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Friday Update: 12/29/06

There is SO much to update everyone on!!! Bear with me while I sort it out!

Medical/Rehab News:
I finally heard from the dr in Iowa City who is treating Matt’s AVM/AVF (the jury is still out on the exact diagnosis)…we discussed some of our questions on the treatment plan and here is what he said:
· When they performed the initial embolization, they were unable to get these tiny ‘feeder’ vessels. These small vessels have since grown larger and he now feels ‘reasonably’ sure that he can successfully embolize these vessels. By reasonably, he thinks about 50% sure.
· There is no real sense of urgency to perform the embolization. The fact that these vessels have increased in size is not a bad thing…it doesn’t mean they are more likely to rupture or anything.
· He explained that there was a small aneurysm on one vessel, which he thinks is probably what caused the initial hemorrhage. When they did the embolization this summer, they successfully blocked the vessels with the aneurysm…which would be…

Tuesday Update: 12/12/06

Well, it has been another crazy couple of days…where to start!? Friday – We both got to spend some time with friends! Matt had several guys over to hang out, watch movies, and eat pizza. He was pretty tickled that they were all able to make it! He even called up two of them to invite them over and talked to them on the phone…which was a big deal for Matt! He said they had fun, just hanging out while I had dinner with a couple of girlfriends for some much needed catch up time! It was a good night for us both!

Saturday – Matt wasn’t feeling the best, started to come down with a nasty cold. So, we stayed in most of the day. We watched a few movies and generally took it pretty easy.

Sunday – Matt was feeling a little bit better and agreed to go shopping with me after church! We headed out to the mall, ate some lunch, and shopped around for a few hours. He didn’t complain too much when I dragged him around the various stores and departments he would normally NEVER be seen in! After …

Merry Christmas – 2006

The following is our 2006 Christmas Letter. I wanted to share it with everyone who reads the blog:
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Well, it’s been a big year of change in this Karwoski household…a year of unimaginable changes. As most of you know, in September of 2005 (just 5 days after the fishing picture below was taken) Matt suffered a brain hemorrhage…sending us down an amazing path that we could never have prepared ourselves for. The details of which have been chronicled on our blog: http://mekarwoski.blogspot.com/

I won’t add much more about that, but to say that we have been faced with insurmountable challenges…and we have survived. As we approach the holiday season, we can’t help but stop and think about all that we have to be thankful for…so this Christmas letter is simply going to be a list of things we give thanks for this year:

• The beautiful, beautiful love and support of our families
• The amazing strength and resilience of the human spirit
• The unbreakable bond of tr…

Picture Update

Here are some pictures from the weekend:



Litttle Matthew LOVES his Uncle Matt! He loves to hear his voice and to play with him!















The birthday Girl with her cake...the theme was Tinkerbelle, so she had to wear her special Tinkerbelle dress! :)












Meghan and her Aunt Emmy...with the ponies we got her!

Chad, Hope, Meghan & Matthew





Monday Update: 11/27/06

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!!!

Well, we had ourselves a busy, but wonderful Thanksgiving. We loaded ourselves up and headed up to my Grandma Maris’ for lunch. I had asked Matt the night before if he’d be willing to try going without the wheelchair. (We had gone up to celebrate Matt’s Grandma’s birthday last weekend in Boone, and we also left the wheelchair at home.) It was a bit scary, leaving that piece of security behind…but it was also a little bit freeing for me. I thoroughly enjoyed not having to lug the chair in and out! Anyway, Matt was up for the challenge and we took off with just the walker. We did a lot of walking that day…and it went just fine! Matt was able to walk up and sit down at the table with everyone, and it was no big deal! I was so proud of him for taking a chance and giving it a try. My Grandparents on my Dad’s side were also getting together Thursday, but we did not plan to stop by. It was a little out of our way, and we figured we’d be too pooped to h…

