June 24, 2012
On January 6th Susan returned to the hospital for one more facial surgery to help relieve chronic pain and swelling. After a five hour microsurgery, she returned home to recuperate. This surgery produced some improvement; the pain was slightly lessened. However, the surgeon made clear that these surgeries would need to be ongoing because of the damage from the attack,so continuing operations will be necessary. During the last few months, she has had two additional falls resulting from her serious balance and gait problems. In the first, she sustained a spinal compression fracture, and in the second, torn tendons, ligaments, and a serious cartilage tear in her right wrist. The latter required first a cast, then a splint which she is still wearing to help with healing. The splint from wrist to elbow has delayed her hand therapy and ability to write the many thank yous and responses to the get well messages she still receives and which mean so much to her.
A new neurologist has been added to her team to determine whether there can be less frequent and dangerous falls, and help limit the ocular migraines resulting from her attack.. After much testing, he decided to introduce new medication and a new therapy which we hope provide both improvement and relief..
Susan is still trying to keep up with the ever increasing medical bills that aren't covered by insurance or Crime Victims, and for which reimbursement is either slow or non-existent.. She is still having to spend time appealing for services. Two weeks ago, she did another flea market once again trying to make it possible to pay some bills by selling her possessions. It is exhausting and discouraging, but she continues to do everything possible to keep going.Some other items can be viewed and purchased on Marketplace.com.
She is also still facilitating the telesupport groups with parents of blind children from which she gets enormous gratification, and is just beginning to see a few clients again. Despite her struggles, she is able to be the wonderful therapist she's always been, although her practice must be very limited, since so much of her time is spent in rehabilitation therapies and Dr.s visits.
As always, Susan is grateful for all the support you've given and continue to give her since the attack. It's been a life saver for her.
December 12, 2011
Susan is trying to mend while she continues her struggle with insurance, Crime Victims Board, and providers of service, to obtain reimbursement for her ever mounting medical expenses. It is virtually a full time job trying to obtain needed services by appealing to the "powers that be" instead of being able to devote her energies to ongoing rehabilitation efforts.
Susan's surgery on July 21st was incomplete. Because the neuroma was too deep, the surgeon was able to remove only a small portion of the collection of nerves causing her chronic pain. He will be taking her back into the operating room for surgery number 22 at the beginning of January. At that time, he will also attempt to alleviate the increasing difficulties she is experiencing with eating, swallowing, talking, and dribbling due to excess scar tissue. As she prepares for the next surgery, she is hoping it will relieve some of her pain (since the last two surgeries were not helpful.)
Recent exams have uncovered additional nerve damage from the fractured skull that are now causing neurological migraines. It is hoped that continuing in depth assessments will provide information on whether there are more treatments that might help with her constant dizziness, balance, and gait problems. Susan has finally gotten approval for a few hours of home health assistance each week. She is excited to have someone accompany her to her hand and vestibular therapy and doctors appointments, and also help her with some of the household chores she is still unable to manage.
Susan wants to wish you all a safe, peaceful, comfortable, and enjoyable holiday and to once again, thank you for the many kindnesses you continue to offer her since the attack.
July 21, 2011
On April 15, Susan finally had her 20th surgery, this time relating to the malfunction of her salivary gland. It had been delayed because of one more concussion resulting from another fall. It was a difficult operation requiring a brief hospital stay. Unfortunately, the results were unsuccessful. No additional surgeries on the gland will be attempted, and removal was deemed too dangerous. However, the next operation has been scheduled for today. It involves the removal of a bundle of nerves behind her ear pressing on and causing pain to her ear and head.Her insurance still won't provide the home health services to which she is entitled despite her payment of incredibly expensive monthly premiums. Without an aide to accompany her, Susan fell once again, this time fracturing a rib. At least her head was unharmed. She is also again receiving the physical therapy she needs for her balance and gait problems caused by her disabled vestibular system. Hopefully, there will be more improvement and fewer accidents and falls. Crime Victims continues to find excuses to not pay her expenses. Whatever paperwork she submits is not enough no matter how assiduously she follows their requirements.
