Updates for June    Last updated 5:30 pm, Monday, July 1st

June 11, Tue Val is doing well in North Carolina. After only one week there she went to her sister's health club and weighed in at a whopping 108 pounds! She continues to chow down about eight times a day and is slowly regaining the weight she lost from surgery. So as not to let it all turn into a "jelly belly," Val is also doing free weight training and has now added in some light weight machine workouts. Her "fat test" at the club shows that she needs to increase her lean muscle mass so she's doing some sort of workout every day now to get back into shape. She still needs to be careful of her head though, as the nerves that were severed by the surgical incision are starting to grow back in and parts of her scalp are either numb or tender to the touch.

The increased exercise has resulted in decreased nap time, though she still needs her three rest periods every day. As the brain swelling continues to decrease, Val's tolerance for multiple sensory input has increased. She can now ride in a car and look out the window at passing scenery -- without having to close her eyes -- for up to an hour or more and she can also go up to a half hour or more in grocery or department stores. Restaurant dining is more manageable now as well, though she still misses some of the table conversation if it's rather noisy around her.

Val finally got to the beach after several days of too hot weather and too many tourists. She's found that by going early in the morning, she avoids both the heat and the crowds. She is slowly getting a tan, something she always likes to do in the summer. Her family also took her to an "Arts by the Sea" fair in a small local port town and they enjoyed browsing the many arts and crafts for sale there. Val commented on all the watercolor artists present and lamented her own progress in that department. She continues to practise her painting though and aspires to create something identifiable soon.

Tomorrow, Wednesday June 12th, Val and her parents will travel to Tennessee to visit with her sister Vanessa for a long weekend. They will be helping to organize and run a big garage sale, which will be another milestone in Val's recovery. At least she will be able to retire to rest anytime the crowd gets to be too much for her. She'll be back in North Carolina on Father's Day.

June 17 Mon Val is now in her third week in North Carolina and doing well. She continues to gain weight (she's about 110 now) and to work out with weights. She's also working on a real tan and between frequent rain storms goes to the beach.

This past weekend she went with her parents to Tennessee to visit her sister Vanessa to help with a two day yard sale. It was the biggest challenge so far of her energy reserves and she did quite well. She now takes only one major nap a day plus a few rest periods and her energy level is increasing. She also hit a new milestone -- she drove a car again! It was only for about 15 minutes but she was elated to be on the road again.

In addition to all the excitement of the yard sale, Val was treated to a dose of raccoon heaven. Her sister Vanessa, a wildlife rehabilitator, received two baby raccoons over the weekend one a starvation case from well meaning but ignorant people and one a case of a lost and orphaned baby. Val got to bottle feed both of them every three hours all weekend and was delighted. She also helped her sister tend to two opossums, two kestral hawks, several species of owls, two red tailed hawks, a bat and a friendly black vulture named Chia. She had more fun with the critters than with the people who came to the sale!

Val's health continues to improve and she sees progress in a multitude of small ways. She can now read books for up to a couple of hours and the computer is less of a strain too, though she still can't spend a lot of time on it (perhaps an hour at best before her head complains). Her vision still indicates when she needs to rest but generally it's "normal" for most purposes. There are still some minor aberrrations in it and she expects that since the brain swelling is not completely gone yet. However, she is recovering at a rapid pace and happy with each day she feels closer to being herself again. She will be returning to Montana on June 25th.


July 1, Mon Val is now back in Montana and she looks great. She's tan, fit and almost back to her former weight. The month in North Carolina was just what she needed and she is very grateful to her parents for the wonderful care they gave her while there. She returned well rested and is active again, though on a level rather reduced from before her surgery. After taking a few days to adjust to the local time zone, Val is back out in the garden for a few hours every day and loving it.

Perhaps the biggest milestone to date is Val's ability to drive again. Anyone that knows her knows how independent she is, so she's happy not to have to depend on others to chauffer her around anymore. After multiple shopping trips with her mom and sister in North Carolina, Val can also now handle most stores, though the large department stores are still a bit overwhelming. She was also able to return to Montana unassisted through three airports and on two airplanes, despite some delays and having to wait in crowded gates. Her brain appears to be readapting to its former state of filtering out background stimuli as needed, though it's not completely there yet. As a test of her progress, Val even went to a movie in the theatre for the first time since surgery and, after muting the loud soundtrack with an earplug, was able to settle down and enjoy the film without trouble.

Val's vision is still not completely normal yet. Actually, it seems to have regressed a bit in the last few weeks. Both her near and far vision are weakening lately and it's unclear whether it's a temporary situation (there's still some brain swelling left to heal) or if the eyesight is going permanently downhill. Of course, there is the age factor to consider as well... Because her regular computer monitor was hard on her eyes, I got her a flat screen monitor that doesn't strain the eyes so much and she seems to like it better. She is now answering some e-mails, though she doesn't spend a lot of time on the computer yet.

Externally, the surgical incision continues to heal at its own pace. Apparently the nerves that were severed in the scalp take around six months to grow back and there are parts of Val's head that are numb and others that are tender. It's not terribly painful but let's just say that she doesn't scrub her head vigorously in the shower. The incision site in her hip is likewise still sore too, as the body slowly replaces the fat that was removed during surgery. Val's neck muscles are also a bit stiff at the extremes and she's been doing daily stretches to try to get them to loosen up more. She's also keeping up with her free weights program to keep her muscles toned and healthy.

This coming weekend Val will be having a very dear friend come to visit her from Connecticut for a week-long visit (so she may be somewhat slow responding to e-mails for that week). Then I will be gone for two weeks asom and I visit my son Ian in Denver and sister in Colorado Springs, so there will likely not be an update to this site until after July 20th. In the meantime, friends and relatives may call, or e-mail Val at home ( She is very grateful to everyone for all their continued love and support, on all levels, and looks forward to being in touch with everyone soon.