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!
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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!!
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.
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!!!!
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.
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.