Sunday, May 31, 2009

This morning things at the hospital have settled a bit..
a few more small steps forward:

Chris' blood pressure was down to 144/91 and
there is no blood in his pee which is draining in appropriate measures.

Hopefully this means that the Antibiotics have kicked in and that his bladder infection is being remedied. At least for now, a foley catheter has replaced the stressful ordeal of having a straight catheter 'applied' every couple of hours.

Chris was sleeping throughout the visit and he only opened his eyes for a few seconds. He did not speak to either his Mom or I while I was there...
but we both think we saw a glimmer of a smile while we discussed his improvement over "yesterday".

In yet another veneer thin excuse to get a rise out of him we discussed the NHL playoffs, world politics, the media, history, language, geneology...right over his head because we know that he is always listening!

Most of the time his Mom purposefully massaged that right hand and arm in order to coax Chris out of his slumber and tell her to "stop doing that",
but we both agreed that he seemed to be resting comfortably...
his face looked more peaceful, yesterday's grimace was gone.

Chris' family is now maintaining a bedside journal so that everyone can read and write during their visit and add something when the Doctor/Nurse is available or Chris has another procedure.

It's hard to believe but Chris yanked out his naso-small bowel feeding tube again so that problem isn't remedied..even with the soft restraint!
However the blood pressure is down, the antibiotics are working, but the catheterization remains a concern.

Now if Chris can stay on this course then he'll be another step closer to starting the physio and rehab. Once Chris gets to that stage these reports will probably slow down to once a week, then twice a month...and by then he will hopefully be answering his own emails and back writing his own stuff...
which will be awesome!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

This morning Chris is still fighting his bladder infection and he is on Antibiotics. When I arrived the staff was performing a temporary catheterization to drain and Chris was experiencing severe discomfort.

He received some meds for the pain, which seemed to kick in quickly, because for the next couple of hours, he only opened his eyes a few times and only for a few seconds.

I looked at the chart that the constant care assistants use to document their observations and it appears that Chris still 'sleeps' most of the time.
There are a few incidents marked 'awake but calm' and 'restless but no disruption' but fighting his infection is taking precedent and hopefully he will soon be able to do without any catheters.

Chris still has his small bowel feeding tube (most chemical digestion takes place in the small bowel) and the soft restraint on his frighteningly powerful left arm so that he doesn't yank it out again.

I would have liked to have heard Chris say something but as long as the pain had subsided his Mother and I were relieved. As she adoringly massaged her son's right arm she told me that yesterday morning he had a real rough time.

Chris sometimes awakens to tell her to stop rubbing his right arm..
which he can't move YET but he obviously feels something.

His Mom and I chatted about Chris LOUD ENOUGH FOR HIM TO HEAR EVERYTHING in a thinly veiled attempt to get a response..
nothing but snores, a few quick glances, and back to lalaland.

I am hoping to start posting the observations of his siblings in a few days so that everyone can get as much info as possible. Right now, more waiting to see if the Antibiotics can quickly cancel this urinary tract infection and Chris can get back on track with rehab & physio.

Another well wisher had mentioned something that Chris had recently posted and I thought that I should add it.

Chris had taken this photo and added this lovely sentiment..

Friday, May 29, 2009

This morning Chris is having to deal with a bladder infection caused from a screwup with that $#%@ catheter. He has been in considerable pain and was able to tell his Mother and Sister that he is pissed off!

Unfortunately this is causing his blood pressure to spike again and it's back in the high 190+/100+ range. He is currently on an IV push of antibiotics and appparently the nurse is trying to get some portable monitoring device to see what is going on in his bladder. Hopefully they can get that under control stat!

The family is deeply appreciative of receiving so many offers to help acquire a chair for the physio/rehab...however at this point in his recovery, the exact model has yet to be determined, but I was asked to say Thank You.

Hopefully they get manage his pain RFN! and get that infection under control because Chris has made some gains and this setback was avoidable...Chris has a tough enough job to do.
Right now his bp needs to go down so that he can be properly assessed and from there, get out of bed and get on with the physio/rehab stage.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Chris had a mild sedative and they were able to perform an MRI and guess what?
the artery is now open.

Plus his BP has been lower (130's for a while)
>the %#$@ catheter is out
>and he did get some physio but he was too loopy from the sedative.

