Tuesday, June 29, 2010

today was my dad's second FULL day of therapy . . . he's had more than three hours of therapy daily, and it definitely keeps him busy. he's on a much more strict schedule here, and he's worked quite vigorously by the therapists. with assistance, he has climbed up some stairs, begun walking, learned to balance his body and be more aware of the inactive side, the right side, begun speaking new words, and learned to maneuver a wheelchair. by the time he has finished dinner he makes it VERY clear to us that he just wants to head to bed!
even though we know this will be a long process of healing, it's been AMAZING to see the daily progress my dad makes. this morning, while my sisters and i were out for a bike ride, i received a text from my mom saying that during speech therapy my dad had counted to four, shook his head, and said the word YES!
this evening, however, was so great. my dad was sitting in bed, with all of us around him. he was obviously not tired yet, but we didn't quite know how to keep him occupied (cable TV just doesn't always cut it). my mom pulled out a deck of cards and suggest working on numbers with my dad -- laying out a few cards and having my dad identify which number was largest/smallest. i laid down three cards, and said, "dad, which card is the HIGHEST?" . . . my dad raised his eyebrow and stared at me with a look that obviously said, "can you REALLY not answer that question yourself?" i obviously felt much less intelligent than he at that moment. "okay . . . new card game." Clara and i decided to try 500 Rummy with him. we dealt the cards and began to play . . . to our amazement, my dad played along FLAWLESSLY, not only keeping up, but beating us by a landslide! at the end, we all added up our points. we weren't sure how my dad was going to tell us how many points he had. i began by holding up some fingers, but he didn't quite like that idea. instead, he pulled the pencil and pad over, and wrote the number himself! he then proceeded to add up his previous scores and present to us the added total! and all of this done with his left hand. we all tried not to show our complete awe and amazement because i know my dad doesn't necessarily like us ooh-ing and ah-ing over every small achievement, but as soon as my sisters and mom and i left the room, that's all we could talk about! it was so mind-blowing to know that he could perfectly comprehend, write, and add numbers.
we continue to take him outside when we can -- today was a perfectly sunny, beautiful day for a walk around the Mayo courtyard. we're starting to import food from OUTSIDE of the hospital to keep my dad well fed . . . cappuccinos (extra dry, of course!), cookies and desserts, fresh fruit . . . all sorts of little goodies.
we changed rooms today -- the Rehab Unit is so full that most patients are doubled up. so my dad ended up switching rooms and now has a roommate named Ron, who is quite delightful, but will most likely be leaving some time at the end of the week (which is probably all for the better -- my mom and sisters and i tend to make the room feel quite crowded, i think!).

Sunday, June 27, 2010


hey! we've had some people ask about a mailing address here at Mayo, so here it is:

Geoffrey Hathaway
Patient Care Unit -- Mary Brigh 3F
Saint Marys Hospital
1216 Second St. SW
Rochester, MN 55902

Saturday, June 26, 2010


sorry about the belated update, guys! somehow these things just keep getting put on the back burner . . .

yesterday my dad was transferred from the neurology level at Mayo to the Rehabilitation Unit; in fact, today, for the first time, he had a full morning of rehab! when my mom and sisters and i walked into the room this morning, he was fully dressed with his tennis shoes on, maneuvering a wheel chair! this afternoon he'll have some more therapy. he'll have a total of 3 hours of therapy a day, and it will be split between speech, occupational, physical, and recreational therapy. the weekends are normally a little more leisurely, but they DID decide to put in a full day's work today.

a couple of days ago, we took my dad outside for the first time since the stroke . . . we got him all set up in a wheel chair and took him to a little outdoor courtyard that they have at Mayo, and we just walked around and let my dad soak in the sunshine and the fresh air. it was so nice to let him enjoy a change of scenery:)

my dad is completely off all IVs now, and grows stronger day by day. he doesn't have any more diet restrictions -- now he can eat whatever he wants, thank goodness! he always turns his nose up to the hospital decaf coffee, so i think we'll have to make a coffee run at some point, so he can enjoy a TRUE dark roast! the staples have all been removed from his head (40 staples!) and the scar is healing nicely . . . he had a helmet made for him as well just to protect his head while the piece of skull he had removed remains out. he doesn't wear the helmet all the time, but while he is up and about and working with the therapists he puts it on.

