Sunday, May 31, 2009

John's Bachelor BBQ

A good friend is getting married in a couple of weeks and tonight was his bachelor party. The party actually started earlier in the day. Seven of them went to Flight Deck, in Anaheim for simulated flight combat. Turns out the real pilot in the group wasn't the best "stick" out there!
The rest of us who couldn't make it caught up with them at John's house for some fun, food and fellowship.


Steve did a great job on the grill!

Of course, with this many guys together fire had to be involved! We kept it sane...

Later on, a Wii with Rock Band was brought in and John was designated singer for most of the songs, until he wanted to give the drums a try.
Rockin' the mike!

Hank and Derrick
Hank, John & Derrick

John's Best Man, Robert had this cake made. The "grapes" were brownies.

Can't wait to witness your wedding John and to help you celebrate!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Snubbed by Denver, WWE comes to LA

The WWE was scheduled to have their show at the Pepsi Arena, the Home of the Denver Nuggets tonight but because the Denver Nuggets made it to the playoffs against the Lakers, Denver's Pepsi Center cancelled their booking [story here].
So they took their show to the Staples Center and devoted much of their show making fun of the Denver Nuggets and E. Stanley Kroenke, the Nuggets' owner.
Since the show was scheduled with only 3 days notice, the WWE flooded the area with ticket deals to fill Staples.
I've never been to a WWE show. I remember my uncle being such a fan back in the day and had some of my watch it with him back in Guam. When Celia told me that Blogdowntown was giving away tickets, I tried to win a pair with the following story:

Back in the early 70s my uncle would get a bunch of my cousins together to
watch wrestling on TV. There was a certain "old school pride" when we would name
off some of the wrestlers from those days like Victor Rivera and Man Mountain
Mike to some of the fans of today. Until they say "who?" reminding us how old we
are... ouch!

Anyway, I didn't win the tickets but Celia did and gave them to me. So I called a friend who really enjoyed watching WWE so I asked him to came long. Unfortunately, he couldn't go, so I called Joey, kidding. Joey watches the show with his mother, most times he has to translate some of the cultural differences in vietnamese but she enjoys it, though she says she can do without all the commercials.

The WWE started the show making fun of the owner of the Denver Nuggets and the Pepsi Center with an obviously fake E. Stanley Kroenke.
Making fun of the Denver Nuggets owner, E. Stanley Kroenke

Vince McMahon confronts a fake Kroenke

Our seats were not bad. Definitely, not nosebleed seats!
Here is the "Big Show", all 7 feet, 400+ lbs of him stomping on John Cena.
The Big Show stomping on John Cena

The current champion, Randy Orton.
Randy Orton

The Main Event of the evening was the "good guys" in the Laker jerseys versus the "bad guys" in the Nuggets jerseys.

and of course the "good guys/Laker" team won! After the show, we found out that the real Lakers didn't do as well.

After the Main Event, there was a match, an extra one, that isn't shown on the regular broadcast. A sort of extra for coming to see them live. Here a crowd favorite, at least to many of the kids and the women, John Cena is thanking the crowd for coming out to see the show on Memorial Day and on 3 days' notice.
First time watching a WWE event.

After the show Joey and I walked over to the Pantry for a late dinner. Surprisingly, we were seated right away, we were worried that there would be a crowd. After a while more people trickled in from the show. We overheard the waitress talking to a table with some kids, it was obvious that they were at the show with their t-shirt and other souvenirs, she told them that the "Big Show" character (the one wearing jersey 99) was here for breakfast.

"He ordered 2 hamburger steak plates and 12 eggs!!!"

It was a fun show. I'm not sure if I would go to another show but I had fun. I can cross this off my list now.
Again thanks to blogdowntown and my sister Celia for winning the tickets!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

James' Sunday visitors

James had a great day off physical therapy with a bunch of visitors. David (brother), Suzie (sister-in-law) and Nick (nephew) was with him in the morning. We sat with him as he had his lunch. He is still complaining that hospital food sucks! I don't think it is so much the hospital food but what he is limited to as far as his food is concerned. He is still suffering from Dysphagia, from his stroke, because of this all his foods have to be finely chopped or pureed.
After he had his lunch he got a little restless so we took a little cruise around the hospital. For most of the trip he "walked" himself on the wheelchair but after a while he got a little tired and we helped him a little.
Cruisin' the halls

After he got settled back in his bed and his family left, he got another visitor in Bentley. There is a team of four legged volunteers that work the hospital. Bentley is deaf so he is always looking to his owner for commands. He is a very sedate dog and took to James readily and no Bentley did not think James' pants were "tasty".
Bentley the volunteer dog

