December 25 2004

Dear All,

First, let me wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Ivy and us all. As I write this, it is Christmas afternoon and Ivy is watching "A Christmas Story" with us all. The day is a rather quiet one so far and I am very thankful for it. Poor Ivy has a migraine headache today, which makes the day a difficult one for her, but her breathing is the best it has been for some time, with her FIO2 having been set down to 50% and her saturations reading 100. The pressure was moved down again today to 18, (which is down from 24), and we are heading in the right direction once again.

It has been a rather difficult fight back from sepsis this last time for Ivy. We seem to be taking a lot longer to regain her saturation levels than some of the times in the past, but I still feel that there has been improvement in spite of these seemingly endless setbacks. Ivy continues to become stronger and takes a continuously increasing role in her care. She is feeding herself, brushing her own teeth, and on the good days, she even puts on her own makeup…very remarkable young woman.

One of the nurses who have been caring for Ivy from the very beginning is working today, but is not caring for Ivy. He took it upon himself to buy some gifts for Ivy to give to us, which was so incredibly thoughtful of him to do. Ivy was thrilled that she has something to give to each of us and I was very touched that he would think of all of us. Of course, this is the same person who included a whoopee cushion in a bag of goodies he had for Ivy. She hid it under her covers and "let it rip" when her pulmonary doctor came in to see her this morning…Ivy got quite a reaction from him.

This update has been "in the works" for so long now that I have lost all "train of thought" as to what I had written before today. As I reviewed what I had saved, I felt that these next few paragraphs were worth including as they were written on December ninth, the one year anniversary of Ivy's accident. Even though I never got the chance to finish what I had written, it is a reflection of the day, so I've included it as I wrote it next…

It is the first day of the second year. When in my life did I ever think that I would be sitting by my daughter's side, after a year of our lives had passed, with a situation like this? The evening is a quiet one, somewhat reflective, for me at least, as I look back over this last year…both cursing it and so thankful for it all at the same time. As the song said…ponderous.

This evening as we are at Ivy's side, her uncle is here, playing his guitar for us…very intricate classical music, the Beatles, Danny Boy, and even Bob Dylan, his personal favorite. The music so much a part of this last year…most especially early on when the TV that so often fills the room with sound today was somehow…wrong during those times when Ivy could not respond to us at all, it was music that filled the room, as it does tonight.

About an hour ago, the paramedic and flight nurse who were so instrumental in saving Ivy's life stopped by to see her, to find out how she was doing and to let us all know that they remembered it was an anniversary for Ivy and that Ivy is always in their thoughts and prayers…two very special men. Even a year later, they remembered the young woman who they had attended to along the freeway and had flown to Palomar…

We chatted for a while, catching up on the latest. As they shared their thoughts with us, I was so very thankful that they have come into our lives last year. I shutter at the idea of what might have been if it were not for these two and, of course, Sam. Three wonderful people to whom I owe so much. I wondered just how many people owe their lives to these two men and so many others like them…May God bless them all.

Wow…it had been a very difficult day, and yet, it was a very special day as well. We have now spent more than a year here at Palomar Medical Center and it has become our life. Kathie has spent every day and night here during this time, and I have been here each evening and every weekend. We don't know anything else anymore, but it is something that will be changing very soon after the new year.

The surgeon from UCSD who reviewed Ivy's case ended up coming to the hospital to meet Kathie and Ivy after all. We were told that her insurance company would not allow her to visit Palomar, but something must have been done to correct this, because she showed up unannounced on a Tuesday and let us know that she would accept Ivy as a patient. She was leaving UCSD for the holidays and would return after the first of the New Year.

It was rather troubling to hear from her that Ivy's lungs were, on a scale of one to ten, with ten being the worst, an 8.5 at best. This was not anything close to what we expected to hear. She also told us that there was a 75% chance that the surgery she would perform would be successful in eliminating the infections that had plagued Ivy's recovery for so long. Again, not at all what we expected to hear.

Once the surgery is performed, we will be facing at least six to nine months of recovery. This means that Kathie and Ivy will be in San Diego and Chris and I will be in Temecula for some time to come. The whole idea of moving has Ivy very stressed and it is something that we avoid talking about in her room. Kathie is also very troubled because we have no idea of what she will be facing once Ivy moves to UCSD. We don't have a place for her to stay and the idea of being down there by herself is not very comforting.

The patient advocate that is following Ivy's case as a third party for the insurance company is trying to make the transition as smooth as is possible, but we have some very difficult time ahead of us until we get Ivy and Kathie settled in. I will take at least a week off from work when the move happens so that we can, hopefully, get both Kathie and Ivy settled, but it is a very scary time for all of us at best.

I have considered trying to drive to the hospital evenings, but it would mean another hour each way at a minimum and some very horrible traffic to face as well. As it is now, I leave Arcadia at 3:30 in the afternoon and don't arrive at the hospital until after 6:00. If I don't get to the hospital until at least seven, I would have to leave no later than nine just to get home early enough to get some sleep before starting the next day. I will try to do this at least once, but I know I will not be able to do it every day of the week as I do now. Chris and I will have to settle for seeing Kathie and Ivy on the weekends for some time to come…not an ideal situation at all.

I am hoping that I can find some place for Kathie to stay that is not too expensive and that is very close to the hospital. She does not want to take her car down to San Diego at all. This will mean that Kathie will be staying at the hospital almost all of the time. We have had people volunteer their homes to Kathie, which is incredibly generous of them, but we just do not feel comfortable imposing on people we don't even know.

We have had some incredible things happen as well. Ivy's story was published in the San Diego Union, thanks to a couple of Ivy's professors who have worked so very hard to support her. The article was very successful in spreading Ivy's story to the people of San Diego County and the posts from people who read the paper and then followed the link to Ivy's website were incredible. It did a lot to bring Ivy a lot of incredible support.

Speaking of her professors, they also arranged for a performance to be held in Ivy's honor at Cal State San Marcos. This was a benefit that raised a very significant amount of money to help Ivy, which was so incredible of everyone. They also recorded the performances so that we can all see it. My deepest thanks to everyone who came out to support Ivy…God bless you all.

Ivy also received a very special package from a group of students that attend Holmes Elementary School in Clairmont. They are all in the STARR program (students with special learning needs) and as a group project, they all made a garland and individual cards for "Jennifer Ivy". It seems that one of the students' Mom works with the class on Thursdays and she read Ivy's story to the class.

The students were so touched by "Jennifer Ivy's" story that they wanted to make her a very special garland (it is hanging across her the doorway to her room right now and it means the world to us all). The students all made cards for Ivy as well and wrote very special greetings to her. It was a very special day as they were read one by one to Ivy. I will make sure that I write to the class and answer every one of their questions for Ivy, as they are all very special kids.

I would like to thank everyone who has been there for Ivy and us all this last year and I hope with all my heart that the New Year will be a wonderful one for all of us. With your prayers and well-wishes to support her, I know that Ivy is well on her way to being home with us once again. Know that every one of you is in our hearts and prayers.

A very special thanks to everyone who sent Ivy the wonderful gifts and cards. I will do my very best to send our thanks to you all just as soon as I can…you deserve better than just a quick note such as this at the end of a letter…God bless you all!

All of Our Best Wishes Always,

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Michael, Kathie, Chris and most especially, Ivy