Maggie & the entire reunited Arkansas Family
Kelly has now been home for almost a whole week! It's been great to share meals and moments within the comfort of our house, where her presence has been sorely missed over the course of the past five weeks. More Kelly in our daily lives means more Jordan too... and despite the many changes, things are starting to feel whole again. In typical DC fashion, Kelly arrived home to new friends in our lives! As our community continues to grow, it feels more vibrant and cozy. We look forward to hosting you all for meals, competitive games of dominoes, snuggle fests on Big Green and evenings around the guitars.
Debbie left on Monday, after spending a few days helping Kelly get squared away in the house. Her presence in our home for the past month and a half was steady, positive, easygoing, and in many ways a perfect fit. Like mother, like father, like daughter I suppose... the Dillons feel like family now.
Last Saturday was Kelly's first back at home. A delicious meal of hand-made pot stickers, shrimp stir-fry and kale salad was prepared with love by many, and enjoyed by all. To top it all off, in normal fashion, Jordan impressed us with his culinary skills once again: this time with a short cake soaked in juices from a fresh apple compote & insane chocolate ice cream.
It's not dinner at our house unless wigs are involved (no, Kelly did not cut her hair short and dye it black, but it sure would look cute!), and guitars are whipped out at the end of the eve. It was incredible to see Kelly in her element, playing the guitar, a part of her normal daily life that hasn't taken a toll since the accident... quite the opposite, in fact. She plans on focusing on the guitar during some of her upcoming free time between PT exercises and visits, and nurse appointments.
Oh yeah... and the maple syrup. It's really good with whiskey--try it if you don't believe me.
Maggie & the entire reunited Arkansas Family
Yep, you read that right. Kelly is scheduled to be discharged from the Rehab facility on Thursday, November 14. Her stay has been long, her milestones many. And the road ahead: it will be even longer. But with every day, Kelly is more mobile, in less pain, and is making progress.
Kelly has persevered through PT during in-patient rehab. Progress and mobility is something to smile about, and she's been doing a lot of that lately! As always, Warrior Woman Kelly is proving that a positive attitude really does make a difference in recovering from an accident like hers.
Todd Dillon was in town last week for a (far too) brief stay before heading back to St. Louis. He kept Kelly's bed warm at Arkansas Manor for a few nights, hanging with Kelly during the day and meeting with the prosecutors here in DC. Now that Kelly has wheels under her, she's been cruising around the rehab center on her own. She's an independent lady! Which, of course, meant heading out to the hospital's patio area for her first breath of fresh air and good ol' Vitamin D in a while! Fall has been showing off for us here in the district for the past couple of weeks. The days have been warm, the air crisp, colorful leaves still linger, and the nights are cold enough that you're psyched to jump into bed and curl up at the end of a long day.
So here we are, facing the next big step in Kelly's recovery. Here's where we really need your help, Kelly's Krew. Please keep up your positive support, your phone calls and letters, your instagram posts and all the good vibes felt strongly here in DC. They have made a world of difference. But Kelly is far from the finish line, so now she needs your support more than ever. The blog will continue from the Arkansas Family, as we hope to keep you posted on every degree of bending progress Kelly makes, along with the many recovery milestones yet to come. Stay tuned!! and make sure Kelly knows you're listening, and rooting for her :)
Transitioning back to our house will present many challenges: stairs, fewer nurses (though word on the street is that Kelly's out-patient therapy will entail nurses coming to HER at the house!!!), rooms & cabinets that weren't built with people on crutches in mind.... and more stairs. BUT, we are so happy that this big move for Kelly will bring her back to our daily lives, where she belongs in our Arkansas Family. As much as we enjoyed seeing the rest of you spend time with Kelly during the many visits at the hospital, we're kind of ready to steal her back and hog her... is that selfish? Maybe a bit.
