Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Daniel at Home

Daniel has been home for the past couple of months. Cathy and Michelle are looking after him and the the kids too. They use a lift to help him get around. Daniel continues to make progress; his grip seems to be getting stronger. We "arm wrestled" and he won. Lots of laughs and Daniel still has a great sense of humor. Thanks for checking in.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Happy Birthday Daniel!

Greetings Friends and Family:

Daniel celebrated his 36th Birthday on Sunday, July 18th. He spent the day amongst family at Village Square with the typical carne asada and all the fixings. He was able to enjoy the food as well. Daniel continues to progress and is doing well. Thanks to everyone who contributed to his birthday party and making it a special day for him.

Take care,


Thursday, July 1, 2010

Daniel at Home

Daniel has been going home twice a week, every Tuesday and Thursday. He is very relaxed at home with the kids. He is still at Village Square in San Marcos the rest of the week where he continues to get excellent care.

Take Care,

Monday, May 17, 2010

"I want steak"

"I want steak" were Daniel's words, when I asked what it was he wanted to eat when he could do so autonomously. To this, I answered that if it's steak he wants, then he shall have the best piece of steak I can find, once he is ready to eat.

It was early Saturday, Lito, Joe, and myself were spending the day with Daniel. The weather was perfect, so we cruised to the patio with Daniel to take in some much needed sun. He was in good spirits, I put my shades on him and we chilled in the sun. At times, he would tell us he was hot and we would then move him to the shade, then he would say it was cold and we would return to the sun. This was what we did for him to keep him as comfortable as we could, when asked if he wanted to go inside he told us "no I'm cool outside".

It was definitely lifting to see him so engaged and willing to talk, we talked boxing, basketball, soccer and UFC, among other things. For the record, Daniel favors Brazil in the upcoming World Cup, Evans in the next UFC and if it ever happens, Paquio over Maywether. The fact that he can now verbalize all of those things is simply amazing and it made me feel like it is only a matter of time, before his body catches up to his mind.

His mind is definitely sharp, he was tracking our conversations and at times he would chime in on what he thought about the subject matter. He spoke in small phrases and when I shifted the conversation to Spanish he would adjust and speak to me in Spanish, he did the same when we spoke in our most common language (slang). A "Puro pedo" was mixed in, here and there by him too.

Once the sun started creeping away and it got a bit chilly, we returned to his room. He wanted to remain in his wheelchair, so we complied. The topic of our conversation changed a bit as it was getting late and we were going to leave soon. We shared with him how much we miss him, how amazingly far he has come and to keep up the good work. He relayed his frustration with his situation and how he does not feel like he is moving fast enough in the heeling process. This was really tough to hear, my response was; " I wont lie to you, so please believe me when I say that you have definitely come a long way and it is through your hard work and determination that you have come this far".

I realize it may be difficult for him to really understand just how much progress he has made, but I do believe he needs to hear it over and over again.

Our time with him ended as we lay him back in his bed to rest and we had the nurse come in to check up on him, to make sure he was okay. As we parted ways and let him rest for the day, we walked out of the facility in silence, happy to see him doing so well, but also realizing he is now fully aware of his situation.

In Solidarity,


Thursday, April 29, 2010

It's been ONE YEAR!

I am taking the liberty to write the anniversary post for Hope for Daniel.

Well, it's been 365 days since Daniel suffered a ruptured brain aneurysm. Needless to say, it's been a year filled with fear, sadness, hope and countless other emotions. And, of course, Survival! We are so thankful and proud of Daniel's determination, strength and will to live. For those that know Daniel, you wouldn't expect any less. He is an inspiration to all of us.

I spent my lunch hour with him today and had a great time talking, listening to music and just hanging out. His speech is getting better, his sentences more clear. He's gained weight and is looking good, as usual. I decided to check if he could feel his toes, legs, and hands. I pressed on his toes and he said he could feel it. I squeezed his shins and he said that he could feel it. I squeezed his fingertip and asked him what I was doing. He responded "squeezing my finger". Then, I scratched that back of his hand and asked him what I was doing...he said "scratching my hand". I scratched his head and he said "that feels good".

