Friday, November 30, 2007

The end of November...

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and yes Michael from concrete wave I did read the article you wrote about me and life is much different than before. Had three people from the hospital at the shop and we went over the poster I made in the hospital. Glade to be back and can't wait to xc ski this winter see you all soon but please leave me a comment if you have something to say or else my blog is done !!! Big John

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Happy November and Halloween...

Hope everyone has had a great weekend and enjoyed the holiday. In the best way the last week has been great, good friend in from San Francisco and he has taken me and my mom out for dinner twice and breakfast once thank you Jonah! I've had a nice weekend with a good friend since the Halloween till now starting with my dinner number for the fourteenth time at Leunigs on Church St. Once that night came, I wore the costume I was injured in the longboard costume with mom's hat and walked out with an oldschool skate board and the right necklaces. First was the party in Winooski at my friend Michael from Flatbread Pizza and a great costume crowd had a DJ spinning and a nice crew for me to remeet while telling a few stories and listening to others. Then we left the party and locked the car and went to Sound of Urchin at Nectars. Once the music stopped and I saw some great people and then went up to Metronome and had a nice conversation with Kaitlyn Whalen and learned about her father got sick after my injury. She was going to the party at Olivias in Stowe but the party got cancelled begood for the cause of what happened to me and she visited me in the hospital before heading off the next day to Boston with the rest of the skaters doing their part in the event. Maybe I was supposed to go with them or drive her down but that would have been my last trip without the fall but it was now learned that I was her father #2. She was crying me some tears telling me how life has been strong with her me and her father and what her mother did when she was no longer married to her father. How age through twelve and fifteen was ruff on her, much love for her Tom from dad 2. Then left with Anaii and Katelyn in a cab after Travis Card got me my skateboard from inside Nectars. After the drive back Anaii went back downtown to get her bicycle and rode back while I stopped to talk to K and was lying next to her in the bed and after back I went back downtown but stopped at 3 Needs and had a drink with Amanda and Sara. Talked to some others and got a taxi back to my house and woke up Mom so she could talk to the two about dinner on Monday, looking forward to tomorrow night.
We had lunch with Sara the next day before driving my truck down to Ken's farm down in Shoreham and got to see his new house getting worked on. After talking about how he is building his house good we then took took a trip down to his barn and got to see all the tractors and wood for his house and he gave me a pump for my vegetable oil which needs some work. Next was a drive down to the sunflower field and found a lot of birds eating the nuts off good flowers and a small look later and the oil was too late. We then went back to the barn and took some pictures of him and mom and friend of his Bill. Put a few boards which was his in for my sauna and roped them in the back of my truck. A little after leaving people were leaving the house tool spot and closed but we were 10 minutes late so I changed the filter for the veggie oil and was good for the ride home. Talked to mom about the project up at UVM for tomorrow and went to bed and got enough sleep to wake up the next morning to wash the truck.
By the time we got to the shop by 10:30 we started packing the bed with a lot of stuff for the free demo day we were part of at the basketball team fifteen minutes minutes late. We then set up and put the three thousand ams up and running and got everything set up with Kristin and a friend of hers for the event. Kyle Anger was the DJ Strain and did a lot of spinning and helped with his longboarding. The only he was down to was the manager Will Deming of Ridin' High, and he took a nice walk with me to the top of Mount Burlington where I fell and hurt my shoulder. I've only lost to Will once up on Smuggs and plan on beating him next time on July 13th of 2008, so if your fast be up there and your going down ! Hopefully this time I have a good helmet and leather on me to show everyone how I ride. Next summers great event! After the event we went down to the shop and to the vets in Mallets Bay Vet for mom's dog and then to my buddy who owns five houses place for a visit with Mike D... I'll be able to stay at his place soon but couldn't this weekend as he told me and mom we could ?
Then on Saturday we went to Maguals for breakfast and had a great meal with with mom who made me go to the hospital after the vet and as I told her my shoulder was not broken and she learned again how I live life. Great things we all do especially talking with mom and she finally took me to Higher Ground for a show that seemed a little work for the 25 yr old music player. Good music but I then got a ride down to Red Square but actually to Half Lounge where I saw two great friends Akaai and Joe Blecka and two good looking girls from New Hampshire. Thank you for the ride and I got to sleep in till 9;45 this morning which was actually 10:45 but today was earlier, thanks fall. Today was a great day and after some pancakes already made with NJ blueberries the rest of the day went well. After working at the shop with SF friend coming to buy two boards and helmit we then went to dinner with Ashley who works at Nectars, again thenks two Single Pebble. Well back to the hospital for tomorow but note till late in the day at first by 12:30 pm and then hopefully to the yurt this weekend with dad to work on the sauna. Well talk to you all soon and feel free to leave me a message and feel free to leave me a message at my phone number, 802 355-2447.
Big John who lose an additional 35 pounds to be medium john !

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Thanks to all who made to my Harvest Party ! ! !

What a great party we just had over in Keene, N Y and such a yurts me and my friends have over there. The Farrell brothers were there and I saw both of them Andy and Nick and thanks Nick for reminding me that I helped you put your door on the newest Yurt built in 2003. Thanks to all who came out and helped me start to finish the sauna, it worked on Sunday afternoon and I did not wear any clothes that night. All the work was done with my father telling everyone what to do and done really well! Thanks again and hopefully everyone can read this and know how much I love everyone, respect...

love and peace,

Big John

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Big 30 (by Rebecca)

Great article on John by Lauren at the Burlington Free Press:

Happy Birthday, Bro!!!!!!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

John's Travels by Rebecca

Until last week, I hadn't seen my brother since my last trip to Burlington in early August. I'd spoken to him frequently, so I knew he was massively improved since I'd last seen him lying unconscious in the hospital. But, it was just amazing to see him leaning out my sister's apartment window, waving and calling down to us. Dinner that night included John, our father, Rachel, Julian, my husband Madhu and my little boy Leo (7 months old). We laughed and talked and enjoyed each other's company and toasted to his amazing force of life (not to mention amazing medical support) that brought John back from the brink. Little brother, you are amazing! I know it would be more fun to just forget about everything and go back to your old life, but please keep doing your work and respect your limits. Much love, Rebecca.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Feels so great to be out of the hospital ! ! !

How head injury can change your life? My first injury came to me at 2 years old when my ankle was fat down to ankle knuckle. Next at 8 yrs old and at the family farm in Massachusetts called Brookside I tore my shoulder open on a milky machine. First my tshirt got called and pulled into my shoulder and open came to me, my dad's cousin Russell hit the machine off. Cut my tshirt off and drove me to a hospital in Fitchburg. Then a little older I had a cut to my left leg after rowing across the lake in the Adirondacks behind a club in St Huberts and after taking a row back and waiting for a half hour bus back to the club. Then Dad walked to get the car and drove me a half hour to the hospital in Elizabethtown to have it sewn closed and get rid of any bad stuff. Then after than that leg was better I broke my femur skating out of my buddy Sean's driveway in Wall Township New Jersey. This was the only time I had to spend a long time in a hospital almost eight weeks in a H that told me I'd be better in 3-4 weeks! Since then I broke my other shoulder at a friends house and was taken to Plattsburg for them to fix my clavicle taken and paid by the Farrells because I could not afford it. Thanks to the Farrells and opening me to the world of the YURT's. Since then I have broken my Right arm twice, the first time snowboarding in Lake Tahoe at a resort. I had climbed out a half hour to back slide and hiked well, at the bottom I hiked out of where I rode and didi not stapp myself in really hard and fell where the trail went from steep to flat. I got up and rode to the bottom and found the ski people who brought me in and told me I'd half to wait for an ambulance which I had a ride and got to the hospital quick. What would have cost me near thirdy thousand only cost me less than a thousand cause its how I live life as a poor guy. last thing was a broken in New Jersey was the same arm in a skatepark off NSG exit 124 and drove myself back to Vermont to have it fixed at the Burlington hospital. Since then all injuries I've taken by myself except for this last one where I fell too hard on 108 near Smuggs and now have to think about killing part of myself, my brain and how to ride better. Right now I think about equipment and a helmet that will protect my head because the next time I hurt myself will be too long.
Hope to see all my friends at my birthday party next Wendsday October 17 at higher Ground, please buy your tickets now because I want the big room ! ! !
Thanks and I hope to see you all there...

Big JOHN who wants to be medium John

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

I'm out of Fanny Allen Rehab and at a house with both parents!

So glad I got out of the hospital and glad to have Dr Knakal and spending almost a week at home with my mom who leaves me Friday morning... Dad comes up on Thursday same day we all eat a Vegan meal at 420 S Prospect so if your thinking about of me send me a comment! If I don't know you please call me at (802) 355-BIGS my cell phone and leave me a message and if I know you I'll call you back. Had a great visit with a girl at the hospital where she stays now but was where I was for 37 days, man how skating shows me the best. Can't wait to have a Vegan meal with Kate Gladstein and all her crew but tonight I dine with a friend and his girlfriend near Burton so the next few days I got dinner plans. Anyone who thinks how I live with all my crew must know about all my friends, Colorado, Montana, Tennessee, New Jersey, Massachusets, up and low New York, New Zealand and of course VERMONT !!! If your not on the list write to me and we'll write down where your from.
Just brought the COOL BUS to my mechanic and how to have my transmission and other parts fixed and hope to ride longboard and skateboard with all who come down to Ridin' High at the end of Pearl St looking out at the Adirondacks of New York, Thrashin Thursday . For all who want to come to my party October 17 at Higher Ground on a Wednesday night and everyone there can know my new age. Hopefully with Jesse Champagne a friend from fith grade, Turkey Bouillon Mafia with Seth Yacovone and Band playing Grateful Dead, then Lion Pride Sound plays all reggae songs... So if you can get tickets on Higher Ground Music .Com cause I want the big run to party in wher the band from Canada "the star" wants the big room. So if your a friend of mine make sure you get your tickets today! Birthday cake by one of my friends in Vermont Willie T so hope your hungry, all drinks from HG but I'm not drinking for a year or more.
Trying to lose some weight and get down to 220 from over 300 lbs, I'm now 265 leaving the hospital and want being a vegetarian to be the strongest skater VT knows. Burton contest (July 12 th 2008) on the one year skate back on there pool is all I can do but I have to get Burton friends to let me know its all good. I know I'm not the best skater Vermont has but I can run the program but I am the fastest longboard so get your feeling up! Hope to hear from all and see all skaters at Ridin' High when I can be there, but see me being best as Never Summer sees me be thanks to Malakai for talking to me last night. If you can get a snowboard get Smokin' from California, Never Summer from Colorado, or Burton from Vermont. Hope to talk to all my friends so leave me a message or call me !

