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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Something Scary in the Air

Court sports a big grin for me outside Spaulding

We couldn't have dreamt up a better day. I came into Spaulding this morning only to see Courtney marching down the hallway during physical therapy. Sure she was in a harness with a couple of aides, but she each step she took was her own, all twenty or so of them. Court's strong enough to stand and keep her head up and she's already told me her next goal is to start running.

Not only were we amazing by Courtney's drive to start walking, but so was our guest of honor, Lisa from Crotched Mountain who spent more than an hour talking with us. The interview process went very well, Lisa had a great impression of Courtney just as we've had a great impression of Crotched Mountain. We're all routing for this to work out so Courtney can start making even bigger strides in New Hampshire. I hear the Cathedral of the Pines is nice this time of year. I'll keep you posted as to any potential moves.

Rachel, our speech therapist at Spaulding, was nice enough to start guiding us through helping Court to eat and drink. We worked on placing a cup of water in her right hand and bringing up to her lips to take tiny sips. We'll eventually do the same for her spoon feeding as well. Her aim isn't quite what it used to be, but she's a good sport about wearing her lunch on her chin until we give her a napkin to wipe it off. Today she was spoon fed a small amount of mashed potatoes, strawberry-banana yogurt and chocolate ice cream. She is still on a diet of liquid meals five times a day, so she was understandably full and also tired from exercising her tongue and mouth muscles.

I guess it was Halloween today too (I thought it was strange that her nurses were dressed as 80's aerobic instructors, witches and Tina Turner). Court wore orange socks with black cats and I dusted off my ugliest orange corduroy pants. We decorated a pumpkin together with magic markers and we talked about costumes of Halloweens past.

It was hard to believe it was late October when we went for our walk this afternoon. We had a beautiful view of the Charles River and the Bunker Hill Bridge, I'll let you see for yourselves.








Let's hope everyday is as bright as today.

-Sean

10/31/07 SFC Meeting

Reminder: Tonight’s meeting in Morrill Hall. Everyone is welcome.

At the meeting we will come to a final decision on the t-shirt design logo (sign up for shirt sizes), critique the concert poster and discuss the logistics of the concert. We will cover the 3 major upcoming events (concert; ski/ride event; silent auction), create a to-do list and make up a volunteer list to work on these projects. After the meeting I will post the volunteer list so anyone who has a little free time can help out. Everything helps. We will also talk further about pulling our loose ends together such as getting stickers/labels made, printing up the sheet to present to businesses for prize and $ donations, and creating a time-line in which to get these projects going.

My guess is everyone will be antsy to get out for Halloween celebrations so we’ll keep the meeting quick. I encourage as many people to stop by as possible and if you haven’t been able to make a meeting yet, this will be a great way to catch up on both the progression of Courtney and the Support for Courtney fund.

Hope to see you there! Happy Halloween

-Amber

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

10/30 Update and Photos (16)

Welcome to Spaulding Rehab

Courtney's expecting a visitor Wednesday, a representative from Crotched Mountain, as well as all the ghouls and ghosts that are sure to be on patrol. We don't expect this evaluation process to be quite as fast as how she got into Spaulding, it will still be a matter of weeks if she is accepted. We'll look to make a good impression, I've already studied up on New Hampshire's Old Man of the Mountain and motto "Life Free or Die" by looking at the state's quarter and licence plate respectively.

The doctor's learned that Court's carrying a strain of Staph yesterday, a skin bacteria that can cause infection, and to be on the safe side she's moved into her own room. Staph can be risky for patients with weakened immune systems, but the good news is that she merely carrying the bacteria and not suffering any of the symptoms. Dr. Tom, a family friend and doctor in Boston, stopped by for his regular visit and let Marty and myself know that Staph is quite common, many people have it without even knowing, Courtney may have even had it well before going into the hospital.

Thanks to Court's private suite, overnight visits are no longer limited to females, Marty has the esteemed privilege of staying with Miss Blasius tonight. I'm glad that Julie can catch some more nights off, the graveyard shift is a tough gig.

Let's hope everyone catches some Z's. Here are a few pics from the area around Spaulding and from Court's old room.









-Sean

Monday, October 29, 2007

Parade Weather


As any good girlfriend does, Courtney has been feigning interest in the Sox epic World Series win last night, but I know she's happy for me (and that I will no longer wax poetic about Jacoby Ellsbury and Jonathan Papelbon). I slept soundly last night, regardless of any baseball score, knowing that Court finally dozed off and got some decent sleep. She's been pain-free at times today as well.

