Category Archives: Health

Father’s Day 2014

EDIT:  This was supposed to have posted yesterday, but apparently I’ve turned the corner in my life where I can no longer adequately operate technology so today it is.  Dad loathed tardiness, so I suppose it’s one more bit of grist for his cosmic mill.

It’s Father’s Day and I’m laid up on the couch nursing a sore back I inherited from the old man.  My dad passed away 8 years ago this year, in some ways it still hurts like he just passed away, but in most ways the pain and sadness have been blunted by the callous of time and put in to perspective through reflection of his life, my life, and how the two affected one another.  Since Dad’s passing I normally tend to just ignore the frivolity of Father’s Day, and use the day to laugh to myself at the moments I choose to remember and ignore those I have no need to recall.  But this year my own version of the genetically frail lower back that I watched lay dad out on the couch for days at a time when I was a boy has put me into a position of deeper introspection.

So here I lay, the smell of warm vinyl from a heating pad beneath my tailbone swirling through the air, mingling with the sound of Sean Connery’s contemptuously veiled Scottish brogue as he chews through the deliciously misogynistic dialogue of a 1960’s James Bond romp heightening my euphoric sense of nostalgia while deepening the small abyss in my heart since dad left.

As a result, I’ve found myself reading the eulogy I gave at his funeral, and looking at old I.M. conversations I had back then.  It feels alien, though the people are familiar and loved.  I apologize for the numerous grammatical errors, for even though I had 14 years to prepare this eulogy, I wrote it the morning of his funeral, a full month after he died, in roughly 45 minutes.  It’s a first and final draft, honest and without polish.  As I’ve aged I’ve found the list of advice to be more and more true throughout the years, and the sentiment at the end of his eulogy is the same today as the day he died.  I miss you dad.  I love you.

 

2006

I’ve had 14 years to prepare for today. 14 years ago Dad went in for a cancer surgery that he told me he very well might not survive. That was all I knew. I didn’t know what kind of cancer it was, I didn’t know what his prognosis was other than dad telling me it was very rare and thereby less survivable. 14 years and countless surgeries, ailments and ding dong ditches at death’s door later and I can tell you with no uncertainty; 14 years of near misses doesn’t prepare a person for a phone call saying “I think he’s gone.”

I’ve felt I knew my father well. I’ve spent nearly half of my life helping care for him in one capacity or another, and learned all the ins and outs of the way he thought. I could predict dad’s reaction to every situation, and provided him things before he vocalized that he even wanted them. Yeah, I knew dad probably better than any other person on the planet.

And then he died. Tari and I found pictures we’d never seen. I read letters I’d never read, and I’ve heard stories from so many people detailing my father’s life away from me.  Before me. This was a man I’d never met. He was full of life and laughter. He was the person everyone unanimously said could be counted on at any hour of the day or night to help a friend out. Lose your job and sitting at a bar at midnight drinking your lonely sorrow into oblivion? Call Bob. Not only would he come buy you a drink and sit until sunrise listening to you vent, but he’d drive you home, put in a good word for you for a new job, and still make it to work himself by seven. These sort of compassions I’ve heard over and over again. Need a ride? Car broken? In jail? Call Bob, he’ll fix it. A man who laughed and smiled and wasn’t crippled with disease or crushing fear.

I knew dad would give anything for Tari or me, but I never got to see my father strong enough for that selflessness to extend to anyone he called “friend.” For me, if I was asked to describe in a single image the visage of my father when I was growing up, the painting would be of a paunchy, bald silhouette slouched back in a sturdy wooden chair shrouded in a dense cloud of dirty orange, nicotine-soaked smoke glowing in the afternoon sun; a half-finished suitcase of beer holstered on the floor beneath his left arm, a half-dozen cans spread across the table, and the nasal, shrieking voice of Tom Leykis thundering loudly enough to drown out any attempt at conversation. That was the dad I knew growing up. His advice ranged from the practical, “be careful on the roads when it starts raining. We don’t get a lot of rain down here, and the drainage is bad on these streets, so that top layer of oil on the road starts floating and it’ll make the road slicker’n snot.” To the seemingly clinically paranoid, “Don’t wear shoes with white on them, because people in LA will stab you at any hour of the day for shoes with white on them.” Dad’s twilight years became a cautionary tale, a game of worst case scenario against the outside world, hermited in a dark condo next to the flood control. A condo that Tari and I spent countless hours trying to convince him SHOULD NOT be redecorated with chocolate brown carpet and burnt orange paint.

