Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Chico wants you to know how important your 'comments,' emails and notes are to him even though he is too exhausted to respond individually. He finds them uplifting. Right now he is having a blood transfusion-his third in 11 days. Again we are reminded of the many people, often anonymous, who are making his recovery possible.

Yesterday,coming out from being under the effects of anesthesia, Chico remembers having conversation with the San Francisco poet, Robert Duncan, and a couple of other poets. This was an encouraging reminder of the vital importance of everything we experience in the process of our life's work.


I missed the early rounds today but I was here for the later ones.  One of the 'Plastics' surgeons who has cared for us all this week came in. I always feel like he is coming to the rescue when I see him.  No nonsense whether or not he has good news.  Warm.  He said the surgery went 'much better than expected.'  How thrilling!  In this world of uncertainty, a strong statement goes a long way.

I guess each of the doctors we come to know inspires a particular impression. Each one has been uniquely heroic and incredible. This guy's manner is warm, straightforward, directive. He inspires confidence; his presence soothes.

The pain and exhaustion of last night made it difficult to assess the situation.  What a difference the morning light can bring. We feel relieved. 

Chico and I talk about how these doctors interact wtih us, and how we might bring some of this learning to our own jobs.

I'm heading out tonight for our first day of school tomorrow in Vermont.  Can't wait to go, loathe to leave. 

We'll have a rich day.  Hope you do too.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Monday Night

Thank you to all who have already emailed with inquiries and such.  The surgery did go well. The people here are amazing.  AMAZING.  So kind and so skilled.  The wounds are all closed up and sealed.  There is a new bare patch on the the unbroken leg.  Unfathomable to me, except that it is right in front of me.  All of this is very painful.  The surgery has changed the way Chico's Left Foot feels.  That is welcome.  Until now it has often felt like it is still stuck in the car.  Unpleasant.  Chico is bearing up well.  He smiles.  He converses, he is interesting.  That can be challenging, I think, given that he could, if he wanted to, describe each place of pain in detail and it would probably take all day.  Maybe all night too.

Chico told me tonight that he awoke from surgery in a dream about Robert Duncan.  He was encouraged by what Duncan and two other poets said. They told him that when he is focused on poetry the pain would not be a distraction.  That will be the perfect pain medicine for Chico. 

I'll post some photos tomorrow.  The smile, the face, the leg. 

We got word today that someone has worked in our garden?  Mown our lawn?? Taken out the garbage-all the way to the dump???? Yikes, so much work when each of you has your own work. I'm embarrassed and thrilled. Humbled.  Thank you.  Maggots begone!  (garage garbage possibility)

Never doubt the difference you make in our lives by making a little contact.  It is huge.  Thank you.

Sorry if every sentence was a cliche tonight.  It seemed so to me.

Monday Morning

Chico is groggy after a pretty good sleep.  His muscles twitch which is shocking and excruciating.  A muscle relaxant helps. He still twitches but seems to wake up less.  He is dozing this morning, and reading a bit.

Surgery to close the wounds is scheduled for this afternoon.  Chico has been fasting since last night.  I would imagine that when one is lying on his  back for the 10th day with most of one's body in pain and forcibly immobilized, food is a nice diversion...One that will pass Chico by today.  Oh well, it will be more French toast, Brown Cow cream top yogurt with maple syrup and Coffee before we know it.  I hope it will feel like that to him tomorrow after he sleeps for most of this day and night.
Today we remind ourselves to feel lucky.  We never have to remind ourselves to be grateful for your support.  We just are.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sunday Morning

So far it has been a terrific morning, in spite of Chester's departure and the further delay of surgery. 

Sunshine and goodwill.

Two doctors talked with Chico at once about the plan for his upcoming surgeries.    A schedule has been laid out.  Tomorrow the Plastic Surgery Team will close the wounds on Chico's leg, probably taking skin grafts from the thigh of his relatively uninjured leg. Closing the wounds greatly reduces the risk of infection.  The soft tissue of his leg will then need about a week to heal at which point the bones will be operated on, probably a week from Monday.  We like having a plan.

After the consultation, Christian and his daughter, Sophia, stopped by briefly bearing cards and gifts from home. It was a sweet, germ-free visit. 

Thank you for your ongoing interest.

FYI: Chico would like to add that you should know how good breakfast was.  He really liked the french toast.

