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The Zeke Mailman Page – 2001- 2002 Archives

Zeke at home – 2002

Zeke, Skipper, and Catherine (“Cat”), his caregiver – in the back yard.

watching-tv

Zeke and “Cat” watching basketball on the new big screen TV

zeke-in-van

Getting ready to rock and roll!!

family-room

Zeke and Ann in the family room, “hanging out.”

Photos from Fall, 1991 when Zeke was still in the nursing home

“Big Red” wheelchair van (on the right with the white roof). Acura and house for comparison!!

“Beardless” Zeke watching sports (of course) in his room at the nursing home…

Zeke at the September 2001 Kiwanis installation dinner – volunteering to make a “brief” speech. His first big “outing” after his stroke. He made a 15 minute speech, of course!!

Zeke’s best friend, Mike Berndt, being congratulated on his installation as the new president of Alameda Kiwanis by past-prez Jackie Green.

Zeke email newsletters —–

The Zeke Report #6 – 6/3/02 – At Home waiting for your phone call!!

Zeke came home on December 17, 2001. He has a hospital bed in the living room, a new big screen TV, Skipper (dog), a new puppy, and Nudnick (cat) nearby. He eats in our family room/kitchen and sits out on the rear brick patio when it is sunny.

We have had full time live-in caregivers since he came home. It took us until early May to find two caregivers who could work with Zeke. He ran off 5 or 6 previously. One only lasted one hour ;>. You know how cantankerous he can be!

Zeke is continuing his activities. Every week he goes to his Kiwanis meeting, events at our yacht club, Greater Alameda Business Association meetings, etc. We have to keep a calendar for his activities.

Four days a week Catherine Fitzgerald, a former LVN, takes care of him. “Cat” is a big sports fan, like Zeke, so they watch lots of sports on TV. Nicky Hancock takes over the other three days. She is a former employee of ours who moved to Las Vegas and moved back here to Alameda in December. Before she worked in my office she was a caregiver. She takes care of Zeke three days and works two days in my office. Nicky has reactivated Zeke’s business, Custom Mailing, and has been doing about 10,000 mailings a month… She keeps very busy!

As is typical for stroke victims, Zeke is improving very gradually. He ran off 4 or 5 physical therapists. They said they couldn’t do anything for him and he would never walk. In early May we asked a personal trainer here in Alameda, Adrian Cameron, to try. Adrian formerly worked at a local athletic club, and is a fellow Kiwanis member. Zeke has really improved since Adrian started working with him. Adrian comes in two times a week. He is now moving his bad arm, shoulder, and thumb, mostly when he gets mad or Adrian “pushes” him. He has been moving his bad leg since his stroke, but only in reaction to pain. Now he moves it quite a bit.

Cognitively, there is not much improvement. He still has difficulty using the phone, signing his name, and other such tasks, but has no difficulty eating, using a napkin, opening lids, etc. I haven’t started working with him on this yet as he is not quite ready – too hard for him to concentrate.

Most of the time he has difficulty carrying an extended conversation, but he can respond normally unless he is just waking up. Sometimes he is the “same old Zeke.”

His attitude is very positive. He regularly dreams about walking and is ready to go whenever his mind will connect with his body.

Members of his Kiwanis club have been lifesavers for him. In late September, I took him to a meeting, not knowing what would happen. He was still on pureed food. It worked out great. The members have been very supportive, and treat him like “one of the guys.”

SO WHAT CAN YOU DO?

Zeke got lots of visitors when he was in the hospital and nursing home, but gets few now. That is very typical for people who are sick and/or disabled.

Sometimes he is “with it” mentally, and sometimes not. But he really wants to hear from you. He usually sleeps in the mid-afternoon.

If you’re in Alameda, drop by any time. If the Big Red Van is in the driveway, he is here. Or, call before you come to see if he is at home or is asleep. 510-521-1394.

Call him on the phone. If he is out and about, asleep or almost asleep, just leave a message and he will call you back.

The Zeke Report #5 – 12/9/01 – coming home

THE BIG NEWS – ZEKE IS COMING HOME DECEMBER 17
I finally got the house ready for Zeke. Mike Berndt and his friend installed ramps for our rear sliding glass door and to get from the living room to the kitchen (2 steps). Zeke tested them at Thanksgiving and they worked perfectly. He will be taking over the living room (our largest room) with the big screen TV and a view of our greenhouse. His bed, wheelchair, and Hoyer lift (to get in and out of bed) will be there.

