Bunk’s Status

June 7, 2011

November 2010 - January 2011!

Filed under: Status — Erica @ 8:38 pm

MARK YOUR CALENDARS FOR UPCOMING EVENTS!
• 6TH ANNUAL PERRY’S PIZZA FUNDRAISER PUT ON BY JESS AND DAWN BINGAMAN – SATURDAY, JUNE 11TH at Perry’s by the Newport Pier.

• BUNK BBQ AND BASEBALL-JULY 9TH –ANGELS VS SEATTLE, COME TAILGATE WITH BUNK AND JOIN HIM AT THE GAME. MORE INFO TO COME REGARDING TICKETS.

Mom provides us with many words on Bunk’s status - really Mom’s personal journal herewith:
******* UPDATE NOVEMBER 2010 – January,2011 ******
November highlights –
The new wheel chair had not been functioning well and Red (Bunk’s Dad) spent much of the first few days of the month getting the old wheel chair up and running so Bunk could get around more smoothly and safely get hooked up in the van. So he’s back in the old chair but still able to get out of bed, move around and travel in the van.
On November 1st, I traditionally go pansy digging with my good friend and work colleague, Sandra Fair. Bunk was catching sun on the balcony (“I would be happy with 80-85 degrees every day. I would even take 75 degree weather”). Needless to say, sunny warm weather makes his day. It was a perfect day for digging pansies down in Leucadia, as it always is each year. Planting 100 pansies becomes the challenge. It took me a week.
The San Francisco Giants won the World Series much to the thrill of Bunk’s sister, Erica, and her family who live in San Francisco. She called to share her excitement . The baseball season was finally over for Bunk. Now it’s football every weekend and Monday and Thursday nights but who’s counting.
On Tuesday, Red and I went out to “Taco Tuesday” with Ron and Marie Steuber at Los Cabos Mexican Restaurant, a favorite place to eat when we were able to get out more. We brought tacos home for Bunk. It was a fun dinner with old friends. We will do it again.
Bunk spent early November ordering all his Christmas gifts for the family on line. He researched items he wanted to give to each family member and purchased it on line (with the help of Megan his afternoon nurse). I was getting packages at the door all month but he was way ahead of the game especially compared to me. I had no involvement with him making his purchases. Megan wrapped all the gifts. They were all done just waiting for the tree. I might have to hire him next year to get my shopping done early instead of my usual quest the last 2 weeks before Christmas.
Bunk was asked by Marisa Brand (daughter of friend Tom Brand) to be her Confirmation Sponsor. Bunk accepted and their first activity was to go to the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament up at St. Norbert’s Church on the First Friday of November. Bunk hadn’t been back to St. Norbert’s since prior to his injury. It was a quiet and prayerful hour to be the first time back in his old parish church. Since I am the driver, I get the benefit of quiet, prayerful time in church. On the following Sunday, Bunk and Marisa were up at church again for a potluck dinner for Confirmands and their sponsors. We have met up with Patty McKimmey and Larry Honikel also sponsors. Everyone will grow in faith. How good is this!
Bunk got out to a Buck’s Rugby Club poker party fund raiser at the Bootlegger Brewery. Marty and Priti and Todd and Linda were there to run things and watch out for Bunk. Bunk even played poker with someone helping him with his bets and holding his cards. I stayed out of it or I would have been blamed for his losses. I am getting quite proficient at driving the van and avoiding bumps as much as possible although Bunk would argue my bump avoidance skill.
Peggy Taylor left another (one of many) goody packages: 2 giant chocolate chip cookies, a Lakers T shirt from Dawn and Jess Bingaman with a No Bad Days decal from Cabo, and a miniature Guiness rugby ball from Lynette from her trip to Ireland. “I’ll put it on the shelf”. Thank you Peggy and girls and Jess.
Dad has been working on the two chairs Bunk found on Craig’s List and we went to pick up and pay for. He is regluing and staining them (at least one of them is just about done). Bunk is getting dangerous on the computer. I am sent out on missions all the time for something he has found on line. I’m currently hunting down fur lined mocassins that he is wanting for winter to keep his feet warm. I have made 2 trips and returns already and still have to go back. It took an entire day of shopping to finally get the right shoe in the right style and size. Hallelujah!
We went to the Servite vs Orange Lutheran game down at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa with Dave Jacobs. Dave got Bunk down on the field to watch the game, Servite-31 and Orange Lutheran-13. A comment of Bunk to Jake during the game “You can punch me anytime, Jake, as long as it is in the leg.” Bunk guided us through Costa Mesa with explicit directions and comments on the surrounding sights. He would tell me where to turn, what lane to be in, and where each signal was, yada, yada, yada. Dave came over the following day to watch college football games. Bunk and Jake are 2 peas in a pod, flipping through the stations between games and making “expert” comments on each game. BBQ’d carne asada and chicken for dinner.
Bunk had an appointment with Ted (Dr. Lawton). We negotiated our way to his new office building and parking structure. It was good that both Red and I went with Bunk. Red dropped us off at the front door and negotiated the parking structure and Bunk and I went up to Ted’s office. We will be more efficient next time. It was a great visit with Ted. He is always most supportive of Bunk. He and Bunk had a discussion on breathing exercises, settings on the ventilator, time off the vent, and exploration of a diaphragmatic pacer. He has been working on several modes of breathing exercises, the power lung which is a resistance breather. He works on the power lung while he is off the ventilator. Also he breathes on spontaneous mode on the ventilator which allows him to initiate his own breaths. The resistance he is overcoming to breathe on this mode is more than we do off the vent. When I have decreased the resistance he tells me it is too easy and he has a time adjusting. He also spends time totally off the ventilator with the Passy-Muir valve in place which allows him to speak better while off the vent. There was a time when he couldn’t get enough air out to speak. He is getting stronger with his breaths. It needs to be sustained for longer periods.
Dr. Xi continues to come for his acupuncture treatments. She keeps him working out and has been putting the acupuncture needles further down his back. He now can feel the needles down below his scapula. She gets so excited whenever there are signs of progression of sensation. Without her we would not be on top of his improvements. As she says, “Pain is good”, meaning he is feeling it. Bunk just smiles and usually has a wry comment.
We are now down to preparation for Thanksgiving, our annual big family gathering for which we are most grateful. Erica and family arrived from San Francisco. Erica got off to see the “Noble Ones” play at the Pint House in Fullerton. It was too cold a night for Bunk. He stayed home and visited with his nieces and nephew. The Plam’s were finally able to once again sleep downstairs. They had been staying up in the attic bedroom since Bunk had come home from the hospital. Red and I finally painted the bedroom that was Bunk’s before he moved out to the Tipsy. It took us 2 weeks. Fast painters we are not. I hadn’t done so much painting and furniture moving for over 5 years. I still paint as slow as molasses.
We celebrated Erica’s youngest child’s (Helen) birthday the next day. Helen is Bunk’s godchild. What a busy day starting with the Eucharistic Minister, Mom, Erica and the kids to Mass, Dan Maher over to watch Football with Bunk, Derek, Bev and the kids over for Helen’s birthday and of course watch football, and finally cousin Adam and his son Nicolas over for football and birthday. Helen got everything she wanted all in pink, a pink Hello Kitty watch, a pink pearl bracelet, a pink tutu, a pink ballet bag, and a pink purse. Bunk broke the mold and gave her multicolored striped fleece pajamas with a monkey on them. Quite a special day for Miss Helen. Oh did I mention that she had a pink cake, with pink icing and pink roses from the garden.
Prior to Thanksgiving, Erica went to Urgent Care and was diagnosed with pneumonia. She needed a lot of rest and antibiotics. I am glad she was here where we could help out with the kids so she could get rest although it is hard to keep her down.
Bunk had problems with the battery on the ventilator and the battery for the ventilator that is on his chair. It appears that the vent battery was used up because the battery on the wheel chair was dead. So we plugged the vent into the electrical outlet which really restricted Bunk’s ability to move about. Dad ordered a new battery (he has become an expert at battery resources both locally and on line then replaced the battery on the chair and all was right with the world again although it took a couple of days. Red made sure it got done and Bunk was very patient.
The day before Thanksgiving is always a busy set up day. We have a big tent up in the backyard with tables and chairs to accommodate about 90 or so. My sister Roselind and Phil and their grandsons, cousin Adam, and Derek with Jack and Kate and Evelyn and Will all pitched in to get it set up and the details all managed. We closed the day with take out from the Olive Garden, and a cutthroat game of Monopoly with Eric, Bunk and Will (Eric won) while Mom and Erica mashed potatoes and cooked turkey for the following day. Whew!
Thanksgiving Day arrived cold and sunny. The tent with tables and chairs was up along with a large slide and bouncy house, all set for the arrival of 90 family members to share the day. Bunk joined the family downstairs for pictures, grace, and dinner. We have much to be grateful for, Bunk’s presence, and the support of so many in Bunk’s behalf. Thank you God. Bunk played again this year in the cribbage tournament. He beat his brother in their cribbage game and lost to his sister in their cribbage game. The Cribbage tournament was won by Erica’s husband Eric., a return to the Wurth line of victors. Congrats, Eric.
Friday was a day of clean up and all day college football games. All the children and grandchildren were here plus Kevin Traut and family and Dan Maher and his girls, and Chris Kent and Dave Jacobs. A great day of TV, BBQ and Thanksgiving leftovers. God bless us all.
Saturday, Erica and family departed for San Francisco but not before Eric cooked Bunk some Buckwheat Pancakes. Dave Jacobs and Brian Criss came over to watch the ballgames. The most important one for Bunk of course was the Notre Dame vs USC game. You know who Bunk was cheering for.
A quote from Bunk: “I remember after I was injured, time passed so slowly. Months would go by slowly up to a year. Now we are almost at 5 years. It is hard to believe that much time has gone
December Highlights
December continued Servite’s post season football play. Bunk would host pre-parties at the Tipsy and then everyone would load up in the van and off we would go to the game. Where ever the game was Bunk was able to get down onto the field with his entourage. He would bundle up in a T shirt, fleece, and pea coat with beanie and gloves to keep him warm. Servite continued with a winning season up until the state playoff game which they lost. Bunk made it to most of the games with the usual suspects of his Servite friends. The final game was to be televised and it was a rainy day so the troops came over with steaks and shrimp to BBQ to view the game in the comfort of the Tipsy. We received a call from Bunk’s brother Derek there at the game with his family weathering the rain and Servite’s loss. We had some great desserts, cousin Cathy had brought over chili and snickerdoodles and John and Conor Daly had brought over John’s great cinnamon loaf.
Bunk’s physical therapist had been coming to Bunk’s for the past 6 months. This month he finally got back to the Goodwill’s Fitness Center to get out of chair and onto the mat for his physical therapy. It is always so good to see him out of his chair and onto the mat to get a workout. Stephanie works his joints and changes his positions, keeping all his parts moveable.
Bunk sent me out to get an artificial tree with lights on it for his Christmas Tree. Off to Walmart I went coming back with a white 4 foot tree with lights. All I had to do was plug it in. Wow, was that great. Bunk loved it and spent the next week getting out his ornaments and getting me to buy him some new ones so everything was just so. Poor Megan (his afternoon nurse) was arranging and rearranging ornaments according to Bunk’s very specific instructions. Was he ever particular. He had us put up the manger scene directly below the TV screen. I hope Bunk got some real spiritual inspiration looking at the manger scene during the many hours he watches the TV.
Bunk was so far ahead of us on his decorating for Christmas. Finally, we got our tree, a nice tall one that the family expects each Christmas in our old high ceilinged home. I put the lights on for the first time by myself because I knew it would take too long if I waited for others to get it done. I did have the Advent Wreath up on time and lit a candle and said a prayer almost every night of Advent. Bunk came up to check out the decorations at the big house and check out the REAL tree but he is always most comfortable in his place. He had Megan wrap all his Christmas gifts and put them under his tree, a real motivation for me to get on the stick and get my gifts purchased and wrapped.
I was ready earlier than usual (due to Bunk being on top of it) and was able to have former work colleagues over for a luncheon in the dining room with the tree being all decorated. It was great to enjoy the season with friends and all my decorations up. Bunk was kept company to watch ball games by his cousin Adam, his wife Josie, and Adam’s former fellow Navy Seals Ed and Todd. Todd had had an American flag flown over Camp Fallujah in Bunk’s honor in Afghanistan while he was stationed there. He had it framed along with formal certificates from the Navy command stating the date and place that it was flown in honor of Bunk. It was an amazing gift for Bunk who has a special love for the American Flag. What an exceptional kindness from Todd to honor Bunk while he was in harm’s way serving our country.
Larry Honikel, who brings Holy Communion to Bunk every Wednesday, had asked Father Kiet from St. Norbert Church (our Parish church) to stop by and visit Bunk. Father did come by and had a spirited visit with Bunk. He extended his hand toward Bunk to shake his hand and realized that Bunk could not shake hands. He felt so bad and told me so when I walked him out. Bunk later told me “Tell him that one day I’ll be able to do it”.
Bunk was recalling about when he received a Nintendo as a teen and that when he was teaching he would have his kids play Nintendo. When they asked him why he didn’t get newer games, Bunk told them,”Because I don’t know how to play them
As it was getting close to Christmas, I was able to get most of my Christmas shopping done. Bunk even offered to help by ordering stocking stuffers on line for me. All his packages were wrapped and looking lovely under his tree. Now I had to do catch up. For the first time ever I had all my presents wrapped and under the tree before Christmas Eve. Thanks to Bunk!
The Wolf family stopped by for a Christmas visit with Bunk, bringing him a gnome for his garden. We now have an official gnome garden with 4 gnomes all from the Wolf’s. Bunk gave Shaun, McKinney (his Godchild) and Faith little Christmas gifts. It was a treat to see their growing family and there is no loss of reminiscing or hearty discussion between Bunk, Brian, and Amanda.
On Christmas Eve, Bunk was out on the balcony in his Bermuda shorts catching some sun. “I can feel the warmth of the sun on my legs”. John Daly brought by Cinnamon bread and Cousin Stephanie Bermudez and husband, James, brought by home-made tamales, a family tradition in James’s family. What a cherished gift, as we all love tamales, especially those made by Stephanie and James and his family. Bunk’s care giver Francisco brought some wonderful pork soup as well. We were all set to eat great quality Mexican traditional holiday fair.
We had a quiet Christmas Day, Bunk, Red and myself. The Eucharistic Minister brought Holy Communion. Our prayers were for each other, our family and all of you on this blessed day. We ate John Daly’s cinnamon bread and James and Stephanie’s Christmas Tamales. Bunk gave Red and me our gifts: energy/balance bracelets to keep us moving and keep us from falling. We both had them on PDQ. We watched sports on TV , Bunk worked on the computer and at night we watched NetFlix “The Expendibles”. We will be celebrating with Derek and Erica’s families in the next few days. We wish you all God’s Blessings this Christmas and for the coming New Year.
On Sunday, Derek, Bev and Jack and Kate came over in the afternoon. Beverly brought Prime Rib and other fixings. Bunk loved the prime rib. We ate a delicious dinner and all was there for Erica and her family when they arrived later in the evening making for a busy house full which Bunk and his folks love. Bunk over saw his nieces and nephews opening the gifts he carefully had picked out and ordered for each one of them. The girls got animal pillows and the boys those glow in the dark balls that you can roll around and do tricks with, I can’t remember their names. We tend to congregate at Bunk’s place for all such family activities. The kids watch the TV in his room and the rest of us are in the living room watching TV. Bunk has a TV for viewing at every turn.
On Monday, Erica, Eric and Evelyn, Will, and Helen were off to La Quinta to visit Eric’s father for a few days. Beverly, Jack, Kate, and I were off to Legoland (I had never been) to meet up with Bev’s sister, Lisa and her children and mother-in-law, Marilyn. It was a beautiful day. We stayed until dark. Derek and Red stayed with Bunk and the 3 guys took care of minding the home front. During the holidays our nursing and caregivers are on a much more limited availability so the guys had to take good care of each other. Well done!
Cousin Adam and wife, Josie and Nicolas came on Tuesday to meet up with Liam Hulin and his daughter, Mariah. I got an earful of stories of the many escapades of the trio along with other Navy Seals. Lots of laughter. Who would have thought a group could have so much fun. I guess it should be no surprise by now.
Erica and family returned the next day. Eric helped me pick out a new laptop computer which was a group Christmas present for me which I am so grateful. I thought it would help me get these updates out sooner than later but as you can see I am not there yet. We all ate dinner at Bunk’s which is the usual routine any more.
They went to Legoland thanks to Bev’s sister, Lisa, who has a forever kind of pass. The next day Little Helen was in the Emergency Room with a high fever.
On New Year’s Eve, Brian Criss was over the watch Notre Dame play in the Sun Bowl. Brian makes for a better sports companion than I am and it was a big boost for Bunk.
Throughout the Christmas Holidays we were on somewhat of a skeleton crew to help with Bunk’s care so everyone, including Bunk, was putting extra effort and support into each day. We all managed. Visitors were the great break for Bunk from long sieges with only Mom and Dad.
We wish you all a Happy New Year with many blessings to enrich your lives. We certainly have been blessed with your friendship and support. Everything improves each year.
January and February Highlights
New Year’s Day = Thank you for another year of support. Time goes by quickly now and you all are more and more a part of our lives with each passing year. God bless you and keep you.
2011 started with a busy and fun filled day. I took my grandchildren, Erica and Beverly to the Orange County Performing Arts Center to see the production of Peter Pan. It was in a tent and every seat was fairly close to the stage. Little Helen who was still under the weather but held on and didn’t miss a thing. We left Bunk at home in the charge of Red and Eric. I had left chili, hot dogs, tamales, chips and beer out to feed the troops (Bunk, Dad, Eric, Dave Jacobs, Brian Criss, and Eric Fischer) during the New Year’s Day Football games. Bunk had several episodes of his vent tubing slipping off his trach tube but I guess whoever was near Bunk learned quickly how to reattach it. Way to go guys! A grand start to the New Year.
We had hard rain following a sunny New Year’s Day. A former rugby mate of Bunk ‘s, Yuki Kaiki and his wife stopped by to visit . They were visiting the U.S. from Japan and he made it a point to stop by to see Bunk.
Beverly was in an accident on her way over to pick up Katie who had spent the night with us to get more playing time in with Evelyn, Will, and Helen. She was driving in the rain on the Freeway when she swerved to miss a truck who had pulled out in front of her. Her SUV hit a berm and rolled over and landed on its side with Beverly hanging from her seat belt. She was able to release herself, stand on the side door and pull herself out of the driver’s side door window and walk up the embankment. God was watching out for her. She ended up with no injuries but a pretty banged up car. We were blessed to have her survive the accident without any aches or pains. Things can happen so quickly, as we all know.
Ruben, Bunk’s caregiver in the mornings, had been gone for a week during the Christmas holidays. It took some reshuffling of help and a lot of filling in the gaps to cover his absence. It was great to have him back. Ensuring nursing and caregiver coverage is a critical part of planning for Bunk’s care. It will always be an issue that directly impacts Bunk, his dad, and myself. So far we have managed. Thank you, God.
Bunk has been researching On Line Masters Degrees in Art to present to the Department of Rehabilitation. He is hoping to get some assistance in pursuing an advanced degree. He met with his case worker at the Department of Rehab to present educational options and potential job opportunities. Bunk made an excellent presentation of his case. I only butted in once for which I was soundly rebuked by Bunk but I was able to make my point. It’s tough having your mom along with you all the time.
Red had stayed home that day working on replacing his microwave that had died on us. Actually, it took him 3 days, adjusting tile, creating vent access and getting the equipment needed to do the job. Red said, “I am getting old and my thought processes aren’t working the same”. That may be true but Bunk and I attribute it to being too cheap to buy the right equipment for the job up front. The debate goes on.
A week into the New Year and I got Bunk’s Christmas decorations down. Bunk’s were the easiest, of course he gave us explicit instructions on the how and where. It took me another week to get mine down and stored.
Bunk continues to have shoulder pain especially in his right shoulder. We put heating pads on his shoulders and the back of his head. We also put medicated tape that helps with heat and finally when it is really bad we put a lidocaine patch on the shoulder. His right shoulder and neck get so contracted that the space between his neck and the outer end of his shoulder is half the distance of that on his left shoulder. This is present almost every day but it doesn’t keep him from his workouts or his breathing exercises and he will frequently say it is not that bad, “It is just tight, a little uncomfortable.”
Red and I had our 45th wedding anniversary in January but as usual we both forgot. I don’t remember now if we ever got out to a dinner at some point. Forgetting is rather par for the course for us.
January is the month of Football playoffs and Bunk wanted to have a BCS Bowl party. I am finding that any reason is a good one to have everyone over. It reminds me of my mother - two people were enough to celebrate. Eric Fischer, T.J. Edington, Dave Jacobs, Mike Schnick, John Daly, Kevin Traut, Dan Maher, Chris Kent, Linda Brown, Todd Komori, Priti and Marty Franco, and Scotty Gallegos joined Bunk for the game. Everyone brought something but thank you to the ladies who made spaghetti, salad, bread, and desserts we were fed a delicious and balanced meal.
Bunk has worked on art projects, his trade mark American Flag. He has been exploring different ways to create the texture for the base of his pictures. He gives explicit directions on prep, oversees it carefully and gives the final okay before he gets in there with his paint brush in his mouth and paints. He works with Ruben and Megan and Dad. His over-bed tray is used as his platform to hold the “canvas” so he can paint. He works everywhere, in his place, on the balcony (when it is warm) and down in the garage with his dad and out on the patio. There is a great deal of support required for Bunk to accomplish his paintings but make no bones about it, Bunk is in charge.

