Monday, April 30, 2012


Elaine had a busy day today! She started out with therapy. She had a solid two hours, although she still fights distractions. She continues to build on what she has been working on. Paul is much more concerned with quality, NOT quantity. He wants to make sure that each exercise she does, she does perfectly and stops at the first one that is wrong. This is a point when habits become very hard to break and it is very important that she continues to create a solid foundation. She is doing well and he is challenging her to try and focus on three things at one time. That does get a little tricky for her and she is easily sidetracked. Everyone is astounded by Elaine though and how well she is doing!

After a few errands, Elaine's friend Kathy came by for a visit. She brought over a flyer for the 9-hole couples tournament that the 4 of them won last year. She wants them to defend their title again and left it there as motivation for her to get better. They had a really great visit!

Today was Christi's 8th Birthday. We had a birthday celebration at Island's tonight. Elaine looked beautiful and reminded us of her old self. She was walking really well and was very alert and talkative. We had a wonderful night and were so thankful that Nammie is here to celebrate with us.

Sunday, April 29, 2012


Due to some technical difficulties, yesterday's blog did not post. Fortunately, it was saved somewhere in the cloud.

So, we will give you a little update on today immediately following yesterday's news.

Today we are putting a quick, early post. We are celebrating Christi's birthday at Disneyland. We just dropped off Brian so that Elaine, Fred, and Franny can babysit while we spend the night at the Happiest Place on Earth.

A couple interesting notes from Elaine's therapy session today with Paul. She made an attempt to play badminton in the front of the house. Can you just imagine what the neighbors thought when they drove by and saw two adults trying to play badminton without a net in the front yard?

There was also some great progress today. Elaine was able to get up off the ground all by herself.  This is obviously a huge step towards greater independence!

Sunday, Sunday Sunday! Fred and Elaine had a nice today taking care of Brian who stayed over last night while the rest of the crew was at DisneyLand for Christi's birthday. Sunday's huge highlight is showcased on the video below.  For those of you who have trouble with video, the following shows Elaine chipping at the driving range. Now, that is a huge day! She said it felt like she was starting all over and had never played golf before. A witness said that it didn't look like she was just learning. She tried to take a full swing but Little Darlin' is not quite there yet, but she will be!

Back to therapy in the morning after a great Sunday, feeling like the old days. One of her grandchildren sleeping over and some golf! She is AMAZING!

Friday, April 27, 2012


Elaine had a big and exciting day today! She doesn't have therapy on Fridays so she had a busy day of fun! First of all, she shocked us all by not getting dressing in her lulu lemon clothes this morning. She wore an adorable sundress and looked beautiful and healthy. Staci took her into the gym this morning. She hasn't been back there for exactly 13 weeks! Everyone in there has been wanting to see her and give her a hug. She wanted to see them too and especially thank Tim and Kyle for saving her life. They talked a little about that morning and she was able to ask them a few questions. We are so grateful to them for recognizing it so fast and taking such good care of her! As she was being wheeled out of there 13 weeks ago, we were unsure of her future. The fact that she walked in here today and is doing so well is nothing short of a miracle!

After that, Staci and Elaine went to lunch, did some shopping (yes back to lulu), and had manicures and pedicures. Little Darlin' was misbehaving at the nail salon. When Elaine had her nails in the bowl, LD was tipping the water over. The lady moved LD out of the water and then a few minutes later she knocked the water over. Its one of those situations you just have to laugh at. Her fingers and toes crossed a few times too but the girls were really sweet about it and just repainted her toes. It was actually quite entertaining.

They picked up the girls from school, picked up Brian after his nap and went to play at Nammie's for a little bit. Brian wanted to help Nammie out of the car and into the house. He kept grabbing for her hand. Christi and Elaine played charades (again entertaining). It was a fun day!

Fred and Elaine had dinner with Jake, his mom, and his Grandma tonight at Big Canyon. They had a great night and were so happy to meet them.

Tomorrow Elaine is back to therapy, and she is excited to continue her progress. Fred was telling her that he can't believe how she never complains about therapy or doing it over and over. She is always ready for it and always wants to work hard. She is amazing!

Thursday, April 26, 2012


Elaine is progressing so well! She is progressing so well that she is even dreaming about a new business that she and Staci are going to start. They are going to give botox shots. Her first client was Grandma Ida!
That's right. She was actually dreaming.

She claims that it is very important that she knows exactly where you had your last shot so she could put it in exactly the same place! This is how we start our mornings, hearing about Elaine's crazy dreams. Just so we are clear, her dreams have been like this before she "got stroke." They are always entertaining and ridiculous:)

Fred and Elaine had a quiet morning and then Staci came over to take Elaine to lunch and therapy. Fred was taking Taylor out on a date so Staci and Elaine went to The Counter and had burgers, fries, and shakes. They were delicious. They laughed and Staci told Elaine how she can't believe how far she has progressed. It wasn't that long ago that she was in the rehab hospital, confined to a wheel chair, not able to do anything alone. It was a day that it really hit Staci that she was actually out to lunch with her mom!  The simple things that you take for granted that can be taken away in an instant. We have all vowed to never take a minute for granted!

