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Archived Updates:
Santa Rosa: April 11th - May 11th
Early SCVMC rehab: May 11th - May 20th
SCVMC ICU: May 21st - June 10th
SCVMC Rehab (round two): June 11th - September 14th
Home in GV: September 14th - April 11th 2005
Home in GV: April 11th 2005 - August 26th 2006
My new life

Santa Rosa Updates(Read chronologically from bottom to top)

May 11th, 2004
10:52am


There has been a rumor spreading around the hospital that Jill is moving today (11:00am departure). There must be some truth to it because my parents are all packed up and ready to head out when she does. I'll pass along any information that I get...

-Dan


May 10th, 2004
8:45pm


Jill did pretty well today - she even responded to some verbal commands for the PT earlier in the afternoon. She seems to have regained the level of alertness that she had before her back surgery. Still no word on the move. I think that we'll know for sure that she is going to move when they come and take her out of her room...

-Dan


May 10th, 2004
10:52pm


Jill is doing much better this morning. She doesn't have a fever and seems to be pretty responsive so far. When the doctor came morning she turned her head towards his voice. She continues to make facial expressions as well. No talk about the move yet today.

-Dan


May 9th, 2004
8:21pm


Jill had sort of a rough day today. She wasn't quite as alert and responsive as she has been lately. Late in the afternoon we learned that she was running a pretty high temperature. We hope that her lack of responsiveness could be attributed to the fever. After I left, apparently the fever broke and she rebounded a bit. The doctors are still talking about moving her down to the Santa Clara Valley early next week. We are definitely eager to get her down there so that her care is more directly focused towards rehabilitation.

-Dan


May 8th, 2004
9:46pm


Jill was up and about a bit today. The nurses got her into a chair (really, a big bulky wheelchair) and we brought her outside for a little while. She seemed to enjoy the fresh air. She is pretty alert today. We have noticed a slight increase in facial expression but no changes in her overall responsiveness. Happy Mothers' Day...

-Dan


May 7th, 2004
1:27pm


Jill is now sleeping in the recovery room. Everything went well. The doctors took a little sample of the fluid that was causing the swelling so that they can run some tests on it. All indications suggest that there wasn't anything off-normal about the procedure. She should sleep a great deal for the next ~24hrs as a result of the anesthesia.

-Dan


May 7th, 2004
10:58am


Jill went in for surgery at 10:40am. They are going to do the shunt procedure along with inserting a different type of valve on her trach. The CT scan showed a slight increase in the swelling this morning so there was no question about going ahead with the surgery. The new trach part will eventually allow her to make sounds with it still in. She is due to be out of surgery between 12:00 and 1:00.

-Dan


May 6th, 2004
9:23pm


Jill's surgery is scheduled for 9:45am tomorrow. She will go in for a CT scan at around 8:00am for a final assesment of the swelling in her ventricles. This will be the final indicator of whether or not to go forward with the surgery. The neurosurgeon, however, seems fairly convinced that it will be necessary. He is leaning towards the shunt option. I'll try to update tomorrow when we have more information on the surgery.

-Dan


May 6th, 2004
1:58pm


Jill is in a neuro observation unit now (not the ICU). The neurosurgeon has scheduled a time for the surgery tomorrow just in case he needs it. A CT scan will be taken in the morning and he will make his final descision on the surgery after looking at the results. If she does not go into surgery she will most likely be transferred down to SCVMC tomorrow. If she has the surgery she will stick around in Santa Rosa 'till the middle of next week or so.

I got an email with some good questions regarding Jill's condition today. Here are the questions and answers for your reading pleasure. I figure that if one person has questions about this stuff...lots of people are probably wondering the same things:
In an earlier update there was a statement that it appeared as if Jill was trying to speak. Is she able to speak?
No.

Does the tracheotomy interfere with speaking?
Yes. It blocks all air from travelling past her vocal chords - therefore making it impossible for her to make sounds. I believe that if she didn't have it in she may be able to make some sounds or words - but she probably doesn't have the mental capacity to formulate sentences yet.

Has the trach been removed yet?
No. The doctors will "wait until they are 110% sure that she won't need it again...and then they'll wait two more weeks before they take it out." Apparently it is extremely complicated to get back in after it is taken out.