Bunk got out to a Buck’s Rugby game (it was a warm day) and to the usual trip to the bar afterward. Bunk motored around the field in his wheel chair talking with the rugby players giving them his pearls of wisdom on how to play the game. Red and I were in the background as Bunk ventured off without either of us in immediate attendance, a great day of sun, fun and friends and growing confidence.
Don Ward, Bunk’s St. Norbert Grammar School friend, was coaching the 5th and 6th grade basketball team at the school. Bunk got up to watch Don coach and the team (including Don’s son) play. It was a great game. Don’s mom, Kathy¸ was there and she and I were the usual loud cheering voices in the crowd. It hasn’t changed much since Bunk and Don played together during their grammar school years at St. Norbert’s.
Bunk is getting to the Goodwill Wellness Center more since the holidays are past, working out with resistance bands both at home and at the gym. Stephanie Djang his Physical Therapist meets us at the gym and with the help of Ruben, we get him out of his wheel chair and onto the mat so she can work at getting him stretched out and keeping everything movable. Dr. Xi puts Bunk through an exercise routine plus his acupuncture twice a week. She leans him forward and Bunk pulls himself back into sitting position. He is getting stronger in his trunk. You can see this by his ability to better control his body’s response to spasms.
Bunk was referred to a rehab center by a friend, Gilbert Salazar who had a friend who was achieving significant results from her rehab efforts at Progressive Strength Recovery. I had not gotten around to call to check on the possibilities for Bunk. Bunk had reminded me several times and finally I called and made an appointment for Bunk to see the facility and speak with the owners Tom and Renee. Tom is a former body builder, personal trainer, and sports rehab expert. He segued into more medical rehab such as stroke and other brain injury rehab. Tom evaluated Bunk checking out each joint and any initiation of movement and reflexes that could get muscles firing. He and Bunk spoke the same work out language and philosophically agreed that if anything works then they need to work on building strength there and expand to larger muscle groups. It is very positive for Bunk to be working on regaining strength and movement no matter how incremental the gains. Tom will work on Bunk’s extremities with emphasis on Bunk’s right arm because Bunk has a goal to drive his wheel chair with the use of his right hand and no longer be dependent on the chin drive mechanism to mobilize his wheel chair. It is costly and of course an out of pocket expense so we will be be going only one day a week and go from there.
January 29th was his sister Erica’s birthday. She lives in San Francisco so celebration and best wishes from Southern California. Bunk celebrated by going to a Rugby Game and then to Cousin Cathy’s (Cookie Fish) 50th birthday party (her birthday is January 31st) . Lots of family present at the party. Bunk set up court on the front driveway and we all celebrated with Cathy on the beginning of a new decade. It was a sunny day but fraught with a chilly breeze that chilled Bunk and warming him then becomes a real challenge. When we got home we broke out all the heating pads for his shoulders, neck and the back of his head.
January 30th is Bunk’s birthday. His birthday celebration officially takes place on Super Bowl Sunday now with the roasting of chickens in the Pig Box that we roasted a pig in last year but more about that later. He had a nice birthday celebration on the actual day as well. It was Sunday so the day started out with the Eucharistic Minister coming by to read the Gospel and give Communion. A proper way to mark another year of life. He was blessed with many friends and family coming by to BBQ and watch the Laker Game, golf, and the Pro Bowl. Linda Brown and Todd Komori brought brautwurst and pie. Todd soaked the brauts in beer and barbecued them, very tasty. Marty and Priti Franco brought potato salad and fixings for margaritas. We were set. I don’t remember if I prepared anything. Gabriel Salazar, Cousin Adam with Josie and Nicolas, and Derek with Jack and Kate joined the festivities. Erica called to wish him a Happy Birthday and check on all the activities. It was a perfect gift for Bunk, a spontaneous party just how Bunk likes them. “The day sure went by fast with everyone here.” That says it all.
HAPPY 41ST BIRTHDAY DEAR BUNK!

I am sending this off to you before this update is complete and will continue to send you Bunk’s goings on until we are caught up. I am afraid it will disappear on the computer and I would have to start all over again. It has taken too long to get this far. God Bless and stay tuned my dear friends.

December 3, 2010

May - October 2010

Filed under: Status — Erica @ 4:52 pm

Mom keeps us up to date on Bunk’s medical situation, as well as the mechanics of it all….

Hello everyone! Are there still Bunk Followers out there? I am long overdue in sending our warm regards and appreciation to our dear family and friends who check in to see how things are with the Bunkman. Please forgive me the omissions and the disjointedness in my eagerness to get this out to you.

Bunk continues to maintain his health. He has not had and infection nor has he been on antibiotics for almost 2 years. It has been remarkable. He hasn’t had a cold, either. His appetite has improved to the point that he is trying to watch what he eats and hopefully lose a few pounds (me too). He continues to be able to take all his medications by mouth. He no longer takes meds in liquid form preferring to swallow pills. We have gone to gummy vitamins for adults and fizzy Vitamin C drink for his vitamin supplements. Giving medications used to be more of a task but it has become much easier over time for Bunk and us and he is taking fewer medications and supplements. He even takes his morning meds in bed which he would have never done before. Prior to taking his medications orally, he had been eating his meals okay but the swallowing of pills had been problematic as he would choke or gag when pills would get hung up in his throat. But when he decided that it was time for the gastrostomy to tube to come out he moved forward with determination and swallowing pills has become easier and easier for him. As he said before “One tube down”.