We talked one-on-one for a bit, I tried picking Courtney's brain to pinpoint her last memories prior to the cardiac arrest. While she can conjure up some more recent details, Belize seems to be the last spot she remembers (at a much happier time, before she had to deal with me). This makes perfect sense, rarely did a day go by where she didn't reminisce about the little land next to Mexico. I don't think of this as a clean slate, more like a buried treasure.

We joked about wearing adult diapers and pulling pranks on Mischief Night before Halloween. She likes it when I can read to her, we'll have to find a book that we can both enjoy (any suggestions?).

The mix CDs and audio books have been good entertainment considering Court vision. She talks about seeing light and dark and also the color red, but not being able to make out faces or objects. Her sight is just as much a part of rehab as learning to walk and eat, she hasn't let it faze her and neither will we.

Be strong, look forward to another day. We Love you.

-Sean

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Sleepless Nights


Hi Everybody,


Court has been having a tough time sleeping over the past four nights, her stomach pain is still the culprit. I stayed with her until midnight and felt pretty helpless as she made countless attempts to doze off only to jerk awake because of the sharp pain. Court was taken back to Massachusetts General Hospital (she had an x-ray on Friday), this time for blood work and a CAT scan to find the problem. The news we've received is that the source of pain could be a hematoma, a deep muscle bruise in her stomach from the feeding tube.

It is puzzling and painful knowing there is no easing Court's pain, we ran through several medications to numb it, but they had little or no effect and she just can't get comfortable in bed. It's particularly frustrating that this is happening on a weekend and that our doctors aren't there to respond. Not that this is an indictment on the entire profession, we owe our lives to doctors and nurses, but how has it come to be viewed as a 5-days-a-week job? Why are the qualifications to work on Saturday and Sunday different?

I wish this roller coaster ride less bumpy and that Court could continue on the fast track to recovery without any setbacks. One remedy that has helped her through any ailment has been the love of her family and friends, they make her laugh and maybe that helps put the pain on hold for a little while.

We celebrated Halloween a few days early yesterday afternoon as Courtney's friends from Burlington and back home in Maine paid a visit. We crowded around her hospital bed and she was the star of the show, smiling at the sound of each new voice and happy to play along in her costume, a cheetah trimmed Viking hat (I'll be looking to see those pictures soon, by the way).

We'll continue to try our best to make rehab as pain-free as possible, we'll keep you posted.

-Sean

Friday, October 26, 2007

Live from Boston


Hi Everybody,

Visiting Courtney today has been like seeing her for the first time, she's improved drastically since two weeks ago. Her arms and legs no longer move in spasms and she's becoming more coordinated. She can roll on her side, run her fingers through her hair and more easily move her weaker left side. Court is responding faster in conversation, she still maintains her sense of humor even through all she's dealing with.

As Julie mentioned, Court's been having a sharp pain in her stomach. This may be related to her coming down off of medication and, with hypersensitive nerves, realizing a pain that has been there all along. Other possibilities could be an infection from the stomach feeding tube or digestive issues. When the nurses gave her a figurative pain scale of 1 to 10, Court said she feels about a 7. It's been difficult for her to sleep and she moans from time to time.

Courtney's starting to piece together the past week, she doesn't remember much of the previous two months, but she recalls some details from therapy and conversations we've had recently.

The doctor's have Court scheduled for a vision clinic on Monday to evaluate her focus. She's complained about having blurry vision, so we'll look to the ophthalmologist for answers.

Doug has given us the scouting report on a few rehab facilities in Maine and New Hampshire. He was most impressed with Crotched Mountain in Greenfield, New Hampshire (Web site here), both with the level of care and the facility itself (which happens to feature a climbing wall and horseback riding). It seems to be the most appropriate destination for Court, with an established history of helping patients with brain injury, a young base of patients and a variety activities that she loves. A big turnoff with rehab facilities is that they are run like a nursing home and last thing Court needs are prunes and the constant smell of mothballs.

I still can't believe how far she's come, today has been a pleasant surprise.

