The blog has been stuck at this spot for a while, and the title of this post might be a clue as to why it’s January and I’m finally writing about a September event. It’s hard to write about the bad days. But, here goes.
On September 9th, Bruce went out for a jog about at around 3:00 pm. That was not unusual, but the call I received from the Palo Alto Police officer around 4:00 was. (It had been determined that he had lost consciousness and fallen, biting his tongue in the process. We later learned that someone had seen him stumbling around and flagged down a police officer who was driving by.) The officer said he’d found him injured and was sending him to the hospital by ambulance. My first thought was, “He’s going to be so mad. He hates going to the hospital!” Figuring this was going to be his “usual” two-day hospital stay, I grabbed some supplies for him (a book, a phone charger, and some clothes) and headed to the ER. He was a little banged up and dirty from his fall, but he didn’t look too bad. Except for his tongue which was completely mangled and very painful.
We waited for hours as they took his medical history, did tests to make sure the incident was caused by his heart and not something else, and stitched up his tongue (not something they usually do but the cut was so bad they decided to). Once he was settled into a regular room on the cardiac ward upstairs, I went home to be with the boys.
The next day I went back to the hospital in the mid-morning and he was still in a lot of pain and his tongue was very swollen. We still had no indication of what was to come when I left after a few hour visit. Some time around 5:00 I got a text from him that his tongue had continued to increase in size and they were worried it was going to block his airway, so they were going to intubate him. I was shocked and terrified. When I got to the hospital Sunday evening, they had just finished the procedure and transferred him to the cardiac ICU (the CCU). He was sedated and hooked up to what seemed like a million tubes and his hands were in restraints so that he wouldn’t pull out the intubation tube. He would occasionally wake up and be scared because he felt like he couldn’t breathe. His nurse kept reassuring him that the machine was breathing for him and all of his numbers looked good, but it was of little comfort.
Over the next several days, he was on heavy painkillers and partially sedated. Thanks to four very helpful visitors (Cari, Laura & Eric, and Janice) I was able to be at the hospital every day for long hours. Bruce had two day-nurses over the five days he was in the CCU, and they were incredibly talented and watchful. Bruce often seemed lucid and would write down questions or try to have a conversation by way of pen and paper, always making jokes. He had the nurses and doctors laughing on more than one occasion. When one group noticed from the whiteboard that it had been his birthday, he wrote down “This is my mid-life crisis” on his piece of paper and laughter erupted.
I took a picture of his whiteboard on Monday because what most occurred to me when I saw it that morning was “worst birthday ever.”
On Tuesday, when I was about to crack from the stress of seeing the strongest person I know in such a state, his nurse, Jake, asked if he wanted to sit up in bed and dangle his feet over the edge. Of course, Bruce never says no to a challenge, so he did that and then they decided he could also try standing up. Accompanied by “Eye of the Tiger” he stood up, leaned on the walker, and bobbed his head to the beat a little bit. It was a much-needed bit of levity and a sign that he was going to be OK.
The week is now a blur of IVs, medical personnel, and procedures. Here’s his IV pole which gives you an idea of the chaos.
Here he is after they extubated him on Thursday. He still had the feeding tube in, much to his annoyance.
And by Friday he was looking pretty good!
They finally kicked him out of the CCU and transferred him over to the regular cardiac ward to await his ICD. Unfortunately, there were some scheduling delays but he finally got his device and was released the following Wednesday, September 20th. He has made great progress since then, adjusting to the new normal and getting back to all of his regular activities.
I am so grateful for the out-of-town angels who swooped in to take care of my boys and keep some semblance of normalcy during the long hospital stay. I also had help from several local mom friends, and Bruce’s friends at work brought bags and bags of groceries, and even a little piñata for his birthday.
As I mentioned in my last post, Finn chose to go on a snowboarding trip for his birthday instead of having a party. He didn’t have to twist Bruce’s arm too much since he wanted to get back on the slopes again too. So, the weekend after Finn’s birthday they went to Bear Valley. They stayed at the Bear Valley Lodge. There was tons of snow.
They did some snowshoeing.
Made a giant snowball.
And had a snowboarding/skiing day.
Over the weekend of Ezra’s 12th birthday, he and Bruce went on a snow camping trip with Bruce’s colleague, Andrei, and his son, Edward. They went to Carson Pass and had a fun but chilly time. As with the Christmas break trip, I’m hoping Bruce will fill in the details on this post at some point! For now, here are some photos.
More photos here.
December 3rd gave us not only Finn’s piano recital but also a Vintage Christmas Party put on by a couple of our favorite Fairmeadow moms. These are our hostesses, Karen and Christina, and as you can tell from their outfits and the decorations behind them, they went all out.
Bruce and I got dressed up vintage style as well, although I just couldn’t manage the 50s-60s hair. But I did get a petticoat and I pulled out my mother’s pearls which were definitely from that era.