Is there an infection risk with the trach - does it limit her visitors?
Due to her injuries and condition she is at risk for many types of infection. The major problems with too many visitors (in addition to risk of infection) are 1) The nursing staff has a hard time doing their job with lots of people around 2) Jill's blood pressure gets jacked up when there is too much activity in the room (it probably confuses her). On the same note, at this stage in the game she gets messed with a whole lot by the nurses - she needs to rest when she can.

Do you know if she knows about Alan?
We don't think so and we have purposely not spoken about the loss of him in front of Jill. At this point we don't think that she is even aware enough to contemplate the severity of her own injuries. It occasionally appears that, during brief moments of alertness, she becomes aware that something has gone terribly wrong - but that is probably the extent of her understanding.

When she comes to SCVMC, will she be able to have visitors?
Yes! Visitors during the long road ahead will be vital to her recovery. We (my family) are comforted by the fact that Jill has so many great friends in the area who want to spend time with her. At the same time, in the near term we all need to make sure that we don't overwhelm her (we don't want big groups of people flooding in and out of her room). The best time to visit will be during the weekdays. Lots of Jill's family from around the area will be down during the weekends and they will, of course, take precedence. I think that visiting hours are something like 1pm-8pm every day...

-Dan


May 6th, 2004
6:39am


Jill will be closely monitored for alertness and will probably get a few more CT scans over the next few days. If the swelling in her ventricles(hydrocephalus) goes down on its own she could still be moved down to Santa Clara as early as this Friday. If not, the doctor that did her back surgery will probably go in and put some sort of drain into her brain to get rid of the excess fluid (either a shunt which drains into her peritoneal cavity or a ventriculostomy drain which takes the fluid directly out of her body). That's all for now...

-Dan


May 5th, 2004
5:31pm


OK, so there has been a slight change in the plan. The move will most likely slip a bit past tomorrow. They did a CT scan on Jill's brain on her way down to her new room (she is now out of the ICU) and found some interesting stuff. Apparently, there is some swelling in her ventricles - this is probably somehow related to the overall initial trauma to her upper back and head. The enlarged section has grown slightly (or perhaps just become more noticeable?) since the scan on Saturday. This could be one of the reasons behind the relative decline in her cognitive performance during the time leading up to, and following, the marathon back surgery. In addition, the swelling could be a cause of the fevers and fluctuating white cell counts. This is not a trivial problem to deal with - but the doctors almost seemed relieved that they had found something that could help to explain her condition (lack of responsiveness, etc. given how quickly she became alert). The swelling can either relieve itself naturally as the body absorbs the fluid, or can be operated on (what actually happens in her case depends on her condition in the next few hours/days). As a result of this developement she may be moved back up to the ICU for observation. The plus side of all of this business is that there is some hope that after the swelling goes down her healing rate could accelerate.

Sorry to let some office words slip into my dialect - I'll edit this entry later. I've been at work far too long today considering my lack of sleep last night (I left santa rosa ~5am this morning).

-Dan


May 5th, 2004
3:40pm


Jill's move is officially planned for tomorrow. She will most likely move out of the ICU (down to the "floor") sometime tonight after the shift change to get ready. The bad news is that she's not going to get to fly down there...the good news is that the reasoning behind her having to go down in an ambulance is that her condition is not critical enough to justify it. Either way, I'm sure she will not enjoy the trip down 101. The ambulance is going to show up around 8:00am... More info to follow on her new place in future updates.

-Dan, Mom, and Dad


May 4th, 2004
10:12pm


Jill slept a lot today. The nurses sat her up in a chair again with her back brace on for almost an hour this afternoon. In the evening, she woke up a bit and watched us move around the room. We watched the kings game in her room tonight but she didn't seem to care as much as we did...

My parents were very pleased with the staff and facility down at the Santa Clara Valley Rehab Center. The date for her transfer, however, is still unknown. I'll let everyone know as soon as we hear more about it.

