The Gang Reunited

IMG_5839Friends through it all. 

The PCG Gang is back together again! Patti and Carol have been friends with my mom since Junior High. Being out of state, they were especially anxious for any and all updates throughout this whole journey. When they found out a rough date on when she might be coming home from the hospital, they immediately started planning their trip to get their Glenda fix. After deciphering directions from their hotel, they have been hanging out with mom all day. They were cooking in the kitchen together without missing a beet (Culinary humor at its highest level). They lovingly reminisced about the summer they stole cars and sold them for scrap metal at the local chop shop. Tears of joy fill their eyes when they mention the police officer they framed for the forest fire of 71′. Of course they can’t help but laugh when they discuss their extremely short lived stint as the original Charlie’s Angels (a badly timed “expression of gas” was to blame for their immediate firing and lifetime ban from the set). Good times.


Stitchless: Based on the novel “Push” by Sapphire


Stitch Free! We are happy to report the stitches have been successfully removed. The surgeon originally feared that her brain may burst from her skull like pasta primavera, splattering her cranial fluid and cerebral nerves throughout the room, only to leave the janitor knee deep in her genius for hours. Luckily that did not happen. I bet he feels pretty foolish now.


She is getting better everyday. If it weren’t for her vision, she would be pretty much back to normal (besides the doctor switching her elbows with her kneecaps as a “funny prank”). Her friends from out of town are coming tomorrow and she is very excited to catch up and reminisce.


Her friends at Fortis were kind enough to make an awesome and thoughtful supersize card that brightened her day. Envelope not pictured.

3 Amigos Con Dientes Perfectos

marlomompepperMarlo and Pepper are hanging out with mom every day and taking good care of her. Seen here, chillin on the couch.

Hmm…that’s a rather boring update isn’t it.


Against impossible odds, Marlo and Pepper remain steadfast in defending mother against the foul and vile evils of middle earth! Seen here, blasphemously flaunting their good looks and disheveled hair, deep in the blistering heat of the Fires of Mordor!! 


IMG_0616In other news….”I eat cheese off the ground like a small, well-dressed homeless person.”

Home At Last :)

IMG_1422Mom, sporting an awesome incision, 32 staples, and a confident smirk the day after surgery. Dr. Schmidt remarked that, despite being under heavy anesthesia, mom had actually woken up several times during her final surgery in the OR. Each time whispering what Dr. S described as “childish, condescending knock knock jokes”, then immediately pretending to fall back asleep…

“Knock knock. Who’s there? Europe. Europe who? No, you’re a poo!”

“Knock knock. Who’s there? Madam. Madam who? Madam skull is still in pieces, we gonna wrap this up sometime today, doc!?!”

…she’s still got it.



The good news is: her hair will grow back right over the incision. The bad news is: they had to re-route hair follicles from her armpits in order to make that happen.


Home! Comfort level increase: +5000. Uncomfortable stare level increase: +6000
(trust me, he is actually smiling under all that fur…or plotting our demise)


From night of the living dead (and I mean that respectfully)…to Dean of a Nursing College, in a single brush stroke.


Pepper has been coming over every day before work. Kathryn has also been spending a lot of time with my mom. Marlo has been acting as my mom’s own personal at-home male nurse; taking very good care of her every day since she’s been home. And grandpa covers the evening shifts each night after work.

The double vision still persists and may take up to a year for it to fully remedy itself. The blurred tape on my mom’s glasses helps with this, and is rotated from eye to eye each day.


Round 3, FIGHT!

10:45AM – The hospital called and asked if we could come in early. Dr. Schmidt finished his previous surgery sooner than expected. Avery quickly finished painting my mom’s toes; hugs and kisses from Pepper and Marlo; double birds to the dog, and we’re off!


11:20AM – Still red flagged in the system from our previous visit…”Your plastic is no good here, Mrs. Christiaens.”


Some fun facts about valet parking at the University Hospital: they are totally slammed; they cannot accept tips; they wear red shirts and hats.

Hmm…I can accept tips.

A red shirt, a red hat, a butt-load of charisma, and about 2 hours later: surgery paid for in full! …with mostly 1 and 5 dollar bills. Let’s do this thing!


12:00PM – Chillin in the pre-surgery room; doin the pre-flight checks; getting the 411 from the nurses, doctors and anesthesiologists. Expected time in surgery: 2-4 hrs. Mom is a little nervous but staying positive. She’s right on the cusp (1 month) of when the Dr’s felt comfortable going back in. She could have chosen to delay this another week or two and they would have been just fine with that. Not my mom’s style though.


12:30PM – Anesthesia in full effect; off to surgery…

1:47PM – OR called. Surgery has begun!

3:23PM – Dr. Schmidt came out and talked to us. Surgery went great, they are stitching her up now. Bone flap went back in, spent some time and smoothed things out with plastic cement. A drain was put in. Said it looks like things have healed well from the previous surgery. Expectation is 2 days of recovery time at the hospital.