communication is our big focus right now. his continues to try and speak to us, but we usually only hear the same word, YOU. he gets frustrated with himself, knowing that he cannot communicate his ideas, but as he continues to get better, we find other ways to communicate -- hand squeezing, pointing, motioning -- and he also tries writing. it will be super exciting for him to begin working with a speech therapist, and see what results will come of it.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

i'm writing right now from my dad's new room in Mayo Hospital. actually, at this moment, Clara has her guitar pulled out and is about to perform for us . . . some of my dad's favorite songs:) we all just ate lunch together (granted, my dad ate pureed hospital food, and we ordered Chipotle), and my dad is happily reclined in his chair.
he was transported yesterday morning from North Memorial by ambulance. my mom got to ride in the ambulance with him, and they arrived a little after one. we like being here at Mayo, and we have some absolutely WONDERFUL family members who work here at the hospital who have been so supportive and helped accommodate us here in Rochester. my dad is getting wonderful care, and therapists have been coming in and out all morning, evaluating his speech and right arm movement.
he is on the neurology floor right now to be evaluated before moving him on to therapy, but we're hoping that within the next couple of days he'll be ready to move out of neurology -- we want to get him into rehabilitation!
something so exciting happened today. the speech therapist came in to check up on him, and at first he was not very responsive, he could only make one word sound ('you') and didn't quite seem to follow with what she was asking of him. but finally, she said, "Geoff, let's sing together, okay?" and she started singing Happy Birthday . . . and just like that, my dad opened his mouth and started singing along with her . . . soft words, but he sang right along, and it was just so beautiful to sit there with my mom and watch him sing. they sang the song twice together.
he continues to do better day by day . . . he is much more peaceful and not nearly as sleepy as he was earlier. his brain swelling continues to improve each day, and we love just sitting and interacting with him. earlier today my mom and i looked through Sam and Joanna's wedding album that we had brought, and he loved that.

Sunday, June 20, 2010


a big HAPPY FATHER'S DAY to all of the dads out there! we're celebrating our own Father's Day here in room 528, although my dad is a bit of a party pooper and has decided to sleep through the majority of the morning:)
my dad becomes a little more like himself a bit each day. yesterday, for the first time, he was able to speak new words! he isn't yet able to articulate what he wants to say, but just the fact that he is making new letter sounds is super exciting for us.
he is able to stay awake much longer as well, and seems much more attentive to what is going on around him . . . i think with this new awareness also comes a new frustration, and we often feel so helpless watching him try to tell us what he wants or is thinking when he doesn't have the words to share it. he uses a lot of body language, and we're slowly learning to understand what different actions mean.
he has a pretty obvious dislike for hospital food, which is definitely a good sign that he is coming around . . . we've done some browsing in the cafeteria and the deli to try and find him some better food options. he can't yet handle pure liquids (such as water) or very harder, tough solids (like crackers or meat) because his ability to swallow isn't the best, although it's improving rapidly.
we're also seen some great improvement in his ability to respond . . . he's nodded his head, held up four fingers when asked how many daughters he had (thank goodness he got that one right!), and smiles easily at our constant jokes and conversations.
the brain swelling has gone down a LOT, and we know that we're out of the critical period now, which is such a wonderful thing to know. his vitals remain steady, and he hardly requires any medication. we're hoping to be able to transfer him sometime early this week to Mayo Clinic, where he will begin therapy. of course, all of us will tag along and spend those weeks in Rochester with him!


Friday, June 18, 2010

my mother spent the night with my dad in his new room . . . Etty and Rose and i met up with them around 10 this morning. my dad now has minimal therapy throughout the day, workers who come in and work on both physical and speech therapy. after breakfast a neurologist came in to check on the right side, the inactive side, of his body. he noticed some swelling and thought it best to do an ultrasound . . . when the results from the ultrasound came back, we found out that my dad had clotting in his blood. there was a minor clot in his right arm, and a larger one (obviously of greater concern) in the lower-half of his right leg. the problem with this is that the clot could travel up to his heart, creating even more damage to his body. so this afternoon they did a small procedure to prevent this clot from traveling up to his heart -- a filter was inserted through a catheter in his neck into a major artery to prevent the clot from making its way to his heart. it was a very quick, painless procedure, and soon enough my dad was back in his room resting again. the other more minor clot in his arm was not an issue, the nurses decided to just keep an eye on it and give him some blood thinner.
we have a beautiful display of flowers in the room from so many lovely people, and they just make the room look that much happier -- even the nurses have told us how wonderful it is to walk into a room full of such colorful flowers!

