Thousend times thanks!

To all the followers of the blog, to anyone who has been supportive of Frank or us in the last months and especially after his untimely death we want to say thanks from the bottom of our hearts. In the week after his passing we received so much warmth, stories, care and love, hardly describable. To us it was a very precious and valuable week and it was so good to have Frank at home where so many of his friends could visit him. And all the help, stories and info shared in that week led to a beautiful goodbye ceremony on a beautiful sunny autumn day. For those of you who could not attend, or those of you who wish to reread the funeral speeches, we publice them here (in dutch and english) with some pictures in grateful memory of, and tributed to Frank.We will miss him dearly, thanks for being with him and with us, one way or another,

On behalf of my family and his closest friends, Esther

Foto's Frank

dinsdag 31 mei 2011

Real food and sitting on the edge of his bed, what a way to start

After a rather hasty departure from Kalorama we had a warm and professional welcome in the SMK by a very funny gentile nurse. Frank stays on dept. F1a, room 6. It's a room for 4 persons but he is the only one until now, so he was allowed to pick the bed he liked most. his new phonenumber is 024-3272638. Visiting times are during weekdays from 18.30-21.00 and in weekends 14.00-21.00. The daily routine is much more strict in the SMK, therapy, rest, therapy, rest etc. If there's anything to be recovered it will happen there, I'm sure of that. It's a very no nonsens environement and everything is directed towards improvement of function.
The physical therapist came in and performed some diagnostics and then asked Frank to come and sit on the edge of his bed. She helped him and explained to him that he had developped a tendency to hang over to the left. So to be able to sit on his own the trick was to alter his balance from the mid, more to the right. The instruction was "try to sit more on your right bum than your left" (how easy sometimes things are) and as Frank did, there he sat on his own on the edge of his bed without help, and Frank commented "ah now my parachutetraining comes in handy, this is exact that posture" and you could see that he really remembered and re-experienced some very intens feelings. It was fantastic to see that and how much it was a boost to Frank, "very very interesting" he replied. And the speechtherapist, who expected to meet someone with swollowing problems, was very impressed by Franks drinking and swallowing skills and immediately released the mixmeuk recipe and changed Frank to normal food (however still a bit soft foods). During lunch he drank his soup with meatballs and he chew and ate them as if he hadn't eaten for month, so I gave him my meatballs. What a joy to see him eating and enjoying the improvement. And although it was a very busy day, it felt like a very good day!!
The cardboard above his bed is empty (again) except for the homemade munchkin cards from Matthieu and Angie. So some new cards would be very welcome I presume.
The adress is:
St Maartenskliniek t.a.v. Frank van den Bergh F1a, room 6
Hengstdal 3
6574 NA UBBERGEN (bij Nijmegen)

Let's hope that this good start will continue positively
Goodnight folks, Esther

zondag 29 mei 2011


Today when I came in Frank was in the livingroom, to my idea the place he hatest most of whole kalorama. Sitting between old people who don't speak, waiting endlessly for his lunch doing nothing. And no possibility to go somewhere else on his own. And since lunch was still not there we went out for a walk. Frank and I discoverd a statuegarden, how nice we thougt and went in to look. Now you must know that Kalorama has a very large department for demented and other psychogeriatric patients and the statues appeared to be gnomes, ducks and other rather infantile looking statues so we got the hell out of there stating that Frank is anything but senile or demented. He even could laugh about it.
He told me that he is a little anxious about his transfer to the SMK, he knows himself quite well, he does want to make progress but at the same time he wants to be left alone, reading books laying in bed. Sports and training was never much Franks favourite activity. So he realizes quite well that he has some tough month ahead. He asked all kinds of questions about what he could expect so I gave a short rersume:
Physical therapy is aimed at improvement of condition, standing, trunkstability, working to the goal of making transfers.
Occupational therapy is very much aimed at activities of daily living and wheelchair steering
Speech therapy can be aimed at learning how to read an work with problems of neglect
Psychological therapy can be aimed at learning how to compensate for neuropsychological disabilities etc etc.
So at first I expect there will be one or two weeks in which all the aformentioned disciplines will do there diagnostic procedures and formulate rehabilitation goals and than the show starts rolling. I think and hope that Frank will do fine, taking initative is one of his problems due to the stroke and I think a structured goal diredted schedule will compensate for his lack of initiative.
During lunch I made preparations for the big move on tuesday. I put all the books and DVD in boxes (and will you believe, I have two big boxes full of typical Frank stuff, books, cd's dvd's and probably one little bag with the rest of his stuf like clothes etc). So his room is now clean and boring again. I hope that he will have a single room in the SMK.
I forgot to bring Frank one of his favourite magazines which I received by mail so just because he's Frank I drove down to Kalorama once more tonight with his Knötel books (which I found at last) and that pleased him very very much, he really was happy with the books. So after a final cup of coffee and some spekjes (which I secretly gave to Frank and which he ated with very much taste, chewing and swallowing as if he had never had swallowing problems) I left, fearing for the worst (rehab will be to heavy for Frank), hoping for the best (working towards some form of independency) and anything in between. It are challenging and strenous times!!
Bedtime, goodnight.

The wall.

Yesterday's visit was typical for a saturday and also typical for the mood Frank sometimes can have. On my way in I met two leaving visitors who reported that Frank was a bit of a sleepyhead at the moment. When I entered Frank's room two other regular saturday afternoon visitors were talking to each other and Frank was watching 'Tripping the Rift', with his headset on.

I greeted Frank, no reply. I gave him his newspaper... no reply. Oh... such a day.