Then James got rocked with a ton of visitors! The first ones were Ken and his family. Ken works at Western Digital, the company next to James' in Lake Forrest. Ken had his wife, Michelle, and their daughters Jasmine and Hannah with them. Jasmine and Hannah entertained "Uncle James" with stories and jokes the whole time they were visiting.
Michelle, Ken, Jasmine and Hannah

Soon after, I get a call from the Kathy asking for directions to James' room. After flagging them down in the parking lot...
Kristen, Traci, Kathy and Derrick

The visits were doing James a lot of good as he was in great spirits.
That got a laugh out of him

But being Mr. ADD, it wasn't long before he started answering emails on his Blackberry! Aiyah!
All these visitors and James is on his Blackberry!

With 9 people already in his half of the room, I get another call from Mike and Maria, telling me that they are in the Lobby and they are also looking for his room.
Mike and Maria

After a while the Ken and Michelle left and then the Lais. They had just closed the door when Cherie from James' work came by with her husband, Constant.
Here is James pretending to be asleep when Cherie arrived...
Just as the introductions were made Emily, a friend James had not seen in over 4 years, comes through the door.

By 4:00pm, all his visitors had left and James was totally wiped out! He drifted in and out until his nurse, Michaela came by to get him ready for dinner. She had him changed, cleaned up an on his wheelchair. He had his dinner in the dining room. He was still complaining about the food but he ate more than he did at lunch.

He had a great day off from his physical therapy, not sure if he is going to get tomorrow off too, I doubt it though. They need to work him so he can get back in shape and mobile.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

580.2 miles, 22 hours and 48 minutes

I made a turn-around trip to Vegas yesterday. Hank and Berda told me that they were going to Vegas to celebrate Ada's birthday and asked me if I would be interested in joining them. I thought it was the perfect quick road trip/turn-around trip opportunity! Hank told me that Derrick might be interested in coming along for a turn-around as well. So after a couple of phone calls and checking with "the boss" (his wife Kathy), it was all set!

I got up at 6am, Friday morning, got a few things ready and picked up Derrick. We were worried that the traffic to Las Vegas would get very bad if we left later in the day. As it turned out there really wasn't any traffic until we got to the Vegas Strip.

Whiskey Pete's

Ada's friend Bruce had set up a suite at the Trump Tower. It was on the 59th floor and the view was NICE! I would have to say that the room had one of the coolest bathrooms I've seen in a hotel room. All of us spent a few minutes checking out the bathroom for a good while. It was VERY spacious and the bathtub was huge!

Killer view from the bath tub!
bathtub view of Vegas!

All of us fit in the bathroom!
meeting in the bathroom!

Ada playing in the shower.
Ada in the shower

Berda got lost in the tub.
It's a bathtub Berda not a room swimming pool!

I could spend a lot of time in this bathroom. It even has cable TV! The TV is in the mirror.
TV in the mirror
[Click here for a larger version]

Connie and Ada trying to make drinks.
Connie and Ada

View out the bedroom window.
View from the bedroom window

Hank nad Derrick planning a poker game. I was just lounging, those chairs were comfortable!
Hank, Derrick and me

After we relaxed a little, gambled a little, walked for a bit, we hit the buffet at Planet Hollywood. It used to be a favorite when the hotel was The Aladdin. I remember my sister, Laura, and I taking a similar turn-around trip just to go to their buffet (after dropping off the mom and aunts). We initiated Ada into the Lemon Butter Club.
New Lemon-Butter Club member

Ada's birthday funnel cake. Where did that candle come from?
Ada's birthday funnel cake

After dinner, the crowd split up to change, gamble, and shop (yes to shop!). We all met up at the Orleans to watch a band called Volume Six. The singer was in a band that Hank followed and had put together a new band so Hank "HAD to see them!"
Volume 6

Niki made sure our beverage needs were met! Except for Hank and Derrick's Smirnoff Ice orders.

Tony and Letisha (Vegas transplants) joined us there. Tony didn't like being trapped between Letisha and Berda!
Caught in the middle

Tony and Berda

Derrick and I left Vegas around 1:oo am. There were times my car was the only car on the road, but it was bright enough because the Memorial Weekend crowd was on the other side of the freeway! The traffic that Derrick and I were worred about on the way to Vegas was taking place on the other side of the freeway. At 2:00 am, there was still a steady stream of cars going to Vegas... steady stream!
I dropped off Derrick and I got home a little before 5:00 am. Tallied up, it took 580.2 miles round trip and 22 hours & 48 minutes (from driveway to driveway).