I took out the carpets and got the hardwood floors refinished. (My advice – do this before you move into a house. What a hassle! We had to move everything out of the bedrooms and living room.)

We have hired a full time live in nurse’s aide, what everyone has advised. Her name is Samoa and she is from Tonga (strange but true). She has over 20 years of experience in inhome care.

I wouldn’t be surprised if they had a party at Zeke’s nursing home when he leaves – no more loud late night TV, phone calls, late visitors coming in through the back door, etc. He doesn’t “fit in” very well there!

MORE NEWS – BIG RED VAN!!
We finally got a very big wheelchair van the day before Thanksgiving. I had been looking for a couple of months at minivans, full size vans, etc. We didn’t want to pay much more than $12,000 as it is still possible that Zeke will be able to stand and take a few steps and will be able to travel in a regular vehicle.

To see a photo of Big Red, go to http://www.zekemailman.com

I found Big Red at a handicap van conversion company in Emeryville, Mobility Access. Their primary business is converting new vans but have some used vans. Big Red is a bright red 1 ton Ford Club Wagon conversion with a rear entry wheelchair lift. It was set up for 4 wheelchairs. I had an extended top put on, 2 extra seats, and a floodlight for the rear so we can see what we’re doing when we put Zeke in the van at night. We paid $12,000 for the van. The rear entry has been great as we can just park anywhere in a parking lot and drop the rear wheelchair lift. Handicap parking spaces are sometimes taken, not in a convenient location, or not set up well for side entry wheelchair lifts.

Now that Zeke is going out, I have yet to see another person in a wheelchair van. I keep looking so I can see how they are set up. I see people traveling down the street but they don’t have wheelchair vans as they are mobile enough to transfer to a car (like Zeke before his stroke) and put the wheelchair in the trunk.

Everyone says the same things when they see Big Red.

First: That van is a lot bigger than I thought! (The extended top make it look really big. It is about 18 inches longer than our minivan.)

Second: I want that van!! (To use to move stuff, put 8 people in it, take off on a cross country trip, etc. etc.

We had been using paratransit but you had to reserve a day ahead of time and it was quite a bit of a hassle. Now Zeke can go where and when he wants. So far, he has gone to Jim’s restaurant (Where he had his stroke July 7), home for Thanksgiving, to Kiwanis several times, and home for Monday night football.

When Zeke comes home, his full time nurse’s aide will take him around. He’s already planning on shopping at the grocery store, going out to lunch and dinner, Kiwanis meetings, etc.

ZEKE’S CONDITION
At 5 months after his stroke he has made no improvement physically and cannot move his right side at all, except he can eat almost anything without any problems.

It is still possible that he will recover. You know Zeke…. They said after his stroke he wasn’t going to make it as he was very, very sick.

Because he has no movement on his right side, he has not been eligible for physical therapy. But if he does recover partially, he can still go to the intensive rehab program.

Cognitively he is still improving and getting better every day. He has good days and bad days, just like all of us, but if you call or visit, he will be like the “same old Zeke” except in a wheelchair or bed. He still has difficulty reading and can’t write yet, so if you want to leave a message, just call back and leave it on voicemail.

PEOPLE IN WHEELCHAIRS
Now that Zeke is in a wheelchair full time, people’s reactions have been different. Seems like when someone is in a wheelchair they are somehow not seen as the same as those who can walk or walk with crutches, like Zeke did before his stroke. I had expected people to be uncomfortable but I still don’t like it when people try to avoid him or assume he is mentally deficient.

People have been very surprised when I tell them he started going to Kiwanis meetings in late September and is going out to restaurants now. My inspiration was Jack Capon, an retired Alameda recreation director, very active in Special Olympics, who had a fast progressing Parkinson-like disease. He attended Kiwanis meetings, came to our house for July 4 fireworks, and generally continued his life as much as he could until he passed away. He was much, much worse off than Zeke.