But the truth is, that wasn’t my father. Dad was a carefree, slightly thuggish boy, convincing his brother to swallow a life saver on a string so they could yank it back out and repeat ad nauseum. My father was a serviceman, fixing radios and playing practical jokes in the Air Force. He was an ambulance driver, rushing the helpless, and an occasional loaf of bread he’d mistaken for a severed head to the hospital. He was a beautician, full of charisma and charm and really great at an updo. He smiled all the time and made the ladies giggle. He was a garage door repair man, and so good at his job that even twenty years after he retired from the business, we’d still get phone calls asking if dad could come fix their doors. He was a postman, walking or driving the streets of the city he’d called home since the 50’s, and so loved by those people he served with, that today’s congregation is almost as thick with his friends from the post office as it is with family.

When I think about it… I could see who he was, if I had just looked. Every career he’s carried had one thing in common; he helped the helpless, even if it was in a small way. He kept pilots communicating, he carried the weak to help, he made you feel beautiful and special, he made the simple task of parking your car easier and more secure, and he finished off his career doing the same thing he started with, he kept people connected. 

Dad’s most tragic sin was the distance he kept from the people he loved. I think everyone here has a story they could tell about dad’s isolationist tendencies. Some moment they’ve bumped up against that thick headed and stubborn wall dad erected around himself. To my sister and I, the dad we came to know these last fifteen years was something of a paradox; at once hungry for affection, and fighting it at every turn. He was so afraid of dying in a convalescent hospital alone that the two months he was in one following his hip surgery I don’t think he got a good moment of rest. 

But dad, you didn’t die alone, and you weren’t in a convalescent hospital. You were home, in your bright and sunny apartment, able to keep an eye on the city you’d called home for half a century through windows that ran the whole of the wall and looked over the valley. And the people who made sure that everything you needed was tended to. Willy and Christian, two men of such compassion that they refused to sleep anywhere other than on the floor beside your bed so that you would never be alone and that anything you wanted, you would have immediately. 

The Sunday night before he passed away dad had a great night. He was lucid and he could speak well enough for us to understand him. He made jokes and laughed. We listened to Ray Charles and told stories for hours. The man who lived the last 30 years in such fear and trying to figure out how you were going to screw him was gone. I thought he was really loopy from the medication. He was so full of unabashed laughter. But now, after hearing this last week of stories, I don’t think it was the medication. I think, for that three hours, I got to meet my father for the first time. I will always see those three hours as the last and greatest gift he gave me.

At the end of the night he finally asked for something I think he wanted to ask for his whole life. He he said, “Do you know what would be really great? If someone could just hold me.” So I did. And for about fifteen minutes dad just patted the back of my head and cried softly until he fell asleep. Dad passed away on a Sunday morning. After the divorce, Sundays were the days that Dad, Tari and I would do something together. He’d always have us call him at 8 in the morning to make the plan for the day. Dad passed away at 8:15. We would usually meet at 11 to do…. whatever our plan was, almost without fail. The mortician arrived for dad at 10:50. Dad had one last Sunday adventure for me. He left us at at time when he wasn’t alone, but wasn’t surrounded by his family or the people who had come to care for him, it was the only way he could protect us.

So what have I learned from the lessons of my father’s life and his death? Well, I don’t think dad’s done teaching me, but so far I think I’ve learned as much from dad’s mistakes and shortcomings as I have from his strengths and soul. Here’s what I’ve learned, I hope I got them right

• Live life without fear. Fear steals your life quicker than any death.
• Love without compunction
• Experience everything you can in life.
• Tell all your stories, or better yet, write them all down. The narrative of you is a book someone will want to read later on.
• Listen to all your parent’s stories, no matter how many times they’ve told them or how bored with them you might be.
• Always be available for a friend, the best things to be remembered for are being that dependable rock of a person and being a great listener.
• Laugh unabashedly. Laugh at everything. No matter how sad a situation is, there’s something funny in it. Find that funny, it’s so much better than being sad.
• And perhaps most importantly, be careful on the roads when it starts raining. We don’t get a lot of rain down here, and the drainage is bad on these streets, so that top layer of oil on the road starts floating and it’ll make the road slicker’n snot.”