Wednesday Update: 11/22/06

I just wanted to post a quick update regarding Matt’s AVF and our treatment plan. I spoke to the nurse for the dr in Iowa City this week, and he has determined that Matt’s malformation IS an AVF and he recommends another embolization. He believes the best treatment option is to go back in and try to embolize the remaining vessels in the AVF. Unfortunately, I haven’t had a chance to speak with the dr himself to ask him some of our questions…but hopefully we will get them answered soon. In the mean time we have booked his procedure for January 4th. It will be another 3 day process…traveling out the day before the procedure for pre-op stuff, then the procedure day and recovery in the ICU, then another night of recovery on the neuro floor. Matt is less than thrilled…FAR less than thrilled, about having to endure this procedure again. It was truly the worst experience to date, for him. Neither one of us are looking forward to having to go through it again…but we’re trying to look fo…

Friday Update: 11/17/06

Well, we had another full week, including another fun trip to Iowa City. This trip was another follow up with the Ophthalmologist who performed Matt’s eye surgery. We discussed how things have been going with the prism on his one lens. Matt discovered that he could bring the two images together if he turned his head to the side and sort of looked out of the corner of his eye. The dr thought it was a good sign, but that is obviously not a practical way to look at the world. So, he put another temporary prism on the other lens of his glasses. The idea is to wear both prisms throughout the evening and see if his brain can fuse the two images together. We go back in December to follow up yet again.

In the meantime we are STILL waiting to hear from the other dr on what the next step should be to treat the remaining vessels in Matt’s AVF. I phoned them again today and the nurse was hoping he would get back to me early next week. I think Matt’s case has him a bit puzzled. Figures, …

Saturday Update: 11/11/06

I went to a bridal shower today for the fiancée of my cousin Seth. Chelsea and Seth have been together for nearly 6 years, so we are all excited they are taking the plunge. They are a young couple, full of hope and their future is wide open for them. It was strange, going to a bridal shower. I haven’t gone to one in so long…and it seems so weird to me. I think it just made me think about myself and my marriage. About how long ago it was when I was having my showers…flitting about in my pre-wedding bliss and planning all the exciting details of my ceremony, honeymoon, etc. At first, selfishly, I didn’t want to go to the shower. I didn’t want to be around all the happy people, celebrating this joyous occasion. I didn’t want to be reminded of how happy I once was…how invincible I once felt…how perfect everything seemed. I found myself feeling sad, and jealous of their youth and the newness of their life’s journey. I felt a little robbed of my happily-ever after. Then, I start…

Wednesday Update: 11/08/06

Phew...what a week! So many things are happening...the elections...Rumsfeld's resignation...McCarney leaving ISU football...Britney and Kevin splitting up...it's almost more than I can bear! My head is spinning with all the goings on! Thank goodness, we are just relaxing here in the family room, trying to take it all in!


It is SO nice to be home! I left early (VERY early) on Sunday morning for my annual work conference. This year's conference was in St Louis. That's right, the US's most dangerous city, as I'm sure you all read about recently. It was surprisingly not that scary. We joked about selling our own souvenior t-shirts...'I survived St Louis'...'I'm from St Louis - Back Off'...etc. We had a good trip overall, though we are looking forward to next year's trip (it will be in Orlando!). Two years ago, the conference was in Boston...just weeks after they won the World Series. This year, it was St Louis...just weeks after they won it. …

Monday Update: 10/30/06

I realize I haven’t been as good at keeping this blog updated recently. It seems there has been so much going on, and yet it’s not much worth reporting. We’ve had some changes to Matt’s therapy schedule and we’re still trying to work through how to deal with them. We are in the process of looking at our options for continued speech therapy. His therapist told us a few weeks ago that she believes she has reached the end of where she can take Matt in therapy right now. She didn’t really give us much time to really talk about what she was thinking and we sort of felt dumped. It has been a hard pill to swallow for us both. I have spoken to other therapists, and doctors, and we are going to have another therapist meet with us to evaluate Matt’s speech. We will see what she thinks about continuing structured therapy. I will keep everyone posted, as we learn what our next steps will be.

