is struggling (and could for a very long time) and seems sad. I tried my best to be strong and positive but I have to say, it was difficult. He did perk up and smiled big when we turned on the TV to CMT and watched the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders show, pretty funny. :>

RIO is a nice facility and I feel that Eric has a great opportunity to be challenged and progress in his recovery with the professionals working with him. We are fortunate he is there.

Tomorrow is a new day and I’ll be there hopefully watching some football (love it!!) and more PT, OT and SLT.

I love you so much Eric!

Gina

Posted by: aceanderic | October 10, 2008

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 10 (day 152)

Five months ago to date I got a phone call from a very nice police officer who asked if Eric Davidson was my husband. He said Eric got hit by a car while riding his bike and that he needed a knee surgery. The doctor needed my permission to operate, he said. I don’t know why I asked the question; “Is Eric’s head ok?” he didn’t really answer me on that question but at the time I didn’t react to it. I rushed away to the hospital to see Eric, not realizing that at that moment our lives would never be the same ever again. To be honest I was annoyed with all the attention after the accident. I appreciated the support, but in my mind I didn’t understand why everyone went through the hassle because I thought Eric would be fine and back to work in a few days. The denial I was in kept me standing and focused for a long time. I started this blog thinking it would be an update for everyone for a week or so, five months later I’m still updating Eric’s progress and we are nowhere near the end.

Eric’s been at RIO for a week today and he’s doing much better then he did when we arrived. The scary thing is that I’ve looked around at the other patients and by looking at his or her appearance on the outside; Eric seems to be in worse shape than anyone else. This isn’t a good thing, that’s for sure. But the good thing is that Eric is coming around and he’s starting to push himself more and more again. He’s friendlier to the staff and he’s working hard in rehab. He’s scared about his state; we all are. But I keep on telling him to say out loud what his Dad always used to say, which is “Davidson’s don’t quit!” Eric might be in the worse condition than the other TBI survivors at RIO at the moment (I don’t know for sure), but that doesn’t stop him from recovering to a healthy normal life again. I don’t know when we’ll get to this goal, only time will tell.

Posted by: aceanderic | October 9, 2008

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 9 (day 151)

I followed our doctors’ advice and stayed away from Eric for most of the day today as well. I got a lot of things done around the house so it was ok, but I missed Eric so I spent the evening with him. He’d missed me too and gave me a huge smile when I walked into his room. He’d just got done with his last therapy session so we spend our time together talking, and had dinner. The drugs he’s on are working (!!), the Eric I saw last week is coming back; he’s more determined, feeling stronger, less angry and less insecure. It sounds like he had a good day overall in therapy. I never in my life thought I’d call Eric insecure so it’s been a weird experience to see him like this, that’s for sure. He said something to me over and over again but I couldn’t understand it so he wrote it down on paper and it said: Never give up!

Everything he does is monitored; number of bathroom visits, how he sleeps, how much he eats, etc. He’s still eating “soft mechanical food” and today’s meal was ground turkey, gravy, and cornbread stuffing. His body is working hard to recover so he needs more then 5,000 calories daily. If he doesn’t eat at least 75% of each meal, the nurse will give him extra nutrition’s through his feeding tube. He lost 25 lb in the beginning just by breathing in bed and not moving, that’s how hard his body worked to recover. Eric has gained some weight back now but he’s still skinny.

Posted by: aceanderic | October 8, 2008

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 8 (day 150)

I purposely didn’t spend that much time with Eric today for the reason so he could get to know the staff and gain their trust without having me around to lean back on. I was at RIO for a few hours, didn’t participate in the actual rehab but we had some time together between the sessions. He was in a better mood today so he might slowly be adjusting. So I don’t know how his day was and that’s a good thing.

Rumors are that the weather will be nice this weekend so I’m taking this opportunity to get the house and the garden ready for winter. I need to get the flowerbeds ready, patch the lawn with new sod, clean the gutter, plant some large bamboo plants I purchased a few months ago without planning, paint the fence, weeding and some other things, plus I have some indoor projects for a handyman. If you have some hours to spare this Saturday and feel like helping out, please sign up at our community site: http://www.lotsahelpinghands.com/c/604593/

Posted by: aceanderic | October 7, 2008

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 7 (day 149)