Bruce decided to go with 50s NASA engineer. I tried to get him to shave off his facial hair (which I’m pretty sure was a no-no among that ilk at the time) but he wouldn’t do it. We did manage to make a pretty accurate recreation of the pocket contents and a NASA badge. He also had his calculator on his belt like a holster.
Here are some more pictures from the evening. Super fun!
October was marred by the surprise Loon resignation of our friend Baris. While we weren’t happy about the news, we’ve settled into acceptance and, in usual Bruce fashion, he provided an excellent send-off. The group asked him to make a balloon “card” so out came the papier-mâché once again. Unfortunately I fell down on the picture-taking job, but here’s the one photo I have after the group had signed the balloon.
What you can’t see is the underside where there’s a cutout with plexiglass showing that the balloon is filled with the colorful origami cranes from the original Loon piñata Bruce made. It really turned out to be quite nice.
The presentation on Baris’s last day, however, was appropriately dark …
Here’s a closeup showing the dead roses, baked in our oven to perfect crispness.
No sense hiding one’s feelings.
It feels like we’re just running from one stressor to the next these days, so I’m having a hard time remembering what we did that day. I know we celebrated in the morning … because it’s the only picture I have from that day.
The boys had their skating class that afternoon and then a birthday party. Ah, and I do remember, Bruce and I went to dinner by ourselves to celebrate. Low key, but nice (and rare) to get out.
This post is quite chronologically-challenged, but all the way back at the beginning of May, while Ezra and I were on a field trip to NASA, Finn and Bruce participated in Bring Your Child to X Day.
In addition to Bruce’s duties as a dad that day, he also had an important role as an employee — he devised a fun way to demonstrate how the laser communication system on the balloons works. He wired a switch to a laser pointer and fastened it to a helmet, taped on a small motor to cause vibration, and attached a giant balloon to it. Then he had the kids try to point the laser pointer at a fixed spot across the room, while the balloon swayed above their heads and the motor vibrated the helmet. All this simulated what the laser comm system has to deal with in trying to point to another balloon in order for successful communication. It’s really quite difficult to keep the laser pointer straight on target with all this going on, but the kids (and adults!) had a super fun time trying. Here are a few pictures taken by his colleague, Paul.
Here’s Baris giving it a try. I love this picture. Everyone’s faces are expressive, and I especially love Finn peaking out between Bruce and Baris.
The demonstration proved to be so successful that the project is planning to use it for other Xers and visitors. What a great outcome for one of Bruce’s crazy contraptions!
When the boys got an animation set for Christmas, Bruce decided to try it out. He was taken with the process and decided to make a movie commemorating his team’s first successful flight using optical communication between balloons. We went through several set up iterations but finally he ended up doing most of the work in the garage.
It’s a time consuming process but the final product came out great.
Last month they were going to do some filming at Google[x] and, of course, Bruce couldn’t let that pass without a prank. As with many of his pranks, the idea solidified in the late afternoon of the day before he wanted to do it. The item needed: a wig.
After school, Ezra and I ran to the huge party store in Mountain View which luckily had a pretty good supply of wigs. Most of them, however, were for more outlandish costumes and not something one would wear in order to fake real hair. But we came up with two choices, valiantly modeled by Ezra.
And The Beatles:
For Ezra, I think the Beatles is the clear winner, but Bruce liked the tousled look for himself.
He tried wearing it for a while that evening, just to get used to it. He also added a few accessories; here’s one.
I’m pretty sure my mom had this same hairstyle for most of the 70s and 80s. For work the next morning, he went with the cap.
About halfway through the day, I figured out who he reminded me of.
Best $30 I ever spent.
It’s duck hunting season on the Bay and Bruce has become enamored of the abandoned duck decoys bobbing up and down in the water. He brought one home a few weeks ago, and one weekend, after seeing a few more that were too far out of reach, he decided he needed a hunting strategy. His idea: a lasso!
So, he pulled some rope out of the garage and looked up the lasso knot on the intergoogles and soon we were packed up and riding over to the Bay. Here’s the soon-to-be master on one of his first tries.
(Can we just stop here and acknowledge what a ridiculously gorgeous day it was?!? It was windy and chilly for me, but absolutely beautiful!)
The rope wasn’t going as far as necessary, so he moved a little closer.
He finally did manage to rope the duck … but unfortunately when he started to pull on it, he lost his balance in the muck and fell backwards into the cold and, dare I say, gross water. I was freezing just looking at him, but he persevered! After all, there was at least one other decoy out there! We rode a short way to the next location and, soaking wet, he managed to get another one. By a stroke of brilliant luck, I happened to be shooting video of it — the only video I took of all of his tries.
We stayed a little longer as the boys, Ezra in particular, was having fun breaking off the shore. Here’s a video (at his request), complete with a happy dance at the end.
And here’s a picture of the spoils.