It has been a very stressful couple of weeks, trying to work out the details with my insurance and t…

Wednesday Update: 10/18/06

Well, we took another trip to Iowa City today…that’s right, six trips in seven weeks! YAHOO!!! (We’re really breaking in the new car!) Today we met with the Opthalmologist who performed Matt’s strabismus surgery. He checked things over and says we are on the right track. The double vision is still there, but it is definitely different than it was before. Of course, seeing double is still seeing double…and that’s the pits…but we are hopeful that it will keep improving. The dr explained that there is still healing to take place. Matt’s two images are side by side and a little up and down of each other (if that makes sense). Right now the dr wants to focus on bringing the two images closer together, side by side. The up and down fusion will come later. So, he measured and put temporary prism on his left lens. The prism helps bring the images closer together horizontally, and the goal is to have Matt use the prism to try and retrain his brain to fuse the images together. We will remove th…

Tuesday Update: 10/10/06

Well, yesterday was another long day spent in Iowa City. We went for Matt’s 6th cerebral angiogram. It was another early morning (on the road by 5:15), another long day of laying around (6 hours flat on his back AFTER the 2 hour procedure), and another day full of questions. The doctors were backed up all day long with several emergency procedures, so we didn’t get to visit with ours until we were ready to walk out the door at about 4:00. He said that the tiny vessels which remained after the embolization are still there. We were hoping and praying that they had closed themselves off over time, as this is a possibility that he has seen occur quite frequently…but not in Matt’s case, naturally. The doctor admitted that he was too busy yesterday with the barrage of emergency procedures to really spend enough time looking over the films and analyzing them. So, he’s going to spend some time this week reviewing them and they will call to let us know what their thoughts for treatment ar…

Monday Update: 10/02/06

First of all, I want to wish my parents a Happy 35th Anniversary!!!! I also want to thank you both for providing such a wonderful example of what marriage should be…through the many ups and downs of life, you have remained true to each other, your values, your commitments, and your family…I could not have asked for better parents. I hope you have a wonderful day! Love to you both!!!

Well, our weekend was a whirlwind of activity and fun. We had a nice visit with my Grandma on Friday night and Saturday morning. She had spent 2 weeks with my parents in Texas and her return flight got in late Friday night. I offered to pick her up and give her a place to stay the night. We spent a leisurely morning around the table visiting, and then she came to the grocery store with me as I picked up the last minute things for the party. It was so nice to have some time to talk to her!

That afternoon Chad (our brother in law) helped finish up some things on the car while Hope (my sister) and I …

Tuesday Update: 09/26/06

Well, it has been a few days since Matt’s surgery, and he’s hanging in there. It has been a long few days for him. The surgery was pretty intense and really took a lot out of him. The doctor said he would be more sore than the typical patient and I’m looking at Matt now going ‘NO KIDDING!?’ His eyes are still incredibly red, and his eyelids are still somewhat swollen. They have gotten better, but he still looks pretty beat up. I called the 24 hour doctor number last night to ask about the texture of his eyes. The ‘whites’ of his eyes are also somewhat puffy and look like they are covered in red gel. I wasn’t sure if that was a common occurrence, so I called to ask. The doctor explained that in performing the surgery, they have to peel up the top layer of the eye, and when they put it back in place it is not uncommon for fluid/blood to build up underneath. He assured me that it will go down, and the fluid will reabsorb in time. I just hope he’s feeling better before the weeken…

Friday Update: 09/22/06

I just wanted to update everyone on Matt’s eye surgery. We went to Iowa City on Wednesday for pre-op appointments with the doctors performing the surgery and also the anesthesia department. We went out to dinner and sat next to Derek Lee (a Chicago Cubs baseball player), and didn’t even know it until someone came up, got his picture and autograph. Small world. We spent the evening relaxing in a hotel…nothing too exciting.

