Brad’s Big Bleed

20140809_203055The Journey of Brad’s Big Bleed  2012from the text message log on my phone

6/25/2012, Monday,  3:43pm.   Text to Holly  “Help….got 911 here….dads…..????? Where are you?”

3:46 “going to ER”

It was the first Monday, the first free day, after the end of the school year.  I’d gone to an accupuncture appointment, was nice and relaxed, and was returning home.  Brad’s car was in the drive, so I assumed he was getting ready to go back to work after the usual lunchtime ultimate frisbee.   I’m not sure how long it was before I went into the bedroom, probably just a few minutes. The dogs followed me in, and they started to bark at the bathroom door. I heard low growlish sounds, and at first thought Brad was in there getting the rest of ready, having fun reacting to the dogs.  Then I listened closer.  It wasn’t play-growls, it was moaning.  Pushing my way into the bathroom, I found Brad face down, butt up, leaning over the toilet, head against the wall.   I pulled him off the toilet and got him sitting on the carpet, moaning.  I rushed out to get the phone and call 911.

The ambulance came almost immediately.  Returning to the bathroom, I found he had shifted and his weight was holding the door closed.  The paramedics came in, but I needed to go around and climb in the bathroom window, to move Brad’s dead weight aside, and get the door open. The EMTs did the usual run through, checking basic vitals and such, ruling out heart attack and low blood sugar.  In a blur, they put him on the stretcher and headed out of the house, with Brad yelling “noooo,” and trying to grab the walls and keep from being carried out.

4:05 “At ER now, they’re taking dad in. Don’t know anything yet.”

4:13 “OK…they’re having me wait out (obesity) area.  He was incoherent, really weird.  Mumbling, moaning.  But ambulance didn’t use sirens until last bit.  See you soon…it may not be anything horrible. We’ll see. …  I’m out at the  ER waiting room.”

4:18pm  to Nick and Kyle:  “Dad is at ER.  Found him incoherent but conscious in bathroom after ultimate.  Called 911. No idea yet what’s wrong.  I’m here and will let you know what I know.  Don’t worry yet….hopefully its not serious.  Love you.”

Not serious?  Don’t worry?

4:28pm From NICK   “Holy crap.  Ya let me know!”

Holly arrived at the hospital and we waited together.  She had been on her way up to Mary’s Peak with friends when she got my text, and found a way and a ride to the ER.  It’s a blurry memory, with time out in the waiting area, time in a little intake room with a woman taking insurance information and such, and time in the ER room where they had Brad.  He was laying on his side, with a vomit pan under his chin.  He kept saying, “Poke it.  Poke it.  Poke it.  Get a pencil.  Poke it.  Use a stick.”

A doctor called Holly and me out of the room and told us that the toxicology screen they had run on his blood had come back postitive for methamphetamines.  It sounded preposterous.  Shocked, I ran through my head any suggestions or clues that might support the notion of Brad using meth, but it made no sense.

They wheeled him out of the room to get a CT scan.  Returning, meth was no longer suspected to be the cause of his problems.  It was blood.  From a cerebral aneurysm.

6:25pm  to Nick and Kyle:  “Dad has bleeding around his brain and they are going to fly him to OHSU.  They have a neurosurgeon there.”

Brad had his first seizure as they were preparing to lift him onto the guerny to go to the hospital.   As they wheeled him out, Holly and I got in the car, pulling up to the edge of the helipad where the lifeflight was ready to carry Brad off to Portland.  It was hard watching him lifted into the helicopter, not knowing what would come next.  We started our own trip to Portland, and Holly and I took turns on our rollercoasters of hope and despair, sobbing and calm.  Would he make it?

10:45pm  to JPB:  “Hi Jeff.  We’re at the hospital in Portland.  Brad has had some sort of aneurysm break in his head and has blood on the surface of his brain.  They flew him here from Corvallis, and right now are putting in a drain to relieve excess fluid.  Then they will do more tests to find where the aneurysm is and repair it.  It’s pretty critical, and we will let you know when we know more.”

A new waiting area.  At some unclear point, we were allowed into the NeuroICU area.  A doctor talked to us about the tube to go in, and about giving permission to include an oxygen meter for research.  It’s a blur, but I remember standing next to Brad, asking how he was feeling, and he said, “Ok….ish.”  Then I knew there still was Brad in there.

11:32pm to Family and Friends (group text):  “Brad made it to OHSU in Portland.  He was looking and sounding a little better when we got there.   They ran another cat scan.  Then, they put a drain to relieve pressure.  After that, he was more coherent and Bradish.  Tomorrow morning they will do an angiogram first, then he will go to surgery to repair the aneurysm.  I’m feeling more hopeful..  Probably won’t know much til 11 or noon our time.  Will keep in touch.  Thanks for your thoughts and prayers.”

6/26 Tuesday

8:52am  to Jeff and Megan (J&M)  “We are doing ok.  Holly is a huge help, both with details and emotionally.  We will keep in touch.”

8:43am  to F&F  “Brad is getting an angiogram now, then will go to the OR for surgery to clip off the aneurysm.  He looked and sounded better last night after they put in a drain to relieve pressure.  Bradish.  Nurse said he was ok this morning going to angio and OR.  We are going back up soon, but he probably won’t be back to the ICU til  noon.  I’ll call or text any important news or changes.  I’ll be in touch with OHSU.  You can call or text me at this number.  Thanks for all the thoughts and prayers.  I have a lot more hope than I did yesterday…his is in the right hands.  Love to all, ML.”

1:27pm “Brad is still in surgery with about 30 minutes to go.  We are at the hospital so won’t get service, but when we know m ore we will try to let all know.”

2:11pm  “Surgery should be done soon.  We are waiting for docs to come talk to us.  Nurse estimates another 30-45 min before he is set up back in his room.  Could be awhile yet before we have info to share.  Love to all.”

3:33pm “Brad is out of surgery now and the doc just came to talk with us.  Surgery went well. Now comes the tricky business of getting him through the next week or so because there can be  vasospasms (vessels clamp down, cause strokes).  He is not out of the woods yet, but so far so good.  Kids are here too, and we are waiting to be able to go visit.  Love to everyone.”

6:56pm to Tina Roush (TR) “They can’t do the nonsurgical method and will have to go through his skull.”