After a nutritious lunch, they headed to physical therapy. There was a scheduling conflict so she only had therapy for an hour today. It was an insightful session. She has been doing so well that they are able to really zero in on what messages are still not being sent to or from her brain. As we have mentioned several times, one of the biggest challenges she has when it comes to walking is being able to keep her knee straight. It has been especially frustrating for her because she thinks it is straight and one of us is always yapping at her to straighten it. The therapist did a test on her today to see if she is able to feel the direction her ankle is moving. It turns out that when she closed her eyes and the therapist moved her foot, she could feel it moving towards her or her toe pointing up, but NOT when it was pointing down. This means that she isn't able to feel when her foot touches the ground. This is why she has trouble with depth perception, her steps, and flattening her foot. They are going to really focus on some exercises to "wake up" the nerves. Her homework over the weekend is to try and take the same size strides with both legs and walk heel-to-toe. This is her practicing on the dots and making a heel-to-toe step.

After therapy, Elaine and Staci had to run to a dermatologist appointment to have a few moles checked on Staci. Elaine was eager to come and Staci just went along with it. She soon found out why. She wanted to find out if with her stroke and her medications, if she could still have botox. After the appointment as they were walking out of the office this was their conversation:

E- "Well, that was sure great news!"
S- "I know. I am glad my moles all look ok!"
E- "Oh yeah, that is great too. I was talking about my botox. I am so glad I can have it!"

Yes, she is still the same old vain Elaine!

They arrived home to Fred who was bearing gifts! He bought Elaine some beautiful new tops. He said that now that she is feeling better, he wanted her to have some new non Lulu Lemon clothes! The gift was complete with a singing card. It was very sweet. There is nothing Elaine likes more than presents and nothing Fred likes more than giving:) She can hardly wait to debut one of her new tops! What a guy!

The kids popped in for a visit, a trip to the candy jar, and some kisses. Fred and Elaine enjoyed the wonderful pasta and sauce that Allison brought over and are ready for a restful night!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Elaine had another good night of sleep. The Neurontin is helping her at night, it puts her to sleep, too! I nice bonus. The pain pill is helping her arm as well, but unfortunately she can feel it as soon as it wears off. She had a great day of therapy though and continued to process and focused better today too!

This afternoon Staci and Taylor dropped off Elaine's juice and some groceries. Staci had to get the other two kids and Taylor decided to stay and take care of Nammie until she got back. She was so sweet with her, rubbing her arm, getting her sips of water, holding her hand so delicately when she stood up. We think its the only time that Elaine doesn't want to be independent! It was a nice treat for both of them to spend some time alone and Taylor was so excited with the responsibility of "taking care of Nammie." She never left her side!

Christi was so excited that Nammie came to swim practice to watch her. Elaine sat and watched her for the whole hour, even during the raindrops. We did forget her Coumadin so Fred had to run it over to us at the pool. We are so thankful for nurse Fred and the alarm that goes off on his phone every day at 4:45! He is such an incredible, selfless caretaker! Despite the drops of rain, the temperature was really nice. Elaine really enjoyed being outside and getting out doing some "normal" activities that don't include hospital visits, or therapy.

You can see a difference in Elaine just getting a more restful night of sleep and some hours of the day where she is not in so much pain. She is fighting through this with so much courage!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Elaine had another busy day today! She finally had a really good night of sleep! She started a new nerve drug called Neurontin. Hopefully, this will help with Little Darlin's pain. After getting ready for the day, Allison stopped in for a visit from LA. She brought with a huge bag of delicious treats that Elaine has been enjoying all day. Allison was so excited to see how well Elaine was doing, and despite seeing her on the blog Allison thought she looked so much better in person

Elaine and Fred then headed to Hoag for her two hour therapy session. She had a new therapist today. She explained to Elaine that everyone is fighting to work with Elaine. They have such admiration for her determination and dedication. Her progress is remarkable and the therapists used the word "miracle"! They worked Little Darlin' some more as well as her golf turn. Check on this video:

It must have really inspired Elaine. Staci dropped off what we hope is the last load from the old house, which as you can imagine by now is useless odds and ends - oh amd MORE lamps! Then, Fred and Elaine headed down to the putting green so Elaine could practice the real thing. It was very exciting! She had lots of admirers and well wishers come by as well. She started by just putting with one hand but Fred and Jake encouraged her to use both hands, and she did very well! Elaine rode around while they played nine holes and she would putt on some of the greens. Elaine said to Fred, "honey you hit the ball and get me on the green and I'll putt. We would be a really good team!" Fred agreed that his score would come down at least nine shots with Elaine putting. If you don't believe it, check out this amazing video! 

Nearly 14 weeks ago, Elaine was bedridden and not sure she would ever walk again, much less play golf. And now, she is out there sinking putts. It is inspiring and amazing. We are so proud of Elaine and all the hard work she is putting in. It is hard for her to see her progression so we remind her of just how far she has come. Considering the magnitude of the situation, the fact that she has been boiling eggs for Fred, holding Brian, and putting on the green just in the last week is truly unbelievable and something Elaine was not sure she would ever be able to do again. She is slowly getting back her life - again, a life she wasn't sure she would ever know! The word Proud doesn't begin to sum up how we feel, and the title hero doesn't do her justice! 