January 17, 2011
It's been six months since Susan has had the home health services she needs in order to function. A standoff between her insurance company, the provider of service, and Crime Victims has been responsible for the sorry state of affairs. She has been spending nearly full time writing appeals of the denials of service in an attempt to have her home health assistance restored. So far, she has been unsuccessful. Though her doctors and therapists have made clear that this service is essential to keep her safe and enable her to regain function and progress, the agencies responsible have refused to restore her aide, and Susan cannot afford these services on her own. Meanwhile, she's had several falls resulting in concussions, during her attempts to get to her medical appointments on her own.
Necessary surgeries had to be postponed twice in July and August. She did finally have her 19th surgery September 10th. Subsequently, she had to deal with three infections resulting from that hospitalization. They have now been successfully resolved, and her next surgery, number 20, has been tentatively scheduled for February 18th.
Once again, her hand therapy has been discontinued, and is also on appeal with the insurance company. So, Susan has been without this vital service for over a month despite the fact that her surgeon has written that both her strength and ease of movement have been deteriorating, and without resumption of services she will have permanent functional limitations.
Repeated frustrations make it more difficult for Susan to maintain her sense of humor and keep an optimistic outlook, but she continues to lead telephone support groups for the parents of visually impaired, blind, and autistic children. This work helps her feel productive and useful. She remains hopeful that someday soon she will be able to return to her psychology practice, at least on a limited basis, so that she can eventually support herself.
Still grieving over Velvet's death, Susan's holidays were particularly lonely, especially since her whole family is on the west coast. Because of the snow storms in New York, she's been unable to go outside on her own, and has spent much of this time indoors. Receiving greetings from friends makes it easier and more pleasant to keep focusing on her recovery. So, please keep those messages coming.
July 8, 2010
It's a very sad day for Susan. Her beloved dog, Velvet, died today in her arms. Susan is devastated. Velvet was everything to her; she was her friend, her companion, her source of comfort through all the traumatic events of the past 10 years. After Velvet was diagnosed with cancer, some people tried to dissuade Susan from getting medical treatment for her. They told her to let Velvet go. But Susan is a survivor, and she couldn't let Velvet go without a fight. With the help of a wonderful veterinarian, Dr. Kaplan, Susan did whatever was needed to give Velvet more time. Nobody thought Velvet would survive as long as she did - 16 extra months - but a survivor like Susan could only do what she knew how to do - give it everything she had. And give it everything she didn't have. She still owes the wonderful Dr. Kaplan a great deal of money, but he has agreed to allow her to pay in installments.
Now Susan has to go through a mourning period. She canceled the facial surgery that was scheduled for July 16th because she is too distraught to contend with the challenge of surgery. And to add insult to injury, she arrived home from the vet tonight to find that the home care agency has canceled services starting immediately because her insurance company and The NYS Crime Victims Board have failed to pay them. She has no idea how she will manage without an aide.
Susan has always been so appreciative of all the support she has received. And right now, she needs your support more than ever. Any expression of concern and help will be a source of strength. Even with her disabled hand, she manages to hand write all her thank you notes. We will be sure to keep you posted. We know you are interested if you are reading this page.
Sorry it's been so long since our last update. David Milner, who was kind enough to set up and operate the website, has been unable to continue, and it has taken us until now to find and arrange for another generous person to do so.
During the past year, Susan has had additional surgery to remove a tumor - a collection of nerves below her right ear which developed as a result of the severing of her sensory/motor facial nerves and which as it grew, was becoming more painful. However, the repeated necessary facial surgeries have resulted in a serious blockage of her salivary gland making talking and eating difficult while increasing swelling and pain. So once more, she will be going under the knife.
Also, during the year, both her vestibular and hand therapies were discontinued by her insurance company which denied additional sessions despite her Drs.' repeated requests. Susan has spent months appealing the denials. Without the funds to continue on her own, Susan's balance, gait, and ability to write have suffered major setbacks.
After three appeals over a period of four months, New York State Insurance has finally directed her insurance company to pay for her vestibular therapy. The hand therapy, however, is still in on hold. You may have noticed either a delay in response to those who still write to her, as well as a significant decrease in her handwriting skills.
Despite the many obstacles, she persists in working daily to access the services and financial assistance she needs from the many bureaucracies that stand in the way of greater progress. The New York State Crime victims Board has still not paid Susan what she is legally entitled to.