5:48pm to F&F  “Got to see Brad for a bit.  Only 2 of us can be in there at a time.  Another of the surgeons talked with us. The CT scan looked great and he is looking very good at this point.  He said they can’t predict whether there will be vasospasms to deal with, or not.  We will just have to wait through this time.  Kids are in with him now, but he’s sleepy from a combo of anesthesia and the rest that’s happened.  It’s hard to believe it’s been only 27 hours or so.  Thank you again for the wishes and prayers.  I’ll stay in touch as we progress. Love you.”

 6/27 Wednesday

10:29am to Scott:  “Hi Scott.  I feel like I should call Clodine, but I don’t think I can keep it together to talk with her yet.  Cann you let her know what’s happening, and that I’m thinking about her and love her.  Hopefully, I can talk to her soon.  Thanks.”

1:15pm to Dad:  “No new news…he’s stable and ok, healing. Just waiting for the coming storm when strokes are possible, in a few days.  We are heading back up now….came home again last night.  Love you.”

5:46pm to F&F:  “Brad is still pretty stable, not much change.  Last night he was fussing and picking at his tubes and wires.  Today he is sleeping more because they added some medication (dexmedetodine).  It has him sleepy but still able to be roused.  Holly and I are here now, Kyle is coming too.  We went home late last night, but plan to stay with Kyle in Portland tonight.  Today, Holly went to the Ultimate Frisbee field where Brad plays at lunchtime.  All his friends gathered around her in a circle to share, and they signed a get well disc” for him.  Holly was really touched.  Me too.  Today, I talked with Clo a bit, before she had to go to an appointment.  It was good to talk with her.  I have had a few rough spots, but we are hanging in there.  Love and gratitude to all.”

6:31pm to Tina:  “Sleeping more today, we talked some yesterday… a few words at a time, but he was making some sense and being sarcastic Brad.  Not as much today.”

10:01pm to Nick:  “Dad is ok.  He was sleepy and not very responsive during the day, but they had him on meds to calm him some…..because he was so agitated last night he pulled out arm tubes.  Now, he is more alert.  Everything is about the same.  Met another doctor, got similar info.  Danger zone should start this weekend.  Take care, sweetheart….I love you.”

 6/28 Thursday:

12:03pm to Scott:  “Just called Clo and filled her in about last night and today.”

8:35pm  to Holly: “I’m at the hospital…got here fast.  New nurse.  Dad’s sleepy.  No Dex now.  He was kind of picking at his head, so they were thinking about more med to calm him.  He wasn’t wearing a beanie, so I told the new nurse (Becca) that it helped him before, so she made him a new one.  He’s kind of agitated and was tugging at his catheter.  Not as much fun as this morning.  Kyle may be showing up soon.  Love you.”

 6/29 Friday:

10:08am  to Holly:  “I told the fridge guys to go, and I will reschedule.  That’s ok.”

A week ago, the refrigerator went out.  Brad and I went to Home Depot (sorry Nick), picked one out, and paid for it.  We got into an ice routine to keep the contents of the fridge cold over the weekend, until the new fridge would arrive.  Then…. an aneurysm happened, and no one was home to meet the Home Depot men.   Holly was going to attempt to meet them, but had trouble with her alarm, and it didn’t work out.  Oh well. Only the first of the mini-disasters that were clustering around the Big Bleed.

2:50pm   “They’re talking about trying to get him up sitting around 4:30.  See  you safely, love.”

4:36pm to Dad:  “I must have put in your home phone on my group texts. Darn.  You missed news about Brad sitting up, eating MAC and cheese, walking around the nurse’s station, and very good reports from doc, nurse, and occupational therapist.  On the down side of the roller coaster, he has been very drowsy and confused this afternoon, and is difficult to rouse. Mornings seem to be better than evenings.  Nick and Holly are driving up now, and I probably will head back down later this eve.  Hopefully, you will get my future “group updates”. Love you.”

5:42pm  to Holly:  “I found a pretty forested trail that starts just up the hill and ig zags down a canyo.  Eventually leads to the zoo, but I didn’t go that far.”

5:50pm  to Kyle:  “Nick and Holly are coming here first, then we will drive over after a bit.  Did you want to visit dad again tonight? Things aren’t great for visiting: drowsy, not very responsive.  Bit of a roller coaster slump.  On the bright side, I found a sweet forested trail that starts just up the hill and zig zags down a canyon.  Goes to the zoo, but I turned around way before that.  Talk soon, love.”

10:24pm to Holly:  “Just saw thep hoto you posted on Facebook.  Made me laugh and cry at the same time….I love it.  And you.”

 Holly to me:  “I love you too.  So dad’s doing alright they put him on some meds to help him sleep and the hallucinations.  Have a good night, muah.”

 6/30 Saturday:

12:11pm  Holly to me: “They just let us in.  His fever is gone, and nurse said he’s doing well.  They switched his bed because I guess his other mattress was broken.  He’s sleeping.  Haven’t talked to him yet.”

2:18pm  to Holly:  “Damn!! Car overheating, just as I passed the wreck that had us crawling.  I’m going to wait a few min, then add coolant.  I saw team on the hood, and figured  this was coming.  Shit (excuse the language).  Once I get the coolant in and some airflow, I hope it can make it ok.”

3:49 pm. “Here now…parking.  Made it fine because I kept moving.”

11:09pm:  “Temp stable and even down a bit.  Bloodwork looks good.  Good nurse tonight.  Longest alertness yet…It’s an up night.  I have to tell him tomorrow that you hid the chocolate sauce. Love you.”

 7/1 Sunday:

8:31am to J&M  “Thank you.  I watched the YouTube 5 Day time lapse (of Colo Springs fire)….beautiful and frightening and humbling.  I’m so glad you are safe, and at the same time so aware of all those whose lives are in the balance, and those risking theirs to help.  My reaction was….wow.”

1:15pm to Holly:  “Dad just ate a whole plate of meatloaf and taters, and a brownie. He’s been up in the chair since noon,  although temp is still a little high.  They’ve been culturing blood and spinal fluid to see if there’s anything growing.  Started another antibiotic just in case.  Earlier this morning, they put a cooling blanket on him for awhile.  Hope it’s nothing.”