Kelly has enthusiastically decided that we will be throwing a BIG party in the weeks to come, to give this Warrior Woman a proper welcome home. I have a feeling this is where the photo booth we dreamt up (but never set up in the hospital), and the New & Improved Bag/Basket of Fun comes into play. Bag of Fun may even be the theme... again, stay tuned! As you know, if you live here in DC or have ever had the pleasure of resting your head on our comfy green couch, we are psyched to welcome you into our house & home to visit Kelly.
There will be merry dinners.
There will be joyous jam sessions (Kelly plans to get even BETTER at the guitar than she is already in the coming months).
There will be Yoga Brunches,
and clothing swaps,
singing dogs, and grilled pizza parties....
...salsa dancing in the dining room (with Kelly looking on comfortably from Big Green until it's her turn to spin again).
And if I have anything to do with it... there will be whiskey.
We will gather on Arkansas Ave, in community, around our Warrior Women Kelly as she begins the next long chapter of her recovery. Kelly couldn't ask for a more supportive, positive community here in DC and afar. You've proven yourselves, so don't stop now!
Can't wait to see you all around the house, and to finally have our Warrior Woman Kelly back where she belongs: home.
With love, as always,
Maggie & Kelly's Krew at Arkansas Manor
p.s. DEBBIE DILLON is coming back to DC tomorrow, and we can't wait! (We love the Dillons).
22 long days after an accident on Arkansas Avenue NW that changed the course of Kelly Dillon's life, she reached another milestone. On Saturday, Kelly was released from the Washington MedStar Hospital! Yahoo! While we'd all grown to love to love her nurses and docs there, and had finally navigated the halls enough times to have the floor plan memorized, we're psyched our Warrior Woman is kickin' ass & takin' names. This Warrior Woman is movin' on out, to the rhythm of her ukelele!!
Here's Kelly's new address:
MedStar National Rehab Hospital
102 Irving St NW
Washington, D.C. 20010-2949
Kelly is in a semi-private room with access to the cafeteria for games and visits once she gets to the wheel chair. Weather permitting, she will have access to the outdoor garden and patio. (!!!!!)
VISITING HOURS in her new digs:
Noon to 9 pm weekdays
11 am to 9 pm weekends
Kelly can only have 2 visitors at a time until she is ready to go to the cafeteria or 1st floor. Her new room isn't as private and spacious as the last, so we'll have to keep things mellow until Kelly is ready to rip (slowly) around outside in the wheelchair! To make things easy for Kelly, we've created a simple Google Doc sign-up sheet.
CLICK HERE to SCHEDULE a visit with Miss Warrior Woman Kelly!
Best times are in the evenings, as Kelly is busy with her rehab during the day!
Warrior Mother Debbie & Pappa Bear Todd swap out
In the ICU, shift changes were called the "Changing of the Guards." Here in DC, in our Arkansas Family and at Kelly's side in the hospital, we too have experienced a Changing of the Guards today.
Over the last 24 days, Debbie Dillon has taught us all what it takes to be a true Warrior Mother. She's been by Kelly's side for the entirety of this journey thus far. Throughout, Debbie has inspired the rest of Kelly's Krew with her positive, cool, calm, realistic and steadfast nature. No doubt, these good vibes and care have rubbed off on Kelly too. Debbie has been working remotely from DC since Kelly's accident, staying at our Arkansas Family house for the majority of that time. We've welcomed her into our family and our daily lives, and are sad to see her go! Debbie flew home to St. Louis this afternoon, and will likely be back when Kelly has graduated out of in-patient rehab to out-patient.
Over on Arkansas Ave, Kelly's bed won't be cold for long! Todd Dillon is scheduled to appear on the scene this Thursday, and will be in town through the weekend. Every girl needs a good dose of her Pappa Bear from time to time, so Warrior Dad Todd is sweeping in for just that! A Changing of the Guards, and a few days of watching Kelly kick butt in rehab! As mentioned before, Todd was here in DC for about a week right after Kelly's accident, and he's been missed since!
Rehab & progress!
Speaking of which... this morning Debbie and I chatted with Kelly on speaker phone. She happily reported a 20 degree bend in her leg, and another huge milestone: REAL CLOTHES! In my humble opinion, Kelly totally rocked it out in the hospital gown, but seeing her in real clothes is like a breath of fresh air! She is pumped to be wearing her own t-shirt and shorts.
