Friday, July 31, 2009

Good Times


Today's highlight was suppose to carry me to the top of Longs Peak Mountain, which stands at 14, 255 feet. The round trip hike adds up to a leg busting 16 miles. Some dude died of a heart attack last week trying to climb to the peak!!! Yeah, I know I'm not in tip-top form but you know me bro, no me rajo. As the Wu-Tang Clan said, "The hard headed never learn." Don't worry though, to my credit, I have been working out to prepare for the trip and to lose some of my baby fat. Hey, that's what I call it. Long story short, bad weather conditions forced me to reschedule the trip for next week--probably Tuesday. I will write a piece for the blog after I conquer the 14 thousand foot monster.

So for today, I decided to recall some memories—wave them back so to speak. As I was cleaning my closet, I stumbled on to my wedding album. You member, yeah, you member. Good times! Found some great pics to share with everyone. Here is one of Danielito and Maya. Beautiful, just precious these two.

Our wedding wasn't a fancy or high dollar one. For Gods sake, it was held at the Fallbrook Community Center. Damn, I remember back in the day (click) when we crashed weddings, quinceañeras, and baptisms just about every weekend at the FCC. Don't clown now, you all been there. Don't lie. Trying to get in with no invitation and sneaking in through the back door. Trucha, here comes security! Sound familiar? Got to look sharp to impress on the dance floor. Tu sabes, scoping out the ladies, I mean, looking for Cathy and Elena. I swear, honey. Good times Daniel, good times. I'm sure there was some young bucks pulling the same movidas at my wedding--wouldn't have it any other way brother. Check these pics out. Swear, I almost grabbed on to the ceiling beam.

I can always count on you to be in the mix of it! You're clutch.

Good food for the guests, bountiful drinks, musica para toda la noche, and surrounded by family and friends. That's all you need for a good wedding, but more importantly the essentials for great memories.

El Carita Jesus (aka Chewy) giving a reading during the ceremony in Spanish! Good looking dude don't you think Mrs. Miranda.

El Nando y familia. Glad you were all there.

“Keg still kicking boyz need to kill it”
“Work those dancing shoes, baby, cause las rolas sound specially firme tonight"
“A toast to the newly weds--Que se oiga mariachi!!! Que se oiga!!!”
Laughs intermingle and dance as the DJ (click) announces the final set.
“Last call carnal. After party you ask?”

Claro que yes, homie. No last of the Mohicans in this Tribe. We get up before the count reaches ten, so you get better and we will groove to Ozomatli's "After Party" (click) as we drink a couple of coldies.

Until then, here are some more snap shots:

No se raja EL Mazda 626. Crossed me through Texas, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, and Califas about ten times by now. Still have the Black Dream. And no, I don't mean my wife. Kidding, just kidding babe.

Pop quiz. What's Daniel doing at this very moment as Elena and I dance? Yes, that's Daniel's arm! Check out the first pic of this blog and his suit. No, he is not making it rain with a fist full of money. That cash is pinned on Elena. Who remembers? Funny stuff as you can see us laughing out loud.

That's my Dog. Cleaning up the Hall to get that deposit back! Oh, yeah, and get to the after party at my uncle Tony's house. You know, keeping the Fallbrook tradition solid: House Party!

Live Life Vega,


Thursday, July 30, 2009

Remind me of our time together...El Cervantino Part I

This was our view from atop of El Templo Del Sol in Teotihuacan. We quietly sat there, simply overwhelmed by the surrounding beauty we were in. Soon enough after our arrival to the top, the skies decided to bless us with a light rain to reward us, for a day of long travel in the humidity. It was both a breathtaking and spiritual moment for Daniel and I.

It was October 2002 and we were backpacking through Central Mexico on our way to El Cervantino in Guanajuato. El Cervantino was established in 1972, and Daniel and I had decided it would be really cool to attend the 30th anniversary of the festival. (El Festival Internacional Cervantino es el festival cultural de carácter internacional más importante de México y de América Latina; tiene como propósito propiciar el diálogo de las diversas culturas del mundo, permitir el conocimiento de los procesos de la creación artística contemporánea, contribuir a la formación, actualización y perfeccionamiento de los artistas y públicos mexicanos, coadyuvar a la internacionalización de la producción artística nacional y ser detonador del desarrollo turístico de Guanajuato y México.)

We began our journey in Tijuana, there we boarded a plane with our hiking bags and headed to El Distrito Federal (Mexico City). Our plan was to backpack from El D.F. to El Cervantino in Guanajuato and back, we were going to attempt to see as much as we possibly could in our two weeks in Mexico.