All positive...
but he will need a tilt wheel chair for the physio (he's not there yet but closer) and the waiting list for those things is l o n g, so the family is looking into purchasing a tilt-chair. For anyone interested in helping make that happen (and many of you have already asked) when they get enough info on the right model, we'll set up a fund with a PO Box and I'll post it.

Chris was really tired today and didn't respond much although he did tap his feet to Pump Up The Volume by MARRS. He seemed less fidgety but really zonked..but he did just have a very busy day.

I didn't care..the Nurse told his sister and I so many positive things that we are now racing forward to the rehab/physio so that Chris can start to get medieval on his uncooperative right side.

I thought that the arterial blockage was a done deal? The last Doc made it sound final..maybe this is the collateral flow? Either way, I think that this is another benchmark. I know that there will probably be more downers on this Day-to Day vigil but overall my spirits were lifted.

Keep on keepin' on Chris.
I know from the emails that I have received that many of you have gone through the agonizing trial of watching a relative or friend recover from a stroke...many accounts have been very encouraging.

Others have been searching the internet and sending me information, but most of you just want some answers and do I.

I'm not a professional reporter like Chris so I hope that you can appreciate that I am trying to relay information from visiting and observing Chris and from talking to his siblings who are at his bedside throughout various times of the day.

I'm writing this for Chris to read when he gets out and to let his friends, co-workers, and relatives get an idea of what happened, and what is going on.
That being said I know that I cannot be completely objective because we have been BfFF....three decades...
and this recovery period may extend into weeks and months.

As to why his rehab is delayed...

Chris still has very high blood pressure, his systolic numbers are frequently in the 190 range. Now I've heard that being hypertensive may be his body's natural way of maintaining circulation after enduring a vascular emergency...
but it is also stalling his recovery by impeding his physical rehabilitation.

His hypertension also makes it risky to sedate him enough to do another MRI.

*Any readers who have medical backgrounds and experience with stroke patients or others who have had to cope with a relative having a stroke, please feel free to clarify and expand. The more information the better and it helps to talk/write.

From what I understand there are plenty of drugs that can lower his blood pressure but it is dangerous to lower it too quickly.

I know that everyone is anxious to see him out of bed. Today one of his sisters said that Chris was assessed by the physiotherapist but there was concern about his blood pressure and that the loss of muscular control on his right side was prohibiting him from being moved into a Geri-Chair?
This was echoed by another sister who told me that once he is up, he is going to need an upright wheel chair (tilt & spin) to do his physio and apparently there is a waiting list for them!?

I wish that I knew when/why/how the Neurologist decides OK today let's try to carefully lower his BP...and how long can a bedridden person cope with hypertension? I don't know.

I try to remind myself that we're dealing with the human brain, the pinnacle of evolutionary engineering and in many ways as mysterious as the universe itself. This miraculous 3 pound gelatin super-computer lodged between our ears has some 100 trillion synaptic connections!
Apparently the brain cannot repair itself on a cellular level like a lot of our other organs in our has to work with what it has...
but with so many avenues and connectors, it can and very often will, find a way to re-route signals.

So Chris, it's time to
Synap out of it!

Chris had clotting in his brain stem. That part of the brain is involved in the control of his cardiovascular & respiratory system, pain sensitivity, alertness, and consciousness!
Managing the alterations while maintaining the basics is a lot for him to handle..he can't just turn it off and reboot the program like a regular computer..
although ideally that's what we all desperately want to witness!

This waiting is compounded by our collective feeling of being of restricted by the complexity of the human mind and spirit...
but when I look at the tenacity and will power that Chris has always had,
I just know, of all the people that I have EVER met during my entire life,

Chris IS that guy.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Chris was brighter today and one of his sisters was there when I arrived. Chris is now on 24 hour watch to ensure that he doesn't yank out the feeding tube in his nose again..unfortunately they had to restrain his left arm because he keeps sliding his head down just enough to pull it out...little bugger. So if family members are not present there is always hospital staff present.

Chris squeezed my hand firmly when I leaned over and told him that I brought the BIG ASS headphones for the ipod. I played We Are The People by Empire of the Sun and he grinned as much as he could with the left side of his was fantastic!
His sister and I both laughed. Chris wiggled the fingers and foot on his left side to the music.

I played a few songs so that his sister and I could compare notes while he couldn't hear us. She thought that Chris was brighter today and hopefully there won't be any more mishaps with monitoring his catheter...he is now on antibiotics to rectify the situation. His sister said that their father is still stable and that Chris doesn't know and we'll leave it at that.

