Wednesday, February 28, 2007

An Uma Benefit this Sunday night!

This Sunday, March 4th, at 7pm

please join us at the Elephant Lab Theatre

for a special benefit performance of

David Nathan Schwartz's medical mystery tour de force,

My Brain Tumor: A Mind Expanding Comedy

LA WEEKLY PICK OF THE WEEK: "His exceptional story of illness and recovery is a stirring testament to our shared humanity, in all its pain and victory..."

Tickets are $75 and may be purchased at


Uma Nithipalan is a vibrant, snarky, funny, loving, 27-year-old woman. Theatre critic Rob Kendt called her "one of LA's essential theatre actors" after she was last seen onstage as Vanya in the Evidence Room's production of "The Cherry Orchard." On January 30th, Uma flew out to New York City to visit her fiancé John, a musician who was in the city for a gig and who had proposed to Uma on Christmas Eve. The next morning, Uma had a series of seizures. Fortunately, she was with John and he was able to get her to St. Vincent's Hospital, where they discovered she had a brain aneurysm, which had burst. By that afternoon, they had coiled the aneurysm, but Uma was in a Stage 5 coma and the doctors told us Uma would either die or remain in a vegetative state the rest of her life.

That was a month ago. Since then, Uma has had a truly miraculous recovery. She has had many ups and downs--including a stroke--but despite what the doctors told us on that first day, her health and neurological condition improve every day. On Day 13, she opened her eyes for the first time; on Day 15, she started focusing her eyes on us and really waking up. Since then, she's been trying to talk (the tracheostomy in her throat prevents her from making any sound, but she is TRYING), she's been trying to move the right side of her body (this is the side of her body that was affected by the aneurysm and has shown only limited movement, but there is SOME movement), she's been smiling, she's been frowning, she's been rolling her eyes at us when she gets annoyed, and she's been laughing at (some of) our jokes. She's also been getting frustrated at her inability to communicate as she becomes more aware of where she is and the journey ahead of her.

Now we need to get to the best rehab facility and we are raising money for an Air Ambulance to transfer her. Unfortunately, Uma doesn't have health insurance, so it's all a bit costly, but the generosity and love that people have shown has been amazing. This morning, John was at Uma's bedside and he started explaining our plans. When he mentioned that the Air Ambulance was going to cost upwards of $20,000, Uma started crying--afraid that would be impossible. But John told her not to worry, that hundreds of amazing people--friends, family, strangers--have already donated thousands of dollars and that we would definitely get her out of the ICU soon. And then Uma smiled and cried again, this time out of joy.

When David Nathan Schwartz--himself a survivor of brain trauma--read about what Uma's been going through, he offered to help, and we couldn't be more grateful. Please join us this Sunday, March 4th, at 7pm, for a ninety-minute benefit performance of David's acclaimed one-man show. It's funny, it's moving, it's in honor of Uma and all who have beaten insurmountable odds. Stay after the show and drink some wine with us!

"In his triumphant one man show David Nathan Schwartz seamlessly guides us through his tour of hell... witty writing and a brilliant performance..."

For more info on "My Brain Tumor," please visit

If you want to help but can't make it to the theater on Sunday night, please visit to find out more about how you can help Uma.

Seating is limited, so please book your tickets now!

Uma Fest at!

What: My Brain Tumor: A Mind Expanding Comedy

When: Sunday March 4th at 7pm

Where: ELEPHANT LAB THEATRE, 1078 North Lillian Way
(At Santa Monica Boulevard, One Block West of Vine)
Los Angeles, California 90038

Why: For Uma!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

A couple Uma photos I just scanned, and an update, some things to visualize

Eleanor took these photos of me and Urp in September (or maybe it was August) of 2002, in the lobby of the hotel next to the 101 Coffeeshop on Franklin in Hollywood. I just scanned them into my computer and wanted to post them here because I really like these photos.

Especially this one:

I'm going to copy and paste John's update from today, but first I just want to express my love and gratitude to all of the many (MANY!) people who have donated money to Uma's air ambulance fund. We've raised $13,807.09 in two days. Which is stunning and amazing and so fucking awesome. Thank you so much. I can't say those words enough. The support out there, the love, it's amazing. I know I just used that word--amazing--but that's what it is, so I can say it as many times as I want. Please keep spreading the word, and feel free to check out for fundraising updates--the Air Ambulance is essential and expensive, and of course there are other medical expenses that will need to be covered. But the fact that Uma received almost 14 thousand dollars in two freaking days is just--I'm gonna say it again--wonderful and amazing and THANK YOU.

