October 2007

This morning I was granted early visitation rights to be with Todd prior to surgery. He was quiet, napping mostly, while he received a lovely manicure complete with Burt’s Bees delights. As the nurse prepared to move the bed he and I held hands tightly, while I assured him that he was in good hands with the surgeons. These were the very doctors that had saved his life!

(During the surgery) Jen and I walked the streets of Amsterdam far and wide, keeping all potential anxiety at bay until we were able to return to the AMC. It was amazing to walk in the room and find Todd’s eyes wide open. During the brief visit Todd did answer the doctor when asked how he was. His response “fine”! So he is awake and we had a word, excellent for such a moment.

Jen here:
I arrived yesterday pretty much a zombie. Alex got me fed (of course), settled, and somewhat oriented, then zoomed me off to AMC, where I promptly fell asleep in a chair. After coming to, it was SO wonderful to watch Todd and Alex together. Even under these circumstances, some things haven’t changed. They’re the ultimate couple, and I can feel and see Todd sucking up the comfort of her presence, her words, her touch, and her smile.

Since Todd was in surgery most of the day, Alex and I ate our way across Amsterdam (which involves a lot of walking and a lot of eating) for the afternoon. Completely satiated and groggy, we hopped a train, took a deep breath, and strolled in to see Todd. He looked AWESOME! He was awake, alert, and looking pretty darn-close to the Todd that we all know and love. We chatted and told stories of things we’ve done together that Todd enjoys (like camping and kayaking). At some point in the middle of the chatter, Todd said either “more” or “bored,” I couldn’t tell which. So, I’m either entertaining him or driving him nuts. Just wait ’til he can kick back, eh? For tonight, no kicking, but I got to watch him return Alex’s kiss and our wave goodbye.

I’m so happy to be here with these two and witness Todd’s recovery first-hand. They’re both amazing people, and together they’re unstoppable…


Just in from Alex via Amy: Todd is out of surgery, which went well, his skull flaps are back on in time for Halloween and Todd looks like his good old Todd self! Stay tuned for more from Alex soon as she gets home from the AMC! Go Todd! Go Alex!

Thanks to all for the continued support, prayers, well wishes, and stories!

Today we finally got our hands on sister Jaime’s package and what a treat it was! Todd held on to the card and pics for a good hour and was particulary found of the one of himself flying through the air on a line! Daredevil Todd. I took the card out of his hand when he fell asleep! Our social worker came by herself three times until we opened it, she herself was feeling the “Christmas Spirit”, we joked. Jen arrived, and is now sleeping soundly to my right……. in her own bed. You will hear from her soon, I am sure.

Today I went to the stationary store and purchased a dry erase board, I waited until after his nap to present the gift. He was ever so concentrated as he took his right hand (he is left handed) and the pen. He erased stuff immediately…. that cracked me up. This was clearly a moment of brilliance, everyday I will photograph what we produce, it will be an interesting process to document! In general, today he was rather quiet, keeping the words mostly to himself….but the board produced an amazing reaction.

Tommorrow Halloween, is the surgery. Good night.

Today I returned to the AMC hospital. I brought with me a card I had written the lovely Todd along with a few little stories and visions from the streets of Amsterdam. When he read the card, I received the kind of words I have been waiting 5 weeks and 1 day for!!!!! (So not gonna tell you what he said! Gotta keep some stuff to ourselves) It was simple and totally brought happy tears to my eyes. Yippee for love! Todd is doing so much better over the last couple of days, he is building strength for the surgery. Levon would tell you himself how impressed he is with what he has seen…… but he is gone….as is Babalou. Our biggest thanks to them both!

Let me continue along with the major exciting moments of the day! Oh yes there is more!
I was sharing bits about the letters and notes we receive every day, people missing him …. all that good stuff. At the moment we were focusing in on the family….. his sisters’ love for him and their upcoming visit, searching for Jaime’s package (So very near and yet so far away). …… it was then that I began speaking of Aunt Jane and how she writes every day, a bit of silly mixed in her notes. (Todd and I love the playful stuff!) I was going on about how she is moving south….something about snow and motorhomes not going together….but that I didn’t know where she was headed exactly. This is where Todd comes in…….

