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December 27, 2008

Soren Gets Sprung
Posted by Patrick at 11:42 PM * 86 comments


IMG_3606.JPG, originally uploaded by pnh.

Our friend Soren de Selby gets released from post-stroke rehab for a few hours in a Brooklyn restaurant with friends.

More photos here and here.

Comments on Soren Gets Sprung:
#1 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2008, 11:57 PM:

That's Helen in the black-and-silver sweater, and Howard at the other end of the table, and Lydy in the lavender t-shirt. Howard and Helen and Velma did all the work of getting Scraps there and back again.

He's still got a long way to go and a lot of work to do, but it was a good day.

#2 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2008, 11:59 PM:

Weirdly, photos make him seem less impaired than he is, because one thing the stroke hasn't interfered with is his facial expressiveness. He's profoundly aphasic in speech, and eloquent (and well-timed) as ever with a raised eyebrow or a deadly straight-on stare.

#3 ::: Dan ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2008, 11:59 PM:

He looks great, and plopping around with friends over the holiday weekend is probably one of those really big spirit lifters.

#4 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2008, 12:17 AM:

Scraps isn't profoundly aphasic, but he is aphasic. He makes meaningful speech, but he's only successful on some of his tries, and what he tries to say is a simplified and approximate fraction of what he wants to say. It's a lot of work for him to get it out. He sometimes fills gaps with mime and improvised signs.

However, as I'm sure you can see if you know him, he's still very much himself.

#5 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2008, 12:32 AM:

The phrase "profoundly aphasic" was stupid of me. All I wanted to convey was that he still has a lot of trouble talking, and it grieves him. The pictures of him smiling around friends don't convey that. I want those friends of his who aren't local to realize that things, while (very slowly) improving, are still hard.

It's so hard to articulate the right balance of realism and hope.

#6 ::: Allen Baum ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2008, 12:58 AM:

It looks like the rehab facility hasn't starved him - he looks pretty good (though as tired as I feel). And he has better T-shirts than I have.

This is great.

#7 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2008, 01:07 AM:

Scraps always has great t-shirts. I believe he's lost about thirty pounds since the stroke, but he was looking a tad middle-aged before it happened.

#8 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2008, 01:14 AM:

One of our kids' dear friends, a 3 yr old who has most of a brain tumor cut out 3 weeks ago, made it home late Christmas Eve. She gets to be in her own home and own bed for a week or so, untill she has to return to Seattle for the next stage of treatment.

It was very good to get the call that they all made it home. Best part of Christmas, really.

#9 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2008, 01:17 AM:

This is great to see. Happy Monkey, all.

#10 ::: Doug Faunt ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2008, 01:22 AM:

I am so pleased to see that. Thanks.

#11 ::: Neil in Chicago ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2008, 01:36 AM:

Y-a-a-y!

#12 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2008, 01:45 AM:

Fresh air and friends! Not
the sovereign cure-all, but
a gentle healing.

This is good. I continue to hold Soren and Velma up to the light.

#13 ::: Glenn Hauman ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2008, 03:00 AM:

Soren's shirt can be purchased here. Warning: not responsible for any music that gets stuck in your head.

#14 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2008, 04:05 AM:

Fantastic news! Getting out of the hospital for a while like that can only be a good thing. We all struggle for the occasional word as we get older, but I can only imagine how frustrating that level of aphasia must be. Let's hope his recovery continues.

#15 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2008, 05:10 AM:

What a great post to find this morning! Yay!!

#16 ::: janeyolen ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2008, 05:32 AM:

Made my sore throat and hurting ears feel much better just viewing those pix. I hadn't seen an update on Scraps in quite some time and was afraid to ask.

Jane

#17 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2008, 07:24 AM:

Oh that's good to see.

#18 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2008, 07:41 AM:

Wonderful news =)

#19 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2008, 07:51 AM:

That is great news.

#20 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2008, 08:25 AM:

Hurray!

#21 ::: beth meacham ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2008, 09:44 AM:

That is heart-warming and encouraging. Scraps looks happy in the photos, and that's a good thing. Thanks for the pix!