Who wants to try a San Francisco turn-around?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

James recovery

Went down to visit James earlier today with Berda. When we got to his room, he had just finished his lunch and sitting up in a wheelchair.
me, Berda and James in his hospital room

He had a physical therapy session in the morning and his next one wasn't until 1:30.
A few of his friends showed up and visited for a while. Great meeting you Joe, Art, Diego and Melina!
Joe, Art, Diego and Melina from Panasonic.

After James' friends from work left Michelle, one of his physical therapists, came by for his 1:30 PT (physical therapy). She invited me and Berda to come along to the gym. Michelle was having him do some exercises focusing on his left side. He needed to practive moving things from one side of the table to the other using only his left hand, a lot harder than we thought (at least for James)! At one point he was supposed to take some clothes pins from a box, open them, then place them in another box to the right using only his left hand. As soon as she turned around, I caught him cheating! So we made him do over!
Physical therapy

Before he got done two other friends, Wayne and Jolene arrived. Instead of going back to his room, we visited in the Acute Rehabilitation Unit Dining room/rec area. There is more room there to visit and not have to worry about being to loud for his roommate. Here we are in the Dining/rec area.
Visiting in the Acute Rehab Unit's dining area

I asked James how he was handling the PT and he said that he can't believe that they expect him to do 6 hours of PT throughout the day, he says that he has never worked out that much when he was healthy (relativey)! Yeah, we told him to quit whining and take it like a man!

Dining area/Rec area for the Acute Rehab Unit
Visiting and chatting.
James and Berda

Discussing what type of motorcyles each of us were going to be getting.
Wayne and James in the hospital dining area

After a while he was starting to get tired so we all went back to his room so he could rest a little for his 3:30 PT session. Just as we were getting ready to leave, Andrew (brother) and Christine (sister in law) arrived bringing him some workout clothes and shoes.

So things are looking up. James is regaining his warped sense of humor but knows that he has a lot of therapy ahead of him!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

James is out of the SICU

Last night James was transferred out the SICU wing of the hospital. He is doing much better these days and he is in looking forward to getting out of the hospital. Right now arrangements are being made to either transfer him to the Acute Rehabilitation Wing or the Skilled Rehabilitation Wing. We are told by the Care Manager that he qualifies medically for either, it is up to some paperwork and his decision as to how intense he wants his therapy.
He is thinking the faster the better but worried about the intensity... He will be consulting with his family on that decision.

Tonight, we just hung out talking about what still needs to be done, made plans for gaining some of his weight back, a couple of road trips for this summer... We watched a little of the Laker game, though he switched the channels quite a bit. James is one serious channel surfer!

His brothers and sisters in law were visiting earlier.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Road to Recovery

Morning Visit
This morning Berda and I went to the hospital to visit James. Linda, the nurse in charge, was the same nurse I had met last Friday. She told us that James is doing much better and he has been able to stay awake longer. He is still trying to make sense of it all. He tries to speak but can only manage a few words and mumbles the rest. His mind is still trying to regain control of his body. He was doing well with names but trails off soon afterwards in his speech. At times you can see the exasperation in his face. Assurances that it will all come together in time will help keep his anxiety level down.
As we were leaving one of James' oldest friend from college, Wendy and her husband came by to sit with James a while. They were with James for a few minutes.
James had a few of his co-workers show up, unfortunately they were not able to go in to see him. Linda felt that James was being overwhelmed with the visits at that point. So Linda asked them to come back another day, suggesting that Saturday would be a much better day for James to take in more visitors.

Evening visit
Around 6:00pm, I went back to the hospital with Stephanie. James' brothers, Michael and David and David's wife Suzie were aleady there. James had just come back from an MRI. They told us that James was very responsive though he was still having a hard time speaking. The nurse allowed all of us to come in all at once as James was more awake. We spent the time letting him know of all the well wishes and prayers being sent. I passed on all the messages from everyone minus the "give him a big hug from me". Sorry folks you are going to have to deliver those yourselves!

Hospital Staff Request
The staff is asking everyone to hold off on their visits until Saturday. They feel that James should be at the stage that he will be stronger for more visitors. They also ask to call first so they know who and how many people to expect during the day. That way they will be able to let you know if conditions were to change that would prevent him from receiving visitors.
The direct line to the SICU is 949-365-2173.

James has lost some weight. We told him that in order to gain it back we will have to schedule a bunch of buffet trips and BBQs to which he gave a thumbs up!
James' family wants to thank everyone for all the prayers and well wishes for James. They appreciate all the messages sent and so will James when he reads them. Keep them coming as it is a great source of encouragement to James to spark him on to the road to recovery!