Sometimes it is difficult to get in contact with Frank. He is complaining about it from time to time. As if there is a wall that he needs to cross, he told me once. Certainly not the likes of Hadrian's wall, that we have crossed many times in "Britanica" and other games. And the one in Berlin is gone forever. (Except for a few tiny pieces for remembrance on Armistice Day) That white wall encapsulating Pink is not the kind that Frank is bothered with. Right so! And about Stonewall Jackson he can still tell me many lessons. But the stonewall defence is out of his scope. To name a few famous walls.

While discussing several things Frank pulls of his headset and ask "What was that? What are you talking about?" For a brief moment there was a hole in the wall. We talked about Braunfels (Report in Dutch by Frank, with photo's). Frank said that he was not going to it this year and that he was not happy about it. A perfect reason for Frank to be not so happy, he is for years one of the key speakers on the event and has "corrupted" me to go to it as well a long time ago.

Braunfels is comming week, a week long event. And I'm going to it. Traveling to it the seat next to me will be awkwardly empty this year. Makes me feel inward and disconnected.

woensdag 25 mei 2011

SMK here we come....let's TEWT

This afternoon I received a phonecall that Frank is being expected in de St. Maartenskliniek (from now on SMK) coming tuesday at 10.30!! So it is movementday again. Frank is looking forward to it, he feels he is not improving in the situation right now and that pisses him off and makes him impatient. He was very lively tonight and he showed much more interest in other things than just the TV. He also had some requests and informed about the Ipad status (I think it will be there within a week). So initiative seems to start to return too and that is very very good, he'll need it to work towards his goals. During our visit the nurse came in and gave frank a postcard in an envelope, and like if he had done it all his life this way, he opened it with one hand, took it out with the help off his lips, and read it, I didn't have to help him in any way, so he starts to look like the one-armed-bandit. What keeps him occupied right now is the question to what extent his personality is affected by the stroke. He senses that things are different but is figuring out in what way. To me he looks and behaves very much like my oldest brother Frank, his humor, his wit, his critical and rational thinking, it is all there. I told him I experienced him sometimes a little bit affectless (afgevlakt) and I observe some difficulty with multitasking. And of course his physical disabilities. But to me he still is very much Frank the way I know him.
Andre came in some time after, and we had a very animated conversation about wargames. Frank told me that I had to blog the following "we muttered about our favorite game systems". And that was exactly what it was. Andre giving a setup and Frank making the detailed points. And they learned me something about the fun of wargames and about megagames. It is so nice to see how actively Frank engages when he can expess his knowledge and interest in the things that really matter to him. I even know now what a TEWT is (technical exercise without troops).
Well I'll expect that Frank will receive lot's of TEWT the coming weeks/months with change of the word "without" in "with", Frank doing the technical exercises, us being cheering troops.
As soon as I know more detailed information about location, room number and other contact stuff I'll post it on the blog.
So much for tonight, all the best

dinsdag 24 mei 2011

The annexe to the great library is open for bussiness.

While Frank has a great library at home more and more is showing up in Kalorama. So much so that Frank is taking up an old habit again. Good friends can lend a book or a DVD and he has alway's something to show.

Yesterday it was to Louis, Frank telling to look at the shelfs for the two little green books, yes they are lend by Louis to Frank. But Frank wanted to play a game of 'Ace of Aces'. I believe Louis was shot down twice. Frank is getting too much practice. And then, have a look at the right, yeah that black book. You should read that! While the rest of the visitors were watching Rome, specialy recommended by Frank.

The annexe has a new collection, one of odd and weird cards such as A4 sized Munchkin cards. And the latest information (for locals), get a box of "warriors" at your local 'Blokker' (a Ducth version of walmart) for only 10 euro's. At least three visitors went out last saturday with the intention to fight for the last box available if that was needed to get one.

zondag 22 mei 2011

Balance between autonomy and patronizing

Today when we came in Frank started to talk immediately; about what a hell it is in Kalorama, that the nurses are strict and don't do enough for him, that they keep him sitting in his chair for hours without anything to do. And that they refuse to put him to bed when he asks for it. All true, but also all so necessary to enhance his recovery. So we talked a little bit about it and then one of the nurses came in. I started a conversation with her about Frank's annoyance and she was so understanding, she told him he was so right to be upset sometimes, that there is not very attractive company for Frank on the ward (almost all above 65 and with main characteristic "silence") and that it was perfectly allright to be grumpy to the staff at times, they understand his agony. They understand what it means when your autonomy is close to zero and the only way you can resist is refusing to get out of bed, and that's why Frank sometimes is permitted a pyamaday, just laying in bed, reading a little, retreated in his own world. It was so comforting for Frank, but also for us to talk this way. Hell can be endurable when there are angles like this, despite the fact that they are dressed as "demons". And the nurse also acknowledged that they don't have as much time as they used to have for instance to take a patient out for a walk. Financial cutbacks are the main reason for this, they feel the same pressure and stress that they can't give the care they would. And I sympathize with them, it is difficult and a heavy job to work in the healthcare sector right now.
Frank also told us that he is very curious about the Maartenskliniek. He's very interested in the possibilities there (but I assured him that they probably will be more firm and demanding with him there.....). Anyway, Frank understands that he has to work very very hard and that this fact competes with his other most desired way of living: just reading books, laying in his bed, without disturbance and left to peace.
After listening to his agony he showed us a card he received from ducosim (some sort of gamecard), he is very pleased with these kind of handmade, personalized cards, it makes him laugh, and althoug I don't understand any of the humor I witness the effect of the cards and it is so supportive! And that's what he can use like no other right now. So a little plea to all you creative gameplayers, sent him weird-ironic-sarcastic-humor-game-cards he'll love it!! Thanks so very much for everything you've all been doing up till now, it is appreciated very very much (and not only by Frank!).

vrijdag 20 mei 2011

Never stand in front of a running elephant

Although it can take some time before it gets up to speed for 1100 pounds of elephant, never stand in front of it when it is comming your direction.