John's update 2/28/07: (sorry about the random words that have run together, i don't know why my cut and paste function does that to john's emails)

hello everyone,

i'm going to give the medical stuff first.....uma will probably have the shunt installed tomorrow or, if not then, on thursday. here's why.....the ctscan today revealed that her ventricles have expanded quite a bit. i saw the ctscan from the 19th compared with the one from today and her ventricles looked to me to be about 50 to 60 per cent larger. while dr. hirschfeld, marie, and i were looking at the scans i put nithi on my cell phone on with the doctor. nithi said he wanted to have his sister, dharshi, (the doctor at stanford) call dr. hirschfeld and consult. she did, and nithi called to give consent for the operation. hirschfeld said the risk of infection is about 10 pct. over and the risk of blockage is about 20 to 30 pct. over her lifetime. that's not that bad, actually. we'll deal with it. i asked how many days this operation will 'put her back' in terms of being able to leave -assuming that recovery from this will remove her from being able to continue the weaning of the respirator for a day or two - he said that it would only be about2 days.

marie and i went to say good night to uma but she wasalready fast asleep. we went to get our coats and backpacks and noticed that hirschfeld had left. we just caught him in the elevator on the way down and i tookthat opportunity to ask him, "is it possible that today's ctscan reveals the normal size of her ventricles and the one from the 19th shows them smaller due to some other swelling?" he said it was avery good question but that today's scan shows them asbeing quite rounded and large to assume that this isnormal for her. it was just the size, it was the shape of them, too.

for some reason i feel at peace about this. if sheneeds this to make it home, then she needs it to makeit home. (i'm pretty sure that's an irish saying....) god is good and i have had no reason to distrust anyof this process since the 31st, really. all has gone much better than anyone expected. by the way, thedoctor also showed us the area of infarction or'stroke' and that it seems like she really didn't haveone after all.

uma has fought an amazing battle here and she is not done. we're going to get some miraculous medical helpin the next day or two, and some miraculous 'other' help all during rehab and afterwards.

there are some things that are really troubling me andher and i want help with it. she is down mentally and spiritually. she shows signs of life throughout theday but her overall mood is very sad and dark. again, i don't blame her at all and i certainly don't preach to her about it. i don't talk to her like she's five years old.....i'm not a nurse. (where DO they learn that?) and she continues to have pneumonia.

we need, really NEED her out of that ICU very, very soon. not just for her physical health but also toshow her that SOMETHING is changing. pray hard for this please. we need a change for herlungs, for her heart and her mind. these 'minor' complication add up to staying in ny longer. i really feel she needs to go home. please pray for pnuemonia and some light, some blazing, undeniable light of hope for her spirit.

on another note - marie and i spoke with about 20 different air ambulance companie today. they all costabout $20k plus. they are basically flying intensive care units. this is a lot of money, yes, but something amazing has happened in the last 36 hours or so. erik patterson has set up a website. you can reach it here.....

probably, by now, there have been donations from well over 100 people.....all friends of uma's, mine, erik's etc. etc. and the total is over $10,000.00. i have alot of words at my disposal but no combination of them will serve to convey the feeling in my's like the living definition of gratitude, of humility, of thanks. ....i wonder what the next 36 hours will do.

every prayer in every conceivable modality, to me, is precious. with great confidence i thank you, inadvance, for making uma's day tomorrow a little bit brigher.

all my heart and love,


Monday, February 26, 2007

Raising money to Bring Uma Home!

This email is going out to all of Uma Nithipalan's awesome friends and family (and friends of friends):

Uma should be able to move out of the ICU and into a neurological rehabilitation facility within the next two weeks—possibly as soon as this week. We are planning on moving Uma to an excellent rehab facility where she can receive the best neurological care possible. We are close to finalizing her rehab facility, and will let you know as soon as we know. Thank you to everyone who has helped on that end. Uma has received so much love and support, and we are all incredibly grateful for it.

I'm sending out this email because we now need to arrange for Uma's safe transport. Because of her still-fragile medical condition, it looks like we must book an Air Ambulance with a nurse escort that costs approximately $20,000. We're hoping to raise this money in the next week so John doesn't have to put it on a credit card. I'll explain how you can help out in a moment, but first, in case you don't know all that Uma's been through this past month, let me backtrack:

Uma is a smart, mischievous, funny, irreverent, snarky, deeply passionate 27-year-old woman. On Tuesday, January 30, Uma flew out to New York City to visit her fiancĂ© John, a musician who was in New York for a gig and who had proposed to Uma on Christmas eve. Uma's usually the type of person to take her time before making any big decisions—if you watch "Grey's Anatomy," Uma is very Cristina Yang—but this was a moment that I think Uma was secretly hoping for, waiting for, ready for; she said "yes" to John immediately and then started calling her closest friends. I've never heard her sound so happy. John has been by her side at the hospital since this happened and he will be with her every step of the way as they continue on this journey.