Big John hopefully Medium John soon

Sunday, September 30, 2007



I relate this tale to amplify an aspect John's personality other than ER visits (one afternoon in Fanny Allen we examined and discussed his scars and determined there had been at least 10) and such affronts to soceity as smoking a joint on the steps of Madison Square Garden for which he had to pick up trash along 8th ave for 40 hours as service to community.

Once upon a time (in or about 2000 AD) John inadvertently snowboarded out of bounds at a Colorado ski resort during a whiteout as it turned out did others. When the sky cleared John found himself lost from the trail system but could sense where the ski town was and headed downhill toward a river valley which he deduced would lead to the town. As dusk approached he met a damsel from Texas in similar predicament but more panicked than he. They traveled together until stopped by dark. John ripped off spruce branches for a shelter and burned his dollar bills trying to start a fire to no avail. But as they snuggled together for the night they heard a snowmobile approaching and waved and yelled it down. It was the ski patrol searching for another group of lost skiers who had called in with a cell phone but in the dark terrain were having trouble locating them but eventually did.

Meanwhile down in the valley John's friend Allison having searched all the bars and restaurants at the recommendation of the ski patrol was distraught at the patrol's cavalier attitude but delighted when he did return with them. About a month later they related the story to me at my New Hampshire home which explained a mysterious message on my phone by a woman in Texas thanking me for my son having saved her daughter's life.


Beyond Rehab - Big John 2 by biggs mama

What an incredible feeling for Van and me to walk with arms linked through Big John's as we blew through the double doors of Fanny Allen Rehab into the fresh air, fulfilling the vision held for 79 days, finally realized on 9/28/07.

It's very difficult to express the depth of gratitude Big John's family feels for all of you who generously gave your love, support, experience and healing energy to Big John's recovery. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Yesterday we drove the 108 from Smugs to Stowe, then on to Jared and Alex's magnificent wedding. Today we continue the reconnections. You've known me to be verbose in my writings, but today I'm just overwhelmend to be here at 32 Russell Street with my son.

Y'all Come!


Friday, September 28, 2007

Out of Fanny Allen TODAY !!!!!

Hope my mom gets here soon so I can get out out of this crazy place. Meeting with Dr Knakal at 2pm so if you get my message come to my house on 32 Russell St for some dinner. Longboarding should be strong tomorrow with Will Deming manager of Ridin' High and my hope help event. Kody skateboarding tomorrow at Burlington's Skatepark at what time I'm not sure but the longboarding starts at 12pm so be at the park before Burton. What a great pool they have at the B center and a nice mini ramp next to that. Makes the vert ramp that use to be there miss its life and look to come back as a pool. Sitting at the computer till 8:30 so hope to see you all soon.



As predicted by Dr. Link on day 2 or 3 John has a problem with word recall. with all time time Ihave spent with him I have developed a sense of his missing or misused words and can usually understand. However on the skinny pancake/shop trek I noticed many bewildered/puzzled looks at what he said. Rather than give him the words the speech therapists have reccmended I coax them out of him and if not then give them to him and reccomend his friends use the same approach and tell him when he is not understandable rather than let it go by.

Yesterday John was tired from his many visitors the night before and slept through PT and left Speech early. The staff has been stressing he will likly try to do too much and experience fatigue. Be kind and do not push him to overdo. He needs the scheduled out patient therapy. In my opinion encouraging late nighs and overactivity is like giving some one with emphasima a pack of cigarettes. Speaking of which John has found out his lungs are about 40% gone from you know what.

But the above will not diminish his mothers and my joy when we walk out with him this late afternoon. We again thank you all and look forward to your viists to 32 Russell. pops

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Rider Down Deja Vu by biggs mama

Many of you know, or know of Julian, Biggie's nephew, Rachel's 14 yr old son, my grandson. Last evening, 9/25 Julian took a hard landing off his longboard suffering internal injuries. His Mom rushed him to Jersey Shore Trauma center where he was admitted to the pediatric ICU for observation due to trauma and bleeding in his spleen. While not life threatening, if the bleed doesn't stop by itself, he may need surgery. We'll know more in the coming 24 hours. Please wrap your prayers and healing energy around young Julian that he may make a speedy and smooth recovery without complications.

For me it was deja vu as I informed my housemates that I had to make another late night journey to the ICU at the Trauma Center, only this time it was I who drove to Rachel's side as she had done to mine July 12th. And too, "not life threatening" made this journey less frightening than that one. "What can I do to help" asked Julian's Uncle Madhu and Aunt Rebecca? "Call Latha to find out what we're dealing with" I replied. They did, and shortly later came back to me that first of all we can live without a spleen, however as an important center for immune function, spleen damage can make a body more susceptible to bacteria. Ok, we can deal with that. My Cherokee brother David returned my call informing me that if Julian's spleen should need to be removed in the event it doesn't stop bleeding, only the damaged part of the spleen would be removed, and that over time the remaining part would grow, and would still function. Ok, we can live with that.

Arriving at the trauma center in Neptune, NJ at 10:10 PM I was greeted at an entrance by a security guard who very quickly reminded me "you're not in Kansas any more, Dorothy". 1st prize one week in Neptune, second prize two weeks. After a quick mental adjustment I found my way to the emergency entrance, past the security desk to wander down guerney lined halls filled with a diversity of people requiring assistance, until finally locating the proper elevators ascended to the PICU. There I found Julian, hooked to an IV and monitors as his doctor made adjustments and a worried Mama perched uncomfortably in a convertible chair/bed. "Julian was in some pain, perhaps at that moment more from realizing his weekend trip to Georgia for a Bulldogs football game with his Grandpa Steve was cancelled now, or from realizing that he'd have to spend the remainder of 2007 in quiet repose.

This morning Rachel reported that his blood count didn't change during the night, which is a good sign that the bleeding is abating itself. He'll be monitored for two more days, and then, hopefully he'll be discharged.

Please y'all... no more ICU training for this ole gal, I've had quite enough thank you. I'll be back up to VT on Friday for a discharge meeting and then to walk arm in arm with my son out the door of Fanny Allen! Wow, what a concept! Awesome. With great gratitude to all who've supported us, my Love.
biggs mama

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Thanks to all who let me know !!!!!

Big John here hoping I get out Fanney Allen Hospital and get to go to Jared and Alex wedding on Saturday. Hope everyone who reads this know I really love the comments. Thank you for working at the ICU when I didin't have a lot of room, thank you Emily! Hope all can make it to Will Deming contest on Saturday for 15 miles of longboarding, Started down by Burton park and on the bikelane 7.5 miles then the same back. So stop by Ridin' High and let people there tell you about the event. Skateboarding is not dead either with a Skating Contest going on at the usual Burlington Sk8park by Ridin' High Dakoda. Well thanks to all my friends and all the great meals that comes to horribal Food served here.


Monday, September 24, 2007


Last Friday morn John and I cornered Dr Knakel next to the nurses station and he agreed to release John after all therapies on this Friday. (By my calculations it will be 11 weeks one day since my 11 PM call from social worker Tim at Fletcher Allan.) On saturday PT started John walking up and down the banks around the building and getting up from falls. I am sure PT and OT have a strenous week planned and anticipate he will walk out withut cane or brace. At least twice a day of late John and have gone to the healing garden where he has even stopped bitching about everything but the food and is very interested in what happened and who visited during the weeks he did not wake.

Check at the last minute but on Tues at 4 Aaron and his got junk crew plan to move more of J's worldly possessions from the warehouse to 32 Russell street, We can use help on both ends. We will perhaps have a small gathering at 32 russell fri eve. I remind you it will be a clean house. I keep telling John my little league coach repeatedly told us "no drinking, no smoking , no late nights." John says banning late nights is out of the question but has added no eatng of dead animals or consuming caffeine. However the caffeine consuming family members have screamed in protest but promised the consumption of their vice will be done with discretion.

Again can use help Tues at 4 but Aaron has yet to confirm exact time so please check. AND again thanks for all your support, love, meals, prayer throughout the ordeal. pops

Friday, September 21, 2007

I want Comments!!!!!

Big John here at Fanny Allen Rehab wishing more people let me know their with me! My birthday coming up real fast less than three weeks to get tickets, I want the big room not the liitle one. So let the band who has the BIG room they be the smallest! Leave me a message as well cause I don't know what my email is? So if you know my email let me know,


Thursday, September 20, 2007

Big John Here for all of you At Higher Ground Oct 17

John here leeting every one know that I'm free from here Sept 29 th for Jared and Alex wedding up in Stowe... So if you can get their early 6:30 I'll be there and off thewalker only using with cane to help me. If you can get tickets to my birthday at Higher Ground gettim' for you and your friends cause I really want the big ground for us. Last time I saled 430 tix for the big room and won $6500.00 for helping me out! Thank all for all your support any me loves all my friends. For all who don't know I saw my friend Dan and then Sheehan who had his birthday yesterday. Then Will Deming came with three girls Liz Corbett, Amanda Broutham, and Kristin Walsh, so if you can come to Farrell Allen Refabu to visit... See ya'll real soon!

John Van Hazinga

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Ridin' High John see's who see's me...