3:43PM – All done! Going to recovery for about 30 minutes, or until cool to the touch. Then being moved to another room where we’ll be able to go see her.


4:59PM – Mom looks great! Almost as soon as she got in the room, nurses were able to help her up and walk her to the restroom; that’s a big deal right after surgery! She is coherent and responsive.



Started an IV, getting some pain medication going. Resting.


The Neurosurgeon

Today was the appointment with the Neurosurgeon. Lets start with the bad news: This morning when I went to have a bite of toasted oats (the sad version of Cheerios) I brought the spoon up too fast and hit my tooth. It was a very disappointing moment. Now on to the good news: The Neurosurgeon told mom he expects her vision to be back in a month! He also reported the meningioma is 100% gone and will not be coming back! Ready for round 3? The surgeon told mom he thinks she will be back to work by Halloween! Upon hearing this, I kid you not- Mom literally stood up and did a one handed double barrel front tuck back flip! She stuck the landing, lifted her head, and with a classic British accent told the surgeon “You sir, are a gentleman and a saint”. THAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED.


To top it all off the surgeon somehow had an opening for this Friday (tomorrow) to perform her surgery. Pepper will be with her in the morning as usual, then Sid will be picking her up to get to the hospital around 12:30. The surgery will begin around 2 or 3 and may last up to 4 hours. She is calm and relaxed and looking forward to having a successful operation. She is expected to be in the hospital for 2 days. She has been doing great lately, even walking without any needed assistance. She is grateful for any calming and positive thoughts sent her way tomorrow.


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Today the occupational therapist came over to see how mom is doing. He was impressed by her progress in regular daily activities (brushing teeth, eating, putting on clothes, doing dishes, performing the Gangnam Style dance), but unfortunately there is no way to speed up the recovery of her vision. He said there are 6 muscles in each eye, and it only takes one inactive muscle to result in double vision and blurriness. She will continue her daily “eyexercises” which consist of looking at word flash cards from various angles and distances to stimulate the retinal nerves. Her goal is to get back to work in 6 weeks, so she is hoping to find out more information during her appointment tomorrow.

Speech Therapist Defeated

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pic: mom being crushed by her loving family. 

Today the physical therapist, speech therapist and home nurse paid a visit. The nurse did some regular checks and everything was good (excluding the fact that a large part of her skull is missing). The physical therapist also said she was doing great and is happy with her progress, though he would prefer a large part of her skull not to be missing. The speech therapist gave mom a test and she did perfect. 100%. Numero Uno. Top Enchilada. Ferrero Rocher. She did so perfect in fact, that the speech therapist is no longer needed. One down.

She is hoping the occupational therapist shows up tomorrow to give her a vision update. That is still her main issue and biggest annoyance. The runner-ups to her biggest annoyance include: a large part of her skull missing, fly landing in her orange juice, daily boredom, never throwing away dead batteries, the Seinfeld finale, and of course the guy who dances in the Six Flags commercials (obviously). She is hoping on Wednesday that she can have her skull replacing surgery scheduled as soon as this Friday. She wants something to look forward to besides another surgery, so the sooner its done the better.

Happy Anniversary


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Today our parents have been married 38 years. To celebrate they got matching tattoos across their backs that read “1976: Marital Blix”. Mom is doing well. She is excited to update the blog herself very soon. She gets slightly better each day and the helmet has improved her head spins dramatically. She is still super bored and appreciates all visitors that come over to catch up. Her short term memory is not the greatest, but it will heal. She is eating food much more regularly with the help of some superb meals from her friends.Tomorrow rehab therapy will visit and do their best to tire her out. Until then, let the celebration continue.

Welcome Home

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Back where she belongs! She was in her own bed last night and slept better than she has in a month. Activities to keep her productive and entertained are limited due to her vision. Naturally she still gets bored, but its not nearly as bad as hospital boredom. Everyone she knows has been super supportive by bringing meals to the house and jumping at the opportunity to assist in any way possible. She needs 24 hour supervision to prevent any missteps or falls, or its “game over” as her physical therapist put it. Obviously the therapist has little to no experience playing games, considering the majority of all games clearly give you 3 lives until “game over”. She is still getting adjusted to asking for assistance, even when she thinks she may not need it. The medical staff made it clear that while her brain continues to heal she may think she is capable of doing something physical on her own, (standing up, walking, going down the stairs) she must have someone assist her at all times.


On Wednesday she will be going to the hospital to schedule her 2nd surgery. The brain doctor will do some exams and check how her recovery is going. She will have therapists visiting the house (occupational, physical, speech, ninjutsu) throughout the weeks. Pepper gets her started in the morning, while Marlo and Avery have her back the majority of every day. Each day is a step towards recovery, or as the great Benjamin Franklin once said “Hello, my name is Benjamin Franklin”.