After a few tunes I got in his face and read Chris a few cards and letters from well wishers and recited a list of co-workers, college chums, and blogmates who have either sent emails or left comments here. Chris seemed to be following along and patted my hand when I had finished. I asked Chris if there was anyone that he needed to see right now and he said "no".

He then dozed off for a little while and when he opened his eyes, I asked him if he wanted his glasses on..."yes"..and then he tried to focus on the TV.. the weather channel was on but the picture was fuzzy..and I told him not to worry because it was fuzzy. I told him what day it was and he looked puzzled..I have no idea what his time reference is right now but he was in the now...he told his sister something about not being here on Thursday..I think that he was trying to make a joke.

He slept for a while and then he said (as best as he could manage) "how are you doing?" Well I nearly lost it but I just replied that we were all doing great as long as he kept feeling better everyday. He said " feels weird".

We just hung out for about another hour..he slips in and out but looked at me with what appears to be much more least that's what I thought.

I told Chris about a few things that happened in the news, tried to reassure him that everything was being taken care of by his family and that all he had to do was to get better. He just squeezed my hand..moved his left leg up and down..he must be so tired of being in bed...I wish that he could move his right side but still no sign of that happening.

All in all a better day..still sleepy..I wish that I could tell you more hard Medical information but there doesn't seem to be anything new...just more waiting and today was positive.
So way to go Chris..just keep doing a little better everyday..whatever it takes.

Monday, May 25, 2009

When I wrote this report yesterday I had initially included some other very bad news..I was tired and second guessed myself and decided to take it down. I kept thinking well, what if Chris reads this in a week or a month from now?
I don't want to upset him..I just want him to stay positive and focus on his recovery.

This morning I realised that by the time he is able to read this, that he will hopefully be strong enough to process it and who knows what will have happened by then. It was decided that we're not going to talk about this around Chris..we know that he can hear everything and his family wants to keep the flow on good vibes.

I am amazed being a witness to the strength and support of his family, that's why I am being protective...we all want to do whatever it takes to keep Chris comfortable and quiet and focussed on breaking through but his family needs support too. This is very draining on his beloved children, three sisters, two brothers, his Dad and especially his Mother.

Yesterday his Father had a heart attack..and as of late last night his Dad had been stabilized. I know (we all know) that Chris would be mad at me for not telling him but not right's up to his family to decide the if and when Chris is strong enough to process that.

So we're not going to talk about his Dad in the hospital room because we know that Chris can hear everything. The stress level is high enough and it seems grotesquely unfair that Life has thrown another trial at them...they are incredible people but enough is enough.
I spent about an hour & half with Chris in the evening. He was slipping in and out and didn't try to talk much..he squeezed my hand a few times. He managed to pull the tube out of his nose despite having a restraint and I had to put his little oxygen thingamabob back in his nose a few times.

The night shift nurse said that he had been trying to talk a bit more during the day so maybe he was tired. He is receiving heparin via a needle in his stomach and it must sting because he really winced and squished my hand when she put it in..poor guy. His blood pressure is still pretty high but he seemed to squirm less than other days.

I just stood beside him and rubbed his head...wondering when we are going to see some positive change...we had been led to believe that a critical period had passed so we keep hoping for a sign that he can break through.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Christougher Cariou

I hope that you are able to read this in the very near future...
and start replying!

This is a place for your friends and family to say hello and exchange info on your recovery. We miss you.
this is a history of the events as they unfolded..

Hi everyone who reads this blog. This is Gerry, Chris' younger brother. I have some very bad news.

Chris collapsed at home today (his kids were there) and was rushed to hospital. He has suffered a serious stroke and apparently is close to death.I am replying to his last post cause I know some of you will read this.I think you all mean a lot to my brother so I thought I would let you know.Please say a prayer for Chris.
Gerry Cariou
11:46 PM

Just an update everyone - what Chris has is a blood clot in one of the major arteries in his brain. It is not something the doctors can operate on due to its location. It is a wait and see game but he is hanging in there like I knew he would.He is conscious and able to speak although his situation is critical.

8:53 AM

I have just returned from the hospital and Chris said to thank everyone for the kind words and not to make a fuss.He is fairly lucid but very very tired, and he is slurring a bit, his headache comes and goes,but he doesn't seem to have lost any memory.

