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!!