Daniel had his hiking bag, and he borrowed his brother Victor's hiking bag "the bullet" for me, that seemed okay with me. In hindsight, I should have given that more thought. There is a bit of a size differential between Victor and I, so obviously "the bullet" was not a friend of mine during our journey. Nevertheless, we followed our plan and made stops in Teotihuacan, Tula, San Juan Del Rio, Queretaro, Leon, Guanajuato, and San Miguel De Allende. We also cruised into other small villages and cities on our way through, but we had to keep moving in order to get to and from our destination in a timely manner.

When we finally arrived at El Cervantino, we found a hole in the wall above a small tienda where we could stay at for super cheap. Here is why it was cheap, the room had a mechanical witch on a broom on our balcony that swiveled side to side and screamed all night. Oh, and Daniel swore he had bed bugs in his bed. My bed was cool, but I must admit, it was a shithole.

After we got settled in, we headed out to the city and soon realized Guanajuato was inundated with people, most of them drunk, we were somewhat disappointed. We had heard all these awesome things about how artistic and classy the festival was going to be, and when we got there we found just a huge unorganized pediza!

We only hung out there for a bit and then headed out, we figured our time would be better spent in another city. Before we left, we visited Diego Rivera's house and ate some awesome mulitas at the market. Daniel blamed the chorro that ensued on the mulitas, but I refuse to believe that. I think the cervezas of the night before had more to do with it.

To be continued...

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Ode to Futbol

On the eve of Mexico vs. the United States in the Gold Cup Final, I reflect on Daniel's passion for the sport. I am only now coming to appreciate the beauty and complexity of soccer as I try to see it through Daniels eyes.

Ode to Futbol

for Daniel

“Patience, paa-tience, Paaa-tience…
Keep it, Keeep it
You got time, you got time”

The game is very fluid
guys taking breaks as needed
a breather on the way
to get some water.

I watch a pick up game
seemingly simple and informal
soon I’m in awe
players from all over the world, literally:
I counted five or six different races, nationalities.

Old guys playing
with the joy of a child
young guys playing with egos in check
the pace dictated solely by strategy
moving the ball creating space
passing, passing, passing
short distances across to center, or
long and back out to the halfway line
to slow the game down.

“Slow it down!”
I watch…

“Make him commit, make him commit”
The young, stocky Chinese man
now in enemy territory
moves toward the defender
kicks it sharply to the older Vietnamese man
his hamstring wrapped
cutting towards the goal
just 5 feet away
the goalie freezes
the ball squirts through the narrow goal
small orange cones just 3 feet apart
the quick kick
accurate hard and swift.
The goalkeeper never had a chance.

the tall scrawny white kid
controls the ball
reconsiders then
passes unselfishly to the left wing
the forward attacks
the goalkeeper is there
kicks out and towards the middle.

The kid gets the ball again and
this time measured and sure
he delivers a goal
the ball is still rolling
he is pumped, ecstatic even,
yet for all his skill and grace,
He downplays his shot with a soft exuberance.

As if to prove that his earlier goal was no fluke
the Vietnamese man shows off his dexterity again:

It’s three on one
the forwards
move into attack mode
the Goalkeeper is all by himself
he charges the outside forward
to force a play

the left forward passes
center as
the veteran Vietnamese dude
breaks to the goal
he taps the ball with his left foot
absorbing the force of the pass
effortlessly (or so it seemed)
switches the ball to his right foot
for an easy shot with his outside toe
The Goalkeeper had not given up
and was back in his face
to make a play of it…
all in one motion
the Vietnamese man
pulls the ball and scores with a reverse kick behind his body…
feet of fire!

They know the score
They go home,
back to the office,
back to the world of reality
refreshed and ready.

I in turn,
I am completely satisfied,
so glad to have witnessed
such “ganas”
such a triumph of the human spirit
to play for the sake of playing
to try because it feels good,
to never give up.
Viva futbol!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Change is Inevitable

Friday July 24th, 2009

As of today, Daniel continues to have storming episodes. The nurse mentioned he usually has one or two a day, one at night and or one during the day. The storming causes Daniel's heart rate to accelerate, which then causes him to sweat profusely and he then begins to shiver. Dr. Clark reiterates there is no need to panic, although it is not easy to experience this process, it is part of Daniel's healing process and it should be monitored and addressed accordingly. Cooling him down with ice, cold wet cloth towels and if need be a milligram of morphine usually stabilizes him.