Chris was joking around even though he was very groggy...he thought that he'd be going home tomorrow..pfft..I tried to explain that he needs to just take it easy for a while.You'll be happy to know that he is teasing the staff..albeit in slow motion..but it's good to see that his personality remains intact.
I'm going back tonight after my daughter's dance's always surreal when events circumvent your routine..a great reminder that we should always embrace "ordinary" days.

4:04 PM

Hi everyoneas of around 9:00 PM May 17,
Chris was the same as what Donn describes albeit he was finally getting a bit of sleep.He is very tired and the time in emergency is starting to stress him a bit. It is very noisy and busy in the ward but they can't move him.As to treatment they are trying to determine why this event happened and to see if that helps them determine how to treat the clot, which remains near his brain.Wait and see for now...

12:48 AM

REPOSTING this from my blog FYI:

Ok just left the hospital and Chris is getting admitted tomorrow which means that he will be shuffled to a quieter ward so that he can get some sleep..aside from his nagging headache he just wants to sleep...he did sleep a little but he is very uncomfortable and restless and the IV lines are driving him crazy.

The Emerg was super busy when I got there at midnight..packed with people, beeping machines and anxious relatives helplessly pacing about. As you can imagine, it would be nearly impossible to sleep under such conditions.I told him that I loved him but not enough to donate one of my brains. Anyway, hopefully they can transfer him this morning so that he can get some real ZZZ's.The situation could be much worse so I am grateful for small mercies.

1:28 AM

UPDATE:Chris looks much better than when I last saw him at midnight..he has been admitted into the Medical Ward and he had his MRA today..the results of which will prolly be explained tomorrow..along with the course of which clot busters they will use?

From a layman's point of view, his spirits were up, he had some colour, he had slept, he could get up and go to the washroom..although he did see stars after..however he was much brighter today.I don't know if he is out of the woods or not because he is still on heparin and I don't know anything about the clot busting drugs that will be administered.

Either way he was joking around and it was very encouraging..hopefully tomorrow will be even better.

5:59 PM

Hi all - this is Chris' brother Gerry.

I just got a call from my mom. Chris has been experiencing more "symptoms" which is not a good sign. He has been rushed to the Health Sciences Centre in an ambulance. This is the best equipped facility in Winnipeg for this issue. I don't know anything more. This happened around 9:30 or so.

That is all I know - waiting to hear more back from my mom or sister who have gone to that hospital. - I may be on my way back to the Peg.

10:17 PM

It's 3 am I just got back..Chris had another TIA right in front of us and had to be intubated..he suffered some paralysis on his right side..the doctors decided to go ahead and try the clot busting agents which was very risky because he has been on thinners for 2 days and he had a lumbar fluid extraction..this is uncharted territory but they went ahead because there are two clots.

The first one has hardened and the second one that formed caused the latest TIAs and the effect was the loss of his right side...we waited and the doctor said that he had responded and had regained the use of his right side but he was still very susceptible to having a major bleed.

Basically they were trying to get Chris back to point B and once stabilized hope that the body would start deconstructing the first clot which is now hardened.So tonight he is being moved into the ICU and sedated so that his body can try to manage the powerful clot busting it is very touch and go but the return of his control of his right side is encouraging.

Now they are going to watch him like a hawk to see ifthe bleeding gets out of hand...which could be fatal. Again we can do nothing but wait and see how he does. This roller coaster ride is taking it's toll on his kids, parents and siblings...but we all remain hopeful that it works out.It's amazing because this afternoon he was bright and when we saw him this evening he was bugging us about rushing down to see him and then his eyes rolled up and he had a TIA right before our eyes.

The staff has been fabulous and his family was moved into a private heart goes out to his family..his beloved children are being brave and hopeful..Chris would be very proud of them as he always is..I'm hoping for some good news tomorrow but the next 12 hours will be very dangerous with all the powerful thinning agents circulating.

Hang in there buddy, you've got a lot of people who love you..hang in there...

3:19 AM

As of 10:20 AM there is no change and this means that Chris is not experiencing any internal bleeding form all of the clot busting agents.
Hopefully they can get him back to point B so that his body can deal with the first clot.

10:52 AM

UPDATE:Just got a call from his brother ans Chris has suffered another setback and the paralysis on his right side has returned they are rushing in to do another MRI...another hour to see the results..c'mon

Chris fight your way back to can do it..

12:05 PM

As of this evening he was breathing on his own, he did recognise his Mother, and now he has to make it through the swelling period...after that they can see what's what.