It's going to take time to rehabilitate him but at least he can finally communicate with us, laugh with us, be present with us.

We Love You, Daniel!

Tu Prima, Irene

Saturday, April 10, 2010

You are Daniel's Favorite Pastime

Absolutely amazing! Daniel's bravery and perseverance are an inspiration. Daniel and I had a heart to heart on Friday and he says that his favorite pastime is "persons." Seriously, I asked him about books, tv, and such when it occurred to me to ask him which was his favorite way to pass the time. Honestly, I expected him to say music or something of the sort...his answer:


When I arrived he was asleep and seemed quite fatigued. He was moved to his wheelchair and we strolled out to the patio where we were joined by Bob and Maria Elena (Cathy's) parents. Daniel chuckled at the story Bob retold about a trip Daniel had taken to Cabo to deliver a Suzuki truck. It took awhile for Daniel to open up but when he gets going he can really share his needs, wants and thinking. On TV he likes sports, his favorite reading material is History Books. He knows the names of letters (I showed him the title of a book I am reading and he named each letter as I pointed to it--just preliminary stuff so I am not sure yet whether he forms letters into words). So you may be thinking that since I teach I am always in that mode when I visit. But to Daniel it's simply an excercise, like excerising his fingers. I showed him his hands and we went to work on moving each of his fingers. He seemed very focused and intent on watching the movements his fingers made with my help. I asked Daniel if this bothered him he said, "no." Then I asked him if he wanted to keep excercising his hand, and he very clearly stated that he wanted to continue.

So, when he responds it is by choice. I have a strong feeling that Daniel is selective about what topics he chooses to use his energy on. And it probably depends on what he is actually able to do or say. He seemingly has access to his full intellectual faculty (I am speaking as a layman here) though articulating his thoughts may take more effort. I shared with him how amazing it was. And he asked me: "What is amazing?" I answered: "That God had spared him his intelligence, the part of his brain where his intellectual thinking takes place." I also told him that this is what defines Daniel, his intelligence, his smartness, and by smartness I mean his ability to accomodate so many varying points of view, to construct knowledge not as objective truth but as a fluid, dynamic and cultural phenomenon all in the name of love for his fellow man.

As others have shared, Daniel has a great sense of humor and likes to keep things upbeat. He is observing and taking it all in (see Jennifers comment about her visit with Daniel in the last post). I noticed, too, that when I moved in gently and spoke softly to him he was very interactive. He told me that he had a headache so we went back to his room to get some tylenol from the nurses. His exact words were "I have a headache." So I touched the front of his head and asked "here?" He responded, "no." I touched the back of his head and asked, "here?" and he answered yes. So we went up to his room to get some tylenol.

I was telling him that I saw the Chivas vs. America (super rivalry) game on Easter Sunday. He became very focused as I became very animated about the game. He literally finishes sentences for me as for example when I explained to him that the yellow team (and he said "America") actually controlled the game...that by all appearances America was dominating because they had more...pause...then Daniel responds: "opportunities." What I meant to say was more shots, as in scoring attempts, but Daniel's word choice is actually better.

At this point, I stopped and said this to Daniel: "Now you ask me a question."
Daniel's reply: "What was the score?"

Chivas won the game with a solitary goal. The score was one to zero. Of course, I was so shocked by Daniel's ability to form this question, that I completely forgot the I stammered some numbers, before finally settling on the 1 to 0, and getting it right. He had asked me a question earlier ("What is amazing?") But what shocked me about this question was that he did it when I prompted him to do so...his grammar is intact...he has the ability to think metacognitively about language...he is thinking about his thinking. Or, as some of you may say, perhaps he just wanted to know the score. All the better, he has the ability to ask questions that are relevant to him.

Then I told him that the difference was the goalkeeper, (el pinchi portero) I told him how the Chivas goallie had blocked 5 legitimate shots, while the Americas goalkeeper choked once the shooter passed the last defender.

By then, John Escobedo's sister Irene showed up and I had to I said to Daniel I'll catch you later man and kissed him on the cheek. His reply: "Nos vemos."