Matt’s surgery went well. It was a long one though. He went in around 12:15 and was done about 3:45. George came out to sit with me during surgery too, so I had some company. We got to go back and see him about 4:45 or so. He was pretty groggy, but was in good spirits. He joked to the recovery nurse that the next patient she had coming in wouldn’t be as nice, or cute, as him! He had an ice pack wrapped around his eyes, so he couldn’t see, but he was fairly talkative. When they changed ice packs, he did open his eyes a little…but they were very red and irritated, so he…

Monday Update: 09/18/06

Today it really feels like fall is here. It’s cool…in the 50’s and cloudy. There are leaves starting to change, fall, and blow around in the breeze already. I find myself feeling somewhat sad today. Matt thinks maybe it’s because he’s not able to be out in the yard doing stuff with me like usual…and that may be part of it…but mostly I find myself thinking about what I was doing a year ago. It is really hard to grasp…that a full year has passed us by. I look up at changing leaves and suddenly I see myself sitting in Matt’s hospital room, watching over him with fear and trepidation. I see our families strewn about the waiting room, exhausted, terrified, anxiety-ridden. I am flooded with memories of washing my face in the sink of the waiting room bathroom, of sitting and staring at Matt’s vitals on the monitor and panicking at each random change in the numbers, of restless nights spent curled up with the teddy bear a friend gave me to help comfort me, of endless hours spent waiting…

Tuesday Update: 09/12/06

I just wanted to post a quick update after our trip to Iowa City. Today we met with 4 different doctors…and it was a looonngg day (left at 6:00 AM…home at 5:30 PM). The first half of the day was spent with the Ophthalmologists, discussing the problems Matt has with his eyes. They worked him over with a battery of tests and exercises, but he was a trooper through it all, as always! What we found out is that Matt’s eyes have remained stable, and that the only real option we have to help improve the double vision and misalignment is surgery. Matt’s hemorrhage has caused multiple issues with the way his eyes move, focus, and work together. The goal of surgery will be to reduce the double vision as much as possible, and hopefully align his eyes together. The doctor explained that it could take more than one surgery to completely get rid of the double vision…but we all agreed to give it a shot and we have scheduled his surgery for next Thursday, September 21st.

This afternoon we vis…

Monday Update: 09/11/06

Phew…well it’s been a busy few days and I’m not sure where to start this update! We had another great weekend here at home. Friday afternoon we spent a lot of time out in the garage…cleaning, organizing, and getting things picked up and put away. Of course, in order to do so, we needed to move the TA out of the way. So, our Matt decided to give it a try himself. He transferred in to the TA, warmed it up, and backed it out of the garage himself! I asked him what it felt like to be behind the wheel of THAT car…he said it felt like it had been a long time. I think it felt pretty darn good! We spent the majority of the afternoon and evening out there, just messing around. Then later we grilled up supper and ate out on the patio. It was a beautiful evening and we thoroughly enjoyed it, just us.

Saturday we ran some errands…buying oil for the TA and some things for the yard at Menards. It was the first time Matt has been in a Menards in over a year! Of course, he’d say it was no big deal. We…

Friday Update: 09/08/06

Our first therapy evaluations went pretty well. Matt’s speech therapist was ill yesterday, so we didn’t get to see her, but we met with the OT and PT to talk about things and came up with a game plan with them.

First we sat with the OT and went over the notes from Omaha as well as what things have been like for Matt at home. We discussed the kinds of things he worked on with his OT at QLI, as well as some of the projects we’ve got planned for him at home. She thought the things we had planned for him to do, as well as some of the home exercises she had given him before, would be great for him. She was glad to hear that he’s able to perform all of his daily routine tasks independently, and that we are trying out different things in the kitchen as well. He wasn’t really sure what else he wanted to work on with her in structured therapy, and she couldn’t really see that he would benefit much more from anything she could do with him there right now either. So, we all agreed to hold …