#22 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2008, 10:16 AM:

Allen @6:

The current rehab facility is not feeding him well, if we define that as "presenting food that he actually wants to eat" rather than "the plate contains significant amounts of things that can be legally defined as foodstuffs." But he is eating some of the dubious food they're offering, and in these pictures he's at a restaurant with food people actually want and will eat when they have a choice of where to get their meals.

He has lost significant weight, but not to the point where he's problematically thin, as I understand it.

#23 ::: annalee flower horne ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2008, 10:19 AM:

I don't know him, but I wish him well.

#24 ::: Velma ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2008, 10:51 AM:

To be precise, he's lost sixty pounds -- half in muscle mass, unfortunately -- since the stroke.

Patrick at #5 is right. There's a long way to go, and he grieves, and is impatient with himself, but he's there, very much so.

He had a great time, and told me that he hopes to see more people this week.

#25 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2008, 11:24 AM:

Congratulations!

#27 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2008, 11:29 AM:

What wonderful pictures! I'm so glad he got out to hang, surrounded by friends. And Velma looks positively lit up with the joy of having him by her side. So glad.

#28 ::: Melissa Mead ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2008, 11:31 AM:

That's wonderful! Here's to more and better days like this!

#29 ::: AnnaFeruglioDalDan ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2008, 11:42 AM:

Just out of curiosity, does he have the same problem writing? And yes, I concur that in the photos he doesn't seem impared at all. No matter how frustrating his condition, it is great to see that gleam in the eye. I know non-stroke people who look far less alive and smart.

#30 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2008, 11:58 AM:

Wonderful! Thank you for the picture and for the good news.

#31 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2008, 12:07 PM:

I'm happy to see Scraps among friends and having a good time. Also hoping for his further recovery. Thank you for posting this.

#32 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2008, 12:07 PM:

Joining in the chorus -- huzzah! I'm quite sure the aphasia is frustrating. This is still much, much better than many options.

#33 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2008, 12:19 PM:

The best possible thing to see first thing this (still snowy and with ominous forecasts) wintery Sunday morning. Scraps was on my middle-of-the-night godbothering list today.

#34 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2008, 12:20 PM:

Wonderful! Thanks for the pictures--

#35 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2008, 12:33 PM:

Yay!

#36 ::: LauraJMixon ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2008, 12:35 PM:

Thanks for the photos, P&T. Glad to see Scraps having a good time with his friends. I can only imagine how frustrating it must be not to have many words, as expressive as he has always been.

#37 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2008, 01:33 PM:

Having food in front of you that's pleasing to the eye and the palate can't be overstated. Good on
Scraps and his friends.

John Scalzi's wife models that t-shirt too; I knew I'd seen it somewhere.

#38 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2008, 01:36 PM:

Excellent!

#39 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2008, 02:37 PM:

**happy dance**

Congratulations, Scraps and Velma! Keep up the good work!

#40 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2008, 03:28 PM:

Trouble remembering words:

I saw a video documentary of Ram Dass, who had suffered from a stroke shortly before the film was made.

Apropos of the fact that he was having trouble remembering words, he said "Words are the clothing that ideas wear when they go out."

#41 ::: Serene ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2008, 03:33 PM:

Oh, hooray!!

#42 ::: Velma ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2008, 04:02 PM:

I've gotten a wireless connection on the Naked Pink Molerat, up here in Soren's room. We just came back from a jaunt through part of Fort Greene Park, and around the block. I started to wheel him up the road to the monument, then realized that I had no idea how far I had to go, that there is no seatbelt on his wheelchair, and that going downhill with a wheelchair is not the easiest thing to do. So we're back, having a snack, and I'm realizing just how muscular my arms will become.

Soren says, "Aphasia -- profound. I cannot talk." He also just told me, "Don't go straight down --zig-zag; it's better."

(Soren says he took half an hour.)

...to go straight down the hill. He typed that parenthetical sentence himself. It took him ten minutes, he says, to type that with one hand.

