[ Pokhara & Kathmandu ]
Over the last two weeks, I have forwarded a spate of news your way, most of it bad. First there was the sudden descent into serious illness by skydiving friend Mike Boman, followed almost immediately by my Nepali mom’s accident, a terrible fall involving two broken hips, a broken tib-fib, a helicopter evac, and major surgery to repair the aforementioned.
I wanted to update everyone briefly on both cases.
Ganesh Kumari Shrestha
As I have already mentioned, Aamaa is doing better. I last saw her on Wednesday night in the ICU at Grande International Hospital in Kathmandu. Her pain medications had been reduced a bit, she was more alert and talkative, bored, restless, and visibly irritated with the nurses and other staff. In other words, she appeared to be successfully on the mend. As of this morning (it’s currently Sunday morning, 11am, on my side of the planet), she is still in the ICU, but it’s likely she’ll be moved into her own room later today. While this is all fantastic news medically, it threatens to be an insurmountable financial disaster for a family comprised almost entirely of traditional subsistence farmers. For this reason, I’ll be undertaking various fund-raising efforts to help the family. I’ll keep you all updated on these efforts over the next couple of days, as the details are finalized. Currently we’re talking about an amount in the $8,000USD range—a substantial amount even in the West; in Nepal, that sum is astronomical.
For several reasons (discretion prohibits me from sharing the details here), the doctors are confident Mike’s condition is unrelated to his Nepal trip. His diagnosis remains encephalitis, his prognosis uncertain. In order to keep the brain swelling down and mitigate long-term damage as much as possible, he is undergoing an intensive course of steroid therapy. He is experiencing periods of non-reponsive catatonia in alternation with lengthy periods of (confused) lucidity—sometimes staying awake for 36 hours at a stretch, speaking non-stop, highly paranoid (perhaps due to the steroids), and prone to good-natured yet socially inappropriate remarks and behaviour. (Yes. I understand the latter sounds like most skydivers you’ve ever met, but in this instance he isn’t aware that he’s being inappropriate, so it’s different. I promise.) He occasionally has to be restrained, and the only person he seems to really recognize and respond to calmly and trustingly is a mutual skydiving friend. She has been staying with him and helping, utterly selflessly, since the very beginning of this whole mess. She is the One True Shiznit, and you’d best believe me when I say so.
Regarding his prognosis, we’ll have a better idea once the steroid treatment ends on Sunday. The steroids could easily be responsible for much of the paranoia and aggression, and the long periods of sleeplessness; we’re hoping these symptoms subside along with the steroid levels. Best case, he’ll be back to his old, sarcastic, intentionally socially inappropriate self. Worst case, the behavioural changes could be permanent.
His family has set up a CaringBridge website for him, where you can sign a guestbook, get additional updates, etc. It requires an account even to view the page (easy to do, and you can use FB or G+ or other logins if you’d prefer, but in my considered opinion it’s shameful for a site devoted to public well-being to set a barrier to easy access).
Stay tuned for further updates as I have them, and thanks to everyone for your out-of-band support and encouragement.