Bunk has not given up on his efforts to become more independent in his ability to breathe on his own. He continues to do breathing exercises using John Daly’s power lung that provides a mechanism for Bunk to strengthen his capacity to breathe on his own by breathing with resistance through the power lung. He also continues to breathe on the spontaneous mode on his ventilator. Dr. Ted Lawton has told Bunk that breathing on spontaneous mode (all breaths are initiated by Bunk) with a pressure support of 7 would be almost equal to breathing on his own. Bunk has worked on bringing the pressure support down. Last month he was down to a pressure support of 7 but has continued to work on breathing with a pressure support of 6. He can go for about ½ to 1 hour at that level. Now to make appointment with Ted to look at what’s next. Bunk has also interested in a diaphragmatic pacer which intitiates contraction of the diaphram to aid in breathing without the ventilator. Lots to explore. What makes me feel at peace is knowing that Bunk is slowly and methodically working towards improving his independence in breathing and in not considering giving up on that front.
His new wheel chair as of January is to provide movement capabilities he did not have before. He stands everyday for at least ½ hour. Megan, one of his nurses has become an expert at getting him all set up to stand. She and Bunk have it down to a quick set up routine. Not so easy when I do it. Bunk has to give me blow by blow instructions. On a few occasions, Bunk has gotten light headed and dizzy. It comes out of the blue and you can see it coming. He stops focusing and his eyes start to flutter and he tells you what is happening. We lower him down until he recovers and then go at it again. We haven’t come up with any causative factors yet. Bunk enjoys standing and doesn’t like it when he misses a day. Of course he stands in front of the ever faithful television set so he is thoroughly entertained and doesn’t miss any sports events. The other nifty ability of the chair is that the chair seat can be raised up to the level of eye to eye contact with a standing person. It makes such a difference for social interaction for Bunk at home, viewing ballgames and other events, and of course at the bar.

Bunk has experienced a great deal of shoulder and neck pain associated with trying to establish an effective and comfortable drive system for his chair. He started with a shoulder harness that held the chin drive mechanism but after a while his shoulders started to cramp up from the weight of the harness and he was experiencing a great deal of pain at the end of the day. With support from Blaine Hunt and Darrell Aubry his wheelchair vendor and rep, Bunk switched to a sip and puff drive. Bunk was very hopeful that this system would simplify the drive apparatus and allow him to get around easier and be less physically encumbered with a driving apparatus but things are never as simple as they might seem. It became more difficult for him to direct the chair due to the front wheel drive set up and the many systems that are involved on the chair. He ended up with a lot of neck pain (the worst pain I have seen him in since his jaw clamped down at Craig Hospital) due to increasing effort required to provide a continuous strong puff to keep him moving and correct wayward movements. At last, as an interim solution, his dad and he came up with an adaptation that would suffice until more formal adjustments could be made (everything official takes a long time). Red got an aluminum bar and bent it connecting it to a mount on the back of the chair and curved down to hold the chin drive mechanism in front of his chin. After 5 hours, they had a workable system. Red celebrated by going fishing. Bunk celebrated with having some stress/pain free days and nights. Nothing is ever over. Adaptation and correction will always be a constant in the life of living in a wheel chair. Hooray for Red. We need to become more knowledgeable and proficient at adapting the chair for Bunk so he can literally get around and move about in a comfortable and efficient manner.
The most current info on the wheel chair is that the mechanism that allows for the chair seat and back to move is not functioning. Bunk has been stuck in one position for the past week which has kept Bunk pretty much cooped up in his place with no position changes or standing.
Red has come to the rescue again. While I try to get some action going on repairing the new chair, Red has retrieved his old chair, got new batteries, and had the electronic programs checked out so it is driveable. Tonight, he checked out the old Roho air cushion that fits his old chair and tomorrow we will do a trial run of getting back into the old chair. If all works, he can get out and about again and change his positions.

His air filled, Roho, cushion on the seat of the wheel chair, lost air one day. It was not noticed till that night. He has been dealing with a healing pressure wound and one day without sufficient air set him back in the healing process. We have gotten a new Roho cushion and checked the old one out. The valve was opened inadvertently and the air escaped. He is back on target again but it was a wake up call for all of us to be ever watchful of those areas that are of potential risk.

One more mechanical failure has been his bed. This is the third time the bed has broken. The head of the bed could not be raised. We piled wedges under the mattress. Red has become somewhat expert on the electrical and mechanical elements of the bed as well as who to contact for parts. Jack and Mimi O’Brien (Derek’s Father and Mother-in-law) were down from Oregon and over for dinner during this malfunction. Jack and Red crawled under the bed to analyze and attempt to repair what was malfunctioning. They figured a lot out but could not get it operational. Bunk adapted to all the makeshift support and getting in and out of bed at levels he had not previously done before. Red was able to get a new part and in 2 days, Bunk had a functioning bed again.

It is frustrating to have these failures because they impact Bunk’s quality of life. Things that are so routine for us and that we can adapt readily to when they malfunction are not so simple for the disabled who rely on chairs, beds, etc. for their comfort and ability to function.

Bunk has weathered all these malfunctions with great resilience. He gets involved with the problem solving and always amazes me at how much he understands technically and what good suggestions he has to make things better.

I think the only 2 mechanical devices that have not failed him this last go around have been the lift (elevator) and the van which has always been pretty constant.

In an effort to realize greater productivity, Bunk applied to the State Department of Rehabilitation. His application was accepted for an interview. Bunk was very articulate in his interview as to what he saw as his capabilities, expressing his need to be productive. “I have lots of time on my hands” He wants to go back for his Master’s Degree in Art Education stating that he could write art lesson plans for general education teachers so that art could be taught in the classroom. He would also like to complete his Masters in Special Education so he could consult on Special Education students which is an area of his expertise. He had thought everything through, had his justification for an online course given his disability and had the Universities identified that provided online Masters in Art Education. They have accepted his case and are now evaluating Bunk’s equipment needs for undertaking his goal. ATEC, through the Goodwill, is providing the evaluation. Bunk has worked with ATEC in the past to identify means of get better access and usage of his computer. It has been nice to have them return in this next capacity to further identify computer and equipment needs for Bunk to help him reach his goals. It is all very exciting and Bunk is enthused to say the least.

We left you off in Spring and have progressed through Summer and now are into the Fall. There have been a myriad of activities that have kept Bunk and all of us busy during this time. People are Bunk’s life blood, the more people and events the better.

On June 12th, Jess and Dawn Bingaman had their 5th annual Perry’s Pizza fundraiser for Bunk at their Pizza place at Newport Pier. What generosity of spirit. Dawn and Jess and her mom (Peggy) and sisters all are there to make it work. Derek helps out at the bar and Erica and family help bus tables and try to help with upkeep of the tables. Bunk holds court out on the back patio and visits with the many friends and supporters that come. He went inside to watch the sporting events which was the Soccer World Cup if I recall correctly. The weather had been pretty gloomy the week prior to the event and even on the day it was cloudy and cool up at our place. But off we went trying to be there more on time than we have been in the past and low and behold as we approached the beach area the clouds parted and the sun came out. It was absolutely a beautiful day at the beach. God blessed all of us with wonderful weather. How could God let the Bingaman’s down when they so generously give this day to Bunk each year. What a blessing.
It was decided that Perry’s Pizza would be on the 2nd Saturday of June each year from now on so their will no confusion. So mark your calendars for next year and come on down and enjoy Pizza, the beach, and Bunk. Thank you Jess and Dawn. God Bless you.

Bunk has gotten out to the night life in downtown Fullerton on several occasions. The Noble Ones, the loyal Servite group that played for Bunk’s golf tournament, have been playing from time to time at the Pint House in Fullerton and most recently at Roscoes, another Fullerton Pub. These events have been mini Servite reunions with Bunk getting the opportunity to see many fellow Friars and catch up on old times and the now. The Noble One’s had sold their T Shirts in support of Bunk and came by the house to present the proceeds. What a supportive and generous gesture and much appreciated by Bunk and family. All the donations go into the pot to pay for nursing support for Bunk. Thank you Moose, Jon, Matt, Paul and John. You are truly noble.

Speaking of being out at the bars, Bunk has maintained his regular status at Marty’s with the rest of his “No Bad Days” softball team. He has made it there before softball games, after games, and on non game days. The guys always have reason to celebrate and they give a special toast to Bunk. Great guys! You’ll find me in the corner with my diet coke. The guys take care of the beer and straw for Bunk.

Bunk hosted a poker party early in the summer. I believe the first poker party here at home, not to be confused with the generous fundraiser Poker Parties, was after he came home from the hospital and Eric Fischer organized a group of Servite buddies to play around Bunk’s bed. He brought poker chips, that we still use, and large cards so Bunk could see them.
It has become an annual event, as many of Bunk’s events have become. Bunk now can come to the table to play and he has his own place to entertain his friends. They had great food, great cigars, and of course great drink. I don’t know who won. Did they end up splitting the pot just to finally end the game?

Erica and the grandkids were down in early June for two weeks. Lots of activities and projects. “I can always count on some good dinners when Erica is here” So true. She always plans and cooks great meals and we do it all out at Bunk’s. As a matter of fact most dinners are out at his place. We cook there, the kids eat around the coffee table and we buffet it off his kitchen island. It works great. A number of the meals are barbecues and we do it out on the balcony. Very user friendly.

Dave Baxter paid a visit from Michigan in early June as well. He and Bunk watched the World Cup, any rugby they could find, and just about 24 hour sports. Dave is a great Bunk visitor.

Bunk got out to attend several funerals of parents of dear friends, Dave Jacobs mother, Carrie Ware’s father, Uncle Ron’s mother, and the founder of Speech and Language Development Center (his school).

At Larry G. Haupert’s funeral, Bunk was able to briefly visit with the Haupert (Carrie Ware) and Carlberg (Kim Mangini) families. He had not seen many of the Hauperts for a while. They were kind enough to go out of their way after the funeral to say hello to Bunk. These two families have been the great supporters of Bunk’s acupuncture that has made such a difference in Bunk staying active and progressing. With prayers for Larry G. Haupert.

Bunk made it back to Long Beach for Uncle Ron’s mother’s (Ruby Merys) funeral. It was a gathering of family and many old friends to support Uncle Ron and Aunt Mary Catherine. We went from St. Cyprian’s Church to All Soul’s cemetery where Bunk stayed in the van but we tried to track down Grandma Mary and Grandpa Tom’s graves and Grandmother Mary Jane and Grandpa Bernard’s grave. The whole family is buried there and it truly was a family reunion and celebration of both living and dead. From the cemetery, Bunk wanted to drive by Grandma Mary’s home that was a few blocks away and from there it was a trip down memory lane in Long Beach as we made our way to El Torito down by the Long Beach marina for a luncheon. Bunk successfully maneuvered through many obstacles and was upbeat about getting out to see old familiar sights and be there to support family and friends.

Bunk returned to Speech and Language Development Center (SLDC), the school at which he was a special education teacher, for the memorial service of Alene Agranowitz a cofounder of SLDC. It was a wonderful tribute to a great lady. Bunk was able to meet and greet fellow teachers, school personnel, former students, and families. He was one of the last to leave. Going back to the school is good for him and he clearly loved being back. His heart is still with the special education student. I met work colleagues of Bunk who follow him on the web page (one has her whole block following Bunk). I apologize for the lack of updates and here it is 2 plus months later and I am still writing an update. I keep you in mind to spur me on to better reporting. Once this update is posted, I promise it will be more timely!

Do you all remember Cookie Fish, Bunk’s cousin Cathy? Cathy is my sister Roselind’s daughter. Well we had reason to celebrate with Cathy as she was married in July. It was a lovely tropical themed wedding and the bride was beautiful. She had asked him to give a blessing at the wedding. He gave the Irish Blessing that his Grandma Mary had frequently given at weddings. Bunk took his responsibility very seriously. He was concerned that he would be able to speak loud enough with the ventilator for everyone to hear but he did great getting himself up to the bride and groom to wish them God’s good graces. Following the wedding we went to cousin Jimmy and Buffy’s home for a family gathering. Talk about a day of getting around things and over bumps in his wheel chair. He did great. It was Bunk and me manning it by ourselves as Red was on a previously planned fishing trip. All went well. Of course we had a lot of help from family making everything work.

Bunk’s St. Norbert Grammar School class had a reunion at the end of June at our place in the back yard. Kim Mangini had ordered a “Big Kahuna” water slide for the kids and her parents brought a bouncy house. There was pizza and salads, a birthday cake for Kim’s son Max and enough room and play things to keep the kids busy all day. Some of the children found the tree house that Red and his grandchildren have been building in one of the olive trees. His grammar school class has been so loyal and supportive to him, it was great to see his classmates and their families, as well as, some of the parents. Bunk loved seeing everyone and would like to do it again so that those who couldn’t make it this year could maybe make it next time.
Dave Daly came and brought his two older children. They stayed and camped out with my grandchildren, Jack and Kate, in our parlor. Dave kept Bunk company in the Tipsy. The next morning was Sunday and the Eucharistic Minister came and there Bunk was out on his balcony surrounded by children and family to hear the word of God and receive communion. The Lord truly must have enjoyed it.

The week after the St. Norbert reunion we had a family picnic in the back yard. We have a large extended family gathering each Thanksgiving and we try to get together in the summer as well. Well, I got the “Big Kahuna” water slide since it was such a big hit the week before. If I had been in a bathing suit, I would have taken a ride myself. Maybe next year.

Then came the second annual Bunk Barbeque Baseball on August 17th, the Angels vs. the Toronto Blue Jays. Dave Daly and Bunk had been talking and planning for several months. Several dates came and went and we finally landed on August 17th. Which was great because Jay the Tailgate Guy could come on that date with his huge tailgating bus. Jay is a Servite classmate of Bunk’s who travels the United States as a Tailgate professional. We had 100 tickets again this year plus those who came to tailgate with us who already had their tickets. We once again circled in a large area in the East side of Angel Stadium parking lot near the Big A. Jay and his staff cooked hot dogs, brautwurst, the best barbecue baked beans I have ever eaten and salad. I brought fruit and desserts. water and soft drinks and a keg of beer stashed in the van. We had canopies and chairs, games and the tailgate van. This year I got a block of tickets up in the Left Field Pavilion area so everyone could sit together and they would be in front of Bunk’s wheel chair seating area. It worked out perfect. It was great fun inside and outside the stadium. After the game the tailgating continued and to my shagrin we ran out of beer so Red made a beer run. Thank you Red! We were the last ones out of the parking lot along with the tailgate van. What a day! So much fun for everyone. Erica and her family were here this year and even a family of dear friends from San Francisco were able to make it. After all of Dave Daly’s planning and support, he had to work and could not come. The 1st Bunk Barbeque Baseball was Dave and Bunk’s idea to just get together for fun with as many friends and supporters that want to come. It was great the first year and absolutely terrific this year. Until next year….

