Mary Bicknell Aneurysm Recovery Journey

When I looked back, I saw the hand in which she was holding her coffee shaking.  With eyes closed, she spilled out of her chair - slumping forward and to the right.  I tried to arrest her fall as she toppled to the ground head-first landing at the base of a palm tree in some some soft, moist soil.


This webpage chronicles Mary Bicknell’s anerysm, which happened on the Saturday before Easter 2017, and her recovery journey.  Here are the email updates, some photos, and videos.  (In time, I may add some additional commentary & videos not included in the original emails.)

Friday April 14th, San Diego CA

The Bicknell family arrived in San Diego, CA.  Mary Bicknell arrived from Houston, TX with her son, Doug and his family.  John Bicknell and his daughter, River, arrived from Portland, OR.  The plan was to have a nice Easter weekend getaway and take in the sites — like the famous San Diego Zoo.


On Friday afternoon, we went to the Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcalá, more commonly known as the San Diego Mission.  It was a beautiful Spring day in Southern California.  These photos were taken in the mission gardens.


Saturday, April 15th — 7:30am

Doug, Tammy, Elizabeth, Josie, Kay Kay, and River had all gone to eat breakfast.  I stayed with mom for a few minutes to chat about the day and have some coffee.  We were sitting on the back porch of the hotel room overlooking the San Diego’s Sail Bay.  Mom mentioned to me that she felt like she might have a touch of a cold coming on, but she thought nothing of it.

I don’t remember what we were talking about.  I looked away from her towards the beautiful morning  water scene for just a moment.  When I looked back, I saw the hand in which she was holding her coffee shaking.  With eyes closed, she spilled out of her chair – slumping forward and to the right.  I tried to arrest her fall as she toppled to the ground head-first landing at the base of a palm tree in some some soft, moist soil.  I gathered her in my arms as best I could.  Her breathing was slow and labored; her teeth appeared clenched.  I didn’t know it at the time, but she had just had a massive subarachnoid brain hemorrhage.

Some passers by noticed the scene and came to assist.  The paramedics arrived and before we knew it, they whisked mom away to the Scripps LaJolla Hospital Emergency Room.

Here are the email updates we provided in chronological order.

Saturday April 15th — PM

She had an Sub arachnoid (sp?) hemorrhage. The doc said it’s basically a bad aneurism. She’s not going to make it, but I don’t know how long. Her reflexes indicate abnormal brain functioning due to the damage. We’re keeping her comfortable & not intubating her to keep her alive. The doc was quite confident that her quality of life would be very poor — very very likely unconscious if she survives.

Sunday April 16th — Easter AM



She is awake, but groggy. She can talk a little bit. Of course, she is quite disoriented. We are moving her back into the ICU for valuation & to see about any kind of procedures which might improve her brain situation. Still very tenuous at this point. Of course, we want to have her stabilized and then see about returning her to Houston as soon as feasible without being hasty.

As you guys know, she’s a fighter. The medical staff are all quite surprised and blown away that she is functioning as well as she is right now so what a blessing.

I’ll keep you updated,


Sunday April 16th — Easter Noon


We just got finished speaking with the neurosurgeon. It is confirmed that she has what’s called a PCA aneurysm. And, we are going to look at doing a intervascular coil procedure. This less invasive procedure essentially goes in through her femoral artery, and places a platinum reinforcing coil in her brain where the aneurysm occurred.

Then, she will be in intensive care for at least two weeks here in San Diego. During this period, she will still be at great risk for what’s known as vasospasms. These spasms occur within the brain due to the trauma that she suffered, and they are potentially life-threatening.

Right now, everyone agrees that she’s an Easter miracle. Very very few people survive, and are communicative after the type of trauma she suffered yesterday.

She even made a joke. When the nurse asked her how old she is, she said she feels like she’s 1000.

No transportation options until she’s out of the woods. San Diego is home for the short term. Still very guarded & critical.

Feel free to fwd to anyone who might want to be kept abreast.

Love, John

Sunday April 16th — Easter 2p PST

She just went in for the procedure. She’s in the best hands. The doc seems cautiously optimistic.

At least two to three hours.


Sunday April 16th — Easter 6p PST

JUST found out about 5 min ago.