Saturday, August 28, 2010


Ok, whiling away the non emergency hours I created a slide show at my friend, Erin's request.  She's actually my blog mentor.  Feel free to check it out.  Though it is far from perfect, it might be interesting.  I would suggest getting rid of the cartoons.  I cannot set it up without them, and trying to do that was the most time consuming part. Come to think of it though, the cartoons aren't that out of place.  When we were in SICU, Chico marveled several times about the cartoon characters he'd see as he woke up.  I hadn't thought of that.

It is weird to be so exposed but I think important to show some of the people and places that live in Chico and that he has seen recently (when we've had a camera handy).  Know that we love so many of you with whom we have not spent time this summer.  The family shots in Las Cruces were taken on and around the day of my father in law's burial.

Chico is doing well.  Any one of his minor wounds or bruises would set me complaining for a week. For that matter he'd be sleepless about any one of them as well. I just keep discovering more of them and we realize how they (the nearly bitten through tongue, the stapled arm, for example) would be huge and significant were they not sharing the body with the likes of a busted femer, tibia, fibula, foot, etc.

Possible surgery tomorrow.  Chester flies home to DC.  I hope to do a little work.  We remain intemittently ecstatic to be here so grateful are we.

Thanks for picking up the comments.  It really helps me and us get through these days.

Saturday Morning

Chico is doing well.  The surgery scheduled for today has been post poned.  Today's orthopaedic surgeon described surgery this weekend as an 'aggressive' approach and not necessarily the one that would bring the best results.  It was the first time this doc has seen Chico.  He said he wanted some time to think about Chico's leg and situation. His quick and direct assessment of the situation was welcome.

We thought we wanted to just get on with it but hey, if waiting is a better idea, we're good with that-as they say. 

The emotional ebb and flow continues.  We begin to feel more isolated.  The shifting sands of who is most needy at what moment have arrived!  We actually do know who is most vulnerable here.  Although Chico's face looks normal from across the room, a glance at the toes or the 'external fixature' is all it takes to know that the healing is steady but incremental, and varied.  We're off the tree but we're not free and clear yet.

Last night Chester was visited  by some close friends  briefly on their way through Albany.   It was great for him to look forward to that through the day.  In the brilliant sunshine he walked downtown.  Albany becomes an interesting city the more time we spend here.  There is some beautiful architecture. 

Inside this bustling hospital there is a microcosm of our nation's residents.  Patients represent all ages, races and socio economic standings.  The professional and support staffs come from many, many countries including Ukraine, Pakistan, India, Rwanda and Mexico.  I can't exactly ask each person for a  bio, though I'd like to.  The place is rich in accents and perspectives that enhance our interest and experience in general.   There are also plenty of people who have lived in this area  or somewhere else in the United States for their entire lives.  We enjoy hearing their stories too.  The relational part of the hospital stay is critical. 

We are in the Orthopaedic ward.  It is quiet and yellow.  ["The bones are shuckelating," says Chico on the phone.  The phone is tiring for him.  He has used it three times and he definitely rises to the occassion but prefers not to at this point.]  So this ward is pretty quiet but the main drag (hallway) downstairs is never empty.  During the day it is bustling.  It is like a city sidewalk-not a Bristol sidewalk-a city sidewalk.  Even in the hours from midnight to 6 AM we usually encounter a few people down there. Security guards begin to recognize Chester and me.   I show them pictures.  They express wonder. 

Ok, people.  There's a little ramble from us.  Please send us a little ramble of your own.  I miss hearing from you.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Listening to an incoming medevac 'copter

...and realizing that was Chico just about a week ago. 

Chico is doing brilliantly.  His attitude is still chipper, his hands are barely swollen and he's reading.  Ups, nope he is holding a book and sleeping.    It's a heavy book so I figure the holding it is good PT.  He wanted to read, so that's a huge step forward. 

There are many steps forward each day.  Chester and I find that our concerns about our own lives are returning, a sign that Chico is becoming more independent.  He is healing.  This is good.

This afternoon I went first to the car and then to the crash site looking for Chico's belongings.  The car is completely wrecked. The airbags had obviously deployed. It was an effort and a danger to do a thorough search, but with a lot of help and emotional support from Jim and Bill at Ringers Auto in Hudson Falls, NY, I was able to recover everything but the CD in the player, I think.  Jimmy was afraid it would be really difficult for me.  In fact, the opposite was true.  It  is such a miracle that Chico survived this crash.  I was gidddy and very curious.  The doors, fender and other parts, like the roof, were cut off the car and piled on top of what had become just a Subaru convertible.  They had to be removed for us to search the car.  

