When Julia was in utero, and I went for my first ultra-sound, like all mothers, I was anxious to see her. The effort of the nurse pressing the monitor over my belly was making me have to go to the bathroom. After 5 minutes of not being able to see Julia – who was tucked so far down and out of site – we were about to give up. Suddenly, into view came a little hand. The nurse exclaimed, “Look – her thumb is sticking out!” And there it was, before my very eyes, a fetal thumbs up.
My mother went on to write the nicest letter I’ve ever received, after that first week that she spent with us. She wrote about Julia, her observations of us as parents, and all the love Julia had craddled herself into. She ended it with, “That’s why it’s ‘Thumb’s up’!”
Though the medical coma Julia was placed in is over, she still remains largely comatose, except for moving her right arm spontaneously, and half-opening her good eye. Up until Thursday night when the nurses were jostling her around from gurney to gurney for a CTscan, in addition to the bright lights, she woke enough to respond to the nurse who asked her, “Can you hear me?” Julia gave a thumbs up. She was then asked if she goes to St. Joes. To this, she nodded her head yes! Memory!
The next day she would not replicate that responsiveness for the docs and stayed sleeping or unconscious most of the day. Last night around dinner, she woke briefly. I took the opportunity to tell her that people have been responding to the blog that I have set up for HER to take over, and that her faculty adviser, Julie, is now shopping for a publisher for us to co-author a book. To this she attempted a closed-mouthed smile (that looked like Chinese man, it was so cute) and gave me my very first Thumbs Up. I almost had a heart attack. I did that crying/laughing thing from the movies. My girl is back! Just like I absolutely knew she would be.
Yesterday morning she had the leg surgery to repair her broken bones and knee tendons. She passed with flying colors. The docs warned us she would be comatose the rest of the day, and tomorrow. Au contraire! Not only were both eyes open, when I asked her how she was, she said in sign-language, “O K.”! I then asked if she could sign her name and she did! J-U-L-I-A! When I saw her dexterity in her right hand we gave her her Ukulele. She picked for a bit and then actually strummed. (See video below.) When we asked if she was in pain she faintly shook her head no. Today was an amazing, faith-re-enforcing day.
On Thursday, I had preliminary trial for the driver who hit her. Pat wanted no part of it. It ended up getting continued to 2/5 because the results of the blood test are not in. I saw him though. Next to his pregnant wife, who mouthed the words to me, “I’m sorry.” I felt badly for them suddenly and gave them the peace sign. More carnage and pain from this is not what I want. A witness who was in the car closest to Julia, who stopped when the light turned yellow, was there. He said he saw Julia’s face when the car next to him came at her. With the headlights rushing at her, he said she “lit up like a Christmas tree.” He’s been having nightmares about it since. The reason he didn’t assist her on the scene was because he assumed, by the way she flew in the air after the impact and landed in the street, she was gone. He said he watched her rib cage and she was not breathing. The campus police who arrived were “freaked out and clueless” by his account, which I have less than compassionate feelings about, obviously. He said, “The girl with the glasses (her friend Emily) controlled the situation.” Again and a million times – thank You, God, for Emily.
The next step is the second and last operation she is scheduled for at Jeff, which is for her face, sinuses, eye and head. On Friday, they will attempt to fix the multiple fractures in her face and around her eye. If successful, they will replace the half of her skull cap that was removed last week and placed on ice. Obstacle by obstacle, we are really and truly getting the Starting Line. Just as I knew, thanks to God, and your prayers, we would be.
The beat of connectivity goes on. We have a journal that visitors write in when they come into the ICU which, at Jeff, is on the 9th floor. The other day, Pat was recalling a submission he read in it from one of her friends. The friend was telling a story about asking Julia once, “How do you totally not care about what others think about you or what you do or say?” Julia said, “I do care what people think. But then I just say 3-2-1 and do it anyway.” Then, my sharp sister, Maureen, says, “Pat look at the top of the door.” Julia’s room number is 9321.
Happy New Year!