Procedure completed successfully. She’s enroute back to the room. Intubated. The doc was pleased. Big aneurysm opening; took like seven coils/stents to remedy. The doc said the aneurysm incident must’ve clotted very quickly — maybe after only one or two seconds — otherwise she would’ve died on the spot yesterday AM.

Still a waiting game. But every day that passes, immediate risk subsides. Still very uncertain regarding the extent & return of her mental & physical abilities; that should be clearer in a few days. But, why stop now? She’s on a roll…

Maybe three weeks or so of ICU here in San Diego.


Monday April 17th Mary Update — Mon AM plus Contact Info, Next Few Days & Visitation

Hey Everyone.
This will be a longer email than most because I want to cover several topics.
Update:  She’s still intubated this morning. But, it’ll come as no surprise to any of you that she’s fighting & fussing w the various tubes & trying to get them out.  Her arms needed to be restrained & fluffy mittens put on so that she doesn’t inadvertently unplug something.
She nodded her head indicating that she recognized me, which is hopeful; it is also not conclusive, unfortunately.  We likely won’t know much about her cognition until she gets thru this early recovery period.
Her motor skills seem good: gripping w hand; wriggling toes.  She also had a CT scan this morning which, according to the attending neuro-nurse, was OK.  Assuming no issues, they’ll do CT scans every 3-4 days.  There was a slight widening of her ventrical near the site of the aneurism, which they’re keeping an eye on.  Other than the machines tracking her vitals, visual observation & comparing results to her baseline is the best way for them to assess her progress.
They are conducting spontaneous breathing trials (SBT) to determine if she can breathe on her own & have the ventilator removed; she’s been performing well recently during the SBTs.  But, and there’s always a but…, some fluid has collected in her lungs & they’re concerned about bacteria & infection.  So, her situation is still very guarded.
The pulmonary doctor & neurosurgeon haven’t made their rounds yet.
Communications:  Email is easiest.  If you have a preferred email, let me know. Also, I’ll trust all of you to inform others who care about mom.  If anyone wants to be added to this communication list, please ask them to send me their best email address.
Contact Info: Here’s the best contact info for me & Doug:
    Cell/txt: 503-860-2701
    Cell/txt: 713-501-2405
Next Few Days:  The next few days will critical and visitation is not advisable for a week or so.  I plan to be in SD for a week.
Visitation: A couple of you have asked about visiting or offered to come & help.  Thank you so very much.  You guys all know mom well & you know that she would adamantly insist that you all stay home.  However, mom’s not in charge right now.  Doug and I decided that you guys are welcome to visit, if you’re moved to do so.  Besides San Diego is nice this time of year.
Thinking optimistically and logically, timing/phasing your visits would be best starting Monday Apr 24th.  If you’re thinking about making the trip, here is what we suggest:
1.  Let me know by email if you’re considering coming out & which day(s) you are available, specifically.  If you have several windows, let me know that as well.
2.  I will start a consolidated list w dates & keep you informed.  We can adjust & deconflict, as your schedules allow.
3.  Again, it would be dandy to phase visits in order to minimize gaps in visitation coverage & avoid many of you showing up at the beginning of visitation.  Thx for understanding.  I know so many of you want to show your support as soon as you can.
4.  Pay the little bit extra money to get refundable or flexible dates.  Because, you know why….
Return to Houston: Optimistically, when she’s ready to be transported to Houston, Doug or I will coordinate & oversee that movement.  FYI, air transport is likely not the best option due to altitude changes, which could stress the aneurism site.  There are other ground transportation options.  We’re at least three weeks out before moving her back home.  And, of course, we have no idea about her care needs back home.
Mailing Address:  the best way to communicate to Mom would be to send me your note & words of encouragement & I’ll read it to her. But, if you’d like to send a card:
Scripps Memorial Hospital
Preys Cardiovascular Institute
NST Room 4107 (Patient: Mary Bicknell)
9896 Genesee Ave
La Jolla CA 92037
ICU Room & Phone: Room 4107, no phone.
Flowers:  She’s in the ICU.  No flowers.
Thank from all of us for your support, kind words, thoughts, and prayers.  FYI, this photo of Mom & the four youngest grandkids was taken on Good Friday in the San Diego Mission gardens about 12 hours before the aneurysm.

Tuesday April 18th — Mary Update — Tues AM

Good morning everyone.

