Formerly "Neil Stone Updates"

Monday, March 29, 2010

We Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Programming...

We just received word that Neil's True Life episode has been rescheduled to May 3. Don't know why. Hope it's worth the wait!

In the meantime, enjoy this 4 second video of Jemima, the Therapy Cat.

Friday, March 26, 2010

My Therapy

They're cotton dishcloths.  And they're full of mistakes.  I work on them during the many hours Neil is in therapy each week.  The errors come when I stop to chat with the other caregivers, patients, and staff.  Then I lose my place and my count in the pattern.  I really don't mind.  It's worth the funny bumps and design flaws to be able to visit with other people who are going through life-changing challenges.  I learn so much from them.  We sympathize together, keep up-to-date on family, share successes and recipes, and we laugh.  Personally, I find some satisfaction in my knitting mistakes because of what they represent--heart-felt connections.  Besides, the cloths still work great.  Who cares what they look like!  

Friday, March 19, 2010

Check Your Local Listing

April 12th, 10:00 PM Eastern:  Neil's brain injury documentary on MTV's True Life.

July 22:  Alison on Jeopardy!  (You'll want to watch!)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

T.V. Time

This is Alison in her national television debut, contemplating how to spell an insanely difficult word in the National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C.  Actually, if you were watching it on ESPN back in 1999, you probably didn't see her.  The first three rounds were not televised.  By the fourth round, the field of 248 contenders was weeded down to 49 and they turned on the cameras.  After the first several spellers had their chance, they cut away for a commercial just as Alison stepped up to the mike.  The competition continued without the television audience during the ads and Alison was eliminated with her first misspelled word.  She won 22nd place and earned herself $150.  Needless to say, we were extremely proud of her!

She had a few other TV appearances in our little town of Sioux City, Iowa as she competed with her school's Quiz Bowl team against other local high schools.  It was fun to see our freshman daughter battling it out with the seniors and juniors.  She easily held her own.

As I am typing this blog entry, Alison is in Los Angeles competing in T.V.'s Jeopardy!  We are sitting here desperately hoping the phone doesn't ring.  If she wins a game, she stays to tape another.  The longer we wait for her call, the better she's done.  (And the more money she's won!)

I'm sorry to tell you that you won't know the outcome until the show airs in July.  We will be bound to secrecy.  But if we are really pushing for you to watch when it finally airs this summer, take it as a good sign!     

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Eighty Years Young

This is what it looks like to turn eighty years old...unless, of course, you are Nadene Stone, my beautiful mother-in-law. Then you look more like this:

When we called her on her birthday on Friday, she was outside thatching her own lawn.  By herself!  She maintains a large and fruitful garden, attends water aerobics daily, sews, and socializes with a great group of friends.

Here are a few of my favorite pictures of this terrific lady:

She welcomed me with open arms back when I captured the heart of her only son and has always been supportive of us. Always loving, always helpful, always caring, fiercely loyal, and so much fun!

Happy birthday, Mom and Grandma! And lots and lots of love!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Sometimes, when we're feeling discouraged, Scott and I long for TBI Island. It's an imaginary place we came up with during our many hours sitting in the hospital as we wondered about Neil's future. In this isolated paradise, brain-injured individuals and their families could live comfortably without having to explain disabilities and social awkwardness. Everyone would be able to relate and commiserate. There'd be no staring, no snickering behind someone's back. Each person could find a partner who had had a similar experience and who understood what they were going through.

Oh, but we'd miss our friends in the real world! We would probably start to resent the isolation. So maybe the island isn't such a good idea after all.

Fortunately for us, we are finding compromises. Fitting back into reality has brought Neil tremendous help in the form of education and therapy. Though his peer friendships have been harder to maintain, he has learned to appreciate the company of his family, and to enjoy relationships with therapists, teachers, and assistants. And we've all been thriving on the love and compassion of family and those who have reached out to us in kindness.

But there is a community for us. Linda is my favorite friend from Kessler. She and I love to visit--laughing and crying together as Neil and Paul, her husband, work hard to heal under the caring guidance of their therapists. Russ is a young man whose accident six years ago left him with obstacles that seemed insurmountable. He is an inspiration to us as we see his amazing progress and his continued determination. We are happy to call him and his family our friends. We have spoken often about Glen and Regina. We're grateful for their friendship and the understanding we share. We've never met Gabe, but we have followed his progress with interest and have felt a connection ever since we learned about his circumstances through a mutual friend.

And there are others--all brought to a common understanding through life-changing experiences. Although I grieve for each family, I am thankful for their inspiration, their friendships, their examples.

Today, I dedicate this post to our friend Mike. He was a patient at Kessler from the time Neil first began as an outpatient. He was always kind and friendly, calling Neil by name even before Neil could recognize he was being spoken to. He inspired us with his determination and his amazing attitude. Mike's battle with brain cancer ended last month. We miss him and send our prayers of love and comfort to his family.  You're our hero, Mike!