Bunk initiated a trip over to his brother Derek’s home in Torrance one Sunday. He cannot get into Derek’s home due to the configuration of the steps but we could drive the van down the back alley and get him in the back gate. Derek barbequed chicken and Beverly, as always, took to feeding Bunk. It was a first for Bunk to initiate a visit that was not a special event. The back yard and patio was the living room. You should have seen me trying to back the van out of the alley with Bunk giving me directions over my shoulder. Talk about a backseat driver.

August ended with Bunk hosting one more event, his Fantasy Football Draft. We set up tables and all the works down on the patio below his balcony. It was serious stuff. I worked in the yard all afternoon as they worked their way through the draft. This is the second year Bunk has had the draft here. I must say Bunk loves to have everyone over. I know he had people over to his place frequently before he was injured and he hasn’t missed a beat. It is so important for him that he has his own place (thanks to such overwhelming generosity of so many) so he can choose to open his doors to events and gatherings. It is so Bunk and he couldn’t be happier. He is always telling friends to “come on over and bring the kids, there’s lots of room for them to play”.

To make an ordinary day become a great day for Bunk all is needed is a friend or two or three or more to come by. Marty and Priti Franco will come on a Sunday to watch a ballgame and barbeque hot links. Dan Maher comes by with his daughters or stops on his way home from coaching J.V. football at El Modena High School with Chris Kent. Dave Jacobs organizes Servite game days and comes by to see Bunk. Dave Daly comes over to barbeque dinner for Bunk (he and Dan Maher love to cook, thank you God!). Dave usually spends the night out with Bunk and goes to work from here in the morning. Those two talk half the night away. Paul Oldham, Scott Gallegos, Mike Schnick, and Darren Reddick come by for special ball game nights. Bunk’s cousin Adam was here last Saturday and he purchased the MMA heavyweight fight. It made Bunk’s night. What a gift all Bunk’s friends are to him. He is blessed with Eucharistic Ministers bringing Holy Communion on Sundays and Larry Honikel on Wednesdays. There is a palpable difference in the atmosphere when a friend stops by to say hello.

My brother, Tom and sister-in-law Pat traveled down from Oregon and stayed for a few days so we could get the Schilling siblings together for a long overdue visit. Their son, Tommy, and his family came from Arizona and we had a family dinner on the lawn with my brother and Pat, my sisters, our cousin Kath and husband, Ray and Aunt Sully. Bunk even rolled out onto the grass to join in. Beverly and Derek took good care of Bunk so we could meet and greet and orchestrate the meal. A beautiful family day, one I hope to repeat again.

Bunk pined all summer long, “When is summer going to get here”. He missed the usual warm weather that allows him to sit out on his balcony and bask in the sun. He gets cold very easy and it takes a while to warm him up so he thrives in the warm weather when he can sit out in the sun and take a nap. Today, we had Santa Ana winds that blew leaves and branches out of the trees but it brought temperatures in the mid 80’s and he had a smile on his face when he was outside listening to music and taking in some rays in his shorts and sandals…a true Southern California boy.

Since May there has been the World Cup, NBA Playoffs, The Master’s in Golf, Wimbledon, Tour de France, Baseball and finally now football. College football is Bunk’s favorite. Bunk does not miss a sport. He started the high school football season by making a road trip up to Oaks Christian High School where his cousin Liz’s son, Austin, plays on the varsity football team. Liz and her husband Mike invited us up for a game and made sure all of Bunk’s needs were met. We made the jaunt from Orange County to Westlake Village on a Friday afternoon. Bunk even enjoyed the crowded freeway. He hadn’t been up that way in a long time and enjoyed just viewing everything again and recalling when he was last there. It was a good start to high school football next up of course was the Servite schedule. Bunk has made it to a couple of Servite games so far. The athletic department makes access for Bunk very user friendly. The wrestling coach mans the gate that goes out to the field and lets Bunk and his support group out onto the track so he can access the stadium and view the game. Many friends come to visit when he is down on the field and his great group of friends frequently travel with him. I have even become better at tailgating, not with what I cook but I do bring food and drink for before and after the game. Bunk’s rugby friend Mike Cobleigh (Jello) is the head coach of Cypress High School and Bunk was similarly taken care of when he went to see Jello’s team play. They let him out onto the field, Jello came over to see Bunk and even the principal of the school came over to say hello and ask how Bunk was doing.

This past week has had some trials for Bunk. His chair is unable to change position. It is locked into one position and Bunk can’t tilt back or raise up or stand up. It has been very confining for him. We have been working on getting his old power chair up and running but after a week of work luck would have it that the tilt mechanism in that chair is not functioning and we were told that to replace the part would cost $1,400. The wheel chair is Bunk’s ability to get up and out of bed, move around, and change positions. All these things we take so much for granted for ourselves. When something goes wrong with the wheel chair it is like fixing a car. It can take days to weeks to repair. A part has to be ordered and someone has to schedule time to come repair it. Can you imagine staying in bed a week because of technical difficulties. You can still get around if your car is on the blink but Bunk can’t get around without his wheel chair. He is up in the chair but is very limited as to movement. I have told Red that he has to become an expert mechanic for these wheel chairs so that we can get things fixed as fast as possible for Bunk. A friend who is also a quadriplegic has 3 wheelchairs, all operational. I can see why. Bunk does his best each day, still working on the computer. Today was good because he could get out in the sun. Tomorrow he plans on getting to the Servite vs. Mater Dei game come hell or high water even if we have to return to pushing him.

Bunk has been working on an art project with his dad. He has had us get the exact paint and supplies that he wants. His dad is his hands and follows Bunk’s instructions as to what size board he wants and how to sketch out the design and follow up with what paint where. He ended up with a very good American flag in his style. He is not quite pleased with it though and will work on another one with his dad. He will figure out how he can do the painting next. A return to his art, how good is that.

He has had some improvement in his sensation. He is feeling the acupuncture needles at a lower level in his back. Dr. Xi, his acupuncturist, got so excited and became super excited when Bunk was able to move his thumb and index finger. She told him to try to rotate his thumb and you could see his thumb move and slightly rotate. He can do this on both hands but it is stronger on his right hand. Bunk was subdued but his first comment was “If I can get stronger at this, I can use my thumb and finger to drive the wheel chair.” The movement is slight but significant. He works on it everyday along with his breathing. A good man’s work is never done.

Keep your prayers coming dear friends. They are making a difference for Bunk on many fronts and supporting the rest of us in his family as well. We are blessed to have your support. He checks into his website everyday so drop him a message now and then. Thank you for staying with us, you are in our prayers. All Saints Day is November 1st. It is your day, as you are all saints!
Stay tuned as my next update might be sooner than you think……….

May 18, 2010

January - May 2010

Filed under: Status — Erica @ 12:20 am

Mom is helping in a gentle way to get me back on track with Bunk’s updates! She kindly filled in the past 6 months. Writing that out loud is simply shameful - 6 months and no news on Bunk! Enjoy and I’ll do my best to update everyone on Bunk’s life and times more frequently. Thank you, Mom! Hope to see everyone at Perry’s Pizza Saturday, June 12 from 12:00 - 8:00 p.m.!

We are back with a very belated update on Bunk and his world. Thank you for checking in on him and his progress.

On January 30th Bunk celebrated his 40th birthday, another milestone. The 30th landed on a Saturday and he wanted to go to the Buck’s Rugby game not only to watch his team but of course to join in the post game celebration. I don’t remember if the Buck’s won or not but it didn’t deter the celebration either way. It started with beer and pizza at the usual post game hangout and progressed to the bar next door where Bunk showed off his new wheel chair’s ability to raise the seat to bar height. He was thrilled and quickly added some hard drinks to the celebration. He was pretty cheerful following the bar but he had another bar hop to make to meet up with his “No Bad Days” softball teamates at Marty’s.
By the time we exited Marty’s, Bunk was definitely having difficulty steering his wheelchair in a straight line. He maneuvered onto the lift on the back of the van and weaved his way in to the locking mechanism. Thank goodness he has headlights on his new chair so he could see a little of what he was doing. He had no complaints and by the time we arrived home I could hardly understand his words. I do know they were cheerful ones. He has not been in such a state since before his injury but I was driving and he was definitely enjoying his day. Happy Birthday, Bunk!

Bunk had wanted to have a party for his birthday on Super Bowl Sunday. Gilbert brought over a big screen TV that we hooked up downstairs under his balcony. That along with the TV in the Tipsy provided viewing for the big game. We had a wonderful turnout of family and friends and children to join in the festivities. Several football pools were started and avid fans followed the game all day. What a game, you could hear the roars for blocks. Bunk loved every minute of it. The weather was great and he stayed downstairs under his “Road to Recovery” easy up to watch the game with the crowd.

He wanted to roast a pig as he had done for the rugby parties in the past. Thank you to Linda Brown and Todd Komori for providing the “Pig Box” and the butcher who provided us with the prepared pig. We had a
100# pig that cooked under coals all day. Thank you, Todd for manning the pig box, adding coals, turning the pig, and getting the meat to the table. Thank you to family and friends for helping with the many side dishes. Great food, a beautiful day to be outside, and a terrific celebration for Bunk’s 40th birthday. It couldn’t have been better. Just Bunk’s style of celebration.

Bunk has been operating his new wheel chair since January. It is “Mercedes” silver, the seat raises and lowers, he can also raise and lower his legs, and the best thing is that he can stand in the wheel chair. He requires assistance in the standing process but can operate his other positions through his chin control device. He now stands almost every day for at least 30 minutes. You forget how tall he is until you see him standing again. He likes standing. He watches television and chats. It is good for his spirits as well as getting his body in a more normal physical alignment. Megan, his nurse who helps in the day, has the procedure down pat. I bumble through it but she and Bunk have the system.

The new wheel chair is more like an open chair and not closed in which Bunk finds much less confining. He has been having problems with the shoulder harness that holds his chin drive. It causes a lot of pressure on his shoulder and upper back muscles resulting in pain in his shoulders and neck. We have been working with the wheel chair vendor to develop a more workable option that will free up his shoulders and give him relief.

Bunk has now been in the Tipsy since the end of last August. What a gift it has been for him. Truly, it is a gift given to him by so many who have donated skills, labor, goods, fixtures, money, and good will. I am overwhelmed when I think of the beautiful place he has because of the generosity of so many. Some who did not even know Bunk. As I pray for Bunk each day, I pray for you. He has so much more freedom in the Tipsy. He never has to be plugged into a wall socket. He can move about his abode with freedom and ease, getting over to the computer and operating it with voice commands and an infrared dot on his nose to move the cursor. He checks his email and the web site and of course all the sports. ESPN is his home page. He has even written some email with a keyboard on the screen but it is laborious. He is taking phone calls and initiating calls as well. On warm days, we open the front door onto the balcony and he goes in and out at will to catch some sun. He loves to sit in the sun and listen to music and catch up on a little bit of sleep which he doesn’t get too much of at night. I commented to Bunk that this would be his first Spring in the Tipsy and he said, “Mom, this is my first everything in the Tipsy.”

He is getting more home prepared meals now. Not all by me that is for sure. He always loves it when his sister, Erica, is down as she cooks great meals and Megan makes salads and paninis for Bunk. He is always ready to host a party. Especially when it is centered around a sporting event. Dave Jacobs is a ready coordinator for the “Final Four” gathering during March Madness and the upcoming Poker Party this Saturday, May 22. Poker players are welcome. Such gatherings are Bunk’s life blood. He is at his happiest when entertaining his friends in the Tipsy. Dave Daly comes by to watch ball games and spend the night from time to time. How great for him to be able to open up his home to his friends. He lets us all know who is boss out there. He makes sure all the furniture and décor is in the right place or he has us straightening it up or moving it around for him. He has his dad making frames for pictures to be hung and goes down to the shop in the garage below to work with his dad on the construction. Bunk for sure is great at giving directions!

Sports continues to be his daily mainstay. After Super Bowl Sunday he was at his wits end until March Madness. “Finally, I have 2 weeks of good TV Sports to watch”. He is now watching all the basketball and hockey playoff games and of course baseball has begun. We went to his first day baseball game this past week. It was an afternoon game and what a beautiful warm day and evening. It was just made for Bunk. Ron and Marie Steuber had given us tickets and Kristen Bean joined us for a wonderful day except the
Angels lost. They are doing better. Bunk can be quite a critic when things aren’t going well for the Angels. Dave Daly is working on another “Bunk, Barbecue, and Baseball” event for this summer. Last summer we had over 100 join us for a super fun tailgate and Angel game. More info will be forthcoming.

Bunk’s weekly routine consists of several therapies he has been receiving for several years which continue to help him inch along in regaining strength and well being. Dr. Xi his acupuncturist continues to come regularly thanks to the over the top generosity of the ladies of the Haupert and Carlsberg families and friends who have so generously supported Bunk
through this therapy. Words cannot describe the benefit to Bunk. She keeps him challenged and moving in approaches that we would not be able to do. She has kept him focused on breathing off the vent, working him to pull his torso back and his arms back when she pulls him forward. She never gives up and neither does Bunk.

Bunk continues to work on his breathing. Besides Dr. Xi, he continues to do a daily regimen with the Power Lung that John Daly got for him to do resistance breathing. Originally, Bunk would do the breathing routing while he was on the ventilator but now he does his routine while he is off the vent and breathing on his own. He continues with 30 minute periods of breathing off the ventilator, as well as, as breathing for an hour-plus while on the spontaneous mode on the ventilator. He is working at lowering the pressure support on the ventilator down to 7 which would be like breathing off the ventilator. Bunk is now at 9 and will be going down to 8 this week. He has not given up breathing on his own. The many tacks he takes helps him to strengthen necessary muscles of respiration while he gets stronger in general.

Bunk gets to the Goodwill Health and Wellness Center to work out in the gym mainly with Stephanie his physical therapist. She transfers him to the mat to work on muscle groups that she cannot access in the chair and range joints to keep them from getting tight. Bunk really enjoys the gym and the work out ethic it represents.