#43 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2008, 04:22 PM:

As TNH describes it: He makes meaningful speech, but he's only successful on some of his tries, and what he tries to say is a simplified and approximate fraction of what he wants to say. It's a lot of work for him to get it out. He sometimes fills gaps with mime and improvised signs.

That's me in Dutch. I find it easy to imagine that in my sole means of communication. Difficult.

But it's good to see him out, about, and happy. Yay Scraps!

#44 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2008, 07:08 PM:

Yay Scraps! Good news, which brightened my, otherwise frustrated, day.

#45 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2008, 07:55 PM:

I'm so happy to see him out!

I remember being that aphasic, and it gets better for most of us.

#46 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2008, 08:20 PM:

This is a very good thing.

#47 ::: kouredios ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2008, 08:56 PM:

So good to see this news.

#48 ::: Julia ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2008, 09:41 PM:

This is happy news! I've heard about your friend's tough medical journey second- and third-hand from many folks, and it's lovely to see photos of him having fun in the midst of the hard, unforgiving work of healing.

Best wishes to him, to his brave and tireless partner, and to all the friends who are helping him along this path.

#49 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2008, 11:52 PM:

Free Scraps!

I'll bet it is tough. I'm glad he's a tough bird, and that he's got good friends in his corner. It's been one small step for him, over and over, and it's nice he could step out for a nice time.

It's hard to explain, but whenever I read about his progress, I feel like I just had a near miss, like a car almost ran me down or something. Keep the good news coming, and thanks for all we've gotten so far. Scrap by scrap, he's coming back.

#50 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2008, 10:05 AM:

A Happy New Year to Scraps and to Velma!

#51 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2008, 10:28 AM:

oh, YAY. Being able to socialize, even imperfectly, in a normal place with friends--this is a particularly good milestone.

Patrick @#5: It's so hard to articulate the right balance of realism and hope.

I find "struggles with" and its ilk to be useful for this sort of thing. My sister struggles with aphasia, I battle depression, and so forth. The verb can be changed up or modified as needed to indicate how things are going without directly characterizing the degree of depression, aphasia, etc. I like this phrasing because it puts the focus on the fight; also because it leaves the subject of the sentence unmodified and has a fairly strong verb, and the questing beast is pushed to the end of the sentence.

#52 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2008, 12:25 PM:

Yay Scraps! What a nice piece of news!

Continued good wishes and thoughts comin' your way, Scraps and Velma!

#53 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2008, 02:39 PM:

Mary Dell @ 51: Oooh! I love that thinking!

#54 ::: Lisa Padol ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2008, 03:26 PM:

Yay!

Yeah, I know. There's a long way to go still. But, still, yay!

#55 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2008, 06:39 PM:

That's great news! A long way yet to go, but still, progress is worth cheering for. And you guys are still in my prayers.

#56 ::: Harriet Culver ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2008, 12:07 AM:

So great to see these faces all lit up like that!
(In fact, I was so struck by the expressions on all the photos, especially those of Soren and Velma, that I "saw" that top photo about two dozen times before I observed what Velma was doing in that shot :-)

#57 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2008, 04:30 PM:

Good news to take into 2009. May the recovery continue.

#58 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2008, 09:37 PM:

#56
You're right - I'd missed that also!

#59 ::: Rose White ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2009, 08:51 PM:

Happy news! Happy new year! I'll repeat what I have been saying: I hope 2009 will be filled to bursting with good and improving health for all of us.

So so good to see these pictures.

#60 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2009, 11:35 AM:

Brings tears to the eyes, but is good to see.

#61 ::: Velma ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2009, 10:22 AM:

Yesterday afternoon, Soren called me at work to say, "Look at the moon!" Today, I'm going over to his rehab facility, so that we can watch it rise together.

I love this man.

#62 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2009, 01:49 PM:

That's wonderful. I can't really say how happy that makes me to hear.

#63 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2009, 03:20 PM:

Velma @ 61... I'm going over to his rehab facility, so that we can watch it rise together

Share the Moon and the sense of wonder of being alive together.

#64 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2009, 03:31 PM:

The moonrise here in the Netherlands was wonderful - a rich golden red full circle. Martin showed me it, and I called the kids out to see it.

