Saturday, February 17, 2007

Uma Update, Day 18

It's Saturday morning. John, Nithi and I are sitting in the waiting room. Ken Roht's here too--he just left for Starbucks (coffee, cupcakes). Nithi was in with Uma for a while and when he came back in here he was beaming: "I just saw a miracle," he said. "She smiled at me. Not just once--three times. When she smiled the first time, that made me smile, and then I asked her to smile again and she smiled again! It wasn't quite a full smile--it was stronger on her left side, but even though it was crooked it was definitely a smile!" I think that the fact that her smile is kinda crooked is incredibly appropriate for Uma right now because you gotta believe that Uma is supremely annoyed to be in that dambed hospital bed and having who knows how many tubes attached to her and I'm sure she wishes she could talk to us right now. But as annoying as the bed and the tubes must be, I know that she feels all of the love that's coming to her (from all over the world--I have gotten emails from people in Malaysia, Canada, England, all over the freaking place--so many people are rooting for and praying for Ums) and that love must feel good, so that's why she's smiling.

Every so often, the nurses have to suction her mouth and throat to clear her airways (because Uma can't really do that herself as long as she has the tracheostomy) and whenver they do this suction thing, she makes the snarliest facial expression. It's so Uma. You can feel her thinking, like: "Get that damned suction thing away from me!"

I know that Nithi is right--the fact that she's smiling today is a miracle. The last few days have been filled with little miracles like this. Last night, when I went in to say goodnight to Uma before leaving the hospital, I was standing on her right side and I reached across her and held her left hand and told her: "Hey Urp, it's me, it's Erik. I'm going to bed now, but I'll be back in the morning. We all love you and we're all here for you. Get some sleep tonight--get some rest--and we'll see you in the morning." I let go of her hand and then she lifted her hand up and reached out to mine, as if to say: "I don't want you to leave yet." So I took her hand and said, "you don't want me to go, do you?" And then she squeezed my thumb. So I stayed in there with her a little while longer, until she'd closed her eyes and gone to sleep.
Another little miracle: when I was in there with her this morning, I held her right hand--the side that was affected by the aneurysm and the stroke--which we see her move occasionally, and are encouraged even more every time we see another movement over there--anyway, this morning when I was holding her right hand, she squeezed my thumb with it. A firm, strong squeeze. This is hugely good. Good progress.

Speaking of progress, here's Uma's latest health update. Sorry I didn't send this out last night, but my laptop is on the fritz (it's at a computer repair shop right now and should be fixed by Monday) and I am typing this update at the local Mailbox Etc. Yesterday was our second really good day in a row. Lots of good news:

--Her CAT Scan looks better.

--The swelling in her brain has definitely decreased.

--The doctor believes that the area of her brain that they thought might have died in the stroke might be getting blood supply, which means that it might be getting revitalized, which means that it might be alive! This is amazing news, and let's hope with all of our hearts that it's true. (This is a huge thing to focus our visualizations and prayers on!) The reasons he thinks this area might be alive are that the color of the brain in the CAT Scan indicates as much, and he also has a lot of hope because of the fact that she's moving so much and she continues to improve neurologically (blinking, squeezing hands, SMILING, etc.)

--Her draining tube is draining orange, which means that even though there's still blood in there, it's still draining!

--Even though she still has pneumonia and a fever, it's getting better and the doctors are on top of it.

Okay, now here's the thing that I want to ask you to really focus your prayers and visualizations and thoughts on for the next few days...(and since I don't have a computer right now, I might not be able to send out another email update until Monday or Tuesday, so if you could really hold onto what I'm about to say and focus on it for the next few days, that would be so fucking rockstar)...Apparently the risk of strokes continues for the first year, but that risk goes down considerably after DAY 21. After DAY 21, we enter what the doctor referred to as "the safe zone." The safe zone sounds like a really good place to be. We are looking forward to being in the safe zone. Those are good, encouraging words. And we're close. We enter the safe zone on Tuesday. So let's get to Tuesday without any more strokes, without any more vasospasms, without any more complications. We are almost there...

Some other general health updates:

--We're waiting for the sweeling to completely pass, then we can start thinking about weening her off of the ventilator and getting rid of her draining tube. (Speaking of the draining tube, let's also keep visualize blood draining because we want all of that blood out of there so that she doesn't have to have a shunt put in.) (I realize that I'm asking y'all to visualize several different things, but Uma's brain is still juggling a lot of stuff and we don't want to have to worry about a NO SHUNT.) (thank you!)

--When she's more stable and off of all of the pumps and tubes and done being treated for vasospasm, they will do an MRI, which should tell us more about what kind of damage has been done up there. ANYTHING is still possible, which I take as a really positive thing--let's focus on Uma being whole again, on her speaking, on her understanding, on her getting back her memories, on her coming back to us with her unique, funny, devilish, wonderful personality fully intact.
The doctor said last night that he was "very encouraged," which is one of the most positive things we've heard any of the doctors say EVER, and we should all take these words and run with them. The positive energy that we are sending to Uma is WORKING, it is manifesting itself in major improvements. So thank you so much for all of the continued love and energy.

I'm about to be kicked out of Mailbox Etc.--they close in five minutes--but I just want to leave you all with one final image. The hospital waiting room next to Uma's ICU is filled with all of these people all of the time, friends and family of Uma, and friends and family of the other patients in Uma's room. As soon as you step into the waiting room, you have this immediate bond with these other people. You look at the people around you and you know that they're going through the same thing that you're going through, and it's an amazing thing. We've had some amazing conversations. One minute we'll all be having a random conversation about indoor beaches in Japan and we'll all be laughing, and then the next minute we'll be talking about something that Uma did, or how one of the other patients is improving, or sharing information about how to apply for disability, or just passing around some bits and scraps of food. I know that I was trying to build to a point with all of this, but the Mailbox' Etc. guy is telling me to wrap it up. I just wanted to give all of you out there a nice image of a bunch of strangers helping each other getting through a tough time. We're all pretty fucking fragile and we all have the ability to be pretty fucking great too.

Thanks for all the love. If you have any messages for Uma, I'm happy to pass them along to her.



Sheila Callaghan said...

Keep it up, Erik! You have lots of love and psychic support from strangers in NY, which certainly can't hurt...

Doug said...

Great update! Big hugs to all!!!!

Eleanor said...

Uma makes me feel like a teenage boy. I don't think I've ever been so happy to have a tiny girl look me in the eyes and smile. More like, grin.
I think I'm in love...

Uma, keep your peckers up! Keep smiling and moving around and opening your eyes to the world.

Uma is kicking this thing's ass.

Anonymous said...

Hearing about Umas smiling has given me perma-smile! I can't get over it. When you first started asking everyone to pray and send good thoughts and vandalize I knew it would work but now I'm thinking that hospitals should prescribe this shit!


Sarah Morris said...

Erik...thank you so much for being such a rockstar about the updates. For those who can't be close, I know we appreciate being able to get updates about Uma and know what to focus all our energy and love on.

Keep it up!


Jennifer Hawkins said...

Erik, thanks for contacing me! Uma, I remember going to "Birds" and watching you suck the marrow out of the chicken bones!! I miss you! Wake up and come back to California!

Jennifer Hawkins said...

Uma, I remember going to "Birds" and watching you suck the marrow out of the chicken bones!! I miss you! Wake up and come back to California!