Bigy John here with no one to talk to except eight friends last nite for dinner. Waiting for all who want to thank you for stopping by hopefully Aaron Sasha and Ezra, Scott and Melissa, Brad Greta and son Brody thanks again for dinner last night. Anything I can do for you all is all I can do... Out of here in 10 days so if you read this stop by the shop Ridin' High and talk to Will Deming about Saturday's meeting for longboarding at the end of VT September. Talk to Kody at shop about same day sk8ing contest at the sk8park. Any one else like Carmin and John see you at Jared's and Alex wedding, and oh thanks for all the food. Salad for big John with all you had two give was great so keep it going for me. Can't wait for whatever vegetables this vegetarian can eat cause let me tell you all how bad being vegey can be at Nanny Allen refab, can't wait to get out can be for me! Any who knows me will no more if you come at 5 pm and have to eat the food. Thanks Dr K for letting me out early so when you know me better stop on by RDN HGH! Now comes waiting for next helper so if you can give me CALL 802 847 9502 or my phone 802 355 BIGS if no answer its cause my Dad has to take phone. Talk to every one real soon,


More Milestones & Biggie's Home Team

Tuesday was a big day for Biggie J. After 6 weeks of patience his feeding tube was finally removed from his stomach. He said "if I knew how easy it was, I'd have removed it long ago". It also was the 1st day in 68 there wasn't a parent in residence with him. And based on his hard work and amazing recovery, together with the glowing reports from his doctor and therapists, his discharge date was adjusted back to September 29th from 10/2 to honor him and his request to attend Jared and Alex's wedding. Of course 9/29 is not soon enough for you Biggie, but just 10 more days to go my boy.

We're working with his rehab team to put together his discharge plan and support network. If you can offer some time and/or support to be part of Biggie's Home Team, please forward your name, phone number and email addy to me at There may be a meeting of Biggie's Home Team at Fanny Allen Rehab on Friday afternoon, 9/28, so please also let me know if you could be available. The family and staff want to make the discharge and transition to home care as positive and smooth as possible for all.

I'm home in NJ til 9/28, so Pops will be back in B-ton this afternoon gearing up for the great release... keep up the hard work son, you've almost made it out of the woods.

Love you baby,
Yo Mama

Yo Little Belly by pops

Yo Little Belly,

Heading back this morn after 7 sleeps at hall cottage (the most since
your accident) with a cooler and boxes full of tomatoes, cukes, pears,
red cabbage and other treats too numerous to mention.

This poem floated by one on a trek back while you were in coma when I
passed the spot just below the Halfway House on 22A.


In Shoreham Vermont
I saw a state trooper
reach over a fence
and scratch a cow's ears.

vn 8/7/07

Another brewed yesterday


Remember when, Sheila
you emailed me from Phoenix that
rather than coming for dinner
you were awaiting Kristin's spinal surgery
and she might not walk again??
Her life now good with limitations.
Rather Fierce Grace for one so young.
My son's Grace seems more deserved
but "What the Bleep do I know."
My son is walking and talking
with wide eyed exuberance for life.
We plan some work on my place come November.
You'll be back from Holland, MS in hand.

van 9/18/07

love pops

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Biggie J here to help the rest!

Dr Knakal took my tube out of my stomack 10 am this morning so if you know me don't miss calling me at 802 355 BIGS or my room 802-847 9502. Just got a message from my friend in Colorado Leslie Angus with her son Addison and her guy RY so if I give her a call don't mind me. Aaron Fastman may be having dinner over here with his wife Sasha and son Ezra. So if any else can give me a visit over here from 3:30 to 9pm Give Big John a call. Anything else free stop on by Nanny Allen Rehabu plpace across from St Mikes college in Winooski. Hope that Ridin' High has a race Sept 29 longboarding from 15 miles so see Will at Rdn Hgh to get more information. That day also be a message at waterfront for skating in Burlington Skatepark. Also my friend Jared and Alex wedding up in Stowe so hopefully I get out of here soon.
See you all soon.
Big John

Monday, September 17, 2007

A Mother's View by biggs mama

4 weeks ago today I accompanied John from Fletcher Allen hospital to Fanny Allen Rehab, a hard fought for victory. On arrival he was awake to a small degree, but had little speech, no balance, no muscle tone. He was hoisted from bed to wheelchair and belted to hold him upright. 10 days later he scratched his first letters into his memory book, and memories began to form. He could shakily transfer from bed to wheelchair and was moved out of the room with the hoist. From then to now he has made progress at a breathtaking pace in true Big John style. He doesn't remember those first 10 days at Fanny Allen. His brain continues to wake more each day reflected in his speech, his stamina, his mobility and his attitude. I've had the uncanny opportunity to watch my son grow from newborn to teenager a second time, but at superspeed.

Big John always colored ouside the lines, challenging the "Laws of Nature" as he blazed his own path. These next two weeks will be the most excruciating difficult for him as he continues to wake up and clamours for freedom from the constraints of hospital rules and restrictions. Now more than ever he needs his friends to help. From 4-9 pm he needs visitors. During the day, texts and phone messages. And to soothe his worries about financing the next 6 months, donations to the JCV fund.

"You know how I go, Mama. Part of me can do this, but part of me can't. There's John who can skate. And John who can't." Being an impulsive determined being, John has moments when he really understands the work ahead to regain his full autonomy and life. He understands the things he can do to help his body and brain heal. Other times not. It is fascinating to watch this process and yet heartwrenching at the same time. I trust and envision him fully back to himself, with feelings somewhat reminiscent of watching him learn to ride his 2 wheeler at 4 yrs old. So hard to stand on the sidelines and see him crash time and time again until finally, shakily, but with a huge grin he pedaled down the street. "YeeHaw John (he learned in Texas) Watch out for cars!" There are just as many dangers facing him as he shakily progresses this time. He pleads to be released from the hospital. No one wants to stay in a hospital one minute longer than necessary. No one wants him to stay longer than what truly yields the greatest rewards. But he's only been awake 18 days...

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Triumphant return!

John Here for all the little Ladies...

Big John here,
Annie Harrison and Teri Reisinger were the next visits after Lauren Shade Yesterday. My buddy Terry came as well aka Tdak let well... He Really didn't leave until Liz Corbett and Will Deming came, but Chris M from the Burn Gallery got there for B town killing the Yankees! But Annie was happy says my free breakfast, thanks Penny Cluse I'll let you all know it was for me... You all know how I live and Quimby will be stopping by with his friend. Jesse Lee might be stopping as well but we'll see how NY was for kids. Talk to you all see Ridin' High as the place to be!


Saturday, September 15, 2007

I MEAN TO TELL YOU (Texas phrase) by pops

Yo Little Belly,

I mean to tell you about a conversation I had with top neurosurgeon Nancy Bintner right outside your ICU room a week after your accident. I was meeting her for the first time (your mother previously had met) and she said they sometimes need a week of observation to evaluate a patient and they had and your brain was hamburger and they would change to a long term sedative (paralyzer some called it) and to expect a long stay in ICU.

"What!!" said I, "Dr Link said from the catscans the damage was not too bad and there was a good likelihood of nearly full recovery."

"By not too bad, " Nancy answered "he means we have not had to cut his skull open."

"So" said I, "he will never get out of here relatively intact."

"Oh he might" she replied, "we just don't know."

I said "I would like to see him get out of here relatively intact but have modicum of fear when he gets near a snow or skateboard."

"Oh he won't" Nancy said "he is hardwired into it."

Good grief I have thought since then what is the point of our sojourn on earth if we can't change through experience. I also drift as I have over the decades to Krishna at the end of the Bhagavad Gita* telling Arjuna that

"you yourself have created the power that binds you and are helpless in its power And you will do the very thing which your ignorance seeks to avoid. The Lord lives in the heart of every creature and turns them round and round upon the wheel of his maya. Take refuge utterly in him. By his grace you will find supreme peace and the state which is beyond all change."

Those thoughts have solaced and guided many out of prehistory, mean anything to you?? You remember way back on long trecks in my 57 Chevy we would sing:

"Oh Lord you are the treasure of my soul,
you are the dweller in my house, oh Lord,
you are to me what wings are to the flying bird."

love pops

* Prabhavananda-Isherwood translation

Friday, September 14, 2007

Glimpsing the Future by biggs mama

Back in VT after my sojourn at home in NJ to find John waking up more each day. He admits not remembering his first week at Fanny Allen, so actually only awake for two weeks now. His progress is amazing, and gives hope that in the 2 1/2 weeks left before his discharge 10/2 that he will continue to grow stronger, steadier and more alert. "You know how I go Mama" he says. I watch in amazement as he walks down and up stairs, walks around cones without the walker, walks around the building with his walker, and moves more gracefully from bed to chair without assistance.

Yesterday's adventure to Ridin High was very uplifting and exciting for Biggie! The shop was very busy with customers buying boards, Will and Sky working hard. John successfully descended the narrow stairs to the lower level and enjoyed sitting there with Sheehan, Jared and his fiance', Betsy and Amigo, Sarah and his therapists Rich and Bonnie. While it was a short visit, he glowed being back in his own element. Afterwards he walked around the shop outside, and posed happily for photos. It was awesome to see him standing next to his painting on the back wall. From there we drove by the Russell St house he'll be calling home. Dave and Dave were there working, so he enjoyed chatting with them while Bonnie and I went inside so she could see where he will be living and tailor some exercises for him to prepare for his homecoming. All in all it was a very successful outing and the emotional uplift carried him well into the evening.

Biggie is trying to work out a few hours at the skate event down by the lake this Saturday. I'm sure he'll post about the details once we can firm things up, so watch for his next blog entry.

John's progress is a testament to John's spirit and to the outstanding therapy he's receiving. There without distractions he can fully focus on his recovery. He is working very hard and gives his wholehearted attention to each task. When looking at him it is not as apparent how damaging this event has been to him, and how much work he still has to do to regain his life. Those of us who have lived through this life changing event with him remember each and every day. John doesn't. He also doesn't realize how delicate his brain is, and how he has to alter his lifestyle to prevent future damage. Brain damage is cumulative, and further injury will exponentially effect his recovery and his future. John is being counseled in this area, and has been told that he will have to abstain from drinking, smoking, skating and snowboarding for one year. He also won't be allowed to drive for the foreseeable future. I say all this to you because we need each of you to support John by not encouraging him in ways that will derail his progress or disconnect his brain from recovering. Russell Street will be a "clean house" and we ask your cooperation and your support. If you have any questions or want to know how you can help John once he comes home, please ask Van or me.