Mom is still intubated. She has quite a bit of secretion in her lungs. She can’t be extubated until these secretions are stopped, otherwise she would essentially drown in the fluid. These types of secretions can happen to anyone; however, mom’s smoking habits for the last 50+ years exacerbate the situation.

They are conducting a minor procedure called a bronchoscopy. This procedure will go into her lungs via the breathing tube which is already in place, so it won’t introduce additional stress on her airway. The procedure will do two things. First, they will clean up as much of the mucus and secretions as they can. Also, they will be able to better assess & understand what’s going on in there & get a good sample for testing.

You will all be happy to know that she is as ornery and stubborn as ever. She has figured out ways to squirm around in her bed and manipulate the fluffy mittens on her hands so that she can get them off and get more arm movement so that she can access the intubation tubes. She wants that stuff out!!!! She kept doing this over and over and over and over and over. So, last night they needed to sedate her a little bit more so that she did not inadvertently harm herself.

I have read to her all of your lovely notes and she seems to understand and appreciate them — as we do as well.

Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers wherever you may be.

As always, please pass this along to whomever you think would want to be kept abreast of the situation.


Tuesday April 18th — Mary Update — Tues PM

The bronchoscopy is complete, and it is confirmed that she does have pneumonia. While this is not great news, the staff does not think that it is terribly worrisome at this point. It does, however, mean that extubation is delayed even further. Mom is not going to like that, because she continues to squirm and fuss and indicate that she wants to have all of those tubes removed. She is doing well with the breathing tests.

On the good news side, the neurologist says that he is very happy to observe that she is so physically active. He said that he doesn’t care if she punches somebody, her physical activity is a very good sign. Also, he says that the aneurysm repair site is holding well, and there is no evidence of vasospasm currently (highest risk 8-12 days following aneurysm).

So, all in all, the immediate recovery news is more on the good side than the bad side — especially given everything that has occurred over the last couple of days.

Really appreciate everyone’s love and support during this time.


Wednesday April 19th — Mary Update — Wed Early AM

Last nite at about 12:30a pacific, she extubated herself.

She got at least one hand out of a mitten and pulled the various tubes out of her mouth. So, they put her on an external breathing apparatus & commenced breathing trials immediately to see if she could sustain herself.

So far, her vitals are ok & they’re not re-intubating; hopefully, they won’t have to. She IMG_3172needs to be able to breathe on her own & supply her body with sufficient oxygen — two separate but related body processes.

The mucus secretions are likely gunking up the works in her lungs & greatly reducing the oxygen transfer process. They’re still administering medicine via the oxygen flow to break up the mucus in her lungs so it can be suctioned out. Unfortunately, now the suctioning is quite unpleasant as they must run the tube each time. The suctioning will occur every four hours until the secretions are mitigated.

She occasionally tries fussing with the O2 mask, which may still be a positive sign that she’s vigorous physically, but she needs to knock it off for her own good. I told her to quit it forcefully & she responded.

Keeping a close eye; very guarded.


Wednesday April 19th — Mary Update — Wed PM

Mom is being re-intubated tonight because her O2 levels drop when she’s off the breathing machine & because she is on a mission to take off the face mask any way she can. The neurosurgeons stand by their positive comments regarding her motor coordination, muscle strength, and ability to follow commands. However, these same tallies in the asset column are also jeopardizing her entire recovery and life, potentially. Yes, it is that serious. I’ve asked all of her care givers to redouble their efforts & be vigilant. It is intensive care, after all. It’s been a long day.

Let’s try crowd sourcing a solution. All of you know that mom keeps fastidious lists, bustles about tending to everything that needs tending, and loves puzzles. I think her squirming & pawing at equipment is due to pent up energy & a lack of anything to do with her hands. I’d love to hear your suggestions for simple, yet stimulating, things she could do w her hands — both with & without the big white fluffy mittens. The solution should be something that won’t break if dropped & is easy to purchase or make out of simple materials. This way, she could do a little cognitive & motor rehab whist getting her mind off the annoying airway tubes. For example, a rubics cube might work; although, that maybe too complicated.

I’m glad that you guys find these updates helpful. Frankly, I find them cathartic. Perhaps, one day, mom might review the entries & realize how far she’s come since slumping head-first off her chair into a damp dirt patch next to a palm tree at the Catamaran Resort.

As always, thanks for your support & words of encouragement.


