Sunday, February 04, 2007

Uma Updates from Erik

From Erik's Emails/Blogs:
Day 4

I like to think of Uma’s brain aneurysm as a sneaky way for her to get me to devote my entire blog to her. (When Uma reads this post, she’s totally going to roll her eyes and be like, “you’re so self-centered, trying to make my damned brain aneurysm about your blog.”) Fine, Urp, you’ve won—let’s just go ahead and start calling this blog “Uma’s Year of New Things.” Now finish absorbing and draining the blood around your brain so you can wake the fuck up, okay?

The health update for today is that she’s still progressing in the right direction, but the blood has been draining slower than the doctors had hoped. Basically, when the aneurysm burst, blood leaked out all over her brain and got into all of her brain’s little crevices (obviously there are medical terms I’m missing here) and they need to get all of that freaking blood out of there. The fact that the blood isn’t located in one spot—it’s everywhere—makes it more difficult to drain. The blood can also be reabsorbed into Uma’s body, but there’s nothing the doctors can do to make that happen, so they’ve got tubes that are draining out some of the blood and hoping that Uma’s body will absorb what those draining tubes aren’t getting. As a result of this whole blood drainage issue (Urp, are you still reading this post, or have you gotten completely tired of me going on and on and on about your blood?), they are probably going to keep her in this induced coma state for an extra few days. Basically, they reassess that every day, based on how well all of the draining is going.

We’re still not out of the stroke danger zone—they do neurological tests every hour and so far, very very good: there has not been any stroke activity. The doctors say that days 5 through 7 are the riskiest in terms of stroke activity, so if you are a prayer and visualizer (and I know that many of you are) (and I think all of your good vibes have been working so far, so let’s keep ‘em up), then aside from visualizing blood draining from her brain area, we should also be visualizing no stroke activity.

The other thing to visualize is full recovery (that’s what I keep saying over and over again in my head: “full recovery, full recovery, full recovery”) and movement in the right side of Uma’s body. The good news is that she’s moving more and more. Even though she’s on sedatives, she’s like a little snake in that bed, wriggling about. (Urp, that just got me thinking, maybe this whole brain aneurysm thing is your sneaky way of getting me to finally pony up and get you that second tattoo I’ve owed you for, like, the last two years?) (Look—I’m making your brain aneurysm all about me again.) (But anyway—do you still want a snake? Just say the word and the snake tattoo is yours.) (Emphasis on “say the word,” i.e. let’s get this healing done so you can wake the fuck up, ok?) There’s lots of movement on her left side and a little bit of movement on her right side, and that little movement is very positive (especially considering the fact that she’s on so many damned sedatives).

She’s been coughing, which they take as a sign that she’s sick and tired of having the ventilator in. And this morning I saw her moving both of her shoulders in a kind of wild shrugging motion. Bo left me a message last night that made me laugh—I had left him a message telling him about Uma’s various movements and he said that when she finds out that we’ve been staring at her and keeping track of every time she freaking moves her hands and feet, she’s going to be so creeped out by us. (You are so right, Bo.)

But for now, we can’t care whether or not she’s going to be creeped out, because we’re too focused on letting her know how much we all fucking love her and can’t wait to see her smiling again. (It’s still a shock to see Urp lying in that hospital bed, with all of the tubes and such.) (It’s weird.) (But she has the most punkass new hairdo I’ve ever seen, and I totally think she’ll approve.) (We’ve had several conversations in the past about how we both agree that women with bald heads are very fucking hot, and the ‘do that Urp’s currently sporting is half-bald/half long, which is recipe for a wickedly cool Mohawk.) (And can’t you all picture Uma rocking the Mohawk?) (Seriously.)

The doctors have asked us to visit Uma’s bedside in short bursts, because she can sense us and she can hear us and everytime someone talks to her she gets excited—which they’re trying to quell because they need her to relax. But Aida noticed something today (or maybe it was yesterday, the days kinda blend)—when she went into the room for one of her short visits with Uma, Uma wasn’t moving much at all—but Uma was facing the opposite direction of Aida…and then Aida walked to the other side of the bed and stood in Uma’s sightlines and suddenly Uma started moving like crazy. So Aida told me about this and then I went in to have a moment with Uma and she was already kinda moving when I walked in there, but when I moved into her sightline she started moving even more—so I take those two tests as proof that she’s definitely registering our presence.

When we’re not in the room with Uma, Uma’s visitors sit in this little lounge immediately next door. We sit and we pray and think good thoughts, and we make phone calls to give people Uma updates, and we gossip about Tom and Katie (or “Kate,” as she’s known by Tom) and Cameron and Justin (because we have to keep up with the gossip because when Uma wakes up she’s gonna want to know what she missed in the world of Us Magazine), and we share Uma stories, and we eat and drink Starbucks, and sometimes we nap and zone out. The lounge room can be boisterous and it’s rarely empty—in fact, Ray (the son of the man in the bed next to Uma) commented earlier today that Uma’s family and friends have taken over the entire lounge area, “which is great, because none of you are from New York, but she’s so loved and all of you are here—my dad has a brother who lives around the corner who hasn’t even visited the hospital once.” It feels good to keep that room crowded and I know that Uma’s beloved fiancé John especially appreciates it. In the last few days, Uma’s Lounge (hey, since Uma’s hijacked the name of this here blog, she might as well hijack the name of the hospital lounge, too) has been filled by the likes of John, me, my mom, Uma’s mom, Uma’s dad, Uma’s uncle, Uma’s grandmother, Aida, Uncle Dan, Jason, Marie, and Mike. I know lots of friends are planning on visiting in the coming weeks, and that will be great. I have to go back to California on Sunday night, but John will be here, and Marie is here for the next week too, so I will pass along updates as I get them—and I should be back at the hospital by Thursday or Friday. Thank you for all of the hundreds of emails and phone calls (I haven’t been able to reply to all of the emails, but thank you for the messages and I am relaying them all to Uma) (even though we’re not supposed to talk to her right now because they want her to rest, whenever I get an email or a message, I write it down so I can tell Uma later, and as I’m writing it down, I think it really hard so that maybe Uma will “feel” the message) (I’m pretty sure it’s working)

Keep the praying and the visualizing and the well wishes coming.