Early in the morning of Wednesday, January 31st, Uma had a series of seizures. Fortunately, she was with John and he was able to get her to St. Vincent's Hospital, where they discovered she had a brain aneurysm, which had burst. By that afternoon, they had coiled the aneurysm, but Uma was in a Stage 5 coma and the doctors told John that Uma was probably going to die or remain in a vegetative state the rest of her life. That was a scary freaking day. BUT:

That was 27 days ago. And Uma has repeatedly confounded her doctors (in a good way) since that scary freaking day.

Uma has had many ups and downs this past month—including a stroke—but despite what the doctors told us on that first day, her health and neurological condition continues to improve. On Day 13, she opened her eyes for the first time; on Day 15, she started focusing her eyes on us and really waking up. Since then, she's been trying to talk (the tracheostomy in her throat prevents her from making any sound, but she is TRYING), she's been trying to move the right side of her body (this is the side of her body that was affected by the aneurysm and has shown only limited movement, but there is SOME movement), she's been smiling, she's been frowning, she's been rolling her eyes at us when she gets annoyed, and she's been laughing at (some of) our jokes. She's also been getting frustrated at her inability to communicate as she becomes more aware of where she is and the journey ahead of her.

She is showing us many signs of Uma-ness. Every day is like a little miracle. The doctors are weaning her off of her ventilator, as well as weaning her off of all of the other tubes and machines that she's currently connected to. This is all very exciting.

Any help you might be able to offer would be incredibly appreciated. We have already raised $1,000 (and THANK YOU SO MUCH to those of you who have already made donations to Uma) and I feel like we can raise another $19,000 easily. If we can find 950 people who would be willing to donate 20 bucks, then boom: we've made our goal. And if I've learned anything in the past month, it's that anything and everything is truly possible. Dream big, live big, HOPE big.

If you can donate more than 20 bucks, that's awesome and amazing and much appreciated. If 20 bucks is way too much for you right now (and believe me, I know the feeling), even a five dollar donation would help. Thank you in advance. We couldn't do this without all of your love and support and visualizations. You are all rockstars.

We are collecting donations via PayPal. If you don't already have a PayPal account, please follow the simple instructions (listed below) to open an account. It literally takes 1 minute. Then click on the SEND MONEY tab and send your donation via John's email (


I've posted a fundraising thermometer at, so you can check on our fundraising progress. I will update the thermometer daily. Let's get Uma back to California!

much love and gratitude,

Erik (and John)


(My grandmother asked for "explicit paypal instructions," so I'm going to make this as easy as possible.)

1. Log on to
2. Click on the "sign up" button at the top of the page
3. Select "personal account," select which country you live in, then click on "continue"
4. Enter your personal information, choose a password, then click on the "I agree, create my account" button at the bottom of the page
5. You will receive an email from paypal. Open the email, click on the link, enter your password, and voila, you have a paypal account. (See Grandma? Very easy.)


1. Click on the "send money" button
2. Enter John's email in the first box (, the amount of your donation in the second box, in the "category of purchase" box you should select "cash advance," and then fill out the other boxes as you please. Then hit the "continue" button.
3. Enter your credit card info and billing address, then hit the "add card" button.
4. Then you should be brought to a page that has your "payment details." If everything looks good, click on the "send money" button, and you're set. Paypal will then send you an email to confirm that the payment went through.

Again, thank you, thank you, thank you!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Stand For Love

I will continue posting Get Well Photo Cards for Uma as I receive them...thank you to everyone who has sent them so far. (They are awesome, every single one of them.) I printed out many of these photos before I left New York yesterday, and showed them to Uma. The photos that I received after leaving for California will be printed and sent out to Ums a.s.a.p.

QUICK UPDATE, just received via a text message from Marie:

"Ums passed ventriculostomy test overnight!! Hope to remove tube soon, & no internal shunt. Today try off ventilator. Continue good vibes--her spirit's kinda low."

That's very good news about the ventriculostomy test. Let's keep the love going Urp's way--we know it's frustrating for her not to be able to talk. Continue to visualize "no internal shunt" until they tell us absolutely that she will not need a freaking internal shunt, and visualize her getting off of the ventilator and off of the tracheostomy, so she can talk to us again. And then visualize the "speech" part of Uma's brain being beautiful and perfect. Thank you.

Saturday, February 24, 2007


Jason Adams sent me this photo of Uma, from when she was in Pentecoste at the Evidence Room. I'm posting this photo because (1) it's a great photo of Urp, and (2) this is totally the look she gives the nurses and doctors when she's annoyed at them.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Live Blogging the 10th Floor Waiting Room

It’s Friday night, after dinner.

I'm sitting here in the 10th Floor Waiting Room with Marie and Erica and both of them are all "write a blog NOW!" and I'm like, "jeez, okay," but I’m really tired and unfocused because I only slept three hours last night, so I don’t think I’m really in the state of mind to write anything coherent—or, at least, to worry about writing anything coherent—so I’m just gonna let this flow. (As if I ever worried about being coherent on my blog.)