Tuesday Update: 09/06/06

Well it has been a week of big changes for us! Yesterday was Matt’s first full day at home…alone! We had practiced different things all weekend, preparing for him to do them completely on his own. We are so glad we had the extra long weekend at home to work out some of the kinks and get ourselves better prepared for this new transition. I had to call him a few times during the day to check on him, of course, but he was doing fine. I don’t think I could have imagined him having this much independence just a few months ago. I had hoped that after coming home I’d be able to maybe work half a day in the office and then run home…but to be able to work all day and know that he is able to take care of himself, fix his own meals, get dressed and ready for the day, and maneuver the bathroom on his own…well, he far exceeded my expectations! I could see him gaining strength and mobility each weekend in Omaha, but it was hard to envision how it would carry over into our life here at home. Bu…

Sunday Update: 9/03/06

Well, it’s our first weekend back at home together…and it is WONDERFUL! YAHOO!!!!

Matt’s last day in Omaha was fairly uneventful. We had one last staff meeting to just go over where he is at and the therapists’ recommendations for Matt’s continued therapy. There weren’t any surprises there…just making sure we are all on the same page. We stopped and said good bye to a few staff members and residents and then we headed home. We came home to a little welcome home surprise…a few friends had baked a cake and left a Welcome Home Matt sign with balloons and some cash to order pizza with. It was very thoughtful and sweet…we were both touched. Once we got unloaded, Matt settled in on the couch and took a snooze. It was beautiful out, the windows were open and the air was fresh and warm. Matt was so happy to be home…happy to be in our town, happy to just be in his normal environment. We ordered the Pagliai’s pizza that Matt had been craving and we just relaxed watching TV.

Saturday we slept in,…

Friday Update: 08/25/06

This week has been a bit emotional for me, for various reasons. I think I’m just so ready for Matt to come home and for us to be together again. It’s been so hard to be apart, and it seems to be getting harder all the time. I think the fact that we’re coming up on the 1 year anniversary of Matt’s hemorrhage is weighing on my mind. It seems like we spent each day, week, and month after September moving farther and farther away from the ugliness of that horrible time in our lives…putting it behind us and moving on, which was good. Now, as we approach the anniversary, it’s bringing up all kinds of memories and emotions that I would just assume forget. I’m sure it will be better as we move past the anniversary and put more time between us and that infamous date, but I suspect the approach of September will always stir things up deep inside. I just hope that with each passing year, the feelings are less and less intense.

Of course, I also made the mistake of watching parts of our we…

Monday Update: 08/21/06

Well, we’ve made a decision about when Matt is coming home! We talked about it a lot the past few weeks, as the time was approaching. He knew he wanted to be home before his birthday (the 9th) and before the one year anniversary of his injury (the 14th)…so, we have decided that he’ll come home on the 1st! That way we can enjoy the long holiday weekend together at home, and get all settled in before starting the next phase of the journey. So, we are really on the final countdown now! Less than 2 weeks to go!!! YAHOO!!

It’s hard to believe that he will have been there for almost 12 weeks…the time has gone by fast, and yet we are SO ready to get back home and move on from here. Matt has done well in Omaha; he has honed his skills and worked hard to make some good gains. We are looking forward to getting home and figuring things out around the house again. This weekend at the hotel we got around pretty well. Every time we are together I am more and more confident in his ability to function…

Wednesday Update: 08/16/06

I had a thought the other day…by the time Matt comes home from his stay at Omaha, he will have spent 6 of the past 12 months away from home. It just really hit me, how much time he’s spent in some sort of rehab/hospital setting in the past year…and it’s no wonder that I’m going crazy waiting for him to come back. More and more I am just feeling desperate for us to get back to some sort of normal life together – to have lazy Saturdays in our own home, to eat together on our patio, or in our family room, or at our dining table, to go to sleep together in our own bed, and wake up together as well, to have that quiet time at the end of the day together, getting ready for bed and talking about the days events…we always have our best talks right before bed. It seems unimaginable to me that we have spent so many nights apart…it is hard to grasp the fact that nearly a year has passed since our lives took this unexpected detour. I think of all the changes, all the things we’ve learned…the vari…