Monday, April 23, 2012


Elaine had a back-on-schedule type of day. Paul is back from his conference and he and Elaine worked for a couple hours this afternoon. It was more of the same with those two. Elaine laughed a lot while not maintaining as much focus as Paul would like. Her leg performed well and felt better. Unfortunately, her arm continued to be in pain. Elaine really shows amazing strength fighting through the pain to actually accomplish something during her therapy sessions.  She really is inspiring!

Recently, Staci started drinking fresh fruit and vegetable juices from this place called Nekter. She is now encouraging Elaine to drink one a day, and to ensure that it happens she usually runs one by the house. Luckily, Elaine likes her juice which is nice because she claims that she is sick of food and sick of eating. Staci doesn't let her get off that easily and is always gently (or less gently) getting Elaine to eat three meals a day plus snacks to ensure that she has enough energy to get through the therapy and the hard work she goes through every day.

Mostly though, Elaine is sick of the pain. We wish there we could find an on/off switch that would make her feel better. She is an incredibly tough woman, and we feel awful for what she deals with everyday. Her only consolation is that she continues to make progress even as Little Darlin' causes her so much trouble.

We are hoping that Fred and Elaine get a night of restful and peaceful sleep!

Sunday, April 22, 2012


Fred and Elaine spent the morning and afternoon together, just the two of them, and had a really nice day! They had brunch at Big Canyon and then headed over to see American Pie Reunion. They said it was quite funny.

They were planning to go putt, but the weather was misty so they decided to wait another day. Elaine is chomping at the bit to get out there and give it a shot on real greens. She has been practicing in the garage! Her therapist wants to take her down to start chipping soon. Elaine doesn't want him around so he doesn't put any new swing thoughts in her mind:) This is her chance to get that damn fine swing even better! Hopefully this week she will get out there. She doesn't have any doctor appointments scheduled, just therapy this week so that will be a nice and give her a little more rest.

We are all very concerned about Little Darlin' - not that something is wrong. We are just heartbroken at the pain she is in. It is relentless, and Elaine needs a break from it. Today her left leg was hurting and tingling too, which only added to her physical exhaustion. We just keeping hoping that she will get some relief soon. You can just look at her eyes and see how much pain she is in. Elaine is hands down the toughest person we know! She has an exceptionally high pain tolerance. We can't even imagine the pain she is feeling for her to complain because she is NOT a complainer.

Fred and Elaine came over to the Francois house for dinner. The kids were thrilled and love to have them over. They looked at photo albums, Christi danced, Brian and Fred chased each other around (Elaine said Brian has Fred's loud voice already), Taylor "sneaks" Nammie's lip gloss. Elaine says, "Taylor hurry before your dad sees you. Go hide in the bathroom and put it on!" She might "have stroke" but she hasn't lost her sneakiness:) It was a lovely Sunday evening, our favorite way to end the weekend!

We got a kick out of Fred and Elaine tonight. They showed up in matching tennis shoes, black lulu pants, and a black jackets. It wasn't planned! They have such a loving, sweet relationship. They are very lucky to have each other and have been through so much over the years! As Elaine was getting in the car tonight she said, "dad sure deserves lots of gold stars for taking such good care of me!" Yes he does!

Saturday, April 21, 2012


Elaine had an interesting day today. She didn't have therapy today and Little Darlin' is still causing her lots of pain. Fred played golf so she spent the afternoon with the Francois family. Ben and Brian went to pick her up this morning (after surprising her by dropping off Starbucks and a bagel).

They arrived at the Port Streets (where the Francois Family lives) to a giant "garage sale." It happens yearly and Elaine got such a kick out of watching everyone searching though piles of "junk." She enjoyed watching with our good friend Jen and laughing at the gems available on everyone's driveways. Ben, Christi, and Taylor decided to get in on the action and sell some goods. It was quite entertaining for sure! They netted about $9 for their efforts.

Elaine had lunch and enjoyed the fun afternoon with the kids. She had a good day despite the pain she is in. She is always such a treat to be around. Since she was sitting outside today several of Staci and Ben's friends that are following her story came by to meet her. She is a celebrity wherever she goes with a huge fan base! 

After her day with the kids, Elaine headed back home where she and Ben hung out for a while until Fred came home. It was one of those days that was restful and busy. We hope she is able to get some sleep tonight (and Fred, too)! 


It is hard to believe that Elaine's life changed so dramatically just 12 weeks ago. Sometimes it seems like a million years ago and sometimes it seems like yesterday. The only things we are certain of is that Elaine is a fighter, she is determined to get her life back, and her work ethic is off-the-charts incredible.

Even though Elaine had the day off from therapy, it doesn't mean that she has day the off completely. Staci and Elaine headed over toward Hoag so that Elaine could see the cardiologist. Interestingly, it was the same cardiologist that checked on her while she was in the hospital.  Elaine (and Staci) didn't remember him, but he remembered Elaine and was super impressed with her progress.  As for her heart, it was the same old story of a slightly irregular heart beat. The doctor recommended a beta blocker to slow her heart rate in order to avoid a-fib. Elaine is taking the request under advisement.