-Sean

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Chocolate Ice Cream is Tasty


Hi Everybody,


Some preliminary T-Shirt sketches designed by Cyrus Blais (a.k.a. the taller C-Blaze)

Court's been talkin real good lately and she's had her first taste of chocolate ice cream to go along with a diet of real food. She wants in on any concert we throw in her honor (at yesterday's meeting the name "Benefunk" was proposed for the event, I think it's grown on me). Her physical therapy sounds pretty draining, even small steps tire her out. Our conversation was cut short when I ran over a poorly-placed curb in a gym parking lot, my Taurus appears to be unfazed with only a few scrapes to the undercarriage. If my car kicks the bucket to go along with my computer and television dying, I think I'm just going to go Amish from here on out.

The non-profit fundraising meeting went well last night, we've pushed forward on plans for the concert and promotional materials. You can see some logos and t-shirt designs that Cyrus has come up with, they look pretty damn sharp. I've given permission to a few of the Support For Courtney organizers to post on the blog, so look for a variety of bylines on the site. This will open up the lines of communication, so everyone here to help Courtney can act as a resource.

I'm going to be crossing over the Massachusetts border late tonight, I'll see Court the first chance I can and deliver the hugs and kisses that have accumulated in my inbox.

-Sean

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

10/23 Moving and the Next Meeting

Hi Everybody,

I've caught a break from wrapping up work and other odds and ends in Burlington. I talked with Courtney on Sunday and she's been very busy lately. I'm glad that her folks have had the chance to bring her outside multiple times a day. Shes graduating to more solid foods and getting stronger. She's looking forward to seeing friends for Halloween, she's not looking forward to me screaming at the TV during the World Series.

My plan is to be back at Spaulding on Thursday, I'd still like to make it to next fundraising meeting, which is Wednesday at 5:30 in Morrill Hall. If you can find an hour or two to come by and help us out we'd really appreciate it.

I'd like to point out that we are dangerously close to 10,000 hits on the site, I never would have thought we'd have such diehard readers, but thanks for keeping us afloat. You're e-mails and comments have been uplifting, Courtney has a lot to look forward after she's out of the hospital.

-Sean

Thursday, October 18, 2007

10/19 Update and Photos (15)


Hi Everybody,

Photos from Liz Haag

I got a chance to speak to Court last night via cellular phone (thanks to Doug for propping it up for her). She sounds even better and is a little more engaged than the last time we talked. I told to expect a small caravan to visit for Halloween and help her with her costume. "Oh God" she says, maybe that means leaving the caution tape at home this year (or maybe that means extra caution tape). I'll usually ask Court about her daily activities and she still finds it hard to piece together memories, this fading in and out is a side-effect of the drug treatment. She's off of Topamax now, but still on Keppra, an anti-epileptic drug that prevents a range of seizures.

It was nice to hear from her, I've had a piece missing over the past few days. I'm trying to wrap up everything in Burlington by Thursday, but it hasn't been easy - packing, training replacements at work, working on the Non-Profit and I haven't even started planning for my next job in Boston, which doesn't exist yet. At least the Sox are putting up a fight in the ALCS, I told Courtney that we'd have to go see a game at Fenway Park sometime. Ally helped compile a short list of "must-see" attractions for us while we're in Boston, which does not include the Freedom Trail.

Here are a few photos from UVM's Outing Club sent in by Liz. I'll try to post over the weekend if my laptop isn't still shot to shit (thanks a lot Dell).





-Sean

Support For Courtney Fund is Now Open


Hi Everybody,

A photo illustration of Court, I plan on using it for a new intro to the site

The reports from Julie tonight are very positive, I can't believe how far Courtney's come and that we're already talking about next steps after Boston. Since I'm back up in Burlington for the time being, reading the commentary to these posts gives even more insight into her daily progress.

The fundraising meeting went really well tonight, it's encouraging to have new faces (again, everyone is welcome at next Wednesday's meeting at 5:30 in Morrill Hall). The big news part 1: We've now established a non-profit fund called Support For Courtney, so those for of you who've been chomping at the bit to send in a check, feel free to make it out to "Support For Courtney" and mail here:

Chittenden
Bank
Dudley H. Davis Center
University of Vermont
590 Main Street
Burlington, VT 05402

I'll also add the address to the side rail above the Boston hospital address, an online donation form through Paypal is also in the works as well.