And not only that, folks, but Kelly just told me proudly that today she accomplished a 29 degree bend in her left knee! That's a 9 degree improvement in a day--gee wiz, this girl is giving her trainers a workout. She also gladly straightened her knee out to 8 degrees, nearing in on flat-as-a-board!
What's more, Kelly strutted her stuff in the Rehab center today with a walker--45 feet of walking, out and back again. And she killed it on the stairs with crutches. When I spoke to her just now, she said she was chillin' in a wheelchair with friends Mary Lauran (former roommate) and Brian. This chica is MOBILE my friends. Watch out MedStar, here she comes... look at that face: you've got a determined overachiever & athlete on your hands. Good luck keeping up.
The remaining items on tonight's blog post agenda are: photos & videos! (my fave). I've updated the photo section of the site; it now has 3 sections. The first is a collection of photos seen here on the blog & sent to me by Kelly, Todd & Debbie, as well as various members of Kelly's Krew. Pretty inspiring to see Kelly's progress in a slideshow of images! The second section is your ever-surprising and inspiring #goodvibeskelly Instagram photos! And the third, a series of images from Kelly's life in DC--to paint a picture for all of Kelly's Krew who haven't come to crash on an Arkansas Family house couch (yet!), of her life and community here in DC.
And check out the newest & greatest video on the site! Kelly had her own personal cheering squad of animals back in the old days, when she was in the hospital on floor 3, NW wing, room 12 (where we're convinced the nurses miss us all a bunch).
Can't wait to share more of Kelly's progress with you soon!
Maggie & Kelly's Arkansas Family
Kelly Dillon is a
who has now powered through
7 surgeries in 17 days.
The first: October 11, the day of the accident. The last: this past Monday, October 28.
Today, for Halloween, she showed us that a Warrior Woman can also easily transform into a superheroine
(costume courtesy of brilliant friend Janice Seele).
I repeat: doesn't Kelly look awesome?! This is the first I've seen her out of that hospital bed in the past 3 weeks. Yeehaw!
Share photos of your Halloween costume with Kelly by tagging #goodvibesKelly on instagram, and they'll show up in the keeping in touch part of this site!
Milestones & new challenges
Kelly is now closing the surgery chapter of this recovery tale, turning a new page to focus on physical therapy and rehab--a milestone worth celebrating! The surgeons were able to close up all of Kelly's incisions, and perform some plastic surgery where needed to reduce future scarring on her leg. When I heard that Monday's surgery was successful, and likely the last, I felt as if I'd been holding my breath in for 17 days without knowing it until I finally let it out--that type of relief. This step brings smiles, along with the inevitable anxiety for Kelly of the long road yet ahead. The past few days, pain management has been a struggle as she's transitioned from liquid drip medication to oral pills. Every shift in regiment requires adjustment until it fits her body just right. She will likely be in her brightly decorated hospital room through the end of the week, when she'll transfer to an in-patient rehab facility on the same campus to begin gaining back strength and motion. She's already been bending her knee slightly, and getting out of the hospital bed with the help of a walker! Depending on how physical therapy goes, she'll be there for a couple weeks until shifting to out-patient. Again: one step at a time.
On Warrior Women
When this site was born to communicate Kelly's recovery to her broad community (officially deemed Kelly's Krew, which I LOVE, by her St. Louis neighbor Elizabeth), I knew from the beginning she'd join the ranks as a Warrior Woman. Her immediately positive attitude, humble poise, relentless wit and pragmatic approach reminded me of a few special women in my life I call my Warrior Women. They're strong and fierce. They wake up facing every day as a new challenging adventure. To pull directly from a magazine clipping I received from one of those Women in a recent letter, I could say this about each one:
"A girl with a mind,
a woman with attitude
and a lady with class."