He so enjoys your responses to his posts, and your visits and the great foods you've been bringing him. Thank you and please continue to come by.

Up with Early for BrEakfast?

Big John here for breakfast here at 7:15 to wake up for an early shuttle with Jon at 8 am instead on 8:30... Yesterday was really good going to Ridin' High for 45 min before heading home so if close please stop on Russell St off N Willard and North St a little past North St. Here at Nally Allen Rehab near St Mikes if you gotsome time to stop by... So any do I'm trying to get down to contest weather it be Sat on Sunday, Peace.


Thursday, September 13, 2007

Update from Big John

Time change Will be at the shop from 2:15 to 3:15 so if there are Any needs stop by then for help from John.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

John at High

Bigs J here so let me know where you are? Fanny Allen Rehab so write me a message and if you can I'll be trying to go down to Ridin' High tomorow afternoon so if you can stop on by to see me by 5 let me know... Hopefully the weather will work so if Ridin' happens with Rich stop on by or give me a call 802 847 9502 or my cell, peace.

John bigs

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

John with Fanny Allen Rehab for goods

Big John here,
Here at East tower trying to game my cycles... If you can come visit John at Fanny or have my way little kids. Had over six come show me their way yesterday so if you got today I only have Sheehan and Jam so come catch with bio... I hope to be holding a movie with Travis on Saturday down at the Ridin' High keep on the movie way if not RH way it will be the Burlington Sk8way. Hope to see you all down there so if you can try me at 802 847 9502 hope to be taking thursday off at the shop for a little way to be, see ya'll soon.



In afternoon PT John took a jaunt from the gym around the nursing station/elevator rectangle and back with only an aide with hand on his belt. He hen rested a bit went down the elevator and walked around the building with the walker with only 3 rests. It was a lot more than PTer, the Bon, planned. John is focused and determnned in the strenght, stretching and balance exercises. In a balance test he got 50 out of 56 points losing most for being unable to stand on one foot. But, hey, it was less than 3 weeks back when he first stood challenging the strenth of 4 helpers. Today marks 3 weeks in Fanny Allan with 3 weeks to go. He knows his therapy schedule for the day when I arrive and the days are enjoyable and pass fast.

Monday, September 10, 2007

John at rdn hgh

John is here from ridin' high to tell you all that future is almost here. Second day for me getting my own praces out so if you can welcome to me either thru 802 847 9502 or my cell phone which my dad carries ... So get in touch with I at Fanny Allen Rehab or touch my time thru time. Publishn post and get in time with I ...


Sunday, September 9, 2007

John at rehab 4 help...

John Bigs,
Matt Porter should be coming over today for New Patriot Silas game, Hopefully he will be next to Adam next to the shop, but don't worry will let you know. Waiting for my Dad to come back in and a lot of friends to stop by, it is a Sunday and no hasetts timing me down. Hopefully i'm here to help serve the Sunday welcome and open the nose. Try me by 802 847 9502 or my cell phone holded by dad untill I get less by Nanny Allen Rehab across from St Mikes on 15. Love all the kids over.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Big John's Rise Up 30th Birthday Celebration 10/17

Wednesday October 17th at HigherGround

Big John's Rise Up 30th Birthday Celebration

Featuring Turkey Bouillon Mafia and friends performing the music of the Grateful Dead, intermixed with sets by Lion Pride Soundsystem!!!!!

More details later. Spread the word!!!

John at rdn hgh

John bigs,
Just a little guy coming in to ambulance the way... Sheehan little good in moving with my dad and Aaron from the ware house to the house, little to say about Betsy and Jen... Another mind way for me to trash out of Fanny Allen Rehab and the other house people this place happens. Dad has a lot to say about OM so let your wind clear and let me know what you think.

Love big John...


Last eve I had the great pleasure of going to Dobra Tea with John as a recreational therapy outing. The staff required it be to a quiet familiar place without too much sitimualtion. While there john told Amanda, the proprieteress and RTer Rich that he had been in hospitals for 8 weeks including 30 days in the turkey (ICU) with 25 chickens (wires) in his head. Many of his brain conections ae not back yet and I hear a hundred things a day callled a turkey, fish, tofu, etc. he knows what he is lookiing at and the correct word but it does not come out and he does not mind being corrected. A typical condition for those as injured as severely and will decrease with time his doctor and speech therapist assured me. Still it makes for many amusing moments as when out for a tour of the parking lot in his wheeelchair he ponted at a car ant told the PTer it was an "86 Tofurkey" By the way John did peak in the ICU with14 tubes and 24 into wires into him along with a bolt through his skull and it was touch and go for 3 weeks. His rebound is nothing short of a miracle. Thanks for your love, prayers, support. pops

and tons of thanks to aaron and his got junk crew, betsy, jen, sheenan, and a gentleman whose nome I can't recall for help with moving furniture from the warehouse to russell street.

Friday, September 7, 2007

john by john

Que know me so stop by Fanne Annel Rehab near for St Mikes on 15 notch so stop by and see your bro. Let me know your all better and please stop by my attend. Thanks to all teams who helped me to Eric house look forward to seeing ya'll. Moving back to town in October soo see yall then.
John Bigs

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Volunteers Needed

sheehan said...
Looking for Volunteers!!! Thursday 9/6 @4:00pm

Big John's is leaving the rehab center on Oct 2. In an effort to help set him up at his new home, we are going to be moving Biggie's posessions from his warehouse on the corner of North Ave and Berry Street to the house on Russell Street.

Aaron Fastman is donating the use of his large box truck, and is coordinating the effort for Thursday 9/6 @4:00pm. Thank You Aaron.

Aaron's phone number is 802.236.9485

Sheehan's phone number is 802.734.2391

The more friends of John who come out the quicker the job will be. Even if you can just stop by for a little while to help load or unload, the help will be appreciated.

Please forward this message and spread the word to anyone who might be able to help. Thank You.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

john by big john

lets do a litle less dying and a little more living. my niext bind is going to be with more and 3 nephews. that is how we go. julian was here . he is 14 and helped me extra. john who is hoping to come here also looks to learn typing. so keep your typing ready and send me some stuff. slim john

CRASH NO. 15 by pops

Crash's crash number 15 ( plus or minus a few) occurred in the sand pit off Gleason Falls Road in Hillsboro Upper Village NH. I recall it as late Thanksgiving weekend 2000. My Big Sister, her husband sort of Robbie Bobbie, John and I were gathered in the morn at my sisters 1780 Cape with John's friend Allison sleeping in the upstairs bdroom over the kitchen. Noting sparce provisions we send John to our village store for OJ, bacon, and milk a mile distant in Allisons less than a week old Durango. After 15 minutes he had not returned and we puzzled. After 30 we pondered what could have possibly happened. At about minute 45 he came walking up the drive and I met him and was gruffly ordered to drive hime up to my abode (mile and a half away) to get his vehicle and tow ropes. We returned to the sandpit and hooked up both our trucks to the Durango which was precariously tipped on its side on a bank. It was not that high and it would have only fallen about 10 feet but onto a 3-4 foot rock below the passsenger windows. Our vehicles could not budge the Durango but we left them attached and walked the couple hundred yards back to my sister's. Crash noting that after an indetermainably long time in the Durango with the driver door headed into the air he realized he could be there all day so ever so slowly opened the door and climbed out.

To make a long story short, by then Allison was up and an hour of hushed conversations which stopped in her presence and phonecalls ensured and we fnally got 2 wreckers to pull the Durango out which was wedged on a boulder in the sand in in no real danger of toppling. Surprisingly no damage was done and John sped to the nearest car wash and soon appeared in sister's driveway with the SUV sparkling. In the kitchen he met Allison and said "we have to talk" and they went upstairs and soon came down smiling. i presume he explained how returing with the OJ bacon and milk a mysterious force drew him into the sandpit and sped him around a few times. but while driving out at a very reasonable speed he hit a bump which threw him aside nearly toppliing her car. Ah, yes, the mysterious forces that propel us through the universe. pops 9/5/07

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

john can I call you by big john

trying to get out of here early. saw my doctor, says I am good. maybe in two weeks. see you soon, love you. john

Monday, September 3, 2007

Biggie J for the Rest by big john

biggs mama is doing the typin, but I'm doing the talkin.

Where's Rachel, Julian and Ambrose? Keeping an eye on my Grandma's old house in Spring Lake NJ. I was born in San Diego then moved to Colorado, back to Cali, then Texas, then on to NJ. Let you know I'm from all over. From NJ moved up to Keene Valley, NY for 5th grade with Pops, then back to NJ for a few years with my Mama and sisters, then up to the Ads for 8th grade with Pops. Back to NJ to RBC until spring of junior year when I moved back to the ads with pops to finish out the school year. Then went on for senior year to Fair Haven in Orwell, VT. Then two years at UVM. Then opened out Ridin High. Got it?

Time to Ride. Strap em in.You know how it goes. Talk to you soon.
Big John

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Big John Speaks by Big John

I'm in my first day of being online, lets do this. I'm here, I'm alive. I got one month in rehab until October 2nd and I'll see you all then. Looking for a place to call home.

Thank you for your prayers, and the shop has been doing well. Will Deming, Kaitlyn, Meredith, Rachel and Julian and all the others... Thank you. And to all who contributed to the Benefit and the fund... thank you.

Leave me a card here, or call my room 802-847-9502 and I'll get back to you.