To our first donors I would like to let you know that in addition to having money to pay off Courtney's medical bills, we also are in need of a fundraising budget. If potential donors could chime in on this: I'd like to use the first $1,000 we raise as the budget for Support For Courtney's which would be used, frugally, to cover our promotional costs (along the lines of posters, stickers, fliers, T-shirts, etc.). Every penny thereafter will go into a savings account to cover Courtney's medical expenses, as advertised. Does this sound reasonable?

The big news part 2: We are looking at planning one main fundraiser each season and for this fall we are planning a concert, what do you guys think of calling it the inaugural Show of Support (a lame concert name based on our lame web site name)? Thus far we're in the beginning stages and in case anyone out there has any connections we will need the basics:

A venue - ideally Higher Ground or Nectar's, there's access to the Davis Center as well.

A band(s) and crew - we've had responses from close friends of Court who are in bands, if anyone else wants to throw their hat in the ring let us know (and if anyone knows Snoop Dogg, let him know what we're up to, maybe we could pay him by the pound). We're also going to need people to hand out fliers or take collections at the concert.

A date and time - looking at early to mid-December, in between the college's Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks. Likely on a Thursday, the 6th/13th or Sunday night, the 9th/16th. Does one date work better than the others?

We'll look to spread the word via media and the Web site, we also have folks working on designs for posters, T-shirts and collection jars. And as always, we are open to new ideas. The structure of the non-profit is shaping up and I feel we have a strong foundation. To have such active participation for a cause that isn't even two months old says a lot about the character of Court's friends.

We miss you Court, just keep doing your thing, you're the one who's really leading the way

-Sean

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Fundraiser Meeting Today


Hi Everybody,


Just another reminder that we are meeting at Morrill Hall on University Place to talk fundraising at 5:30 today. If anyone is enterprising enough to bring a pizza or two by, I'll definitely chip in on the cost. I think the agenda today will be narrowing our focus from the brainstorm last week and divvying up responsibilities. Hope to see you there.

-Sean

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

10/15 Standing is Hard Work


Hi Everybody,


I spent the morning with Court before heading back up to Burlington today. She was in good spirits even though she's been battling nausea lately, possibly from a combination of coming off of drugs and being fed larger liquid meals.

We sat in on Courtney's physical therapy session where she was able to stand for a few minutes with the aid of some straps and padding. Its frustrating that her body still betrays her in small ways, its hard to keep her head up and stay coordinated. Courtney says she wants to be able to do more in therapy, but each session lasts a little longer and is a different challenge.

Before I left Spaulding I serenaded Court with some Iron Maiden, I figure Karaoke could be considered speech therapy. She laughs and humors me by saying I'm a good singer.

I'm looking forward to returning to Boston, I now know my way around a little better (apparently Spaulding is located next to the Bunker Hill Bridge, nobody calls it the Zakim, and the Garden, not the corporately-dubbed Fleet Center).

Goodnight Court, I'll hit you up on the cell tomorrow

-Sean

Sunday, October 14, 2007

10/14 Putting Together the Foundation and Press Materials


Hi Everybody,


Courtney is rocking
out in her johnnie, watching a little television before bedtime. She's had a pretty low key day, mostly chatting and kicking me about the neck and face (its a good thing she's such a sweetheart).

I've caught a few hours to type up a sample press release for the fund we are starting for Courtney's medical bills. I've already had some great feedback, but I'd also like to let her core audience see it before it goes out to the public. I'm hoping to get the press release out to Vermont and Maine news outlets next week along with a headshot of Courtney and a logo for the foundation. I plan to post the finished media materials on the site if anyone wants to copy them into an e-mail or letter of their own.

You'll notice that the release jumps ahead in two respects: Courtney's not eating real food as of yet but (knock on wood) its the next step once her trache is out Monday and I also mention that donations can be made to her fund (its nearly all set up). Aside from that, you can picture this running as a letter to the editor or sparking a reporter to jump on the story:

Dear (Editor’s Name)

I’m writing to you today to tell you about my girlfriend Courtney Blasius, a member of your community who’s in the hospital and needs help.

Courtney, 23, a member of UVM’s class of 2007, suffered an unpredictable cardiac arrest in her Burlington apartment on September 12, 2007. I called 911 and paramedics rushed her to the emergency room where doctors brought her back to life after her heart stopped beating for minutes.

Courtney spent three weeks in intensive care at Fletcher Allen Health Care , her brain was severely damaged from a lack of oxygen during the cardiac arrest. She had fallen into a coma, only steps away from a vegetative state and not even the doctors knew if she could ever recover.