Was I telling you yesterday that I was looking forward for what next week can bring Frank is getting up to speed when it is considering his recovery. Today he told me that his recovery programme will get a jump start at the Maartens clinique. I was breathless for a moment. He could not tell me when this will take place but somewhere between now and next week he said. I congratulated him with the progress.

For tomorrow visitors, if you can't find Frank don't asume he is out walking in the park. He will have moved to his new stay in the Maartens clinique because he could not wait for all the red tape to come through.

Voicemail and telephonecall

Today I had a received a voicemail from Frank's doctor, she had some important information to share... the voicemail was. So I called to the ward, the doctor already left for the weekend, but the nurse was allowed to tell that Frank (who had a visit from the rehabilitation physician) is admitted to the Sint Maartenskliniek, a rehabilitation center. that's great news, it means they think they can make some substantial progress in franks recovery. So I called Frank, and he gave the same info, and on my question how he felt about it he said, exciting (and a little nervous). We'll stick to him like bees on honey and guide all the way along with him I assured.
Great next step! So much for my contribution of today.

donderdag 19 mei 2011

Panem et circenses

Today was Time Commanders day again. And some suprising news from Frank. As of today he can eat bread. This is wonderfull news, it implies that his swallowing abilities have improved considerable over the last weeks. I'm happy for it.

We got Frank to play games last week, and he is taking bread this week. Comparing Franks recovery to history we must have arived in Roman times. Still a long way to go, what will next week bring?

Mails from friends from abroad

Thanks to Wybo, mails from Frank's far away friends do come in. And on a day with no blogentry or new information, what a lovely info it is to post. Thanks Wybo.

Dear Wybo,                                    Wednesday 17th May, 2011
Thanks for the update on "Frank's" condition, when you next visit, if it's possible for Frank to comprehend, please give him my regards, Dennis Weatherall SYD/AU

thank you for taking the time to update us on our dear mate Frank, I must admit I read your lines with a very heavy heart. Please say hello to him for me, he is often in my thoughts, I was only going through the photos that Kirk sent me of our SA trip the other night and it just reminded me what a great time we had and what a thoroughly decent chap Frank is and what good company he was during our time away! He has such depth of knowledge on 'everything' and it truly grieves me to think of what his frustrations must be at this awful time!  
Thanks again for the update,
Kind regards and best wishes,

Wybo, (and Gang!)
I visited Frank's blog this morning and see that apparently you can leave a message on it that Frank may be able to directly access, I have 'somehow' after pressing many buttons successfully managed to leave him a post and hopefully he will see it?
Also there is mention on there of raising funds to buy an Ipod 'thingy' for Frank to use, can you confirm this please and if so how do we contribute as I (and I am sure the rest of the gang) may like to donate if we knew how.
Sorry to impose on you like this Wybo but you are 'the Guild man on the spot' and have direct access to Frank and his family.  
Thanks for providing us with the updates and a continued link with Frank we do appreciate it.
Kind regards and best wishes,

And on behalf of Frank and all the bloggers we encourage all the readers and followers to copy Scotties strategy, just press many buttons and leave messages, Franks is reading them!

Love Esther

dinsdag 17 mei 2011

Sleep did not come easy.

I can confirm the findings of Esther and also have to counter some of it. :-)

When I came in, just bringing the newspaper, Frank was watching Babylon 5: The River of Souls, he was not sleepy at all. Together we watched till 22:00 hours. Then he decided to go to sleep. (And I could go.)

He is taking more interest in people around him. Greeting the nurce by name for instance. He said that he had read my entries in the blog and that he liked it. First time he gave comment to me, without me asking, and he was sincere about it.

My writing is pleasing him and I'm not half a writer he is. I'm in heaven. ;-)


It's funny how you start noticing all kinds of small details, when the big picture doesn't change very much: there was a cup of water on his table with hardly any thickening stuff, he works the remote control of the TV much more efficiently, he took initiative to play a game with me and asked how I was (with sincere interest) which was for me for the first time since the stroke. Frank was in a good mood when I came today, he told me that he had a pyamaday since he didn't feel like getting up. He said the he had physical therapy in bed and told that he had completed some psychological tests on color blindness, don't know what that kind of test is. Frank commented that they would probably find out that he's a lunatic, and on my question why he thought so he replied, "because of all that i've been through". I reassured him that he was anything but a lunatic, that his thinking was quite logical and he recognized that his memory was still intact. "They call me from the liberation museum when they need some sort of information and it is still all there" so I felt that's comforting for him.
I had my Ipad with me and was able to show Frank quite some blogentries, which he really liked reading. He automatically worked with the Ipad, I can't wait for his one to arrive. I really hope that it will give Frank more communication possibilities and ways to influence his own life in the way he wants.
All of a sudden Frank said, "now I want to go to sleep", then he puts his bed in horizontal position, puts his right arm behind his head, (very familiar relaxed gesture typical for Frank) puts on his earphones and a nice DVD (in this case B5) and starts watching TV. So much for sleep....! Esther you can go now ;-)

zondag 15 mei 2011

A night at the opera...