I miss you dad.
I love you

 

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Relevant Things

Relevant Things

Eight years ago today my father passed away.  Or is it seven?  Sometimes it’s hard to keep track, in all honesty.  2006.  Let me do some arithmetic on my fingers… yes, let’s stick with eight.

Eight years ago today my father passed away.  He passed after struggling for years with several illnesses including three kinds of cancer, COPD, and Parkinson’s disease.  He was on hospice care and had lost the ability to speak or stand, so it’s difficult to explain how his death was still a surprise; but that’s exactly what his death was to me.

Most of you regular readers of this irregularly updated blog know that both Hemstead and I lost our fathers, Hemstead far earlier than I, and you know that we both tend to mark the anniversary of their deaths/birthdays with at least some subtle  post.  Me, I often just re-post the piece I wrote for the Good Man Project a few years ago and be done with it.  https://boomoy.wordpress.com/2011/11/15/irrelevant-things-and-a-birthday-letter/   Time and a healthy dose of introspection has given me wonderful peace with my father’s illnesses and his passing.

This year however, I find myself thinking about the immediate time following his expectedly unexpected death more than usual.  A friend of mine told me he recently lost his mother, and while not exactly the same age I was, or the same circumstances, he’s close enough in the latter that it has encouraged me to open up that box and re-live some of what I went through to try and offer support and possibly insight.

He mentioned that he had broken down at work and started sobbing uncontrollably for 20 minutes, and then cleaned himself up and finished up.  He said it was bizarre and unsettling and he didn’t much care for it.  It made me think of that exact moment I experienced that exact same feeling.

As usual, I’m going to simply word vomit a first draft out that will change tense and person regularly, then will go back and clean it up later.  So with that in mind, choose to read forward or move on.

The first and most powerful thing I remember after dad was buried were the powerful waves of grief.  Honest grief.  Grief in a way that I had never known it.  Ever. These waves poured over me like tsunamis, but with the warning of an earthquake.  Sometimes they’d last two minutes, sometimes thirty, but always the same feeling of drowning in sadness.  Drowning is the word I hear most often associated with the feeling, and it feels the most accurate in my mind.  I’ll try to describe it as I recall it happening to me. I feel it’s important to not only someone who has never experienced that kind of grief, but also to people who are finding themselves as befuddled as I was by these emotions.

-While there was no real warning, there were signs – what could best be described as a rumble in my ears a few seconds before and shortness of breath, as though the wind was being sucked out of one’s lungs.  These were only moments before, not enough time to really recognize what was happening or react to what was happening in hopes to get to some emotional high ground in time.

-The body goes cold, numb even, and tremors settle in.  It’s that feeling of being really tired to the point where there’s a vaguely euphoric swimming sensation, but in this scenario the euphoria is replaced with dread and loss.   At this point there is no “stopping it”, you’re underwater, rooted in place by your feet and feeling the water get deeper and deeper around you.

-I personally have a distinct memory of my vision getting darker, but I can’t say if that’s not a revisionist memory or not.  But I do know that people suddenly made me feel very uncomfortable, and claustrophobic.  They weren’t helping, and therefore they were obstacles to surviving.  I’d become very short and snap at the people around me in these moments.

These waves of grief would often leave as quickly as they had come, and all of the emotion was completely internalized, but I’d be left with a confusing absence of emotion for a while after.  Well, that’s possibly not correct, I didn’t have an absence of emotion, maybe I just had “normal” emotions?  And that was equally unsettling.  Where did all that grief go?  Am I broken because it’s gone now so suddenly?  If I really cared about dad shouldn’t I still be experiencing all this grief?  The after effects of this grief left a swath of destruction and ego clean-up that far outlasted the tsunami itself.

Then one day, driving from L.A. to my mom’s house, I got hit with one of these waves and I did something uncharacteristic:  I started crying.

No, that’s not accurate, not crying.  Crying is a civilized emotion.  One could argue that the Leave Britney Alone guy was crying and was civilized about it.  No, this was full Spinal Tap, Ours-Go-To-Eleven bawling that would put a hungry infant to shame.  This was the kind of cartoonish bawling that Will Ferrell is paid an obscene amount of money to competently fake for our amusement.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wgNkjv1z6Mg. This was an unrepentant explosion of directionless grief.

