Friday, March 27, 2009

A Continuation of Brooke's Narrative, begun last February

Here's a continuation of the narrative Brooke has been writing, begun last February:

To continue where I left off in the ICU. I must have been highly sedated. But you can imagine my surprise when I found myself with a tube down my throat unable to speak except with a silent, painful voicing. Faces kept flickering before my eyes, my wife, Peggy's, my sister, Lisa's, my stepdaughter, Sara's, my step son, Mike's, my sister-in-law, Sally's. I dimly recognized these faces and the voices that came from them. At one point, I remember asking Sally, what happened, why I was there. And she told me in her soft voice that I had had an accident, that it was serious, and that I was in the hospital, in the ICU. Nurses kept appearing and what I later understood to be respiratory therapists, who suctioned me hard, pushing something painful down my throat, sometimes using pulsating machines that I later learned were supposed to be dislodging secretions in my lungs. As became evident, I had pneumonia; my lungs were filled with mucus that had to be sucked out five times a day. I concentrated on the faces of these therapists, I learned their voices, I studied their eyes, their ears, their noses. I silently asked their names, and those who could read my lips told me who they are and who they were. I tried to strike up conversations. Some of them I met later in Rehab, and I remembered them from earlier in the ICU. That was a strange experience, to have somebody's voice back after several weeks, their faces, their beards, their earrings, the tones of their voices. I don't know how many times I was suctioned during the week or so that I was in the ICU. It seemed like hundreds. The nights were especially intolerable, and I dreaded them. At one point, I coded out, which means I lost my pulse, my heart stopped. I recall the nurse, with whom I’d struck up a close relationship, pumping my chest hard, time after time. After it was all over I recall someone asking the nurse if he needed anything. And he said, "a Valium."

I said, the nights were intolerable. They were intolerable, mostly because I had no way of contacting a nurse if I were in trouble. The ICU for some reason had no mechanism for doing this for someone who couldn’t speak and couldn’t shout and couldn’t use their hands. First the nurses taped together a “sip-‘n-puff” straw to blow into or suck on to notify someone, but it didn’t reach far enough over to my mouth; then they taped the straw to my cheek, but this left abrasions on the skin on my cheek when they ripped it off; then they devised a construction of two straws taped together, but this was almost as flimsy as the first. I had feelings of deep insecurity that overrode whatever drugs they gave me to try to treat the anxiety.
Furthermore, I had nothing to distract me during the long nights until Barry Weller and Howard Horwitz bought me a CD player. I listened to something by Schubert over and over again every night. It got me through. The other thing that got me through where the faces of my wife Peggy and the hands of my daughter Sara, who kept pressing them to my forehead and asking me to relax, relax, relax. Before she left for Seattle she would put her fingers on my forehead and said, over and over again, softly but firmly, "be strong for me, be strong for me." Remembering those words has gotten me through a lot of rough periods over the past three months in the hospital.

Faces began to flicker by again, colleagues I knew from the English department. They came by in droves, face after face. Their presence overwhelmed me. I couldn't speak. I could only look thankfully at their expressions of concern and solicitude. To me some of them just seemed curious to see me in the condition I was in. That may seem unjust, but many of them I have never seen again. That may sound bitter, but I know that if I were in their shoes I might do the same thing, just make one visit to a sick friend. How many times have I failed to visit friends in the hospital when they were sick? The question haunts me now as I lie here in Rehab.


I tried to make the visitors feel comfortable, but sometimes it led to various kinds of awkwardness. What could they say to a colleague who has been paralyzed from the shoulders down? I think if I were in their situations I would have felt awkward as well. Do you reach out and touch him? Do you ask How are you doing? Do you tell him what is going on in your own life? All these are difficulties for anyone who is visiting someone who is very ill or injured in the hospital. There were difficulties for me, too. How could I make them feel comfortable in my presence, when I must have looked so wretched in their eyes? A once-healthy person reduced to total immobility, with IV lines running into his arms and tubes sticking out of his throat?
And what do I say to them? Early on, I had only a signboard—a big sheet of plastic with an alphabet written on it in magic marker. I could point to the letters by holding a straw taped to a tongue depressor that had adhesive tape wrapped around one end; I could hold this in my teeth, but it was an extraordinarily tedious process to spell out words and rarely actually worked very well; people still had to guess at the words I was trying to make, and we all grew impatient.