Before the Annual St. Patrick’s Day Golf Tournament he told me that after the tournament he wanted to have his gastrostomy tube removed and that he would take all his medications by mouth. We started working on him swallowing pills on a daily basis and by a week after the tournament he was ready to go it alone. The G-tube was removed and he has had no problem with taking meds. His dietary intake has been fine for a while. It is just about totally healed now. His comment was, “One tube down, one to go” (meaning his tracheostomy tube). I am sure that Bunk does not fall into standard models of Spinal Cord Injury recovery but he marches along to his own drum which he can do due to so much support from others and his own tenacity.

Tomorrow Bunk will get his hair cut by Cari Sluder who Al and Stephanie
Amato have arranged to come to the home on a regular basis to keep Bunk looking spiffy. Bunk looks forward to her visits and has become quite particular about how his hair is combed each day.

I have been able to make it to church more regularly on Sundays. The Eucharistic Minister still brings Holy Communion to Bunk here at home and dear Larry Honikel comes on Wednesdays to bring Bunk Communion and a lot of good cheer.

Erica and family were down and all the family were together for Easter and the annual Easter Egg hunt in the yard. I was able to get up to San Francisco for my grandson, Will’s, First Holy Communion. A beautiful day of seeing Erica’s family in their home and many of her friends and their children whom I miss seeing so much. Vivienne and Ava Luthin presented the proceeds from their 4th annual lemonade sale that they hold for Bunk each year in Sebastopol. This week I will be traveling up one more time to see my granddaughter, Evelyn, perform in her ballet performance. I missed it last year. We are all better at managing a few short trips especially during the week when we have more support for Bunk.

St. Patrick’s Day, Bunk’s favorite day of the year, arrived, and with it the 4th Annual St. Patrick’s Day Golf Tournament for Bunk. This was the third year at Coyote Hills Country Club and although there had been a great deal of rain in the weeks leading up to the big day, it turned out to be a gorgeous, warm Southern California day. Bunk’s comment “Mom, it never rains on St. Patrick’s Day!”

We are indebted to so many for this great fund raising event for Bunk. Kevin Traut who undertakes the huge responsibility of coordinating the event, T.J. Eadington’s firm (Archangel Investments) who sponsored the event, Kristen Bean who coordinated the volunteers, Dan Maher who M.C.’s the event, Rana Schirmer who organizes the lunch donated by B. J.’s Restaurants, Mike Schnick who always takes care of the Tee Shirts, all the donators of such terrific raffle prizes, The Noble Ones who provided live music, Fathers Ponterelli and Sera for blessing us and our food, and all the outstanding volunteers who make the day so much fun for everyone on the golf course, help decorate, and man the registration, all those I have omitted in my hurry to write this and all the participants that come year after year to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with Bunk and hopefully have the time of their life. It is an overwhelming undertaking.
We are deeply grateful. Bunk has the time of his life. He so looks forward to this day to see and greet so many friends and supporters. He holds court in the outdoor pavilion where lunch is served, registration takes place and music happens. It is near the club house between two holes on the course. He gets to chat with everyone but he wishes he had more time to talk to folks especially those he does not see very often and travel from out of town. This year he had a cocktail party the night before especially for out of town travelers, volunteers and anyone who wanted to come over. It carried over to an After Party the day of the Tournament and was great fun for Bunk to get more visiting time in. Dirk Larson traveled from Kansas City and he and Dave Daly set up camp with Bunk in the Tipsy.

The tournament was sold out again this year and we had a wealth of additional people join us for dinner. I was even able to speak a little this year and didn’t cry. So much generous effort and giving raised almost $40,000. What a tremendous gift. It is used to support Bunk’s nursing care. I do not know what we would do without such support. It impacts his quality of life in so many ways.

Once again, Jess and Dawn Bingaman, owner’s of Perry’s Pizza at the Newport Pier are giving the proceeds from their business day from 12 Noon to 8 PM on Saturday, June 12, 2010. Information is posted here on our website (the main page and on the events page) as well as on their webpage at www.facebook.com/perryspizza. Bunk and our entire family will be there. He loves this day to visit with friends and their families. It’s all about people with Bunk. Jess and Dawn have steadfastly supported Bunk each year in this event. God bless them. Parking should be somewhat better as it is before summer and school is not yet out. We hope to see all of you. Bunk will be there as close to 12 noon; we truly hope to see all of you there and have a chance to visit.
As I write this summary, the continuity of everyone’s generosity in the areas that make such a difference for Bunk is beyond my ability to express our awe and gratitude. God has blessed Bunk with your presence in his life.

February 1, 2010

November 2009

Filed under: Status — Erica @ 12:25 pm

November 2009
30 days could barely contain all the activity and visitors for Bunk in November. Football reigned supreme, of course, but was made even more exciting with the prospect of his alma mater Servite winning the Pac 5 championship. The planning, pre game partying, attendance and post game partying surrounding these Servite games were a true source of fun and friendship for Bunk, and obviously a major highlight of his month. Visits from friends continue to be a major motivating factor in Bunk’s world, and in November he was fortunate enough to enjoy many of them. With good friend Dave Baxter visiting from Michigan for a few days and crashing on Bunk’s sofa, the pre- and post-football game parties, our cousin Adam’s son’s birthday party, and, of course, Thanksgiving, Bunk was in good company most waking moments of the month.
His daily responsibilities in terms of his therapies are very much the same as always, with breathing exercises, physical therapies, exercises and 2-3 times daily wound care filling up the bulk of his week. His therapies, shower schedule and daily routine have all been sharply affected, however, by the continuing problem of his pressure wounds. Almost equally as affected by his pressure wounds is Mom. Mom’s vigilant care and twice to thrice daily wound care cleaning, packing and dressing changes keep Bunk healthy and give him the most viable path to healing, and also keep Mom on her feet and present. These near constant roadblocks to great health for Bunk seem to be an invariable element of quadriplegia. It has taken us this long to realize that this might be a constant, although at times to a greater or lesser degree, condition for Bunk. The key, then, is as many weight shifts as possible throughout the day, great caution when transferring him to make certain he doesn’t nick or bump anything, and religious care of any wound (thanks Mom).
With the many preparations for Thanksgiving, usually taking most of November, Bunk found himself useful in the instructing / directing department. It’s fortunate that telling people what to do comes so naturally to him. But when your very life often depends on the direction you are able to give caregivers, friends, and family, you’d be hard pressed not to tell everyone exactly what to do. He and Dad made a good team deciding on the work to be done in the yard and house prior to the Thanksgiving weekend inundation, and Dad kept himself busy in his usual fashion every day on one project or another until Thanksgiving arrived. Then I arrived the week before Thanksgiving with plans for him and Eric to build me a kitchen cabinet. Not great timing, unfortunately. Projects for my house took him away from projects on Bunk’s house – we are now in direct competition for Dad’s wonderful skills and generosity, Bunk usually wins.
With about 85 people, 4 large turkeys, 3 ten pound hams, 30 pounds of potatoes, 18 pounds of green beans, the Pierce family’s many delicious homemade pies, the football pool, and, of course the Schilling / Schweizer annual cribbage tournament, this Thanksgiving was another wonderful family gathering worthy of the history books. We are fortunate to be such a close, caring, and fun extended family. Did I mention large? Thanksgiving is something we all look forward to, despite the requisite headaches of preparation, cooking, and travel, every year. Deciding not to let up on the social scene, the night following Thanksgiving Bunk and his Servite friends, along with his nieces and nephews, went to the Servite playoff game. The following day he headed out to friend Terry Ruben’s home for an annual horse shoe tournament and BBQ. No rest for the weary when it comes to spending time with Bunk; we were all exhausted; apparently he wasn’t.
Bunk’s therapies and visits provided a grounded continuum and, as they usually do, give Bunk the framework for improvement of any and all kinds 2. Dr. Xi, Stephanie Djang, Larry Honikel, Carrie Sluder and Mom are the regulars that help to keep the wheels of Bunk’s wellbeing in motion. Bunk’s caregivers: Ruben, Israel, Megan, Alex, and Justin are true blessings. Ruben and Israel have been working with Bunk (and, as necessary, our whole family) for over three years now – almost since Bunk returned home from his year in a variety of hospitals. Megan signed on the following year, and Alex and Justin have been reliable weekend morning and nighttime help for the past year. It is uncommon to have such dedicated, caring help by the same people for such a length of time. We have much to be thankful for in this regard, so it’s an appropriate time of the year to mention it again and thank them.
Many thanks and gratefulness go out to our family and Bunk’s many friends who came by to visit this month: Roger Dana, Kevin Traut, Dave Daly, Dan Copp, Adam and Josie Smith, Mike Killeen, Dave Baxter, Kristen Bean, Al Amato, Dan Maher, Chris Kent, Mr. Kent, Billy Seitz, the No Bad Days Softball team, Phil the CSUF rugby coach, Mr. Honikel, our whole family….. I am often reluctant to list the individual visitors as we thank them in case I miss someone, but Mom seemed to take fairly good notes this month! Thank you all for keeping Bunk in your prayers and thoughts, and for graciously accepting the mantle of guardian and friend.