Daniel now finds himself completely off any type of breathing assistance and his tracheostomy has been manually plugged. On Monday, Daniel is scheduled to have a tracheostomy decannulation. In other words, they are taking the tube in his neck out and closing him up. Once that hurdle is cleared and all the tests go well, he will also have surgery possibly on Thursday to insert some type of monitoring system, which will automatically release medicine to his body when he has bouts with tension. This mechanism will be inserted somewhere in his lower torso and will help his limbs remain relaxed. The decannulation procedure will be conducted at Kindred, while the second procedure will be done at whichever site Daniel ends up at next week.

It is unfortunate, but due to the desires of Daniel's insurance provider (you guessed it an HMO), Cathy will have to find another facility where Daniel can continue his road to recovery. His time at Kindred Hospital has seen Daniel experience excellent quality of care, but it is obviously not cost efficient enough, so now Cathy has three nursing homes in Escondido to choose from, that is, if all of them have a bed available. If not, then he will go to whichever site has a bed available, thus leaving Cathy without any say in the matter. Dr. Clark has done what he can to have Daniel remain at Kindred, but in the end he said it was the insurance who wants to relocate him by next week. Well, what do we expect when we have a system that prioritizes profit over human lives. I will not take up any more of your time bashing the HMO system, I gladly leave that to all of you.

Regardless of where Daniel is headed, he will have the second procedure conducted by Dr. Clark, possibly some time later in the next week. Best case scenario, Daniel gets to stay at Kindred for another week, but I doubt it. Right now it looks like Tuesday or Wednesday he might be relocated.

We will keep you posted on which of the Nursing homes Daniel is relocated to.

Take care of one another,



Saturday, July 18, 2009

Happy B-Day!

Happy Birthday Daniel,

Typically a phone call takes place on this day and I give you a hard time concerning your age. This year, however, there won’t be a phone call, no jokes, no conversation…

How do I celebrate this day? What gift can I possibly offer? I really don’t have an answer. What I do know, Daniel, is that I’ve learned some things from this ordeal and your recovery: don’t take life for granted. Enjoy life. Embrace your loved ones daily. Taste the potential of every breath as one faces the gift of enveloped in every sunrise. Do something memorable worth remembering, however simple the task at hand might be. Yes, this is my gift to you: I will fulfill the promise of each day and sometime in the near future we will sit down with beers in hand and I’ll share these memories with you.

This week, for instance, I decided to get off my ass and hit the Big Thompson River for some fly-fishing. I must admit, I prefer fishing lakes rather than rivers. Fishing rivers like the Big Thompson takes a certain degree of experience and skill to catch anything. Lakes, well, if you are not landing anything with the fly rod one simply drops a hook wrapped in power bait y ya estubo. This time around, I decided to man up and get in the river. Dude, the drive alone took my breath away as I headed up the mountain. Check these picks out, only 40 minutes away from where I live!!!

The day started out good. Spotted some big Brown Trout as soon as I got there. Man, Browns are powerful fighters and if your not careful they will snap your line. Remember, fly line is thin and it’s not about overpowering the fish—which is the opposite of salt-water fishing. It’s all about keeping the right amount of tension on the line to get the fish tired in order to reel it in. Anyhow, I located the fish, placed myself about nine feet behind it, and proceeded to cast my fly upriver to let the current bring the fly to the fish. Sounds simple enough. But two hours later, about 3 to 4 tangles that tested my patience, and the loss of about $20 in flies due to underwater snags y NADA, not one bite! I swear I wanted to break my rod and pick up some rocks to stone the darn fish.

Fortunately for me, there was an old timer that was having some laughs at my expense. He must have been checking me out for a while. The guy, Steve, walked over to me and initiated some small talk. Asked where I was from, my job, and finally inquired about the pinche flies I was using. Steve saw how frustrated I was because he suggested I take a break and drink a beer with him. I agreed. After the chela, Steve revealed he managed a fly shop in Estes Park and use to be a fishing guide when he was younger. Shit, the dude offered to give me some free lessons. My luck was turning homie, como la vez. In one hour, I landed three fish. The first being a 16-inch Brown Trout!!! Not bad for my first fish on the river. Here is the fly I caught it with and the fish.

Check this out, turns out Steve’s son owns the fly shop he manages, Kirks Fly Shop. Yeah, Steve is the owner’s father!!! What are the odds of running into a guy who offers you a beer and lessons. One would think luck was with me that day. Getting free fly-fishing lessons that normally run $300 a day from a veteran guide. But you know what, I don’t think it was luck. This whole experience was made possible because I got off my ass, took advantage of a beautiful day, and opened myself to what ever the day threw at me. Luck, not a chance. I hope to relate similar stories, adventures, and maybe even some mishaps along the way.