Eric’s nickname for today was “unpleasant to be around” by the staff; great huh? He was rude to the therapy staff; pointing fingers, feeling hostile and trapped, accused everyone for lying and being crazy. He didn’t used to be like this so this is new, and it’s very common for a TBI patient in Eric’s stage to act like this after a change in the environment and routines. The staff at RIO has seen it all so they wouldn’t take my apology; there was no need for it they said. I had a meeting with his doctor and therapy team, and I gave some feedback on how to approach him, what he likes to do and not, which hopefully will make it easier for them to gain Eric’s trust and to get to know him better. If that doesn’t work, there’s always medicine they can use, it’s absolute amazing how just a small change in the medicine can make a huge change in a behavior. They know what they are doing at RIO, so I will try to sit back and watch; I will try. He acted the opposite towards me and we had a lovely long conversation about how much we love each other, and we made plans for the future. I wish I could tell Eric so he would understand that he’s safe and I did my best, and he promised me to behave better so time will tell if he remembers our talk or not. We played a round of our favorite card came, we have played this game all over the world, and that bastard won today! I thought HE was the injured one in the relationship – I’m up for revenge tomorrow.

Posted by: aceanderic | October 6, 2008

MONDAY, OCTOBER 6 (day 148)

My ex-boss had me take a personality test a few years ago and part of the overview about me said, “Tending to have very high expectations of herself, and have similar high expectations of others. In fact, she may evaluate others by very precise standards. Unfortunately, these standards and expectations may be unrealistic…” Crap, today was so true according to this test. I never thought I would say this but I was a little disappointed with RIO today; go figure since according to this test it’s impossible to keep up with my expectations. I know, I know…it’s only been a few days so I just need to wait. I haven’t been afraid to speak up before about Eric’s care and I’m sure not going to stop now, no matter how many TBI experts I have around me. RIO has put safety before anything so far, which is good so don’t take me wrong. Putting safety first until they know Eric is good but it’s affecting his therapy, and his personality. As I mention a while back Eric doesn’t mind pushing himself, he likes it and he likes pain as long as he sees progress. Today’s therapy was the opposite, they took it slow and carefully, was too over-protective of him and wouldn’t let him do anything without him behind handheld. Eric was very frustrated about all this, told them off and called them all crazy! A patient without a brain injury would most likely keep his feelings to himself, but Eric said exactly what he felt and thought in their face. Luckily the staff are used to this kind of behavior so they knew how to deal with it, but I agree with Eric. They were too careful and didn’t push him. Eric can walk with a walker, there’s no reason to panic if Eric decides to stand up on his own. I don’t understand why they can’t look at the therapy notes from our old place and just take it from there. It’s been like small setback in his overall therapy, which has a negative affect on him. He’s looking more and more at himself as being retarded, which is putting him down. It’s also hard for him to adjust to all the new staff that’s telling him what to do and how to do it.

There’s a meeting with the assigned team tomorrow to go over Eric’s goals. I will address my concern in this meeting and tell everyone to push Eric harder; that’s what he’s there for and he’s ready for it.

Posted by: aceanderic | October 5, 2008

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 5 (day 147)

Pam spent the day with Eric, I didn’t see him today but I spoke with him on the phone. Eric’s words on the phone; “Hey, what are you doing?”, almost made my heart stop. His voice was perfect, it was my husband on the phone like any day before his injury. It was difficult to understand the rest but I got most of what he said. He’s getting more comfortable and starting to like it there. Yesterday wasn’t a good day for him, he didn’t like anything but he’s coming around and I’m sure he will like RIO just as much as I have faith in this place. I’ve been feeling lost since Friday; I fought to get Eric to RIO for so long and so hard. Every visit with Eric, every hour and minute was maximized with training to get Eric to the level he needed to be at to get accepted. This is now accomplished, and I’m finding myself terrified with the thought of him getting “kicked out”. What if he’s NOT ready, what should I do then? I know experts surround us at RIO and they will do everything in their power to get Eric to succeed his customized treatment plan to meet needs and goals. This place can pull miracles! Patience will take us there.

I’m wondering what I should focus on now while Eric’s future lies in the hands of brain injury experts, I don’t have to work so hard with him anymore. Or perhaps I do, I’ll find out this coming week. I’ve been the head of our household since May 10th and it’s my responsibility to make sure Eric and I survive; these thoughts have been on my mind lately, more so since Eric got accepted to RIO since I have had time to think about myself. I’ve always thought that once Eric got to RIO “my safety bubble” would burst and I would fall apart, luckily I don’t think that will happen (yet) since I’m still feeling strong enough to get through each day. I know I need a break to recharge my batteries, and I definitely need a job both for financially reason and for my own mental sake. The question is; how much time do I have for a job? It’s my responsibility to make sure our home doesn’t fall apart, the dogs are taken cared off, mortgage and bills are paid, I need to plan for our future and maintain everything Eric and I had built up and accomplished before his injury; the list is long and the job is exhausting for one person.