-Dan, Mom, and Dad


May 3, 2004
2:15pm


My parents are on their way back from San Jose and I am at work today, but I just got an update from Grammy and Sue (who we left in charge at the hospital) that I thought I should pass along. From aunt Carr: "Jill was able to try out her clam shell brace this morning. The physical therapist got her sitting up in a chair and did her therapy there. Sue said she was up for about a half and hour and did well. They worked her hard. Now she is sleeping because they gave her a little morphine after all of her activity. "

Danh, Erin, and Barry left it all out there yesterday at Wildflower. According to everyone that I talked to it was an absolutely brutal day down there... Lots of participants wore ribbons in memory of Alan and in support of Jill. Barry said it best in an email that he sent out this morning, "I know everyone is anxious to find out about how Danh, Erin and I (Barry) did yesterday  but, before I give you the results, I just wanted to say that yesterday was all about our friend Jill. It wouldnt have been enough for us to compete in something easy  and believe me, it wasnt  it had to be something tough, just like Jill. For me, it was the hardest race Ive ever competed in. I thought about Jill a lot during the race, as I know Danh and Erin did, which motivated me to finish. Danh and Erin, of course, kicked butt, even in the soaring temps that we suffered through. Its so wonderful the kind of support that Jill has received from all her friends and colleagues, as well as our extended families and friends. We all know Jill would be there for us, so its only fitting that we are all there for her. Thank you to everyone for their support of Jill."

One last thing: I finally checked the "webmaster" email from this site. There were more than a few messages in there... I am amazed by all of the encouraging notes that were sent to the family - it will be nice to go through them with my parents and sister. I will be checking it occasionally from now on (my personal email will always be faster if you need to send me a note though).

-From Sue, Carr, and Barry...through Dan


May 2, 2004
5:06pm


Sorry for the relatively long period of silence...it has been a challenge for me to find a computer lately. It has been a long weekend full of ups and downs. Jill is off of her antibiotics as of Saturday evening. The fevers, however, still have a tendency to come and go as they please. There haven't been any spikes over around 101 F in the last few days though. She has three "states" that she occupies the majority of her time in: 1) For around 20-30% of the time she is very aware of her surroundings and enjoys our company. She makes eye contact, follows motion around the room, and uses lots of different facial expressions (including a few nice big smiles today...). 2) For around 40-50% of the time she seems to be extremely uncomfortable. It isn't clear whether she is experiencing pain due to her injuries, nausea due to medications, or just due to the emotional trauma and confusion about her condition and surroundings. Most of her time spent in this state is with her eyes closed and a big scowl/frown on her face. 3) She spends the rest of her time sleeping. She actually appears to be getting real, restful sleep these days.

To summarize...she has her ups and downs but the general progression seems to be in the right direction. We are still hoping that she will get to move down to Santa Clara sometime next week. The doctors seem to think that it's probable. My parents are going to check out the facility down there to make sure that it is good enough for Jill...

I know you guys are tired of hearing this - but thank you so much for all of your support.

One more note...Wildflower was this weekend. I haven't gotten any detailed race reports yet (aside from one on Saturday - my buddies that did the Long Relay won by 3 minutes but had a 4 minute time penalty so ended up getting 2nd - I don't know what they did, but we all know who the real winners are), but I did hear a rumor that Saturday's race was dedicated to Alan's life and Sunday's race was dedicated to Jill's recovery...thanks to those that made that happen. Also, Jill had a bunch of co-workers from Lowney Engineering that "bet" on each other in order to get donations to her trust fund. From what I can tell the outpouring of support was pretty incredible. If someone has an update send it to me and I'll post it...

-Dan


April 30, 2004
9:45am


Jill moved her fingers on command for the doctors this morning. They were pleased. She will probably be taken off all of her antibiotics tomorrow.

I put some new pictures up on the site so check them out if you wish. I didn't have time to make them align in an orderly fashion...I'll get to it later. Also, I put links to the SF Gate (Chronicle) articles up on the site.

-Dan


April 29, 2004
2:27pm


There were a few small but positive changes in Jill's condition today. Her temp has has been very near normal all day. Her right arm seems to be a bit more relaxed and she extended it on her own this morning. Up until now it has been extremely tense/spastic. She opened her hand for my mom and continues to show facial expressions. Probably the biggest improvement is that her breathing pattern has become much deeper and more relaxed (...more normal). Let's hope she keeps this up.