Three or four episodes stand out in my memory of the SICU. One is when I suddenly realized that I had no feeling in my hands; up to that point I thought I might be paralyzed but still had sensation; I didn’t realize how serious it was. That’s when Mike explained to me the nature of the accident. Believe it or not, a line from Keats’ Fall of Hyperion flashed into my mind:

The feel of not to feel it, that was never said in rhyme.

The young poet is being initiated into the mysteries of human suffering. He has to ascend a staircase to arrive at the mysterious goddess Monita, who contains in her skull all of human suffering through all of the ages. Before he can ascend, however, he has to feel what death is like. He stands on the steps at the bottom of the immense staircase and feels the coldness of death move from his feet up his limbs, until it reaches his hands. He grasps them, and the line that follows is the “feel of not to feel it.” That line suddenly meant something to me in ways that it never had before. The feel of not to feel it—that was what I felt at that moment. My suffering was going to be a drop in the bucket compared to all the human suffering experienced by people throughout human history, but still, it was going to be a suffering nevertheless, and I realized that at that moment.

After I’d been in the SICU for a few days, I had a visit from John Paul Brophy, who is also the victim of a spinal cord injury that he had when he was 20—he used to come to my classes in a wheelchair. As it turned out, he was the owner of the Dead Goat Saloon, where Peggy and I used to go in the evening and dance to wonderful bands. John Paul would sit there in his wheelchair, and one night I came over to him and sat down and asked him how he was injured. He told me that he had had a motorcycle accident—a car collided with him when he was 20—and he was in the hospital for months, in a body brace. This was thirty years ago, when technology was not very good. John Paul appeared as if out of a dream, because I had been thinking about him in my hours alone at night, and how ironically I would now be in the same situation as he was when he was my student. He told me he had heard about my accident from his sister-in-law, who works in the ICU—I remember that he said, “I never thought that I would see you this way.” Later, John Paul’s appearance on that day seemed to me to be a fiction of my imagination, it was so strange, but he has just visited me again out at South Davis, where I am now. So it wasn’t a dream. John Paul has been very important to me over the past months. He’s walking now, with a cane, and the wheelchair is gone.

The third event was when Peggy and I were together alone, crying together, and I said, spontaneously, or rather mouthed, spontaneously, since I couldn’t speak at that point, “we can still have a wonderful life together.” And she responded, yes, we can.

And we are, even now. At this moment, four months after the accident and three and a half months after the time in the intensive care unit when we said those things to each other, we’re sitting together in the extra wide, extra long low-air-loss special hospital bed at South Davis. It’s hard to describe the revelatory and liberating nature of that moment in the ICU for both of us, that despite what might seem to be an utter tragedy, we can still imagine something beautiful emerging from it. We keep thinking: this is only a tragedy if we make it that way.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Having trouble leaving a comment? Reprise

Sara posted this a couple of months ago, but here it is again, just in time for B's birthday on Wednesday:

Having trouble leaving a comment?
Mom says there are still a few people who are struggling to leave comments on the blog, so I'm posting these instructions again.
Having trouble leaving a comment?
Mom says there are still a few people who are struggling to leave comments on the blog, so I'm posting these instructions again. Your comments are especially meaningful now that Brooke is on speaking restriction!

Step 1: LOG-IN. Click on the 'Sign-in' link on the top right of the screen. Enter your id and password when prompted. If you don't already have a google account, you can create one by following that same sign-in link.
Step 2: CLICK ON COMMENT LINK. You will find this small underlined 'comment' link directly under the post on the right side. It will say '0 comments' or '12 comments' or however many comments there are.
Step 4: WRITE COMMENT in the box on the right
Step 5: PUBLISH POST by clicking on the button under the comment box that says 'Publish Post'

I'm guessing most people hit a snag if they don't have a google/blogger account so make sure you create one or sign-in before trying to comment.