I repeated the same pleas over and over, I bargained with the stoic air around me to make things different.  I drooled, I leaked from my eyes and nose while my throat issued noises I’d have thought better left for a zoo than a man.  I’m not sure how long, but it was from Culver Drive in Irvine to Oso Parkway in Mission Viejo, so I’m going to guess about 10-12 minutes.

And then as suddenly as it came on POOF, it was gone. It didn’t peter out, it didn’t ramp down, it was just… gone.  And again, I was left with a din of silence after the tsunami.  But instead of ego clean up I was left with… nothing.  Peace, maybe?  I licked my lips once with the dumbfounded look of a freshly burped newborn across my face, turned the radio back on, laughed a little and continued driving.

I bawled twice more on my drive home.  The whole thing was refreshing but uncomfortable.  I don’t like crying.  Boys don’t cry.  Don’t show that weakness, and don’t play all your cards.

I pondered the whole affair the next day, because I don’t function very efficiently in a void of data, and I came to a simple and stupid conclusion:  Unfettered bawling is the pressure release valve on the pressure cooker of our emotions.  It’s not a human trait, it’s a mammal trait, and it’s there for a very good, and life-preserving reason.

I know, it’s a pretty stupid “aha” moment, but it was a helluva breakthrough for me.  I slowly started to accept those moments as cooking off a potentially larger problem.  I started to laugh heartily at them, and WITH them.  Slowly the tsunamis of grief began to “schedule” themselves when I was in a car by myself.  I could give myself over to them completely, and come out the other side laughing.  I found that I began looking forward to them.

Eight years later, I’ve not had much use for them, and I seldom find myself tearing up.  Every now and again I’ll get hit by a rogue wave, usually triggered by something.  Honestly, nearly every time that trigger is Harry Chapin’s Cat’s in the Cradle, a song that exists simply to break the wills of men.   But most importantly I’ve learned to embrace them, and roll with the squall rather than to fight against it.

Experiencing grief didn’t make me less of a man, and I believe embracing it made me a stronger one still.

Jim – Fundraising Update – And a Special Request

Today is the day, folks!  I’m still putting the finishing touches on the post with all the particulars, but by day’s end you’ll have all the info you need to help donate to Jim’s “Get Up And Walk” recovery fund.  Thank you for your patience, and thank you in advance for your generosity and for forwarding to every single person you know.

Now for a special request:  We would like to put together JIM’S KICKASS THERAPY PLAYLIST.  What song would you like to suggest for Jim’s digital mixtape that we can load to his iPod for the grueling gym days ahead?  I’ll start it off:  Joe Esposito – You’re the Best Around from Karate Kid.

 

Please leave your selection in the comments at the end of this post!  I’m going to send his motivational power chords a week from today.  Let’s fill up his ears with the sounds that inspire us and make us think of our plucky hero!

The team of therapists

The team of therapists

Jim Update: 11/14/12

Sorry for the delay here folks, I’m also prepping for a 3 Day charity event this weekend so I’m a little slower than usual.

 

The reason we’re all checked in to this thing!

What a person comes to learn with stroke recovery is that with every bit of good news comes an equal amount of frustrating news.  It’s a self-contained system of checks and balances that seems to serve no other purpose than to make a person wonder, “Will you make up your mind already?”

The added hilarity in that thought is of course that the stroke, it’s symptoms and it’s recovery is indeed all contained within the brain.  And the brain is a far more complex engine than we give it credit.

Jim has been moved to his own room, meaning he is out of ICU and out of immediate danger.  It’s a moment that we have all been very excited for because it means that therapy can begin in earnest rather than so much effort spent on managing some of the more life-threatening effects of this debacle.

However, this doesn’t mean he’s out of ALL danger.  It also doesn’t mean that a month of Rocky-style montages counter-cut with footage of Dolph Lundgren exercising and Jim will be back to the way he was pre-stroke.  The road ahead is long and hard, and the reality is that there is no exact science as to how much Jim’s brain can recover the motor skills that have been lost.  It’s a work hard and see scenario, and that’s where it can become frustrating.  We are talking months, to years of work to return to what will be the new normal.  This new normal could be 99% of original recipe Jim, or it could be somewhat significantly less.  We will have to wait and see.