Thursday April 20th — Mary Update — Thurs Early PM

Mom made it through the night without having to be re-intubated. This is positive, because she appears to be less thrashy with her mask, tubes and various IV lines. Her pulmonologist stated yesterday that she might be able to avoid re-intubation as long as the O2 mask keeps her vitals good & she doesn’t flail & jeopardize her recovery, inadvertently.

She had another CT scan, but I don’t have those results yet. Also, yesterday she had a vasospasm brain ultrasound, which was unremarkable. Highest risk for vasospasm is 8-12 days after the event; so, that would be Sun-Wed next week, approximately. Supposedly, older patients are at less risk for vasospasm.

Some diuretics have helped a bit w the fluid/secretions in her lungs, thus enabling a more efficient O2 transfer. Earlier this am, she was off her O2 mask for approx five min without dropping O2 blood levels significantly, which is positive.

They’re concerned with Clostridium difficile infection (C Diff), an infection is spread by bacterial spores found within feces. Surfaces may become contaminated with the spores with further spread occurring via the hands of healthcare workers. So, everyone must gown-up around her now.

Also, yesterday, the docs described to me a kind of psychosis which happens to ICU patients — esp neuro patients. Essentially, these patients tend to get extremely disoriented due to frequent wake ups, exacerbated by restless sleep and the trauma itself. So, it’s unlikely that mom will remember anything at all since Saturday AM. Probably for the best.

Still very guarded.

Thanks for all your words of encouragement. Look how her list of supporters have grown!


Thursday April 20th — Mary Update — Thurs Late PM

Mom’s progress today was good. I had a lengthy chat with her neuro-nurse who remarked that she was doing very well indeed from a neurological perspective. The neuro-nurse mentioned that it is quite common for patients to have “good days and bad days” on their road to recovery. So, presumably, we should expect such with my mom’s journey. These are all good signs; however, none of us should forget that her condition remains critical.

Without being glib, this nurse was very impressed and pleased with mom’s progress to date. Truly, very few survive what she’s experienced and make the progress that she’s made. Mom even answered correctly when asked who the President of the United States was. She’s in a very rare group of folks who have made it this far this fast given the trauma she suffered.

Her brain sonogram from yesterday did not show any evidence of vasospasm — all relevant diagnostics within acceptable tolerance. Apparently, older folks are less at risk for vasospasm compared to younger folks. This is because their blood veins are a little more calcified and less prone to restriction caused by blood left over from aneurysms and strokes. The 21-day minimum ICU stay is as long as it is because, apparently, that’s the end of the vasospasm risk window.

Today’s CT Scan shows that there’s much less blood where it shouldn’t be compared to a few days ago. However, the scan also depicts a small bit of cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) swelling in her left ventricle due to some left over hemorrhage blood. This blood is constricting slightly the flow of mom’s ventricular system (hence the slight bulge). Currently, the docs do not observe any additional or worrisome pressure on her brain. Again, this is helped partially due to mom’s age — older brains are atrophied slightly and smaller than younger brains, and this is works in her favor. The docs are keeping a very close watch on this area; early indicators of trouble include lethargy and marked changes in her responses to motor commands. If warranted, her neurosurgeon will insert a temporary external ventricle drain (EFV) in order to relieve CSF pressure (hopefully not). She’ll get another CT Scan tomorrow, I believe.

Though mom never discussed it with us, it’s likely that she has some variety of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), perhaps emphysema. The diuretic she received yesterday significantly reduced the fluid build up in her lungs. This fluid build up probably caused a feeling of panic or drowning & contributed to mom’s flailing and thrashing about yesterday. She’s much calmer now, though the mask still bothers her understandably. The nurses say that no one likes the breathing mask. Hopefully, her breathing trials will continue to improve & she can step-down to a basic oxygen feed, which is much more comfortable. Her COPD will continue to challenge this recovery; today, mom nodded in agreement that her smoking days are finally over.

Finally, she had a peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC) placed into her right arm which allows for easier administration of medicine and drawing of blood. There are some slight risks with PICCs, but, in context with my mom’s situation, these risks are acceptable.

As always, thanks for your love & support.


Friday April 21th — Mary Update — Fri AM

IMG_3184She’s off the O2 mask; she’s now using a nasal cannula (lowest level O2 therapy — two little tubes at her nostrils). No sedation or pain medication, currently.