TO CONTACT ZEKE
Call our house, 51-521-1394. He is usually home, unless he is out shopping, at a restaurant, etc. If he’s not in, leave a message and he will call you back.

The Zeke Report #4 – 10/16/01

GIVE ZEKE A CALL

His phone number is 510-521-8470. He’s usually in his room in the morning and evening. If he’s not in when you call, please leave a voice mail and he will call you back.

THE BEARD IS BACK

Zeke is growing his beard back off and on – sometimes he has a full beard and sometimes a “Van Dyke”. But, be advised if you come for a a visit, he may shave it off again!!

ZEKE AT THE KIWANIS INSTALLATION DINNER

Zeke made his first “outside” trip to the Alameda Kiwanis installation lunch on September 26. His best friend, Mike Berndt was being installed as the new president.

I wasn’t sure what would happen but it worked out great – the “old Zeke” was back… except for the pureed food, which I brought along. We took paratransit and had no problems.

He will be going every week from now on. He missed the first week in October as I was in Virginia, and went to his opthalmologist last Wednesday.

ZEKE’S STRANGE ALAMEDA ADVENTURE

Zeke and I are now taking East Bay Paratransit to the doctor, Kiwanis, etc. It took us a few trips to figure out how to best use the system (see below) but it is very convenient and only $2.25 to $4.50 per trip with service to anywhere in the Bay Area. It is an alternative for regular busses for disabled persons.

Last week I wrote down the wrong time for the pickup at the nursing home on my calendar and thought we missed it, so called and cancelled it. Well… when I arrived at the nursing home, Zeke was in the van ready to go. So I called Paratransit and asked them to “cancel the cancel” on the pickup at our attorney’s office in Alameda at 4PM. We got done early, so were sitting out in the sun in front of the Times Star office building at 3PM, chatting with passersby that Zeke knows. (Alameda is a small town.)

At 4:30 the van still hadn’t arrived, so I called them. Seems like they still had us listed as cancelled so had to put us on the list for an “emergency” pickup. The van finally arrived about 6:30PM. I called about every 15 minutes to check on the status of the van. The phone operators were very helpful.

But we didn’t get very far… the driver forgot to raise the lift and “took out” a parking meter. They got another van and moved Zeke to it. Fortunately there was a convenience store nearby for some food and drink, and I used the bathroom of my answering service, which is in the office building. The nursing home called me twice on my cell phone, looking for the “missing” Zeke…. Guess they don’t have many residents taking late paratransit trips ;>

A policeman tried to interview us… The other passenger did pretty good on his name, but went downhill after that. Zeke kept trying to answer the questions for the other passenger because he couldn’t see the officer. The officer left soon after….

The paratransit drivers get a “trip sheet” of pickups in the morning. Of course, the pickups sometimes take longer than planned, and tend to run late as the day progresses, so we will not plan any late trips for now. I am also getting a portable ramp for the van “just in case” we get stuck again.

Quite an adventure!!

THE ZEKE STATUS REPORT

I have been saying that if Zeke can use his TV remote he will be ready to come home. Now he can use it so I am planning on bringing him home in December. We will have an inhome caregiver for 8-10 hours per day. I’m looking for a used wheelchair van. Plus will be getting medical equipment such as a bed and a Hoyer lift to get him from bed to wheelchair, and will have a contractor install a ramp, wider doorways, etc. We’re planning on having Thanksgiving dinner at our house.

Of course, Zeke doesn’t fit in too well at the nursing home… The only one in his section with a phone, late night visitors, paratransit trips at least once a week, weekly trips to Kiwanis meetings, etc. etc. Almost all the other residents are long term and change very gradually, if at all. He keeps changing every week as he improves…

Mentally, he has really progressed, and is getting better every day. He can carry on a “regular” conversation, make phone calls, etc. He is still confused over his physical location (at home or at the nursing home) but can now say if he is in a wheelchair or bed. He has started venturing out into the hallway on his own this week. This spatial disorientation was caused by his stroke and is gradually improving.

Physically, he still has no movement on his right side except for less “slumping” when sitting as his shoulder is getting better. Looks like it will take a long time to recover physically, up to 2 years, not unusual for elderly stroke victims.

