Thursday, August 31, 2006

Yogi Berra/Madison Avenue Assessment

By the first of August, Mom had improved 100% over where she was on July 4th.

Now, at the end of August, she has improved 100% over where she was during the first part of August.

Nancy Cotharn: Now 200% Improved!

Chest Thing Impersonates Terminators

Remember how the Terminators would never die, but would repeatedly rise up, after they were seemingly killed? Its the same with this thing in my chest.

I'm preparing a giant pool of molten steel, as that's the only thing which worked on the Terminators.

Meanwhile, I don't feel too good, and I don't feel too generous about blogging. There's not anything exciting to tell, except that Mom is steadily doing better and better. This is fantastic, and wonderful, and strangely boring to me. I'm busy feeling sorry for myself, and concentrating on my misery, sluggishness, low-grade fever, and chest full of mucous - which, surely, cannot survive the giant pool of molten steel I am heating up in the yard - using, btw, only solar radiation, which, on Labor Day Weekend, is obviously sufficient for the task...

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Not Just For College Girls

Party pics.

Seasoned ladies like them, too, and delightedly pass them around the table.

Estrogen works in mysterious ways.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Outlook = Optimistic!

My sinus/chest cold lingers, but is better, thanks to twice daily ingestions of Tylenol, Claritin D, Musinex, Echinacea w/Vitamin C, and Multi-Vitamins. Musinex, particularly, has helped the coughing, and aided sleep. Thanks, cousin Karen. Now, time for less blegh, more blog.

Mom is doing fantastic!

Her short-term memory is improving. It is a very, very good thing for that little train to chug along the tracks. Mom's balance is improving. Her physical strength is improving quite rapidly. Nancy is back, and she is the Nancy you have always known. The only question is whether she will come all the way back to, for instance, again work if she wants to, or again drive her Yukon all around Ft. Worth. Those now loom as real possibilities. Thanks for all the prayers. They surely have made a difference in getting to this point.

As have 4 1/2 hours of neuro-cognitive therapy each day. This week, Mom moved to Pate's upper level of neuro-cognitive therapy. She had entered somewhere in the middle level of Pate's neuro-cognitive program, and had spent 5 weeks working through the remainder of that level.

Therapists say Mom continues to have problems with "impulsivity". Impulsivity is a function of short term memory. Mom momentarily forgets that her strength and her balance are not yet normal. As a result, she continues to make some dangerous physical maneuvers. I witnessed Mom - when stymied by a narrow aisle of chairs - lift her walker up to her shoulders, then carry it forward for two steps, before setting it back down onto the ground. It brought a therapist running across the room, to remind her "that is not a safe maneuver." What can we glean?
  • Mom sometimes is allowed to walk on her own, within eyesight, but not within arm's reach, of therapists.
  • Mom, in lifting her walker into the air, is displaying Hulk-like 70 year old woman strength.
  • Balance is still a problem, which is why the maneuver was dangerous.
  • Short-term memory/impulsivity means Mom forgot that balance was still a problem.
  • Reasoning is still in the improvement stage, as Mom could've closed-up her walker, then carried the closed-up walker through the narrow space.
  • Morale is high. Self-confidence and determination are at high levels.

Think back to the days after April 17, when the possibility of death was a constant and near companion.... - Mom's current circumstances are quite a leap forward, yes? Yes!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Back Home: All is Blegh

Mom is progressing steadily, and boringly. Excellent.

She has an infection, and it is making her a bit disoriented. Antibiotics will knock it out in a few days.

I've a sinus infection which is trying to get into my lungs. My brain is tired. My body is tired. All is blegh.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Interlude II

In the DCI Finals, the Blue Devils finished 3rd. Their score was again less than a point behind the first place drum core. It was one of the closest Finals finishes in years.

I went to the Blue Devils rehearsal this afternoon. They were outstanding. Esprit de corps.

Their performance tonight was sharp and spirited. It was an excellent way to finish.

Cavaliers: 97.200
Phantom Regiment: 96.850
Blue Devils: 96.550

Saturday, August 12, 2006


Austin watches Blue Devils' rehearse at Beloit College, which is one hour's drive south of Madison, near the Illinois border.
Around Austin are Blue Devils' supporters, many of whom stayed in an official fan hotel in Madison. They rode tour buses each day to Beloit College. To Austin's left is a family who travelled from Japan, to watch their drummer son/brother. They speak virtually no English.

Above right, Austin and Jake during a rehearsal break. Click on the picture, to see an enlargement of Austin's smile. During the same break, Jake held the football as Austin amazingly kicked a place kick through Beloit College's goal posts, earning a rousing cheer from the assembled band fans.