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Daniel Responding More and More

Recently Daniel's Speech therapist called Cathy with some exciting news. Daniel was answering questions with one or two words. This was very validating to Cathy and to all who have spent some good times as of late with Daniel. We are very excited that Daniel is now able to purposefully answer questions and that he is accessing memory files and putting words together. Articulating speech is a very complex process that we all take for granted...we do it automatically.

Family and friends have shared many examples of Daniel responding to stories, jokes and questions. Daniel is communicating. Recently, he translated a word into Spanish for me that I could not remember. The word was "swallow." I was reminding to practice swallowing on his own and to work on it even without being prompted. I began to admonish him in Spanish but I had forgotten how say "tragar" the Spanish word for swallow. I told Daniel that I could not believe that I couldn't remember the word for swallow when he suddenly said it for me. It was quiet and soft, spoken more with a breath than with his voice...but it was audible and unmistakable. He had translated a word from English to Spanish. This word may be there and readily available to him as I am sure my mom and others help him practice his swallowing...but he is definitely accessing the files he has for words...he has memories and memory of words...and he is accessing these files more and more.

My neighbor, who is a software engineer and computer genius (or as he might say "geek"), recently recovered some picture files for me from a disk that I had erased. Since I had downloaded (or is it uploaded?) the pictures onto my computer, I went ahead and deleted them from my camera's memory card so that I could take more pictures. I had already deemed the pictures lost forever. When I told him about it he was not impressed by fatalism. He took my disk, found some recovery software online and was able to recover the pictures from the traces that had been left on the disk.

So, Daniel has these files and he needs our help to excercise his brain power and get access to them. He is recovering all the time! Thank you to all who have gone to visit Daniel. I continue to be inspired by the folks that take time to hang out with my bro. Onward to a new stage in our journey with Daniel.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Laughter is the best medicine!

I'm sure that most of you know that Daniel finally gave us a "sign"! As they say "Laughter is the Best Medicine"!

We were fortunate enough to start off the New Year on a good note. Alfredo, Daniel's brother, discovered that Daniel never lost his sense of humor. Daniel has been smiling and laughing consistently to jokes, videos (from pix messages, youtube, etc.), stories from the past and just about anything that is funny to him. Like today, during my visit I said to him "Gosh Daniel, I wish I had something funny to say so that I can see you laugh, but I'm not very funny". And then I started cracking up, which made him smile so BIG. We were both just sitting there cracking up together. It was so cool!

Daniel continues to receive physical and speech therapy. He's responding very well to the speech therapy. He mouths words and on occasion his voice may come through. He's gaining weight and of course still has that natural tan. He's looking good.

If you have the opportunity to visit Daniel, a journal has been provided to document any activity that you witness. It is crucial to note any and all of Daniel's progress.

Thank you all for your continued support in keeping up with Daniel's blog.

Take care.

Irene Lopez

Friday, February 5, 2010

Daniel's Presence is Strong!

I just read an article in the Los Angeles Times (February 4, 2010) about a biological test that showed brain activity in patients with brain injury. Patients imagined themselves playing tennis or walking in homes, and responded to yes or no questions as measured through brain activity.

I often wonder what Daniel would say if he could speak, or think aloud. I sometimes think aloud for him and I have deep discussions with him regarding this or that. My impression is that Daniel is conscious of his surroundings and is able to concentrate and focus his attention for longer periods! At times his attention seems to come and go however, and this may be due to energy levels or other factors/stimulus. But focus he can! With his eyes, his gaze and his changing expressions...

So the article made me think that although the outward, visible evidence of Daniels "awareness" is subtle, there is more to his brain activity than meets the eye. I am sure that Daniel "remembers" and is able to "imagine" many meaningful people and events in his life. Judging from the stories we hear of Daniel's reaction to his friends his presence is strong.

Please stay tuned for new authors coming your way soon. When we started the blog I was under the impression that we could only have a limited number authors. I've since found out (better late than never) that you could have many more writers posting to the blog. I've invited several others to help out and hopefully get the blog going again...."breathe new life into it" as they say.

Thanks for your support and understanding!