If you still have questions or are having trouble, please feel free to email me directly at and I will walk you through the process. You can also email me your comment and I will post it for you. Good luck bloggers!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Brooke's accident: The first person on the scene

Now that Brooke is able to think about the accident--it happened in mid-November, and for quite a long time he couldn't think about it at all--he's been trying to piece it together by talking to people who were there. Here's the story of the first person on the scene after the accident occurred--he came to see us in the hospital; Peggy took verbatim notes and then massaged it into a narrative, and Jim then checked it for accuracy and gave us permission to put it on the blog.


Sometime in the early weeks after the accident, a man came to see Brooke in the hospital. This stranger had been the first on the scene after the accident, and he told Brooke something about what happened. But that was pretty early on and the details hard to face, so a couple of months later we asked him to come back again and recount the events one more time.

His name is James Richards. He lives in Federal Heights, and bikes up City Creek a couple of times a week, at least in the summer. He’s a lawyer, a professor of philosophy of law at BYU, and a Stake President in the LDS church, and when he came to see us on the 1st of March he was impressive in a suit and tie, quite in contrast with the hospital scrubs worn by the staff in Rehab and Brooke’s highly informal hospital garb: a shirt and a pair of brightly colored lounging pants we’d bought in a flea market in Myanmar the year before.
On the day of the accident, November 14, Jim had found himself biking uphill behind someone else and had tried to keep up with him, but because Jim uses a mountain bike rather than the faster road bikes, and, as we later discovered, the man ahead of him is a competitive bike racer and was doing training hill-climbs, but even though he wasn’t going much faster than Jim, Jim couldn’t quite manage to keep up with him. Somewhere between a half and three-quarters of a mile up the canyon, the cyclist ahead of Jim disappeared from view around a blind curve to the right, just before the section of the road that’s in perpetual shade. It’s the curve just below Campsite 6. Jim heard a loud crack! and when he came around the corner at (he estimates) 5-10 seconds later, he saw a bicycle crumpled up in the middle of the road, the front wheel deformed, and the cyclist Brooke had just collided with getting up off the pavement.
Jim asked the biker if he were alright and the biker said, “I’m okay, my shoulder hurts a little bit.” Brooke’s body was lying to the left of the road, face down, partly on the pavement but with his face in the dirt. Walkers and joggers and bikers in the canyon know this spot: If you look carefully, there’s a skid mark of a truck tire in the asphalt; it has always been there. Jim said to the biker, “How’s this guy doing?’ The biker replied, “I don’t know, but don’t touch him.” I think he was worried about a broken neck, explained Jim. Jim recounted that he rushed over to the body lying there and knelt down on his knees; Brooke wasn’t moving, wasn’t breathing, his eyes were shut, there was no response. Jim remembers that he said, “This guy isn’t doing very well; I’m going to see if he’s got a pulse.” Jim took Brooke’s wrist and didn’t find anything; when he came to see us in the hospital later, he said he should have checked the artery in his neck, but he’s not a doctor. He said he thought Brooke was gone.
Then there were a couple of older ladies just standing there, they’d been walking on the stream side of the road, and Jim later speculated that the cyclist Brooke hit may have been in the center of the road to avoid them. He was definitely in the center of the road, Jim said, and clearly so was Brooke. In fact, said Jim, all the time you’re going up the canyon there are people all over the road. The other cyclist said that Brooke was going very fast, though he didn’t normally do so. They must have each swerved to avoid the other, but swerved in the same direction.
“We’ve got to do something,” insisted Jim, and just then this LifeFlight nurse walked up—within a minute or two of the accident, Jim estimates. “I said to her, are you a doctor? I’m worried about touching him.” She rolled him over.
Jim said, “I need to call 911,” but he couldn’t get bars. Some other guy on foot said I’ll go down, went down just a little way and got bars.
Brooke was on his right side, and Jim remembers a gash on his head (these were actually fairly minor abrasions on his left forehead); he was wearing his helmet. The flight nurse rolls him over and starts to do heart pumping; then another guy starts mouth-to-mouth, with the flight nurse telling him what to do. “We got some gurgling sounds, “ reports Jim, “but no response.”