also, my family wanted to me to share something on this blog . . . just that this is going to be a long haul for my dad. he will need your support in prayer and in thought, but at this point he needs as much rest as possible before rehab can begin. we have found that it is both exhausting and a bit frustrating for him to receive visitors right now when he is so weak and cannot communicate. so, we sadly would ask that you save your visits for when he is more able to handle them . . . we appreciate ALL of you, his dear friends, SO much, and want you to continue to walk alongside us during this time. we only ask that until he feels more ready to take visitors, that we hold off on hospital visits for a while.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


just wanted to update you guys and let you know that Geoff was just moved out of ICU! he has a lovely new room all to himself one floor down with a nice window view . . . as i write, he's currently enjoying a wonderful fruit smoothie with Etty, my mom, Rose and i looking on --
we're on the road to recovery!

HELLO! it's so exciting for me to be able to wake up every day and write you guys the next update, the next batch of happy news we've received since i last posted something. early this morning i drove Sam to the airport so that he could catch a flight back to NYC, where his job and acting career await him . . . of course, it was hard to say such a fast HELLO and GOODBYE, but his support was SO wonderful, and we know it was great for him to take off for NY knowing that my dad's healing is in progress.
last night and this morning, my mom has heard my dad speak . . . although he is only able to utter the same word, which is normal at this point.
he continues to be more and more responsive -- the left side of his face lights up if we tell a joke (or make fun of him, which is much more enjoyable) and he waves and acknowledges the people around him to the best of his ability.
he's completely off of his IVs, except for the occassional antibiotic that they're giving him due to the fact that he contracted a mild form of pneumonia while on the respirator (which is not uncommon, according to the nurses).
this afternoon or tomorrow we're hoping to move my dad out of ICU, which would be great. we have to wait on some test results before we'll know if he's ready or not, though.
the next step, like we mentioned in the last blog, is to look into a rehabilitation facility. right now it looks as though it wouldn't be wisest to transport my dad anywhere very far from here, but there are a couple of good places in the Twin Cities and then Mayo Clinic in Rochester, so we're just kind of evaluating options and looking into what would be best for my dad. since he is so young and fit, and his brain is still so healthy, we're looking for a very intense program that will challenge him daily to improve and get his body up and running again. it could be that after a few weeks in one rehab facility that will help him regain basic abilities, we will look into moving him to an acute therapy program to really get him going again.

"Do no be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. and the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
-- Philippians 4:6-7

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

last night Etty and Sam manned the night shift at the hospital . . . Etty called my mom in the morning to share the next batch of good news -- my dad, at some point during the night, had pulled out his respirator (way to show a little spunk!). the nurses, who had already been weaning him off the respirator bit by bit yesterday, decided that they could just leave the respirator out. they also took him off the sedatives and decreased the saline solution used to stop the swelling in the brain. the results of this morning's CT scan also showed a continued decrease in swelling. his blood pressure and heart rate are now at a healthy, steady level.
this morning he was awake and responsive, squeezing our hands and looking at us. he pointed to some food he saw, so this morning, for the first time since before the brain surgery, he was able to eat a bit!
the nurses are hoping that if things continue at this rate, that he will be out of ICU tomorrow sometime, which would allow us all to breath a little easier . . . these last few days have been SO encouraging for all of us, especially as we get to see my dad come around again, and show signs of being himself. keep the prayers up! pretty soon we'll be faced with the decision of where to take my dad for rehabilitation, a big decision for us. but right now we're just moving a day at a time, excited with the great progress we've been seeing.