F yeah.

Jim’s doctors would have liked to have seen more improvement in him in this last week in terms of sensation and mobility than they did.  The improvements were slight, and the lack of greater improvement as the swelling comes down off the brain points toward more damage than what is considered an ideal scenario.   This makes it especially hard on Jim, his wife, their mothers and of course the children.  It’s psychologically easier to fight something that isn’t nebulous.  It’s a simpler battle to rage against a foe who has a clear face and whose defeat is a simple matter of assembling pieces.  Jim’s recovery is completely dependent on his brain, the extent of damage to it, and the speed/ability it has to recover.  And that is not a precise foe.

With this week in a progressive care room, a targeted and more specific long term plan can be put together that takes the less-than-optimal recovery of sensation and mobility into account.

There is also a plan moving forward for accepting donations from friends and well-wishers, including money, services, and gift cards.  That should be ready to move forward by the end of the week.  Thank you all again for your constant pressure to make this happen, it’s easy to overlook the generosity of friends when the family is rightfully wearing firm blinders of “get through today, and figure out tomorrow.”   Once that official fundraiser goes live I implore you on behalf of the family to send it to as many folk as you can muster.

For those who are asking how Jim is doing mentally, he’s making your typical Jim jokes much to the delight and chagrin of his family, and according to Casey he spent 10 minutes, “ranting about the Laker’s choice of hiring D’Antoni.”  

Knowing Jim’s connection to the Muppets, I’m not sure if it’s a good or bad thing to tell him about the dude who accused Kevin Clash of sexual molestation this last week (an individual who has since recanted his story).

 To recap:

The good news is

– Jim’s in a progressive care room and his periods of sleeping and alertness are normalizing somewhat.  His cognitive functions are well and firmly in place, and his sense of humor has not been affected.  The act of rehabilitation can begin in earnest. Charitable donations are being set up and will be rolled out this week so we can all help with the family during this emotionally and financially straining time.  The group of supporters that Jim has following his care is growing, not dwindling.  This is still one of THE MOST important things.  And of course the Kevin Clash accuser recanted his statements – this is probably bigger news to Jim than to most of you.

 The frustrating news is

– Jim hasn’t shown the improvement his doctors had hoped for yet.  The emotional and financial strain on the family is significant and will be long term.  The scope of the long term outlook is not locked in, and will remain nebulous for a while as Jim’s brain reassesses it’s resources.  The Lakers hired D’Antoni.

Please stay connected, please stay interested.  Please keep posting on Jim’s Facebook or here on this site, or on his Twitter account.

I couldn’t find the third image of Jim I pulled for this update, and it was a good one.  So here’s a picture of a cute little boy who looks suspiciously like our hero playing with Star Wars Muppets.

 

Jim – Saturday November 10th

When Jim was first afflicted, a small group of people who were amongst the first to know, bound together to buy Jim a new iPod.   Music is Jim’s heartbeat, you see.  Anyone who spends even a moment browsing his posts knows this; but what they probably don’t know is that Jim’s iPod was cracked and antiquated.  Basically, Jim was going through ICU without his heartbeat.  Jim would wake up sporadically and the first thing he’d ask is, “Where’s my iPod?” through the haze of his injury and fog of slumber.

Casey called and asked if there was something we could do about that.  So we set up a donation site and it was sent to just a handful of people, mostly just mutual friends to see if we could raise the money to give him back his music.  The plan was to run it in this small group for the first day and if we didn’t get there we’d open it up to the rest of Jim’s friends list.

You see, the news that Jim had a stroke was still something spoken of in hushed tones. He and his family were still grappling with the reality of this new normal and we were all somewhat concerned with Jim’s family being inundated with phone calls that simply didn’t have answers.

I set a nine day limit on the fund raiser figuring we’d probably, given the nature of Jim’s generous friends, raise the money within 3 or 4 days.  I posted the fund raiser at 7pm on Sunday night.  By 6am we were 90% to our goal and by 9am we were fully funded.  In less than 14 hours, most of them the middle of the night, that small group had changed the course of Jim’s recovery.  I was flabbergasted at the quick action and generosity.  I still am.  Tuesday the money cleared and I was able to pick up a new 64gig ipod.  It could hold Jim’s entire music collection.  Wednesday afternoon it arrived and Casey loaded it up for Jim.