I haven’t written a freaking list in a long time, so I’m gonna make this a list.

Of nothing in particular. Just some hospital stuff. Consider this Live Blogging of the 10th Floor Waiting Room, if you will.

1. There's this random girl, I think her name is Rai, or Bai, or Raye, or something (Marie is reading over my shoulder as I type this and she totally knows the girl's name and she offered to help me, but I’m not listening to her because I'm annoyed with her) (I'm annoyed with her because I wanted her to be my guest blogger tonight, but she was all “it’s YOUR blog, YOU should right it” and she didn’t even care that I only slept three hours last night and I’m scatterbrained right now.) (Wow, and I actually just wrote “right it” in that last sentence instead of “write it.”) (I am so tired.) (Anyway, I’m ingoring you right now, Marie.) (How do you like THEM APPLES?) (This blog entry has gotten really sidetracked, hasn’t it?) (And boring.) (Like, it's really only interesting to me and Marie right now.) (And maybe Joe Chandler.) (Sorry people.) (I'll move on.) (To something more interesting.) (Wait, but I had a point about the girl whose name I forget.) So this girl Ree, she's like 3 or 5 or something and she "wrote" a blog entrey (wow, I really can't fucking spell tonight) (I only slept for three hours last night) (I already said that) (but, like I also already said, I’m scattered) for Erica’s blog just now and it was cute. Wow, I already said it once, but I’ll say it again, this is a boring #1. This list better get more interesting and it better get more interesting soon, ors else I’m gonna stop reading it too.) (I don’t know why people don’t use the word “ors” more often.) (And “aks” too. “Aks” is a great word.) (There’s a running gag in Futurama—or maybe it was only in one episode but it felt like it was in several—where Leela always says “aks” instead of “ask” because the word has officially evolved in the future.) (Anyway, I promise to have some Uma updates at some point in this blog entry—several updates—so if you just want to skim until you find the word “Uma,” feel free.)

2. I think it’s high time this list had a number 2. That was not supposed to be a scatological reference, but now I cannot help but read it as one.

3. John just walked in: "She's awake, she's doing good. We just listened to a bunch of songs on the ipod, there were several moments when she moved her head and the earpiece popped out and she grabbed it herself and put it back in. And then when she got tired of listening to the music, she took the earpiece out herself." And then he just walked out, I presume to go to the bathroom. Sorry but that’s the first thing I thought of because of the whole “number two” reference in the above comment, and besides, it's been a long time since I've written about poop on my blog. Not that John is necessarily pooping right now, I don't even know for certain if he's in the bathroom, but that's the direction he walked to. Oh, wait, he just came back out, that wasn't enough time to poop, he must have peed.

4. That Rie girl keeps coming over here and looking at my computer and blowing her nose. She is such a busybody.

5. When Marie and I were in with Uma, um, about thirty minutes ago, or maybe an hour ago (I'm not sure, time is really weird in waiting rooms), I told Uma that I was still working on planning her bachelorette party and I promised her that I wouldn't get her a stripper and she smiled a big smile. We've had this conversation many, many times. She really DOES NOT want a stripper at her bachelorette party. And I always promise her that I won’t get her one. And she never believes me. But this time—this time I think she believed me. Maybe. A little bit.

6. Rae is crying right now. I don't know why. That’s the thing about hospitals. There are random people crying all over the place, and then random happy people all over the place, and then random people with glazed expressions all over the place, and then maybe you’ll see someone who’s really pissed off—at the doctor, or at the asshole who ran over their kid, or at the world, or at whatever.

7. This post is SO BORING. I’m sorry.

8. Adam Day just came into the waiting room. He was just in with Uma. He said that her dad's in with her right now, so we're going to let them have some time alone together. Nithi hasn't been in the room in a while.

9. Adam Day is cute.

10. He doesn't read my blog anymore because it's blocked at his work, so he might not ever know I said that, which is totally okay because he's straight, and I like him but I don’t like like him. But even if you don’t like like a person, you can still appreciate how fucking cute they are. Right? And that they have a hot body. Adam looks really good in a suit. I can’t believe I’m writing this right now. So many people who read this blog know Adam Day. (Lindsay, YOU agree with me, though, right? About his total cuteness and hot bodiness?) And the fact that he brings us all hot chocolate every night makes him a completely stand-up individual and I don’t understand why he isn’t married. Someone should snap this guy up and marry him right now. (Marie just said "Oh my god, get over it.") (Sooo I will.)

11. MARIE: "While you're quoting me, why don't you quote that girl's real name. It's Bria. B-R-I-A, Bria. You were SO off."

12. I'm sorry this blog post is so self-referential, but I’m starting to feel like it’s the Studio 60 of blog posts. So inside it's bad. But hopefully fascinating in a you-can’t-look-away-from-a-trainwreck sorta way.

