Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Legal Wrangling Ends!

That's correct, ladies and gentlemen, Needlenoggin's suit against those responsible for his accident has come to a close. Thanks, in large part, to the great law firm we were referred to, the defendants settled out of court, and the spectre of never-ending-mountains of debt has finally passed.

Now, to answer your very pressing questions.

How much?
None of your business. :) Seriously, though, remember that whatever the amount, a third went to the lawyer AND MediCal demands payment back for his weeks of rehab, his wheelchair, his surgeries and all of his medications (the bill from them alone was hundreds of thousands of dollars). Then Needlenoggin owed over $70,000 in back rent, food, clothing, medical services, and now he'll have to pay for all of his medications and doctors out of pocket until the healthcare disaster in this country gets fixed... You get the idea.

Are you going to tell us anything?
Yes. The settlement bought a house in Portland, Oregon for Needlenoggin (pictured below):

3 bedrooms, and a space for a live-in-nurse to live on the premises, since he'll likely need assistance for the rest of his life. It also paid to have the home fenced and ramped, the carpet torn out and make it wheelchair accessible. Then he'll get a check every month that should cover his medical expenses, utilities and pharmaceuticals. It should even probably buy him food.

He still is unable to work, but we're hoping he'll be able to get up and around and start working at least part-time eventually. From his one lump sum he has a few charity donations he is planning on doing, as well as buying some furniture (moving out of the hospital bed!) and some random electronic crap, but he's been very cautious about how he's been spending his money, with (almost) no large amounts spent.

As for us, we're moving in 2 weeks, right along with Needlenoggin, into a home of our very own:

The new house is about 8 miles from where Needlenoggin will be living, and right off of a bus line so he can come visit any time he'd like. He chose to buy his home in Portland because he knew it was where we wanted to go live, and he gifted us money for the down payment on our home.

And, since we no longer need the wheelchair van, we are arranging to sell it, and Needlenoggin has given Tuffy the money to buy a car for our family, as a thank you for this last year. We found a very nice, used Toyota Highlander on Craigslist (still under warranty) and bought it. We were incredibly touched, as we've been the recipient of his two big checks.

Anyway, the cancer issue isn't resolving itself, and Dingo is still limping about, but she's alive, home, and we're packing for the MOVE! Here's the photo of us all out celebrating the end of the lawsuit at Skates On The Bay.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Hit and Run

So, we have a wonderful German nurse who helps with Needlenoggin's care. He's wonderful, efficient, and we wouldn't have made it out of this without him. Anyway, one of the things he actually enjoys doing is walking Dingo, Needlenoggin's dog.

Well, last night at around 9 pm, they were walking through the parking lot in a building adjacent to ours (because it has little grass islands in it that Dingo loves to sniff), and a silver SUV came through the driveway and hit the dog. It was a slow-speed impact, but the driver kept moving. She got trapped by a piece on the bottom of the SUV , and the SUV began dragging her. The nurse jumped in front of the SUV and waved his hands, screaming for the guy to stop. Both the passenger and driver just stared at him, didn't roll down their windows or turn off their music, and drove off.

This is how far she got dragged:

And, just so you are aware, that beige line is 10 feet long and made out of fur and blood:

Eventually she got untangled from the bottom of the car and bolted down the street. the nurse chased her two blocks and saw her turn, and then the security guard at the end of another 2 blocks saw her turn again. Then the nurse ran upstairs to tell Needlenoggin what was going on, because Tuffy, Miss Manhattan and I had just left to drop cars off at the shop.

So there we are, two blocks away getting gas, when Tuffy's phone rings. Tuffy calls Emeryville PD, and alerts them to a hit and run (a felony) and that we're looking for a service dog. We pack back into the cars and head home, knowing that the nurse is out on a bicycle looking. When we get back to our complex, though, we saw the saddest sight I've ever laid eyes on, and coming from me...