Today’s CT Scan shows no change in her left ventricle CSF bulge, which we’ll go ahead & call good news.

Also, I forgot to mention in last nite’s update that she’s negative for C Diff afterall, but they’re continuing to monitor her for that condition.

Keep the positive thoughts flying.     John

Friday April 21th — Mary Update — Fri PM

No significant medical change from this AM. Mom is off the O2 mask for the most part, but she goes back on occasionally to give her an O2 boost. Doug arrived today & is taking over the helm & email updates.

This afternoon & this evening, mom had the most wakefulness and attentiveness that I’ve seen since the aneurism. Of course, she’s still drifting in & out of sleep quite a bit, which is to be expected.

Tonight I spent a while with her before returning to Portland tomorrow AM. I read to her from a music blog that I started recently. The very first blog entry was about my father & the first song that I remember. She liked the blog post when I wrote it a few weeks ago, and she seemed to listen intently & follow along as I re-read it to her tonight–smiling as I played the song:

Tomorrow at 7:30a Pacific will be one week since her subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) caused by an aneurysm.


Saturday April 22nd — Mary Update — Thurs Early PM

9:15 am – the bipap mask was removed and the nasal cannula was put back into place. Her oxygen levels have been good today.
10:00 am – The ultrasound technician came in to scan her head for vasospasms.
10:30 am – The ultrasound technician told me that he did not see anything that we should worry about….great news!
11:00 am – A bronchi dilator was put on mom for six minutes. This was to help mom clear and break-up secretions inside her lungs.
12:15 pm – Dr. Corate stopped by to check on mom. Her sodium was a little high, so she added free water with some more diuretics.
1:45 pm – Dr. Pakbaz (neurologist) said her chest x-ray and pneumonia are getting better…which is again great news.

All in all, mom is doing well with no more agitation and fighting toward the treatment.

Sunday – Wednesday are critical days concerning the vasospasms.

I will be in touch tomorrow with another update.

Love, Doug

Sunday update for Mary (04-23-17)

7:30 am – I arrived to the room. She was on the bipap mask and sleeping soundly.

8:30 am – Bipap mask was removed and she seemed happier because of that. I learned that one of the diuretics being used is “Bumex”

9:30 am – The nurse attendant began administering “Nimodidine” every two hours to help suppress the vasospasms.

10:50 am – the ultrasound tech paid another visit to mom to check for vasospasms.

11:20 am – Again, the ultrasound tech saw nothing for us to worry about…Excellent!!

12:00 pm – Dr. Leary (Neuro surgeon) came by to see mom. She was able to answer where she was, what year we are in and her age. He then asked her to raise her arms while being stretched out. He asked to move all fingers on both hands. She was able to comply! Dr. Leary and I are optimistic that mom will recover completely from the aneurism that occurred eight days ago.

1:20 pm – Kate, the nurse for Dr. Corate stopped by. She began administering ” hypertonic super saline” solution to mom. This will be done to help break-up the secretions inside her lungs every eight hours. Mom’s breathing seems to be getting better. She can take deeper breaths, which means her pulmonary system is improving and the pneumonia is going away.

Mom has been talkative today and she was able put in some of the letters to the alphabet puzzle. Her finger dexterity seemed to frustrate her a bit, so I told we will work on it some more tomorrow. She was able unscrew the baby bottle top and screw it back on.

I will follow up with another update tomorrow.

Love, Doug

Monday update for Mary (04-24-17)

3:45 pm (Sunday) -They did a nasal trachea to help remove secretions inside her lungs.

7:30 am – I arrived to the room and Kate was giving mom the hypertonic super saline solution.

8:00 am – ultrasound tech arrived to check for vasospasms.

8:30 am – ultrasound tech saw nothing that we should worry about…great news!

10:00 am – Physician assistant came in to discuss thora centesis procedure. Basically mom has fluid inside and outside of her lungs. This procedure will ultrasound to locate the best position to insert the probe to withdrawal the fluid. They rubbed some lidocaine on the area where the probe is to be inserted, while giving mom a sedative to relax her.

11:15 am – I was asked to leave the room so they can begin the procedure.

12:00 pm – I returned to the room and learned that mom had 900 cc, almost a liter of fluid removed. The excess fluid was sent to cytology to be analyzed.

