Wednesday, March 25, 2009

My account of yesterday:

This is my biased account of yesterday's happenings. I encourage other stories to post up, give the readers a picture behind this internet tale.
It was beautiful and I'll tell you why...

Four days ago I had a dream that I was in Hollis' room and I was talking to her and she was on her side and she answered something, so I kept her talking. I pretended that I hadn't noticed anything different, to keep her working on that plane to get accustomed. Inside I was so joyous that she had spoken. Oh I couldn't contain it! I would spring it on her after a while and tell her that she had just done something marvelous.

The night before visiting her, I had a dream where we were hiking/skipping through the lush green woods. We were very happy and the sun lit up our smiles.
We found a large patch of yellow flowers and lay down. We told secrets to each other and sang loud into the wide open.
I woke with this Bright Eyes song stuck in my head. The epic one, "Does she kiss your eyelids in the morning when you start to raise your head..." It wouldn't stop repeating, so I vowed to sing it to her.

It was about 2:45 pm yesterday. DATino, Party Radar and I walk into the room and she is getting her physical therapy. She is out of the boots and mittens they put her in; the boots that keep her joints from hyper extending or stretching out too much. She was getting heel stretches and the nurse showed us how to do them, so we could actively help her recover. The more it happens, the better she'll feel. They had recently put a vibrating piece into her trach so she could make noises, and when they turned her on her side, she started hummming. I was having dejavu, and so stoked about it! I told her about the dream right then and there. Told her that we had communicated on that level and that she should still try to contact me, because I am listening. I started singing that Bright Eyes song to her. I asked her if she recognized it and she squeezed my hand and hmmmmed. It felt like that "It's so beautiful, I have to cry" moments. There were a lot of those in the room. I didn't cry, but we encouraged her to let it go loud and proud.
Diane was there and looking very sturdy. She had her little roll bed set up with reading material and a bag of cookies in the corner. Cards and books and pictures of Derailleurs performances were all over the room. Diane is an amazing woman who is getting to know our culture through her daughter, and is ushering her through this whole process. We need to honor and pamper her. And Harrison. Give these people massage! But I digress.

We took our posts beside the bed. It looked like she wanted to sit up, so Diane showed us how to raise her a bit. She kept on hmmming for a while. We rolled down the side guards and grabbed her hands and started giving her some muscle massage. The nurse left the boots off for us to work on her. She was very vocal. She was opening her eyes, focusing on each person. Her left eye needs more calibration and strength. I kept reminding her to focus on that one, apologizing for telling her what to do, but I was toughening her up for the world.
While she was holding my hand, I suggested a thumb war. 1,2,3,4..I declare a thumb war.
She was caressing my thumb, moving it around. Then she pinned me. Light at first but got really hard. I was so upset. I haven't lost a thumb war yet so I called a rematch best 2 out of three. I managed to pin her down, so we needed a tie breaker. Shazzam she got me. Her eyes were looking at it, hmmming.
Then Donna, Mel, Shannon, and Nissa arrived. We showed them the thumb war action. It was a great moment of support when they all walked in. The whole bed was surrounded and we all were touching her, moving her legs, stretching her Achilles, massaging her muscles. Some of the times she was holding on to my arm so hard it seemed as though she was trying to pull herself up. She just recently had a feeding tube surgery, making it come out of her stomach, so I am sure it made sitting up a discomfort. But she sure wanted to. Her left hand was weaker as well, but as I reminded her to use that one and squeeze more with it, her grip got much tighter and controlled. They were synchronizing more near the end when she was making a point of expressing how crazy and beautiful it was. Sporadically she was having muscle spasms down her i.t. band and quadriceps. I'm sure her hips are tight from all that has happened. When they would come, we would stick our thumbs in that hollow where the hips and sacrum meet and it seemed to calm them. Her guests did some leg and hip rotations and she seemed to be aiding them. She would move her toes and legs a bit, all while Hmmming.
We started an Om moment or two. One time I was right up by her side, and she was matching my breaths and we harmonized for a few magical moments. Oh! She's coming back!
Harrison called me while we were there, and I put him on speaker phone to hear Hollis hollering. He was amazed, and let her know that he was on his way down. He showed up with Patrick and it was a huge gathering. We were all surrounding her and letting her know it's okay to be mad at the situation and be embarrassed to be in this state, but the worst is behind her. The more she recognizes how crappy the situation was, the more she can get better. It's a catch-22. She squeezed my hand and started crying. We encouraged her to let it all out because that would give more space for all the love that she has surrounding her. We told her to take her time because we love her unconditionally and we are patient. And we'll be here as long as she needs us. She was so mad about not being able to be in her body. She is fighting and she is making great progress! And she is processing some of the emotions that have been locked up in another realm.