December 30, 2009

October 2009

Filed under: Status — Erica @ 11:58 pm

October 2009
Some housekeeping information about the website to share: it looks as someone has hacked into the website again, compromising the guestbook section in particular. It is not possible to leave a message on the guest book at the moment, but Bunk is big on reading his messages these days – on his own – so please don’t let that deter you from sending him a message or a quick note. His email is bunkwurth@hotmail.com. We are in the process of hiring someone to help us revamp the website again, so please stay tuned!
Mom managed some good note taking this month, so – you’ve been warned - I’ll have plenty to say for this month’s update. This was fortuitous since October was an eventful month with Bunk’s continuing therapies, lift issues, baseball playoffs, football season in full swing, Derek’s birthday, Mom’s visit with us in San Francisco to celebrate Evelyn’s birthday, Bunk’s big ND-USC football game party, Servite football games, Halloween and the daily grind of just keeping it all together.
It is always a wistful time of year when we remember Bunk’s homecoming, and all that he endured to finally make his way back. It was three years ago this month that Bunk at long last came home. Toward the end his time on the hospital circuit (nearly a year), when coming home became daily a greater challenge and an ever distant reality, the gift of Ted Lawton securing a safe path home for him will never be forgotten. Thank you Ted and our many cousins, aunts, uncles and great friends for supporting Bunk through those very long days.
Who would have guessed, given the seemingly insurmountable challenges he faced, that Bunk would be where he is today? Despite a nearly complete paralysis of his body and an inability to breathe without a ventilator, Bunk has been infection free for one entire year (huge), challenges himself physically and mentally on a daily basis with his rather forward thinking and positive therapies (thank you Dr. Xi, Ruben, Stephanie Djang, Valerie, and Mr. Honikel), has managed to ferret out his own brand of independence even when opportunity doesn’t present itself, and finds each day as a challenge to be met, grateful to be alive. I would be hard pressed to say the same every day of myself or many people I know. It’s no wonder we all like to spend so much time with him, if you can stand the television.
Early in the month we celebrated Derek’s birthday on October 4th; Mom, Dad and Bunk were looking forward to having Bev, Derek, Jack and Katie over for a barbecue to mark the special occasion. In fact, October has been a good month for visiting with Derek, Bev, and the kids – it seems almost every weekend and a few weekdays they have come by to visit, watch football, stay the night, barbecue, and just make some happy noise. Always plenty of noise. Derek and Dad took the opportunity on one of these occasions to purchase for Bunk his very own barbecue, which now stands guard right out his door on the balcony. Awesome home, sweet ride, possibly new wheelchair coming his way, - a shower - and now a barbecue? I think it is safe to say Bunk has arrived.
The relatively warm weather in October has allowed Bunk to continue to indulge in one of his favorite pastimes: soaking up the sun. If the pressure sores or protein Fatburgers (burger, fried egg, and bacon) don’t get him, the skin cancer will. His chosen place this time of year is usually right out his door on the lovely balcony with a view, or sometimes right smack in the middle of his doorway , where he falls asleep, blocking all access. If he pulls off this new wheelchair coup and gets a smaller, more efficient and capable model (it takes him from sitting to a standing position - there will be no need to transfer him to the standing frame for this therapy anymore), he’ll seem much less formidable as he maneuvers around or plants himself in a doorway. Stay tuned.
Bunk’s weekly schedule remains mostly the same. There has been a bit of waffling on the issue of the shower, since he originally wanted to shower every day, but the reality of the ventilator in the wet environment, the care that is needed for this labor intensive portion of his routine, the time it takes to do it coupled with growing concern over the state of his pressure wound getting wet on a regular basis contributed to their decision to make it an every other day occurrence. It wasn’t long before Bunk switched course again, wanting to shower everyday (“It feels so good to shower and just feel the water on my face”), which is now the happy norm. Monday he heads to St. Jude Rehab center followed by a workout at home with Stephanie Djang, his physical therapist. She has found him at times this month with stiff neck, shoulders, hips; they try to fine tune the session to focus on whatever the malady of the day might be. The Goodwill gym on Tuesdays is for a self directed workout with the help of his aid, Ruben. Going to the gym and working out was such a part of his pre injury routine that it was only a matter of time till he found his way back. The incomparable Dr. Xi comes on Wednesdays, remaining steadfast in her encouragement for him to keep trying to breathe on his own, and everyday to make an effort toward that goal. She has been the single most positive guardian of that belief and continues to push him, especially as she makes him attempt to do it while conducting her usual therapeutic workout, killing two birds with one stone. Larry Honikel also comes by on Wednesdays; his communion and prayer service with our family and whoever else happens to be on hand are always positive and peaceful. On Thursday he heads to the Goodwill gym again, sometimes with Stephanie, other times with Ruben, where he usually does a workout on the mat, which requires a transfer (always a workout in itself for everyone involved). Friday brings Dr. Xi again, and whichever friends might be compelled to stop in for a beer, some sports viewing and a good laugh. Thank goodness for the weekend, but it remains a two day block of very intense work and long, exhausting hours for Mom and Dad, since we are still trying to map out care and balance the costs of weekend nursing.
His busy weeks continued to be filled with visits and all sorts of fun events with his incredible friends and our close family. He had enough fun events this month to carry him through the next month. Derek’s birthday on the 4th with Derek’s family, Billy Seitz and Big Rick made for a great start to a great month for Bunk. When Mom left mid week to visit us up in San Francisco for Evelyn’s 9th birthday on the 15th, I detected only a bit of reluctance as she was leaving Bunk with Dad and they were ironing out the plans to go to the Dodger / Phillies game at Dodger Stadium. Derek got the tickets for them and planned the whole event, only to be gone himself on a last minute business trip. No matter, Dad, Bunk, Beverly, Jack, Katie, Billy, and Gilbert all piled into the van and found their way to the stadium. Bunk had a great time as evidenced by the late night and his lost voice. Thanks for those tickets, Derek! Dad and Bunk managed for the few days that Mom was away, but she must have come home to piles of laundry.
Another smash hit, what I guess would be considered his first real party since living in his new home, was for the Notre Dame vs. USC game on Saturday 10/17. What a day: Bunk, Mom, Dad, Derek, Bev, Jack, Katie, our old neighbors David Vautrin and his family and Alfredo Ybarra, Kevin Traut, Dave Jacobs, Brian Criss, T.J. Edington, Dan Maher, Steve O’Donnell, Billy Seitz, Marty and Priti Franco, Kim and Rob Mangini, Leigh Spalding, Gilbert, Gabriel, Big Rick, and Dave Yaitz were all on hand to bring some colorful life into his new home. He had a great day, and hopefully everyone else did, too.
If this past week was any indication of the average running temperature of the Tipsy, the large group of friends must have felt as if they were in a sweat lodge; hopefully they made frequent use of the lovely balcony and its views to stay cool and find some fresh air. The insulation factor is new to us at Mom and Dad’s, and it certainly keeps things warm. Bunk is especially comfortable in such an environment, as he often felt as if he would freeze to death at Mom and Dad’s (his body’s natural ability to regulate its temperature has been MIA since he sustained his spinal cord injury). So we’re all learning how best to deal with the heat factor of the Tipsy: Dad spends most of the time out on the balcony, Mom and the rest of us dress as if it were a July day at noon. Maybe a few of you, like me, sneak open a window on occasion, only to be asked by Bunk in the other room almost immediately: “Is there a window open somewhere? I feel cold air”. Nice try. In any case, he is at long last comfortable in terms of temperature, which has a rather outsize effect on his general wellbeing.
Sometime mid-month, when the Angels had a home game - a playoff game against the Yankees – his rugby mate Todd Komori (Ito) called with 3 extra tickets to the game for Bunk. He wasted no time tracking down Derek, and off they went. Mom drove that ridiculously big rig and they had a great time with Todd and Linda, Marty and Priti, Billy Seitz, John Steves and John Lewis as well as many other cheerful acquaintances. No doubt increasingly cheerful as the game progressed, culminating in a win for the Angels (unfortunately we know how it eventually panned out). Thank you Todd Komori! It was a great day for Bunk.
With the Servite vs. Mater Dei game up next, the Servite guys pulled off yet another great time with pre party events at the Tipsy, tailgating events at the game, and even managed to get Bunk, his entire entourage and his van down on the field for the duration of the game (thank you T.J. Edington). I wasn’t quite sure how it all worked, that many guys in the van, until I saw it for myself just recently. There are lots of beach chairs and coolers involved. And the fact that Mom is the bus driver and ‘chaperone’ only adds to the hilarious irony of it all. Sounds like the perfect high school football game set up, only the guys are quickly approaching 40. No matter. Many thanks to Dan Navares (Servite Alumni coordinator), Dan Maher, Kevin Traut, T.J. Edington, and anyone else I may be missing! Bunk had a very nice visit with Todd Hart down on the field, and all were sufficiently pleased when Servite defeated Mater Dei for the first time since 1989 - an event worthy of further celebration, so they all headed back to the Tipsy to carry on.
Throughout the month, a reliable stream of visits from our steadfast friends and family continue to bear witness to the goodness that surrounds Bunk and our family. Mr. Honikel, Tom Brand, Brian Criss, Todd Komori and Linda, Dave Jacobs, Al Amato, Derek, Aunts Mary Catherine, Roselind and Kathleen, cousin Adam, Josie and Nicolas, and Mrs. Butler: thank you for taking time out of your busy day to come by the house for regular visits, always with a smile and plenty of positive energy to share.
Bunk has been a busy host this month, having the opportunity to see and visit with many friends and family in a casually comfortable setting for himself and hopefully others. Our good friends Nancy and Thane Brown were visiting from Cincinnati and joined Mom, Dad and Bunk for a nice carne asada dinner – it was a first time dinner for more than the family at the Tipsy and it all seemed to work according to plan. A new friend, Mark Willits, stopped by on a warm Saturday afternoon for a nice visit with Bunk and to check out his new home. Like Bunk, Mark is a quadriplegic on a ventilator. He decided to go back to school, recently graduated from UCLA Law School, passed the California Bar and is now working for a law firm focusing on ADA issues. He is a great source of inspiration and friendship for Bunk. On many a Saturday, Bunk has been lucky enough to be joined by his fellow college football enthusiast and great friend Dave Jacobs. Having a friend to join him in his usual television sports viewing makes the days so much more enjoyable. The baseball playoffs and World Series, college and professional football, golf, hockey and rugby are making for some great sports viewing on the TV this time of year, and his fantasy football teams seem to keep at least part of his brain engaged on a regular basis, too. From what I understand, his teams are doing fairly well. And so is Bunk. Many, many thanks to our many friends and family for helping to keep the entire Bunk system on a perpetual upswing, for keeping Bunk, Mom and Dad in your prayers and thoughts, and to Mom and Dad for all they do every day to help keep Bunk healthy, well, breathing, engaged, safe, and with a clear view to the future.

October 20, 2009

September 2009

Filed under: Status — Erica @ 3:04 pm

September 2009

While my documentation efforts continue to fail miserably, Bunk has remained steadfast in his course of action to improve his lot in life, on a daily basis, by even the smallest achievement. The month of September was filled with some nice visits with friends, his usual iteration of rehab appointments, the arrival of college and professional football (a godsend) as well as a few minor glitches, mostly dealing with the new apartment and its trim and tackle. But, the glitches were minor indeed, relative to the newfound mobility, independence and pride Bunk has found with the move into his new place above Mom and Dad’s garage. It is truly a happy home; one that will be made continually happier as visits from friends and family gather steam alongside the football season!

With visits from good friends Jeff and Eric Woertink, our old family friend Alfredo Ybarra, Gilbert Salazar, Laman Brewster, and our brother Derek, Bunk has really begun to enjoy the ability to entertain again, in his own home, like he often did before his accident. Larry Honikel continues to bless Bunk and our family with his Wednesday visits which deliver not only Holy Communion, but thoughtful prayer and friendship as well. With his Saturday college football viewing visits, Dave Jacobs has shared with Bunk a mutual, relatively minor obsession with college football, and some very therapeutic camaraderie.

Pursuant to Bunk’s move, he has gained an incredible amount of ability to navigate his physical surroundings on his own. The front door to his home is constantly left open so he can come and go as he pleases – out into the sun, or back into the house. Mom said that they no longer plug the respirator into the wall – its batteries only these days – since he is constantly on the move in his wheelchair from the moment he is transferred into it from the bed (much easier now with the existence and employment of his ceiling lift). We’ll all rue the day that someone forgets to charge the batteries, and we need to plug his vent into the wall, and we all forget he’s plugged in as he begins to zip around in earnest. Ouch. Naturally, along with his freewheelin’ in the wheelchair, he now moves up to his new desk where the laptop lives openly and constantly, on a very regular basis to check anything from his fantasy football, to shopping for his own clothes again (albeit online) to here, his very own website. He wasn’t much into checking out the website before, but now visits it regularly to check on my status reports (nearly non-existent) and his email messages. If you haven’t emailed him lately, please do at bunkwurth@hotmail.com – these emails make a world of difference in the brightness of his day. The downside to all of this, of course, is that now he can keep an eye on me, what I write about him and the (in)frequency of my updates! Hence, they may become less detailed and flowery, but nonetheless candid and hopeful, much like Bunk himself. He has recently taken to encouraging Mom and me to write and post at least some kind of update because, “I always get messages and visits after an update is posted”. We are all on notice.

Bunk’s therapies continue on a regular basis, with improvements, although minor, seen weekly. Spontaneous breathing is still clearly in his crosshairs, and he can be counted on, along with his loyal therapist Dr. Xi, to make a great effort each session. Please always keep Bunk in your prayers in this regard. Bunk and our family look forward to seeing many of you this football season at the Tipsy! We are also considering an open house for Bunk, perhaps sometime around his birthday (yes – it’s the big 4-0, so sorry Bunk!) in January. Please stay tuned in as we reacquaint ourselves with writing more regular updates on our dear brother. Thank you as ever for your kindness, friendship and support.

September 21, 2009

Month of August, 2009

Filed under: Status — Erica @ 2:20 pm

Mom wrote an update for the month of August, sorry for the delay in getting these written and posted.

August, 2009 Update

Where has August gone? Thank you for checking in on Bunk. There has been a great deal of activity in August and I apologize for getting all of Bunk’s goings on to you a such a late date.

Saturday, August 8th was Perry’s Pizza’s Annual Fundraiser for Bunk. This is the 4th annual event put on by Jess and Dawn Bingaman, Perry’s owners. Jess and Dawn give their entire proceeds from 12 Noon to 8 PM to Bunk. What a gift. Dawn’s mother, Peggy and sisters Tammy and Lynnette all worked with Dawn and Jess to serve up delicious pizza and drinks. Generosity is in their family genes. There isn’t an adequate word of gratitude to express our thank you. What a wonderfully successful fundraiser it continues to be, every year!

Derek and his family were in Oregon, so Billy Seitz handled the bar, Thank you, Billy. Erica, Eric and the grandkids were there. Erica lent a hand to the crew. The weather was beautiful. Bunk arrived around 1:30 PM. Parking was a challenge all day for everyone. Jess and Peggy worked with Red on parking the van. We are most grateful to all of you who stuck it out to find parking and to those of you who made the attempt without any luck in finding parking.

Bunk set up court in the outdoor patio behind Perry’s and visited with friends, family and visitors until 9 PM. We saw friends and family that we had not seen in many years. He of course loved seeing everyone and enjoyed the entire day.

The proceeds from the day have been critical to meeting the finishing costs for the Tipsy. We are most fortunate to have such loyal support from the Bingamans. Please frequent Perry’s Pizza whenever you are down near the Newport Pier in helping us thank them. We are deeply appreciative of everyone who shared in the day and supported Bunk.

August was D-Day or D-Month for moving into the Tipsy. The end of a two year project that so many generous people donated their time, expertise, labor, goods, and finances for the sake of Bunk having a place of his own. As we worked to get everything ready for Bunk’s
move, I could only think of how this could never have been accomplished by ourselves physically or financially. Truly, we are indebted to so many who have patiently supported the development of Bunk’s place.

I remember at the beginning when Bunk had just returned home from the hospital. We were so involved with his care and making it all work for him to be home and not in the hospital that construction went forward without much involvement from us. We had delays due to the elevator and reconstruction from its removal and acquiring and installing an external lift. And when the project was turned over to us for final completion things slowed down again. I cannot believe how many details go into finishing a building project and setting up a household from scratch.

We could never have done it alone. So many contributed to the project. I will attempt to develop a comprehensive list to post of all those many benefactors who contributed so generously to help Bunk have his own place. The benefit for Bunk has been tremendous in a multitude of ways. To finalize the building part of the project, Paul Van Kammen of Miller Construction and Dave Valentine saw us through to final inspection. Leon Arlt and his loyal crew of Tom Rausch and Larry Honikel returned to finalize the paint job they had started well over a year ago and Brian Trujillo worked with us on all the finishing details of tile, electrical, and carpentry.

The last leg was completed by Bunk’s sister Erica’s arrival with her family for 4 ½ weeks. She was committed to pulling together all the organizational details and furnishings required to move Bunk into the Tipsy and determined to have it done by the time she was scheduled to leave. It could never have been done as successfully and as beautifully without Erica doggedly keeping everyone on a timeline. Bunk had been spending much of each day in the Tipsy watching television and participating in the decision making and planning required. Brian Trujillo was here working on many finishing details along with Dad and Erica getting directions from everyone.

Every day was filled with obtaining a myriad of things necessary to set up a household, I.e., ordering a carpet and bookcases, buying household cleaning supplies, dishes, pots and pans, a vacuum cleaner, iron and ironing board, spices, etc for the kitchen. Erica would go out with her check list in her head and come back with a car load of things and then get me out to address another list of things. I would never have thought of all the details. She found a found a home for everything and put it all artfully all away.

Organizationally, she had ordered the shelves for the closets and bins that she labeled for storage of Bunk’s many supplies. She coerced Bunk and her Dad into building a cupboard for the bedroom that could hold small bins labeled for supplies required in his daily care. It worked out perfectly. The labeling certainly helps caregivers who change throughout the day.

Finally, she worked with Bunk on what artwork he wanted on the walls and had them mounted and framed and stayed up to 2 AM getting them up on the wall. She hung a painting she had done for Bunk over the sofa. She ordered the bamboo shades and made sure that her Dad got them up PDQ. Her husband had worked and reworked the sound and TV systems and was giving it a final once over. She also cooked us several wonderful dinners. As Bunk says, we only get home cooking when Erica is down or his brother comes over for a barbeque.

Alas, as doggedly as Erica worked to get Bunk moved in we were 99% ready by the date she and Eric were scheduled to return to San Francisco. She did leave her Dad with “To Do” list which he was required to check off each day. We still had to move down his bed and daily care items which were waiting upon Red who was working night and day to finish the bedside cupboard. Erica left on Tuesday, August 18th and on Sunday, August 23, 2009 Bunk moved into his new home.