13. I haven't had a good bowel movement in so long.

14. MARIE: "Lists are supposed to have a theme, I'm just pointing that out." ERIK: “If you want to write this blog post, you can write this blog post. I already gave you the option.” (Marie’s rolling her eyes at me right now.)

15. MARIE: "And that girl is, like, 8-years-old, NOT 3 or 5."

16. Back to my bowel movements: About five minutes ago, I felt like I had to poop really bad, but I willed the feeling away and now I am so going to be constipated.

17. But I don't like to poop at the hospital.

18. Which is a problem because we've been spending so much time at the hospital.

19. This blog post suddenly found a theme. Poop. Uma will approve, when she eventually reads it.

20. MARIE is still reading over my shoulder and she was just like, "Go to the bathroom and poop!" I told her that I can't any more, I've willed it away. "Will it BACK!" she tells me. But I can't. It's so gone.

21. I just went on a mini-diatribe to Marie about why I don't like to poop at the hospital and she finally agreed that I have some valid points (or maybe she just got tired of me ranting about poop) and so the issue's been settled. For now.

22. Moving on. Again.

23. I stepped away from this for awhile and Erica, Marie, Adam and I all started debating what the "gayest alcoholic beverage" is. See, the other night, after visiting hours, I kinda went out on a date with my friend Bo's friend Jeff, and we went to this random bar in Chelsea, and I asked the bartender for the gayest drink she had, and she offered me a Melontini, and I felt like she could do better than that, so then I looked at the menu and decided that a Watermelon Jolly Rancher Martini was supremely more gay than a Melontini, so that's what I ordered. I told this anecdote to the rest of the waiting room and that’s when our "gayest alcoholic beverage ever" debate ensued.

24. Marie thinks that the Pina Colada is the gayest drink ever. But only if served in a coconut.

25. Erica thinks that "any drink from TGI Friday's with whipped cream on it" is the gayest drink ever.

26. Adam thinks that the Cosmo is the gayest drink is. (Which might be true, seeing as it was the drink of choice for Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte, and Samantha.) (As a side note, the Cosmo is Uma’s favorite alcoholic beverage.) (Specifically BECAUSE it’s the drink of choice of the Sex and the City girls.)

27. I just went up to Uma's room to check in on her, but John was sitting in there with her, and it looked like they were having a tender moment, he was leaning in close and talking to her, so I decided to let them have their moment and now I'm back here live blogging the waiting room.

28. Okay, wait--John just came out of the room and I'm going to go in there now. I'm leaving this computer open in case Marie wants to continue this Waiting Room Live Blog. (Hint, hint.) (Maybe she can get this blog post on point and away from all of my random ramblings, maybe she’ll give us some Uma updates.)

Marie for a minute:

29. I can't remember how much Erik mentioned in emails/blog posts about the newest thing to visualize, but right now what we want is for her ventriculostomy to come out safely without the need for an internal shunt. Today they tested her intercranial pressure with the drainage tube off for awhile, but it wasn't quite ready, so they had to turn it back on.

30. John is completely exhausted. We just convinced him to go home and sleep, and we promised to do the eleven o'clock thing (we stay till the last second of visiting hours, until the nurses kick us out, so Uma gets as much of everyone as possible.) (Although I suppose maybe she's tired of us by then.) (But until that trach tube comes out and she can tell us to get out, we're staying.) (I totally just adopted Erik's paranthetical-clause-writing-style. Sorry.)

31. Back to the drainage tube: They are going to test again on Sunday, and we all need to WILL the lining in her brain to be ready to reabsorb fluid on its own and not need the shunt.

32. Erica fell asleep on a bench. Erik took a picture. Maybe he'll post it.

33. Erik won't post this list until it has "like, a hundred entries." I'm not sure if we're gonna make it.

Now Erica for a minute:

34. If anyone reads this whole thing, I will give them a cookie. If you'd like to audition for said cookie, let me know and I will quiz you on if you REALLY read all 100 things.

35. Today, I saw Uma do many wonderful things but my favorite was when Marie crouched down on Uma's left side and Uma started to play with Marie's hair. She repeatedly combed it with her fingers with perfect dexterity and purpose. Then, after twenty or so strokes, she gently cupped Marie's face in that hand. Marie said, "I love you too" because Uma's message was crystal clear.

36. We ate "the best hamburgers in Manhattan" tonight. We, in order around the table= Wayne (John's bro), Mike, Marie, Jaci, Andres, Jason, Nithi, me, Erik, John. They were indeed very good burgers, but the cool part was that the restaurant, Chumley's, is in an old speakeasy, so there are no signs indicating that this old wooden door leads to a cavernous loud bar.

37. We are now discussing where to meet Zina. She is one of Adam's best friends. She also goes to Fletcher. We are probably going to go to the only straight bar in Greenwich Village.