Todd: “Lake Mead” me: “Where is that?” Todd: “Arizona”!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Totally cool!!!!!!! When he speaks it is very much a whisper and I can not always understand but this was clear!!

If you thought that was good, there is still more…. well first Todd was a bit naughty. I turned my back on him for a sec to grab a damp towel and the guy rips out the feeding tube from his nose! He is so over this hospital bed stuff. The nurse removed it fully, took this cue and ran with it. She scheduled a visit from the speech pathologist and our Todd was given yogurt and he finished a whole small package of applesauce!!! (I didn’t even ask for a bite.) SUPER NURSE, so loving her…all of them really. The feeding tube was replaced slightly after and will remain until Todd is able to take in the necessary required amount of nutrients on his own. We certainly are getting closer to that goal!

One day left before surgery. We now prepare to receive Jen.

Love from Amsterdam!!!!

Todd is having a good weekend and is doing better over all. Saturday he was taken out of medium care and is now back in his old room. He has longer periods of conscious interaction, and tries to speak every now and then. He’s very coordinated with his right arm, and seems to be trying to use his left arm more.

Levon and Babalou are keeping him company while I’m home with a cold. I won’t be able to return to the hospital until I stop sneezing and coughing (according to the nurse). Levon brought some western medicine from the hospital to combat the evil cold and I’m resting, which also has its benefits. It’s a double-edged sword but I hope to return by Monday. The timing of the cold is ok since we have two people here right now on support team. Changes start tomorrow: Levon leaves Monday, and on Tuesday Babalou leaves and Jen arrives.

Todd’s surgery is now officially scheduled for Wednesday (Halloween). The procedure will replace both skull flaps and may also include some minor plastic surgery. This will be a major milestone in his recovery, and gets us closer to being ready to come home.

Today is slightly better, but the pressure generated by the excess spinal fluid has dulling effects on Todd’s brain. He is conscious for no more than a few minutes at a time, as opposed to the sustained periods of last week. While it is difficult not to be flattened by this turn of events, things have indeed changed. He does not answer questions as often (at the moment), but when he does you might just get words. When Babalou walked in today, he said “Hi Baba”……. granted it sounds more like a whisper at this point. So, while the complications continue we also have some very real and wonderful developments. I even got a wink and a silly grin. His lack of sustained consciousness interferes with his ability to receive any therapy; hopefully after surgery he will regain the stamina required. It is going to be a long weekend if things don’t change (we don’t expect them to) as we wait for the surgery scheduled for Tues. Once the surgery has happened his body should be able to regulate & absorb the spinal fluid naturally. It may feel like we are losing ground this week, but I am sure this has given him other opportunities to heal within. I met with the neurosurgeon today after the grand rounds and he has clarified the situation. It is important to understand and trust me this question was asked………. Todd will not sustain any long term damage from this fluid build up. Lastly his fever is down and he is off the antibiotics.

Well the road here in Amsterdam is not without its twists and turns. It has been a month since I arrived and a month and one day since this tragic accident. It is clear to me that our time here has been extended by weeks. It is important for Todd to be able to maintain sustained periods of consciousness in order to move forward towards rehabilitation and travel. His fever is up and down, and we have had strange moments reminiscent of weeks previous in ICU. Needless to say it brings out concern and fear at his bedside, but I am reminded that we have advanced greatly. The last few days have been foggy for Todd, let’s see how Thursday goes…. we meet with more doctors and address their current recommendations towards stabilizing and moving forward. It is possible that he may be out of the medium care by the end of the weekend, depending on what procedures happen over the next two days. I will keep you all updated. We do and will have our Todd, so I try to keep my eye on the prize……but the last few days have been difficult.

p.s. Please note my internet signal has become intermittent so do not be alarmed if the communication is spotty.