This evening I came in and Frank was watching TV. Not in the most lively position and not too much interested in everything. We tried to play "Ace of Aces" but I was lost at the rules. Yeah realy! There is hardly a rule to the game and it has far more to do with strategy and outsmarting your opponent but Frank did not give me the time to look things up. So that went into the corner.

Then Rome, the next season, was requested. Frank has several boxes form several series with the word Rome in the title so don't ask me which series this was. Realy, there is so much Rome in Franks room that I'm outclassed (as if that is dificult for Frank on this subject ;-). When the DVD was on Arvid came in. And Frank was visibly running on his last legs for today. Not much later he anounced that he wanted to sleep, not much music left in him. Must have been a busy day. So we said goodby and reposisioned his pillow for him.

Munckin for dummies.......Mixmeuk

This morning Ron and I visited Frank and we spent about three hours with him. He was in the livingroom when we came in. The nursing staff wants to keep Frank out of his bed, in order to improve his sitting condition and endurance, but when Frank has nothing to do he just keeps asking to be put in bed again. So it was up to us to smash a hole in the day. We grabbed a cup of coffee, played Munchkin (which we really don't understand, but that doesn't matter to Frank, he's busy with the cards hardly noticing that we just try as hard as we can but probably "cheat" all the time). After that we went outside to listen to the music corps entertaining the walkers of the kalorama walkingmarch. Then we went inside looking to his new room, and then went back. It was 11.00 and Frank had told us that he was allowed to go to his bed, but the nurses indicated otherwise.......;-( "no he has to stay up until lunch, sitting in his chair eating really goes so much better, than laying down in his bed", so we took Frank to the gym and spent quit some time with the balloon and badminton rackets smashing the balloon around.
After that we went outside again, listened to some more music and when it started to rain (a very little bit) we went inside and it was, at last, lunchtime.
Lunch is soup, "mixmeuk" (as Frank call's it) and desert. The mixmeuk consists of mashed potatoes, vegetables and some very amorf jerk of beef. Matthieu, perhaps you can make Frank a truly horrible mixmeuk card for Frank's personal munchkin collection. Frank kept saying during his meal, "goddamn, you would even prefer mc donalds over this", and although he said it wasn't that tasty, he finished his meal within 20 minutes. After that he was allowed back into his bed and with the TV on and his friend Chris beside him we left.
It appears that he already developped the habbit of taking a midday nap even before the stroke. He told me that he spent quit some time "nice in bed, no disturbances, bookie with me nice reading". So that obviously was and still is comfort and quality of life for Frank.

zaterdag 14 mei 2011

A day at the races...

When I came for today's visit there was no Frank. As a matter of fact, there was hardly a person at the ward. I wend to the kitchen to find Franks mother and together we went out. The weather was nice, sunny and not to much wind so it was busy outside on the terasses and in the park around Kalorama. When we two walked out Frank just came in with Marleen, Walter and Mathieu, and Arvid joined us too. All of us were going to the physics area to do some exercises with a baloon. For three quarters of an hour we had fun tossing the baloon to Frank and he bumping it away to one of us. We had great fun!

In the end Frank indicated to go back to his room, just showing us more of Kalorama, but in the end we managed to get to his room. I had picked up a game of Munchkin at Moenen en Marieke, another longtime friend of Frank. To kill the time until the nurce would find the time to get Frank into his bed we started a game, with all the usual remarks and mocking that goes with it. It was a good thing that most people were outside! Otherwise they might have wondered why the five patients were in one room and had one visitor in a weelchair with them. When the nurse came she convinced Frank to stay in his weelchair until dinner time which he accepted. And the game continued.

Munchkin is a game where each player starts at level 1 and the first one to get up to level 10 wins. Each turn each player one by one draw a card. That card can give you an item (with positive of negative effects) or force you to a fight it. If you win then you go one level up. You can get help up to a maximum of one other player while all the others might help the attacker. Not too dificult a game, it needs some strategy to pick the right fights or help and some luck in drawing cards. The comments on the cards (and made by the players) gives this game its unique feeling. And Frank is a master in it.

At some point in time dinner came up and most of us had to go home. Frank was at level 8, the highest at the moment, and declared the true Victor of this game.

At that time his room mate came back and both of them where prepared to get some rest. Not a bad day. All in all Frank was in his weelchair for at least more than two hours (the walk in the garden not accounted for). It was not just sitting and looking around, no he was both physicaly and mentaly active all the time. Not a bad day indeed!


Yesterday afternoon I arrived and Frank was watching a dvd. He was a bit tired after practice with the fysiotherapist. We talked a bit, read the newspapers, looked at all the information of the liberationroute ( and enjoyed the silence. After eating his evening meal (some sort of pudding) Frank prepared for the familymeeting in the evening, which was about the moving of the department to another part of the building.

Oh and before I forget to tell you Frank has telephone! 0031246847829.

The evening is about the moving to another part of the building which will take place on June the 1st. On that day there are no visits allowed! After 19.00 hrs everybody is welcome to see the new room and visit Frank.

Frank will get a room alone which is quite bigger than his present room. He is curious how the transfer will take place.
Help of family and friends is very welcome BUT NOT ON JUNE 1ST!
There will be 2 cardboard boxes to fill, on friday May 27th the boxes will be transfered to the new rooms. The days between May 27th and June 1st the Technical department is busy to install things (hang pictures etc, etc). The televisionset will be in the room till June the 1st.

Furthermore it is possible to take a look in the new ward; but watch out there is some sort of lock because in former days there were "dementerende patienten" placed here. The lock will be removed, but beware, because it is still possible to lock yourself in.