Lots of love to you all.
Labels: family

posted by Erik at 9:14 PM | 3 comments links to this post

Thursday, February 01, 2007

One of my closest friends in the world, Uma (aka Urp) (also known around these here blog parts as thedarkeruma)—family to me—had a brain aneurism burst this morning. Thankfully, she was in New York with her fiancé John and he was able to get her to the hospital. She was in surgery earlier today and now she’s under sedation, on a ventilator, because she’s got lots of blood around her brain. The doctors are keeping her under sedation for the time being, hoping that her body will rest and heal. That’s all I really know tonight, and I feel weird blogging about it except that I know how happy she'll be to know she has a blog post devoted entirely to her. (So Urp, when you wake up—like the guy in the bed next to you, who’s up and alert and giving the doctors hell—you’re going to see this blog post and you’d better be damned happy about it, okay?)

I just saw Urp and she’s in bad shape, but we have to have hope, so…

…if you’re the type of person who prays, please please please do some praying.

…if you’re not the type of person who prays, please think happy, healthy thoughts.

…yell a message to Uma out your window, as loud as you can. Make it as un-PC as possible, because Uma likes it that way.

…even if you read this blog and don’t know Uma…even if you’re just coming across this blog post, randomly—a blog reader passing in the night—please take a second to tell a dirty joke, think a hopeful thought, and send out some love into the ether…
Feb. 3

Hello friends...I know that several of you have helped spread word about Uma's health condition, and thank you for that. I apologize if this is the first you've heard about what's going on. Today was her third day in the ICU, and she's getting better every day--more specific information is below.

But first off: several people have asked me where they could send "get well" cards to Uma, and I cannot remember who specifically among you have asked, so I thought I'd send the info to all of you. Get Well Cards can be sent to Uma at:

St. Vincent's Hospital
Patient: Uma Nithipalan
c/o John Ballinger
Neurological ICU, 11th Floor
170 West 12th Street
New York, NY 10011

She's still in the Neurological ICU, and she will be for a while, so she cannot receive flowers or balloons or anything like that, but get well cards would be awesome. When she wakes up, I think she's going to be kinda stunned to find herself in the hospital, but knowing that all of you are pulling for her and thinking of her will mean a lot.

To give you an update on her health (and to fill you in on any blanks, if you don't know the whole story) (and I realize that some of you already have this information, but some of you don't, and since I'm sending a mass email to Friends of Uma, I'm going to start at square one), Uma had several seizures early Wednesday morning, at around 5:30 am. Fortunately, she was with John, and he called 911 immediately. She was going in and out of consciousness as they took her to the hospital, where they diagnosed that she'd had a brain aneurism, which had burst. Apparently you can have a brain aneurism and never even know it, and sometimes they just burst. Brain aneurisms are incredibly lame like that. By early Wednesday afternoon, Uma was in surgery, getting the aneurism "coiled," which means they cut it off from the rest of her system and it won't bother her anymore. But by that time, lots of blood had seeped into the area around her brain, which isn't good.

For the last two days they have been focusing on getting that blood out of there. They need her body to relax and heal while the blood is draining, so they've been giving her sedatives to keep her in an induced comatose state, while the blood drains. On Wednesday things looked really scary, but Uma has been steadily improving every day. The blood has been draining well and she's been moving a lot, which we take as a sign that she really wants to freaking wake up and get out of that stupid bed. The aneurism exploded in the left side of her brain, which means the right side of her body could be affected, but today we saw her move her right shoulder quite vigorously, and she even moved her right foot ever so slightly and her right arm just a bit too. All good signs--especially considering the fact that she's supposed to be in a coma and being completely still and relaxed so her body can heal. (The girl just doesn't wanna cooperate--it almost looks like she's dancing in the bed.)

They are going to stop inducing the coma in two or three days, after which they'll be able to do a Cat Scan and we'll know a lot more about what kind of rehab and recovery Uma will be facing. These are all really positive things to be thinking about, as the doctors weren't even talking about "rehab and recovery" on Wednesday, but now they are.

If you're the type of person who prays or visualizes things, please focus on the blood draining from around her brain and on Uma waking up with full movement in the right side of her body.

John and I both want to thank you all for all of your cards and well wishes and prayers and love. Keep 'em coming.

Uma is a fuckin' fighter and we're gonna help her get through this.

Please feel free to forward this to any of Uma's friends who I might have forgotten to send this to.

Love to you all,

1 comment:

Nate said...

Lordy. Erica, I just was going to leave you a little note that I thought about you this weekend while skiing with Alex Do. It reminded me of various trips to Mammoth and Big Bear. And then I see this crazy Uma business. I'm stunned. Words fail me. Fight on!