He says he backed off and was just praying, praying with all of the effort that he could make that this man could be preserved, if that would be best for him The flight nurse kept doing chest compressions. It wasn’t long before a fire truck and an ambulance arrived: they got the ventilator out, a hand pump; put a collar around the neck. The flight nurse backed off a little as the paramedics took over, but she kept pumping. They kept his heart going, Jim remembers, but can’t remember any other treatment, and can’t remember the paramedics’ using any electric shock.

But he does remember the gray face, and says he’d only seen a gray face like that once before. A year before, a man had collapsed on the street in New York as they were looking at the Statue of Liberty. He died. “So this was dejá vue for me,” said Jim, and recalled that he’d said to himself as he looked at Brooke, “I don’t think he’s going to make it.” He wasn’t responding at all.

The paramedics put him on a board, lifted the board, put him in the ambulance. More and more people collected. The weather was decent, ,Jim remembers, but cool; he was wearing a cap. It was sunny. He looked up in the sky, hearing the helicopter—a news helicopter—and later would see the accident on TV, on the evening news. Jim could see himself on the news, in the footage taken from the helicopter: the bike in the road, Brooke lying there. His head was down-canyon, his feet up-canyon. The bike was five feet away, maybe ten, more into the bushes than his body.

When we were finished talking, Brooke asked Jim if he had any dreams: Jim said that he didn’t have dreams, but he did have real images: he couldn’t stop thinking about it. He slept okay but couldn’t stop thinking about it, was really surprised that Brooke made it. He says that he’d thought that even if Brooke survived he’d have had severe impairment, but here as we converse in this hospital room, the physical impairment even of quadriplegia seems way less disastrous than the mental impairment a serious brain injury would have meant.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

How to celebrate a birthday?

Some of you may remember Brooke’s 40th birthday party, his 50th, his 60th, and you know he’d like nothing better than to hire a rock ’n roll blues band, pack a hundred people into his room, and get everybody dancing. I don’t think it’s quite possible this year, but you could do the next best thing: flood his room with a hundred cards, notes, whimsical little letters. The birthday date is March 25, just a week away:

Send them either to:
Brooke Hopkins
Room 222
South Davis Community Hospital
401 South 400 East
Bountiful, UT 84010

Or to our house:
307 M Street
Salt Lake City, UT 84103

You don’t need to buy a card—just scribble a little message on a sheet of paper and that will make him happy. Or post it on the blog. Or send me an e-mail at and I’ll print it out for him. He doesn’t need any presents, except maybe a poem or a wry limerick or even a picture of you.
Remember how whole audiences had to keep Tinker Bell’s light alive by lighting a match and making a wish? Brooke’s had some wonderful times recently (including a visit from two of his old college classmates, traveling in from Michigan and North Carolina), but there are some hard moments as well and it’s easy to get discouraged. The vent weaning is tough, and any recovery of sensation or movement glacially slow. We were talking a day ago about various treks and expeditions he’d done—the inner Himalayas, Argentina and Chile, western China, Venezuela, and he said this is the “hardest adventure I’ve ever been on.” This is where the Tinker Bell phenomenon might help: if you all help him celebrate his birthday, it’ll keep his light more brightly alive. There can’t be any matches on this birthday cake (oxygen in the room) and indeed the cake itself will have to remain largely virtual, but it would be wonderful if you’d help him celebrate by just dropping a note in the e- or snail-mail. There is, after all, quite a lot to celebrate—despite the terrific odds against it (how can one explain the flight nurse’s jogging along at exactly the right moment?), he’s here to celebrate another year.
Happy birthday Brooke.

Monday, March 9, 2009

The Flight Nurse's Story

For over two months we had no idea who she was. Then a doctor friend put out the word around LifeFlight, and discovered who it was who had saved Brooke's life. She came to visit us Wednesday evening, February 18, 2009, in Brooke's room in Rehab at the University Hospital. This account is based on verbatim notes taken by Peggy, and has been reviewed by the flight nurse and put on the blog with her permission.