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows."
-- James 1:17

Monday, June 14, 2010


well, another good morning!

we have more positive news to share with all of you. since yesterday, my dad's condition has just been steadily improving bit by bit. by late evening yesterday, his blood pressure had dropped to a very healthy level, his other vitals were holding steady, and the bleeding we had been seeing as a result of the neurosurgery had finally stopped. the swelling we were seeing as a result of the surgery (which had developed on the left side of his face, the side the surgery was done on) had subsided as well. my mom, Rose and i were able to head to my mother's parents house for the night (finally, a REAL bed!) and Sam and Etty faithfully managed the night shift in the hospital.

this morning we received even more happy news . . . my dad has opened his eyes (although he remains minimally sedated) and has begun to respond to the nurses -- squeezing their hands and even lifting his head up as he got a haircut! this morning's CT scan results also showed further reducement of the swelling of the left hemisphere of the brain; we're hoping this trend indicates that the healing process is beginning to take place, and that we are moving out of the critical phase. the neurologists continue to speak cautiously about everything, they know that we need to just take everything a day at a time; the nurses, however, are amazed at his progress and have expressed how happy they are to see even these minor improvements . . . as are we:)

"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows."
-- Matthew 10:29-31

Sunday, June 13, 2010

good morning.

well, my mother and i spent last night in the hospital with my dad . . . he remains minimally sedated and on the respirator, but hopefully that will not last too much longer. a CT scan was done this morning to check up on the swelling. what the doctors have explained is that the left half of his brain, the affected half, was pushing into the right half, endangering the healthy part of his brain as well as potentially damaging other arteries, so when the CT scan comes through, what the neurologist checks up on is if that swelling is continuing to push into the healthy, right half of the brain. and this morning we received wonderfully encouraging news -- the swelling has reduced in the last 24 hours! his other vital signs are also holding steady, and the neurologist was positive and did not see the need to step in for further prevention at the present . . . the nurses will keep a close eye on him and try and see him through this peak swelling phase.

so we are all greatly encouraged and have new hope . . . we're not out of the woods yet, but we hope this is the turning point. our family remains by his side 24/7 and continue to pray in faith.

"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."
-- Hebrews 11:1

Saturday, June 12, 2010

hey everyone. this blog is our best attempt to keep all of you, dear friends and family, updated on the life of Geoff. right now it's Maggie writing, although i'm sure that i won't be the only Hathaway child to be posting comments here throughout the next few weeks. i just want to thank you guys personally for all of the beautiful support and love you have shown our family this past week; it is honestly so overwhelming and gives us so much strength to carry on.

i'll bring you guys up to speed on some of the details of this past week. my dad was rushed to the Montevideo Hospital on Monday morning after he showed signs of having suffered a severe stroke. within the hour he was airlifted to North Memorial Hospital in Minneapolis, MN, and rushed to ER and then the ICU. after an MRI was done, we found out that my dad had, indeed, suffered an ischemic stroke. he had what is known as a 'dissected artery', a tearing of the carotid artery that ends up clotting the brain with blood. he currently does not have control over the right (dominant) side of his body or speech.

the danger with this stroke lies in the fact that the blood in his brain can cause swelling -- an anticipated but scary reaction to a stroke. this potential swelling can prove fatal if the swelling continues to put pressure on his skull, which has no room for expansion of the brain.

the first few days after the stroke, we thought we were seeing steady improvement -- and we were! -- but yesterday morning after the latest CT scan came through, we learned that the swelling had suddenly increased, and we would be forced to do surgery -- to open up a portion of the skull to allow for the brain to expand a bit more without putting so much pressure on the inside of his brain. with the surgery completed, my father remained in critical condition -- the surgery did not FIX the problem, it only eased the intensity of the swelling.

throughout yesterday and today he has remained under sedatives and a respirator . . . the swelling remains, and the doctors have been continuing to put all of their efforts together to pull my wonderful father through this phase, the critical phase.

both Sam and Etty have flown home from their travels in New York and Europe, and are here supporting my dear father and mother in this ordeal along with Clara and Rose and i. there are always at least two of us spending the night in the waiting room so that we can keep loving and watching over my father, and we are all here during the day. we have had incredible support from family and friends, who have helped us through each day. but of course, our greatest source of STRENGTH comes from our Lord, and we rest in His arms and TRUST in His faithfulness and goodness. our prayers remain full of FAITH and HOPE, and we PRAY often.

we hope to keep you updated frequently so that you, too, might be able to walk with us on this journey of faith and prayer. i could write for hours about my father and what a wonderful, faithful, passionate man he is, but i know that your hearts already abound with love and respect for him . . . as many have told us, if there is anyone who can pull through something like this, it is my dad -- a man of great courage, discipline, and determination. and we BELIEVE it.

"One thing God has spoken, and two things I have heard; that you, O God, are strong, and that you, O Lord, are loving."
-- Psalm 62:11-12