Thursday morning Jim got his hands on it.  The occupational therapist was ecstatic; a small hand-held touchscreen device with a built in speaker was the perfect therapy tool to help him with his spatial awareness and to get his affected left side working on precision tasks.  We hadn’t really thought of it in that light, and we certainly didn’t buy it for that purpose, we just wanted Jim to have his goddamned Tool albums and Bill Hicks CDs so he wouldn’t be bored.  Besides, Angry Birds Star Wars was coming out.

But no, now it was a tool for his recovery.  A wonderfully happy accident.

Upon getting the iPod Jim said, “is this what I need to do to get a new iPod?”  I asked his wife to relay to him that this “shit only works once, so don’t go having any more strokes and expecting an iPad or anything.”

The therapist put it to use right away.  Directly into his left hand that ipod went.  You want music, you do it with this hand.  Jim wanted music.

He spent 5 minutes trying to operate the back of this slab of slate grey electronic sorcery at first; Casey said, “I think he has iPod muscle memory.”

Pretty quickly he got it worked out, turned the right direction and playing music through the external speaker.  Keeping it on his left side helps his brain orient positionally.  He knows where the iPod is, so his brain learns how to process the data coming in to both ears.  It’s kind of like having Mike Patton helping Robocop aim when his targeting system is off.

This, but with “Faith No More” playing.

While the doctors work to regulate his sleep cycle and weaning him off the meds to help with the swelling and blood pressure meds to get him out of ICU and into a standard hospital room, Jim has his music and his therapy tool.  A gift from a collection of friends, with the spirit of his entire community of supporters.

I offer this story as much for the concept of a small act paying off in huge dividends as I offer it as an update for Jim.  In the months coming there will probably be needs on behalf of the family.  So many of you have asked how to help, and I know that the time will come and ask that right now to be patient.  I’ll let you know more as I know more!!

 

Jim update coming later this morning

It’s too hard to write out a long post with the phone so I’ll have top wait until i’mback in front of a computer.  Everything moving forward, he’s starting therapy and his sister and niece are flying up today!  Stay tuned!

JIm update: 110812 20:03

Got an update from Jim’s wonderful wife.

Jim was in physical therapy today.  He was able to find his midline while he was in an assisted sit on the edge of his bed.

What this means is, he was moved to the edge of the bed, and the therapist helped him sit up and asked him to find his midline.  He was able to do that.  That’s a GREAT step!

He’s showing some muscle tone and support on his affected side when in an assisted stand. That is also great news!

He’s not able to support his own weight yet and he has no mobility on his left hand side yet.

But no one is expecting miracles at this point.  This is why we need everyone to keep checking in.  Let jim know you’re in this with him for the long haul.  We all know he can and will do it, it’ll just take time.  Stick with him, folks!

Oh yeah, one more thing:

He’s got more sensation on his left side!!!

 

Not all sensation, but more.  Little victories are huge victories!

 

that’s all for now folks.  More later!!

 

Quick Update About Jim

Sorry I didn’t update yesterday, I was caught at work and did not have time to call for an update.

One thing that I did want to pass along though, more an anecdote than anything, is this wonderful little tidbit.

On election day, despite being in ICU and having suffered a stroke, Jim voted.

It was something very important to him as he believes deeply in this country and no power in the ‘verse was going to stop him from casting his ballot.

Sadly I don’t think he cast it for Simpson/Hemstead.  But as we always say, a vote against Simpson/Hemstead is still a vote for democracy.

I’ll try to get a status update this afternoon, please comment with questions you might have so I can pass them along.

Thanks for your continued concern.  There’s a long road ahead and Jim will need all of your support for the long haul!

Ask questions.  About his stroke, his family, or even random crap like what music he’s preferring to listen to or how many fingers are you holding up.

 

Jim Update: Nov 6th – 7PM

First of all a couple of corrections from my last update:

Jim was not sedated to keep him sleeping, it is a product of the swelling on the brain that keeps him lethargic and sleepy.  As Casey told me today,

Now for some updates!