The flight nurse's name is Denise Ward. She lives in an apartment house on 2nd Avenue, right at the base of City Creek Canyon, with her new husband. Denise is 5’1” and weighs 110 pounds. She has shoulder-length reddish-brown hair, and the color of her skin is uncannily like Brooke’s, and his sister’s—she could be Brooke’s sister, or his daughter.
She comes from California originally, from an LDS background, and her maiden name was Evans. She comes from English and Welsh heritage, with a little bit of German mixed in. At the age of 22, her first husband was killed in an explosion at an explosives plant near Utah Lake. They had a 5-month-old child. Her husband’s bodily remains were never found.
She has been a nurse for 24 years, and a flight nurse for 14 years. She works two days a week in the helicopters or planes, and another two days a week as a nurse practitioner in the respiratory ICU at Intermountain Medical Center.
In 2003 LifeFlight had two crashes: in the first one the pilot and paramedic were killed and the nurse had a spinal cord injury (though is now walking); 6 months later there was another crash, in Olympus Cove. Denise was in this helicopter. The pilot was killed but the paramedic and she survived. She remembers: Get in safe crash position.
She went back to flying a week later.

She likes flying, she tells us, the spurts of intensity. But in respiratory she likes getting to know the patients.

On the day of Brooke’s accident, she got started a little late on her customary jog up City Creek Canyon, and turned around at the mile marker, earlier than her usual turnaround point. She says Brooke must have passed her going downhill on his bike just minutes before the crash, but she didn’t notice anything. There were people standing around when she got to the site of the crash—and she could see that there must have been a big impact: the other guy’s bike was broken in two.
Brooke’s body was lying face down, partly on the pavement, his face in the dirt. He wasn’t breathing. Brooke himself remembers mouthing, “I can’t breathe.” He was purple, purple, she said, gesturing to indicate his entire face and trunk. “We need to turn him over, get him an airway.” His helmet was pushed back, and she wondered if it was the strap that was causing him not to breathe. The people standing around were afraid to touch him or move him; one of them said, “Do you know anything medical, I think this guy’s really hurt.” She says she’s kind of used to taking charge of things from her work as a flight nurse, so she and someone else logrolled him over onto his back. She asked if anybody among the bystanders knew CPR, and one man volunteered. She did jaw thrust, got the airway open, did chest compressions; he did mouth-to-mouth. He took a couple of breaths after they started chest compressions, but did not have a complete return of spontaneous breathing. He was definitely not awake.

She said about Brooke that he was to the point where his heart was stopping; he might have had a pulse, slowing down, but her hands were really cold and it was hard to tell. She knew that if she hadn’t shown up then, it would have been too late, there would have been anoxic brain damage, and as it was she worried that she might already be too late.

It seemed like forever, she said, before the ambulance arrived; according to someone else, it was about 7 minutes. There’s no cellphone reception in the canyon, so someone had biked down to the bottom to phone 911. About six or seven paramedics arrived, placed a temporary airway and a C collar, strapped him onto a backboard, bagging him all the time, and took him off to the hospital. The didn’t take her name, and they didn’t know Brooke’s name, since he was in his biking clothes and had no identification; he was admitted to the ER under the codename Trauma Denali.

When she thanked the guy who did CPR, he said, “Glad my Boy Scout training came in handy.”

Somewhere in this narrative, while Denise is telling this story, Brooke has told her how much he loves her, what a saint she is, even though he doesn’t mean that in a religious sense. He’s immensely grateful to her not only for saving his life, as we’ve all been for the two-and-a-half months when we didn’t know who she was, but now also for helping him reconstruct what happened. And our sense is that this meeting is not just one of profound significance for Brooke and Peggy, but for Denise too: she gets to see the outcome of what her work is—what happens to a patient whom she’s rescued, and especially in this case, how deeply glad he is to be alive.

