So Long, Richmond – Hello, DC

December 14, 2008

Last Breakfast at McGuire (McGuire VAMC, 12/11/08)

Last Breakfast at McGuire (McGuire VAMC, 12/11/08)

This post is a two-fer. First, some of Dad’s ruminations, and then thoughts from Clay.

Ok, it’s done. Mariah, Clay and Dad had a final breakfast together in the canteen at McGuire VA Medical Center in Richmond last Thursday. We packed Mariah’s stuff, cleaned the room at Fisher House which served as our home and office away from home and office for the last five months, climbed into our cars, and drove for four and a half hours through heavy rain  and heavier traffic to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC.

Heading Home (McGuire VAMC, 12/11/08)

Heading Home (McGuire VAMC, 12/11/08)

As it turned out, Mariah ended up in the room right next to the room she was in way back in June in Ward 58, Neuroscience. As of Monday, it will be exactly six months to the day since Mariah suffered her stroke in Peru.

Back in June she was nearly immobile, unable to speak, swallow, sit up, stand, walk, or even grasp the blanket on her bed with her hand. She had a feeding tube in her nose through which nourishing liquids were pumped, several intravenous feeds, and a catheter. She received dozens of medications daily, including a shot in her stomach that made her cry out. She responded to yes/no questions by wiggling her toes when she was able and willing.

Today she speaks, swallows, eats most foods with a fork and spoon, transfers herself between her bed and chair, sits up for hours at a time, stands and walks with a walker and assistance. She can dress and undress herself, kayak, and ride a horse. She’s tube free and takes only five medicines orally. There are no more shots. Tonight, she’s still a patient in the hospital, but in a few days she’ll move into a “hotel” on the hospital grounds with her brother. She’ll visit Walter Reed every day for more therapy and rehab. Mariah’s progress has been incredible.

SADLY, Mariah feels she’s “getting worse, not better” and is discouraged and frustrated much of the time. Her physical and intellectual strength have brought her this far. Now, her spirit has to join the battle, to be inspired to hope and believe in herself and in life’s possibilities. To all who have been following this blog (over 25,000 views since July!) and wanting to contribute, please reconnect with Mariah if you can. Certainly through kind thoughts and prayer, but also by calling or visiting or inviting Mariah to visit you and offering her some time in the world you share with her.

– Dad

From Clay:

The drive from Richmond to Washington on Thursday morning was slooooowwww.  Dad lead the way in my step-sister’s car, and Mariah and I followed with the gear. (Thank you Nicole and Zach for your help to Dad and me over the months.  You are so special)  We were in gridlock traffic the last quarter of the trip, which turned a 21/2 hour jot into a 4+ hour haul.  The good news was the army was ready for us when we got here and things ran real smooth.  By the evening, Mariah was settled, I was checked into the Malogne House, and Dad got a few Z’s back at Nicole and Zach’s house near Bethesda.

The first day was pretty busy, complete with Dr. visits, case management visits, and lots of talks about big important things that made me go cross-eyed.  Mariah dozed on and off a lot, recuperating from a busy week and sharing a room for a couple days with a roommate.  Not easy resting.

Today Mariah and I are chilling, taking it easy, and keeping our eyes on the nurses who have twice tried to administer a shot in the belly that isn’t on her medicine order sheet.  Yikes!  (but joking aside Mariah is under good care here and seems to have laid much of her anxiety to rest already) We are settling in just fine and look forward to getting together at the Malogne House and continue pushing forward and upward.

Many of you saw Mariah’s footage of her kayaking in Virginia.  The contact has been made here at Walter Reed and Captain K will be hitting up the Kayaking program here on campus as well over the coming weeks, so stay tuned for more press coverage.

Being that Mariah will be under the care of Yours Truly (yikes! I don’t even know how to take care of myself!), the web entries may taper off just a little in regularity.  However, never fear.  It is a little known fact that I am the fastest two-fingered typist in the Western Hemisphere.  I will keep the entries coming as often as I can, as Dad has kindly offered his services in continuing publishing the entries.  Thank you all for continuing your encouragement, well-wishes, and loving support.