12:15 pm – I met with Laura (Neuro PA) who asked mom some questions. Mom was able to answer them which is good, this means fluids are draining properly up in her head.

12:45 pm – I met with Dr. Corate and she said given the circumstances mom is doing very well.

1:45 pm – Mom is resting and I am leaving to give the report.

Thank you all for your support and prayers.

Love, Doug

Tuesday update for Mary (04-25-17)

7:30 am – I arrived to the hospital and mom was wearing the mittens with some restraints. I was told that she pulled the nasal cannula and catheter out several
times over the night, hence the restraints and mittens to prevent that.

8:00 am – The ultrasound tech visited mom to check for vasospasms.

8:15 am – The attending nurse administered potassium and aspirin to mom. She then proceeded with nimodidine for preventing the vasospasms (every 2 hours).

8:30 am – The ultrasound tech saw nothing that we should worry about…great news!

10:20 am – A physical therapist came by to help mom sit up in the bed and then mom stood on the floor about three minutes. The sooner mom gets this rehab going the better.

10:25 am – Dr. Corate stopped and thanked John and I for getting mom’s pulmonologist records from Houston sent to her. It is confirmed that mom has COPD.

12:00 pm – Laura, the neuro PA, stopped by to check on mom. She asked mom some questions and she able to answer one of them. She has trouble with the other two. She asked her to wiggle her toes on the right leg, yet she did not comply. Laura explained that there will be good days and bad days as far as mom’s responsiveness is concerned. She also explained that mom will be going in for a CT scan later this afternoon.

2:10 pm – They took mom back for the CT scan and I am leaving to go write the update.

I think mom’s breathing has been better today. Even though mom has the nasal cannula in place, her O2 levels are on the rise….96, 97 and 98.

Please forward this to anyone concerned about mom. Please let John or I know if anyone else needs to be added to the distribution list.

Thank you all for your support and prayers!

Love, Doug

Wednesday update for Mary (04-26-17)

Mom was awake at least three hours today, and she was alert and conversational much of the time. That’s outstanding progress.

Doug and I are very grateful to Betty Moore. Betty will be with mom through Mon May 1st.

Several of you have asked for the mailing address again:

Scripps Memorial Hospital
Preys Cardiovascular Institute
NST Room 4107 (Patient: Mary Bicknell)
9896 Genesee Ave
La Jolla CA 92037

Thanks all of you for your thoughts and prayers.


Thursday update for Mary (04-27-17)

Mom had a good day today, and she slept a lot. Probably some much needed sleep!

She has started with some therapy. The breathing therapist came in three times for a treatment. The physical therapist worked with her for about 40 minutes. She’s also had some food–pudding and Jell-O . Sometimes she’s still a bit confused when answering some baseline questions; at other times, she is very clear. It seems to come and go; the nurse says that is normal & to be expected. She seems to enjoy watching news & golf.

Positive progress overall.

She knows that she has lots of folks across the country rooting for her!!

Thank you all very much,


Saturday update for Mary (04-29-17)

Yesterday was another day of incremental progress. Mom still sleeps a good bit, and she wears the mittens occasionally in order to prevent her from pulling out tubes, etc. It takes a few minutes for her to awake, but once she’s alert, she’s quite talkative. We’re starting to turn our attention towards returning her to Houston; the timeline for her return is still at least seven to ten days out at the earliest, however. She’s participating in some early therapy — speech, occupational, and physical.

Thanks to all of you for your cards, prayers, and kind words. Mom is fortunate to have such wonderful friends.


Sunday update for Mary (04-30-17)

Hi Everyone — Mary’s progress continues. We think the next few days might look something like this:

  • Mid-week (2-3 days from now): Move mom into a Progressive Care room at Scripps. She’s in intensive care, currently. Progressive Care has three patients per nurse instead of two patients per nurse.
  • Late-week (5-6 days from now): If she continues responding well and makes progress, move her to an appropriate rehab facility in the San Diego area for perhaps one week.
  • Mid-May (15-18 days from now): Transport her back to Houston into an appropriate care facility; it’s not very likely that she’ll be discharged to in-home care right away.

Doug & I would like to thank Betty Moore for being by mom’s side for the past few days. Betty has been our “eyes and ears” & has provided us with great information. More importantly, Betty has been a great friend to mom. We know that mom appreciates it — even if she’s not quite able to express her gratitude at this time. Thanks, Betty.