Thanks to a tireless medical staff and the love of her family and friends, Courtney has made tremendous strides toward returning to her old self. She has since moved to Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston and she is now able to talk, eat basic foods and move her legs and arms.

While Courtney’s health is priceless to us, health care will only cover a portion of the treatments she will need over the next two years, treatments that could cost nearly $1,000 a session. Without your help, Courtney may not receive the therapy she needs. Our inability to cover mounting medical bills could cost her a chance to bike again like she had with UVM’s cycling team or ride her favorite horse Tao back home in Maine.

I am making an appeal to the residents of Courtney’s adoptive state of Vermont to help her continue this miracle journey. We may never know the reason for Courtney’s heart attack, but we hope to one day know the reasons for her recovery: your love and support. Of the money raised by the Support for Courtney Foundation, 100% goes toward her medical and rehabilitation bills. Donation checks may be made out to “Support for Courtney” and mailed to: (address)

To find volunteer opportunities, get daily updates and make a donation online log on to www.supportforcourtney.com.

Thank you for your support.

-Sean Cooley

Here is a sample logo, similar to the header of the blog. I'm looking to get a scan or a digital copy of Court's senior portrait (can someone e-mail if they do have one?)


Thanks for reading, let me know what you think. We're thinking about you Court.

-Sean

10/14 Traipsing Outside


Hi Everybody,

Photo from Doug Blasius

Here's a glimpse of Courtney's most recent visit outside of Spaulding along with her mom, she's going incognito with the hat and sunglasses. We hope to bring her out again sometime today, the weather's so nice we ought to have a kite.

-Sean

Friday, October 12, 2007

10/13 Meeting with the Doctors


Hi Everybody,

Yesterday Doug, Marty, Julie and I had the chance to sit down with Courtney’s doctors, Dr. Chae and Dr. Yang and our case worker, John. We spent more than an hour talking about Court’s progress and the overall plan at Spaulding (as has been the norm, the doctors were hesitant to offer a long term prognosis on her recovery).

Courtney is rehabbing in three different disciplines: cognitively, physically and emotionally. We've already seen flashes of her physical capabilities, Dr. Chae said they are not sure how intact she is mentally. It helps that previous to the heart attack she was in good shape, intelligent and emotionally stable.

The critical areas of her brain such as the brain stem have been sparred after the heart attack and there hasn't been a large amount of swelling. However, oxygen deprivation has killed some of her brain cells (none sure how many, Dr. Chae concurred with our past neurologists that the damage is severe). He described Courtney's progress as the result her brain compensating for that loss, it is working around the dead cells and rerouting its' functions.

This reorganizing may manifest itself in the form of seizures like a computer going haywire. Courtney is still on seizure medication, Topamax, but the doctors are working to bring her off of it within two weeks. While we run the risk of Courtney suffering seizures, she is under constant supervision and the risk is outweighed by the benefit of seeing her when she's drug-free.

Her muscles are in good condition (she’s graduated to arm wrestling now, I still can’t catch a break), it’s her coordination that needs tuning. Courtney says her leg kicking is not under her control, although she can move them at will they do take on their own Norris-like personality.

Court is still eating via IV, but she is now being fed at regular intervals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Eating solid food is a foreseeable goal as the respiratory therapists have capped off Courtney’s trache tube, she’s been able to breathe deeply, clear her throat and speak more clearly. The trache is scheduled to be out on Monday.

Yesterday's physical therapy session had Courtney standing up in the Spaulding gym. She was able to hold herself up by her arms, standing between a set of parallel bars with spotters in front and behind her for guidance.

I sat in on some of Courtney’s speech therapy session, the therapist, Rachel, asked Courtney questions about Burlington, her work and college. She didn't have trouble offering up answers, although she did tell Rachel she lived on Cedar Street in Burlington, which is where she lived a few months ago before moving to her new apartment on Ward Street. The doctors mentioned that short-term memory loss may be a lingering effect from her heart attack. Her focus and attention are also slow to come back to her, its difficult to engage with her for longer than a minute or two.

We took Courtney on a wheelchair tour of the hospital while her bed was being made and her new roommate moved in (room 826 by the way, you’ll need to remember the number if you park at the hospital). We settled into the lounge at the end of the hall which had an amazing view of the sun setting on the Zakim Bridge. Boston may not be considered beautiful naturally the way Vermont or other parts of New England are, but there is beauty for those who look hard enough. Besides, I’m sure you don’t have to look as hard as you would in, say, New Jersey.

