Hollis update: Safe and sound in San Francisco


The Guardian continues to follow the condition of local dancer and activist Hollis Hawthorne, who was in a serious motorcycle accident in India and is in a coma. By Molly Freedenberg

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One of my favorites: Hollis getting ready for the Cheese Puffs' big show opening for Richard Cheese at Bimbo's last year. The Derailleurs had their first big show immediately afterwards.

Wow! There have been lots of changes since we last updated about Hollis. For those who haven't been keeping up with the Hollis blogs, she's home! As in: settled into a private room at our very own St. Luke's, right here in the Mission. Her room is decorated with photos of her and her friends, including a giant poster at the foot of her bed featuring Hollis, Eliza (who's maintaining the friendsofhollis blog), and their mutual friend Shannon (who helped co-found the Sprockettes with Eliza before she co-founded the Derailleurs with Hollis). Her mom, Diane, is still in town and spending nearly every second of every day at her side (with a sadly dinky blanket, I must add.) Hollis also is getting tons of visitors - so many that Eliza is working on posting an online schedule for reference and planning.

Hollis is still in a coma, but her condition continues to improve slooooowly. (Contrary to what soap operas would have us believe, the process of coming out of a coma is incredibly gradual.) She is making verbal sounds, which we can hear thanks to a small purple device attached to her tracheotomy tube that helps air flow over her vocal chords (instead of right out the tube). She occasionally opens both eyes, which seem to be tracking (though not exactly seeing). And some friends report that Hollis is responding to them directly - whether turning her head towards a book being read to her, or seeming to play thumb wars with Eliza. As of yesterday, she also seemed to be relaxing - letting go of the curled-up tension she's had on her right side (especially her hand and arm) since the accident.

Her doctors have reduced her pain medication, which seems to make her miserable, and have started her on small doses of Ritalin, which has been shown to help awaken coma patients. Doctors say results could be immediate, within a couple a days, or non-existant. They also say changes should happen more rapidly and dramatically as soon as the blood in her brain (a result of the head injury, and part of the healing process) subsides. This weekend, she'll receive acupuncture - hopefully the first of a series of regular alternative therapies being coordinated with her doctors.

On the financial front, the good news is that Hollis' bills so far have only totalled $40K, leaving more than $60K for current and future medical bills. Any additional money donated at this point will go to covering those and other unexpected costs after Hollis wakes up but before she can work, including a wheelchair, housing, or basic bills.

So how can we still help? First, keep praying and sending Hollis good vibes. Those who visit her should start focusing on helping to re-orient her, both in place and time: tell her about current events, read the news, tell stories about your weekend plans, mention the date and time of day. She also needs intellectual stimulation, so read her interesting articles, books, or even school papers. Our girl has an active mind that likes to be constantly engaged, so let's engage her!

Other needs:

1. Decor: We'd love to spruce up Diane's digs. A comfy blanket or pillow would go a long way. Pleasant lighting would be fantastic.

2. Services: Both Diane and Harrison could use some pampering. Dinner for Diane? Body work for Harrison?

3. Camera: Friends and family would love a camera to keep in Hollis' room, to document her visitors.

4. Tax help: If anyone has tax/accounting expertise, Eliza could use some help managing donations (including making sure they all go to Hollis, AND that Eliza herself doesn't get penalized next year for her sudden exorbitant "income"). To donate or help out, email eliza@friendsofhollis.com.

5. Employment: The fabulous Miss Eliza has put her life on hold in order to help save Hollis'. But now she needs a job. She has experience with/interest in websites, writing, nonprofits, dance, bartending, and PR (she is, after all, the person responsible for all the attention this issue has gotten). If anyone has or knows of a job that might suit her skills, please email eliza@friendsofhollis.com.

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