7/2/12 Monday:

9:43am  to Holly:  “Think I’m going to get the car fixed up here…at the Shell just before the hill to OHSU.  Haven’t heard about dad’s condition this morning, will update when I know.  Love you”

 7/3 Tuesday:

5:20pm to Holly:  “Just went for CT scan”

10:37pm  to Nick:  “Hi Nick, tonight they switched dad’s drain tube to the other side because it was being weird. Went well, and his fever is down.  See you tomorrow, love.”

 7/4 Wednesday:

9:40am to Dad:  “Hi Dad, looks like a bit of setback today.  Nurse says he is pretty confused.  We are heading up soon to see for ourselves.”

4:30pm to Holly:  “Getting worried about dad.  39.5 degrees C (has cold blanket on now), blood pressure is higher, agitated. Nick is here. He says Dad seems better than his last visit, but it’s a backslide. Hope you are having fun.”

6:25pm to Holly:  “Fever is down.  He’s snoozing so Nick and I are headed south.”

7:29pm  to Kyle  “Left dad before 6pm cuz he’d had pain meds and BP meds and was being cooled and was sleeping soundly.  BP was down and temp down from 39.5! to 38.5 when we left.  Sad to leave him.  What are your plans tonight?”

 7/5 Thursday: 

5:13pm to Holly:  “This message is from a cool terrace on the 9th floor by the tram. When I told the nurse I hadn’t been there yet, she said, “You have to go, NOW.””

8:58pm  to Holly:  “Looks good. Sitting up, ate a big meat n taters dinner.  Kind of confused when it comes to decisions or plans.  He gets thinking we are going to take him with us.  There’s a cool terrace.  When I told the nurse I hadn’t been there yet, she said, “you have to go NOW”.”

7/7 Saturday:

to Kyle  “Been out on the terrace talking with Gramma Hamilton, looking at Mt Hood.  Going back in soon.  “Back in”….hmmmm, doesn’t sound very perky, but, well…..”

7/10 Tuesday:

to J&M  “Give Jeff a BIG BIRTHDAY HUG for me”

7/11 Wednesday:

9:10 am to J&M:  “He just went into surgery, and I should hear in an hour.”

to Holly:  “I’m in his room now…dad’s not here yet.  View isn’t as good as I hoped. But pretty good…. Lots of the tram structure.  I think we can see Hood if it’s clearer, looking over the Japanese maples.  Good morning sun.  I wonder how long we will be here? Love you.”

to F&F:  “new address:  OHSU 10K room 7, 3181 Sam Jackson Park Rd, Portland, OR 97239-3098  Tel 503-418-8300.”

 7/12 Thursday:

to F&F:  “Hi all, Brad is in his new room, and looking better. Grumpy about hand restraints, but necessary to keep him from touching/scratching his head and stitches (infection risk!).  He should have physical therapy today.  I hope to talk with case manager and get a little idea about what the next week or weeks look like.  Extra complications overnight include puppies digging and escaping from the back yard back home, and a missing wallet scare.  Holly is taking the dogs to puppy summer camp for awhile (hopefully Sophie doesn’t escape there).  After a search, my wallet showed up at Kyle’s (phew! It’s my lifeline right now).  I’ll be at the hospital most of today, then back to Corvallis tonight.  Love to all! ML”

to Holly: “Dad is looking through your photos again.  He’s gone through the stack of photos at least 8 times. “

to F&F:  “Hi all.  Today has been good.  Busy morning.  We had the occupational therapist first, and she worked with B on basic daily stuff like getting out of bed, putting on pants (a first), brushing teeth, washing his face and upper body…. Not so much how to do them as supporting him in going through the routines (and getting him to do it for himself).  Then the speech therapist came in and ran him through some diagnostic exercises.  I could see how lucky he is because there are so many speech and cognitive things he still does well.  The biggest challenge is new learning.  Like: don’t touch your head, please.  He forgets things quickly.  Then, a case worker came and said they are working on next steps.  B probably will move out Monday or so, and will either go to a skilled nursing facility for awhile, or directly to an intensive rehab facility.  The intensive rehab facilities are in Eugene or Salem.  Half the drive to Portland (yay).  The nursing facilities are in Corvallis, but would only be a step toward intensive rehab. Love, ML”

 7/13 Friday:

to F&F:  “Evening: mixed day.  I had to deal with a refrigerator delivery at home, so Holly and I got up to the hospital about 2pm.  B had worked for quite awhile in the morning, with the occupational therapist.  When we arrived, he was difficult to motivate.  Finally, with help from the nurse, we got him up and took him for a walk and ride adventure.  After walking a ways, we pushed him in a wheelchair to the outside terrace and to an inside observation lounge.  It seemed to perk him up.  He isn’t very talkative, and isn’t real clear on where/when/why, but he is making sense and seemed more alert.  Sounds like our likely next step is an intensive rehab facility in Eugene, probably Tuesday.  Hope everyone has a great weekend.  Love, ML”

 7/14 Saturday:

to F&F:  “Just got up to OHSU.  B is sitting up watching golf.  Seems more alert than  yesterday.  I wouldn’t call him chipper, but he seems a little less “down”. He is figuring out how to turn off the bed alarm so he sneaks to the bathroom on his own, but he still needs assistance (for one thing, he forgets not to bend over.  Head needs to stay above heart). Probably 3 more days here.  Love, ML”

to Holly:  “OK. He’s weird.  Has decided his favorite TV is the NBC Kids channel.  Wouldn’t go on a walk/ride with me until I let him walk around the room and look in every closet for tapes and a VCR….after spending 15 minutes trying to find a record button on the remote.  HMMM.  Argumentative, too.  Trying to be gentle, patient.  Now I’m out on the little trail. Love you!”

to J&M:  “Thanks.  Roller coaster….sometimes I feel strong and grounded, sometimes exhausted and overwhelmed.  Always one day at a time, except when its just one hour, one minute at a time.  Thanks for the kind words and prayers.”

7/15 Sunday

to Kyle:  “the down side to moving dad to Eugene is that its not near you.  I won’t need to worry about overnights, but I’ll miss staying with you.  And you will have a harder time visiting.  But it’s probably the best move.  When your class is over, we need to get your car in the shop so it’s more roadworthy.  Thanks again, love.”