The new department is Wolfsberg on the first floor (you take the long corridor on the left when you leave Franks present department, and take the stairs to the floor above.
As Frank will get his own room possibilities to create your own atmosphere are great. We are not allowed to paint the walls, but besides that it is possible to bring own furniture, and stuff. We will do our best to create a very Frankish atmosphere!
So far, so good! Love, Marieke

donderdag 12 mei 2011

Euro vision song contest......naah!

When I came in tonight Frank was watching tv and seemed a little bit tired. But when I gave him two of his favorite magazines he was awake again and started reading. I thought going home was my best option but Frank indicated that he likes it when you just sit there. So I took the newspaper puzzle, "stole" the spekkies (yammie), got me a cup of coffee and Frank some thickened orange juice, and it was like a normal evening in a (somewhat odd) livingroom.
Andre brought a wargame and we tried to play with Frank, it was a nice try, but Frank wanted to lay down feeling a little nausea, so the first dice has been cast, the rest will follow. I asked Frank (who kept watching TV) whether there was something special tonight on the TV, he answered "the euro vision song contest" on which andre and I bursted out in laughing. And there was this little grim around his mouth again..... I'm so glad to see Frank teasing us again!
Tonight Frank was drinking  out of a "tuitbeker" himself, that's again a step forward after being fed thickened drinks from a spoon. All those tiny steps and the drive Frank displays to get better, it gives me for the first time in weeks a hopeful and good feeling. Let's march on...

woensdag 11 mei 2011

Business as usual

Incomming SMS, Rense: Andre, can you bring a game with you to Frank? I did consider it but today I also had two Casus Belli members who had asked if they could come along. So I did not take a game with me, not to spoil their visit to Frank. First thing that Frank asks after the chearfull hello's is if I know a good game we could play. Do I smell a conspirasy here? Anyway, we settled on a game for tomorrow evening. So tomorrow it is on again. Look for Frank and hit, most likely to discover OMG, Frank is hitting back! Spectators are welcome, ticket sale is open at Franks bed, betting and cursing during game time is strictly prohibited. Sadly, so is a good glass of port.

But for this visit Frank was enjoying books about the roman army that Mathieu did bring. Frank was pricing the books as excelent! and I know they are. I have seen one or two of them about a year ago and then Franks comment was exactly the same. After the normal initial pause Frank requested for the Time Commanders, battle of Bibracte, Julius Caesar against the Helvetii. Frank was remembering some fight he had leading the Belgae against another honnerary club member, who was Caesar, and that he did manage to smash Caesars army to pieces. Just to find out that Caesar had split his army in half, afterwhich the Belgae were completely whiped out! Who said that Caesar did fight a fair fight? But that is another story

We enjoyed the Time commanders, all four of us, and were having conversations in English, German and Dutch at times and Frank mixing up the names of Berry and Robert, as usual. It was a visit as usual and it left me longing for tomorrow.

dinsdag 10 mei 2011

Casus Belli Newsletter Magic

Where in earlier blogs the news was "progression goes slowly", now since Frank got rid of his tube everything seems to go crescendo. He talks more, eats more, dictates more (arhgg, grr) and tonight I've seen him smile more than all the weeks before. Reason: the casus belli newsletter. And especcially the "quasies" (very inside humor not to be understand by anyone outside the club I presume). So I suggested that there should be a newsletter every week (sorry Marleen, work to do) but Andre corrected me instantly, Frank was the main contributor who filled at least half the newsletter. So that will take a while.
But we hope that within two weeks Frank will have his Ipad. Thanks to all of you the requested amount of money is there and what Frank will get is an Ipad2 64 GB with wifi/3G AND a subscription to the NRC digital newspaper. It's a marketing action from the NRC and it was like it was meant to be for Frank. We closed his subscription on the paper version of the NRC (in retrospect to early, he's reading it again!!), but that gives us the opportunitiy now to combine these two which is really great. So hopefully when Frank has conquered the Ipad, he will be able to contribute to the newsletter again. He certainly is looking forward to it. Perhaps Frank's first quasi after his stroke, tonight he suddenly said: "playing wargames is the best prevention for finding your way back after a stroke". (Casus Belli might become at risk of gaining a lot of new members.... ;-))
I think it's a great great gift which all of you made possible, so on behalf of Frank,
Furthermore the nurse of tonight told me that Frank almost doesn't complain anymore about needing the po or expressing nausea, she also had the impression that Frank is very very relieved that the tube is out and stays out. "He is much more calm, doesn't call anymore during the night (at least not unneccesary)" so this is really what you want to see.
Another noteworthy fact; tonight when I came in Frank's boss and coach were there and commemorated that Frank will be working 20 years in the Liberation Museum Groesbeek coming september. And the idea is to make it a real special occasion. So one way or another Frank will be there at the start of september and we all will celebrate it with him!!
Let's hope that Frank keeps up with this pace of progression, than "we ain't seen nothing yet" and the general will be back. I salute him and I salute all of you, sticking to him so closely and loyal.

New cure discovered.

Today Frank was alive, alert, taking part in several discusions with several visitors. And all the time the TV was on and not taking away all of Franks attention. This is a huge difference with just a few day's ago! When asked what he was watching he said "nothing special". And on the request why he was watching the answer was also clear. "I'm waiting for the ZDF (German TV) special on the killing of Bin Laden, it is on at 21:00" and the discussion went on.

On the request what made the big improvement he was also clear. "It is the news letter, it gives me such pleasure to read it", just to go on to declare that he found a cure for cerebral infarction, "play wargames!"

Not much later we were watching the Bin Laden special.

maandag 9 mei 2011

Here I stand, Literally!