Monday Update: 08/14/06

Well another week has come and gone…the time is flying by and we are both starting to look ahead to Matt’s homecoming. I know he still has 4 weeks left, but we are on the downhill slide, at last! We are both very anxious to have him back at home to start yet another phase of the journey. Even though there are lots of unknowns for our future, we both agree that this homecoming will go much smoother than the last one…that he is so much stronger and more capable of doing things, and the transition back home should be easier. Of course, we’ve learned that with each transition there are frustrations and unexpected things are bound to pop up. But, I think we are both better prepared to deal with them now, than before.
Matt and I talk a lot about the future and he is very hopeful about things, and is also down to earth about his expectations. He’s working as hard as he can, to get as good as he can, but understands that he may not be exactly what he was before. His psychologist put it…

A Few Words about our Cat…Steve

Our cat, Steve, is what we have lovingly called the ‘World’s Greatest Cat’. He is the opposite of most cats, who are often too independent and skiddish to be of much fun. Unlike most cats, our Steve prefers to cuddle, hang out, snooze, and just plain be lazy. He is also, not the most nimble of felines. He tends to miss his target when attempting to jump on small surfaces, he has been known to roll off the edge of the bed and land with a thud, and generally moves pretty slow (unless our niece Meghan is approaching with her high pitched squeal of delight…’KITTY’!). Every once in a while he gets a wild hair up his butt and runs around like a crazed animal…but it’s pretty rare, and mostly in the evening when we are all downstairs. We will hear him running around the upstairs in a wild frenzy…I think just reveling in the fact that the dogs are downstairs and he’s got a few moments of freedom. And then, he just kicks back and takes a nap.
Well, Steve is apparently completely lost without Mat…

BETTER Race Day/Car Show Pics

Here are some better pics from the car show!!!!
















Race Day Picture

Ok, so they put a butt load...and I mean a BUTT load of pictures of the QLI race day/car show event on their website...and here is the only one of the TA. How disappointing! You can see George from the side, and the other guy is Dave...a fellow resident and gear head.

I'm going to see if I can't get track down some better pics. I will post them when I do.

You can see the rest of the pics here: http://www.qliomaha.com/Race_Day/

Monday Update: 07/31/06

Another weekend has come and gone and we are preparing for another week of hard work and time apart. We had a great weekend together, hanging out at the hotel and spent some good, quality time alone together…just what we both needed after the 2 week break. It was strange not seeing each other for that long! A first in the nearly 14 years we have been together! It’s definitely not something we hope to have to endure again.

The car show on campus went really well. Matt said everyone he ran into that day asked him about his car. He was thrilled to show it off and spend some time with the guys, talking cars, and just hanging out. It meant so much to him (and to me) that they went to all the work to get the car out there and spend the evening with Matt. It was a late night for everyone, but well worth it to bring an extra bit of home to Matt. I forgot to send the camera with the guys, but I know that some staff members took pictures. I’ll post some as soon as I get them.

One of Matt’s nurses…

Tuesday Update: 07/25/06

Well, we’re at the half way mark of Matt’s rehab stay in Omaha! I can’t believe it’s been six weeks already! I can only hope that the remaining six weeks go as well…and as fast! This past weekend I flew out to San Marcos to spend some time with my parents, sister, and her family. It was a good get away for me, but it was difficult to be there without Matt. I always get a lump in my throat whenever I’m with my parents, sister, and brother in law without Matt…it doesn’t feel right, something is definitely missing. Matt, Dad, and Chad have such a close bond, that it feels strange to just be there with Dad and Chad. I would stop and think about the last visit we had there, all of us, and how much fun it was. I would see things that would make me think of Matt and then the pangs of missing him would hit me. We talked every night though, and he even talked to my dad on the phone for a few minutes each time he’d call. Dad was happy to talk to him as well, and each time he’d hand me th…