Love you,
Peace and Skate

Saturday, September 1, 2007

PINK BLUES by pops


HEY, this is about Crashie's summer of 14, after a bit of trouble and having to bolt New Jersey. I was living in the White Sled Motel Bunkhouse in Lake Placid New York cuz Kevin had torched Raccoon Lodge while trying to thaw the pipes so I picked him up at a diner in Kingston with the stipulation he could only bring what he could carry between his mother's and my vehicle. He stretched it a bit pushing another bag on a skateboard. We lived the transient life for about a month then rented "the dump house" a charming cottage on a mountain brook adjacent to the town of Keene dump and sandpit. I was doing a whole house renovation in the valley and John came in mighty handy and worked hard to pay off his debts. By summer I gave him some slack and he bycycled home by dusk unless otherwise arranged.

My old man boring life and TV less, he later confessed most nights he slipped out after hearing my snores, having found the town workers left the key to the pay loader in it he would roar around the pit at top speed enjoying himself until satiated. That is til his last night when he buried the gate with 20 scoops of gravel. (((YES, as Kerouac so aptly stated in Dr. SAX "Memory and dream are intermixed in this mad world.")))

That mean anything??

vann 8/28/07

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Big John's 30th Birthday Bash and News from rehab by longwinded biggs mama

As I arrived back at the entrance to Fanny Allen around noon yesterday, the ambulance attendants were wheeling in a precious bundle just as a week ago Biggie J was wheeled in, and that memory flashed before me. I'd been hearing multiple daily reports of Biggie's progress, and so was prepared to be dazzeled by his footwork and handiness and speech. And as usual, Biggie exceeded the reports. He continues to be a miracle in ridin high tee shirt and baggy sweat shorts. I truly believe in the power of prayer, and with so many praying for him... I have to ask... "who am I going to believe, the doctors or Biggie?" My bet is on the tow headed boy grown to a man! Not to say that he doesn't have a mountain to climb, but he is! Almost by the minute you can see the reconnections being made. It's frustrating for him to find the words... and some times they come out "turkey" or "what kind of car is that? to which he replies "an 86 tofurkey", but then he breaks through with a sentence and I burst my buttons.

Dr Knackle gave Pops and me a long detailed projection of John's recovery outlook, and trust me, it was not what I wanted to consider or believe. 80% was never a passing grade around our house, and still isn't. If he'd said 92% recovery... well maybe... but 80%... he can't be talking about our boy. He's already exceeded preliminary recovery projections, and I have no inclination to believe Biggie J will give an ounce less effort to his recovery than he does to anything else he sets his mind to.

Oh yeah it's true today he can't remember a story you told him an hour ago, and hears the story of his accident as if each time is the first time he's heard it. His short term memory is damaged, and will take a lot of work. But that's the kind of challenge John thrives on. At times he seems to realize where he is, but mostly he doesn't. Not Yet. He doesn't recognize that he can't get out of the bed without help, and we have to keep a steady hand on him or he'll fall out of the bed and hurt himself as he did the other night. Remember when you were a child and you thought you could fly? That's about where Biggie J is at, and it's up to all of us to protect him as he relearns everything.

It's also true the food there is less than appealing, so he is really enjoying the gourmet food that his friends are bringing in to him. Tonight he had a tasty meal from the new Thai restaurant in Winooski courtesy of Aaron. If you'd like to bring him lunch or dinner and spend some time with him, please call his cellphone so we can coordinate it. Seeing him and talking to him will lift your spirits more than you can imagine.

Now here's the idea Pops and I came up with this morning, and need all of you to pull it off. Lee from Higher Ground suggested we do another benefit for Big John in a month or so, and October 17th just happens to be his 30th Birthday. We would like to plan Big John's 30th Birthday Bash for that day. His projected discharge date from rehab is October 2nd, so he will be ready and eager to see all of you and listen to some good music. I've called Adam King, of the Mafia, and he's into it and will start making some calls. I'm putting it out there to all of you... will you help make Biggie's Birthday a Day to Remember?

And one more thing... Big John needs a place to call home when he's discharged. This is a topic that is keeping me and Pops up nights now, trying to figure out what will be best for John. We'd like to stay here at Russell street, it's wonderful in so many ways, but we do have some concerns about the long stairway and 2nd floor bathroom with the fantastic designer tub/shower. It would be easier for him if we could find a single story home (without stairs) that still offers easy access to the downtown area and his shop. Erik and Ana have been so generous in providing their home for our use these past two months, and we deeply appreciate the sacrifice it has been for them, especially given the robust Burlington rental housing market. If you can help us with this dilemma, please call John's phone, or place your comments here.

Thank you all for your prayers, your support and your devotion to Big John, he's coming back to us... SOONER than later.
Much Love and Gratitude from Biggie's Family.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


Outwardly John is making tremendous progress doing a morning and afternoon lap around the nursing station/elevator rectangle, over 400 feet each jaunt. The first was in a high rolling walker with arm support, the second in a more or less conventional one He tended to pigeon toe leaving the PTs to help him with that today along with balance and right side mobility and strenth. John gloats with the attention and praise from the rehab staff.

But do to his periods of agitation, confusion, non acceptance of his limitations, and escapism (houdini his new nickname) the staff decided it best for him to resrict visitors to immedate family and a short list of 4 or 5 closest friends as determined by his mom and I. Many visitors have delighted him but it is alway what is best for John as determined by the staff. I have attended almost all rehab sessions this week and am astounded by thier methods, professionalism and results. in the future, I am sure visitation will open up. thanks for your understanding and tremendous support we have received.

I have some walking pics on his phone but am too luddite to post. pops

Monday, August 27, 2007

Thumbs up

More pictures, these courtesy of John's Aunt Cynthia

My dad the day after the benefit concert. How happy!

The new mural at Riding High


Neurologists have adapted the rancho los amigos scale from 1 to 10 to describe patients emerging from coma and help their family and friends understand what they are going through. level 1 is comatose, 10 nearly "normal" The levels are not hard and fast but John is mostly in level 4 moving into 5. On the phone and with old memories is is fantastic and often totally present but has difficulty with time (monthwize) and like my mother after a right side stroke usually unaccepting that his present situation and immediate future have changed. At times is knows he is in rehab but then will ask "what is this place." We have showed him pictures of the accident and he seems to understand but then does not remember a short time later. At times are periods of confused agitation. I suggest those of you who visit look over the scale and use extreme kindness and consideration.

ater a day of rest yesterday rehab sessions resume this morn. I expect him to be close to a walker by the time his mother arrives wed. BUT the forest is deep and difficulties and trials are yet to come. pops

Sunday, August 26, 2007

John and his nephews, courtesy of Rachel

For those who aren't able to go by and see him, thought you'd love to see how he's looking these days.

WALKING by pops

The morning PT/OTers had no plan to help John walk yesterday but during a session of kick and batt the beach ball a couple of time he leaned forward from the padded platform and put some air under his butt as if trying to stand. So after transferring back to wheel chair they asked him if he wished to hug his dad which he did wih thier help. Then with a therapist under each shoulder and me trailing with wheel chair he took 20 or so steps, sat down and rested a then took a few more. The last under the eye of his doctor. Early in the day I chatted with Dr Knakel on J's progress and likely condition on release. Latter is to early to tell but progress remarkable considering severity of injury and temp and pressure spikes in brain during coma. he said the staff will meet tuesday to plan therapy and reestimate discharge date.

Less spctacular but as significent is J's improved speaking skills. (makes sense about half the time which some friends have said about me) No wanting to overdo it the afternoon PT/OT mostly involved rapid leg work work on an experimental bycycle machine and right hand exercises. J's right leg is equal to his left but right arm and hand were definately hurt in fall and are weak.

Will and Kaitlyn at the shop provided me with trucks, bearings, and wheels for his new skateboard so I will see if he can put it together (but not try) today. pops

Friday, August 24, 2007

back on wheels by pops

In early afternoon John discovered he could unlock the brakes on his wheel chair and propel himself. Under my guidance we took a couple spins around the halls. He tended to turn right but as adept in wheelchair from a broken fibia at about age 14 he quickly was able to maneuver. The PT/OTs cheered as we went by their office.

As significently the brain/speech conection improved and J spoke more clear words as the day went on, iincluding "fine, how are you" to his doctor." Early in the day PT/OT put him in a device called a standing frame which locked his feet and knees and supported his weight with a harness across his butt. He beamed standing at a table and thumbing through Arizona Highways.

Dr Knackel warned me on admitting him that rehab sometimes goes fast. weekend here ---visiting hours ARE 9 TO 9 except during rehab. pops

atempted to stand by pops

6 weeks back this early morn I arrived at the ICU to find John in pretty bad condition. he peaked a few days later with 14 tubes and 12 wires into him. thus yesterday it was a joy to watch hime sleep for an hour to the greatful dead after busy hours of rehab. More movement in his right hand and arm every day and some shaking head no to questions, BUT a nurse still described him as waking up and requested I remind visiters to limit time, turn off TV, speak slowly ina normal voice, ask simple questions and give time to answer. communication rules afre posted on wall in room. visiting is 4 to 9 daily, more sunday but not sure of hours.

big news of day was his attempt to stand during afternoon PT. we had him in the gym and with many onlookers J could not concentrate on kickball. the therapists noticed he was triing to lean forward and push with his left arm so with the help of 4 twice got him momentarily up on his hind legs as our brand of primates and endeavered to perfect for a million years. Far from walking but he got the urge. gotta crawl first. pops

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Our Amazing Biggie J by biggs mama

It's been just about 6 weeks since Big John went down, and this is the first day I felt relaxed enough to sleep in and wake without worrying. It's good to read the positive comments about Fanny Allen rehab, that support the feelings I got being there. John looks and acts mellow, except for his decision to yank out his trach tube! I'd been asking when they would remove it, as he obviously didn't need it any more, but Dr Knackle said "since it's there, we'll put him through his paces today and see how he does, then we can take it out in a day or two." Shortly after that, while the PT therapist was talking with me, John reached up and before she could stop him, pulled it half way out. After much flurrying around, Dr Knackle returned and removed it the rest of the way! Well they were warned! I learned from Pops last evening that they also removed his catheter. So many big steps Biggie! His OT therapist said she would take him to the computer room to view his blog, but I don't know if that happened yet. Won't he be surprised by all the stories and comments!