As  Jim and Bill lifted parts off the car they kept saying, "He sure had an angel looking out for him..."  and other such things.  Eventually they were able to ask me if he still had his leg.  It was a shock to Jim to learn that he does, and he is expected to make a full recovery.  Chico had lost a lot of blood in the car.  If the outcome were different, my guess is I would not have been crawling around a topless car filled with glass shards, water, blood and parts at all, let alone happily.  I'll post photos when I can but unfortunately I neglected to bring my cord for downloading.

The kindness of strangers can be as startling as breaking glass.

From Hudson Falls I went to the crash site.  Such a young and strong looking tree.  I found a number of parts  including the brake pedal which had been chopped off about two inches up the shaft.  I think those rescue workers tried everything to get him out-and eventually they did!  I admire them for their perseverence, compassion and skill.  I hope we get to meet some more of them!

Thank your for your interest and concern.  Chico is resting peacefully, facing the pain honestly and bravely.  He is so appreciative of your support and interest.  A symbol of this is on the wall opposite his bed.  It is a picture Connor, our great nephew, sent him.

Today's Look

I'm headed off to retrieve 'personal effects' from the wrecked car.  Chico looks well, don't you think?

Day 6

I get by with a little help from my friends...

and the people at Albany Medical Center!

Day 4,  SICU.

Better and Better

More than a few people have commented on the photo of Chico and Chester in a graveyard...What up with that?  I guess it seems inappropriate.

Chico's father, Garland Estes Martin III, died last month at home in Las Cruces, NM.  Garland served in the Merchant Marines during WWII.  His Honor Guard was held at his burial site which is Fort Bayard National Cemetary.  There he joins my mother-in-law, Eleanor Connery Martin.  Our family tradition is to oversee the burial through the last shovel full of dirt and the seeding of grass.  That takes awhile, so there is plenty of time for photo ops in that beautiful setting. 

Chico is doing well this morning.  He watched the Red Sox last night, we all slept pretty well-I think Chester is still sleeping.  (Our hotel room is a 5 minute walk away room to room.)  We were given some very clear direction about next steps, time.  It sounds like Chico will have surgery this weekend and after a minimum of 3 days would be moved to a local rehab facility.  The surgery is still contingent on how the soft tissue around the fractures is progressing at that time.  If the surgery is postponed, that means more time will likely yield a better outcome.  The surgeons would like to see him a week after surgery and we won't be leaving the area before that. 

Our spirits are high at the moment.  I think we all believe this is critical to optimal healing. Sometimes it takes a little self talk or a little odd joke to remind each other and ourselves of that but mostly we are optimistic. Chico has many odd jokes.

The care here is outstanding.  The doctors and nursing staff have all been skilled, kind and respectful. 

We remain buoyed by your support, your emails, your calls, your comments.  Visitation is a little tricky for now.  Please know that visits when we are back home, particularly when I am back at work, are probably going to be a lifeline for us.  And that period is likely to last for about two months, I'm told. 

Please never think your reaching out to interrupt the illusion that we are alone in this is unwelcome.  We love hearing from you. Good Medicine.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Visible Progress

Mistakenly Controlling

My apologies, I had decided in my sleepless delerium this morning that I should moderate the blog which means noone could see their posts until I 'published' them. 
Chico is well this afternoon.  He now has a vacuum dressing on his leg which will do three helpful things at least: keep the wound closed, remove the draining fluids and promote healing tissue.  It will also have to be changed less frequently which is helpful because the redressing process is painful. 

It's a pretty good day here.  The healing continues as does the shared exhaustion. 

Moving updates to this Blog


It took me awhile to realize how ineffective my 'Hospital News' is in my gmail account. I think this will probably be a better way to keep people up to date with Chico's status.

For people coming upon this five days later: Chico was in a car accident last Friday night. He had - well there is speculation about what happened: Did he fall asleep? Was there a 'medical episode?' - at any rate he hit a tree head on and got pretty banged up. He is doing really well now-survival being assured, no head trauma, no spinal problems so far. He has many broken bones and will need further surgery as soon as the soft tissue on the leg heals.  A full recovery is expected.

Last night,one of the rescue workers from the med evac team visited Chico in ICU. That was incredibly heartening and terrifying-both-to hear them talk about such a life changing, shared event from their very different perspectives. Luke was very pleased with Chico's progress. Encouraging. We three were full of wonder.

He was moved out of the the Surgical ICU at Albany Medical Center (43 New Scotland St, Albany, NY) and into a very small, private room- C511. Once settled, he slept well during the night. 

Our son, Chester, is here.  He is a compassionate and analytical thinker. Nice combo, and very useful in this situation.  He is a great comfort to us.

Thanks for all the love and support from family and friends near and far.