Delph & Tom Gillette arrive in San Diego tomorrow to carry on.

Thanks everyone, John

Tuesday update for Mary (05-02-17)

Mom continues to make positive progress. Today, it looks like they might transfer her into Progressive Care or maybe into a regular hospital room. She is eating more regular food, but swallowing is still a bit of a challenge. She has also walked a little bit within her room–which is outstanding news.

Delph and Tom Gillette arrived in San Diego yesterday, and they are keeping Mary company. Also, Mary’s old high school buddy, Cathie Anderson, has visited a couple times; Cathie lives in Del Mar, just North of San Diego/La Jolla.

I know you’re all rooting for Mary. We appreciate all of your emails & words of encouragement.


Friday update for Mary (05-05-17)

Hi Everyone. A couple days ago, Mary was moved from the ICU to a Progressive Care room at Scripps Hospital. She is now in the Browning Building, Room 515.

While she’s no longer in critical condition, I would say that her progress has plateaued the past few days.

We have two big decisions bearing down, and we don’t have sufficient info at this time to make either. The first decision considers keeping her in San Diego a bit longer so that her body might strengthen before returning her to Houston or returning her to Houston after discharge from Scripps. The second decision involves the type of facility to which to send her — an acute rehab facility or a skilled nursing facility. Since mom’s condition changes daily, the docs & therapists won’t have travel & follow-on facility recommendations for several more days. So, we’re developing contingency plans.

Thanks for everyone’s positive thoughts and prayers for mom. And, a BIG thank you to Delph & Tom Gillette who have been with mom the past few days. Tomorrow, Marie Blaine is arriving from Houston for the handoff.


Monday update for Mary (05-08-17)

Hi Everyone.

Mary is accepted into The Institute for Rehabilitation and Research (TIRR) in Houston TX for Acute Rehabilitation. She is cleared to fly, and we are coordinating a mid-week medical flight for her — hopefully Wednesday or Thursday. If all works as we hope, Marie Blaine will accompany Mary on the flight back to Houston.

Mary has all of the various tubes out of her body right now, and Marie JUST reported that she’s walking down the hallway on her own (with an attendant close by, of course).

In Houston, she will be at TIRR Brain Injury location: 1333 Moursund Street, Houston, TX 77030. More information about TIRR is here:

Mary still has a ways to go in her recovery, but this is all positive and hopeful news.

Thanks again to all of you for your support & prayers,


Wednesday update for Mary (05-10-17)



Hi Everyone.

Mom & Marie Blaine landed at Houston Hobby a few minutes ago & are enroute to TIRR. Now begins a new chapter for mom’s recovery journey.

IMG_3273I’m sure many of you in Houston are looking forward to visiting with her. We totally understand. Please hold off until Doug & I disseminate the visitation guidelines. Same thing regarding flowers. Thanks in advance for understanding.

And, a big thanks again for all of your great support.

John & Doug

Friday update for Mary (05-12-17)

Hi Everyone —

Mom is settling in at TIRR. She is participating in daily physical therapy. We’re uncertain how long she will be at TIRR.

I know a lot of you would like to visit her. Her physical therapy schedule changes daily. So, the best time is 6:00pm – 9:00pm when she is certain not to be in therapy. Besides, the evening visitation hours should ease any Houston traffic problems.

Here is the address & room info (click the link below for additional parking details):

TIRR Memorial Hermann
1333 Moursund St,
Houston, TX 77030
Nursing Unit 3, Room 302A

For those of you who would like to send flowers, the TIRR Gift Shop number is: 713-797-5229. You will need to give the name: “Mary Bicknell” and room: “302A”. (And, then you’ll need to be patient as the gift shop employee verifies that Mary is at TIRR)



Wednesday update for Mary (05-17-17)

Hi Everyone.

Mom is settled into TIRR. She was quite tired and despondent the first couple days back in Houston — the travel from San Diego must’ve been taxing and disorienting. But, she’s doing much better now. The daily three-hour physical therapy regimen tires her out, understandably. So, she seems to be most perky and chatty in the mornings.


