Charlie Cunningham Medical/Rehab
Charlie suffered broken bones, bruises, and trauma to his head. At the time, he didn't feel his head injury was significant. Unfortunately, six weeks later, the head injury manifested into a subdural hematoma, a life threatening condition that resulted in emergency brain surgery.
Currently, Charlie is in the hospital, recovering. His condition is stable, semi-conscious, but he cannot walk, talk or safely swallow food yet. He is making very slow steps to regain very basic tasks. The road to recovery is going to be long and involve many specialists to help him get back to his former self. Charlie's wife Jacquie Phelan, racer and ladies cycling advocate, is teaching him basic speech, in tandem with his speech/swallow therapists. Their home will need modifications to allow him to live there. It is unknown how long he will be wheelchair bound. Your donations will help to offset the costs of his rehabilitation and the "ramping up" of his home (Offhand Manor). Thank you for your generosity.
A bit about me: I'm a friend of Charlie and Jacquie's, since the 80's. An early Wombat and bicycle painter, just helping out a friend. All funds go to Charlie. :)
I answered an ad for caregiving support for a temporarily dis-armed neighbor...seeing as how the ongoing care for C exceeds our income. I wanted to see what it was like to be Really Useful for someone else, and maybe make a new friend. I feel as though I lucked out, and will be very useful for the posessor of a badly broken right humerus (upper arm bone) who can't easily shampoo or cook.
This sixtyish woman used to ride up her steep hill on her bike in earlier years, and her daughter descended and climbed every day to school and back from 4th grade on!
Both she and her husband have been impressive do-ers and since I only know about a dozen Fairfaxians, and some are moving away, I wanted to boost my base, so to speak. But these two are moving to Spain next fall....
I told him this morning we'd call. I'd filled out the profile online for him, but they needed to talk directly with him.
"I don't want to take part in an experiment" he said flatly, facing away from me in bed.
"Nothing's proven yet" he went on.
I can only hear him if I cup my ear. The hearing aids are in my messynger bag. I wish I had silicone bat ears as back ups.
"All right. One less thing we have to do". I was a bit relieved (no drilling into his head), but also deflated. I'm supposed to be offering him every cutting-edge modality of care possible.
Well, things are quite different now, and it's a very rainy Friday, with a different Charlie in front of the camera. Trying to imagine a 30 minute short subject on Charlie, his vision for a bicycle-friendly planet (and of course a user-friendly bike), and perhaps a bit on the New Man, whose life was radically upended in 2015. IF or when the movie's made, we'll have a show at the Marin Museum of Bicycling.
But he can't find his way in the world, or initiate conversation, or see well, given his hemianopia (half the visual field is black, and there's no peripheral input). I vascillate between 'be happy with what we've got' and 'you have to push ahead at all times'.
There is probably no conclusive evidence that stem cell therapy rebuilds the brain, or we'd have it available by now.
When you're in a study, you have to agree that you might be in the placebo group, and not know until after the study's over.
I'm mulling it all, wondering.
Meanwhile remembering how, before his hands were rendered semi-uselss, he could feel things so tiny that when a lump appeared on my right breast, even the mammograms couldn't see it. He'd caught a tiny cancer-lump with his 'feeler gauge fingers ' (have I already written about this?
In short, he spared me : mastectomy. Chemo. Tamoxifen for five years.
How could anyone adequately thank their partner for such a wonderful gift?
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...
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/
Jacquie, Caregivers get the short end of the stick, no matter how much they are committed. The airlines have it right: put your own mask on first. It sounds like you have a great group of friends there, and I hope thay can give you the help you need. Keep up the good work.