38. Marie is currently studying a map of Manhattan. She is trying to memorize it, I think. I've got five bucks that says she knows this burough better than a local by next Wednesday.

39. Anna is coming to visit on Tuesday. Yay!

40. What is heartburn? Is it like a chestpain? Sort of like a backache? I think Manhattan's best burgers are giving me some of the above.

41. Adam is reading John Updike. Have you read any John Updike? His 2006 book, Terrorist, looks interesterting.

42. John and Erik are upstairs with Uma. Hubby and future hubby. How many women can boast that they're best friends with both?

43. "ooh the east river. that's where they throw people on Law and Order. the east river". that's marie and her map.

44. i'm going to go up to see ums now and then head back down to brooklyn to go to bed. bonne nuit.

Now Adam for a minute:

45. This is a very tired Adam taking over with the list, I have no idea what's been written, so this caveat is number 1 for me.

46. I saw “Uma” graffiti today on the NY Subway, number 4 line.

47. Nithi showed me photos of Uma's brother and sister. The sister is going to be trouble, just like Uma. You could tell she was stubborn from the first photo.

48. Uma has been sharing a room with this woman Linda, whose family waits outside all day every day like Erik, John and Nithi. The daughter's name is Sladie, and she introduces herself as "Lady with an S."

49. Erik is going to get skin poisoning from all the ink he has on his hands from making Uma tattoos. He's totally colorblind, so he can't even really tell how green his hands are.

50. I think Uma's getting annoyed with people talking to her too slowly. I saw it on her face today, she was like "Dad, god, I'm not three years old." Good sign.

51. Did you know that John played with Rufus Wainright on tour? Well, he did. And, weird coincidence, I saw Rufus Wainright (I think I'm spelling his name wrong) at a show at Brown University while John was playing with him, before I had ever even heard of John.

52. Did you know that the new computers with LED lights in the screens are all made by Uma's dad. Yeah, he owns Korea.

53. Did you know that Erik only owns one pair of shoes? They're wimpy canvas ones and it's 30 degrees today.

52. Did you know that Erica has a Hillary pin on her backpack? She gets annoyed if you accuse her of making the chick vote. I did.

53. Erik said his three magic numbers were 1, 3, and 5. Did you know that if you make each of Uma's letters a number U-M-A = 35. Spooky huh?

54. Did you notice that the last entry, about 1,3 and 5 was on #53. I did that without even noticing. Spookier.

55. Did you know that the stickers to get into the hospital are green today. Uma's favorite color is green. Spookiest.

56. Erik's pants are about 5 inches too long. Who buys pants that are that long? Does he think all that chocolate milk is going to make him taller?

57. I just figured out where the 1's in Erik's 1,3,5 thing are: Uma is on the 11th floor in room 1141. That's FIVE ones!

58. Erica's magic numbers are 696, or 969, I can't remember. It was her house number, her mailbox number at Oxy, and something else. I can't remember.

Back to Erik:

59. OKAY, this is me, ERIK, again.

60. I haven't read through what Erica and Marie wrote, but I read through what Adam wrote and he got a lot of shit wrong.

61. But before I start correcting him, I'm going to share a couple of Uma stories because I was just in there with her for a while.

62. She definitely seems really tired tonight, and I think that she's frustrated to be in a stupid fucking hospital bed and not really be able to communicate. And I think that Adam's right, she's definitely tired of us talking slowly to her. I'm trying to just talk normally to her, so she won't get annoyed with me. And she was still smiling occasionally at some of the things that I said, but there's also a sadness there, and I feel like that sadness is Uma becoming aware--really, truly aware--of her situation, and what she's going to have to go through. I don't know if "sadness" is the right word, but there's definitely a melancholy.

63. But we keep telling her that we're going to be here for her, we're going to help her stay strong. And we will. Urp has a long road of recovery ahead of her, and it will be difficult, but she will get through this.

64. She is inspiring so many people, through this fight of hers, and all of the inspired people are inspiring in and of themselves. I've gotten some amazing emails from friends, and some amazing emails from strangers. I am keeping all of them for Urp to read when she can.

65. Okay, I didn’t get to #100, and I didn’t correct all of the shit that Adam got wrong, but visiting hours are almost over and it’s time to say goodnight to Urp.

66. But before I sign off, “Getting Better” by the Beatles is stuck in my head right now, and it’s a really nice song to have stuck in your head. I’m just mentioning that because whenever I have a song stuck in my head that I DON’T want stuck in my head, I can usually get that song unstuck by sticking a new one in there, and “Getting Better” by the Beatles is certainly a good fucking song to use as a replacement stuck song.