 7/16 Monday:

to Nick:  “Hi Nick.  Tomorrow, Holly and I will be driving dad down to the Oregon Rehabilitation Center, at Sacred Heart hospital in Eugene.  He should be there about 2 weeks.  He’s stronger, and mostly needs to work on cognitive and memory stuff.  Love you!”

 7/17 Tuesday

to F&F:  “Drove B from Portland to Eugene.  The ride went ok, and now we are getting him settled in at his intensive rehabl facility.  Here’s the address:   Brad Roush room 475  Sacred Heart Med Center UD  1255 Hilyard St, Eugene, OR 97405”

 7/18 Wednesday

to F&F:   “B has been here 24 hours, and they’re working him.  After getting settled, he saw ST, PT & OT (speech, physical, and occupational therapists) for about 30 min each.  This morning, I got here about 9, helped him eat breakfast in the dining room, then off with OT for showering skills (and getting dressed on his own, real clothes for the first time in 3 weeks+!). Then off to PT, where she did balance testing.  When she tried to do sensation testing on his feet, he kept nodding off (even when she was poking them with a safety pin!) So he took a power nap for a half hour in his room, then off to ST.  She’s doing testing, too.  Test, test, test. It’s clear that ST will be where he works on his biggest challenges.  After lunch, he will be back working with all three again.  Well, the next phase of this journey is underway! Love to all.”

 7/19 Thursday:

to F&F:  “Day 3 at Oregon Rehab.  I spent the morning at home trying to clean out the clutter for when B comes home.  Then I got a call from the rehab center….B had gone walking….by himself, and went on a little adventure.  They found him pretty quickly, but now we are going to need to have a family member around more during his break times.  Yesterday, he was so sleepy he slept between everything, today he was bored and went wandering.  We meet tomorrow with his team of drs and therapists to map out a best course.  Hope they don’t kick him out for escaping.  When I’m with B, the dogs escape, when I’m at home with the dogs, B escapes.  Go figure. Love to all.”

 7/20 Friday:

to F&F: “Hi all.  I’m about ready to start taking y’all up on your offers to help.  Last night while visiting Brad, Sophie jumped out of the yard again, and went wandering in streets, etc.  This morning I got a 6am call that the rehab center needed me to come supervise B again because he is walking and wandering.  He’s not very rational in his decision making and belligerent when you try to keep him from doing what he wants.  I also have a list of things to do to make the house safe for Brad’s return, make yard safe for Sophie, go see Soc Security office to start disability paperwork, and, and… I don’t know how to do all these things at once.  I don’t know yet what we need exactly.  I’m off to buy a dog crate, then meeting with rehab team (and kids, I hope).  More will be revealed.  Love you!”

7/21 Saturday:

to Holly:  “Confused and a little belligerent.  Slowing down, quieting down, thanks to timely meds.  Love you.”

to Kyle:  “Dad’s kind of crazy today”

7/22 Sunday:

to F&F:  “solved the escapes for now.  For the pups, I bought a cage that’s big enough for a great Dane.  For Brad, they’ve brought in “sitters” so there’s always someone keeping an eye out in case he tries to escape again.  My visits with him are up and down.  He’s looking good, getting stronger, but still gets very confused.  He’s more alert, but coherence fades in and out.  They set a discharge date at August 7.  We will see how much progress he makes in the next 2 weeks.  Hopefully, the cobwebs and bats will clear out and he will be more himself.  Love you.”

11:10am to Holly:  “Yesterday was weird…tell you about it later.  Heading back to ORC now.”

7/24 Tuesday:

7:53am  to Holly:  “I need to go soon.  I really have to talk to a doctor because dad is going downhill and I think it’s a med and the nurses will keep giving it without a drs order.  Please call me asap.”

to J&M:  “Not so much progress.  He’s gone downhill since last week.  They are changing some meds and such, and he seemed a little bwetter this afternoon.  Setbacks are really hard to take. ‘toughest three days since it all started.  Thanks for the encouragement. Love, ML”

 7/25 Wednesday pm:

to F&F:  “haven’t texted in a couple days.  B has had a setback.  Don’t know exactly why:  medication problem?  Late vosospasms?   Dehydration?   Kidneys? Just downs and ups of healing?  He’s having jerky tremors in his hands and legs, so has lost some balance and has trouble holding things.  He seems more distracted and having a harder time being coherent.  He struggles in speech therapy.  It took a bit, but I finally got the attention of his team of therapists and doctors, and I think they are trying to figure it out.  They ran another ct scan.  The worst has been seeing the downhill slide from Friday to Tuesday.  They changed a med, and yesterday afternoon and today seemed a little better, at least not worse.  Maybe I’m trying to see improvement that’s not really there, maybe it’s real.  Hope to be able to share better news next text. Love, ML”

to KIDS:  “Hi loves (3).  Holly and I visited dad today.  About the same, maybe a little improvement.  Found out tonight (nurse read me Dr notes) the CT scan yesterday showed no blood, no hydrocephalus, but some edema on both sides of the frontal lobe (swelling). Don’t know what it means yet (causes? What to do? How serious?) but hope to talk to doc tomorrow am.  Love you!”

7/27 Friday: 

7!19am to F&F:  “yesterday was more encouraging.  B was more coherent and stable.  Still not where he was when he first got to ORC, but going in the right direction.  Spoke with the Dr (Weller) yesterday morning.  She feels the decline may be from one or all of the medical things: swelling in frontal lobe, kidney problems (toxins in bloodstream cause confusion), medication (Seroquel), healing process.  She saw improvements yesterday morning during rounds, so wanted to stay the course and watch for a day before deciding if he needs to move back to hospital.  From what I saw, I think he will be staying.  Met with his team of therapists.  They all are seeing what we see, and with Dr and nurse info are on the same page.  Looks hopeful.  B was making some jokes again.  It’s going to be a long haul, and even though I know it’s a roller coaster, I hope for less backsliding and more positive progress. We will see what today brings.  Love to all.”

7:31am to The kids:  “Ello to my 3 little ones (LOL).  Olly and I double-teamed dad yesterday.  He was making progress again! Still not back to where he was at OHSU, but he seemed better when we got there, and got “more better” as the day went on.  Dr thinks it could be swelling or kidneys or both, and saw improvements, so wanted to stay the course yesterday.  She will see him this morning during rounds, and we will see….  Left way more hopeful than the beginning of the week.  Hope all of you are great.  I’m here to listen any time you want to talk, visit, etc.  Going down about 11am today, returning 6 or 7.  Love you!”

