Charlie Cunningham Medical/Rehab
In early August, 2015, Charlie Cunningham, bicycle builder, inventor and all around amazing person, fell off his bike and sustained several serious injuries.
Charlie suffered broken bones, bruises, and trauma to his head. At the time, he didn't feel his head injury was significant. Unfortunately, seven weeks later, the head injury manifested into a subdural hematoma, a life threatening condition that resulted in emergency brain surgery. Having been about two minutes from death or complete vegetative state, he endured a hell period of about six months, beginning with two months in intensive care, followed by months of doctor's visits and rehabiliitation. His days of getting around by bike were over, or so we thought.
Currently, Charlie is at the "plateau" level. He has no sense of direction, nor much vision (his brain was affected, leaving the upper half of his visual field empty, as well as the periphery). But he is walking, speaking normally, with very little aphasia, and still working on learning the alphabet. he can read a simple news headline after about five minutes of careful study of each letter. We move about Marin on a gorgeous tandem, which will soon get a motor so we can go offroad, away from traffic.
His 'genius' resides now in his efforts to recover what most of us take for granted: balance, literacy and agency, the will to do things and make things, which seems to have disappeared when the brain bleed happened. Your donations will help to offset the costs of his rehabilitation and the visits to UC Berkeley Eye Clinic, and the weekly respite care visits. Thank you for your generosity.
A bit about the fund: it was dreamed up by Caroline James, a good friend of Charlie and Jacquie's since the 1987. She's an artist, web designer and was an early Wombat. Since the end of the first year of the fund, I have taken over most of the administration. Grant Petersen of Rivendell renown, and 1,200 donors like you have helped move us along, for which we're ever grateful.
toward all our chair-ished friends.
Yes, Valentinian 'sediment' seems to be a magnet for lame-ass puns ("I chews you", "Bee mine" etc). As Kay R. has put it, the sheer intensity of the original emotion weakens and topples the rational use of language...at least, I think that's what she said.
It will pop up in a poem, perhaps.
We were colder than ever, thanks to the furnace deciding to go to Baja, or wherever old furnaces go for the winter, when the streets are flooded and the electricity ALSO decides to take a day or two off.
Luckily there's that Jotul, whose 'heat rays' we worshipped when it was our sole heat (up to 2015! Yeah, we were the clods sending blue clouds of woodsmoke down the lane every morning).
It works very well when the modern amenities fail.
Within about an hour, the main room heats up to sauna level, and we are content.
February is when Marin gets its snows, and we got 'em twice so far this season. Last Thurs the 14th, we got over four inches of rain, making our street a deep, swift river carrying fascinating debris (mostly branches, logs, sand). A ride on the Hubbahubba tandem into town revealed families of gallon plastic bottles huddled around the mouths of sewers--escapees from the flows below?
I'm resuming Japanese 102--did I already tell you oh god.
And Charlie continues at the school for Brain Injury Recovery...I'll send boastcards to whomever sends a snail addr...
And in the spirit of 'dogged' ephemera-sending, here's a bit of Ogden Nash for you:
The truth I do not stretch or shove
When I state that the dog is full of love.
I've also found, by actual test,
A wet dog is the lovingest.
Yesterday we did a pretty rigorous hike to the local scenic falls--he groused, but did it.
As my friends insist: 'this is HUGE'. I had to share this.
Our gang was a little nonplussed by a story in the New Yorker about old time jam sessions...in a sort of "there goes the neighborhood" way.
I am grateful to already be in a jam, and with the weekly message being as bouncy and beguiling as the following, who could resist:
"The local chapter of the Emergency Tune Preparedness League will meet tomorrow night at the Temple of the Knights of Mercy, 43 Merde St. For the sake of the children, we will make the event Full On Pot Luck. If you wish to eat it or drink it, bring it. Bail money has been set aside for those encountering the LAW in posession of fiddle, banjo, guitar or mandolin. Apparently, the amnesty concerning concertinas is still in effect. Hope to see all there. Best, JP&JK&DD&Bjo, the cat. "
Killer, huh? Our host this week is the redoubtable John Pedersen, who personally turned me into a real musician by a proprietary combination of inclusion, browbeating, and bear hugs.