Needlenoggin was outside, near our apartment office. Since his wheelchair had been loaded into one of the cars we were using in the drop off, he wasn't able to get in the chair and roll out to search, so he'd propped himself up on his walking sticks and dragged himself, semi-upright, nearly a block, screaming and crying for his dog. When we found him, his voice was already hoarse.

We packed him into the car and continued the search. Needlenoggin called Animal Control and the local emergency vet clinic. Half an hour passed. Then another, then another. I was terrified that she'd sustained internal injuries and had slunk off into the bushes to die somewhere, so I kept looking to the side of the road while he called out. "Please, God," I thought. "Just let it be a broken leg. Let her be alive and not dying and let us find her for him." Needlenoggin decided he needed to go back inside and rest, and so we got him upstairs.

The phone rang. Someone had alerted the cops that they'd seen an injured dog at the bottom of the pedestrian walkway that goes over the railroad tracks:

I started to head back out of the house with Jason and Miss Manhattan. The phone rang again. It was a different officer, and he was getting reports of an injured dog ON the pedestrian bridge. This meant she'd climbed multiple flights of stairs, and was heading into unfamiliar territory.

We got in the car, and the phone rang. Some good Samaritan had picked her up, put her in his car, and was holding her, waiting for instructions from the police. We agreed to meet them near the far side of the walkway, by Amtrak.

She'd traveled over a mile:

Jason and Miss Manhattan climbed into the back of the car, we picked up Tuffy, and came to get Dingo. She was shaking and terrified, with hair missing all over, and skin missing in a bunch of places. Then we say her rear-right leg, where all the skin had been torn away:

It looked pretty mangled, and so Tuffy held her in the passenger seat while we sped away to the all-night Pet ER. A few shots of morphine later, she was calm enough that we could go in and say goodnight, and pay for the xrays and check-up. We finally got home at around midnight, but not before snapping a few pictures with Needlenoggin's phone.

This morning, we went back over, where they told us she had a minor fracture and may require some minor surgery in a few weeks to close her leg wound, but is otherwise in great shape. We paid for the surgical exam and more overnight wound care, and she'll be transferred to a boarding hospital tomorrow where she'll get visits from Needlenoggin every day, but where they can change her bandages as often as she needs and keep her happily medicated.

So tomorrow we move her from the Berkeley ER to the regular hospital (there aren't pet ambulances), and Needlenoggin is going to hold her in his lap.

Cost of first night's visit in the pet ER:
Cost of second night in the pet ER:
Boarding at the hospital for the next 10 days, with meds:
$1500 (approx)
The look on Needlenoggin's face when we were able to tell him she was okay, and coming home?

There are some things money can't buy. For everything else, there's siblings.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


No, not Tuffy or the kids, or Needlenoggin or I. But someone we're very close to, and it may change the course of our next 6-12 months. I'm concerned about that, but know it is a life changing event for our friend, which makes me feel guilty about how it effects me/Tuffy/Needle/the kids, and I am certainly grieving for our friend and hoping for a quick recovery.

The friend was told two weeks ago it was a small, operable tumor, and hadn't spread, but today was told it was starting to. They've scheduled the surgery for Monday.

Up through the end of July update

So, we were in SoCal twice this month, and decided to take Rorysaurus to Disneyland for the first (and second, and third) times. Needlenoggin had been telling us he wanted to take her on her first trip since the October before the accident when he moved in with us, so we decided (after clearing what rides he could do with his doctor) to head on out.

He gave her a ride on the wheelchair up to the castle, which she has recognizes as "Princess Aurora's Castle!!!!!!" Then we took the obligatory "first visit to D-land" photo.

Anyway, he took her on a couple of rides,

He's also been working more and more with Slone Chiropractic, and their nerve-stimulating machine. They even gave him one to use at home (basically it runs a current through your nerves to enlarge the electrical pathways and helps people with nerve damage move), and he's been getting more and more sensation and movement! Here's hoping the progress continues!