As I promised, I’ll try to live up to the potential of each day and continue to wait patiently throughout your recovery.

Happy Birthday Brother,


Friday, July 17, 2009

Friday, July 17th 2009

This morning at Kindred Hospital Daniel's doctor (Dr.Clark) provided Cathy and I with extensive explanations on a couple of things that are of concern with Daniel.

Medication and Dosage:

Is Daniel's medication interfering with his recovery?
Why morphine and not adavant?

Morphine is preferred instead of adavant because adavant is a much more potent medication, and the amount of morphine being given to Daniel is minimal. The dosage is 2 milligrams of morphine for pain. If we give an individual with no health issues 2 milligrams of morphine it would not cause the person to fall asleep, it would most likely make them feel "happy" for a while, now if we were to give a person 2 milligrams of adavant, it would definitely knock them out for a while. The dosage Daniel receives does not impair his recovery, it is only for pain purposes and is only to be given to him when necessary. To avoid any misreading of his level of response, Daniel is not checked after medication has been provided.

Increased Heart Rate:

What is happening when Daniel's heart rate increases so much?

His bouts with an increased heart rate are a result of discomfort he is experiencing at the time. When he feels discomfort his body reacts by triggering adrenaline to his heart, thus his heart rate increases significantly. We should not be too concerned, it would only be a concern if Daniel was in his 50's and had previous heart issues, but that is not the case. Daniel is young and his heart is healthy, so he can handle his heart rate fluctuating like it does. It is similar to when we exercise, by doing so our body triggers adrenaline to our heart and the rate increases by a significant amount, and if we exercise for hours, it will remain at that increased rate with no danger to our health.

Dr. Clark was happy to note:

While at Kindred, Daniel's blood work has continually shown a normal count of white blood cells, this means he has had no infections of significance. If he had an infection his white blood cell level would fluctuate.


Later that morning, Daniel's speech therapist (Deb) came in and worked with him while we observed. Deb used small pieces of ice in a cup to get Daniel to react to the cold cup in his hand and then she got him to swallow the melted ice on his own. It was good to see Daniel respond to Deb's therapeutic methods. Deb went on to explain that she believes Daniel is currently suffering from apraxia.

Apraxia is a neurological disorder characterized by loss of the ability to execute or carry out learned purposeful movements, despite having the desire and the physical ability to perform the movements. It is a disorder of motor planning which may be acquired by lesions in the language-dominant (usually left) hemisphere of the brain.

Deb will continue to work with Daniel to help him improve on this.


Daniel's 35th Birthday is tomorrow July 18th 2009.

Happy Birthday Homie.



Thursday, July 16, 2009

Inspire me!

#28 "Celebrate all of my little succusses. They inspire me.

#37 "Love me for who I am today. Don't hold me to being the person I was before. I have a different brain now."

--Jill Taylor

The quotes above help me to understand my own personal struggle to understand my new relationship with Daniel and the present circumstances.

Sometimes I feel a certain nostalgia (if not downright sadness) when I remember the special moments with Daniel before his injury. Like Alfredo and his hikes in the Sierras we have all shared special moments with Daniel. I remember when I last spoke to him, when I went over to pick up Adan after a sleepover with his cousin. I remember with vivid detail our exchange at my youngest daughter Anahi's birthday party upon Daniel and his family's return from San Felipe.

Now, as Daniel's Birthday approaches there are many things to celebrate. Alfredo notices that Daniel is showing different emotions lately. It is very unsettling to see Daniel scared or frightened for example. We all know Daniel to be fearless. Then, we reassure him with our own loving voices of the possibilities that exist for him and the treasures that await him. The point is, Daniel may not be processing information the way he had before his injury, but he is obviously tending to his environment with the parts of his brain that function well. He can lift and turn his head and he notices when you are present, visiting with him and talking to him. Daniel is processing lots of stuff.

#32: "Focus on what I can do rather than bemoan what I cannot do."

Congratulations to all who can make it down to Kindred and notice the things Daniel can do.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Trust that my brain can always continue to learn.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Day 76 on the road to recovery

Sunday afternoon I got the opportunity to spend some time with Daniel and his brother Victor at Kindred Hospital, we updated Daniel on current events (mostly athletic in nature), family accomplishments (Happy 35th Birthday Fern!) and reassured him that we will be patiently waiting as he travels his road to recovery.