Cousins, freshman year roommates, instant and constant friends... separate connections eventually brought us together. Our clan has strengthened and grown since. Flocks happen for a reason; I think it's to do with the magnetic ways of kindred spirits. With these Warrior Women, I've howled from mountain tops down to the valley, collapsing in piles of exhaustion and laughter. We've wondered and wandered near and far--on bikes and boats, along rivers and trails, through the tidal rhythms of love, the glories and vulnerabilities of the decisions and opportunities that life in our twenties presents.
From my first visit to Kelly in the hospital, the day after this accident and surgery #1, I could tell she'd be tackling this challenging recovery head-on, with confidence, faith and patience. She embodied the spirit of a true Warrior Woman, earned herself the title, and so her tale here began. Since we all know that everything is better shared (at least, that's our Arkansas Family living philosophy), she's brought YOU, Kelly's Krew, along for the ride! So, once again, thanks for tuning in, checking in, visiting, sending your love from afar, and surrounding her with your generosity and support.
Another Warrior Woman I know, perhaps the most inspiring free spirit of them all, recently wrote an email introducing us to the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi. It resonated with me as a nice reminder: "Wabi-sabi nurtures all that is authentic by acknowledging three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect." Kind of a refreshing worldview, right? As I read more, I thought of Kelly. A wabi-sabi approach is cherishing the here & now... because this is it. It's also knowing that any suffering you feel now... it, too, will pass. It's embracing change, preparing for a constant ebb & flow. It's absolving any struggles for perfection, knowing no such thing exists. There's comfort in knowing we can let go of some of the tension held in these idealisms. In doing so, I think we can take what comes our way with greater nimbleness and ease.
So why did my gut tell me my friend Kelly would step up to face this challenge as the Warrior Woman she's proven to be? She's a girl with a mind, a woman with attitude and a lady with class. She's also an incredible example of the mantra that we can't control events, but we can, to a degree, control our reactions to events. Warrior Woman Kelly, and her Warrior Family Debbie, Todd and Paul, have all been incredibly grounded, pragmatic and positive in their approach to taking this recovery one step at a time. Perhaps they were already attuned to the wabi-sabi way (I just like saying that word... but for real: Kelly's parents are solid people I've grown to love).
On that note, I wanted to add that Kelly's father, Todd, was here in DC for a solid week, flying back to St. Louis at the beginning of last week. His presence here is missed, but strongly felt. Todd is working hard to communicate Kelly's progress quickly to close family and friends, and he's been forwarding along amazing pictures like the Wonder Woman one above.
Don't forget to tag pics of your SPOOKY Halloween costume
with #goodvibesKelly to share some of the holiday cheer with our
Wonder Warrior Woman Kelly!
This is my favorite thus far (aside from Kelly's) from our roommate Erica (@ericaefox)
of her adorable nephew in his costume:
I'll sign off with a haiku, and a caveat that I don't write poetry.
beauty in imperfection;
with dignity, grace.
Happy Halloween from DC everyone!
With lots of spoooooooooky love,
Maggie & Kelly's Krew at Arkansas Manor
As Kelly heals, a group of friends are working to address some of the conditions that led to the crash. The stretch of street where Kelly was struck outside her house is desperately in need of safety improvements. Because of the way that Arkansas Avenue was designed, drivers routinely speed 10 to 20 miles per hour over the speed limit, creating safety concerns for the families and kids who walk and bike in the neighborhood. To keep everybody safe and tragedy-free in the future, we need to slow down the traffic on this residential street.
Kelly Blynn and MaryLauran Hall, two of Kelly's DC friends, are mobilizing neighbors to push the city to institute "traffic calming" — changes to the street to encourage slower, more careful driving — along Arkansas Avenue.
If you're interested
in getting involved
or supporting this effort,
send them a note below.
Your first opportunity to join Kelly B. and Mary Lauran in their efforts is this Saturday at 3pm, starting at our Arkansas Family house in Petworth. Write these ladies a note here, and they'll keep you posted with details. They'd love to have you join!
Today is Kelly's 7th surgery, and there's a lot of hope that the brilliant surgeons on the job will be able to wrap up their work. Delta dog, the darling pup owned by our good friends Maarika & Bim, has sent her love from Portland, OR.