In discussing the discharge plans yesterday, generally we can expect a 4-8 week stay at Fanny Allen, then he'll need 24/7 companionship. But I think we'll have a better idea of what Biggie will need as time goes on. He continues to improve each day, at a typically Biggie pace.

Today he'll begin working with the speech therapist. Apparently he's suffering with Aphasia, common after a head injury, which causes him to not be able to speak, and weakness on the right side. But he can communicate on the phone to simple questions and replies with fairly simple responses. It's all so exciting though isn't it? I can hardly wait to return next Wednesday to see his progress.

Michael Brookes, editor at Concrete Wave is planning a story featuring Big John, using the blog, comments and related stories. He needs a good, high quality picture of Big John skatboarding for the article. Does anyone have one? If so, please send it to me, Lauren Shade @ Please be sure to include your name, email addy, and a description of where and when the pic was taken. Thanks!


rerturned from 3 nights at home (highlights-- brer bear bear eating my big red hen and a mushroom foray into NH's biggest white cedaar swamp) to visit with biggie right after a wheelchair trek outside as his afternoon PT. He was non talking but fed himself with a fork ( I never had ny doubt he could master eating again.) He nodded to virtually all questions including weather or not I could fly. (I was stretching after my long trek and asked if I could fly and he agreed) I was asked to pick up some of his own clothes from his 'apartment" for PT/OT. I will observe all rehab sessions today and have his phone so call if you can and if time is right I put it to his ear.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Biggie J moves on to Rehab by biggs mama

Greetings from Fanny Allen Rehab center. Smiles to All! Biggie J was relocated this afternoon, and is settling in nicely. Each day he does something new and today was no different. Today I held his phone up to his ear when a friend called, and he started talking!!!! First time I've heard his voice. He still can't make the connection to talk to us in the room, but on the phone... you know him, that's second nature. He even hits the end button when he's done talking :-) That Guy!

He's moving his legs and trying hard to adjust himself in the bed. And today he crawled his right hand over to yank out the catheter... fantastic really... that arm is the slowest to recover, perhaps because that was the shoulder that hit the ground along with his head... I'm no doctor, but makes sense to me.

Also the speech therapist at Fletcher Allen passed him today to drink fluids and to eat. He had no trouble swallowing, but due to circumstances... he didn't have his trach tube removed today, but it's most likely on the schedule for tomorrow. In any case, he chose applesauce for his first food, followed by pudding. And he fed himself with his left hand. He was very stimulated today by all the excitement of the move and hardly slept. Finally once we were settled in his new room at Fanny Allen he dozed off... and me too. Later on he spoke to a few more people on the phone, and had a few visitors. He's really doing so very well.

Visitors at Fanny Allen are limited to two at a time, and can visit between 4 pm - 9pm. Sunday visitors are welcome from 10am - 9pm. He tires easily, so please use good judgement when you visit. If the nurses think he is tired or over stimulated they will ask you to leave. Tomorrow he'll have his initial evaluations and his PT/OT/Speech therapy program will be developed. He'll be working on his rehab during the morning and the afternoon, with rest periods. Once he's ready he'll take his meals in the dining room. I'll be there with him for his AM therapy, then have to head back to NJ. Hopefully I'll get in a few days of work before I return next week. Pops will be back tomorrow late afternoon.

John is really coming around. I won't even try to guess what he'll be able to do this time next week. Keep praying... it's working.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

More Physical than Cognitive by biggs mama

Today was a big day for Biggie. He had his first shower in 38 days! His nurse Alice suggested it, and he seemed quite pleased by the prospect. She arranged for a waterproof gurney, somewhat similar to an outdoor lounge, but much higher. We rolled him into a shower room, and he really enjoyed the experience. Afterwards he napped.

He enjoyed his visitors today, mostly nodding to questions, but few if any attempts to verbally respond. Later this afternoon he spent about 1 1/2 hrs in the stryker chair, a very sophisticated appliance that converts from a gurney to a chair. He worked on adjusting his position, trying to use his legs to move his body around. He would drop his right foot off the footrest and then pick it back up! Earluer he was also able to lift his left leg back up onto the bed after slipping it over the side. After periods of exertion or stimulation, he tends to sleep. His breathing is very good, and I'm hopeful they will remove the trach tube tomorrow. I'm also hopeful that he will be transferred to Fanny Allen tomorrow as well.

I wanted to take a minute to thank each of you who respond with comments to the blog. It's really encouraging to read your comments, as it spurs me to continue writing. Thank you for your input and the many offers of assistance.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

If this is baseball... It's the World Series by biggs mama

This afternoon as I was standing by Biggies bed in the private room he was moved to last evening, he reached his left arm around my shoulder and patted me! In a voice no louder than a whisper he replied "OK" when a friend said she would be back to see him again. I brought him a deck of cards (with a picture of a Zoey dog no less) and he enjoyed picking through them. He even put some in his right hand and delicately held them for a bit. That is the first time I saw him move his right fingers, and he held the cards! He had a lot of activity in his legs, and tried to use his left shoulder to adjust himself in the bed. And when I left this evening, he was fumbling with the tv remote, pushing the on/off and channel buttons, and the call nurse button too! WOW what a difference 4 days makes! If this is baseball... it must be the world series!

Dr Rughani stopped by this afternoon and said John was still scheduled to be moved to Fanny Allen Rehab center on Monday. I asked if the trach collar could be removed before he left Fletcher, and he said it's very possible that can be done Monday morning. He has a plug in the present trach tube that allows speech, but he still has some work to do to repair the brain/speech connections. He did mouth the word "yes" to me, without sound. I am so amazed at his progress today I just couldn't wait to share it with all of you who have tirelessly followed Big John's progress and held him in your prayers. Stay tuned.


on morning visit found my son in a regular room with his nurse proclaiming him ready for rehab where they will work him like in boot camp. It is a great sign that john smiles and not frowns and nods and not shakes his head for some waking from a coma are hostile or even vicious to the ones they love most.

off home for 3 days for quality time with my cat and tend my garden, pops

Friday, August 17, 2007

inch by inch pops

john was pretty sleepy yesterday and heart rate flared before PT/OT so he missed daily sit up.

This morn, the night nurses reported J was awake most of night and reacting and smiling with them but stopped when neurosurgeons appeared. J sat up about 20 minutes in PT/OT working on balance and initiated pushing himself up when slumped to side. Top neurololgist came by and reacted with j a bit. He said s long as their is a connection they can build on it. Right now J is scheduled to be moved to Fanny Allen on monday where they will work him harder.

Again our family is overwhelmed by the love and support we have received. pops

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Long Path Through the Woods by biggs mama

Back home in NJ for a few days of work and restoring inner balance. Thanks to all who've supported us through the great challenges we've faced these past 36 days. John has come a long way out of the woods, but this forest is huge, and the way difficult. His need for us is great as he faces the scary reality of requiring 24/7 care and prolonged help to regain mobility.

He needs the positive energy and support of his friends to buoy his spirits and encourage him through the hard months ahead. If you'd like to visit him, please call his cell phone, so we can help you coordinate your visit.

Big John's family is tremendously grateful to Erik and Ana for the donation of their home on Russell Street. It has been a haven of rest and serenity through these horrific days. We are now hoping to find some accomodation closer to Fanny Allen Rehab center for the next few months, as Pops loves to walk, but 5 miles is a bit too much for him. As John progresses through the rehab program, we'll have a better idea of what his needs will be through the winter. The doctors are predicting he'll still need 24/7 care, but we all know John, and so we'll continue to visualize him standing tall. We would appreciate any help in finding our next "rest stop" along the way.

Again, our deepest thanks to each and every one of you for the outpouring of love and support to Big John and his family. Blessings.

less biggie john by pops

spent 7 busy hours in room with John yesterday. in morn 2 aids weighed him ina sling like device and he has lost over 40 pounds in hospital. I can feel it moving and rubbing his arms and legs. J had 3rd rehab session siting him up in bed with feet on floor to regain balance and holding head. a few additions to previous sessions geting him to leanto side and push self up.
in late afternoon Dr Bintner (top nerosurgeon) stoped in and said the game has changed from the speed of ice hockey to baseball. She is pleased with his general level of alertness but concerned with little motion on right side. Just before 5 Dr Knacle who is in charge of admissions of fanny allen examinded John. He is not ready yet but perhaps next week when congestion wanes and trach is removed. He said stay at fanny allen could be "relatively fast" and we should start to plan for J's care afterward.

"Lee boy" said 430 paid admissions to benefit and event raised well over 5000 for fund. many thanks for a great party and your generosity and concern and love of John. i am sorry we have not been able to respond to the dozens of cards and donations but will when tihngs settle a bit. pops

PS I was last in my typing class for I kept my eyes open and last in my small arms training for I kept them closed. my latter instrutor told me to envision shooting ho chi min so I closed eyes figuring he was small and I would miss.

Monday, August 13, 2007


what a difference a week makes!!! a week back we were excited when John moved his left arm a foot, yesterday he was doing his best to bite the O2 tube off his left index finger until the nurse moved it to his right hand more awareness, more movement everyday but J get tired an has to rest and there are plateaus ond one one long difficult row to hoe ahead.

many thanks from his family for all your support and see you at concert tonight. pops

Saturday, August 11, 2007


John has made "tremendous progress" in the past few days, says Dr. Link (neurologist). John has been responsive when engaging with family and friends, seeming to understand much of what is said to him, and responding at times such as with a smile or moving his head. We've seen less improvement in physical actions vs. cognition, but John is improving those as well. He has moved his hand up to near his collarbone, has tightened his hands to hold objects (crystals), chewed on his fingernail (bad habits die hard!), moved his legs but not his toes. Today when John sat in a hospital chair (that supported his body weight), he was able to hold his head up for a time, before growing tired and letting it drop to the side.

The View from a Chair by biggs mama

After 30 days in bed, John enjoyed a few hours sitting in a chair in his room in the ICU this afternoon. He was quite interactive, and as Sky put it "It's great to see that John is still interested in two of his favorite things: women and snowboarding, and I didn't even say snowboarding, I just said Jay". Both topics brought smiles to Big John's face.