Sunday was a day of a thousand trips from the house to the Tipsy. What seemed to being the finishing details required endless trips
down one set of stairs and up another. The bed could not be readily
Broken down so Red, his cousin Adam, and Marty Franco wheeled the bed from the house down the walk and up the lift. All was pretty much set although I was still taking odds and ends over at midnight.
Adam and his family and Marty and Priti stayed for dinner and we all ate in the Tipsy.

Bunk’s first night in the Tipsy went without incident. The ceiling lift worked well and we figured out how we would position the wheel chair to make it all go smoothly for Bunk. Bunk had no complaints and Israel, his LVN night nurse made things easy. It was a quiet night. Bunk’s comment to me was that I needed to write an update to let everyone know he was finally in his home. Thank you, God.

On the next day, Bunk wheeled around his new place. He can easily get around the kitchen and in and out of the bedroom and even can get into and through the bathroom. He gets up to the area rug in the living room but can’t get over it but does not have much cause to get in there yet. He loves going over to the refrigerator to have a look at what is inside as well as the pantry. There is a kitchen table that can be moved into the center of the kitchen or kept at the edge of the kitchen counter. He now goes over to the table to eat instead of us having to move the over-bed table over to where he is. Frequently, the front door is open along with windows and the breeze is wonderful. The open door allows him to cruise out onto the balcony and get some sun and check out what is going on in the back yard as well as enjoy the views. It is all so great for Bunk. His comment to me on the end of the first day in his home was “This is the first day I have not been in the main house at all!” He has not been back to the house as of yet. His place is too nice and too comfortable.

The first week following the move found the main house to be like a morgue. For almost 3 years it has been the hub of so much activity and now there is none. All the activity was over at Bunk’s place which is like a vacation condominium which, unlike the main house, has air conditioning, fans, great views, and a balcony off the front
door.

After the first week, we have established a comfortable routine of going back and forth to the Tipsy and gotten the main house back into some semblance of a home but tons of work to be done there. The Tipsy still needs some finish painting which we cannot put on the back burner.

As far as Bunk in his place goes, it is clearly his home now. He lets you know up front how he wants things and gives clear directions on where things should be specifically and in general such as closing doors and drawers, turning on and off what lights. He is in charge and we are his arms and legs to get things done and maintained the way he wants them.

During August, Bunk’s social calendar has been active. He has hosted his softball team at the Tipsy before games prior to moving in and after. On August 29th, he hosted the softball teams “Fantasy Football” selection night. Thirty men arrived, all bringing food and drink, their computers, charts, and whatever else is required in such
an event. It went on all evening and well into the night. I just left
Bunk alone out there except to check in once in a while. They called me if they needed anything. It was an evening of camaraderie, good food and of course football. Bunk was in his hey day and it all went flawlessly. The crew cooked and ate and cleaned everything up perfectly. What a great group. A few weeks back, after one of the ball games when they were at Marty’s Bar, they all toasted Bunk with shot glasses. A new experience for me.

The evening before, Bunk had made a road trip to El Segundo to a restaurant to join his brother, Derek, in his Fantasy Football selection. So I got a taste of how it would be. We were able to have dinner with Bev and the grandkids when it was all over. Bunk is now officially has two Fantasy Football teams. Isn’t 80% of the entire male population of the U.S. on a Fantasy Football team? Football season is Bunk’s favorite time especially college football. He will be glued to the tube on every game being played, especially Notre Dame games.

We are off on a new adventure. I know Bunk will be returning to his pre-injury practice of hosting barbeques and the like now that he has in own beautiful place from which to operate. There are many details I have left out but I wanted you to know about Bunk’s move specifically. Hopefully, we can return to a more regular update and not wait a month each time. I think I have said that before.

We are, as always, eternally grateful for all of your prayers and extraordinary support especially at this time in Bunk’s life. God bless you all. You are in our daily prayers.

August 8, 2009

- Sunday, August 2, 2009

Filed under: Status — Erica @ 12:47 am

Hello to all of you from the Wurth household. It has been too long since I have let your know how Bunk and all of us are doing. I am going to summarize the last month for you by means of a few general catagories. We can then be more current in our updates. I think you have heard that before but we keep trying. Thank you for staying with us.

Breathing
Bunk has continued to work in three areas of increasing his ability to breathe on his own.
GPB or glossopharyngeal breathing is a technique for gulping air into the lungs. He works every Monday and Thursday at St. Jude’s outpatient Rehab with Val his physical therapist. He is gradually getting more of a handle on the technique. It has not been an easy task for Bunk to grasp the technique.

Resistance breathing while off the vent.
He does this at least twice a week for 10 to 15 minutes. Dr. Xi always includes it in her session with Bunk. Bunk is totally off the vent as well as breathing through a mouth piece that creates resistance when Bunk is taking a breath. 10 to 15 minutes is the amount of time it is supposed to take to do this exercise.

Spontaneous breathing mode on the ventilator.
In this mode, Bunk initiates his own breaths and gets some ventilator support on the breath. He started out with support of 15 and is now down to 10. He has been working with Ted Lawton his doctor on this regimen. Ted feels as he gets used to initiating his own breaths and stronger breathing at a pressure support of 10 it will closely approximate normal breathing off the vent. Bunk is doing about 3 hours each day on spontaneous mode with pressure support of 10. He gets tired but maintains good volumes. The goal is to do 4 hours per day. He is getting there and is getting less tired as he progresses in this new regimen. He can talk during the session but it is a very low voice. He has begun going on spontaneous when he is in bed. Next we’ll see what happens if he falls asleep while on spontaneous. Bunk would then be breathing without thinking about it.

Wounds
His heels are just about all healed. There is no scab on the left heel and the right one is finally all scabbed over. We are on the home stretch. His wound on his back side is improving slowly but surely. Wounds as all things in spinal cord injury take an inordinate amount of time to heal. Patience, diligence and faith are what it takes.

Acupuncture and home physical therapy
Dr. Xi continues to give Bunk his hardest workouts. She starts with initiating a new movement and incorporates it into his regular workout routine. She is now focusing on a pushing motion with his right arm. Also she places his right arm in his lap and gets him to focus on pulling it up and pushing it down. You can really see Bunk concentrate and his fingers twitch. At first, all you could see was twitching. Now Bunk can initiate movement. She always takes him off the vent for a while and works on resistance breathing. He is wiped out at the end of her sessions. Good for Bunk, no pain no gain! We are so grateful for the gift of Dr. Xi and the ladies of the acupuncture club who provide Bunk with her service.
Stephanie Djang is his physical therapist who works with Bunk on the standing frame and on the mat at the gym. She has been off for the past 3 weeks. Both the standing frame, workouts at the gym and on the mat are so important and Bunk looks forward to the activity and the fact that the activity does not take place in the parlor.
Bunk is desiring a wheel chair that can change positions. We saw one at the Abilities Expo and they have come out to the house to demonstrate the chair. It can go up and down, move his legs out and back, tilt him back, recline him, lay him flat and stand him up. We will be looking at options to obtain the chair.

The Tipsy
Derek reminded me the other day that he gave the name “the Tipsy” to the loft over the garage that has now become Bunk’s apartment. It has changed a great deal since those early days thanks to the goodness and generosity of so many people. We are closing in on D Day or should I say M Day for move in day.
We had final inspection. Miller Construction and Dave Valentine were there on the first final inspection and stayed with it until the final, final inspection to make sure everything went right. Paul Von Kamman of Miller who has supervised much of Miller’s activities and of course Dave Valentine (our dear family friend) who got the project off the ground stayed with us till the end. We are most grateful to all who donated materials and labor. We could never have realized such a wonderful place for Bunk without them.
There are still many finishing tasks that need to be completed. Red has been working diligently and Brian Trujillo, a Servite friend, has been helping with getting all the loose ends and finishing details realized.
The painting has been completed. Leon Arlt with his supporters of Tom Rausch and Larry Honikel have been loyally donating the painting of the Tipsy for the past 2 years. I don’t think they thought it would ever get done but they were out here taping everything off and giving the inside its final finish coats during some of the hottest days of the year. They painted the outside a year ago along with the preliminary coats of paint. Leon, Tom, and Larry are fellow parishoners of St. Norbert’s whose children went to school with Derek, Erica, and Bunk.
Erica and her children are down for a three weeks. She is moving everthing over, setting up the household, organizing the living space for Bunk as well as planning out medical supply ’system’ for his very many and necessary medical supplies. She has supplied and organized the closet space, all the kitchen cupboards and pantry, carpets, bookshelves, cupboards, artwork, lighting, furniture, databases and personal address books on Outlook and all the living supplies. It would have taken me such an investment in energy and I could never have done it in such a quality and well organized and detailed fashion. Believe me, she leaves no detail unattended. Everything will have a place and look beautiful in its place. She has been tireless in her endeavors to transition Bunk to the Tipsy smoothly and safely. It is an overriding goal for each of us and our labors to make certain Bunk’s life, at least through the infrastructure of his home, is as independant as possible.
Bunk has been spending more and more of his day and sometimes evenings in the Tipsy. He has been entertaining his friends out there, as well. For one thing it is air conditioned and helps him stay cool. Second, he has his 47″ TV out there. Third, it is his place and his space that he can get around in and be more involved in the many decisions that have to be made. Bunk has taken over as the final say on most things that are involved in the Tipsy.

Activities
Bunk’s level of activity has increased significantly with him getting out and about to places and activities on a regular basis.
We continue to be blessed with Sunday Eucharistic Ministers and Larry Honikel on Wednesdays bringing Bunk Holy Communion. I get to Mass about once a month. I keep trying to get there more often but it hasn’t worked out yet. Bunk has been thinking about which Mass might be the most accessible for him. That would be a big leap.
Bunk went to the City of Orange’s City Council meeting to support Jay Ware in his bid for the waste disposal contract of the city. Jay and Carrie Ware have been so generous to Bunk. He leapt at the chance to do whatever he could to help. To me it showed how ready Bunk is to get out into venues that he does not know how he will get in and out. He has much more confidence in being out and about in the “real world”.
Bunk went to Tim Mullahey’s on the 4th of July and later we joined his brother, Derek and family, over at our family friend’s the Steuber’s.
Bunk went to the beach for the first time since his accident. Gilbert Salazar parked a large motor home at Bolsa Chica State Beach right next to the sand and welcomed all for the day. Bunk had a great time. We parked not far from Gilbert and Bunk was able to get around in the parking lot and parked his wheel chair right near the curb and the sand. I enjoyed the day as well. I sat in a beach chair and enjoyed the sun and breeze as I know Bunk did but of course socializing with many friends was his real delight. We got back for a second day at the beach this past Saturday.

Tom McGee was out from Boston and spent the day with Bunk in the Tipsy. We hadn’t seen Tom in a while. What a tonic he is.
Bunk’s softball team “No Bad Days” has been over for pregame visits. Bunk has hosted them in the Tipsy. He has gotten to several games and of course over to Marty’s (the bar) afterwards. We have become somewhat regulars. One lady customer at Marty’s even saved the handicapped parking space for Bunk one day. They give me free diet Cokes (probably to ensure that Bunk gets home safely) and the team always toasts Bunk at the bar. No wonder he loves it. The guys on the team are so helpful. When no one is with us, I need help getting Bunk in and out of the van. There is always a group of about 3 of them accompanying Bunk to the van to help get him in.
Bunk got to an afternoon Angel Game. He was given Diamond Club tickets from Mike Moore and Art Archeleta. What a gift. I had never been in the Diamond Club. What a terrific view of the ball game in beautiful surroundings. We met up with No Bad Days players, Priti Franco, and Monty and Jello at different places in the ballpark. Typical of Bunk, when we entered the Diamond Club he ran into Servite friends, had Rick from No Bad Days join him to celebrate his (Rick’s) birthday, and Priti joined us to keep us to keep us company. You can really see how much more comfortable Bunk is out in a crowd as he wheeled himself from the Diamond Club around the stadium through the Knot Hole Club to get over to the Budweiser Pavilion area all the while meeting up with his friends. It was a beautiful sunny day, a great ball game, and filled with many friends.
Bunk has followed sports as religiously as ever. His day starts with finding out what time the ball games are on. Golf and Wimbledon took front and center from time to time. I just cannot believe what a follower of sports I have become. I cannot ask too many questions because it shows my stupidity and Bunk gets tired of reexplaining the basics to me. He is in command of a wealth of sports trivia. Football is quickly approaching. Bunk’s very favorite season is college football. He is hosting a Fantasy Football Draft Night over at his new place at the end of the month.
Dave Daly gets over to watch ball games with Bunk and sometimes stays the night. He christened Bunk’s new shower.
Marty and Priti Franco have been over to join us for BBQ and watch ball games up in the Tipsy. Bunk joined them and the Bucks (his rugby team) at a Rugby Sevens Tournament in Costa Mesa where he was able to meet up with many old rugby mates. I am getting quite adept at packing coolers with beer for Bunk’s outings and tailgating. Of course I am the perennial designated van driver.
Marty’s is not the only bar Bunk goes to. Table 10 in Fullerton was the site of a Bunk visit about a week ago. The lure was a group of fellow Servite Alums (Jim Faly, John Hawkins, Matt Stensby to name a few) who were singing and playing there for entertainment with occasional songs by Ted Lawton, Bunk’s doctor. It was too good to pass up and needless to say it was more than fun for Bunk.
Over the past few weeks, I have been out to bars with Bunk at least 4 times. I would say he is getting somewhat back into a more normal social mode for him.
Fundraisers Priti Franco’s Marmalade Cafe in Tustin hosted a fund raiser night in June and we are looking forward to the Annual Perry’s Pizza (thank you Jess and Dawn Bingaman) this Saturday, August 8th from 12 noon to 8 PM down on the boardwalk near the Newport Pier. Bunk plans to get there around 1 PM and stay the day in the hopes of greeting many friends. We are most grateful for all fundraising efforts and appreciate everyone who work hard on the event and all of you who participate. We are forever in everyone’s debt. It is difficult to find a way to adequately thank each of you. God bless. Keep Bunk in your prayers as I keep you in mine.