3:02 pm  to Holly:  “Not sure when I’m heading back.  I meet w case mgr at 330-400.  Then, it depends if dad is sleeping.  Maybe 5 or 6.  Today is not better than yesterday.  About the same.  Kidney numbers are off further, trying to get him to drink more.  Plus they added the antiswelling med, which does seem to make him agitated.”

9:38 pm to Holly:  “Dad went kind of crazy this afternoon.  Took lots of people to get him back to his room.  He was angry, paranoid.  Had to restrain him to give iv meds to calm down.  Crushed other meds in aspplesapce to trick hin.  I got him distracted with get well cards.  Dr. Weller had him start the anti-swelling med…but was worried about agitation.  She was right to worry.  Not sure when I’m going this weekend.  Love how I spelled applesauce.  Love you”

7/28/12 Saturday: *****TURNING POINT DAY*********

7:30 am  from Will Love:  “Is noonish ok to visit?”

to Will Love:  “OK, but we may have to pay it by ear a bit.  He has had some rough days, and can get really agitated.  On the other hand, it might be good.  If you don’t mind making the trip and having to make it short if it gets to be too much, then (oops send…) I’ll call nurse and see what they think.  I’ll plan to be there before you get there.  In fact, maybe we should plan on noon, and I can call you by 11 if I think it’s not going to fly.  Takes an hour to get to the hospital from here.  I think he would bew happy to have you visit.”

8:25am to Kids:  “Argh! Now I’m at the emergency vet cuz Annie got into my purse and chewed up a Tylenol bottle…maybe Tyylenol too.  Rehab called at 430 am cuz dad wouldn’t take a pill and they wanted me to talk to him.  I got the voicemail at 530, called, and did little good.  He tore out his picc line last night.  Will and Alex want to visit today at noon.  I was texting them when I heard the crunching of plastic.  HELP…. This is all insane!  Enough already!  Hope you are less crazy.  Love you.”

8:31 am to Kids:  “Have to hospitalize Annie 48 hrs.  Inducing vomit in Sophie too.  Shit shit shit.  Excuse my language.”

8:35am to Kids:  “Going to rehab soon, I guess.  I probably need someone to keep an eye on Sopbie.  Should I tell Will and Alex to wait on visiting?  I don’t know what to do.”

8:40am to Kids:  “Financial ruin?  Bring it on!”

8:41am to Kids:  “I quit.”

9:25am to Nick and Kyle:  “Holly and I are going to rehab about 10am.  I really could use help getting the back yard dog proof again. We need to move the wood that’s piled at the back fence cuz they walk right up.  Maybe move it right next to the other stack so there’s room between wood and fence.  Muscle building task.  Also, there’s wood to pull away from the east side.  I still may need the fence co. to build and rebuild parts.  Your help would be wonderful.  Love you.”

11:35 am to Will:  “He’s pretty agitated. Dr recommends low stimulation, so just one at a time for 10 min each.  Your choice, but I hate to have you come for nothing.   (Will responds: OK, maybe best we wait? I want to see him but not at risk of further agitations.  Keep us posted this week and we will try again)”

12:04pm  to Will:  “Hey Will, he’s actually better than he’s been.  Agitated, but more lucid.  And funny.  Bradlike.  You might come after all, if you haven’t already got the day planned.”

12:50pm to Nick and Kyle:  “Dad is better!!!!!  He’s giving them a hard time, but says complete sentences, clear and mostly real words that make sense.  Understands what is going on, and about himself.  Yay for now.  Roller coaster swinging up.”

pm: to F&F: “Finally a good day.  It’s been a long, tough week.  Had a rough morning, according to staff.  Pulled out the “picc” line in his arm.  They called me at 430 am to try talking him into taking meds.  When Holly and I got there, he was more alert, coherent, and talkative than he’s been yet.  He’s going off some meds, had a CT scan that looks good. Maybe we are on a new trajectory, at least for awhile.

Still having dog troubles at home.  Staying cooped up all day makes them extra naughty at night, even after they go out running and swimming.  Need to figure escape-proof yard again.  But Brad has given himself the nickname “stupor man”.  Humor is working today.”

8:41pm to Kids:  “Heading back to Eugene to help Dad accept iv saline.”

10:33 pm from Kyle: Seems like that should be their job

to Kyle: “Yeah, but after ripping out his picc line last night….they needed me to help get him to take the meds that will get him to relax and sleep so they can put in an iv.  Wifely subterfuge.  Got him to take meds, eventually.  He’s suspicious and noncompliant.”

11:39pm to Kids: “Job done.  Haldol ingested, new iv in place, urine sample collected, saline bag hanging and dripping.  Teamwork.  Now, I’m going home.  Night loves,.”

7/30/12 Monday am: 

8:48 am  to Holly:  “Hi Love.  Going to  Eugene about 10.  Interested in coming along?  If not….. pups staying at vet til I pick them up at 4.”

to F&F:  “Sunday was also a good day.  Still not very compliant when it comes to drinking fluids and taking meds, which may be what he needs mo st.  I had to go back Saturday night to help him take meds that would calm him down enough to get an iv so they could give him iv fluids (he had ripped out his picc/central line).  Didn’t leave til almost midnight.  Today, I am delayed by yet more car problems, but his nurse says he is witty and talking in complete sentences, though not always the right words.  Three days in a row of good (better) Brad is very hopeful.  Love to all.”

10:48am  to Holly:  “The quintessential (meant to say whiney) sound in the engine was even louder when I started the car, so I stopped at shop.  It’s just a timing belt cover, but it’s giving the guy a heck of a time…won’t come out or reseat where it belongs.  Still working on it.  Called rehab and Lou says he’s sounding very good.  Love you.”

Addendum:  “Turns out, the engine was ready to fall out because the guys in Portland didn’t put two important bolts back in when they installed the timing belt.  Car was in the shop all day, and I didn’t make it to Eugene.”

