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More Terpilowski Than You Can Possibly Imagine



I've been away from my computer for nearly a week due to  a combination of
work (including two back-to-back all-nighters) and personal stuff, so a
great deal has happened in that time, I'll skip the excuses and give you
all the news.

As I wrote, Richard opened his eyes for the first time on Monday afternoon,
April 21st. I was initially concerned that I had been too quick to report
this dramatic step forward, since his doctors would do nothing other than
upgrade his Glasgow Coma Scale.

As it now happens, the reporting was entirely accurate.
On Wednesday evening, April 23rd, I was able to spend about 35 minutes with
him, way exceeding the time limit imposed in CCU; but it was a great
opportunity to check his true state of being.
After about 5-10 minutes, he woke up, and clearly focussed on my face,
followed me around the room with eye and head movements.
On this day, he was obviously very woozy and would unfocus his eyes, then
refocus again, almost like he was in and out of consciousness, but when he
was focussing, he was quite alert, considering he had been completely
unconscious on Monday morning.

I asked him to do a simple series of things, like move his leg for me. His
left leg had been shifting while he was asleep, so I asked him to move it
for me. His facial expression changed immediately to concentration, and the
calf muscle tightened, as a definite conscious effort. When I asked him
again, he moved the leg properly. On that evening, he was not able to move
anything else for me in response to a request, but his recognition was
definitely there, and I was quite sure he was moving in response to a
request, one of the preconditions for him to enter rehabilitation.

So: quite a different story from what the physicians told, or even the
nursing staff. As I left, I asked the evening nurse if she had asked him to
move anything, and she looked quite surprised, because his chart reiterated
that there had been no purposeful movement. She put it down to RT doing
stuff for people he knows, but not being particularly interested in making
the considerable effort for the nurses or doctors !

On Thursday evening, April 24th, I ran out of work during a lull in an
all-night crisis, to go see RT again, to put to rest the fraction of a
percent doubt I had left about his conscious movement. I got to the
hospital very late, and ran into Richard's parents and Anna coming out.
They told me that RT was asleep, so I decided not to go in and wake him.
Richard's mother Sabina told me that he had been moving for a couple of
days, in response to their requests; even though the medics told them that
it was just coincidence. Anna was pretty sure he had squeezed her hand with
his finger, too, which would be the first directed upper extremity movement
from RT. A tremendous leap forward, and a relief too. The family had just
confirmed what we already knew, despite the professional nursing staff's
information.
I bounced this information off my wife, who works with head injuries and
stroke patients in ICU; and she confirmed that the family are often the
first people to see any signs from the patient, often confounding the
doctors' understandably conservative prognoses.

Friday and Saturday evenings, I was not able to visit due to personal
commitments, which brings us to today, (Sunday, April 27th). My son and I
went to the hospital CCU expecting RT to still be there. Surprise! He'd
been moved this very day to the acute medical wards on the 4th floor of the
hospital.

GREAT ! HE'S OUT OF CRITICAL CARE !

We zoomed upstairs to the wards, and met Anna and Richard's pal David
coming out of the elevator. They said RT had just dozed off, but was doing
much better, and had been trying very hard to lift his head up off the
pillow, of his own volition. We decided to go in and at least see him,
since the acute wards have more convenient visiting hours. When we went in,
he was dozing, still connected to the ventilator and G-tube, and also
connected to telemetry, so the nursing staff can keep an eye on him. He
woke up very quickly and looked at us with good eye focus. He quite clearly
recognized me, and spent some time studying my son, who has grown a couple
of inches since they last met. I made a wisecrack about the music that was
playing in the background, and there was a definite facial expression
movement.
I told him that I just wanted to check his feet for skin breakdown, and he
immediately flexed his left leg to position the foot for me. He was holding
a couple of soft toys tightly in his hands, brought by his riding friend
Janette and her son, and I lifted his left index finger, and asked him to
move it for me. There was a slight but definite movement, and he also
looked intently at the movement, trying to concentrate again.
So to sum up: he's not able to communicate yet, except by gross motor
functions, but seems to have upper and lower extremity function at least on
the left side.
Recognition: looks intact. Comprehension: looked OK. Personality: much
harder to measure at this stage, but at least to me, it seems like we are
with the same old Richard.
It just looks like he's recovering from a very hard night on the town.

I also met RT's parents at the hospital, who told us that Bruce Breedon
(who used to work with him at 525), and his wife had come up from San Diego
a couple of days ago to see Richard. Sorry to have missed you, Bruce. I
also checked with Terps' mother, Sabina, that people are welcome to come
visit him now he is out of CCU. Richard is on the 4th floor at Holy Cross,
on Rinaldi, just East of the 405. Check with staff for the exact room
number. Visiting hours are a much friendlier 10am to 8pm daily, and visits
are no longer limited to immediate family.
I advise everyone to check with the hospital before going out there,
because Anna is trying to set up the assessment for Northridge ASAP. Once
he is cleared to go, he may be transferred to Northridge very quickly.
Now is the time when Richard needs people around him, their stimulation and
support will greatly increase the speed of his recovery. I have also tried
to keep his family posted about news flying back and forth on the Internet,
as well as the message page on Rob's TIG web site. If you haven't left a
message yet on the RT message page, please go ahead and do it, because
Sabina and Joe and Anna are reading all this stuff to RT. Alternatively, if
you only have e-mail, send your message to Rob or myself, and we will post
it for you.

I want to take every opportunity to thank you all for your thoughts and
prayers, as well as your donations to the RT Trust Fund. Rob and I have
been exchanging e-mails and we both agree that we are indeed blessed to be
in the company of such an outstanding group of people.

On Wednesday, I also took time out to meet with Jim Campbell at 525 Post to
review the Trust Fund, since I had received many donations in the mail on
the previous 2 days. I would like to take a moment to thank the following
donors:

Bruce and Tracy Breedon at BUF Technology
Gary Coates
Jim Erickson
Bill Topazio
Paul and Lori Chapman
Dean Humphus
Cliff Laidlaw
Anonymous (I know who you are though...thanks!)
David Webb
Pacific Radio in Hollywood and Burbank
Donna Chapman and Dwight Thornton
Corey Olsen
O.D. Welch
Arnold Ramm

I apologize if it took a little while for you to hear from me, I've been
floored at work, not the least because to the announcement of the merger of
Unitel Hollywood with my own company on Tuesday, April 27th.

I also have at least another half-dozen envelopes to take over to 525 ASAP,
including contributions from the staff at Editel, so please bear with me.
Depending on how you donated to the fund, I may not yet be aware of your
donation, but thank you anyway. This is not a professional fund-raising
effort, so please accept my apologies for any errors or omissions, and
please feel free to bug me to verify receipt.

Thank you all again for responding so magnificently to a friend in need:
for at least three types of support, spiritual, moral and concrete. It's
difficult to gauge the effect of the first two, but rest assured they are
all needed, and will continue to be needed throughout Richard's
convalescence.

I'm proud to be associated with this group of people, thank you on behalf
of RT and God Bless you all.

Mike Orton


|---------------------------------------------------------|
| "I do not distinguish by the eye, but by the mind,      |
|   which is the proper judge of the man."                |
|         Seneca. 8 B.C.- 65 A.D.                         |
|---------------------------------------------------------|


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