Velvet seems to be as much of a survivor as is Susan. She has had 14 chemotherapy and 2 radiation treatments, pneumonia, inflammatory bowel disease, and is currently in remission for her stage 4 lymphoma.
Lisa, Susan's home health aide, cares for Susan four hours, five days a week. And what a blessing! Without her, Susan would not be able to keep all her appointments with doctors and hospitals; the surgeries, tests, and procedures seem endless. And because of Lisa's help, Susan has been able to have Velvet at home. Spending many hours napping in each other's company, Susan can have the comfort of her beloved dog. As we all can imagine, Velvet has been crucial to her emotional and physical recovery.
Susan's resilience has been remarkable. Through it all, she still manages to keep her sense of humor in the face of what others would consider insurmountable obstacles. Unbelievably, she laughs easily and often. As friends of Susan, we are all very proud of her. She continues to conduct her weekly telephone support group for parents of blind children. Although it takes a lot our of her, it gives her purpose and enormous fulfillment. She even just started a grandparents group.
Susan loves hearing from you, so if you want to write to her, please do. Though she still can't access her computer, we print out your messages and share them with her. Letters are gratefully accepted at the post office box listed on the website. She often tells us what a large part you've all played in her recovery, and how much farther along she is in regaining her life, thanks to your wishes, prayers, and good will. Thank you for all your support during this challenging time.
March 31, 2009
Susan had her 16th surgery on February 27th (it had to be postponed due to an infection) and this was perhaps her most intensive surgery yet. She was on the table for 9 hours during which muscle and tissue was harvested from her back via a lengthy incision. This was then inserted into the right side of her face in hopes of providing some motor restoration and to prevent further severe indentation which might then compromise her ability to eat and speak. Although she experienced a post operative infection and another allergic reaction (due to so many procedures over the past year and a half) which necessitated another visit to the hospital after she had been discharged, she is now recuperating at home. Her friends joke with her that she looks like a Pilgrim, a Nun, or Jacob Marley from Ebenezer Scrooge due to the big, white bandage she has to wear around her face for swelling reduction! She will be returning to her physical and occupational therapies shortly as she gains in strength.
A couple of days prior to her going in for her most recent surgery, Susan learned that her beloved dog, Velvet, was just diagnosed with stage 4 lymphoma (a very aggressive cancer) and would need intensive chemo therapy in order to prevent her from dying within a month or two. Susan was told that the treatment would not compromise Velvet's quality of life, but would make it possible for her to live for up to a year and she would not suffer any ill effects -- and would continue to be her normal self. This treatment is extremely expensive and while Susan is of course concerned, to her, there is no option as Velvet is the light of her life. As you may recall, Velvet was with Susan at the time of the attack and a huge inspiration for her recovery. Velvet has been cared for since the attack on Susan by the extremely loving and generous people at Ritzy Canine as Susan is still unable to care for Velvet at home. While she has brief visits with her, it is hoped that by extending Velvet's life, Susan will have an opportunity to have her home with her at some point for as long as Velvet is alive. We are all shocked and upset by this recent news as it does not seem possible that so many traumatic things can happen to such a good person. Further, we are concerned about the cost of Velvet's treatment, since Susan is still dealing with the less than responsive Crime Victim's Compensation Board and is having difficulty making ends meet for her own needs as it is. In light of this recent news, we have had a few inquiries from caring individuals who know about Velvet who would like to do a fund-raiser, silent auction, bake sales, etc with Velvet as the beneficiary and to this we say, THANK YOU AND BLESS YOU!!!!!!!!
February 13, 2009
On Friday Feb 20th, Susan will be undergoing 12 hour delicate facial microsurgery and will be in intensive care for several days afterwards -- and then in the hospital for at least an additional week. We will count on your continued prayers and well wishes at this time and will keep you posted on Susan's progress.
December 20, 2008
Susan wants to wish everyone the merriest of christmases and the happiest of holidays and especially the healthiest of New Years.
She is currently receiving vestibular therapy, occupational therapy, trauma therapy, and is beginning once more to relearn writing.
Preparations are now being made for her next surgery which will be an extensive facial microsurgery some time in January '09.