In more important news (to Elaine), they finally hung her favorite chandelier in her new house. She was so excited to have it installed. It makes it feel even more like home!

Thursday, April 19, 2012


We are baffled, as are the doctors! Today, Elaine went for her last MRI on her lungs to confirm that the spots are not cancerous. Well, it turns out that not only are they not cancer, one of them has completely disappeared and the other is almost gone. The experts could not offer any sort of explanation! As we have shared before, numbers of doctors from around the country were certain it was cancer. We are certain of one thing - Elaine is a miracle!

After that piece of great news, Fred and Elaine continued on to therapy this morning at Hoag for two hours. It went well and Elaine continues to improve. She is exhausted after a very long week of therapy and doctor appointments! Unfortunately, she has another one tomorrow to check her heart, but she gets a much needed three day weekend off of therapy while Paul is away at a conference. The kids stopped by quickly to visit a tired Elaine, give her a hug, and drop off the cookie Taylor made (and saved) for Nammie at cooking class this afternoon. We are hoping Elaine can get some sleep tonight and rest tomorrow before the doctor. She has been on the go a lot!

Richie and Julie left this morning to head to Montana for the next few months! There are not the right words to show our appreciation for all they have done for us all, especially Elaine. When this first happened, they flew out here two days later and have been our angels ever since and we mean that from the bottom of our hearts. We simply could not have gotten through these last three months without them. They have cried with us, laughed with us, yelled at doctors with us, spent countless hours in the hospital with Elaine. Julie has cooked up a storm and really been there for Elaine, in a role that neither Fred nor Staci could.  Richie has been Fred's rock and his right hand man. They have lived this nightmare right along side us. They even shared Bella with us.  The list goes on and on. They are two of the most wonderful people on earth, and we are so lucky to have them in our family. They have selflessly spent the last three months doing anything and everything they can to help out our family, physically and emotionally. They have put their lives and interests on hold for us, and never complained - not one time. They have been such an amazing gift to us and we are so grateful. They have always been second parents to Staci and to have them there during the most difficult time of our life has meant the world to us. You are the best brother/sister in the world Richie and Julie! We love you so much! Thank you for everything!

Our families also wish to send our most heartfelt condolences to Cece. Please know that you and your family are in our thoughts and prayers. May Randall rest in peace! We all feel so lucky to have known such an incredible man!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Elaine took a huge step toward getting her life back today. She has clearly made tons and tons of progress, but she accomplished something that is incredibly important to her.

After 12 long weeks of thinking about it, today Elaine held Brian while standing up!!!!  It was almost as if he knew that she wanted to hold him, and that he understood that she couldn't - until today. He was so excited and had a huge smile on his face when Staci handed him to Elaine. As soon as Elaine had him, he immediately laid his head on her shoulder. It was an incredibly touching moment, and it is difficult to describe how powerful it was to watch. It was been one of the hardest things for Elaine, not being able to hold her grandkids, and today she made measurable progress towards her "normal" life.

Elaine had therapy this morning. She was a little distracted and had the giggles for some reason. She also came clean about a little "lie" she told Paul a few days ago. Here is how the story goes:

P: Why are you always singing?
E: I love to sing. (she sings often and very random songs)
P: (looking at the piano in their house) Do you also play the piano?
E: Yes!
P: You play and sing? Well I know you don't sing that well but do you sing when you play?
E: Yep
P: So at Christmas does your family all sit around singing while you play?
E: Yes they do (she says with a smile)
    (now we can barely write this with a straight face)

Elaine confessed to all of us that she had told a lie and today she decided to let Paul in on the truth:)

After her confession, Staci and Brian picked Elaine up for lunch. Ben met us, too. Elaine wanted to walk into Neiman's after and then we went home to pick up Bella. Elaine really wanted to surprise Christi at school by picking her up from school. It was a double surprise for Christi - Nammie picked her up and so did Bella. Christi was so excited and walked proudly with both of them, introducing them to her friends and teachers. Christi has shared Elaine's story with her friends at school so they were excited to meet little Mighty Mite in person.

Elaine went home for a nap after her very busy afternoon. She is taking some pain medication to help with Little Darlin' which is providing some relief. She has been in constant, intense pain and that is wearing her down, too.

She woke up and baked some cookies with some help from Franny. Julie and Richie were coming over for dinner for the last time tonight. They are leaving tomorrow for Montana. The house smelled delicious. Elaine has her (hopefully) last CT scan in the morning on her lungs and then two hours of therapy. She has had a very busy week. It is hard to keep up with her and her busy schedule. We can't figure out, for as ill as she is, where she finds all her energy.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


April 17, 2012

No pain, no gain? Unfortunately, that seems to be the case lately for Elaine - especially when it comes to Little Darlin'. Elaine is battling some pretty intense, and non-stop, pain in her left arm. We remain confident that the pain comes from the nerves reawakening, but we sure wish the actual hurting would lighten up. It was so awful today that this morning's Occupational Therapy was cancelled.

Despite the pain, Elaine fought through another long and productive day. She went to therapy at Hoag where she absolutely kicked ass and impressed everyone who was there to watch. Check out these videos of her dominating at the arm row and then successfully mastered the Rocket!