He is scheduled to be moved out of ICU (perhaps today) to what's termed a "step down" room. That's an intermediate step, from ICU to standard room. This room will be a 3-1 share with an assigned nurse.

The EEG did not reveal any seizure activity, so he was given ritilin (sp?) to stimulate brain activity. I guess he doesn't mind that! That's the breaking news of the moment. Thanks for your amazing support.



The last many years our occasional (average monthly) phone conversations have usually ended--

Easy does it, Crash.
Easy don't do it, Dad.
Easy does it, Crash.
Easy don't do it, Dad.
Easy does it, Crash.
Easy don't do it, Dad.

But the last 6 to 9 months

Easy does it, Crash.
Yup, easy does it, Dad.
Easy does it, Crash.
Yup, easy does it, Dad.

has prevailed.

His nickname was coined by my dear double cousin Russell, the proprietor of the family farm just outside Fitchburg Mass from 1970 to 2001 who in that period had over 200 employees and was a great student of human and animal nature and personal friend to all a we sheltered under the umbrella of his being. After me boys third significant "accident" in 3 years, Russell started calling him "Crash" and I routered a "Crash Hill" sign to mark the spot where he totaled my 69 Ford one ton van.

The first "accident" was June 1986 when under Russell's care on the farm while I was renovating an apartment in NYC, me boy caught his T shirt in the gear of the turning mechanism of a 1000 gallon milk tank. I rushed back in the night, met him in the hospital and was told he was walking by the tank and it grabbed him though it was on side of the tank against the wall and we all suspect he was enjoying a free back rub as the gears mixed the milk. The surgeon said he had the maximum possible damage without permanent disability.

The second "accident" occurred the next summer just above Lower Ausable Lake in the Adirondacks. We had just boated up a 3 mile lake and were beginning a portage to the next lake to join friends for a wilderness experience when me boy slipped and tore off a flap of skin below his knee. Boating back, busing out, and driving to Lake Placid took over 3 hours where the ER doctor told us it was the only place in the body that could be cut so much without bleeding to death in that time.

So-- summer 1988 me boy and I were living in a 14 by 20 foot one time convenience store that my cousin had bought ten years before and placed at the edge of a drumlin out behind the heifer barn. Skinny was the main occupant for years but facing time for his third DWI he climbed out a courthouse window and fled to a back water farm in Benson Vermont. I cleaned it up (2 dump truck loads including a roadkill cat named "flats") and made it my home away from home for years. Me boy slept on a mattress on the floor until one day we made a platform bed at a woodshop at my aunt's a mile down the highway.

Happy from our accomplishment I stopped in the parking lot of the ice cream stand perhaps 200 yards from the bunkhouse and told me boy he could drive the rest of the way. ( I started driving hay trucks on the farm at age 9, Russell at age 6) We crept up the drive, the van having a an automatic trans and a big V8 but turning left up a hill I said to step on the gas a little. Crash floored it and we headed straight for the tall silo. Picturing it toppling on us I reached toward the brake and and turned the wheel away only to hit the abutment of a trench silo. I sat in silence with Crash saying, "Dad, you are not saying anything---- Dad, you are not saying anything."

((note, the abutment pushed the radiator into the steering box, which would not necessarily total the vehicle but the box had already been welded and could not be done again.))

Friday, August 10, 2007

Ridin High in the Sonshine by biggs mama

Best day so far! Big John was alert and interactive today, with a few smiles, good eye tracking, some eyebrow raisings, lots of hand and arm movements, leg movements, and moving his head. He was awake most of the morning and afternoon. He had an EEG this afternoon and was alert throughout. The EEG is to determine if he's having any seizures (so far he hasn't), but once that's read, they can give him some medicine to stimulate the waking up process.

The speech therapist was in to see him and explained how she will work with the respiratory therapist to cap the trach collar and release the cuff inside around the trach tube so he can practice talking, once he's ready for that.

It's an incredible roller coaster ride, and today has been quite a high. I really felt Big John was connecting with me today. It's funny how a little purposeful raised eyebrow, or a wink back to his nurse can raise one's spirits exponentially. In fact, it was so great I stayed all day until he finally took a 4PM nap.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Mostly Cloudy This Morning by biggs mama

Thanks to Small Dog Electronics' donation of a power cord, the blog can continue!

Today John was removed from the ventilator and is now breathing on his own through a trach collar. It takes a lot of effort on his part to work the muscles involved in breathing, so he is really working hard at something we take for granted along with his huge task of healing his brain. But moving off the ventilator moves him one step closer to moving out of the ICU into a regular room. This morning he woke with some eye movement and some eye contact, but with no real responsiveness or alertness. I'm told this is normal, and although at moments like this it's excruciatingly difficult, I'm clinging to the vision of him well and healthy.

The question of where he goes beyond Fletcher Allen is as yet unknown. Levels of Recovery are often measured in rehabilitation programs with the use of the Rancho Los Amigos scale to assess cognitive functioning. Today John remains a Level II requiring total assistance, and his Level of Disability is vegatative. These scales will be used to determine the most appropriate rehabilitation facility available to him. We have some time before this decision has to be made, and our prayers are that his condition improves enough over the next week or two to become an appropriate candidate for the Fanny Allen Rehabilitation facility here in Burlington.

Two baby steps forward, one back, but in the right direction.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Have You Seen A Sunburst? by Biggs Mama

Have you ever seen a "sunburst"? When the layers of clouds part and for a brief moment you see the sun before the layers of clouds close up again. The Seattle area is famous for them. That's what I shared with John yesterday.

In between the long periods of "no contact" with John floating somewhere in the ozone are windows of clarity. In the late morning I felt him engage eye contact. After talking to him awhile I asked him if he was understanding me. "Blink if you are hearing me John" and there was a slight blink. "Ok, I thought that was a blink, but I can't be sure. If you are really understanding me close your eyes, like this", and I closed my eyes. And then he closed his eyes!

Later in the afternoon, when he returned from having a feeding tube inserted directly into his stomach, and was practicing breathing without ventilator assistance (building up his muscles so he can be removed from the vent) his nurse Shannon tapped on his third eye and the window opened again. The tv was on and he started watching Oprah interview Al Gore, he engaged eye contact with me, and he tracked Shannon as she talked and tended to his meds and such. He was present! It was exhilerating, and as I became more excited that he was clearly engaged in our talk of the origins of Ridin High, how he started it and such, I asked him "You're really getting this aren't you?" and then he smiled on the left side of his face! Another Sunburst! And then the clouds slowly closed back over him...

Traumatic brain injury is a long haul. But John is in there, and he is working hard to come back. Trust in prayer and keep sending your positive energy and images of Biggs fully back. It's all working.

Monday, August 6, 2007


John is breathing mostly on his own now. Yesterday they switched the ventilator so that it would do one breath and then the next John would do himself. Today John is doing all breaths on his own with some extra support by the vent. It sounds like if all goes well he could be off the vent completely in a few days. He'll still be breathing through the tracheal tube though.

Dr. Gibbons from neurosurgery told us that the MRI showed that John did not have the "shearing" of axons that was a potential concern. It also confirmed the location and amount of damage that was seen in the CAT scan- in his left and right front temporal areas.

John's overall condition is improved as well. He no longer has a fever, the pneumonia is gone, they are reducing the level of pain medication, and he no longer is receiving higher than normal saline in his IV.

Waking up is hard to do

While we are getting occasional flashes of recognition from John, none as clear as Rachel's experience with him a couple mornings ago. Dr. Walsh told my dad that he is pleased with the progress- that John can move more every day- but said that waking up may take days, may take months.

The doctors ran a MRI yesterday (John is now stable enough to tolerate it). We've not gotten the full results from the radiologist yet, but Dr. Walsh said there was "nothing terrible".

We are very excited about the Benefit for Big John on August 13th and look forward to celebrating John with the great community of people that love him. The details:

Higher Ground (
Monday, August 13, doors 8pm
$10- all money goes to John and his family
Turkey Boullion Mafia
Seth Yacovone
DJ A-Dog
DJ Nickel B of Itation Sound
Premier of Travis Card's New Skate Film
All ages
Video 8:30pm, Music 9:15-2am
Tickets at the door, at Riding High, or at the Higher Ground website

Sunday, August 5, 2007

near riot this morn by pops

the hospital cafe opened 3 minutes late this morn with a crowd of about 20 angry coffee addicts pounding on door and shaking their fists. when the melee abated I got my cup and drank it in the ICU with me boy watching a spectacular peach-pink-purple dawn in the NE sky.

the night nurse said he had had a quiet night. Second in command nerosurgeon DR. Walsh examined J at 6:40 and was pleased with his increased reaction to pain; at one point J moved his right hand about a foot. I did not notice any change from yesterday in tracking with his eyes but they are bright and alert.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

good afternoon by pops

a minor technical point---the green field filter is in the main vein from lower body to heart. the longer one is in bed the greater the chance of a blood clot. it can be more easily dealt with in the filter than heart.

the second neurosurgeon Dr Walsh said he was pleased with the brightness of eyes and they're following voice. In my afternoon visit J seemed about as he was this morn. I visit every morning from 5 to 7 or so and only one morning have I not seen the neurosurgeon team on their morning rounds. Their plan of the day almost always is wait wait wait.

Friday JESSE LEE out front on valet parking reminded me it was a marathon not a sprint. Her brother took 2 full weeks from opening eyes to talking. we are encouraged and thank everyone for their support.


Last night's nurse described John as lighter. When I was there, his eyes were moving quite a bit more than the night before and he seemed to look toward me a couple times. The nurse said that when she would leave him alone at night for a while, he'd close his eyes, but then open then again when someone entered the room. At times his hands respond to stimuli but there was less change with that so far.

When Rachel went by later this morning, she had some significant responses from him. When she called his name from either side of the bed, he would look toward her. When she asked him if he knew she was there, he nodded his head yes. When she asked him if he was coming back to us, he again nodded his head yes.