Kelly's nurses & docs are pretty darn awesome and good-looking, and happen to be darn good at medicine, but I have to say... nothing quite compares to the heart-healing warm fuzziness of Delta dog LOVE.
- Maggie & Kelly's Krew on Arkansas Ave
First of all: the news. Kelly's surgery Thursday was a great success. The "erector set" they had stabilizing her leg from the outside has finally been removed! The doctors were able to finish all of the work repairing her bone, and now she has a much sleeker version of that mechanism inside her leg, shoring her tibia up. We are all delighted that they managed to finish the bone work, since that means Kelly is one step closer to healing and standing up again! There is another surgery scheduled for early next week in hopes of finally closing her leg up, so fingers crossed.
Kelly spent Friday resting, and recovering from a long surgery. She is still in a lot of pain, but now that the end is in sight, she is being an absolute champ and getting excited about recovery. The doctors started physical therapy today (sitting up and putting her right foot on the ground!!!!) and she is starting to think about the big-time rehab that she'll start when they finally finish the last surgery.
So tonight we made an attempt at a board game night at the hospital, and what a success! While the hospital room and bed aren't exactly conducive to a board with moving pieces, we spent some quality time with the giant book of Mad Libs her friend Betsy sent. A game of Mad Libs is a great reminder that no one grows up completely. There were just as many scatological references in there as there were when we were kids, only this time we got a couple of her nurses to help us out. They had far filthier and more surprising (medical) contributions than we could have ever hoped.
We also wanted to send a great big thanks to everyone who has pitched in this week to help make Kelly's life (and her mother's, and ours) just a little bit easier. We had an incredibly generous dinner this Monday delivered by Amy Rothschild, which brightened up our whole week. Kelly continues to get cards daily from old and new friends; we are all amazed by the number of people out there pulling for her.
If you are looking to help, to send love, or food, please take a look at our meal schedule, photo projects, and other ideas on the "how to help" page.
So much love,
Erica and the Arkansas Family
It’s been an exciting few days for Miss Kelly. She had a good weekend that involved many more food deliveries (her appetite, especially for healthy foods, is returning, hooray!), some ups and downs in terms of pain management, visits from friends, and bonding with her nurses, one of whom was home schooled and enjoyed talking education with Kelly.
Kelly certainly hasn’t lost her passion for teaching while in the hospital, and at one point in the weekend she lamented that she wouldn’t be able to teach the lesson that she had been so carefully planning before the accident. However, Kelly’s already looking ahead to when she can return to teaching, and Gunston Middle School has made it clear that they’ll be excited to welcome her back as soon as she is ready. Today Kelly’s devoted students sent hand-made cards to the hospital with Greg and Sharon, colleagues from Gunston who came to visit.
On Monday morning, Kelly had another surgery, this one to begin working on fixing her tibia. This surgery was a big milestone for Kelly, since the doctors had been focusing on stabilizing her vascular system and managing infection before starting the bone work. She has another surgery scheduled for Thursday to begin work on the other side of her tibia.
After the surgery on Monday, Kelly reached another milestone: she moved out of the ICU and into her own room (3NW, room 12). Today she hosted her first surprise visitor in her new digs: her old friend Lois, who’s living in Portland, managed to tack on a special detour to DC to the tail end of a trip to New York. As soon as Lois and Maggie arrived in the new room, they began applying their creative genius to decorating it. Kelly’s friends are certainly seeing to it that she has the most colorful, uplifting, and fun room that MedStar Washington Hospital Center has ever seen. Even far-away friends are pitching into the efforts: Kelly’s longtime friend Betsy sent some stellar contributions to the bag of fun.
After the turmoil of surgery on Monday, followed by the move to a new room, and an unfortunately more pain-ridden and sleepless night than Kelly had experienced in awhile, along with the excitement of hosting so many loving visitors, Kelly decided to take a quiet evening tonight to focus on resting and healing. Kelly is truly making huge and rapid strides, visible every time we see her, but we know that her healing will not always be a linear process and that some days will be harder than others. It is important to celebrate each milestone and to tackle each challenge as it comes. And thus far, Kelly’s been tackling it all with incredible humor, grace, and spirit.