7/31/12 Tuesday:

to F&F:  “Wow! That’s all I can say.  Well, no, I can say more.  Brad’s progress since last week is AMAZING!  He is clear, coherent, funny, almost talkative.  He was able to respond enough in speech therapy to finally run through her tests (couldn’t before today), and he did well.  In 3 of 5 cognitive areas, he tested normal.  The other 2 showed only mild impairment.  I think one was language….he still has some gaps.  Two memory areas have significant impairment.  And he has some confabulation going on…filling in memory gaps with imaginary information.  He still thinks he was picked up by the police after escaping from the building.  Now he is convinced he has another room somewhere, where some of his things are.  No one has been able to change his mind.  Anyway, things are looking WAY up.  Last week, I wouldn’t have believed he could go this far this fast! Love, ML”

 8/1/12 Wednesday:

to F&F: “Talking to B today, it’s hard to believe he had a brain hemorrhage just over a mo nth ago.  The recovery progress is amazing.  There are a few cognitive glitches lurking, but he’s sooooo much better, and seems like himself.  Wow!  Thanks for all your thought, prayers, and encouragement! Love, ML.”

from Will Love:  Has B continued to do well this week?

to Will Love:  “YES!  Even better!  Speech therapist tested him normal range on 3 of 5 areas.  He’s a new guy.  Clearer than you saw him.  Talking about wanting to get back to work, but worried you’ve filled his spot.  He’s entertaining everyone now with his wet.  What a relief! We will see what the next days hold.  Meant to text you yesterday, but got busy.  You can tell people he is definitely recovering now.”

9:08 pm  to Kids and Will:  “Wow wow wow!  If I hadn’t seen it I wouldn’t believe he had a hemorrhage just over a month ago. There are some glitches lurking, and I’ll learn more in a team meeting tomorrow.  But he really seems himself, clear, coherent….I’m not even hearing the strange words and stories that wander off.  He’s worried about work.  With the improvement this week, and continued rehab, he just might get the ok to go back to work when we go to the neurosurgeon for his recheck the end of August.  We’ll see!  Thanks for everything.”

8/2/12 Thursday:

to F&F: ” Another good day.  Met with B’s team of therapists & nurse & case manager.  The plan is for him to come home Aug 7. He’s back to normal in most physical ways, and a lot f cognitive skills.  They believe he needs 24/7 supervision, however, because of his memory impairments, impulsivity, and agitation.  It will continue to improve, and we will start outpatient therapy, but it will take awhile.  Love, ML”


8/3/12   Friday:

to F&F:  “The therapists say he still has a lot of memory deficits, but I sure don’t see them. They say that he’s really not functional on his own yet.  But he seems pretty darn close to me.  It’s hard to believe the progress he has made this week.  A week ago, he was a different person.  Of course, now he’s grumpy and wants to leave, and get back to work.  I can’t blame him.  I know there are glitches still in his head, but he has gotten very clear and functional.  He beat me in Cribbage tonight, and I didn’t play easy on him. It’s great to see him so well.  Four more days….and we can bring him home.”

8:56pm to Kids and Will:  “Brad/Dad could use visitors this weekend.  No therapy sessions tomorrow.  He’s gotten ery clear and functional….foo functional to be in there and he wants to go home.  Played cribbage tonight and he won.  Butthead.  You can get out of the heat as a bonus.  (105 degrees in Corvallis)”

8/4/12 Saturday:

to Nick and Kyle:  “Thinking about bringing dad up for a visit tomorrow.  Sort of a transition. Then home for good on Tuesday.”

to Holly:  “Not bringing dad home to visit tomorrow.  He has several therapies, boys can’t make it, don’t want to drive for 4 hours.  The plan is to take him out to lunch.  Will you tretch pups again?  Think I’m going from 10am-3pm.  Love you.”

8/6/12 Monday:

8:56am to Kids:  “Plan is to bring Dad home tomorrow.  Haven’t heard anything different from rehab.  I’m looking for part time in-home care for dad because the therapists say he needs 24/7 supervision.  His progress is so fast right now, I’m hoping we won’t need it for long.  Insurance won’t cover it.  I’d like to talk with all 3 of you about how you might help out.  This isn’t going to get any easier for awhile.  Tomorrow also is Kyle’s birthday.  We are thinking BBQ Mexican (trust us, it will be good!).  Nick what time are you off work?  Kyle, I need to know what kind of BDAY cake you want.  Holly, wanna help with Bday and welcome home plans?  Love you.”

8/7/12 Tuesday:

9:33am to Kids:  “Hoping to leave about 10:45 or 11:00, to get Dad”

8/8/12 Wednesday:

to Will Love: “Hi Will, Brad is home and 99% his normal self (seems to me).  I’m sure company would be great since he’s stuck here awhile longer (until he gets Dr. signoff).”

8/9/12 Thursday am:

to F&F : “We brought B home Tuesday.  Long process, with an extra stop at an ophthalmologist, for right eye.  I left my cellphone there, so couldn’t text….and had an extra rd trip to Eugene Weds.  Finally got home Tues pm, and had a combo birthday and welcome home party for Kyle and B  Thurs. was his first full day home, including a visit from an old Colorado friend we haven’t seen in 25 years!

B has continued to get better and better, and now its hard for me to see signs of impairment from the bleed.  The most obvious thing is the missing 15 lbs of ultimate Frisbee muscle.

Took him to CH2M last night (he didn’t want to see people yet) to get laptop and backpack. Ran into a coworker who has been picking up most of Brad’s projects.   Work space, backpack, and laptop were all there, just as he left them at noon June 25.

Today, we see our family Dr., tomorrow speech, next week kidney doc and occ therapy.  Kind of scary, wonderful, and miraculous how normal he seems.  Thanks for all your prayers and support!!!! Love, ML.”

to Holly:  “I saw that the beer fairy had come and gone.  Dad went to run dogs with me, then I took him to CH2 M to get his laptop and backpack.  Ran into coworkers.  From my perspective, it was good.”

8/15/12 Tuesday:

to Will Love:  “We are spending the week back and forth to Depoe Bay.  Home Sat.  Probably.  Brad is not on email yet, but soon.”

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Dad’s Memorial

 Bruce Broker: My Dad

My oldest memory of Dad is IMG_0537 (2)sitting on his lap in the rocking chair, and he is singing the “Sigma Nu Lullabye”.    Really, it was a fraternity drinking song, but Dad sang it to us when we were on his lap, rocking before bedtime.

So a toast to the past, a toast to the future and let there be no sorrow. For Remember when the sun goes down, it returns with a bright tomorrow.