Todd remains in Medium Care today, let’s hope tomorrow (Wed) holds new developments.

In terms of cards….. if you haven’t mailed them to our house and would like to get something to us on this round, Penny has offered herself up as direct exchange source, which will in turn get to Jen (who has a lot of commitments at the moment) before she flies off on Monday.

You may arrange drop off with her, either at her workplace (SF- Exploratorium) or at her home in Oak. Please contact Penny by email if you might like to “use” her……. oxpenny@yahoo.com

quote from Miss Darling Penny who took very good care of Todd and I.
“feel free to use me for a dropping spot. either at home or at work. and anyone who specifically asks can have my phone number .love, penny”

Send cards and cheezy (not too loud) musac!

as we would say to all our littler friends.
Please & Thank you.

Hello again everyone, here’s another opportunity to toast to Todd’s continued progress!

Don’t forget to RSVP soon if you would like to attend this intimate, special dinner. Space is limited so email Anu: anu (at) curativeprojects (dot) com by October 31st. More details will be posted in the Schedule of Events section! We hope you can join us!

A sleepless night, setbacks and the fever returns. There has been a build-up of fluid in Todd’s head, which his body is not absorbing, and so Monday morning Todd returned to medium care. This setback has changed the path and the length of our stay. Surgery is likely this week, but as we have all seen, each day brings new answers. The doctors are trying to stabilize Todd. Monday they performed a small surgical procedure reintroducing a drain tube. The proposed surgery for later in the week, will hopefully result in the normal regulation of fluid production and absorption. That of course is pure conjecture at this point, all based on how Todd reacts to the current steps being taken. Watch, look, and listen.

This setback has totally eclipsed what was a wonderful weekend. Levon was able to see Todd shine through….as was I. He passed all my cognitive testing with flying colors. He opened his cards with his right hand, and at one point (as his fever was building) he fanned himself with a card. Total Todd move, (he hates being hot) that had us cracking up at his bedside!!!! I believe I also got my first word, and the AM nurse on Monday’s shift most certainly did. As she was caring for him, she asked him where his pain was, and his response was a quiet…. “Lower back pain”. Oh…… and I taught Todd how to use the call button for the nurse…..trigger happy Todd!

One thing is clear, if we (those docs) can manage to regulate the fluid pressure on his brain…… we should be able to see Todd shining back at us!

Levon here:

As you can tell, the daily visits to Todd’s bed can be quite the proverbial rollercoaster. We were both ecstatic on Sunday, Todd was showing off his new trick of pressing the buttons on the remote control thing attached to his bed. He was turning the light over his bed on and off when I asked him to, and doing it so quickly and adeptly that he seemed to be saying “yeah yeah this is too easy, what else ya got?” That’s when he started calling the nurse, over and over and over. I think he was screwing with her a little bit, his first joke? I warned him off with a retelling of the boy-who-cried-wolf. Sunday he was so on, answering all of Alex’s questions quickly and clearly with a nod or shake of his head, it was incredible, and for the first time I believed that Alex’s steely faith that Todd will completely recover was not a lover’s necessary illusion at all. Her faith is perfectly placed: it gives her the will to be at Todd’s side everyday, and its object of getting Todd back is slowly happening.

Today this is what I’m reminding her: The big picture remains good. He’s recovering, and recovering fast. The process of recovery zigzags, and is still tentative and dangerous when complications set in. But still, he is recovering. The ups and downs are extremely hard on Alex – one day Todd’s on the verge of speaking, the next he has retreated into sleep and unresponsiveness – and on the hard days like today she leans on us. I try to make her laugh a little bit, and she jumps right to the computer at the end of the day to read your messages, so keep at it.

p.s. Any cards, art or cd type stuff that make it to our house by the weekend will be delivered via Jen Vick’s suitcase. I will not post our home address on this blog so you will have to network your way to that if you don’t have it….or email me.

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