Kelly Dillon is a WARRIOR WOMAN
who has now powered through7 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 superheroineWONDER WOMAN(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! with #love, @maggiemacy
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
Since Miss Dillon was missing grading her students' assignments, she created a list for herself!
- List by Kelly, designed by Maggie
On Sunday, five days ago, I was visiting Kelly in the hospital with Erica, Jordan, April, Austen and Brett. We were totally breaking the 2-person limit in Kelly's ICU room (which has a window that lets in natural light, by the way!), when Brett asked her this question. I live under a rock these days when it comes to professional sports--baseball in particular. The only cards I know of come in sets of 52. I was confused, but Kelly sure wasn't. Despite being quite loopy from pain killers, she quickly responded, "Kicking butt and taking names."
This photo is from Sunday, Oct 13, when (in order of appearance) Jordan, April, Erica, Maggie, Brett & Austen (taking photo) visited Kelly in Room 10, when Kelly was full of witty one-liners (including the one about the Cards). Please note the lovely poster Austen bought for Kelly from the National Sheepdog Finals in Middletown, VA. Our friends threw a big Southern-style field party & pig roast over the weekend and Austen's car made an obligatory stop at the races down the road. http://www.nationalsheepdogfinals.org/ in case you're considering competing in 2014. DVDs are available from this 2013 race; study up!
While I still don't follow baseball, my ears have perked every time I hear talk of the Cardinals this past week (admittedly, it comes mostly from the only folks from St. Louis in the room, the Dillons and Brett). So when they beat the Dodgers tonight, sending them to the upcoming World Series, that
was a NYTimes alert I actually paid attention to. In the same way so many of you are sending cheer to Kelly via Instagram #goodvibesKelly
hashtags, love through the mail in the form of dark chocolate and pears,
laughs in her inbox from ridiculous animated gifs
... I couldn't help but think that the Cards got a little extra help tonight from a dedicated Warrior Woman Fan named Kelly, rooting for them from room 10, with the window, in the back left corner of Intensive Care Unit 3G.
Change is a constant in the hospital: Kelly's heart rate goes up, comes back down. Her blood pressure does the same. Surgeries are scheduled... sometimes they're delayed. We've all learned to be nimble and patient--Kelly, of course, more so than anyone else. So it's worth passing along the update that, yes, Kelly is back in the ICU as I've reported here. I believe we posted on Monday about her move into a shared room, but after a fever spike on Monday night, she's back where nurses are constantly monitoring her health. As much as we don't like for her to be in the ICU, we do
feel good the 24-hr supervision of our Warrior Woman!
Kelly's father, Todd, took this photo today. Kelly looks great, doesn't she?! A smile on her colorful face, socks for arm warmers (her vascular doc made sure to poke fun at her style), braided hair... nimbleness spurs creativity in this unit, and patience brings improvements.
Kelly's bright eyes and pearly whites reflect today's marvelous medical breakthrough:
pain management success.
The docs have given Kelly the gift of a nerve block in her left leg. You may notice the two gold & green rods connecting Kelly's femur to her lower leg... there's a lot going on in there with rods & incisions, and it's been excruciatingly painful for Kel when she's not (and even sometimes when she is) completely doped up on narcotics. She told me today over the phone that she feels "like a whole new person", with the nerve block, and Debbie happily reported that Kelly was giddy all day. Todd added, "It's as if she just got out of San Quentin." No pain for the first time in a week will hopefully enable her to sleep well and function normally during the day. MIRACULOUS! GREAT NEWS!!
In other medically-related updates, Kelly's surgery #4 went well yesterday. However, the docs were unable to start in on the bone repair they'd hoped for. They found a bit of lingering skin infection, which kept them from beginning orthopedic work. Nonetheless, cleaning up unviable tissue and making sure everything else looked good in there were small steps of progress. Surgery #5 is scheduled for Monday.
I took a quick visit to the hospital this evening after work. In the family waiting room, I found not only Todd and Debbie, but Connie too! Visiting the Dillons from Louisville, KY, Connie was a roommate of Todd's from way back when! Here's to hoping our Arkansas Ave Family of roommates (past & present!!) is still there for each other years from now.
Todd & Debbie (Kelly's parents) and Connie
I also had the pleasure of hand-delivering a package that our dear friend Lois sent to Kelly. Included was a HUGE bar of dark chocolate (enough to share!!) and these homemade healing cards. Yes, Lois. We're photo documenting it all and embarrassing you on the internet. It's for a worthy cause :)
I'll sign off with a note to reiterate how much it means to Kelly to be surrounded by the warmth of your love. Kelly's community both in DC and afar have reached out, even if they don't know her, with so much positivity and support. Kelly told her mom today that she couldn't imagine going this alone. "I'd be so depressed," she said. So please know, your presence, your notes, your kind words of encouragement and cheer, your posts on Instagram, your magazine collages, your hand-written notes, gifts of books and food... it makes a difference. You are the fuel for this Warrior Woman's fire right now, and she'll need you in the weeks to come.
Stay tuned for more from us here at the Arkansas Manor. Word on the street is that Erica has set up a page where we can organize dinner & other food offerings! Yahoo! And does anyone know how to embed animated GIFs in the Weebly template? I've tried pasting the copied url into an "embed code" frame, but it doesn't show the images. Humph, I have something funny I want to share! Solutions? K, thx.
I'm out like a fat kid in dodge ball, peace y'all!
Maggie & the clan of warriors on Arkansas Ave
Todd Dillon, Kelly's father, just sent this photo of Kelly from her room in the ICU. This girl is prepped, and ready to head into surgery #4. Thumbs up, smiling, it takes a true warrior woman to maintain the positive spirit Kelly's emanating here.
The love and support from friends and family like you truly helps! Keep it up, continue to post to our #goodvibesKelly hashtag on Instagram, and please get in touch if you're able to help the Dillons out by providing a warm meal!
Maggie, the Dillons, and our roommate family on Arkansas Ave.
Dinner offers, please contact Maggie: firstname.lastname@example.org