-Dan


April 28, 2004
10:36pm


The scan didn't really show anything major - which is good. There are still some issues with her lungs (bruising, etc.) but nothing really of too much concern. The blip last night in O2 was probably just some fluid that needed to be coughed up. Tonight when Jill was getting her teeth cleaned she tried to swat the nurse's toothbrush away with her left hand. That seems like some progress...

-Dan


April 28, 2004
4:19pm


Jill continues to open her eyes quite a bit today. One of her doctors said that, for the first time since the back surgery, Jill was able to respond to a simple verbal command this morning. She is still definitely not back to the level of alertness that she had before the surgery (we are guessing that it has something to due with the infection/fevers). She yawned this morning once.

One source of concern today is her lungs. After a brief dip in her O2 levels last night, the doctors are doing lots of tests to determine the cause of the incident. She had and x-ray this morning and went down for a cat scan sometime this afternoon. The x-ray wasn't very conclusive but we should know the results of the cat scan in a few hours.

-Dan


April 26, 2004
10:16pm


Lots of news today. Sorry to leave everyone hanging with an incomplete message yesterday. I guess I got sidetracked...

Jill got some tubes removed yesterday afternoon and today. The most exciting of which (for us at least) is the one that was in her nose. It was suctioning out all of her stomach acid, but now that her body has gotten used to the feeding tube she doesn't need it any more. Also, she is COMPLETELY off of morphine for the first time since the accident. We immediately noticed changes in her level of alertness. Here eyes were scanning the room lots and she seemed to recognize us again for the first time since the back surgery. Her response to verbal commands is still not as good as it was though. Also, she had some sutures removed from her stomach and she very definitely reacted by wincing and shutting her eyes. Despite all of this good news, she still ran a temp for a time today and had brief spells of high blood pressure.

The doctors had a meeting with my parents today (I was working and couldn't make it over here in time) about the future of her care. The most exciting news is that she may be stable enough to be transferred to the Santa Clara rehab facility as early as a week or two from now!

-Dan, Mom, and Dad


April 25, 2004
1:09pm


A big THANK YOU to those of you that came out to support Jill last night at the Santa Clara and Grass Valley events. The positive energy will surely help to speed her recovery. Thank you to those of you that helped to make the two events happen.

Jill's BP and HR are still up and down today. The doctors are not as concerned about it as we are though...which must be a good thing. Her body just seems really stressed out and tense these days. Her arms and hands are a bit more relaxed today than yesterday though. The tension in the right side of her body could be a result of the brain swelling that I talked about in the last update.

In addition, she seems to be getting back a little bit of the alertness that she had before the surgery. She opened her mouth (and even stuck out her tongue) for the nurse during her routine teeth/mouth cleaning this morning. In past days she has just clamped her jaw shut. Her white cell count and her temp is up today - but only slightly. The neurosurgeon was in today to stress once again that in most cases the recovery process for this type of head injury is extremely long and uncertain - and that it is impossible to look at small individual factors in a patient with head trama and determine their probable outcome..

-Dan


April 25, 2004
4:27pm


After hanging out will Jill all morning, we (Dan, Mom, Dad and other family)went down to Alan's service today . He will be greatly missed by all of us. Alan's family impressed us once again with their poise and compassion.

Jill seems to be hanging in there today. She appeared to be a bit more aware today but her body is still pretty tense. There is a possibility that swelling in her temporal lobe could be contributing to her fever. I finally got to see the before and after scans of her back - those doctors sure worked some magic. I am impressed... We are definitely grateful for the care and support that Jill has received from the hospital staff.

-Dan, Mom, and Dad


April 24, 2004
10:04pm


Jill had sort of a difficult day today but things seemed to improve towards the evening. After little to no responsiveness all day, she started to open her eyes and look around some after we got back from dinner. In addition, her fever finally broke after jumping quite high in the early afternoon hours. It is still not clear, however, whether her fever was/is the result of infecton or has neurological origins. Your continued support is greatly appreciated.

-Dan, Mom, and Dad


April 24, 2004
12:30pm


Jill still has a fever today but her white cell counts are down a bit. The doctors think that they may have found the source of her infection. There appears to be some fluid caught behind one of her lungs that could be causing problems. Today they will extract it to relieve the pressure and then culture it. She didn't end up getting blood yesterday but her crit levels are down again slightly so she'll probably get a unit today. More to follow this evening...

