News & Updates

Entries for September 2011

It hasn’t even been a week since our last update, and a lot has happened for Bryan. The physical and occupational therapists are going to be seeing him 5 days a week now, since he is more responsive and getting stronger. On Friday, they had Bryan sitting on the side of the bed and he was able to support a lot of his weight. Being as responsive as he has been tires Bry out so they recommend giving him breaks of quiet from time to time. He’s been saying a lot but it’s still a few words at a time, not full conversations. We have tried to recall everything he’s said these past few days to share with you:
-He says hi and bye to people as they come and leave his room. Usually it’s with prompting of, “Bryan, can you say hi or bye”.
-We have made a video of him saying, “Hi mom, hi Erin. I love you. Bye” and blowing a kiss. Today, we made another one for Tyler and Tabby of him saying, “Hi Tyler, Hi Tabby. I love you. Bye” and blowing them a kiss.
-He is responsive when you ask him if he wants something, like the fan on.
-Our LA friend Brian was visiting and talking to Bry and Bonnie said, “Bry…he’s annoying, huh?” Brian said, “Bry, if I am annoying you, blink twice.” Bryan blinked twice! We started laughing and looked at Bryan and he had a small (yet so big) smile on his face. Obviously he still knows he’s funny.
-Today his nurse Eric was joking around and we said, “Bry, isn’t Eric funny?” He responded, “Eric is very funny.”
-Today, Ann was on her cell phone in his room (she isn’t supposed to be). Bryan was trying to say something and Bonnie told Ann that technically she shouldn’t be on the phone and Bry said, “She isn’t supposed to be on that.”
-One of the chaplain’s who regularly visits Bry, Fr. Bruce, came in and we said Bryan, it’s Fr. Bruce and asked him to say hi. He said, “Hi Fr. Bruce.”
-Erin and Bonnie were talking to him and mentioned the Great Hodge, his childhood superhero name. He said, “My superhero name”
-Today, Bonnie pointed to Erin and said, “Who is that?” and Bryan said, “Erin.” Erin pointed to Bonnie and asked who she was and he said, “Bonnie.” When pointing to Ann and asking who she was, he replied, “Mom.” Dave wasn’t there so we took down a picture and showed it to Bryan and asked who it was and he said, “Dad.”

On Friday Bryan said something that perfectly fit the moment, and really describes these past few days. We got the OK to take Bryan outside for the first time in almost 6 months. He was moved to a cardiac chair and we went out to a secluded patio. Bonnie asked Bryan how it felt to be outside. Bryan, sitting in the sun, with his eyes closed said, “It’s magical.”

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It has been a week now since Bryan got his shunt. The first couple of days we could see slight progress: he was a little more responsive and the Physical Therapists said he was gaining strength. One day he was able to move his left arm towards his body and away, which is one of range of motions moves we do.

On Monday he got the filter removed that was put in to catch any blood clots that may go to his lungs. On Wednesday Dr. Manley called to say they were taking Bryan down for a full body scan since one of his legs was larger then the other. The scan showed a large clot in his thigh, one in his abdomen and another in his shoulder. Since the filter was removed they need to keep an eye on the clots with ultrasounds and measuring to make sure they don’t get bigger and don’t break off. The Drs now need to figure out the need for blood thinners and possibly the filter permanently.

On Wednesday, we were also told that Bryan had his speaking valve on his trach and when the speech therapists asked his first and last name, he said them. The ST asked what his daughter’s name was and he said, “Tabby“. She asked what that was short for and he said, “Tabitha“. She then asked what his son’s name was and he said, “Tyler“.
Today, the Speech Therapist was working with him again and asked him what his birthday was. Bryan then said, “2/12/1969”. With the valve on, he told Erin he loved her, and, while Erin was videotaping it for Bonnie, he said, “Hi,“ and “Bonnie”, when asked to say it. Also, Dave was holding up pictures of Tyler and Tabitha and Bryan said, “I would like to see them.”
We are blown away with all of this. Literally one day we got some facial responses and the next, he’s talking. His voice is gravelly and you have to be close to hear him, but he is talking.
Bryan’s had many ups and downs, and though we see how far he has come, we try not to look too far back into these past 6 months, and we can’t look too far down the road so we focus on right now. We pray that the Drs can control the blood clots and they stay away from Bryan’s lungs. But right now, Bryan is more awake and more responsive then ever.

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Today was Bryan’s shunt surgery. After being at the hospital since 6:30am, Dr. Manley told Ann and Dave that the surgery went smooth and the CT scan came back looking good. They were finally able to see Bryan and his eyes were open. He looked great except…you have all come to know is very particular when it comes to his hair….well, they only shaved half his head for the surgery. We’ll have to hurry and fix that before he finds out.

All morning we have been comforted and reassured by emails and Facebook posts from supporters all over the world. Prayers being said, well-wishes, etc. We have said this before, and will continue to say it….we couldn’t have made it through this without all of you.

Before March 31st, we never truly realized just how short and precious life is. We only have one, so we must make the most of it and treasure each other.

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Since the last update, we got word from Infectious Diseases that the infections are gone so the shunt will possibly be Tuesday. It had also been awhile since we got responses from Bryan, aside from kisses, so yesterday we were excited when he responded a few times.
When asked to raise his eyebrows if he can hear us, he raised his eyebrows. We asked him to do this twice and both times he did. Then, when trimming his nose hairs we told him we needed to see his nose, he flared his nostrils. Both times when asked. **Note from Bry's seesters: We thought filing his toenails was our limit....then came the nose hairs.
We know Bryan is getting back to the place he was a month ago, mouthing words and hopefully more and more responses.

Today being the 10-year anniversary of 9/11, we will be praying for those who lost loved ones and who were otherwise affected by the tragedy. Bryan, having wanted to be a firefighter at that time, was deeply impacted by the selflessness of the first responders of that day and really drove him to pursue a career in helping people. From what we hear from his co-workers, he is amazing and compassionate about what he does.

Even though Bry isn't a fan of country music, the song we selected is to honor those injured or who lost their lives and those who lost their loved ones.

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 The past week or so, Bryan has been very sleepy, with minimal responses. It seems the infections had worn him out. The doctors will be doing a culture to test for infections within the next couple of days. If they come back negative, he will probably get the shunt this week or next. So far, the bone flap is still doing good and is helping Bryan absorb the fluids. Despite his sleepiness, we continue to talk to him, play music, do the range of motion to keep him from getting stiff, put the Giants games on and we are keeping up with his mani/pedis. One of his nurses said he has the best feet in ICU. Bry would be so glad to hear that!

Last night the Giants organization, along with the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department hosted Strike Out Violence day at AT&T park. We were honored to be on the field with other victims of violence and to be a part of bringing awareness to a preventable situation. Dave was then given the ball and he threw in the first pitch. He did great, the ball made it to Eli and would have been a strike if it hadn’t dropped right on the plate. 

We had the amazing opportunity to sit next to Barry Bonds. Barry has been active in visiting Bryan and has initiated a college fund for Tyler and Tabitha. You may notice that we have added the link to our website.

The Giants have all been so supportive and caring. Barry and Jeremy’s visits were very heartfelt and personal, Timmy‘s donation and Pablo hosting a fundraiser in Walnut Creek were amazing. We want to thank the ENTIRE Giants Organization for their continued support for Bryan!!
We picked this song not only because it's about San Francisco, but Train also performed it at the Giants game dedicated to Bryan in April.

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Stow Family Album

Erin, Bryan and Bonnie