Below, writing in italics is what I shared at the memorial. I decided to begin with the Awkward Part:

Mom here at the memorial, except in her thoughts. She and Dad were Married 15 years.  Although their marriage didn’t last, she  always  loved him.  Cathy, you became the love of his life, and you were his light and purpose for 38 years.  I think mom would join me in thanking you for making Dad’s life so full and rich. It’s you who have made him happy.   If mom were here, she would tell you all,  “Bruce was one of the good guys”.

 Mom also gave me insight into Dad’s spiritual life.  She called him a “Jesus loves me kind of guy”.  I took it to mean naive and simplistic.  Now, I see it differently. Not childish, but childlike. The wonder and awe of a child.  We went to the Methodist Church in Mesa Verde, where they sang in the choir and we went to Sunday school.  We had Sunday school upstairs, and I IMG_1036remember the slants of light coming in and glittering in the dust. I thought it was God’s magic light. Being a child of God is seeing magic in everything. That’s Dad.

 Playful, childlike, fun.  Cheerful. Happy.  Silly.

Dad was always smiling, and trying to make us smile.  My brother’s name is Ffej.  I forgot how it started, until I saw a note from cousin Diane saying Dad called his sister  Arabrab.  I’m Yram Nnyl Recorb.  It was Dad. He loved playing with words.  He could tell the story of Rindercella and the Pransome Hince.  Playful, silly fun.

 Memories come in lots of ways: sights, sounds, smells.  Science says that smell may be strongest memory sense.

The smell of buttery eggs frying in an enamel pan.  Mom wasn’t around much, so Dad and I shared mornings together, with fried eggs when we had time, Carnation instant breakfast when we didn’t.

Chemically smells: photography chemicals for a makeshift darkroom. Grecian formula to darken his hair.  Epoxy glue: you mix two puddles into something strong enough to mend anything.  Fermenting blackberries outside my bedroom window, part of his experiments in winemaking.

Dad smell: I’d put my face into his pillow, or my whole head rustled in through his clothes in the closet.  The Dad smell.  It was perfect.

Sound memories…

 Trumpets.  Music.  He played trumpet in school.  He Played a killer trumpet-piano duet with mom of the Carnival of Venice (Jeff and I tried to do it later).  Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians singing Christmas.  Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, mariachi bands, ukeleles, and Neil Diamond.  All these say “Dad”.

 Garage sounds.  Garage door of doom. Sounds at night through the wall.   Voopa voopa of the saw.  He had a pegboard wall of tools. Beautiful wooden hand drill. Love the names of tools: Soldering iron, Vice grips,  Epoxy.  He used the soldering iron and a radio shack kit to make a Philco stereo tuner and speakers.  If you broke anything… anything… he could fix it with the vice grips and epoxy. But the best was when Dad was out in the garage puttering at night.  I could hear him through the wall, and I knew that all is well,  he would protect us, and we were safe.

The Mustang. IMG_1013

1965 Mustang. Metallic Blue. NOT a fastback. Bought, not leased. The mustang carries many stories… Mine is about some important life lessons.

I learned from Dad how to wash a car.  You have to keep the water running on the surface as you wash, especially when you OWN the car.  When it’s time to rinse away soap, you use your thumb to turn it into a power washer (also handy washing down the patio).  Dad taught me how to drink water from a hose….from any faucet.  I can smell it now, water coming out of a hose. Dad.

 Family cars.  Station wagons.  Other than the mustang, all of our cars were station wagons leased from Ford.  Station wagon memories:

Dad driving us to the Hougardys.  Before Agoura…we would fall asleep, and Dad carried us to the car (pretend sleeping). Sleeping in the way back, watching city lights swing by, thwub, thwub, watching lights of distant cities, back before So. Cal. was completely filled in.

Hougardys…are family. Dad met them when they first got to California.  They’ve known Dad longer than any of us. Shared Thanksgivings, Christmases, New Years Bowl Games. Turkey, ham, mince meat pie (who knew it was raisins, not meat).  Disneyland and bowling. Family movies.. 8 mm…taking, making, watching.  Ron, Debbie, Darron (Gary came later) made movies where we Became go carts running driving around on the ground.  Built Brokardy Land together.  We shared a cabin at Arrowhead.  Many years in between, I’m so glad we can be together now.

Vacations…the station wagons drove everywhere. Back before Hawaiii, we visited every state and every national park west of the Mississippi, and a few on the other side. Jeff mentioned Jenny Lake….that’s where Dad caught a huge fish, and I got a concussion falling when trying to carry Jeff on my shoulders.

 But my favorite car trip was…

 When I was 17, Dad took me on a College tour.  We got in the wagon-of-the-year, and headed north.  We saw UCLA…where he got his MS in mechanical engineering….too city for me.  Then Santa Barbara…nice. We made a stop at  Vandenburg AFB to watch them test his missile.  Unfortunately, the lettuce train would stop to watch the launches, which means they can’t launch, and I learned the word “scrubbed.”   We headed north to Oregon. Eugene, Corvallis… Green trees, bricks and ivy, where I live now.  Pretty. Keep going…Walla Walla…out in the middle of nowhere!  Definite no.  From there, we zipped across the northern U.S. To Wisconsin (no college visits, just family visits, and picking blackberries. From very thorny blackberry bushes.  We headed  back west  with a 5 gallon bucket of blackberries.  In Nebraska, Dad said we absolutely must stop in Omaha for the best corn-fed steaks in the world. Then, heading into Colorado, over golden plains, over a rise, opening up to the panorama of flat irons over Boulder, Colorado. Ding…..and this school is Juuuuuust right.  It didn’t really matter what they taught there.  It had mountains.  Dad called it Berkely East, but he supported me patiently.  From there, it was a straight drive home, and we plunked that bucket of blackberries down under my bedroom window.  Did I mention that smell is a strong memory trigger?  Those were his days of experimenting with winemaking.  Taking a trip to see colleges was pretty cool.  The fact that it was  just Dad and me:  priceless.

I am so grateful for the time I was able to spend these last years, and especially last months.  But, Visiting dad in December, I was distressed when, several times, he would wake from sleep and his face would go into all sorts of contortions. I worried it could IMG_1249be some sort of seizure.