VISIT ZEKE

He’s at Alameda Care Center nursing home, Room 3 (northeast corner). The entrance to the building is at 430 Willow St. (middle of the building), between Otis and Shoreline, west of the SouthShore shopping center.

Come by anytime between 10AM and 8PM. Children and pets are welcome. He eats meals in the dining room at 11:45 and 5:15. You can sit with him if you’re visiting then. Just pull up a chair.

He has a calendar on the wall for his paratransit trips if he is not anywhere to be found at the nursing home.

WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU VISIT

He likes to have the newspaper sports page read to him. There is usually one on his cabinet or nearby. Giants and 49ers news are his particular favorites. Or, you can watch a game with him.

If he is in his wheelchair, go ahead and take him for a ride. He can lift up his left foot. If you want to go very far, you can put on the left footrest for his wheelchair. It is in the closet and is easy to put on – just look at how the right side is set up.

Visiting outside in the patio is much less crowded than in his room, if it is not too cold out there. Go out Zeke’s sliding glass door. Or, you can go to the activities room – you can see it across the patio.

His roommate, Grady Harper, can be noisy at times. Sometimes he is gospel singing and sometimes his leg hurts. But usually he is very quiet. If he is awake, go ahead and say something to him. He can often respond with a few words.

Many of the people in the hallway look like they don’t know what’s happening, but almost all will respond to a kind comment or a wave. Give it a try!

==============================

Thanks again to all Zeke’s visitors and phone callers!!

To contact me, use the phone numbers or email address below.

If you are getting this email forwarded to you, to be added to the list, send an email to .

Zeke’s phone number – 510-521-8470

Zeke’s address – 430 Willow St., Alameda, CA 94501

The Official Zeke Web site is at . It has some candid photos and the previous Zeke Report emails.

The Zeke Report #3 – Issue 1.02 – 9/23/01

VISIT ZEKE THE FIRST WEEK IN OCTOBER

I will be in Virginia the first week in October from Monday to Sunday. I am speaking at an appraisal conference near Richmond and will be taking a few vacation days on Chesapeake Bay. I had agreed to speak at the conference months ago.

Lots of people have asked what they can do to help. Visiting Zeke the first week of October would be great. I usually visit Zeke twice a day and spend about 3 hours a day, so he would really appreciate your visit. I will try to call but don’t know how well my cell phone will be working. Also, the 3 hour time difference makes calling tough.

I find it very relaxing to visit there, and spent quite a bit of time there in the week or so after the Sept. 11 tragedy.

He’s at Alameda Care Center nursing home, Room 3 (northeast corner). The entrance to the building is at 430 Willow St. (middle of the building), between Otis and Shoreline, west of the SouthShore shopping center.

Come by anytime between 10AM and 8PM. Children and pets are welcome. He eats meals in the dining room at 11:45 and 5:15. You can sit with him if you’re visiting then. Just pull up a chair.

GIVE ZEKE A CALL

Zeke has a new phone and can use it. He started using it two days after a therapist said it may take weeks or months to be able to use the phone. Seems like whenever someone says that he can’t do something he does it anyway!

He can pick up the phone when you call, and hang it up. He sometimes needs assistance to dial. Sometimes he is very tired and the conversation can be short or somewhat garbled. Just try calling back another time.

If you call and he does not answer, please leave a message so he will know you called and can call back. Sometimes he is asleep, can’t reach the phone, or is eating in the dining room.

His phone number is 510-521-8470.

NEW WHEELCHAIR – MAYBE SOME WHEELIES SOMEDAY!

Zeke’s new custom wheelchair is working great. It has a special support for his right hand and arm which is really reducing the swelling. The seat is low so he can use his foot to cruise around.

PROGRESS UPDATE

Physically, he still has no movement on his right side, except for slight movement of his right leg, which was much less affected than his arm and upper body.

His reading is getting better and he can read medium-sized newspaper headlines, but not the stories. He can see the TV (and most everything else) if it is on his right side. He can read the time on his watch.

Mentally, he is really progressing towards the “old Zeke,” with less and less time where he is confused.