Keep it up Court, you're getting stronger everyday

-Sean

Directions and Info on Spaulding



View Larger Map

Driving Directions

From the North

• Take Route 93 South to exit 26 (Storrow Drive/Cambridge). Stay in the right lane. - or - Take Route 1 South to the exit for Storrow Drive/North Station. Stay in the right lane.
• Follow signs for North Station. Stay in the right lane for Nashua Street/North Station.
• The first traffic light provides access to Nashua Street.
• If coming from Route 93 exit ramp, bear right onto Nashua Street.
• Otherwise, if coming from Route 1 exit ramp, turn right onto Nashua Street.
• Spaulding is on the left at the next traffic light.

From the South

• Take Route 93 North to exit 26 (Storrow Drive/Cambridge).
• Stay in the left lane, and follow signs for North Station.
• The exit bears left and then becomes two lanes. Get into the right lane (follow signs for North Station).
• At the first traffic light, bear right onto Nashua Street.
• Spaulding is on the left at the next traffic light.

From the West

• Take Route 90 East (Massachusetts Turnpike) to Boston. Take exit 24B to Route 93 North.
• Then take exit 26 (Storrow Drive/ Cambridge). Stay in the left lane for North Station.
• The exit bears left and then becomes two lanes. Get into the right lane (follow signs for North Station).
• At the first traffic light, turn right onto Nashua Street.
• Spaulding is on the left at the next traffic light.


More information on the main hospital and a virtual tour are available here.

Come visit us
-Sean

A Poem from Mike


Here is some prose sent in from our friend Mike, a nursing assistant back in Fletcher Allen. Julie describes him as "one of the most concerned, caring people" at the hospital, he even came to Baird 4 to see her the first night she switched out of the ICU.

COURTNEY'S QUEST

I will cherish each moment of my life.
I will value this gift bestowed upon me.
In this world I will overcome what barriers there may be,
which hinder my quest for growth and self-improvement.
I will take life one day at a time, one step at a time.
I walk with renewed faith.
I believe there is hope.
In every change that I experience in life,
there will be times when I wonder if I can endure.
But I learn that by facing each difficulty one by one.
It's when I don't deal with a situation,
that it sometimes comes back to confront me again.
Changes are sometimes very painful,
but they teach us that we can endure and that we can become stronger.

-Mike, CNA, M4 ICU, 9/29/07

Thursday, October 11, 2007

10/11 Headed Down


Hi Everybody,


I'm taking off from the little city and headed for the big city. There might not be a readily accessible Internet source at Spaulding, so don't be alarmed if there's a delay in posts.

-Sean

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

10/10 In Boston Safely and 'Thank You' to Fletcher Allen


Hi Everybody,

Photo from Pamela Eckelbarger

Courtney hit the road today and made it Boston without a hitch, she is now safely in her Stryker bed at Spaulding. I met up with her this morning to wish her a safe trip and we got to say goodbye (for now) to each other.

We can't get her to stop talking these days since the respiratory therapists placed the speaking valve over her trache tube (it allows her to manipulate the air flow, kind of like playing the kazoo). She readily greets her parents and friends, saying 'hi' and acknowledging them by name. Courtney understood nearly every question we asked and her responses, while feint, went something like this:


She feels fine, her main source of pain comes from the trache tube (one priority at Spaulding is downsizing and then removing the tube).

She understands she's in a hospital and knows that it was a heart attack that landed her there.

She looks forward to going to Boston and wants to get out of bed and move around.

She's maintained a great sense of humor, even showing off her Mainer accent to make us laugh (it should stand out from the array of Boston accents we're in store for).

I'm anxious to head to Boston and see Courtney and her family again. We're still going to hold down fort in Burlington, we had an extremely productive fundraising meeting this afternoon (the next meeting is Wednesday 5:30 in Morrill Hall, open to everyone) and we'll be doing outreach in the near future. Even though Courtney has left our sight at Fletcher Allen, we can't let her leave our hearts. Our fundraising efforts will be the best opportunity we have to help.