But then I as I gathered photos, I saw his silly grins and twisted faces, and remembered: that’s how he would make me smile.  Make us smile. That and Donald Duck talk. And the last day I saw him, Christmas Day,  we were sitting kind of teary by Dad. He no longer was able to get up out of bed, but he threw off the blanket and tried to get up, saying “must make cheerful”.

This is a story I’m ashamed of.  We were at Jeff and Megan’s wedding, on an island off Georgia, and Dad was dancing.  

Dad can’t dance.  Well, let’s say, he doesn’t dance very gracefully.  As I watched him dance I felt embarrassed.  Looking back, I feel ashamed of myself and grateful to him.  I dance like he does. Not very gracefully.  But I don’t dance like he does, because i don’t dance.  I want to learn how to let go of my image of how dancing is supposed to be, and just go out and dance like he does…just dance for the joy and fun of it. Playfully. Dance, not in spite of people thinking I look silly, but because being silly just might bring someone joy.  That was Dad’s purpose: bring people joy.

My first day back to school after Dad passed, I woke up to the radio alarm. The song playing was “I Hope You Dance”.  Got it, Dad. Thank you.

IMG_1281 To close, I want to talk about Hawaii. Hawaii came after we kids were grown, but holds many many memories.  I will see Dad whenever I see the Pacific Ocean.  I’m taking some of his ashes to Hawaii this summer.

 Dad and Cathy like to visit the Tonga Churches on Maui. Christian churches with aloha spirit. This summer, one of the sermons was about ho’oponoopono.

Pono means right action, integrity.  Ho’oponoopono means coming together, face to face, in community, love…like now.

This summer, I also brought home a t-shirt from the Trilogy sailing company, the one we went on with Dad and Cathy, Jeff and Megan.  The t-shirt has a circle ringed with Hawaiian words.  ..”…………….When I got home, I started to research these words, these Hawaiian Values.  I want to share what I learned about the meaning of Aloha, because I think it holds Dad’s message to us.


 Aloha….. Is used to say hello or goodbye, and to express love.  But Aloha is more than that, it’s a way of life.  Curby says, ” Besides these common meanings, the word Aloha holds within itself all one needs to know to interact rightfully in the world.”  It’s sometimes called “The Aloha Spirit” or “The Way of Aloha”.

If you break it down…..

 A, ala,  being present and aware

L, lokahi, working with unity

O, oia’i’o, truthful honesty

H, ha’aha’a, humility

A, ahonui, patient perseverance

“Be present, in unity and harmony with your real self, God, and mankind. Be honest, truthful, patient, kind to all life forms, and humble.”  That’s Dad.

To the Hawaiian of old, Aloha meant “God in us.”   Aloha also explains our “prime directive” while we are here:

 alo:  sharing, in the present 20140701_082419 oha:  joyous affection, joy    ha:  life energy, life, breath

 Dad is saying to us now, Aloha.   Joyfully share life.

I hope you Dance.     

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Sigma Nu Lullabye


Below is what my brother, Jeff, and I call the Sigma Nu Lullaby.  It’s not really a lullaby.  It was created by the Sigma Nu Fraternity of Northwestern University, for a musical event.  It is a drinking song, but we called it a lullaby because Dad sang it to us as we sat on his lap in the rocking chair at bedtime.   It borrows from a number of different sources, I’m not sure about the order of the elements, or even whether these are all of the elements.   Na na na na means there is music but I forget the words.  This is my memory.

Sigma Nu Lullaby.

To the girls we’ll not forget them,                                                                        through the years that lie ahead.                                                                                To Northwestern where we met them,                                                           and the wonderful times we had.                                                                         The football games and dances, the serious romances                          The parties where we didn’t get home til dawn.                                                To the happy hours out west on the night before a test                         Oh we’ll miss them when we’re gone.                                                                 So a toast to the past, a toast to the future                                                          and let there be no sorrow.   For Remember when the sun goes down, it returns with a bright tomorrow.*

So drink chug a lug chug a lug chug a lug,   So drink chug a lug                    Long time ago o o o      Long time ago o o                                                     drink chug a lug chug a lug chug a lug,   drink chug a lug chug a lug      I used to live in Chicago.  Did but I don’t any, did but I don’t any,      did but I don’t any moo…o..ore

The Betas have a drinking song we might have sung to you.      Instead we’ll cut our number short  And all go have a brew,           brew, brew, brew, brew, brew, brew, brew, brew

Na na na na na na lift our voices to the sky.                                                    For tonight we’ll merry merry be, For tonight we’ll merry merry be,  For tonight we’ll merry merry be,.. tomorrow we’ll be sober.

zoom zoom zoom zoom zoom zoom zoom zoom

Here by the fire, we defy frost and storm,                                                    Aha we are warm, and we have our heart’s desire!                                   For here, we’re good fellows, and the beechwood and the bellows,  And the cup is at the lip in the pledge of fellowship… Of fellowship!


* Borrowed from a Camp Kehonka song.

**From  “Hanover Winter Song” as performed by Fred Waring

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Au Revoir Dad

My Dad passed away December 27, 2014. I’m immeasurably grateful for the time I was able to spend with him, especially this last year, then these last months and weeks. We held a memorial service in Costa Mesa, the town where I grew up . He was an incredible Dad, an incredible Dad. If I can figure out how to do it, I will add a copy of my eulogy from the service. It’s so hard to put into words the lifetime of a Dad. The photo isn’t the best, of either of us, but it was our last “outing”, to Newport Pier. I will remember him in many facets, glimpses, heart-tugs.

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Dogsledding season

Dogsledding season

Over halfway through the Yukon Quest, a 1,000 mile run through Canadian and Alaskan wilderness. Three weeks to the start of the Iditarod, Anchorage to Nome. Dogs dogs dogs, teamwork, amazing landscapes, Aurora Borealis….. I love it all. I’m gathering, planning, exploring for ways to bring the experience to my students. They will draft fantasy dog teams by researching the dogs from 8 different Iditarodding kennels, and fitting them to the positions on a dogsled team. They will choose a musher to follow, from the field of 90. We will explore the cultural and athletic roots of the Iditarod, and track this year’s race using the official Iditarod Insider’s GPS and daily videos and interviews. Students will read for 1,000 minutes, to go along with the 1,000 miles, and track their own progress alongside their mushers. Fun and rich with learning!

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