Her therapists are pleased with her PT progress. She’s walking at least 500 feet per day with hands-on assistance to be sure she doesn’t fall. Notably, she’s walking without a walker. She’s also eating on her own. She tends to eat less than she should, so the last couple meals, I snuck in a few extra bites for good measure. Her short term memory is rather iffy, but not unexpected. For example, she’s been quizzed repeatedly (multiple times daily) regarding the current year and her current location, and she rarely gets the answer correct. The docs & therapist assert that her memory should improve with repetition and familiar faces. Her engagement is improving as well; she’s still distracted easily, however. Finally, she’s re-learning “transfer” skills, which are critical for self-care. Transfer, in this case, means the ability to stand up from one seat, turn, and sit on another seat. This skill is needed for multiple daily activities.

She appreciates, as do we, all of your cards, face-to-face visits, and prayers. You will all shake your heads & chuckle to know that she told me that she wants to send you all hand-written thank you notes. I told her that we can do that all in good time.

Here is a photo taken yesterday with me, Doug, mom’s granddaughter Marilyn, and mom of course.


Super Quick Update: Wednesday update for Mary (05-17-17)

Hi Everyone —

Two very quick updates & one re-mention:

1. Mom has moved rooms. She’s now in room 311. The direct number to her room is: 713-797-7318. If there’s no answer, try 713-797-7300 and ask for Mary Bicknell, room 311. She’d love to hear from any of you.

2. Visitation hours are from 9am – 9pm. Stop by anytime. The therapists are happy to have friends and family observe or even participate in Mary’s therapy as familiarity might help stimulate the recovery process.

Re-mention: For those of you who would like to send flowers, the TIRR Gift Shop number is: 713-797-5229. You will need to give the name: “Mary Bicknell” and room: “311”. (Be patient as the gift shop employee verifies that Mary is at TIRR)

Thanks, John

Saturday update for Mary (05-27-17)

Hi Everyone.

It seems that mom is improving daily. Her doctors and therapists at TIRR all say that she is making a fantastic recovery.

None of you will be surprised to learn that she is chomping at the bit and ready to get out of the rehabilitation facility and back on with her daily life activities. She continues to be a bit of a handful for her nursing staff. For example, she has learned how to get out of her alarmed wheelchair restraint without being detected by the nursing staff, and then walk around her room a bit. She even went to the bathroom on her own this morning–which was contrary to her safety protocols. These incidents are positive, have an amusing aspect to them, and are indicative that she’s progressing; however, they are also a little bit worrisome because it means that mom is not aware of how delicate and fragile her recovery situation is currently.

She definitely enjoys your visits, phone calls, and cards of prayer and encouragement. This afternoon, I am getting some postcards for her to start writing notes back to you.


On or about Saturday June 3, mom will be moving to a skilled nursing facility called Park Manor located in Humble Texas near Doug and Tammy’s house. She may be there for up to four months.

Those of you in the Houston area are free to stop by anytime between the hours of 9 AM and 9 PM.

Here’s a picture we took yesterday with her four youngest granddaughters (left to right: Kay Kay, River, Josie, and Elizabeth).

Sunday update for Mary (06-04-17)

IMG_1454It’s been seven weeks since mom’s aneurysm.  On Saturday, she departed TIRR and transferred to Park Manor, a Skilled Nursing Facility in Humble TX.  She will be there for a minimum of twenty days.  As it relates to mom’s situation, there’s not a significant difference between Park Manor and TIRR.  Park Manor will continue her therapy — the only difference being that TIRR specializes in brain-related trauma.

Here is her contact info while at Park Manor:

Mary Bicknell
Park Manor Room 311
19424 McKay Dr
Humble TX 77338
Room Number: 832-644-3847
Cell Phone: 712-299-9644

She appreciates your support & she welcomes visits and phone calls.



  • Mary , you made my day! Your strength and resilience in the face of extreme horrors showed us your mettle. I am so proud of you! Your sons and family and friends are strong supporters , for sure. I look forward to hearing of your progress and thank God for every amazing detail. You go, Girl, and I will write again.

  • Dear John, your mother is a remarkable woman and she has a remarkable son. Your love shows through in every word. When she’s able to read this; it will be a wonderful gift for her! We think about her all the time and our Burlingame Ladies group had a discussion about her in our opening luncheon. We’re all
    Praying and pulling for her!! Thank you for the updates. Stay positive! Karen Monshaugen

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