Hopefully he will be in the hospital for a few weeks and then on to rehab for a few months..which will be minimal if he is lucky.I did whisper to him that all of you were making a big fuss so hopefully that will be enough for him to snap out of it :)

7:48 PM

Wednesday MorningChris made it through the night without incident. According to his brother Gerry (who spent the entire night by his side) he is responding to questions via hand squeezes.

Chris' main threat now is brain swelling so he is under intensive observation but so far so good...which considering and hoping that the stroke phase has actually ended, means that Chris has rounded 1st base and is heading for 2nd.

Chris has an amazing family helping him and I am encouraged..I'm into the No News is Good News phase...hopefully that means that his recuperative powers are about to get medieval on his brain!

9:42 AM

Wednesday Afternoon..

The good news is that there is no bad news to report...which I interpret as positive.Let's hope that the swelling is looks like maybe, just maybe, the TIAs really are finished. I'm hoping that his family has a chance to catch their breath and regain their strength.

I hope that I can get a shift soon...I feel better when I can actually see him.If he is up to it, maybe by next week I'll bring his laptop so that he can see what fantastic friends he has out here...I did print a few pages to bring along and he'll be happy to see that the wise cracks and asshattery are back!

3:53 PM


No incidents last night and Chris is now out of the ICU but he still has a way to go get past the dnager of swelling. His parents and all of his brothers & sisters are there to support him...amazing family.I'm sneaking in there later this morning but I'm feeling a little more confident that Chris has entered a new phase...hope I'm right.

Keep those good vibes coming.

8:59 AM

This afternoon I watched Chris struggle..he is lucid at times but it's hard to tell how often our communication is getting through.

At one point he was very uncomfortable and he said something that sounded like he wanted to roll onto his other side.I said that we were 'dense' and that we couldn't figure out what he was trying to say..he opened his eyes wide and said "YES YOU PEOPLE ARE DENSE!" and we all burst into laughter.

It certainly proved that he was in the moment.I brought my Ipod and played Spaceship Orion for him ...he seemed to brings memories back and I talked it over with his family and they all said sure..I'll probably keep doing that.

Tomorrow should be a benchmark day and hopefully any swelling will start to subside and then the Doctors can assess what kind of challenges he is facing. I won't speculate about that I'll wait and let Chris show and tell us what he is really feeling...aside from being frustrated and mad and uncomfortable.It certainly seems as if he is in a different phase but that could all change in a heartbeat if the swelling subsides...which is what I am hoping.

Meanwhile his amazing family is cocooning him in a soft envelope of patient love and encouragement. It really is astounding. He is on to another ward where the neurologists can start deciphering the events of the past few days.I believe that he hears everything that we are saying and he is cognizant that when he tries to talk that it's a bit garbled and that is making him frustrated...therefore he WILL do everything in his power to rectify the situation...and he needs to rest, he looks so tired and he nods off, in and out, but Chris definitely showed up today.

I saw it with my own two eyes..he's in there somewhere and I have little doubt that in no time at all he'll be telling me off for blabbing about all of this...which is fine with me..bring it on big guy, bring it on!

10:33 PM

Please bear in mind that his outburst was very garbled and it appeared as though delivering that line took all of his strength...I don't want to be a wet blanket because it did prove that he was guess is that Chris is trapped behind the fog and that he knows what's what but can't smash through at will.

Today my hope is that he can communicate for more than a few seconds at a time.

4:49 AM


I had a little one on one with Chris after his sister left..he has been moved to a much quieter room on a different floor. Chris seemed a little calmer but his immobilized hand and arm have some swelling and he has a feeding tube.

He asked for his eye glasses, his speech is still garbly but he can get it out..he is still very within/ without..Chris dozes off after a few moments but he did seem a little more comfortable today?I put the headphones on him again and played music for him for about half an hour..poor guy I've been forcing him to listen to music I like for almost 30 years HA! Anyway he was trying to tap his fingers to Clocks by Coldplay and his eyes opened up when he heard the song "Within Without" by the Ozark Mountain Daredevils.

I told him that I knew that he could hear me and he squeezed my hand a little tighter. I wish that I could tell you more hard news.Maybe tomorrow. All in all, Chris seemed a little less agitated but he also seemed a little weaker..which you would expect from being stuck in a bed for a week..but the little squeeze made my day and I thought that it was better than yesterday.

10:05 PM