Well, enough of my story, go over there and visit her. Be a Mission welcoming committee. Find your own stories. Send them to me.
St. Luke's
3555 Cesar Chavez St. (@ Valencia)
San Francisco, CA 94110
10th Floor
Room 1037
They are not strict about visiting.
You should see the view of Bernal Hill!


  1. D.A.'s Hollis Visit Report 3/24/09
    Yesterday at 1:49pm
    Yesterday I went to stanford hospital with Eliza Strack and Party Radar to visit Hollis.

    Upon our entrance, Hollis, who was in the middle of physical therapy tracked us with her eye and began making murmmuring sounds, which got louder and louder. Imagine Hollis without the ability of speech, desperately trying to wake herself up from a bad dream and you've got a pretty good understanding of what Hollis sounded like.

    I could tell by her frustrated, angry, and determined look that she was pissed and would not be defeated.

    Yup. There's our girl alright. Our fighter.

    I was quite surprised as to how awake somebody could be while technically still in a coma. Apparently there is a whole range of stages before someone is considered awake again after.

    She held my hand, and by held I mean squeezed the shit out of it. Digging her nails into my skin. I encouraged her to squeeze my hand until it bled. I told her I would reward her with bacon in her i.v. drip. She responded to that. I made sure I said the word "bacon" and "pbr" plenty of times.

    Hollis' brain and body are fighting to reconnect all of its' wiring.
    There were moments where you could tell that she was ready to get the hell up off the bed right there and then, making a supreme effort.

    "Git er' dun girl. Git er dun!" I hollered.

    Eliza, Hollis' wifey up in SF and the founder of Hollis' blog held her other hand.

    "1, 2, 3, 4, I declare a thumb war," Eliza challenged. Helping Hollis into the proper thumbwar position.

    Shocked and stunned to see Hollis thumb stand straight up and then down, pinning Eliza's thumb. The room errupted into cheers with the nurse's smiling, letting us know that they could hear Hollis all the way down the hall. They did 2 out of 3, with the best being the her first effort.

    Hollis is in a stage where she is ready for stimulus. Verbal, physical, audial, visual, etc. But, she can also be overwhelmed and perhaps annoyed...which given her condition I don't necessarily think is too bad a thing.

    Anyway, Hollis' mom Diane was great. Sweet and strong and solid. Very encouraging of all of us to speak to her and not be shy. Be sure to show her a lot of love.

    Harrison, the man, the hero, who performed cpr on her for almost a half-hour after the accident, showed up in good spirits. Be sure to show him a lot of love.

    Pretty soon there was a nice gang of ten surrounding her.

    Everyone was very happy with her progress yesterday. It was huge.

    So, today the 25th of March, Hollis is being moved to St. Luke's in Francisco where she is being admitted as a charity case. This is a good thing.

    Stanford Hospital has determined that Hollis doesn't need Stanford anymore. All she needs now is a good rehabilitation facility close to her friends and loved ones to cheer her on. This is great news.

    So, yeah...
    Hollis is another step closer to home.
    Let's bring her in.

    Be the audience for the fighter within her.
    Hollis loves an audience.

    And wash yer damn hands.

  2. I just read about all of this and I'm sending good energy your way! Stay strong!