It was a nice afternoon, and though I told C. I 'd be "back in ten" it was about half an hour, and this silly ditty ran through my head (to the tune of Jefferson Airplane hit song Go Ask Alice)
One pull makes you angry and one pull makes you swoon
And the sunlight's gonna give you
a case of heatstroke before it's noon
Till you meet your doom
If you go
pulling weeds up
Cause you forgot to
Better wear some chamois leather garden gloves
Cause your fingers are bloody raw
It will win the war
When the yard is a green ocean
of clover-leaved demonic spawn
And ' just stepped on a mushroom
That makes you slip and sprain your arm
It wants to grow!
When gardeners and vile Round-up
are not options to be used
And the weed-pile keeps growing higher
But the ground hides a zillion bulbs
Remember what your mother said
Weed your bed!
Charlie is one of half-a-handful of modern bicycle geniuses and personal heroes of mine (and I am basically "anti-hero"). Everything I know about him, I love. Everything he's ever designed or made or innovated on his own personal bike, I admire and wished I was that smart. I'm so sorry to hear of this accident. Of course we all want him back on his superlight plastic saddle, held by the seat post that also holds a pump. Go, Charlie.
This is a tragedy and a wake-up call about head injuries and getting them checked out and monitored for a long time afterward. I was just thinking about Charlie last week; I was riding on Mt. Tam since 1981 at Thanksgiving when I rode it with Charlie and a number of other friends. He is creative genius, and a great human being to boot; I hope he gets his full faculties back soon. Get better soon, Charlie, and hang in there, Jacquie!
OMG! I am kinda the Cunningham FP, having provided care for Bruce, Charlie's fighter pilot and custom home builder dad, and his tiny book and social antiquarian mom Carol. As a late comer to the world of off road biking, and having been privileged to visit Charlie's shop, I just wanted to confirm the need for this kind of funding effort. For all the closed head injuries that our lifestyle generates, we have a very unsupportive neuro-rehab environment here in the US and A. Maybe the rising tide of reality about football injuries will help, but not in time for Charlie. Any contribution you can make will really make a difference in his recovery.
Jacquie, while I absolutely love his thoughts on greeting age, something many of us are currently doing, my favorite thing is when he talks about the "milky silver finish". This finish is what I always thought was SO beautiful about Campy (you should excuse the expression!) equipment. As far as your personal struggle with responsibility, most of us have been there...we travel a path that is comfortable for us, where we can make the most of our abilities, and then when the situation changes, radically in your case, the flexibility we all develop allows us to change directions. You can do it. You have your friends in your area, and hundreds outside of that. We are all breaking as much wind for you both as is possible. Actually, that's maybe not the best choice of words...
i can NOT wait to see that footage!!! I think of charlie every time i ride up Tam - and the other day i saw a gentleman with a cunningham racer - WALKING!! - i should have taken it away from him ; ) - still my holy grail of bikes - until then my 88 merlin will have to do - sending you love & strength
Yep. And "death-grip somersault " can be a lovely metaphor for how stuck we get in our own heads and fears, sometimes. Make that time to meditate, soak in a tub, walk in the woods, breathe, even write for 15 minutes or an hour: you've got to take care of YOU to be able to carry on. Peace and strength, Jacquie.
I shared the link to Deer Park's Nextdoor.com community to let people know what's going on in case they want to contribute/help. Some suggestions came back that you may already have heard of: Marin Villages: http://www.marinvillages.org/content.aspx?page_id=0&club_id=134956 Brain Injury Network: http://www.binba.org Memphis Center for Independent Living (not sure what their national outreach is, but they were recommended): https://sites.google.com/site/mcilaction/