After an incredible therapy session (especially given the level of pain coming from Little Darlin'), Elaine and Fred headed over to Pizzeria Mozza for some gourmet pizza and out of this world Budino dessert. There they ran in to Staci who was enjoying a birthday lunch with Taylor and Ben (Thanks to Fred for surprising us with the Budino and for buying lunch!).

Following a delicious lunch, Elaine and Fred headed back up the coast to see Dr. Bae for a check-in. They are working on a few options for the pain. But mostly, the doctor was completely floored by Elaine's progress just since her last visit. He says that there is no doubt that she is a walking miracle, and that this miracle only is coming true thanks to her unmatched and unbelievable work ethic and desire to get her life back. He tells that a lot of people give up and become satisfied with a lack of progress, but not Elaine. She is truly one of a kind!!

Elaine went home after that and took a much deserved rest before a big night on the town to celebrate Staci's birthday! The whole crew piled into cars and headed over to Fleming's for steaks and ice cream birthday cake. Happy Birthday to Staci who was so grateful to spend the evening with her favorite people in the world. And a quick congratulations to Fred and Richie who both took down two pieces of cake after some pretty big meals.

Monday, April 16, 2012


Elaine had a very big job today! She was responsible for Bella (the dog they "share" with Richie and Julie). Richie and Julie went to Vegas to visit their son and left Fred and Elaine in charge of Bella. Elaine was very excited for her babysitting duty.

Elaine had a great two hour therapy session with Paul today. He shared with Elaine a story he had never told us about her. When Elaine was in the ICU, a doctor asked if Paul wanted to visit their latest stroke victim. The doctor explained to him about Elaine, her situation, which they were painting as very grim and dire, and asked if he would want to try and help. Paul loves to help people and wanted to meet Elaine. The time he first meet her, she couldn't move her left side at all. He happened to be in the room when one of the many doctors came by to check on her. The doc reminded us all that this would likely be her lifelong condition. Paul said he will never forget walking in her room. He said you instantly felt the strong love that we had for Elaine and how heartbroken we all were. He remembers the tears in Fred's eyes. He was very moved by it and knew that he wanted to try and help Elaine. He was disappointed that the doctors would make such strong and heartbreaking statements, but he knew the odds were not on her side.

Fast forward almost 12 weeks, and he calls her the poster child for stroke patients. Her recovery is incredible! He wants to use her story as incentive and encouragement for others. He has helped her so much, and we are so incredibly grateful to him for his commitment. He said he's never had a patient like her in his life, with her passion and desire but also her wit, humor, and the way she talks back to him. She has been known on occasion to break out in song during their sessions. One of their walks recently she started singing the theme song from Mr. Ed, "A horse is a horse of course." They both started to laugh and she almost fell. He said, this is going to be great, you are going to fall and I'm going to have to explain that you were singing about Mr. Ed!

After therapy, Ron came by for a visit and talked with Fred and Elaine. He asked Elaine if she is sick of therapy yet. We all know the answer has to be yes. She is so determined that she said no. She just wants to get better! She continues to amaze us. The kids came by to visit Nammie, Ampa, and Bella. They fed Bella dinner and took her on a walk after. Elaine made it farther than Bella! It was a fun day!

Elaine continues to make us proud every day. We don't know how she does it and can't possible imagine how she is feeling. We just love her every minute of the day so grateful that she is alive and getting better. The situation absolutely sucks, there is no sugar coating it, but she is getting better every day! Her strength and will to succeed is inspiring.

Tomorrow brings more therapy at Hoag and a visit to the doctor. We are really hoping he can help with pain management for Little Darlin'. On top of all she is going through, to be in intense pain 24 hours a day makes the days even longer.

Sunday, April 15, 2012


April 15, 2012

Elaine was "taxed" today! She didn't get a very restful night of sleep. When she laid down for bed, her heart went into A-Fib. It wasn't as bad as it used to be and didn't last as long as usual. We talked to our trusted doctor friend about it. He said as long as she is on the Coumadin and her levels are where they need to be and her heart didn't race really high, it is ok. We were relieved to hear that!

Elaine spent the morning and afternoon with the Francois family. We went to brunch this morning and then relaxed at home. Despite the chaos, Elaine did manage to get a little rest and lots of pampering by her grandkids! Brian gave her a foot massage, Taylor a head massage, and Elaine helped pull Christi's front tooth out! She then enjoyed lunch in bed with Christi. We really enjoyed having Nammie with us and hope we didn't scare her off too much to come back. The kids love her so much and constantly want to sing to her, dance for her (or with her), and want her attention. Fred played golf and then came over after and Brian never stopped saying "Ampa" from the second he walked in the door (until now, many hours later). They are going to enjoy a quiet dinner and get caught up on some rest (we hope). Elaine has a long week of therapy, scans, and doctor appointments ahead. We are hoping the doctor will be able to give her some medication to ease the pain in Little Darlin'. She was extremely achy today.