When I arrived today, Frank was in his wheelchair in the 'livingroom' of his floor. Although according to him, there was quite a bit too much living going on in it. He was complaining about the boring shows on the tv and plotting the death of everyone stupid enough to enjoy them. He still thinks of the other patients on his floor as people who 'use oxigen' and today he really wished they didn't. So much for respecting ones elders...

Frank had a physical therapy session planned, though he was confused about the time and refused to accept that his appointment wasn't in another 20 minutes. We went to the gym and played ball games until the therapist arrived, who was very pleased to see Frank so enthusiastic.
When she asked how Frank was feeling he replied 'het gaat' (roughly translatable as 'so so') but when she asked him what was wrong he completed his sentence with 'het gaat goed, erg goed.' ('it's going well, very well'.) Now that the tube is no longer in his throat he speaks much more and with greater ease, but it seems he still doesn't always finish his sentences.

Without the tube and exhausting nausea it caused him, Frank is now much more energetic. If Frank is fighting a battle to regain control of his body, he has proven once again the old truth that an army marches on its stomach and won't desert its general if the food is good.
As we started phsyical therapy, his therapist was amazed by how much he'd improved. She was so impressed by Frank's progress and how hard he was trying, that she proposed a task they had not tried before: standing. So far Frank has trained using his arm and upper body, so standing may sounds like a few bridges too far for now, but the therapist had a trick for this: She explained to Frank that she had a machine with which she could lift him out of the chair, positioning his legs against a hard surface so he could now move forward, and lifting his back up with cables, while Frank would have to support his upper body with his arms. Frank's opinion on the matter was simple: Let's do it.

So the machine was brought in and the experiment began. The therapist was very hesitant about moving too fast but in Frank's opinion things could not go fast enough. Urging his therapist on, he soon found himself seated in the cables that would lift him, took hold of the arms supports and .. behold! Frank was standing! This required an enormous amount of strength on his part. He was swaying every which way and struggling to keep his back straight. You may think that standing is all about using your legs, but upper body balance and control is just as important. Today Frank make a colossal effort to keep himself upright and after a few minutes he asked to be placed back in his chair. In the future, Frank will have more sessions to practice standing in this machine.

After this venture, one would think Frank was exhausted but he was in fact still quite lively. When I asked whether he was tired his face lit up and he announced enthusiastically 'I've got energy! What do you have in mind?'. I proposed several things but he rejected them all. He'd already decided what he wanted to do: watch a movie about Atilla the Hun. He spend another 30 minutes in his wheelchair and when the nurses helped him back in bed, I wasn't surprised to see him falling asleep instantly.

zondag 8 mei 2011

All days are equal, some are just a bit more equal

Today's visit was as most of my visits, but not exactly the same. Frank has regained an appetite for the historic war films/documentaries. He was watching a film about Richard the Lionheart when I came in, one out of a BBC box of six films over great warriors.

I also brought him the Casus Belli news letter. He is the number one writer for it, already for years. While I was watching the film he was reading the news letter, starting with the last page with "funny remarks" made on club meetings.

The unusual thing came when the film was finished. Normally Frank or I suggest a new one and thats it, not much of a discussion. Today there was. I chose "Shogun", I've a small interest in that part of japanese history. "No" said Frank quite actively, "You already have seen that one with me at home, look for something else". Frank taking initiatives in a discussion again, good. The film of choise became "Spartacus". Next one was "Cortés", not a nice man, that one. And then I loaded de DVD player with "Napoleon" for tomorow morning.

Frank had a remark on the news letter, he still likes the last funny remark in it a lot. It was made by him and goes like this.
"The calling of an elder one" is very simple, just cry out "Wargames!"

zaterdag 7 mei 2011

No inspiration for a title.....;-)

Today we had a conversation with Frank's casemanager/nurse. Goal of the conversation: updating the rehabilitation goals, some "rules", getting to know eachother.
The goal as defined by the treatment team is: independence in daily living and selfcare.
Needed to achieve these goals is:
- improvement of condition and endurance
- comfortable sitting in the wheelchair
- safe swallowing
- selfcare
The nurse told us that Frank still needs/wants a lot of rest, a half hour physical therapy per day seems to be enough. His condition is raised slowly and this week a new schedule will start, he has to stay up a longer and longer. When his condition and trunkstability has improved enough than the ergotherapie will start more intens and they will go and work on trying to have Frank make transfers.
The better Frank gets, the "less" they will do, they call it care with the hands on their back, which is a typical rehabilitation approach. Frank participated very adequately in the conversation, he indicated that until now he was content with his progress and that he felt his memory was improving substantially. He didn't say he was down or depressed, but just that he was very tired (afgemat).
The nurse also told that the department Frank is in, will move to fourth floor (dept 8) Frank will get a larger single room with his own bathroom. That will probably be at the end of this month.

Fun thing: franks casenurse happens to be also a fan of xena, do you believe that! So they had an instant connection.
To me it was a very positive conversation, and I had the feeling that it was for Frank too.

So up to independence.

Enough is Enough.

... and out went the tube. Completely true to his nickname "the General" Frank want to be in control and yanked the tube out and away. Not to be returned... ever again.
Well, that last bit needs to be seen of cause. He needs to eat and drink enough to keep him fit so he got some of a scorching speech from the head nurse that he was on "close watch" now. Reply from Frank: "What is on the menue today?". And the tube stayed out.

Next thing I was out with his mum to find herring. Herring is a reoccuring thing in Frank's life. According to the story Frank is raised by it.