Tomorrow we’ll get a taste of how a typical day will look like of therapy and other activities, which I’m looking forward to.

Posted by: aceanderic | October 4, 2008

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 4 (day 146)

Eric had a lot of visitors today from friends and family, and we’re slowly getting used to the new setting, routine, rules and staff. Eric had more rehab scheduled today since he was new then a regular Saturday. Weekends at RIO are normally slower then Monday to Friday, which are full of therapy from early morning to late afternoon. They kept him busy for most of the day with therapy; it was more getting to know Eric’s capacity and limitations then teaching him new things. Each therapist tested Eric and he was getting quite tired of the tests by the end of the day, he thought they treated him like he’s retarded, and didn’t give him any freedom (which they won’t for a while). Eric still doesn’t understand his limitations and once again we had to tell him that he’s at RIO due to a sever brain injury, which really upset him.

I know it’s hard not to giggle over Eric’s inappropriate behavior or the rude and inappropriate commands he might say, but we have to be harsh with him. The staff kept a firm voice and they let him know when he’d crossed the line. This is the only way to teach him the correct way of things. For everyone visiting Eric, please keep this in mind for future visits.

Posted by: aceanderic | October 3, 2008

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 3 (day 145)

First day at RIO! RIO has been our goal for 144 days; everything the rehab staff, nurses, doctors, hospital staff, and myself have done has been based on the goal of getting Eric to RIO. This goal is now accomplished. RIO’s overall mission is assisting the patient’s return to living in the community, either independently or with any necessary assistance. Eric needs more rehab and nursing care after RIO but it’s a good step in the right direction, that’s for sure.

My personal goal, which I need to work on right away, is to take a step back and let the experts get to know Eric so they better can help him recover. I’m way too over-protective of him, I answered for Eric today because it’s hard to understand him; I can’t do that, and I know better. New hospital staff also means that everyone needs to get to know each other. Eric is back in the wheelchair, he’s not allowed to go to the restroom without supervision, he’s not allowed to walk, or to eat alone. All these things were crossed off as accomplished at Menlo Park so it was hard for me to accept this today. I just wanted to scream; “Eric knows how to do these things which is why we’re here, give him a break”. But I know I can’t do that, they need to see for themselves.

Today was like any first day at a new place; PT, OT and SLP came to evaluate Eric. I put up the pictures on the walls and got things organized, etc. The important differences from RIO compared to the other places we’ve been to, is that Eric’s team is experts in brain injury. We met with Eric’s Physician who evaluated Eric by asking questions, and exanimate him. It’s been different before because Eric’s condition was worse and he was less responsive and not so aware of what’s going on. For the first time Eric participated, asked questions and had an understanding of what was going on. He did however questioning some of the things the doctor asked him to do, because Eric thinks he’s smarter then he really is. Also for the first time I noticed how poor Eric’s vision is on the left side, how slow his reflexes are and how slow overall he is. Eric’s brain damage is on the right side, this side of the brain controls the left side of the body and is usually responsible for creative thinking and music perception. Damage on the right side also leads to decreased awareness of deficits, loss of “the big picture” type of thinking, decreased control over left-sided body movement, to name of a few topics. We still don’t know what damages Eric has to his brain but today was a first step to find out. Eric noticed how poor his vision was on the left so he asked the doctor what the reason was, and we got a very complicated answer. I looked at Eric and told him the simple reason; “Eric you have a sever brain injury, which is why you have left side vision problems.” He cried out NOOOO, and with tears in his eyes he looked so scared and small in his wheelchair, which made me cry too. He said, “We don’t deserve this, you (pointing at me) don’t deserve this.” I thought to myself; “No one deserves this”. He asked what he needed to do, and I answered him that he needed to work hard, and listed to the people around him because they are here to help. I’m not sure if I said that to make him feel better, of if I said it to myself. Part of me is so scared, and the other part says that everything is going to be ok. I can’t get hanged-up on today’s Eric because he will change tomorrow, more by next week and even more by the time RIO is done. I’ve been told RIO can work miracles; which is why I’ve been pushing for this day for so long. We are both ready for a miracle so please, please… bring it on.