67. Oh, and also before I sign off, I just read what Marie and Erica wrote, and the thing that Marie said about visualizing Uma getting off of her ventriculostomy tube (the draining tube) without needing a shunt—that’s the most important part of this whole dumb list, and if you remember anything from this blog post, that’s what you should remember. Visualize NO SHUNT, visualize a full neurological recovery, visualize that fucking brain of hers being perfect and serene, visualize the doctors telling us on Sunday that Uma’s intercranial pressure levels are good.

68. Thank you.

69. And toodles.

Uma update, Day 23, and a Photo Request

Hello friends, family, rockstars:

It's six in the freaking morning and I'm wide awake because (1) I still can't get used to New York time and (2) I've been thinking about how much Uma has improved this last week and it's exciting. Her daily neurological improvements are like our new caffeine. (Except everyone in the waiting room is still getting plenty of actual caffeine thanks to Adam Day and his daily hot chocolate runs.) (Thank you, Adam.) (Seriously, I was kind of already a hot chocolate addict before Uma's damned brain aneurysm, but now it's, like, nuts.) (Like, five hot chocolates a day doesn't sound unreasonable at all.) (And Adam, I think you've even gotten Nithi hooked on the stuff too.)

Okay, three things: (I'm gonna start with a thank you, then give you an Uma health update, and then I have a fun thing for you to do for Ums.)

1. First off, thank you to everyone who sent us suggestions and offered help re: UCLA and other rehab facilities in Southern California. We're still talking to people and following up on leads and figuring out exactly where Uma's going to do her neuro rehab, but I think we've made some headway and hopefully we'll know where Uma's going to be soon. John's really in charge of making all of the phone calls—I'm just sorting info--so if anyone has any more leads, let me know and I'll pass it on to John. We still have a little bit of time to figure out where her neuro rehab is going to be—it looks like Uma will stay here at the ICU in New York for at least another week, possibly two more weeks—but we'd like to get this matter settled soon. (Not just to get the NYC hospital caseworker off of our backs, but also because it'll be nice to know that we've gotten Uma into a fantastic facility close to friends and family—that'll be a relief.) Again, thank you for all of the legwork many of you have done for us.

2. Uma can't talk to us yet, but she is completely off of all sedatives and she is very alert. We are pretty certain (we continue to HOPE) that she is aware of what's happened to her (i.e. that she had a damned brain aneurysm burst) and of the fact that she's in a hospital in New York City. And she seems to remember us; the way she looks at each of us—John, Nithi, Erica, Marie, Adam, me—definitely shows signs of recognition. She will squeeze our hands in response to things; like, for instance, when we asked her if she wanted us to make a deal with the nurses to get a television wheeled into the ICU on Sunday so she could watch the Academy Awards, Uma's eyes opened really wide and she squeezed my hand tight, which I took as a definite "hell, yeah"—we've spoken to one of the nurses, Fernando, and he said that he would make it happen, so as long as he pulls through with the television set, Uma will be watching the Oscars from her hospital bed this weekend. Which will be pretty rockstar.

Uma isn't responding to the doctor's morning neurological exam yet. But the operative word in that sentence is "yet." The exam basically consists of the doctor asking her to hold up a certain amount of fingers and Uma complying; the thing is, Uma has definitely held up different amounts of fingers for us throughout the day today (the way I just phrased that makes it sound like she's been holding up other people's fingers, but it's almost five in the morning so forgive any awkwardly worded sentences), she just hasn't done it for the doctors, and I have a feeling that maybe she's being stubborn and she doesn't want to "perform" for the annoying docs who keep poking and prodding her head—after all, this is the same woman who once tried to sneak into a movie at the AMC Burbank (I was with her, so I'm guilty too) and when we got caught she tried to get away with our crime by pretending not to speak English or comprehend English--so I could fathom her not showing the doctors how many fingers she can hold up merely because she thinks it's a ridiculous thing for them to ask of her. But passing these simple neurological exams is important—it's huge—so we've asked Uma to comply with the docs and hopefully she'll get those fingers going for them tomorrow.

Some other details about Uma's progress: she's been smiling a lot, which is awesome to see, and today it looked like her smile was getting a little bit bigger and fuller. (Hello, Angelina Jolie.) For the last few days, her smile has mostly been on the left side of her face, kinda crooked—but today we saw some of the right side of her mouth smiling with the left. She's also scratching her face and pushing her right leg off of the bed—both signs that she's feeling more sensation throughout her body. At one point today, we saw Uma lift her right hand with her left hand and look at her less-mobile right hand. She started poking and prodding at it with her left hand. As if she was really realizing that there was less sensation in that right hand and she wanted to poke it back to life. We told her not to worry, maybe she can't feel that hand right now, but the rehab doctors are going to help her with that. She seems to be more and more aware of what she's going through, and sometimes she looks sad. But those sad moments are tempered by the joyful moments she's been having with all of us. Those moments when she smiles, or even laughs at something one of us has said.