Stay tuned for photos and video of Lois’s surprise visit and Kelly’s newly decorated room!
-April & the Arkansas Ave. crew
Kelly devoured her breakfast in bed on Sunday. Smoothie-making is an Arkansas House tradition, and so it was great to be able to bring a healthy little taste of home to Kelly's bedside.
Have you seen all the phenomenal photos Kelly's friends and loved ones have been posting to #goodvibesKelly on Instagram? If not, check out this live feed on the "keeping in touch" section of this site.
We're going to crowd-source this one folks. Here's how this works:
1 YOU (yes, you!) come up with an assignment! Something from our daily lives we can snap some pics of, slap some filters onto, summon some #oftheBestMostHilariousHashTagsEVRR, and share with our @warriorwomanKelly.
2 Use a free app like Phonto to write text on a photo letting everyone else know what your assignment is! Make sure to include #goodvibesKelly Assignment #3 and a mention of our @warriorwomanKelly
3 Blast it out!
As a consummate lover of delicious food, I often find myself using meals as goal-poasts. Taking a bike ride that is 10 miles to the cheese factory, another 11 to the oyster company, with a last 12 miles to a great glass of post-ride beer. A drive across the country mapped out as high-altitude Colorado whiskey, New Mexico green chile burritos, Memphis dry rub ribs, Asheville beers, and Durham barbecue. Today's food-yardstick, however, was so much more incredible:
KELLY'S FIRST (Post-accident) CHOCOLATE CROISSANT!!!!!!!!!!!
Kelly has been able to eat solid foods for a few days, but between the fact that she can't eat before surgery, and is left too exhausted and dehydrated after surgeries to get excited about the taste of food, it has been nearly a week since she has enjoyed what she's eating. So you can imagine how incredibly excited we were when she started inquiring about food.
Which April and myself only one choice: Stopping by Le Caprice on our bike ride over to the hospital this morning. Kelly introduced me to Le Caprice's chocolate croissant on my second morning living in DC. Kelly's passion for this sweet French bakery in Columbia Heights is pretty serious. Their chocolate croissants are truly excellent, and Kelly will tell anyone (and that includes her day nurse and the fourth year med student assigned to tie her up in traction this morning) how they put all others to shame.
You can imagine our delight when we got to the hospital and Kelly was feeling well enough to eat almost the whole thing! These last couple of days (and let's be real: the last whole week) have been a bit of a roller-coaster. The doctors have been working hard on her pain management, and we are all delighted to see the baby steps on this front. While Kelly is still in a lot of pain (and the situation is constantly evolving) the small scaling back they have done on the narcotics have given her a clearer head, and given us a lot more of the Kelly we know and love. Namely, the razor-sharp wit, and the ability to wax poetic about a beautiful meal.
After our early-morning Gallic success, Kelly got another delicious meal surprise. Maggie's fabulous friend Peter Gatrell, who has never met Kelly, was so moved (we can only assume) by this poetic blog, that he had to come by with some lunch. Listening to Kelly describe the farmer's market tomatoes and seeded bred, with fresh smoked turkey was nearly as good as eating it. I don't know what made me happier: hearing Kelly rave about a good bite, or hearing how many strangers have reached out to our extended DC family to offer support. It's pretty incredible to see so many good-hearted people coming together to help this wildly fierce lady heal herself.
We're hoping all of these delicious treats and teeny baby steps in pain management help Kelly rest up this weekend: surgery number five is on Monday, and we're all crossing our fingers that they will get some of the big work done. Things change here minute by minute, but please do keep Kelly in your thoughts and prayers.
And if you have more time to spare, sign up to bring Kelly, Debbie, Todd, and Jordan a meal! They are being such troopers in the hospital, we would love to spare them from too much cafeteria food! Follow the link here, and join the crew working to feed the Dillons!
Erica & the Arkansas Ave Bunch