-Dan


April 23, 2004
3:31pm


Jill seems a bit better today than yesterday despite some bad #s. Her BP and HR are still up a bit too high and her fever jumped up a little today. The nurses have her room darkened and are trying to keep the noise level down in order to limit stimulation (which is possibly driving her BP up). In addition, there are signs that she may need a unit of blood sometime this afternoon. On the plus side, her white cell counts were down slightly from yesterday and her lungs seem to be relatively clear - perhaps indicating that the antibiotics are finally helping. She woke up (opened her eyes) for short periods of time today although her level of consciousness seems to be much less advanced than before the surgery. Keep Jill in your thoughtsshe needs it right now.

-Dan


April 23, 2004
12:09am


Jill's pretty much kept to her self today. Her only response to verbal or physical contact was a slight elevation of hr and blood pressure (her eyes remained closed all day). The doctors warned us that this general condition could persist for the next few days. Her white cell counts were up and her body was probably pretty much thrashed after undergoing ~12 hours of surgery yesterday. She is into a standard hospital bed now instead of the "roto-bed" that tilted her back and forth every few minutes (based on her sleepiness, she seems to enjoy the lack of periodic jostling). We know that she is getting some much needed rest but really long to see her eyes again. All signs still suggest that her back surgery was a success.

-Dan


April 21, 2004
7:49pm


She is finally out of surgery! Roughly 12 hours after going to the OR Jill is resting peacefully in her room in the ICU. Things appear to have gone quite well. Most importantly, the two surgeons were able to set the major dislocation back into alignment. In addition, she is already breathing on her own again despite the sedation still in her system from the surgery. It's time for Jill (and the family) to get some much needed rest...

-Dan


April 21, 2004
10:55am


Jill's white cell count was down this morning so the doctors decided to go ahead with the surgery. She went in just after 7:30 this morning. The doctors expected to finish sometime early this evening.

-Dan


April 21, 2004
12:48am


Jill was still a bit subdued today. We noticed more arm movement today even as she seemed to be resting more. She has a bit of an infection (higher white blood cell count - the infection is most likely in her lungs) which could explain the fact that she is resting more. According to the doctors, this type of infection is extremely common for patients that spend more than a few days in the ICU.

Tomorrow (Wednesday) is an extremely important day for us. She is scheduled to have a major surgery to stabilize her spine. Please keep her in your thoughts and prayers.

Sorry for the short update but it's late...

-Dan


April 19, 2004
8:12 pm


Jill is resting more peacefully today (yesterday she seemed sort of agitated for brief periods). Even though she is less active we still see progress as she has more facial expressions and even nodded her head today.

There will be a mass for Jill at Mission Santa Clara on Sunday, April 25th at 7:00pm for all those who are interested. There will be a "Service of Prayer and Encouragement" in Grass Valley at 7:00pm on Sunday the 25th at the Peace Lutheran Church, 828 W. Main St, Grass Valley.

-Dan, Mom, and Dad


April 18, 2004
5:32 pm


Jill is completely off of the ventilator now - all breaths are self initiated! Jill continued to improve in other aspects as well today. She is moving her mouth a little, apparently in an attempt to speak (which she cannot do due to the trach tube in her throat). In addition, she is showing some emotion with her facial expressions - mostly in the form of scowling at the nurses when they clean her teeth...

I'm going to go try to work tomorrow - we'll see how it goes. Please keep her in your thoughts.

-Dan (with input from Mom, Dad, and Melissa)


April 17, 2004
9:46 pm


Jill continued to improve today. She is beginning to breathe on her own therefore requiring a great deal less support from the ventilator. She seems to keep her eyes open longer and is able to track us visually for longer periods of time. She frequently squeezed the hands of her family and friends today.

Thank you all for the continued love and support.

-Dan and Jessica


April 15, 2004
12:23 pm


We are happy to say that Jill is continuing to get better. The biggest news is that the doctor's and her family believe that she is responding voluntarily. They believe she is reacting to her family's voices and she is moving her arms and eyes. The doctor's believe that these responses are not just nerve reactions, but actual voluntary responses. This is good news.