During the last 8 shows of the season, the Cavaliers(Rosemont, IL) and the Phantom Regiment(Huntley, IL) began to present a strong challenge to the Blue Devils. Thursday and Friday, all three teams finished within one point of each others' scores, with the Cavaliers finishing first both nights, and the Blue Devils finishing second both nights. The Blue Devils have a more complicated and interesting show. However, it is correspondingly more difficult to perform.

The finals are tonight. 30,000 attended on each of the previous two nights. At this point, the Blue Devils are underdogs - but theirs is the most fun show to watch.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Time to Visit; Blog Vacation; Send Pictures

Time to Visit I:
Doug and Mark, who visit every Saturday, are going to New Mexico. Dad is going to the Cotharn Family Reunion, in Robinson, TX.

Blog Vacation:
I am driving to watch this trombonist:

play Euphonium in the DCI National Championships, in Madison, WI. I will be visiting these cowgirls:
And these Cowboys: Time to Visit II:
M-F, Mom rehabs from 7:30 to 3:30. You are welcome to visit between 3:30 and 6:30(when Mom likes to shower, and prep for bed). You can have dinner with Mom, if you are there at approx. 5:00 pm. Pate will provide dinner for guests.

Sat and Sun, Mom has no rehab, and no plans. You can visit any time of day, and you can spend the night on her Sitting Room couch-bed, which accomodates two people. You can shower in her fancy handicapped shower, and dry yourself with plush towels from Wooten. You can share breakfast, lunch, or dinner with Mom. Pate has cards and dominoes available, along with excellent playing tables. They have coffee, iced tea, and lemonade. Mom's fridge is stocked with Coca Cola, Dr. Pepper, and homemade fudge.

If you're driving out from Weatherford, you can miss all traffic by driving to Denton, then taking Hwy 380 across to US 75, and then go N to exit 45. If you're driving in from Little Rock, you can hit Hwy 380 northeast of Dallas (off I-30, at Greenville) and miss all the Dallas traffic. Heck, Mom is almost in Texarkana already. In fact, during a spate of delirious road hypnosis, I realized how Anna got it's name: Anna is 1/3 of the way to Texarkanna.

Send Pictures:
On one wall of Mom's Sitting Room, we want to hang pictures of cousins, aunts, uncles, and friends. However, we have almost zero pictures of cousins, aunts, uncles, and friends. We need some Posts, Cotharns, Helgasons, Schwartinskis, Stringers, Lillards, et al. Please send pictures. You can postal mail pictures to Mom in Anna, or email pictures to me (addresses on sidebar). I will print emailed pics onto photo paper, then frame them.

I'll post if anything big happens. At this point, we want to see boring, boring, steady, steady progress - nothing big! A lack of news is good news. A boring blog is a good thing.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Jake - Up Close; Happy Shabbos

I get email, regularly, from friends and relatives who have just heard about Mom's injuries, and about her ongoing recovery. One noted that all pictures of Jake were from a distance, and could I please include some closeups? Of course! No parent has to be asked twice! Above, Jake is framed in the right center background, holding his trombone. Below, he is ... lets see... on the right.

Most of the emails say something like: "How is she really doing?"

These emailers do not believe I am withholding important information - and I'm not. My Aunt Jane would kill me. Aunt June, too. My only break would be that Aunt Patsy doesn't use a computer. Rather, the emailers think I have forgotten to write about Mom's prognosis. I would love for that to be the case, because that would mean I knew her prognosis.

Physically: return of muscle, healing of broken hip, et al - things are looking really good. Mom is walking 400 feet each day. She also uses a wheelchair, but only b/c she is too fatigued to walk everywhere, all day. If things keep going as they are, the wheelchair will soon be thrown aside. Mom's physical strength is improving in leaps and bounds.

Her balance is still poor. Without her walker, she would probably fall every other time she attempted to walk. Even when using her walker, if she bumps it against something during a walk, she is a decent threat to go down.

Her taste buds/appetite have made a marked improvement, though she still doesn't eat the same portion sizes she did before. Nevertheless, I am hardly worried about this area.

Mom can maneuver a Wal-Mart go-cart like Danica Patrick.

Mom's long-term memory is not perfect, but it is good.

Her logic and reasoning is not perfect, but they are good.

Her short term memory is kinda, sorta, almost getting there - but it is not consistent yet. This is the area to watch. This is the area which stretches Mom's recovery from a few months, to maybe 8 - 12 months beyond her April 17 injury - or further. Brains often heal themselves, but it is a slow process. This area will determine whether Mom becomes an independent grandmother, who zooms her Yukon all over town; or an interesting, fun grandmother, who cannot go places without a friend.

What are the odds of the differing scenarios? It is unknowable. Mom's chances of making a full recovery are better than tiny, yet less than sure. That is a wide range, and that is where we are. No amount of pouting will change where we are - though I have tried. In Judaism, some things are said to be unknowable.
We are all Jews now.

La Chaim!