Please please feel free to contact me, brother Clay, at my cell phone if you wish to visit Mariah.  I am more than happy to coordinate visits, and Mariah is expecting to see lots of the faces that couldn’t make it down to Virginia.  I will not know a schedule for Mariah for a few more days, so be patient with me on details.  Oh, and a special Thank You to the nurses, therapists, doctors, and all who served us at the McGuire hospital in Richmond.  Your strength, heart, dedication, encouragement, and compassion have been invaluable to my sister’s recovery and our family is so greatly appreciative of you.  Thank you McGuire!!!

My cell phone number is (919)-696-0671. Please don’t call after 10pm unless it is an emergency or you want to remind me that this job is not too big for me.  I need your support!

Love and Light,


7 Responses to “So Long, Richmond – Hello, DC”

  1. Grandma said

    Well, sounds like you all had a trip and a half getting to DC. My faith in all of you never wavered. After all, look at your survivor ancestors. Course, there’s only me.
    Mariah, i can’t imagine the frustration and aggravation you are going through, but I compare it to when Grandpa died. I had never been entirely on my own until then. Look at me today. Nobody can keep us down for very long.
    Love you both. Grandma

  2. Keith Sharrow said

    We keep you in our prayers and thoughts everyday. We hope to visit you soon. Brenda is working in Silver Spring now, she’s doing well. Flip says hi.

    What’s your address down at Walter Reed?

    Talk to you soon!

    Love, Keith and Brenda…and Flip too!

  3. Deb Weiner said

    This is Deb, a friend of Mark’s and a fan of both Mariah and Clay. I never cease to be inspired by the posts on the blog which detail your remarkable progress, Mariah, and your terrific care for your sister, Clay.

    Mariah, I hope that you will hold hope for what the future will bring to you. You have shown how resilient you are. You have made remarkable progress in six months, and more lies ahead if you with determination, hard work, and dedication to the task.

    Clay, I am so pleased that you are there with Mariah, and know that you will be the best possible companion and care-giver for her in the days to come. Know that so many friends you have never met are cheering for you both. I send my love, light, and heartfelt wish that 2009 is a wonderful year for you both – full of possibilities and hope.

    In faith,
    Debbie Weiner

  4. Cousin Wayne said

    Hi Mariah,

    Glad that you’re back in D.C. Sounds like a lot of challenges are ahead of you, but you’ve improved so much. My family thinks of you every day. Please have a good Christmas.


  5. SFC Kevin Borth said

    Hi Mariah,

    Its Kevin up here in Boston. i am glad you are back at Walter Reed because I can visit you. Dana told me she came to see you. I am so proud of you! Please stay strong, I know it must stink to be in the hospital over the holidays but try and stay positive. I will visit you in January. Love Kevin

  6. Bola said

    Hello Mariah.
    Bola here, from the Greenbelt boot camp.
    Just wanted to let you know that we are all thinking about you, and wish you and your family continued strenght. I read your dad’s post about you feeling that you are getting worse, and not better. Please understand that nothing can be further from the truth. What you have accomplished in the last five months is legend. Seriously. One day, very soon, you will look back on this year, and the sheer courage,
    tenacity, and willpower that you put forth to
    confront this challenge will amaze even you. Sometimes we make progress to a point when we seem to hit a plateau, and things appear to stand still, or retrogress. (Sort of like when one is trying to get back in shape in boot camp for example 😀 ) It is not a lack of progress, but a realignment of body, mind, and spirit in preparation for the next level of progress.
    Again i return to the tenets of Taekwondo. You have displayed to a remarkable degree the tenets
    of the indomitable spirit, and perseverance. Please bear in mind that patience is an unwritten aspect of these. Please be patient with yourself. Easier said than done, I know, but
    like all the other challenges that you have put behind you, this plateau will become a thing of the past.

    Wishing you and all your loved ones a very happy holiday season, and a very merry Christmas.

    Bola ‘2k8

  7. Dana L. Carl said

    Hey Mariah,

    You are still our princess. How many princesses can say that they have hit the ground running?:) Your spirit continues to resonate on the members and people you have blessed with your presence, including myself. We look forward, because we are greedy like that, to getting more. We need you. We miss you and we love you.

    Stay up!
    Dana L. Carl and Team Greenbelt

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