Uma has started her occupational therapy—which means that they are putting splints on her arms and legs to keep them strong (since they aren't getting so much movement these days) and a therapist came in today to help Uma perform some basic arm and leg exercises, to get the blood on the ride side of her body flowing a little bit better. It's good to see that they are starting her on rehab while she's in the ICU, hopefully she'll have a headstart when she gets into her real rehab facility.

The doctors are also working on weening her off of her ventilator, weening her off of her tracheostomy, weening her off ALL of the tubes she's on. The trickiest tube to ween her off of is the ventriculostomy (the draining tube in her brain); she definitely can't travel to a rehab facility until that tube is gone, daddy, gone. (Which makes sense because who really wants to travel with a tube sticking out of their head?) The doctors have said that Uma could potentially travel to her rehab facility while she's still on the ventilator and some of the other tubes (the key thing to get rid of is the ventriculostomy), but the safest way for her to travel would be independent of any freaking tubes, so that's what I'm visualizing right now: the doctors successfully weening Uma off of every last stupid tube that's sticking into her body.

Okay, that's today's update (or, yesterday's update, I suppose). It's amazing to see the changes and improvement Uma makes every day and I'm sure she's tired of all of us telling her how amazing she is, but whatcha gonna do?

3. A REQUEST (something fun):

It's been awhile since I've given all of you an Uma task to do, and I'm sorry for being a slacker. But I've got a task for you now, something to do this weekend.

I was thinking…now that Uma is so awake and so alert, it would be nice for her to really get a sense of how many people are out there rooting for her, praying for her, sending her good thoughts, visualizing her health. I know that there are literally thousands of people out there, all over the world, doing little Uma dances and hoping—HOPING—that she will get well soon. We've been showing photos to Ums in her hospital bed, but we only have a certain amount of photos here in New York to show her and I'm sure she's tired of looking at the same damned photos, so here's my very simple request:

I want you to make a Photo Card. In other words: take a photo of yourself that contains a message to Uma.

(a) In the photo, you should be holding a piece of paper. The piece of paper should have a short note to Uma written on it. This is where the "card" part of this weekend's activity comes into play. The key thing is that your message to Uma be short. A simple "Uma Get Well Soon!" will be much easier to read in the photograph than a long-winded love letter.

(b) Feel free to make your note pizzazzy; i.e. feel free to color it, to illustrate it, to bejewel it. Whatever. (But if you're like me and you're really bad with coloring and illustrating and bejeweling—don't let that hold you back: you can also feel free to just stick with words.)

(c) Once you have this photo of yourself holding a short note to Uma...scan it, or upload it, or do whatever it is that you do to get it onto your computer, and then email the photo to me. If you could get your photo to me sometime this weekend, that would be great—but there's no cut-off date. As I receive photos, I'll print them out and get them to Uma. It'll be nice for her to have a visual representation of all of the love that's out there, all of the love that has been flowing her way since we started on this journey a little over three weeks ago.

(Note: I was talking to my friend Thyra tonight—Thyra's never met Uma, but she's been following Uma's progress and thinking of Uma and hoping for Uma every day—and tonight Thyra said something along the lines of: "When Uma gets through this, she's going to be so weirded out by me because I'm abnormally excited to meet her." But I think that's cool—it's cool that so many people who don't even know Uma are thinking of her and sending her love, so please feel free to participate with your own Photo Card for Uma even if you've never met her. The more photos, the better.)

Feel free to pass this email on to anyone who might not be on my email list who's been thinking of Uma. Feel free to repost this email on your own blog or on MySpace. Let's spread the word, we're going to give Uma something to hold and to look at, we're going to collectively show her how much love is out there.

Thank you so much,

Thursday, February 22, 2007

day 23, thursday afternoon

Erica's back (and Marie's coming back today too, so we're going to have a full house at the hospital this weekend, which is awesome) and Erica and I were just in with Uma for about an hour--talking to her, showing her photos, just hanging out.

Every day I get a stronger sense that she is going to get through this. She's definitely got a long road of rehab ahead of her--but, to paraphrase a song from the Buffy musical episode (which Uma listened to on her ipod yesterday), she has been walking through the fire and she will continue to walk through the fire, and she will fucking conquer this thing.

The occupational therapist came in to exercise Uma's right side and when the occupational therapist saw the green Uma hearts on my hands, she made a comment about them, and then I said: "I like having them on my hands because strangers ask me about them and then I get to tell them who Uma is and more people are thinking of her," and as soon as I said this, Uma rolled her eyes. And not just a little eye roll, this was an unmistakable, huge, "oh my god, Erik is so annoying" eye roll. Which is great because it's more proof that Uma's "there." I explained to the occupational therapist that Uma thinks that I talk too much, and then Uma smiled a pretty big smile.

We love you, Uma, even when you're annoyed with us.