Thank you to the incredible staff at Fletcher Allen hospital, for those still following Courtney's recovery, you have given her a priceless gift. We could not have placed her health in more caring hands and every nurse, doctor, therapist, social worker and staff member carried themselves with professionalism and love. I'll remember the small touches like nurses introducing themselves and answering questions no matter the hour, placing Mow Mow back under Courtney's arm after an exam and allowing a small army of visitors and interior decoration into her room. I'm sure Courtney has been a very special patient and you've allowed me to continue telling her story, for that I am truly grateful.

Goodnight Courtney, we're thinking about you and praying everyday.

-Sean

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

10/9 Evening Update

Hi Everybody,

Two quick things: Courtney's been talking (more on that later) and the planning meeting for Court's fundraiser is at 4:30 tomorrow (Wednesday) on UVM's campus. We are meeting in Morrill Hall at the Center for Rural Studies Conference Room on the top floor, everyone is invited.

I'll be right back.

-Sean

Monday, October 8, 2007

10/8 Headed to Boston and Need Help Fundraising


Hi Everybody,


Courtney is headed to Beantown, our case manager says she's been accepted into Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, we're waiting for Court's insurance to clear and she could be transported via ambulance as early as Wednesday. This is the best news I've heard since I first learned she was stable nearly a month ago. I teared up before meeting with Mary Beth who works in admissions for Spaulding and faxed in Court's recommendation, its nice to feel happy tears for once.

Mary Beth was impressed with Courtney's progress and assured us that the hospital could accept her into its brain injury rehab program. At Spaulding she'll have a roommate and will be surrounded by patients more her age. She will have a team of nurses, physical, occupational and respiratory therapists and other specialists tending to her and we're looking into getting her one-on-one attention in the early stages. Mary Beth described Courtney's condition as a low level of consciousness, she is a Level 2 on a scale of one to eight (eight being nearly independent and visiting the hospital for rehab sessions). More information on the brain rehab program can be found on Spaulding's Web site.

This is really exciting, we've heard nothing but good reports on Spaulding with the most ringing endorsement coming from Meagan Milmoe, whose brother Mike spent six months there in rehab. A year after suffering a heart attack on September 12, 2006 (the same date as Courtney's) he his now at Crotched Mountain, another rehab center in Greenfield, N.H. Meagan said her brother can now hold a conversation and is learning to use a walker and eating utensils.

We peppered Meagan with questions about her family's experience through Mike's heart attack, hospital stay and rehab, she was kind enough to answer us all. She mentioned that Mike was unresponsive after one month at Fletcher Allen when he was then admitted into Spaulding (Courtney is responding even more now, she clearly mouths 'yes' and 'no' and can move her arms, legs and fingers on command). Mike slowly regained the ability to talk and move his body. He suffered short term memory loss and couldn't remember the beginning of the school year at UVM, although he did remember all the friends he had just made there. Meagan gave us some great advice, some tasty brownies and really lifted us up with Mike's odds-defying story.

A Boston Globe reporter recently picked up the Milmoe's story (read it here or search to Globe's site for 'Milmoe'). A paragraph on the second page stands out for me:

"And on Sept. 22, a benefit buffet, dance, and auction will be held in Mike Milmoe's honor at Moseley's on the Charles in Dedham to defray the costs of long-term rehabilitation. Insurance will cover Mike's stay through Oct. 10, but when it runs out, it will cost the family $660 a day. They don't yet know how long he will need to be there."

I highlight the fundraiser because we foresee Courtney in these same shoes in a matter of months. While insurance will help cover her stay in Fletcher Allen and now Spaulding (we're not sure how long rehab will take, but think in terms of months), there are bound to be auxiliary expenses.

To cover these expenses we need to begin raising funds as soon as possible. We are working with a lawyer to start up a non-profit fund in the name of Courtney's family (if anyone knows of quick way to set up a benefit fund, please let us know). We are in the early stages of planning a fundraising event. We want your input and advice on fundraising, early ideas are a fun run or bike race type event or a benefit concert/silent auction.

We're looking forward to reading your ideas, I myself am about to enter into a Boston state of mind (which involves Courtney, a lot of chowder and some wicked exciting Sox games).

We Love you Courtney and we can't wait to have you back safe and sound.

-Sean

Sunday, October 7, 2007

10/7 Evening Update and Photos (14)


Hi Everybody,


Sorry for the quick posts over the weekend, but I promise to play catchup tomorrow. I'll write about our visit from Meagan Milmoe, her brother Mike collapsed while playing flag football at UVM about a year ago (his story is here). We're also waiting for the visit from our Spaulding representative, we pray they'll be able to help her in Boston. Thank you for the photos, I'll spread them out over the week.