He still has some cognitive problems, such as not being able to operate the TV remote. Zeke never gives up… he has been trying to figure out that TV remote since a few hours after his stroke… He was pushing the buttons on his electric bed and getting it into all kinds of strange configurations. He finally broke it and has been relegated to having someone else operate it for him…

His “neglect” or inability to recognize anything on his right side (including the right side of his own body) has not improved much, but he is compensating somewhat as he is willing to move his right (affected) arm with his left arm, even though he doesn’t really recognize it as part of his body. When you visit, be sure to go to his right side – just move the tv out of the way.

FOOD

You know how Zeke loves his food!! He is still on pureed food, but is now eating in the dining room for lunch and dinner. So if you visit and he is not in his room, check the dining room. His eating time is 11:45 for lunch and 5:15 for dinner.

Go ahead and pull up a chair and sit by him in the dining room. It’s very informal at the nursing home and they like to have visitors there.

GETTING AROUND

He (hopefully) will be approved for East Bay Paratransit on Sept. 25, so he can go to Kiwanis lunch meetings, his doctors, and other places.

ZEKE’S OFFICIAL VISITOR SIGN-IN LOG BOOK

I have set up a Visitor Log Book for Zeke. When you’re in a nursing home (or hospital), it’s hard to keep track of the days as they tend to blend together. One of Zeke’s therapists suggested a Visitor Book, where you can write your name, the time you visited, and any comments to help Zeke get oriented on days and dates.

The Visitor Book will be on the wood cabinet by the head of his bed.

WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU VISIT

He likes to have the newspaper sports page read to him. There is usually one on his cabinet or nearby (Except when I am out of town during the first week in October.) Giants and 49ers news are his particular favorites.

If he is in his wheelchair, go ahead and take him for a ride. He can lift up his left foot. If you want to go very far, you can put on the left footrest for his wheelchair. It is in the closet and is easy to put on – just look at how the right side is set up.

Visiting outside in the patio is much less crowded than in his room, if it is not too cold out there. Go out Zeke’s sliding glass door. Or, you can go to the activities room – you can see it across the patio.

His roommate, Grady Harper, can be noisy at times. Sometimes he is gospel singing and sometimes his leg hurts. But usually he is very quiet. If he is awake, go ahead and say something to him. He can often respond with a few words.

Many of the people in the hallway look like they don’t know what’s happening, but almost all will respond to a kind comment or a wave. Give it a try!

THANKS AGAIN!!

To contact me, use the phone numbers or email address below.

Thanks again to all Zeke’s visitors!! A very special thanks to Alameda Kiwanians Dave Denyven and Mike Berndt who have been almost daily visitors since he had his stroke on July 7. Thanks also to Drs. Margaret and John Crawford, who visited almost every day when Zeke was very sick in Alameda Hospital, and have been regular visitors since he moved to Alameda Care Center.

If you are getting this email forwarded to you, to be added to the list, send an email to .

The Official Zeke Web site is at . It has some candid photos and the previous two Zeke Report emails.

The Zeke Report – Issue 2 – 9/7/01

The Official Zeke Web site is up at www.zekemailman.com  . See Zeke with his new “beardless” look! I am also posting these emails there. FYI, this is a new site. If the link doesn’t work, you can also usewww.appraisaltoday.com/zeke.htm

Zeke is improving every day
– His vision is improving. Can read large type and see the TV (The first
word he read was a name in his Kiwanis club roster book.)
– Can feed himself but still on pureed food. Pureed salad in a bowl is very
strange….
– Complaining about his various ailments, asking about his blood sugar
readings and insulin dosages (He never said much of anything until this week.)

Of course, he is not fitting in too well at the nursing home. I often visit
at 7 PM or later. Walking down the hallway, I see dark rooms with everyone
asleep. Then I get to Zeke’s room – the TV and the radio are often blaring
and tuned to two different sporting events whenever possible ;>

He still can’t figure out how punch numbers in a phone (cognitive problem
of some sort). But he can talk into a phone, so visitors with cell phones
have been making calls for him. As soon as he can use a phone, I’ll get one
installed.

I have signed up for paratransit (wheelchair transit) so he can do some
visiting when he gets his new wheelchair next week. Paratransit is
subsidized by local public transportation agencies.