Friday, August 3, 2007

One Inch Away

The weaning actually went much faster than we had understood and John has been off the pentabarbitol since yesterday morning. The effects should take another day or two to wear off, but already we are seeing signs of John coming back to us.

My dad described him as one inch closer, but to look at him now he seems just one inch away. His eyes are now open. He's not quite there yet, but it seems like he's not too far away. He's making some small motions with his hands, including in response to pain. He's making some small movements with his mouth, seemingly in reaction to the feeling of having the tubes in his mouth.

The doctors are planning a couple procedures for later today. The first is to protect him from blood clots going to his heart. They'll be inserting a filter in the main artery return. They are also inserting a feeding tube directly in to his stomach, removing the one that currently goes in through his mouth. The mouth tube can irritate the throat after a prolonged period.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007


John continues to be stable, with last night particularly quiet and steady. The doctors have decided to start weaning John off the pentabarbitol (the sedative he's currently on). They say the process will take 2-3 weeks as they slowly reduce the drug a few ccs at a time.

I just finished weaning my little boy Leo with a not too dissimilar process and time frame. I'm happy to say he adapted well, with the great side benefit that he's now a bit more interested in cuddling. Let's hope for a similar positive outcome for John.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Baby steps

John continues to be stable, supported by various interventions, and the doctors are in the process of weaning him off those. His care by the nurses and doctors is intense- with many adjustments hour to hour- but the overall progression is towards improvement.
-ICPs: They got him off the drain a couple days ago and now have reduced the level of saline in his IV. His ICPs are in the safe zone most of the time, and the frequency and duration of spikes have decreased.
-Fever: They are no longer regulating his temperature through the hot and cold blankets but instead keeping the room very cold and giving him Tylenol. He continues to run a slight fever, but at a level that is not dangerous to him.
-Infection: Since removing the drain, they don't have a easy way to test for the presence of the ecoli infection, but the infectious disease doctor believes that it should be cleared up by now given the antibiotic course John has had.

The infectious disease doctor, Dr. Grace, said to my mom today "you've got a painful walk to go but we'll walk it with you". Keep taking those baby steps, little brother.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Some improvement

John's recent CAT scan showed resolving contusions and larger ventricles in the area of injury. Or more simply, his brain swelling is reduced. Makes me smile.

Call for Volunteers by Biggs Mama

"When the student is ready the teacher will appear" was again the case for me Saturday night when I attended the 23rd Native American Gathering of Elders at Sunray Peace Camp in Lincoln, VT. From the many out stepped the ones I needed at this moment in our journey to support John's recovery. My first contact taught me a water ceremony and directed me to the second, a firekeeper who was collecting requests for special prayers, to whom I gave John's name. He then directed me across the fire to Jim Vyhnak, a traumatic brain injury survivor and past Executive Director of The Brain Injury Association of Vermont, also a firekeeper in the Green Mountain Band of the Cherokees. In three steps I had succeeded in connecting with and gathering abundant strength and resources to assist John on his path to recovery.

When Biggie wakes up, we will have a clearer view of the path he will need to travel to return to his life. He will need all of us to help reconnect him, in the least, to these lost weeks and possibly to help him relearn everything. In these days of waiting for John to wake up, we can coordinate ourselves into a strong support network. Thanks to Erik, Ana, John and Carmen we have a base from which to organize our resources at 32 Russell Street. Starting with the Brain Injury Association of VT ( and the Brain Injury Association of America we can educate ourselves about traumatic brain injury (TBI). You may have stories of loved ones and friends who have suffered and survived TBI to share. If you would like to volunteer your time, talents and energy to Biggie's support network, please add your name here in a comment. If you would like to be a volunteer coordinator, please indicate that as well. As Biggie's support crew develops, we will work out contact details, phone trees, and the many unknown requirements of his recovery.

Doctor Commichau, the attending neurologist said when asked his prognosis on John " Based on his initial responses early on we are optomistic for a positive outcome". That is as good as we can get at this point, but I'll take it with a smile and a whoppee!! If we are overprepared and the volunteer crew isn't needed... then we'll just party hearty with Biggie!

Stiyu (stay strong),
Biggie's Family

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Thanks and Gratitude by Biggs Mama

Thanks John for sharing the chant from the concert last night. Tears flow so easy these days... and reading how much people love my son John helps alot. I woke thinking I wanted to put up a post thanking you all for your prayers and the powerful energy you are sending to John and our family. We are deeply touched by the outpouring of love from all over the map.

We have a long road ahead... just how long is anyone's guess, and Biggie is not talking yet. We need to reach out to one another, hold tight and be strong and courageous. Biggie is fighting the fight of his life, for his life.

I've sat with my boy for hours on end, stood holding his hand and singing the Cherokee Morning Song to him and visualizing him opening his eyes and asking "Wat's up Bigg Mama?" As I gaze upon his face I see him at all ages throughout his life. The minute old newborn grey as clay waiting for his first breath. I see him a tiny tow head toddler we called Kissie then (his oldest sister affectionately coined the name from Chrissie as he was called in his youngest days). I see the fearless 4 year old pushing his big wheel far up Dictionary Hill in Spring Valley, CA then with feet extended, flying down that hill to be caught by a fearful mama and spun into a heap together. Ah, there is so much I can say... so many stories of this bighearted boy grown to manhood. Stories of the many adventures to the emergency room as Biggie climbed to the edge where he lives his life. Of the countless stories shared about his friends and his adventures, his hopes, his fears, his goals, his dreams. I see these and more on his peaceful face as he lies in the ICU on life support while his body struggles to heal. And I give thanks as I do each day that Big John lives and breathes.

We keep this blog, the letters, the cards, the pictures in large part because he will want to know all about these days. He will need our collected stories to fill in these lost days. Your prayers and poems and friendship will be the foundation that supports him through his journey to recovery. As we say in Cherokee "stiyu" stay strong! Hold tight to your vision of him well and strong.

wado, wado, wado... great thanks and gratitude
Biggs Mama

DAWN by pops


First dawn in sixteen
I have not been with my son
in ICU Fletcher Allen
Burlington, Vermont.
Yesterday neurosurgeon Walsh
noting that said for me to
take a break and get some sleep.
Home, I still rise at 3.

Everyday, waves of hope and despair.
Everyday, tears of pain
and love we never knew existed.

van 7/28/07

Friday, July 27, 2007

Big Meeting

My sister Rachel felt it was time for a meeting with John's doctors, and with the help of the social worker on our case, made it happen. Dr. Binter, the attending neurosurgeon, and Dr. Commichau, the attending neurologist, spent over an hour with my family discussing John's current state and outlook.

Summary of current state:
-John's condition as still very critical. He has a closed head injury in which the impact of the fall resulted in brain contusions
-He is currently stable and doing well on the current drug regimen and other interventions. There is significant variabilitiy in his ICPs minute to minute and hour to hour but with a progression toward stable.
-He is suffering from a second round of infection of ecoli pneumonia in the lungs. It has not reached his brain or spinal fluid. John arrived at the hospital with lungs in poor condition (some of you may have noticed a bad chronic cough beforehand). The alvoili in his lungs had collapsed and were not functioning properly (likely due to smoking). Infection goes to the weakest point, which for John is his lungs. The doctors and nurses have tried multiple times to clean the lungs including a bronchial clean, but with only partial success.
-The EKG has shown no heart issues.

Outstanding risks:
The doctors cited several risks that could effect John's stable condition.
-A blood clot could form from him lying in bed for a prolonged period of time. If it were to form, it could cause an embolism. This can often be addressed surgically.
-He could suffer from additional infections or the existing infection could worsen.

Extent of brain injury:
-The CAT scans show some damage to 2 areas of his brain, the side with the initial impact and the side opposite the impact. The CAT scans have stayed the same over the past 2 weeks. CAT scans can show injury but not predict the effect of that injury on brain functioning.
-The EEG measures brain waves. The brain waves were slow (as would be expected for someone in a compromised state), but showed no sign of seizures (misfiring brain cells).
-The kind of injury that John had can cause twisting of the brain and "sheering" of axons (neuron wires disconnecting)which can result in major deficits in functionality. This type of damage can be assessed with a MRI but John cannot currently tolerate a MRI as he would have to leave the ICU (not safe for someone in his critical condition)and lie flat for 40 minutes (which would likely raise his ICPs too much).
-Even with all of these tests, we will only know the extent of brain damage when John wakes up.

The doctors discussed how dealing with brain trauma is an art to which a lot of science is applied and that the specialty has really come about in the past 10 years. Thus, while much is known, even more is not known. Before coming to the meeting with us, Dr. Binter told the neurosurgeon residents that she was going to tell us 3 things- "I do not know, I do not know, and I do not know". What she and Dr. Commichau were willing to say about his outlook for the future was:
-A full course ICP program is usually 2-3 weeks. John is at 2 weeks and appears to be at the tail end of the pressure problems if status quo is maintained. They will try step by step to reduce interventions, going to the next step as each is tolerated. The next step was planned to be to change the height of the bag connected to the brain in his head (more on what actually happened later). Raising the height of the bag would cause the drain to go from constantly working to working only when his ICPs spiked.
-We should expect a long recovery but impossible to predict the timing. It would likely involve intensive inpatient rehab followed by outpatient rehab.
Many, many thanks to the doctors for taking the time to discuss John's condition in such great detail.

Update since the meeting:
Now, as for the drain, the plan to move slowly toward removal starting first with changing the height of the bag was changed last night. The drain stopped draining, which apparently can happen after extended use. The neurosurgeon on duty attempted to unclog the drain. When that failed he tried to insert a new drain. After working on him for 2 hours, he was not able to do either. The inability to put in a new drain was due to the extent of the swelling in the brain. After 2 hours, the neurosurgeon team decided to instead remove the clogged drain, put the pressure monitor back in his head, and manage his pressures medically. His pressures had been high during the surgery and hours following, but came back down with saline and have stayed at a safe level since then. So, we ended up with an accelerated path to drain removal that hopefully John will continue to be able to tolerate.