Saturday, April 14, 2012


Elaine had an incredible day of therapy. Paul said there were things she was doing today that she couldn't have done last week. Its really amazing. We were saying today that after 11 weeks of the same old thing, it is unbelievable that Elaine finds the strength and motivation to not only keep going, but work harder and harder! We have some great videos of her working that GGA and also practicing picking up ball, similar to her picking her ball out of the hole after draining a long putt! We are so proud of her!! She inspires and amazes us daily!

She was rewarded with her hard work today! Elaine and Julie went for manicures and to get their hair blown out. They had so much fun and enjoyed the afternoon! They laughed a lot, as usual. Fred and Elaine are going to be lost without Richie and Julie when they leave on Thursday:(

The four of them celebrated a great week with a big dinner at Mastro's and butter cake, well and some pecan pie too! Go big or go home right!

Friday, April 13, 2012


April 13, 2012

Eleven weeks today, Nammie, "got stroke" as Taylor calls it. The girls think getting stroke is like getting the flu. The other day, Christi asked Elaine when she was going to be done with her stroke. Based on Elaine's progress, it will be soon!

Today was a nice day off of physical therapy today for Elaine. Instead of working hard on straightening her leg as she walks, Elaine focused on "life therapy." It started first thing in the morning when she made breakfast for Fred and herself for the first time in while. Fred had his usual hard-boiled eggs while Elaine enjoyed cereal! Nice work Elaine. A big step toward normalcy.

Thanks to today's Southern California monsoon, Fred and Elaine cancelled their plans to go see a movie. Instead she stayed home and organized the house. She spent a significant amount of time trying to figure out where they were going to put all of the clothes and shoes Elaine recently requested from her closet in the desert.

All that organizing builds an appetite, and Fred and Elaine enjoyed home made enchiladas for dinner. All in all, it was a nice, easy day with a much deserved break from therapy for Elaine. She will be back at it tomorrow working her way back to wearing all this high heels in her closet.

Thursday, April 12, 2012


Today was an interesting day but a great one! Staci and Elaine went to Hoag this morning for her PT and PT therapy sessions. At OT they worked the entire time on her posture. Along with her arm "waking up," the pain is also caused from her inconsistent posture. The stroke obviously caused muscle weakness, and as a result, she isn't able to roll her shoulders back and pinch her scapula together without prompts. It seems that for now, her brain is only able to receive the message one way, by placing her arm straight behind her. This is actually a good sign that her brain is able to receive the message at all. Often times, it is lost and unrecoverable. It will take some time for it to become automatic for her brain, but the great news is, it will eventually! The therapist shared with us that this is an exciting development!

Elaine spent the next hour walking and her strides and steps were the best we have seen! It was also a big graduation day. She didn't have to wear the big heavy vest with a cord attached to the ceiling. They are so confident that she won't fall and that she is so stable. It was incredible to watch her walking heel to toe. They are continuing to work on her straightening her knee as she steps, as well as taking equal size steps. She has been so focused on her left that she takes a great step with her left leg and a smaller one with her right. Oddly enough, her right leg has weakened because of the focus on her left leg and her knee is bending and rolling in. The therapist recognized that quickly today and had her doing some side step exercises with band to strengthen BOTH legs. If its not one thing, its the other! She did great though! She is without question the hardest worker in the room and you can see all the therapists trying to watch her too. They appreciate her dedication and work ethic.

After therapy, Staci and Elaine headed over to see the oncologist. We weren't sure why the appointment was necessary, but we went anyway. Even the oncologist finally agrees its most likely (they never will say anything with 100% certainty) not cancer. None of us were concerned anymore but it was comforting to hear her say it. She has was the last to agree because it is rare to have scar tissue there. We have always told Elaine, she never gets the normal things! They scheduled one last CT scan to make sure the spots are shrinking or at least not growing, but there are no indications that we should be worried. It was great to hear! She was very impressed with Elaine's progress and hard work. She could tell that she had been loyal to her therapy, and that it is definitely paying off!

Staci and Elaine celebrated the nice morning with a delicious lunch and then Elaine took a nap. UCLA called this afternoon. They are the hospital conducting the Fast Mag clinical trail that Elaine received in the ambulance that morning. We are quite sure she received the real Magnesium, and obviously we are believers it helped. She agreed to be part of the study which includes some follow ups visits throughout the past 11 weeks. They are coming down next week and we are sure they will be very excited with her progress and the possibility that the Fast Mag helped.

Julie cooked a wonderful healthy dinner tonight and they all relaxed at home. Elaine is excited for a rest day tomorrow with no therapy. Julie and Elaine have an exciting afternoon planned though. Those two will be loose on the town again. Its so hard to believe that 11 weeks ago tonight, Elaine was just leaving the Francois house after dinner and playing with the kids. She drove herself home and none of us could have possibly imagined what happened the next day. God and Elaine's angels were looking out for her because it happened at the only time she could have been saved that morning. We are so grateful for so many things.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


Today was a great day! Elaine started off with a two hour therapy session with Paul. He hadn't seen her for a few days. She worked a lot on walking. They are trying to get her to straighten her leg after a step. Since her stroke, because of her muscle weakness, it is very hard for her to straighten her leg  - specifically because of calf and hamstring weakness. We actually noticed a difference when she was walking today. It was really cool!