PS: If you have any messages for Denise or just want to thank her too, you can post a comment right on this blog--I'm sure she'll see it--

Friday, March 6, 2009

Breaking News: Spasms and what they lead to

Breaking news, March 6: First, two friends from the English Department were there at South Davis this afternoon, after I’d already left for the day, and each called me independently to report an extraordinary occurrence: Brooke was able to make some voluntary movement his left leg. Then Brooke himself called later to describe the same thing.
Here’s how it went: he was doing physical therapy with the P.T. person at South Davis, and had one of those big spasms that have been plagueing him, but this one he says somehow morphed into a really powerful downward-pushing movement, as if you were riding a bike, and somehow he managed to get control of it, to make it voluntary and repeat it several times as well.
Then it was time for a shower, and when he got out of the shower, with various nurses around, he suddenly started to be able to move each of his knees up (this is with the hip muscles), and then his quad muscles, just a bit, but voluntarily. I’ve just now been talking to him on the phone and there he is, lying otherwise motionless in bed but moving his legs up and down, just a bit, but moving. Voluntarily. Of course, if you could see him, you’d see that his leg muscles, both thighs and especially calves, are horribly emaciated, and while one doesn’t like to make reference to Auschwitz lightly, that’s the way these legs look—bone, bone, hardly any flesh. In fact, he said just a day ago that they’d put him in an upright shower chair for the first time, and that he’d seen his legs naked, both in the mirror and directly, for the first time. He said that he’d always loved his body and the way it was strong, but that to see it so shriveled would be hugely painful if he didn’t have such a strong sense of the growth of the mind—so much has been happening mentally than the physical stuff pales in comparison.
But that was a day ago. Tonight, I hear real excitement about the movement in the legs. I haven’t gotten to see them yet, but I’m hearing about it. It’s reminding me of something: I had a wonderful research assistant some time ago (I try not to mention names in this blog unless it’s okay with people, but you know who you are). This guy was born, a first child, when his father was 50. The father had some sort of demanding job, but when he came home one day some months after his son was born and discovered that the baby had turned over for the first time, he said, that’s it, I’m quitting this job, I’m staying home to see every event in the development of this child—and did. I feel something like that (though I’m not thinking of quitting my job)—that there are amazing developmental events going on with Brooke that one doesn’t want to miss. Legs moving, even if slightly, under voluntary control. Breathing off the vent, with only an oxygenating and humidifying trach cap, forty-five minutes this morning.
Be still, one’s heart, lest it leap too high. It’s the current moment that counts. He’s still virtually completely paralyzed and still on the vent, and there aren’t any guarantees.

But the current moment is pretty nice, considering the circumstances. The South Davis facility is actually quite nice—Brooke has a huge, quite lovely room with real furniture, civilized enough so that it’s actually a pleasure to be there. Some friends have come for dinner already—no names can be divulged, but one couple brought a huge basket with a fresh pasta with smoked salmon and caviar (!), plus a nice salad and a bottle of good wine; the next night some more friends came with a brilliant lasagne made with béchamel sauce, wonderful, and another bottle of nice wine; and somebody’s there tonight too even while I’m home writing this, obviously with way better stuff than I can find in the fridge here. Of course, it would be better than what Brooke might have gotten if friends weren’t bringing these delicious things—while some of the South Davis facility’s meals are good, they don’t focus on dinner—it’s called supper, and the low point has been a grilled cheese sandwich (Velveeta on Wonder Bread, I think), with a pile of potato chips and green Jello. (Fortunately, he’s still getting tube feedings at night.)
So this is really an invitation—if you’d like to come for dinner and bring along some food, even just what you’d ordinarily be eating (as long as it isn’t velveeta or green Jello), just let me know 824-9160 and we’ll plan something. Of course, gracious living in a hospital facility isn’t quite like home, and there’ll be nurses running in and out to take blood pressures and catheterize him and turn him from one side to the other to prevent bedsores, but it’s closer to home than we’ve been in a long time. Just call me, and come on up. It’s less than 10 miles, but seems like an entirely new world.