Photo from Julie deAnguera


Photo from Helen Bess

Photo from Helen Bess
Photo from Helen Bess

Photo from Helen Bess

Photo from Helen Bess

Photo from Karen Haley

Photo from Karen Haley

Photo from Karen Haley

We Love you Courtney and we can't wait to have you back safe and sound.

-Sean

Saturday, October 6, 2007

10/6 Evening Update


Hi Everybody,



Photo from Marti deAnguera

I just wanted to say that Courtney is coping much better today, there's not as much kicking and cringing. The nurses have her scheduled to take Atavan as needed, we want it to clean out of her system gradually. Since she isn't able to express herself fully, her folks and I have tried to make the best decisions for her as possible.

Julie and Marty said Court's maiden voyage outside yesterday went well aside from a little dreariness and agitation. Too bad the unnaturally beautiful Burlington weather hasn't held up today as its been pouring all afternoon. There's always tomorrow.

We Love you Courtney and we can't wait to have you back safe and sound.

-Sean

Friday, October 5, 2007

10/5 Morning Update


Hi Everybody,


The transition to Baird 4 has not gone as well as hoped. Courtney was in agonizing pain all last night and didn’t fall asleep until 7:30 this morning. The source may be withdrawal symptoms, we were hoping to keep her off as much medication as possible, but her body has reacted so violently without regular doses.

The pain comes over her in waves, at times her eyes are wide open with fear or tearfully wincing in pain. She flails her legs and right arm around so wildly she breaks out in a sweat, it’s a struggle to keep her from hurting herself.

Julie and I sat bedside trying calm her down, nothing worked. Courtney would calm down for a few minutes only to break into fits. Her movements have been jerky, her hands clamp down on anything in reach. She tosses back and forth and nearly slumped out of bed a couple times. Julie stayed in her room overnight and I grabbed some sleep on the 3rd floor.

We conceded the nurse’s offer of morphine; two doses had barely any effect. The doctors eventually placed her back on Atavan, a minor tranquilizer, and after two doses she finally settled down and fell sleep. One glaring concern is whether Courtney is suffering through seizures again, its hard not knowing for sure. It’s also hard to see her body contortions and to see her bare down so hard she cries, when does she ever cry?

Walking from Courtney’s room through the hospital corridors, the patients are mostly elderly folks, lying in bed or in wheelchairs, watching television and talking with visitors. A hospital is no place for her. There’s nothing typical about these circumstances, we don’t know (and may never really know) what caused this and there are so many variables in her recovery process.

Hopefully the afternoon will see her through better times, Courtney can rest up and perhaps wheel around the hospital and outside. A representative from Spaulding is scheduled to be at Fletcher Allen on Monday to assess Courtney’s condition. In the meantime, we want her to try her best to remain calm and stay in Baird 4, although it’s not out of the question for her to move back to the ICU temporarily. I’ll let you know how she does.

We Love you Courtney and we can't wait to have you back safe and sound.

-Sean

Thursday, October 4, 2007

10/4 Morning Update


Hi Everybody,


I paid Court a visit this morning as she was patiently receiving a new set of electrodes for another EEG test. In addition today's test, Court's folks are meeting with the nursing staff of Baird 4, where she may be moved as early as this afternoon. As soon as I have a room number and new directions I'll post them.

Courtney's making eye contact a little longer now and she is constantly stretching her right arm and leg. Moving out of ICU means Court is one step closer to entering rehab, our goal is still to see her to Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston.

I want to thank all of the visitors who have come to this site to show support (more than a 1,000 of you since I put up the hit counter three days ago). We've got groups all around the U.S. and even a few abroad checking in on her condition. People from all walks of life that take a break (sometimes multiple breaks) in their day to think about Courtney. That means the world.

We Love you Courtney and we can't wait to have you back safe and sound.

-Sean

Photos of Courtney (14)


Courtney's mom Julie e-mailed a few goodies to me yesterday. Here you'll see Court horseback riding, visiting Acadia National Park in Maine and graduating from UVM back in May. I still can't believe she made it to commencement seeing as we were squaring off in Wii Boxing late the night before (for those who haven't played a video game that brings you to sweat, throw things and swear at inanimate objects, it looks a little something like this).

Photos from Julie deAnguera












-Sean