Crime Victim's Board is still dragging their feet more than one year later. They continue to find excuses for delaying and witholding monetary assistance and reimbursement for expenses incurred.
While recovery is slow and Susan has faced unthinkable challenges in the past year, she is eternally grateful and humbled by all the new friends from around the world who continue to support her efforts to get her life back. She had remarked that she cannot believe a year has passed since the conscious part of her journey began. And while she knows she still has a long way to go and must be patient with the process, your wishes and concerns have made this so much easier. May you all be blessed as you have blessed her. HAPPY HOLIDAYS!
October 25, 2008
Susan is in her 3rd week of recovery from her most recent surgery -- her 4th surgery on her ring finger of her right hand to repair her mangled joint and to release the tendons in her wrist and other fingers. A silicone joint replacement was inserted in hopes of allowing her to bend and use this finger, which she has thus far been unable to use. (This was complicated and high tech surgery and we have been joking with Susan that she is now the Bionic Woman since she already has plates and screws in the back of her neck!)
Because her hand was in a BIG cast, and is now in smaller splints, she is unable to write once again and will have to thank the most recent well-wishers through this website for now. THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH FOR YOUR CONTINUED SUPPORT AND ENCOURAGEMENT.
October 15, 2008
East Side Slasher Gets 16 Years
In the above Daily News article of October 15th, 2008 it is absolutely incorrect that Susan has given away Velvet, her Scottish Terrier. Velvet continues to be cared for by a wonderful and reputable local doggie daycare and boarding facility until Susan is well enough to bring her home. Susan also enjoys regular visits with Velvet whenever possible.
August 5, 2008
Susan has now sent personal thanks to everyone who provided snail mail addresses, and she wants to personally thank all her well wishers. Because of her multiple hand injuries she is still unable to e-mail, and cannot yet contact those who did not offer regular mail addresses. So, she asks that e-mailers provide addresses so that she can send a personal, handwritten note.
After Susan’s appeals hearing with the New York State Crime Victims Board, they agreed to a small increase in the amount they provide for lost wages. By no means, however, does this bear any relation to Susan’s previous income—nor is it adequate to meet her continuing medical needs and expenses. Nevertheless, it is a modest improvement over the insulting amount originally proposed.
In addition to coverage for lost wages, the Crime Victims Board is required to reimburse Susan and her doctors for medical expenses not covered by insurance. She has repeatedly submitted these invoices for months, and so far they have failed to meet this requirement. The frustration continues with the way this agency operates.
Lately there has been concern about Velvet’s health. Recently, an abnormal growth was found on her kidney and doctors are closely monitoring this development. Velvet will have a third ultrasound this week. Susan is still unable to care for her and the Ritzy Canine Carriage House staff and management continue to be gracious and loving temporary guardians. Susan has intermittent, brief visits with Velvet when she is able to arrange for friends to bring them together. Susan can’t wait until she’s sufficiently recovered to be reunited with Velvet at home.
Susan’s multiple therapies continue, along with preparations for her next surgeries: a joint replacement on the most mangled of her fingers and additional surgery on the side of her face and lips where damaged motor and sensory nerves have left her numb. Originally planned for mid-August, these surgeries have been delayed due to unforeseen medical complications.
On a brighter note, Susan has been taking more daily walks, with her home heath aide, physical therapist or a friend. She did take one short walk on her own, lost her balance and fell briefly, but completed the excursion with only a sprained ankle to slightly mar her accomplishment. Balance problems persist, but she hopes that more progress will be possible as she continues physical therapy.
May 10, 2008
Susan comments repeatedly that if it were not for the generosity and support of the many people who have written to her or communicated through her website, she would never be this far along in her recovery. She is profoundly grateful for the continuing support and messages of compassion and is working hard to personally thank each and every one of you.
Susan and her friends LOVE the beautiful, custom "thank you" cards produced for her by the amazing Zazzle.com company. Susan thinks that Zazzle.com and Geoffrey Tischman (photographer) really captured Velvet's charm and personality! If you have not gotten your "Velvet Thank You Card" yet, we ask you to please be patient as Susan is still struggling to relearn to write with her preferred hand after her latest and third hand surgery. Miraculously, she has managed to thank almost half of those who have thus far contacted her through her website. We are amazed at how she has made this a top priority as she feels so strongly about reaching out to those who have reached out to her.