As I write this, a trust fund for Jill is being worked on. We hope that this will be established in the next week. Again, the family is very appreciative for all the support that they are receiving, but they ask that we all hold off sending any flowers/cards/gifts until the trust fund is established. Also, people are working on setting up a simple website for Jill. If all goes as planned, you should be able to get updates on her condition and access information about the trust fund from this website. We will keep you updated as to when this is to occur.

We hope that this news warms your hearts. Jill has a strong love of life and it's this love that gives her the strength and determination that we all know she possesses. She's a fighter and she won't give up.

We will keep you updated if anything new comes forward. Take care of yourselves.

-Danh, Erin, and Gretchen


April 14, 2004
11:30pm

We spoke with Jill's brother earlier this afternoon and have some updated information to share.

As of today, Jill's brother informed us that she is continuing to get better. She opened both eyes today. There were more physical responses. Her blood pressure was not as high today. Her family thought she was more responsive to their voices and touch. Again, they are not sure if these are voluntary actions or nerve responses. There appears to be some bruising of the lungs and infections. This is typical and anticipated by the doctor. The doctor did not think these are major concerns. Overall, jill seems to be getting better.

We also discussed other items with her brother. As you can see, the email list continues to grow everyday. This makes it very hard to get updated information out to everyone. The family wanted to know if we can set up a centralized web site/page that people can go to for updates. They wanted it to be very simple, maybe a picture of jill with updated information. We have looked into this and there are several options to choose from at this time. We will talk it over with jills family and keep everyone posted.

They are also thinking about setting up some kind of trust fund for Jill. Jill's family is working on this and will let us know so we can pass this information on. At this time, they also requested that visitors be kept to a minimal. They know that it is hard on everyone but the number of people at the hospital is just over whelming. Also, instead of sending flowers/cards/gifts, people should wait until the trust fund is set up and donate then.

We hope this new update helps. We are planning on printing out everyones email/responses/well wishes and bringing them all up to Jill and her family this weekend. Again, we will keep everyone posted as soon as we learn anything new. Best wishes to everyone and we will be in touch.

-Erin, Gretchen, Danh


April 14, 2004
1:00am

Hello everyone,

Thank you very much for all your calls and support today. Jill and her family really appreciated it and wanted Erin, Gretchen, and I to thank everyone for the support. They were very touched to know how much we cared for Jill and that we are all thinking of her. Jill's parents were kind enough to let us see her earlier this evening.

I understand it is very difficult for everyone right now. We will try to keep everyone inform as quickly as possible.

When we got to the hospital this afternoon, we were greeted by the Jill Mason fan club that was beyond primo. This amazing group of people including family members and friends was lead by her mom, dad, and brother. They were very happy to see us and thank everyone for the cards and flowers. Her parents then gave all of us the instant replay of what took place the last couple of days.

As of late last night, Jills condition was very bad and the outlook was not good. Jill was in critical condition. However, being the true fighter that she is, Jill made it through the night and her condition got better. As of this morning, the neurosurgeon expert informed everyone that some of the major swelling has gone down and that the critical portions that were thought to be damaged the night before was actually ok. This was the great news everyone was hoping for.

They also tested her response to nerve stimulation and the test went well. The expert recommended to the family that they push forward and aggressively treat her condition. Jill's parents and brother spent most of their time with her. They thought that Jill responded to them couple of times when she was awake. These are good signs and much better news than the previous night. They will continue to monitor her overnight.

When we were allowed to see her, she was sleeping and on a respirator. We let her know how much we miss her and that we were thinking of her. It was very difficult to see her in that condition. In all the time that we have known her, she has never been still for more than 0.8 second. Now to see her lying still like that was very hard.

We also got a chance to meet Alans mom and step dad. We did not get to talk to them much. However, they are very busy with special arrangements and will keep us posted. They did visit the accident site and was hoping to put up some kind of memorial monument for alan. We were also asked to inquire about a trust fund to be set up through the Mountain View Masters (MVM) swim club in Alan's name. Please extend your thoughts and good wishes to Alan's family during this difficult time.

Again, we like to thank everyone for all your good wishes. Please continue to keep Jill in your thoughts and the good ju jus coming.

-Erin, Gretchen, Danh

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