Shabbos - weekly day of rest in Judaism. It is observed, from before sundown on Friday until after nightfall on Saturday(Wikipedia).

Friday, August 04, 2006

Room 10: Hallway and Bedroom

This is taken while standing in Mom's Sitting Room. It is the west wall of a tiny hallway which leads into her bedroom. Janet insisted on having all three of these pictures hung. L to R: Me, Bruce, and Bradley - all wearing the same blue suit. Mom loves these pics. They were hung in the Wooten den, near the back door.

Still in the sitting room. The Bear is on the east wall of the hallway. In about 1970, Mom bought prints of all the SWC mascots, and carefully varnished each onto a wooden plaque type of board. They have always look fabulous - although, either Bruce or Bradley once ice-picked the eyes out of several mascots. Mom fixed it, somehow.

Standing just inside the bedroom, looking at the east wall, we see Courtney and Jake dancing at Bradley and Kris' wedding; Nancy(of Nancy and Todd) hidden by a Precious Moment; the beautiful Patti Post (Gurvis' and JoAnn's daughter) at 4 years; Atchafalaya and Hoss in front of the Hibiscus. A drawing of Apaloosa colts is glared out.

Shifting right, we see Doug Melton's amazing handiwork: a hand-stitched rug. I don't know the official name for this type of creation, but I know it looks great above Mom's bed.

The south wall. These bluebonnet scenes hung on the den wall at Wooten - just as you came into the den from the kitchen. Patsy's plaque hangs by the door - decorated with, appropriately, blue flowers. It says:
I smile because you are my sister.
I laugh because there is nothing you can do about it!
The door leads into a hallway, which leads to the Greatroom of Hilltop House.

The west wall. Janice and Ray Storey's tapestry is sandwiched between the picture and the bathroom door. It hangs four feet beyond the foot of Mom's bed. The tapestry has traveled with Mom: from hospital room, to hospital room, to rehab room - fourteen rooms in all. This is the text above the angel:
For He will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways.
Psalms 91:11

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Happy Mom

Though the hair is not fixed, I could not bypass this shot of Mom, posing in her Wal-Mart go cart. She has just ravaged Wal-Mart, over about a 90 minute period, and her glee is palpable. She purchased everything from shoes to a DVD/VCR player. She drove her go cart like a drunk golfer drives a golf cart: full speed at all times. I let her go. She crashed a couple of times in the beginning, but then she mastered it like a pro.

Mom and I had a running, 30 minute disagreement about when we needed to leave Wal-Mart, and return to Anna. Mom refused to leave. In retrospect, the whole scene was like trying to get a child out of the pool. I played the part of the permissive, overwhelmed, helpless parent. Mom was the child who refused to depart the water.

Finally, Mom agreed to go, but then took off towards Garden Supplies, which was the opposite direction of the checkout lines. I figured she was looking for the checkout lines, and she didn't want to hear any more instruction from me. I waited for her to U-Turn, and return in my direction. Instead, she turned left by the garden hoses. I started walking the 30 yards distance towards garden hoses. I wasn't worried, b/c she was pinned in by the far end of the store. Nevertheless, she effectively ditched me! After a full search of Garden Supply, I enlisted a Wal-Mart associate to help, and we zoomed towards Auto Supply. No Nancy. It had been maybe five minutes - which is a long time, in that situation. I envisioned Mom exiting through a fire door, or falling off her cart while reaching for an item on a shelf.

The associate whisked me towards Customer Service, and then launched a storewide "Adam Alert" for: "70 year old female, driving a Wal-Mart motorized cart, blue sweater, gray sweatpants, eyeglasses, goes by 'Nancy'". The problem was, this exactly described about 20 customers then motoring around the Wal-Mart. Suddenly, I espied Mom, 30 yards distant, zooming towards Garden Supplies. I had to run, yelling her name, to catch up to that damn cart.

Mom had bananas in her basket, which means she traversed the entire width of the store, from Garden Supplies all the way across to Grocery, picked out bananas, bagged them, then began her return trip to find me. Finding me, she asked if I still needed to return some flip-flop sandals I had mentioned earlier. Luckily, I did not. More luckily, Mom was finally ready to acquiesce, and return to Anna. We checked out, go-carted to her Yukon, and took the picture at the top of this post.

Look at that picture again. I said she looks gleeful - and she does. But she also looks ... smug. She beat me. That is for certain.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Sleepy Summer

Aunt Billie wishes Mom a smooth recovery! And, maybe, she wishes the photographer would finish up, so she can get back to preparing the muffins(?) which are behind her, on the counter.

Billie's daughter, cousin Kerrie, would wish Aunt Nancy a speedy recovery, if she wasn't sooooo tired. And who can blame her, as she must work + listen for the loquacious Kendyl and Shelby + slow down the wild-driving Lindsey.