Preliminary Specs for the Get Brooke Into his Garden Contest:

The garden is your basic square, 45’ x 46’, anchored at the southwest corner by a big pine tree, frilled around the edges with a few flowerbeds, punctuated in the northern third by two stone pillars with a trellis over the top that supports a big grapevine, and a bit of a deck in the northwest corner that opens out from the house. There are some vegetable beds on the northern, uphill side, in which we grow snow peas (already planted this year!), pole beans, basil, and tomatoes; we’ve almost never managed to produce any zucchini. There’s a tiny little area with roses, mostly old wizened things that are largely reduced to rootstock, but with one lovely yellow-blooming one and a nice red, whatever their names are, long forgotten. We’ve carefully refrained from maintaining the probably fifty-year-old white lattice fence that surrounds the whole garden—it was there when we moved in in the late 1970’s, and it was old then. Now it’s propped up with a couple of boards wedged in from the top of the fence to the ground—Brooke has always resisted any suggestion that these be removed. He likes the funkiness, and so do I. And oh, yes, the central part of the garden is almost completely ordinary grass, punctuated frequently with dandelions. This is definitely not a designer garden.
So the question is how to get Brooke into his garden, and have it be both accessible in the huge motorized wheelchair and still his garden. Here’s the basic problem: the north side, where the house is, is (casually) measured as 37” higher than the central part of the garden. Not surprising; we live on a hill, like all of the Avenues, and we’re lucky that the drop isn’t any greater than this. However, wheelchair slope requirements published by the disability organization we’ve been working with are an 8.3% grade, or 1 foot of ramp per 1 inch of drop. That means a 37-foot ramp needs to be somewhere in this garden (myself, I see it curving around like the DNA inside a cell), and while I’m told that a big power wheelchair like the one he’s got would have no trouble zooming down or up something steeper, if one ever progresses to an ordinary arm-operated wheelchair steep grades are really a challenge. (Mostly we’ve thought of being prepared for anything as being prepared for anything bad, but of course we should be prepared for something good too.) Various folks have already been by to take a look at the challenge the grade requirement present, and I must say the suggestions so far are extraordinary—clearly many heads are better than one, especially the kinds of heads you all are. If you’re in the neighborhood, feel free to come and take a look at the garden, even if I’m not home, and hatch ideas, either about how to make a garden or what plants could be put in it when Brooke comes home, probably still a couple of months away--but things will still be green by then.

Is anybody out there in Inventor mode?

Is anybody out there in Inventor Mode? Amazon has just brought out version 2 of its amazing Kindle reader—240,000 books all available online in less than 60 seconds, more than even Brooke could digest although he has always been a devourer of books. (Sony has something like it too.)  But in order to operate the thing you have to be able to keep it in front of your face and also be able to push the ‘next page’ button. Brooke’s left thumb (though not the right one) is probably strong enough now to push the button if it were perfectly aligned, but since he can’t use his hands more generally, he can’t hold something even as light, thin, and sleek as this new Kindle in front of his face. Here’s what Amazon replied to a query:

Hello from,

Thank you for your interest in the Amazon Kindle 2. Currently we do not sell an accessory that is a book stand or a touch pad that would enable someone who doesn't have the use of their hands to easily use the Kindle. I am sorry but I thank you for your interest in the Kindle and we will keep an open mind to make these requests available.
I thank you again for your interest in the Amazon Kindle.

Anybody out there who knows of or wants to try to devise a stand for it?

Is anybody out there in inventor mode?

Is anybody out there in inventor mode?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

PS to directions to Brooke's new digs

The directions posted below are fine:  one right turn off I-15 onto 5th South in Bountiful, and then a left turn on 4th East into the parking lot.  Here's the important part: from Salt Lake, it's just 14 minutes (from Pat's house, when it's not rush hour) and 9.58 miles.  Pretty easy.  And scenic: not only do you get to see the refinery, but then a nice view of Antelope Island. 

Let me know if you're thinking of visiting, 801-824-9160, so I can let you know what the traffic's like.  He's there for what we expect will be a month of ventilator weaning, more or less.


A successful move to South Davis!

Brooke has made the move to the South Davis Rehab Hospital and is enjoying his new private room there.

Directions to South Davis Rehab Hospital:

North on I-15 exit on 500S Bountiful. Go east on 500 south to Orchard (400E, stoplight), go through the light and take first left turn (north) into the parking lot. Entrance to the building is on the east end (stairs). Brooke’s room number is 222 and the direct phone number is 801-299-2047.

Bus #455 goes directly there from the university (approx 45 mins).