Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Catching signals that sound in the dark...

                I am so inspired by all of you.  I am in some sort of dark and damp maze and the air inside is like that out of a growling dog’s breath.  I keep on running into walls and hitting my head. Feeling disenchanted I sit down and let the moss start to cover me. Suddenly thousands of hands reach down and pull me up and turn me around give me a torch and point me in the right direction.  They are doing the same for Hollis.  As voices calling to her down the long echoing hallways and winding synapses of her brain as she is spinning in search of a way out of the maze. Somewhere in there it is working and she is getting closer to the exit and faintly calling back to us over the walls.

                I haven’t written anything for this website in many days and the reasons are numerous.  Mostly I was focusing and it took every ounce I had to coordinate the flight back and make it actually happen. Then I got back and I guess I am experiencing culture shock or I’ve got ‘feeling really crazy all the time syndrome’ or at least feeling too intense for ‘blogging’.  I was however writing and I guess I can post the things I was writing on the message board or something, if people still want to hear about my perspective on her progress (even if it’s somewhat outdated at this point).  That said let’s shift the focus back to Hollis.

                 So the story I want to relay is meant to make you jump.  To make you jump out of your seat and run to your bike or car or to get on that train, both metaphorically and literally. She needs you, to be invested.  It has been one month since her accident and you should come see her now. You should come see how much better she is and you should keep coming back and see how much better she will be and understand it first hand.  Sure we all read a lot of really cool things on the internet and sure we’ve all seen little miracles that bring us to tears but you should know that they are happening in Stanford Medical round the clock. 

      She hasn’t had the overwhelming amount of visitors I had thought she would.  The few groups of visitors she has had have been amazing.  Amazing for her as well as for her mom, who can’t stop raving about how nice all of  Holli’s friends are.  The first time she had a group of friends around her she used her voice for the first time since the second day after her accident, when she was making choking/screaming noises.  I could hardly believe it and I can’t describe to you what it feels like to hear someone make even the slightest sound after a part of you thought you might never hear a peep ever again.  Something about it squelched the post accident sounds in my head and replaced them with expectancy for actual speech.

      Two nights later, the next time she had a group of visitors was amazing.  She was the most responsive she has ever been.  Five friends, in two groups flooded in at about the same time, bringing high hopes and good spirits.  All of them and her mother and myself included made for a pretty packed room and Hollis knew it.  The background noise of everyone hanging out and reminiscing and the loving cheapshots (that are taken while she can’t respond but we are all going to pay for I’m sure) were flowing colorfully.  As things finally calmed down, it was down to 15 year old Ocean and her mother Lulu and me and Hollis’ mom.  Ocean had brought a selection of books and began reading to Hollis.  Hollis was focused and intent.  She was moving her eyes between the book and all the mesmerized onlookers.  She was so intent I could’ve sworn she was going to ask us a question about the book.  She scanned with both eyes around in the pictures and scrunched her eyebrows like she was thinking real hard.  She then was pulling Ocean’s hand to her head repeatedly like she was trying to kiss it and even got hold of her feed tube that was coming from her nose (it has since been moved to her stomach directly). I then knew it was time and I grabbed hold of her hand and stared her in the eye and asked her to squeeze my hand.  She did it, on command for the first time.  I then begged her to let go, a feat which seemed less probable due to the grip with which she was crushing me.  Nevertheless she released and then I placed her hand on her own arm, which she began to squeeze and then Ocean asked her to let it go and with some coaxing… she did.

                This very lucid bit of time that passed exhausted her, but it makes a few things blatantly obvious.  She is getting better, visitors and friends help amazingly, this is very hard for her as well and it’s going to take tons of work from everyone.  It takes a city, not a village. Scratch that it takes a whole Bay Area.  You’ll want to have rubbed her and talked to her as much as you can when the results start being so gratifying.

      What does it mean to be in a coma? What does it mean to wake up? What defines consciousness? Where are the lines between ‘coma’, ‘persistent vegetative state’, ‘minimally conscious’ and ‘fully conscious’?  Hollis waxes and wanes between these and nobody can really say what’s going on behind the surface of her eyes.  I do know this; Hollis is beating all the odds. That surprises no one and she is going to keep getting better.  So far we have done THE BEST that we could possibly do for her.  She was in the best hospital accessible to her in India and she is in the best care accessible to her in the US.  She has the most loving network of friends and family.  Now it's time to do the best we can for her face to face.  We need to be rubbing her and getting her into the lucid workouts where she wakes up just that little bit more. We need to be doing this as often as possible and as many of us as possible.  Everyone says it works, especially the doctors.

I’m gonna try to get back to posting updates but also feel free to call me.  Or better yet come and visit. Today, tomorrow, this weekend, every Monday, whatever works for you. And don’t worry about ‘abusing’ my number anymore.  I can handle it and love to hear from all of you. It’s like listening to music with your friends.  Sure the song may be good but it’s sharing it with your friends that makes it stay in your heart.


  1. Hey Sugar. It's Linda here. I think a lot of us were worried about overwhelming or intruding but now that I know it's okay I'll be down to visit. Me and Tuula are setting up the ferris wheel at the yer house benefit on Saturday so maybe I can swing by on Sunday. I'll put your number in my phone.

    Aside from Hollis, what do you need? Maybe have a look at the Last Gasp website and see if you can find yourself a good book so you can pass the time while Hollis is sleeping. I'll bring it along when I see you.
    Drop me a line if you need anything...
    Big Love,

  2. Hi,
    I just got off the phone with Diane and Harrison at Stanford. Hollis had about ten visitor today!! It totally rocked her world and she responded.
    Tomorrow thanks to our own personal Shero Dr. Susan Bailey, Hollis will be moving to St.Luke's in San Francisco. Visiting just got much easier.
    Into the light,
    Karen (Harrison's mah)

  3. Harrison, I hope you will share with us some more of what you've written about this experience. You are a great writer, and I'm sure many of us look forward to reading your reports. I hope you'll keep writing, whether you choose to share it with us or not, since writing can be deeply healing and strengthening. You probably already know this, which is why you've been doing it! I am so excited to hear about the news in your above post, as well as other hints about Hollis' progress. To think it has only been a month after such a terrible injury. Really, it shows what great improvement there has been, and how much hope there is for the near future. But I wanted to mention that I hope you are taking good care of yourself. I am also dealing with a loved one who has a serious illness, and one of the main things I've learned is the paramount importance of not forgetting to take good care of myself. Without that, I am no good at all to my loved one. You've been though a lot. Think about what you can do for yourself / what you need. Hollis will thank you for taking good care of yourself as well as her. And it is not surprising that you needed to step back, take a breath, and regroup after arriving back in the states. We understand. Which doesn't mean we aren't holding our breath and waiting for your next post!

  4. Harrison, I've never met you but I can tell you, as you described feeling, there are a TON of people in the background behind ya, supporting you. And Hollis and her mom and family and friends too.

  5. Hey guys,

    I've never met you, but a friend told me about Hollis's story and I've been thinking of her and Harrison and your loving families and friends and community ever since. I'm sending warm golden light and healing thoughts and all the hope in the world that she continues to improve...

    Blessings, luck and love to all y'all. <3