Posted by: aceanderic | October 2, 2008

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 2 (day 144)

Ten ton of stress was lifted off my shoulders today; Eric got accepted to RIO and we’re moving tomorrow morning! I have extremely high expectations of RIO; it feels like we’re moving into a new phase with room for huge changes and accomplishments. One thing I’m so relieved about is that we’ll be surrounded by professionals. The place we’re at now doesn’t have a doctor on staff, he’s on call and he’s only seen Eric once in the time we’ve been there. I understand Eric more then anyone, so when Eric has been in pain he tells me, and then I’ve tried to get more facts about the issue, then I tell the nurse about it who gets on the phone with the doctor, and if we’re lucky the doctor prescribe a medicine some days later for the pain. Seriously…. it shouldn’t have to be that difficult to get the care you need, right? At RIO, I will not have to be the middleman and I’m so relieved about that. What’s stressful is that I never know if Eric really is in pain, or if it’s his brain playing jokes with us.

Everyone was in a great mood today, Eric even wanted to work out today, and I didn’t have to trick him into getting started. I’m not sure if it’s a good idea to teach him to walk with a cane, he was poking everyone with the cane today while laughing…. it was pretty funny. I had invited Steve Wright from my TBI support group, he had a brain injury for several years ago and he’s a living inspiration. They met for the first time today and talked, and I think Eric was happy to know there are people out there who understands what he’s going through, and there actually is a light in the end of the tunnel.

We’re leaving early tomorrow so I’d purchased a big chocolate cake to celebrate with staff and patients. The staff at Menlo Park Health Care are absolute wonderful, the rehab team are top-notch and I am forever thankful for their hard work with Eric.

Posted by: aceanderic | October 1, 2008

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 1 (day 143)

This new world I’m living in has thought me to not take out victory in advance, but today was a very special day so I just have to tell you. The goal since the first day at the hospital has been to get Eric to RIO. No I’m not talking about the city; The Rehabilitation Institute of Oregon (RIO) opened in 1948 as the Portland Rehabilitation Center — the staff here are experts in brain injury and I’ve only heard success stories from TBI survivors and others who have gone through their program. RIO has followed Eric’s progress for months, and they have always told me that he wasn’t ready. At one point I heard that he might not ever be ready! I’ve been pushing RIO to take him ever since June. I didn’t understand the criteria at first, I only knew RIO would be able to really help Eric so that’s why I pushed for it so hard. I’m laughing at myself now looking back. One time when Eric was at the hospital, I knew the doctor would come and see Eric any minute and my goal then was for him to realize that “Eric was ready for RIO”, and to write me a referral. The minute before the doctor walked into the room, I pinched Eric so hard in the arm so he woke up, and stayed awake probably due to the pain. When the doctor walked in, Eric was awake and was able to say hello to the doctor. I got the referral for Eric, but RIO still said no; darn it. Later once I learned about the criteria and the reason behind it, I stopped bugging RIO to accept him, and worked with Eric to get him to the level he needed to be to get accepted. This was a much better approach, and all our hard work paid off. RIO accepted Eric today to their program; the only issue left is to get the insurance to approve the move. I don’t see why they wouldn’t, they’ve known about this for a long time. I’ll find out tomorrow for sure, and we’re most likely moving in a few days. I was so nervous before the evaluation today, and Eric of course was in a horrible mood and wouldn’t do anything without resistance. I was worried Eric would ruined it because he only wanted to go to bed due to his pain. I don’t know why I thought that, all his progress is in his paperwork, but it turned out being a good thing Eric was mad – she wanted to see his worse behavior to see how his reaction was in that stage…. Phu!! So please cross your fingers for tomorrow, if things goes as planned, we are moving to RIO!!

Posted by: aceanderic | September 30, 2008

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 30 (day 142)

Eric was faced with a new challenge today, not only does his knees hurts, his back started to bother him today as well. So now we have two major parts slowing his rehab down, but Eric pushed himself despite the pain, not as much as before but some. His back surgery happened in the beginning when I still was in denial and only would accept to hear positive information so I don’t recall what the doctor told us about the recovery time, but family tells me that estimated time is six months. No wonder his back is bothering him, it hasn’t healed completely yet. Eric made his first lunch with his OT; macaroni and cheese, and it wasn’t anything wrong with this appetite. It looks like he’s only “full” when he’s being served the food from the facility, which isn’t as tasteful.

This injury we’re faced with is really something…. Eric and I had a good conversation about our finances, he said, “I’m here now, show me the numbers before you make any decisions so I can help you”. Oh man, I’ve been waiting for him to be in a stage where he can help me again, it’s been really challenging to manage everything without him. I believed what he said. A little later he said to me, with the same honest face expressions “We should sue Nike for all this.” Nike…? Nike doesn’t have anything to do with this I tell him, but he doesn’t care and thinks we should do it any whey. So how am I supposed to know when I can trust Eric? This is really difficult and I don’t know when it’s Eric talking and when it’s the injury talking.

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