Seeing the moon rise with your best beloved FTW.

#65 ::: Soren ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2009, 07:30 PM:

Hi.

Scraps here. Anyone want to come hang with me Sunday, maybe take me out for a while, so Velma can have an afternoon off? Buzz her and let her know!

#66 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2009, 07:33 PM:

Welcome back, Scraps!

#67 ::: Melissa Mead ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2009, 08:03 PM:

Hey, nice to see you on here!

#68 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2009, 09:55 PM:

Sure, I'll take Sunday afternoon.

#69 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2009, 10:27 PM:

Vicki beat me to it, unless y'all could use more company.

#70 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2009, 10:29 PM:

Soren! Good to see you posting!

I'm stuck on grand jury duty, which is taking an unbelievable amount of my time and I'm not allowed to say anything about it. I suspect, alas, that I won't be able to come by Atlantis until it's over.

Tip: Never, ever serve on a grand jury.

#71 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2009, 11:50 PM:

scraps,

wow, i'm so glad to see your voice again. my very very best wishes for your recovery, & a fervent hope you can continue to grace us with your textual presence here.

#72 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2009, 11:51 PM:

(for your question, unfortunately, i'm on the other side of the continent. & also have never spoken with you personally.)

#73 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2009, 12:13 AM:

Dude! You're posting! Yay!

I will be in NYC in a couple of weeks. I'll come see you.

#74 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2009, 12:44 AM:

Scraps, it's really good to see you posting. There haven't been a lot of points of light out there lately; your post is a magnesium flare.

#75 ::: Velma ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2009, 08:41 AM:

I'll email you guys about logistics, and thank you so much.

I will note that the books he's asked for are Bridge of Birds (found), Nova (found), and The Einstein Intersection (not found, and there are at least two copies in this apartment, doggonit!). Things are getting interesting.

(He also called me to alert me to the news of the plane in the Hudson yesterday afternoon.)

#76 ::: Velma ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2009, 08:48 AM:

And Teresa, he'd love to see you. Your name comes up in conversation a lot. (Sorry about speaking about you in the third person, Soren.)

I just brought the EEE in last night, so I don't know how often he'll be on line -- or even how often he'll want to be on line -- yet, so don't expect immediate responses.

#77 ::: Soren ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2009, 10:23 AM:

Thank you! You will be wonderful.

#78 ::: Soren ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2009, 10:44 AM:

I'm thinking of spending Saturday on Ellis, if it's a nice enough day. (If it's it all right for Velma, of cource.)

#79 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2009, 12:02 AM:

Soren, I'm so glad you're posting! I wish I could come up and talk, since I can't push wheelchairs, but I think about you often.

#80 ::: Velma ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2009, 01:43 PM:

He's concluded that the EEE's keyboard, and Linux, are too hard for him to deal with, so I need to find an inexpensive Windows laptop with wireless. Out into the wilderness I go....

#81 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2009, 12:41 AM:

Soren is posting on his LJ!

#82 ::: magdalen ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2009, 09:14 PM:

scraps! velma! you may be going through a lot, but let's be real. what matters is what's really important in this life. our values as people. our strength as humans. our national pride.

in other words: what really matters is that you guys look hot! keep postin' the photos. xoxo


#83 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2009, 05:37 AM:

Triffic News! Yet more steps forward. It's so good to hear of them.
Good luck with compu-searches.

#84 ::: Bill Shunn ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2009, 12:47 AM:

Scraps! I'm late to the party here, but glad to hear you're getting out and about.

#85 ::: Harriet Culver ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2009, 11:51 PM:

Soren just posted an essay, "Stroke", on his blog Parlando, that is the longest, most cogent piece of writing I've seen from him since the stroke. And it's the first time he's posted on Parlando since b.t.s., though he's posted some short things on his LJ. Well worth reading, and a real landmark.

http://www.deselbybowen.com/parlando/2009/03/10/stroke/

#86 ::: fidelio sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2012, 08:21 AM:

minimalist spam, at that.

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