As his wife relayed to me, his general sleepiness is a result of the pressure on the brain.  His general state was “resting”.  He would talk and be awake so long as he was being stimulated by conversation.  If there was a lull he’d nod back off.  Casey told me that last night she went after work and found Jim awake, sitting in his bed when she got there.  THIS IS HUGE NEWS!  This means he’s been responding to the medication to help his brain reabsorb the blood!  Awake without external stimulation is AWESOME!  Way to go big Jim!

This was confirmed by his mother who said earlier that she sat with him today and had a great long talk, and he was joking with her and Ryan.  As we mentioned before, his sense of humor is very Jim and the man we all love is very much there.  I know this has been concerning some of you who have been writing me, but please know, JIM IS JIM!!!

His wife was careful to express that of course there is a lot of work to do still and it will be a long road to get back to “normal”.  I told her that we’d all be here for that road, offering to help as we can.  Sorry, I spoke for all of you.  Hope that was cool.

The most prominent question I got today to ask his wife was, “Is there any place I can donate money to help with medical bills?”

The question, and the fact that it was asked multiple times floored her.  There is nothing in place right now, but they are working on some ideas on fund raising and we will report more as we have info.  If you would like to help or have ideas please feel free to bring them to the table in the comments section below.

Again, big props to Jim and Casey’s families for helping with the kids and keeping Jim company during the days.  They’re doing a great job helping get the big guy back!

That’s all for now, please comment or email with questions and I’ll get them answered tomorrow!!!!

Hemstead Takes A Serious Trip Through Health Care

On Friday, November 2nd,  Jim experienced a stroke that has left him currently without the use of his left side.  He was fortunate in that he began receiving treatment within the first hour of symptoms appearing, and he is at a stroke facility.  Please know that Jim’s sense of humor is strongly in tact and it’s been reported to me that the slight slur in his speech is not different from Jim’s “three whiskey” dialect.

This is of course difficult news for the friends and supporters of Hemstead.  I’ve gotten permission from his wife, the first lady of Hemstead, to post updates as to his condition through the website free from the faux political bullshit we usually entomb our rhetoric in.  All of Jim’s posts will be tagged “Hemstead Update” so please find them through there.  He will be checking the website hopefully as of next week as well, so please feel free to comment below and send him your thoughts and well-wishes.  The family has asked to please not send anything to the hospital, therefore it will not be listed here, because he is currently in ICU and unable to have flowers and such in the room.

We receive updates from three sources currently with Jim and will combine all three into the most comprehensive updates we can as often as is possible.  As we all know Jim is a huge (read: borderline clinical) fan of the Muppets.  His father, who passed away when he was a teenager bought him his first muppet and they’ve been intertwined like the helix of DNA within Jim’s life ever since.  Jim danced with his mother to the Rainbow Connection at his wedding in honor of his father.  We went to Muppet Fest (the only one), watched the only live performance of the Muppet Show, and he even convinced Gonzo to paint his house.  The Muppets, as most of you know, are surrogate fathers, aunts and uncles to Jim.  I suggest you show your support by posting something Muppety on his Facebook wall.

And for god sake, if any of you are friends with any of the performers, Steve Whitmire, Dave Goelz, Bill Barretta, Kevin Clash, Karen Prell please send them my way.

We’re not above begging or skullduggery

A group of Jim’s friends, both online and fleshy, have banded together to buy him an iPod so that he will have music, Muppets and access to the internet, so we hope to be seeing updates from him soon.

Okay, now for the updates:

Jim was with his 3 children on Friday when he commented he couldn’t feel his left side.  I’m still not sure who called 911, but the decision was apparently swift and he was taken to a nearby hospital that specializes in stroke treatment.  The doctors reported a bleeder in the right side of his brain.

Jim has been in the ICU ever since, with an elevated blood pressure and on heavy medication to help his body reabsorb the blood sitting on his noodle.  He was talking with Casey on Sunday, and has his sense of humor and all his faculties about him, but is currently under heavy sedation while they bring his blood pressure and some swelling down on his brain.  They’re aggressively treating him with medication and sedation to try to avoid surgery to alleviate pressure.

Do know that when he is awake he is in good spirits other than being somewhat bored by the whole thing.

I will post more later, but this is a good start.  please feel free to ask me any questions you have and I’ll get them answered as possible.

On behalf of Jim and his family, thank you for your overwhelming and continued concern and love.

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