There are three people who have written and not given their last names or addresses... so Susan can only thank them this way: THANK YOU SO MUCH, RANDY, KAREN and KELLY!
Susan has yet to hear from the Crime Victim's Board on her appeal of the $31.20 per week awarded to her for lost wages. However, after a bill for the replacement of her lost items was submitted to the Crime Victim's Board three times over the past four months, she finally received word that she would get a check within six weeks for that item! This ridiculous and antiquated system continues to baffle us!!!
Susan will be having additional reconstructive surgery in July on her injured cheek and lips. The sensory and motor nerves have not healed and continue to challenge her as she still has no feeling on the right side of her face. We will know some time in June the date for this upcoming surgery.
Within the next two weeks, Susan will be getting tests which will determine whether and when additional surgery on her cervical spine will be necessary. She is presently dealing with the reoccurrence of a stubborn bacterial infection contracted in the hospital. She continues with her therapies and she is making slow but steady progress.
On a more optimistic note, Susan has enjoyed a few short but wonderful visits with Velvet. One of the occasions for these visits was Velvet's ninth birthday. This celebration was particularly joyful as it has now been one full year since Velvet's successful liver cancer surgery. We want to again give our heartfelt thanks to the wonderful people at Ritzy Canine who have, and continue to take such remarkable and loving care of Velvet until Susan can have her back home.
Also on a positive note, Susan has resumed conducting her once weekly telephone support group with parents of blind children nationwide. Knowing that she can still be productive in how ever limited a way (for now) has made an enormous difference in her hopefulness for the future.
March 9, 2008
Susan is continuing her journey to recovery and is concentrating on intensive therapies. She is relearning to write with her preferred (and most injured) hand and has begun to write some of the individual "thank-you's" to all of the people who have been so generous with their support, prayers and wishes. This is a difficult and arduous task, so please do not expect to hear from her right away -- it will take many months before she is able to respond but she keeps telling us that she intends to try.
One of the things we are truly gratified by is the support from all of you --- particularly because she has had very bad news from the New York State Crime Victim's Board. Those of us who care about Susan feel that their decision is outrageous and adds further insult to injury. More specifically, the Crime Board's decision was to compensate Susan for lost wages at the rate of $31.20 per week. (And YES, you read that correctly -- $31.20 per week!!!! This amount breaks down to less than one dollar per hour and is below the poverty level.) Susan is in the process of appealing this decision but has been told that the way the legislation is written, there is little hope of a reversal. In fact, it appears that new legislation will be necessary to correct the current statute which is disadvantageous to self employed people.
In the meantime, Susan would NOT have been able to have the necessary services which your generosity has made possible. We thank you for your continued interest and support.
On Tuesday, March 11th, Susan will be undergoing additional surgery on her broken and mangled fingers, which have been operated on previously. We continue to be amazed at Susan's positive attitude in the face of all that she has endured and will continue to endure. We know you will join us in wishing Susan the best possible outcome for this, her 14th surgery.
We would like to stress again that, while Susan would like to thank everyone personally and expeditiously, her upcoming hand surgery will further delay this goal. So for now, please accept our heartfelt thanks to you all!
January 8, 2008
Susan has now entered the rehabilitation stage of her recovery.
Instead of her days consisting of surgeries, medical procedures, tests, dressing changes and I.V. feedings, she has now moved forward to concentrating on occupational and physical therapy -- relearning skills she needs to handle the tasks which will enable her to get back to her life.
For the first time since this incident, Susan had an opportunity to be taken outdoors for a few minutes by one of her team specialists. She said she felt overwhelmed with relief and gratitude.
Breathing in the air, looking at the sky, the trees and life around her, she said she realized for the first time the reality that she had, in fact, "truly survived."
Over the past few days, friends have begun sharing with Susan the remarkably touching messages of concern, support and generosity that have come in from all over the world. She has been moved to tears as she hears your messages of kindness -- and this has, and will continue to aid in her slow but steady recovery.
Once again, we would like to thank you for reaffirming our faith in the goodness of human beings. Susan has never doubted it.