After therapy, we took a homemade (thanks to Julie, who is a superb baker) to the paramedics that took Elaine to the hospital that fateful morning. Unfortunately, the paramedics that were on the call that morning were not at the station but the ones that were there were thrilled. They were going to try and save a few pieces for two of the medics that will be back in on Saturday. They were so excited to see Elaine moving so well. One of them remembered hearing the call when it came through and hearing her situation was dire. Elaine was much happier to be on the outside looking in at the ambulance this time around. The firemen and medics were so nice and even gave the kids a tour of the engine. It it something Elaine and Julie have wanted to so for some time now. The station was truly happy to see her doing so well. They said it is rare they get to hear or see the outcome of people they rush to the ER and to have a happy ending made their day. We are certainly indebted to them!

After that, Elaine had a burst of energy! She and Julie went to the mall and literally shopped until they dropped! The sisters had a fun afternoon together and share such a special relationship. We still aren't sure where Elaine gets her energy from. We are quite certain that Grandma Ida sent her some extra strength today to get her around the mall and was especially proud when they browsed the shoe section.

Julie cooked a delicious dinner tonight and hopefully they will have a good night tonight. Both Fred and Elaine slept really well last night. Little Darlin' is still in pain. Elaine was telling Paul (her PT) about all the pain she is in. He agreed its good and has heard how painful it is from other patients.

Tomorrow we are off to more therapy and a visit to the cancer doctor. We aren't exactly sure why but hope this will be the last time we EVER see her.

This was a funny pic we wanted to share of Franny climbing the lemon tree for Elaine. Elaine loves her lemons from the desert and thanks to someones takes about a lemon a day to keep everything away.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


It was back to the grind for Elaine today. She went back to Hoag for her two hour therapy session, after her Easter break "vacation." It went well and she continued to improve. The first hour they focused primarily on walking. The next hour was spent on Little Darlin'. Elaine did have a self-described "meltdown" in the middle of therapy. She looked at herself in the mirror and didn't like what she saw and began to cry. The therapist was actually very happy to see her feeling those emotions. She said it is all part of the healing and recovery process. It makes her human to have those moments, and if she didn't, it wouldn't be normal. She continued to fight after that and worked her butt off.

Her brother Marino came by this afternoon and was thrilled with her progress. Her siblings have all said they don't know where she gets her strength and determination. They look up to her so much and they are in awe of her. She continues to make everyone proud and have such an impact on everyones' lives.

Tonight, Julie, Richie, Fred, and Elaine had dinner together. Elaine is tired tonight and has therapy in the morning. Little Darlin' is still plugging away - still in pain but not really getting worse. A moment doesn't go by for us that we don't think about Elaine, all that she is dealing with, and her dedication to get better. She is our inspiration and makes whatever our challenges are seem like a cakewalk. We are in constant awe of Fred as well. He is equally dedicated and through is actions has shown us what true love is all about! We are so lucky to have such incredible role models.

Monday, April 9, 2012


April 9, 2012

Carry over. That is today's word. Fred and Elaine left the desert today, but their spirit lingered on. Elaine's courage through this ordeal has been amazing and her willpower has been contagious. Our great friend Drew epitomizes the multi-generational appeal of Elaine! She has not taken the bracelet off since she received it!

To emphasize the adult appeal of Elaine, her great friend Pat ordered a round of drinks to celebrate the progress!

Elaine had a wonderful weekend in the desert. She was exhausted and Little Darlin' was tried and achey from all the attention! We were all touched by everyone that visited, said hello, or called. It gave Elaine so much strength and felt she felt so much love. She was anxious to get back to therapy, which starts early tomorrow morning and continue on with her amazing progress. She wants her life back!

Sunday, April 8, 2012


April 8, 2012

Happy Easter! Elaine was as busy as the Easter bunny today. She will probably feel like she is on vacation when she gets backs to Newport and her regular therapy schedule.

The whole crew headed out to Madison for Easter Brunch. Elaine looked absolutely gorgeous with her hair done and beautiful white dress. We all managed to stuff ourselves with multiple courses including desserts.

After they pried the forks from our hands, the kids enjoyed an egg hunt on the driving range. We left the club and had a great visit and home tour with Michael and Lori.  Their home is stunning, and their kinds words and love mean the world to Fred and Elaine.

Fred and Elaine headed home for an afternoon of relaxation with plans to watch the final round of The Masters. They had a few visitors stop by to say Happy Easter. Pat, Scotty, Kris, and Brendan (and Sean) popped over and shared some laughs while watching a few holes of golf.

Suzy and Mike came by the house to check on Elaine's amazing progress in person.  Suzy hadn't seen Elaine in the hospital and was floored by how great she looked and all the progress she has made since then.

This trip back to the desert has been eye-opening for our family. One recurring theme that we have heard is that Elaine is an incredible inspiration to everyone whose lives she has touched. Several people have recounted stories of instances when something isn't going right for them or they are challenged in some way. Instead of getting mad or feeling sorry for themselves, they look at their wrist and see that little pink rubber bracelet and are instantly inspired to complete their task and have a positive attitude about it. They think to themselves that if Elaine can fight and win her battle after such a dramatic setback, then they can definitely get past whatever issues they are facing.