I do have some advice “from the trenches.” Zeke and I never signed durable
power of attorney documents. I was unable to take out a home equity line of
credit or do any real estate transactions until he was finally able to make
a very shaky “x” this week, even though the properties (and all our other
assets) are in both our names. Like most people in the Bay Area, we have
considerable equity in real estate but I was unable to use any of it if I
needed it. The only other option, a conservatorship, is a real hassle –
expensive and time consuming. If you don’t have a durable power of
attorney, Just Do It.

JUST CALL ME ZEKE
Zeke vs. Jerry. If you visit, be sure to ask for Jerry Mailman, as that is
his “official hospital” name.

He’s at Alameda Care Center nursing home, Room 3. It is at 430 Willow St.,
between Otis and Shoreline, west of the SouthShore shopping center.
Visiting hours are 10AM to 8PM. Come by anytime. Mornings are best, when he
is in his wheelchair. Chidren and pets are welcome.

Thanks again to all Zeke’s visitors!!

The Zeke Report 1.0 – August 26, 2001

To sign up for The Zeke Report, send an email to ann@appraisaltoday.com  

A BRIEF HISTORY OF ZEKE MAILMAN’S STROKE
If you haven’t gotten this news, Zeke had a stroke on July 7 around 8PM. We
had just finished dinner at Jim’s Restaurant in Alameda, and he was driving
out of the parking lot. I got him to the hospital within 20 minutes, but he
wasn’t eligible for the “clot busting” drugs that can be given to stroke
victims (less than 5% get it).

His stroke was mild to moderate (very weak on right side, difficulty
swallowing, some difficulty speaking) but he had a dehydration problem in
the hospital and became very sick (in a sem-coma for 2-3 weeks), delaying
his recovery.

Now, at 7 weeks, he is awake most of the time, can carry on a conversation,
and can speak clearly. His right side has had little recovery so far,
except for his shoulder, which allows him to sit up in a wheelchair. He
also has “neglect”, common among stroke victims. He doesn’t recognize the
right side of his body, the side that was affected by the stroke.

He has a vision problem of some sort, double vision sometimes and possibly
a focusing problem. He can’t see the TV or read the newspaper, but can
recognize people. The neglect, weakness, and vision problems are expected
to improve.

He has been at Alameda Care Center nursing home since August 15. It is at
430 Willow St., between Otis and Shoreline, west of the SouthShore shopping
center. He was previously at Alameda Hospital in the Skilled Nursing unit.

I was nervous about sending Zeke to a nursing home, but have been very
pleased with the care he receives at Alameda Care Center. I talked to lots
of people in Alameda and they all recommended it. He wasn’t getting any
therapy at Alameda Hospital, but the day he moved to Alameda Care Center he
was started on occupational therapy (wheelchair for now), physical therapy,
and speech therapy (swallowing). The fourth day he was there, he was in a
wheelchair for the first time. The 10th day, he was eating full meals
(pureed food and thickened liquids) for the first time.

The plan is for Zeke to stay there until he is recovered enough to come
home. For now, he needs 24 x 7 care. As with all stroke victims, there is
no way to tell how fast (and how much) he will recover. But, you know Zeke,
he is a survivor!!

COME BY AND VISIT ZEKE!!
Many people have asked how they can help Zeke. Until now, there wasn’t much
you could do as he was asleep almost all the time.

But now Zeke is finally awake most of the time and is awaiting your visit!!

WARNING! WARNING! Zeke is beardless for the first time in 25 years!! A few
days after he moved to the nursing home, they shaved off his beard,
assuming he grew it in the hospital when he was very sick. I didn’t
recognize him myself!!

The best time to visit is in the morning, when he is in his wheelchair and
mobile. But anytime is fine between 10AM and 8PM. Ok to bring kids and pets.

FYI I have a “Info for Zeke’s visitors” list pasted on the clothes cabinet
in the room, with information on chairs, wheelchair places to go, etc.

He was fitted last Saturday for a custom wheelchair for “big guys”, which
will be ready in 2 weeks.

Many, many thanks for those of you who have visited Zeke, particularly when
he was very sick in Alameda Hospital.

He doesn’t have a phone in his room yet. For now, you can send me an email
and I will read it to him.

ABOUT THIS MAILING
I got your name from Zeke’s email program. If you want to add someone, or
have your email address deleted or changed, just hit the reply button.

I plan to send regular email updates…