When we came back there were more visitors and dinner was comming up. While last week to manage two spoons full was already an accomplishment today he ate his plate without any help. The only help he got was someone holding his plate. And as desert, a mashed herring.

Isn't life wonderfull?

vrijdag 6 mei 2011

Making transfers is serious buisiness

So we only wanted to lift Frank out of his bed, and we just rolled in the transfer elevator and Frank's wheelchair. But then there was this nurse, all of a sudden, and told us no! "You have to be certified for that, we're understaffed, I've no time to help you right now." Too bad, so we watched Frank looking through the Ancient Wartime Magazine, we gave him some applejuice (the choclates Andre brought him are still not "mashable") and we made it possible for Frank to make a phonecall to Wiel, his boss, about a polish book (I had picked it up from Franks appartment, he had pointed out to matthieu were it was supposed to be, and it was just there, incredible!!). And that was pretty much everyhing that happened tonight. He wasn't very talkative, although he helped Ron with pointing out the difference betweem "could be" and "may be" (Ron needed to know that for an article he's writing). And as you might expect, he got very detailed and very adequate information from Frank.

There's so much that Frank still can, if only he would become a little more active and alert. When he retreats in his gloomy state it is difficult to reach him.

Tomorrow we will talk to Frank's nurse/casemananger, It's an intake conversation so I don't expect to much of it, we'll see and update you

So much for tonight, sleep well,

Leonidas and Xerces, part III.

Short entry (in words) today. Just to show you the problem, how to get B to enjoy C. Also a little exercise with the possiblilities of blogging. And since "a picture tells a story of thousand words" this realy is my longest entry since I started.

Here is item of interest C.

And here is interesting person B.

How do we get B to enjoy C?

No solution yet!

Leonidas and Xerces, part II.

Yesterday was "a day as usual", watching "Das Leben des Brian", te german version of Monty Python's Life of Brian. Except that Frank wanted to be at a particular place for a particular event nothing noteworthy happened. I didn't know that Brian could speak fluently German but apparantly he can.

I had my chocolades with me but before giving them to Frank I checked with the nurses. Chocolade in the blender is not a success, all you get is choclade chunks
and crumbs. But is it possible to "gellify" a chocolade drink. No thank you that is not belgium choclade.

So I'm off to the experts. My brother works as a pastry baker, maybe he can give me some advise. And my wife has a recepy for "chocolade mud" and I know Frank likes the results of it a lot.

woensdag 4 mei 2011

Crunches and mashed herring

Today, the fourth of may, is always a special day to Frank. The remembrance of all the fallen soldiers during WW II, is met by him with great respect. Tonight he payed his tribute horizontally. When I came in he was reading the paper and was quite awake. Now for the rest of holland the fourth of may is remembrance, but in our family it's the birthday of Frank's youngest sister Anne and of my eldest son Sjoerd. So I helped Frank to make a phonecall to both of them. Anne visited Frank yesterday and came across the speechtherapist and Anne told her that Frank wanted herring. So she said, "well go and pick one" as they did. When Anne asked Frank on the phone whether he had eaten the herring, he confirmed it and he indicated that it tasted very well (visualizing mashed herring turns my stomach upside down, but as long as it helps Frank, mashing it is!!). So to my idea this opens new perspectives, just give him anything he likes as long as it is mashed. I certainly will communicate this to the staff. Andre is probably preparing, (right now I think) mashed belgian chocolates. I helped Frank eat applejuice and to my idea, the time he needs to swallow seems to lessen, he finished it rather quick!
Coincidentally Marieke called upon me and I handed over the phone to Frank. So within 15 minutes he talked to a few members of the family and he liked that, so I'm going to arrange a phone ASAP.
Frank told Andre and me that the physical therapist was very content with his progress (but we were a little reluctant to believe that since Frank was so down the last days). Well...on our question what he had to do he gave us a life show by which we were both stunned. Making crunches (raising his body lying on his bed, aprox. 15-20 cm), the therapist told Frank that if he progresses the way he does, he will leave Kalorama with a sixpack!! And right after that he took his left hand in his right one and lifted his paralyzed arm ten times. Which was also very impressive. So to Andre and me this was a glimpse of regaining his spirits again.
We also could tell Frank that the amount needed to buy an Ipad is almost there, and we really hope that it will give frank an extra impulse to fight for his recovery. Anything that can help to motivate him to hold on and fight contributes.
It is so impressive to see all the contributions made, we'll make sure Frank will know the names of all the contributers. Here I will not mention all the names but to each and everyone of you who contributed, thanks from the bottom of my heart.

Ps: for those of you who also want to make a donation, look in the april archive blog entry "market garde bicyle tour", all the needed information is there

Arnold, watch out!

Was it gloom and doom for some time, it was "Supprise!" today. So many things did happen during my visit today, it is not possible to describe it all in one message. And I won't.

First of all today in the Netherlands is what is called "Poppy Day" in England. At 20:00 we remember all victoms of war with two minutes silence. That and the fact that Frank is only able to attent the ceremony via TV and his mood of the last time made that I was a bit hesitant on what to expect for today. I had to be there way before 20:00 and not to my suppirse I was not the only one. Frank was following the ceremony from time to time and not spending too much attention to his visitors or the newspaper.

A bit after eight oclock his sister came in, lots of activities started. There were phone calls to be made (by Frank), things that needed to be discussed and also talking about what have happend today.

And in that last bit it was that Frank suprised me, again. On the question "what do you do during your physio excercises?" Frank not only told what he was doing but also showed it to us. Starting with pulling himself up with one hand and ending with grabbing his other hand and pushing his arms in the air. And not just a bit, no, straight up. Not just once, no several times. (Walter, you can close your mouth now.)