We certainly had a wonderful Easter and have so much to be thankful for. Kris (who used to work with stroke victims) also agreed that the pain Little Darlin' is feeling is a very good sign and said she will also feel burning as her body is waking up. Sure enough, as she was getting ready for bed tonight, her arm has a burning sensation. Elaine is very excited! Staci and Ben have given Elaine hand/arm, and foot massages the past few nights and Elaine is convinced that has helped, too. She actually slept well last night and is eager to keep Little Darlin' active. Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 7, 2012


April 7, 2012

Love and support.  Those are the words for the day. Spending time in the desert has made all of us even more aware of all of the love and support that Elaine has as she fights towards recovery. It is a very humbling experience to hear the concern in voices and see the love and emotion in the faces of Elaine's friends here in the desert. Everyone we run into wants to come by and see her or is insistent that we tell her that they have been praying for her.

Elaine had what is now becoming typical - an incredibly busy day. She spent the morning with Mary. Mary then took her to see Girard to have her hair done.  As always, that was a fun experience. It was really nice for Elaine to spend some quality time with Mary, one of her oldest and closest friends.

They arrived back at the Vintage just in time to have lunch with Staci, Ben, their kids, Alli and Breck, their kids, and Breck's mom.  Table for 13 please!  Elaine also had the chance to visit with Jo while they were at lunch.

There was plenty more action after lunch. Elaine headed to the gym to attempt to loosen up her back and ease the pain that Little Darlin' has been recently enduring.

After all of that, Elaine headed home to visit with more of her great friends. Kim visited from just down the street.  Pat and Carlene stopped by to say hello, bringing a gift box the size of Elaine! They joked that Jay was going to jump out. Sandy, the Plote Family, Beverly, and Barbara also came by. So did Fred's close pals, Ron and Jim. It was a great afternoon of visiting and friendship. Elaine is so touched by the outpouring of love. Sandy shared with Elaine that she is really happy to hear of the pain Little Darlin' is causing Elaine. She said it is the nerve endings waking up and while very painful, a very good sign of things to come. It gave Elaine comfort to hear that.

After a very busy afternoon, Elaine laid down for some rest.  Most people would have had enough at that point, but not Elaine! She ended up going to dinner with Fred and John and Carol!  She is such a trooper! We are so proud of her for attitude and her will to overcome!  Happy Easter!  Be thankful for the family and friends who love you and who you love!  There is nothing more important than that!

Please take a moment to read this post from our great friend Ashley. When she has every reason to focus on herself, she decides to write about Elaine.  They are both so inspirational!

Friday, April 6, 2012


April 6, 2012

It all began 10 weeks ago today! Pretty crazy!

The day started off well. Elaine was greeted by her three little angels in bed, each one eager to help her start her morning. They relaxed in bed for a bit with some heat on Little Darlin' since she was still very sore. Fred got up early to play a little golf and Elaine was a little lost without him, but Staci tried her best. Elaine wanted to go over to the fitness center this morning to see her friends/trainers there who have all been so supportive. It was an emotional greeting for them all and as Elaine said, " I can't believe this happened, but at least I'm not dead!" We watched the kids play at camp for a bit and then Elaine took a little rest before a very active and busy rest of her day.

Elaine and Staci went to lunch at Sammy's with Pat, Marty, Rockee and Cindy. They had a wonderful time, enjoying pizza and a very messy sundae. Initially, everyone was hesitant to order dessert. The moment it was set at the table, not many words were said until it was gone - and I mean all the way gone. There was not a nut to be had! Elaine really enjoyed having lunch with some of her best buddies. They gossiped, laughed, and educated Staci on the conversation topics as you get a little bit older. Staci definitely turned red a few times:) Elaine was very excited to have lunch with her friends - all of whom were all amazed she at how well her recovery is going!

Elaine came home and was greeted by several friends who couldn't wait to give her  a hug. Louise, Anne, Shirley, Marty and Rich, all came by. She enjoyed seeing everyone so much!

We all went to the Palm Court for dinner. The Hackshaw family joined us. Elaine has found so much strength through Ashley and her battles. We celebrated life, Choosing Joy, friendship, and two remarkable women fighting for their lives with courage  and strength. It was really nice. They both happen to be married to incredible men who support their wives through the toughest of times and exemplify true love!

Elaine was overwhelmed with all the love from her Vintage family. She is so touched by the people that she doesn't even know who come up and say hello. Again, from all of us, thank you and please know how much you all mean to us! She is so humbled by all the love and hugs she gets from people. It gives her even more strength talking to people, hearing their stories of triumph, and just feeling the love from everyone.

Elaine was completely exhausted tonight but had a great day. Little Darlin' still continues to cause her a lot of pain. Fred was rubbing her back at dinner trying to ease the tension. Elaine amazes us with her strength and continues to inspire us. We love her so much!

In other exciting news, Elaine drove the golf cart for the first time today! It was the first time she has driven "heavy machinery" in 10 weeks. It was very exciting and we are thrilled to report that it was just like riding a bike for Elaine. She did great. She likes to drive in the middle of the road. We believe that is her sub conscious that is nervous that she will be run over by another driver.