Thank you for tuning in to these highlights. Please excuse any misspelling and grammatical errors as I just want this to get to you quickly. As I have said before I hope to be more regular. Erica is after me to get info more readily to her so she can begin writing the updates again on a regular basis and get the word out!

August 6, 2009

June 8 to June 14, 2009

Filed under: Status — Erica @ 10:59 pm

So late, so sorry! Bunk is still alive and is looking forward to seeing each of you this Saturday at Perry’s Pizza in Newport Beach! Thanks for looking in on Bunk.

Update June 8 - 14, 2009

This week was the prep week for the June 13th Bunk-Barbeque-Baseball night at Angel stadium that Dave Daly and Bunk thought up for a fun activity. Bunk has been excited about the event having lots of input and opinions. He and Dave have held lengthy phone discussions regarding the event.

Monday, June 8 - St. Jude’s Rehab with Val (St. Jude’s Physical Therapist). He worked on breathing with an inspiratory spirometer recommended by Dr. Lawton. We purchased it so Bunk can work with it at home. This Monday, Stephanie (private home visiting physical therapist) worked on the knots that build up in Bunk’s shoulders, back, and neck. Some weeks his shoulders and neck are tighter than others. That and pain on the back of his head are the two main causes of pain and discomfort for Bunk.

Tuesday, June 9 - Baseball tickets are getting in short supply for the Saturday night game of the Angels vs the Padres. We had purchased a block of 100 tickets and we were down to the last dozen or so. Many tickets were sold on paypal while others were picked up here at home. Doug Buerlein, Rick Radan, and Mike Schnick all stopped by to pick up tickets which put us down to just a few left. Bunk loved the visitors. He always has something to talk about.

Beverly took me to a restaurant food supply to purchase the hamburgers and hot dogs, buns, fruit, salads, fixings and condiments, etc that would be needed for barbequing and feeding the tailgate crowd on Saturday. The selections were great and cost saving. Thanks, Bev. It got me going on getting things together for the tailgate.

Chuck Ney, Bunk’s wheel chair vendor rep, came by in the afternoon to work with Bunk on a new mount for his chin drive. Bunk is trying to find a less cumbersome and more comfortable chin drive. He’ll try this out and see if it is any better.

The day ended with the Laker game.

Wednesday, June 10 - A busy morning. The wound care nurse came. I changed Buallnk’s trach. There was large amount of mucus at the end of the trach tube. Bunk is capable of being off the vent with the trach tube out for changing and cleaning the trach site. He breathes on his own while I am changing the tube and removing any mucus in the trach opening. This is far cry from when I was practicing changing his trach and we hurried through everything. Things keep moving along.

Dr. Xi comes around 1 - 1:30. Today, Bunk had 2 episodes of low blood pressure with a drop in oxygen levels. Dr. Xi did her magic at getting his blood pressure up both times. Bunk had a real tight right shoulder. She was able to work the knots out of his shoulder and he was feeling better by the end of the session. Today he did not do breathing off the vent as he usually does during his acupuncture sessions.

I went out to dinner with friends Carol Woodman and Joanie Dornbach. We were missing our dear friend Sally Debevec who had taken a fall. We were going out to celebrate our May and June birthdays. We pray for Sally’s speedy recovery.
=0 A

Thursday, June 11 - Today was my birthday. My sisters came out to go to lunch and help me with the remaining shopping for the Angel baseball tailgate on Saturday. As of today, I think I have everything I need just some prep work. It took most of the afternoon and it was great to have the support of my sisters in helping me feel comfortable with having gotten everything I would need for Saturday.

Tonight was another “No Bad Days” softball game. They opted to come over and join Bunk to watch the Laker game. Scott Zeimer’s wife had prepared a terrific spread of food for the guys. I didn’t do anything but lay it all out in a buffet for everyone to enjoy. She made the best macaroon cookies. I ate 4 right off the bat. Red loves them too so I did save a couple for him. You would have thought our parlor was a sports bar with all the roars and oohs and ahhs. You knew just when the Laker’s scored and when they didn’t. It was great fun and couldn’t have been better for Bunk who loves to have friends join him to watch sporting events. Especially the basketball playoffs and the Lakers winning a close game.

It was a good birthday.

Friday, June 12, 2009 - Today was a prep day for the tailgate at tomorrow’s Angel game, getting all the hamburgers, hotdogs, fixings, and side dishes ready and stored for transport. Bunk had been involved in all the planning from the get go. All week long he would let us know how he thought things should go and joined in all the discussions and logistical planning. By today, I was really worried that we would not have enough tickets. I went through all the tickets several times, putting them in groups as ordered and then going back to make sure the seats were in order as far as I could understand. Finally, I was at peace with that part of the organization. All one hundred tickets were accounted for. I was nervous about how it would all work. Bunk of course was not.

Saturday, June 13, 2009 - Bunk-Barbeque-Baseball at Angel Stadium. A busy morning as you could imagine. A nurse case manager came out in the morning to evaluate Bunk. Thank goodness Kate Daly and her friends came to help me get everything loaded and ready to go. Thank you girls, great work. Derek came bringing his barbeque to load up in the truck with ours. All the coolers and the www.bunkwurth.org easy up with the shamrock were loaded on the truck and finally the 2 kegs of beer were loaded in the van with Bunk . We had the truck, the Trooper, and the Van all loaded and were off to Angel Stadium by 3 PM.

We pulled up to our usual place a little northeast of the Big A and unloaded. Derek and Monty started cooking hamburgers and hot dogs as we set up. As people arrived they parked in the parallel rows near the van which were away from the main traffic flow and didn’t require drive through traffic, allowing for everyone to set up their beach chairs in the middle of the isle. Children could safely run around and Bunk could get around to everyone in his wheelchair. He was mainly on his own, loving every minute of it, visiting with his friends and meeting new friends, as well. The beer was well camouflaged in the van and need I say it was all gone by the end of the game. In all there were 130 adults and children tailgaiting. It was well past the 3rd inning before people starting going into the game and Bunk never made it into the game. He and a faithful contingent guarded the kegs and enjoyed the game from the parking lot.

I went into the stadium with my grandkids and were the seats ever high up there. I thank everyone for tolerating the level of the seats. Bunk would not have been able to be near the group seating due to his wheel chair. He hopes to do this again but will start earli er so he can get tickets in the right field pavilion area where they would be situated directly below the wheel chair seating. Everyone could be together and the seats are much better. The whole event was terrific and Bunk was in heaven.

Thank you Dave Daly for thinking it up and getting Bunk to help with the planning. From the beginning this was just to be a “fun raiser”, for enjoyment only, and it filled the bill 100%. Thank you everyone who joined in the fun. Write Bunk a message in his guestbook and let him know if you would like to do it again next year and make any suggestions that would make it better. Bunk is already planning. I had a lot of helping cleaning up and everything was loaded and ready to go soon enough after the end of the game. Oh did it mention, the Angels beat the Padres.

That brings to a close the first annual Bunk-Barbeque-Baseball Event.

When we arrived home Bunk’s sister was arriving with her family from San Francisco. The didn’t make it to the game but were glad to see them and all the cousins spent the night together. Derek slept in the Tipsy on the sofa. Sunday the Eucharistic Minister had a crowd in Bunk’s room for the readings and Holy Communion. All Bunk’s nieces and ne phews joined him. It is always special when they are here on Sundays. Bunk spent the day out in the Tipsy on the balcony. His brother-in-law Eric was working the wiring for the TV and the sound system. Has he ever done a terrific job! You can listen to music or TV out on the balcony. He has all the wiring in for Bunk’s computer. I don’t know what is all done, I just know that every time he is down with Erica and the kids he is working on the sound and wiring system for the Tipsy. Thank you Eric, it is a real gift to Bunk.

Billy Seitz and his dog Walter came by in the afternoon. Walter is a beagle and did some good howling off the balcony. Dave Daly and Tom Brand stopped in at the Tipsy, too, of course the baseball game was on. You could even hear the game on the balcony. Erica and the family will stay for a few days which will allow for family time. Erica always takes care of tastefully pulling together many loose ends that need to get done as we near the completion of the Tipsy. It is a thankless job but there is so much Red and I don’t know or consider that is necessary to having everything work and look great too. Thank you, Erica.

An eventful week for which we are most grateful. Thank you, God. Bunk is alive and well and active as ever.

July 3, 2009

June 1 through June 7, 2009

Filed under: Status — Erica @ 8:36 am

Mom’s update:

Breathing exercises are part of every day now. We start the week with St. Jude’s Rehab working on glossopharyngeal breathing exercises. During acupuncture, Dr. Xi has Bunk go off the ventilator after her workout with Bunk and sometimes during his exercises. His doctor, Ted Lawton, has him on a daily regimen of breathing on the spontaneous mode on the ventilator. He changes some of the vent settings and gives him a length of time he wants him on spontaneous each day. Spontaneous mode allows for Bunk to initiate his own breaths overcoming some resistance to take his breath. The ventilator gives him an added push of air called pressure support. The regimen consists of increasing his resistance, increasing the length of time, and lowering the pressure support as Dr. Lawton directs. I have to report in to Ted each week and he gives me new settings and times for the week. Bunk has embraced this regimen and has maintained his oxygen levels and volumes during his time on spontaneous.

Bunk has had some episodes of very low blood pressure along with low oxygen saturations. It has most notably happened during his acupuncture treatments. He can tell when his blood pressure has dropped. His vision gets impaired and he experiences pain behind his eyes. We check his blood pressure and sure enough it is really low and his oxygen has dropped as well. What always surprises me is that he is still talking and explaining what is going on even while his lips are looking a little blue. Dr. Xi has a couple of techniques that bring his blood pressure back up pretty quickly. One is pushing in on the tip of his nose with your thumbnail. Another is rubbing the crown of his head with your knuckles. These work each time.

On Mondays he gets up on the standing frame with the help of Stephanie Djang his physical therapist. On Wednesdays we meet her at the Goodwill Wellness Center for Bunk’s workout on the mat. Both exercises require manipulation of his trach tubes and ventilator and getting him out of the wheel chair and back. We are now disconnecting from the ventilator when he is going up in the standing frame and when he is transferring from his wheel chair to the mat and back. He certainly has the strength to do more.

One of Bunk’s goals is to get a wheel chair that has the capability to stand. We had met a vendor at the Abilities Expo the previous week and Bunk wanted to get to see more chairs that would allow him to stand. “That’s something to look forward to.” On Friday the vendor with a chair rep came to the house with a standing wheel chair. Stephanie joined us as a consultant. Bunk did not get into the chair but a rep did. There were a few things that immediately presented themselves. One was what happens to the ventilator and the tubing when the chair is going up and down. The other was the amount of trunk and arm support that would allow Bunk to get into and stay in position. The vendor and rep had some homework to do and get back with us. The cost of the chair was $38,000.00. Unbelievable. Bunk will be seeing a few more standing wheel chairs. If one appears to be feasible for Bunk,we can further evaluate the ability to obtain one. Stay tuned.

Red and Bunk’s friend, Brian Trujillo, worked on the Tipsy during the week. Red was finishing the sliding pocket door from the living room to Bunk’s bedroom. Red had two doors with frosted glass lites put together to make one door that would fit the door opening. The doors were out of mahogany and Red stained them to match the floor and he and Brian hung the door. It fit perfectly, works great and Bunk was thrilled with it.

On Saturday, Cami Avila stopped for a visit and brought her terrific chili along with corn bread and honey butter. Her son was playing in a volleyball tournament in Anaheim and she came by in between games. We had the chili that day and it hit the spot. Cami and Bunk were grammar school classmates and she is fun filled supporter of Bunk’s Golf Tournament each year. Later in the day, we headed out to Mike Schnick’s parent’s house to celebrate his son Madden’s first birthday. Bunk managed accessing the back yard easily. It was a nice outing for Bunk, Red and me. We started the day with chili and ended with birthday cake. I had two pieces. When we got home Bunk asked for a Reeses Peanut Butter cup that were in the freezer. There were none left. I had eaten the last one. Did I ever hear it from Bunk. His sweet tooth doesn’t compare with mine and unfortunately I can get to the sweets easier than Bunk.

Rana Schirmer who organized the fundraiser at BJs Restaurants forwarded two checks for the Special Needs Trust. One was the amount raised the night of the fundraiser which was $1,102.68. The second was a matching check from BJs Restaurants Foundation for $1,200. Thank you Rana, thank you BJs, and thank you all of your who participated. It was a great fun night for Bunk which was a great benefit as well. We are most grateful for Rana’s efforts and the generosity of BJs and all of you. To top it off, Kendra Cotuli brought by a donation from the food delivery service, Restaurant’s on the Run, Inc, who had delivered lunch from BJ’s to Kendra’s work place on the day of the fundraiser. They donated their delivery fee back to Bunk. We continually are humbled by people’s generosity. It helps so much. There are so many thank you’s waiting to be written that must get done. A side note on the fundraiser, Rana said the highest attendance was at the Brea BJs and the second highest was the La Mesa BJs in San Diego. Bunk was at the Brea restaurant, who was at La Mesa? Let us know.

On Sunday, the Eucharistic Minister came but I was also able to get to Mass. The gospel contained Jesus’s quote “I am with you always”. One that brings great peace and must be recalled frequently. When I got home from church, Bunk asked me if the Mass was crowded. For the 12 noon Mass that is usually pretty full, it was crowded. Bunk said ” I thought it would be, the Laker g ame is at 5 PM and all the evening Mass goers were getting there early”

Sports wise this was a week of College Baseball, Angel games, Tennis and of course the Lakers. Oh, I forgot golf. We didn’t miss a thing. I say we, because I am in there watching it all with Bunk. I can’t get too conversant on any one sport or I get put in my place, just when I think I’m getting a handle on a sport knowledge wise. I’m forever learning to keep my mouth shut.

God Bless and may the Lord be with you always.

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