Monday, May 11, 2009

More on James

For those of you who joined the "Praying for James" group on Facebook, thank you very much. The show of support and love you have all shown is greatly appreciated by his family. If you have the chance leave a message or a comment here or on the group. Comment if you went to visit him in the hospital to let people know. No matter how trivial you may think it is, the rest of us who can't visit him are starved for any and all information.
Caring Bridge
That also goes to the other sources of information such as the Caring Bridge Journal that James' brother, with help from the hospital, updates periodically. There will be a list of links for most information on James' condition at the end of this post. The family had left the site open, so no registration is required to get to the site or to leave a message or prayer.
Women's Group of OC
The Women's group that meets at Donna Quon's house on Mondays took time to visit James earlier this afternoon. The group (Berda, Donna, Grace, Kathy, and Lori) was able to see him and pray over him two at a time. According to Brian, the head nurse, they slowed down James' body warming process. There were some numbers they did not feel comfortable with and decided to slow it down even more. Otherwise, there isn't much change in his condition. Once James' temperature gets back to normal, the procedure to wean him off the medications will continue (that takes longer).
Even though James is still in a coma, his family encourages James' friends to visit. Just know that the visits are controlled by the nursing staff for the benefit of James' health. Until then, please your prayers coming!

Thank you!

List of sources:
  1. Caring bridge Journal for James
  2. This website (I will update often)
  3. My emails - If you are not on the list to receive them, let me know to what email you want them sent. Leave a comment on this blog, I won't publish the email address.
  4. Praying for James Group (in Facebook)

If there are other sources that you know of or want to add, let me know and I will add it to the list. I place everyone's email address under the blind copy for their privacy, that's why you only see yours and mine.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

James had a stroke

“Hi Angel, my name is Nick and I’m James’ nephew… If you didn’t know, he has suffered a stroke and is in an induced coma…”

That is how the email started telling me that my best friend James had suffered a stroke. Once that first line finally sunk in, I got in touch with Nick. James’ family had no way to contact any of James’ friends. James does not have a phone directory and his cell phone requires a password since it is a company phone. I started a phone tree with the usual group from our old church and began a series of email updates for everyone, adding addresses as more people got in touch with me.

With a number of different sources [family, friends and co-workers] this is what we were all able to gather:
James had left work early Tuesday afternoon saying he was not feeling well. Wednesday morning, he did not go to work and his co-workers were worried as he had left his laptop, backpack and other personal items at his desk overnight. His friend and co-worker, Tony, worried about him was not getting any answers form James on his cell phone.
James was at a gas station when the stroke occurred. Fortunately, there were quick thinking people present and called 911. He arrived at the hospital about 2:00pm by ambulance. His family was notified a few hours later.

The hospital determined that James had a stroke. They determined that the course of action was to induce a coma to reduce the chances of brain and/or body damage. They had used a catheter, going up through his leg and removed the brain blockage chemically. In inducing a coma with medications, James’ body temperature was dropped to 33°C.
James’ nephew, Nick was finally able to find me through Facebook of all places and informed me what had happened and that’s where I finally came into the picture.

In calling and emailing all our friends, John Place accompanied me to the hospital. His family had already left when we arrived, so we got whatever information the nurse on duty was able to give us. Earlier that morning, a CT scan gave the neurologist the impression that James was ready for the procedure to wake him. The procedure consisted of weaning him off some of the treatments and raising his body temperature back to normal. They will be raising his body temperature from 33°C, 1°C a day.

Today, I met two of James’ brothers and their wives, and Tony and Ian from his company and together we were able to put together much of the events. With the family, we were able to consolidate much of James’ contact list.
As of this afternoon, James’ body temperature was at 34.9°C. To date here are some of the things we know:
  • Damage to the brain is not extensive and that is a positive sign.
  • The most recent echo of the heart shows that it is stronger than previous determinations.
  • Pulmonary edema has also shown signs of improvement.
  • The extent of any damage cannot be determined until James regains consciousness.
  • The blockage was in the right side of his brain.

The staff at the hospital told us that during the “waking up” process, it is important that James is subjected to as little stimulation as possible to promote reduction in the swelling of the brain. The whole regimen is very dependent on how he reacts and at any point in time the procedure is adjusted accordingly.

If you have not been receiving the update emails please leave a comment with your email address, so I can add you to the list.
Another source of updates would be the Caring Bridge journal that James’ brother set up with the hospital.
Thank you everyone for all your prayers. James’ family appreciate it and I’m sure James would be overwhelmed with all your support.