When Frank was excercising in bed I saw him think I'll be back!

Way to go Frank!

dinsdag 3 mei 2011

Where's that energy?

I visited Frank again yesterday and the day before, and I must admit that Frank's behaviour is beginning to worry me quite a bit. Not only does he sometimes say things that make no sense and see things that are not there, he's becoming increasingly passive. I have not seen him doing much reading, watching movies or taking an interest in things lately.

Whenever I visit, he is watching simple brainless shows on the tv. Kids shows and other background noise. Not the sort of shows Frank would watch before his stroke. When I asked him about the fact that he hasn't been reading, he acknowledged what I suspected: it takes too much effort to focus on complicated books and documentaries, and the long dull days at Kalorama are robbing him of his energy and enthusiasm. Those of you who have spend a long period of time at home with illness or unemployment will recognize how listless and gloomy this makes the mind. Frank is certainly experiencing this sort of listlessness. He doesn't want to read any more. And those of you that know Frank will understand why this worries me. When you become indifferent about the thing that always brought beauty to your life, what else is left?

So I've been trying to find things that keep him interested, preferably things with less than 600 pages. Yesterday I brought him the paper and he was very pleased with this. He lost interest after the first two pages, but still, those 15 minutes during which he was taking an interest in something was what I had wanted to bring about. Today I have printed out his favourite webcomics. My printer sadly passed away (it's okay, he lived a long and full life and printed many history essays) after the first thirty pages of comics but I can still bring him the April publications of '' Least I Could Do' and 'Dork Tower'.
Can someone else please print the April material of 'Questionable Content' for him?

I really think what Frank needs at the moment is things to raise his spirit and drive away his listlessness, so if you have a question about Ghurka battle techniques that you always wanted to ask him, or a comic he really needs to read, now is the time.


maandag 2 mei 2011

What would life be without technicians........

Tonight I visited Frank around 8.30 PM and he was quite awake. To my great relief I saw him operating the broken remote control device from the television and it appeared that it had been fixed by the technician of Kalorama. No idea how the guy managed that, but the result is great, Frank can choose what he wants to see again. So thanks to the unknown technician (something similar as the unknown soldier....). Frank told me that he was worried about his life, what has to become of him. I asked him whether he all realized and understood what had happened on which he replied: "I've had a stroke-attack, my left side has disappeared and I have to find and rebuilt it again", it sounds like the title of some horror science fiction movie, but it is the most appropriate summary I've heard until now. The difficult thing is that, probably due to the localization of the brain damage, Frank shows no intense emotions. He expresses no sadness, grief, anger, crying what so ever. He reacts rather blunted (afgevlakt in dutch). So I asked him how he felt about it, and he told me that he was pretty pissed of that the nurses didn't react instantly to his ringing of the bell, that he was frustrated that he couldn't go to work, to THE club (which is Casus Belli), that he wanted to write articles for the casus belli magazine for Marleen, and most of all that he wanted to go home. All so easy to understand and the distance is so incredibly big. But having said that he picked up the paper (nrc, thanks Rense), read a few lines, commented on the big news of today, "great job from the americans that they got bin laden, fish food now" read the fokke and sukke cartoon, and than started to switch TV channels again. He came across a german version of Monty Python and the Holy Grail and we watched it for about 20 minutes, it amused him. I helped him eating a portion pudding (vla), and after that he put his bed in horizontal position, started Tripping the Rift (a DVD) which is to me an absolute enigma but to him very very funny. So content with his movie, the pudding in his belly and thankful for the company but enough as it was, he retreated in his own world again.
And as a result of that, so did I.

zondag 1 mei 2011

Hi Frank

Today we visited Frank. I brought my husband and 2 sons with me. My sons, the youngest nephews of Frank, brought the hat with them that Frank bought for them in South Africa. He recognized the hats, i was sure of that, but he was very silent. He was in his chair in the central room where the tv was on. I wasn't sure what his mood was. To me it looked as if he was not in the mood for company. He wanted to go to bed, and when i brought him to his room we waited for the nurse to take him to bed. Waiting for the nurse, i noticed 2 unopened letters. My youngest son helped to open up the enveloppes and Frank enjoyed that there were 2 nice cards. So I support Andre's call for best wishes.
Good thoughts and best wishes, good energy, anything that will help him to keep up with us is welcome. From a small distance (i live in amsterdam) the only thing that i can say is that i experience all the warmth and strength for Frank. I hope so firmly that he can benefit of all your support. Thank you very much for all you kind support and energy!
Love, Marieke

Say hello to Frank.

With the donations coming in for the iPad the desicion was made to procede with the purchaise. Don't misunderstand me, there is still a gap between the money that is available and what is needed. Your donations are still very welcome, see the entry "market garden bicycle tour" if you want to know any details on how to help.

Frank is already reading this blog at intervals. When he gets his iPad he will be able to read it whenever he likes. And in time, when he masters the iPad, he will be able to add his own comment to it although it can take some time before Frank replies.

I have seen for myself that Frank realy opens up when his friends come and visit him or when he gets a postcard. It would be so nice when Frank can read your good wishes in this blog. And I know for sure that he will reply to each and every one of it when he can.

Please reply to this message with a "good wish" to Frank. Something in the lines of "Hi Frank, best wishes from <yourname>" will already do. He thrives on it and it is the next best thing you can do down to visiting him or sending him a postcard. If you don't want to give your name any hello is good. Refer to something which is shared between the two of you. Any language you used to conferse with Frank will do. He will recognize you, nothing wrong with his memories. If you read this blog please reply!