Daniel was having some issues with his temperature earlier in the day, but by the afternoon his temperature had stabilized. Overall, Daniel remains in good condition, he is breathing on his own and has minimal medicinal assistance. His food and nutritional needs remain via an IV to his stomach. Physically, he has thinned out a bit, but he looks good considering his current situation. The doctor has reiterated that anyone who remains bed ridden for the amount of time Daniel has, will definitely be susceptible to some minor side effects such as bed rashes, infections due to the trich and so on. That just means we should do our best to be vigilant if we suspect Daniel is dealing with any of these issues, and make sure the medical team is aware and taking the necessary measures to assist Daniel.

"Times of great calamity and confusion have ever been productive of the greatest minds. The purest ore is produced from the hottest furnace, and the brightest thunderbolt is elicited from the darkest storm." -Charles Caleb Colton



Wednesday, July 8, 2009

#4. Be as patient with me the twentieth time you teach me something as you were the first.

I visited Daniel last on Monday night and stayed pretty late. He's on antibiotics for a bacteria found around his trach-tube. It is not uncommon for the area around a trach tube to get infected and it is nothing serious. The other cultures from blood and (uh hum) urine samples were negative which means Daniel is healthy on the inside. And the MRSA he brought with him from Sharp is also gone.

I excercised him--range of motion with his arms trying to rotate his shoulders and get him to extend his arms to loosen his elbow joints. The charts are useful for the proper technique and getting a better stretch out of him.

I also turned his head left and right gently and with "permission" from Daniel. The motion must have triggered something because he began to do it on his own. I explained to him that he was turning his head. I then asked him to lift his head and gently helped him do this. To my amazement, Daniel lifted his head higher than a 45 degree angle as though he were attempting to sit upright. He did this unassisted and held it for a good 20 seconds!

I spoke with Daniel trying to take advantage of his alertness. However, I may have overdone it. Patients of stroke have reported that talking actually drains their energy, the life force they need to heal. So how much is enough or too much? I don't have an answer for this but since Daniel is unable to tell us on his own what he needs we must be sensitive and not indulge ourselves in excessive talking. As a rule visitations should be brief.

Today I am excited because I am off to view the Bodies exhibit at Balboa with my kids and nephews: Olivia, Danielito and Nayeli included. We have so much to learn.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Take Your Time

# 5: Approach me with an open heart and slow your energy down. Take your time."

Good morning all. I was able to see Daniel on Saturday for a short while. He was responsive to voices. My perception is that light affects him very much. His eyes get very tired when they are exposed to light. When I go visit, I close the blinds near his bed and make sure there is no light directly hitting his eyes. By my estimation, he tends to tune out or sleep more when there is more sound in the room than when there is not. I believe he can discriminate a voice from background noise because of our eye contact when I speak to him directly, clearly and softly. He is also able to lift his head! He lifted his head slightly 2 or 3 times in my presence. I didn't request this he did it on his own. I congratulated and encouraged him. I will celebrate every effort!

On Sunday, Alfredito, Daniels Godson, hit an opposite-field homerun that drove in 3 runs for his Little League All Star team. Vista Nationals beat RBV 11 - 1. Carmen and I were very proud, and I can't wait to tell Daniel! Their next game is against Oceanside on Tuesday at 5pm. The tournament is hosted by Oceanside Amercian Little League which plays at the Ron Ortega Park in Oceanside right off interstate 5. Call Alfredo or Diana for more info.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Come Find Me

"Make eye contact with me. I am in here--come find me. Encourage me."

--Jill Taylor's Forty Things I Needed Most

"To the right mind, no time exists other than the present moment, and each moment is vibrant with sensation. Life or death occurs in the present moment. The experience of joy happens in the present moment. Our perception and experience of connection with something that is greater than ourelves occurs in the present moment. To our right mind, the moment of now is timeless and abundant."

from My Stroke of Insight, by Jill Taylor

The author of the above quotes is a neuroscientist and a survivor of stroke. An aneurysm such as the one Daniel has experienced is a stroke. Following surgery it took her 8 years to completely recover all her physical and mental functions. The brain has the ability to repair, replace and retrain its nueral circuitry. It has incredible plasticity. For an article on plasticity, please click on The Vega family picture to the right.

Yesterday I spent 8 hours with Daniel. Daniels heartrate increases periodically; when it goes too high, 130 BPM or higher, Daniel gets some medicine to help him calm down. Doctor Wong says that it is normal for Daniel's heartrate to increase slightly in response to therapy or the activity that surrounds him. However, a significant increase means that Daniel gets a dose of medicine to help him regulate his heartrate, breathing and body. Daniel was running a fever off and on which was treated with tylenol. The nurse took some cultures to check for infections. It takes several days to get the results back.