Friday, May 31, 2013

Bicycle accident leaves videographer in coma

(Ed. note: Juliette is a good friend of mine, a pro videographer, a Mother Jones re-enactor, an environmental activist, a union member, and an all-around vivacious spirit. Go here to view the Trinidad video series produced by her with her husband Greg Calvert last year. She needs our help now - donate here.)

Special to TTI

Juliette Mondot was in a devastating bicycling accident 10 days ago and is currently in a coma, having suffered severe brain trauma. The family has started a fund to cover her ICU bill and help get her the best treatment possible to restore her life. She also suffered broken bones, a cracked rib, collapsed lung, and is on a ventilator to help with her breathing. A few days after the accident, the swelling and bleeding in her brain was so bad it was threatening her vital functions. She required multiple blood transfusions and the doctors gave her, at best, a 40-percent chance of survival. But in spite of their grim predictions, Juliette is fighting and winning. The dangerous swelling in her brain continues to diminish daily. The doctors are now confident that she will pull through, and they are astonished at her progress. Small, encouraging steps forward that would normally take weeks are happening now: she is already moving around in her hospital bed, opening her eyes, and blinking on command. This is a woman who wants to live. And her family and friends are doing everything possible to get her back.

Fortunately Juliette has Medicare, which will help cover many of the immediate expenses: she needed a LifeFlight airlift to a Neurotrauma Center the night of the accident, underwent two brain surgeries, and was in the ICU for over a week. However, the urgent-care bill (probably totaling in the hundreds of thousands) may have a substantial deductible attached to it. Furthermore, it’s likely that little, if any, of the post-coma therapy and rehabilitation will be covered by her insurance. It may take a couple of years for Juliette to get back to 100 percent, as her injuries and recovery period are comparable to that of a severe stroke. Greg, her husband, will continue to do double duty at his job during the day and serving as her caretaker at night, but as lifelong artists with only modest savings, they are not financially equipped to shoulder this kind of catastrophe in the long-term. All campaign money will first and foremost go towards paying off the ICU expenses that insurance does not cover; whatever remains would go towards helping our family pay for the costs of Juliette’s rehabilitation and therapy.

The more money the family raises here, the better quality treatment they can afford, and the faster she will recover.

Anyone who meets Juliette is struck by her astonishing enthusiasm for life. Both fascinating and fascinated by the world around her, Juliette is always in search of a new project or an excuse to travel. Her friends adore her for her irreverent sense of humor and down-to-earth sensitivity and compassion, but she will also fiercely defend any civic cause she feels is worthy. Loyal to a fault, Juliette has been a caretaker to many of her friends in times of need, and her family is grateful for her unconditional love and tireless efforts in creating a supportive home environment. Juliette is a beautiful woman, inside and out. As a young woman she was breathtakingly attractive and kept herself in peak condition as a dancer and tai chi instructor. Health has always been important to her and Greg, and they have made every effort to lead a clean, fit lifestyle. Her family is committed to getting her out of the hospital and back on her feet with her friends and loved ones.

As a visual artist in the 1960s and ‘70s, Juliette was a vibrant member of the arts community, first in Northern California where she attended UC Santa Cruz and later California Institute of the Arts in L.A. where she received her MFA. She would take many things from her years there, including a lifelong dedication to filmmaking and the arts as well as her husband, Greg, whom she met at Santa Cruz. After they were married, Juliette and Greg moved to San Diego to raise three children, whom many of you know well. While in San Diego, Juliette was active in rehabilitating the downtown Historic Gaslamp Quarter where they lived, constantly advocating civic responsibility and organizing community-building groups and events. Juliette and her family eventually moved to Trinidad, where she has been a powerful presence in the civic life of the community. They have produced multiple videos for the local tourism board and at the time of her accident, she was en route to a building improvement committee meeting.

Even though Juliette is still in a semi-comatose state, the most critical threat — her brain swelling — appears to be under control. Much of the rest of her body is also swollen from the trauma of the accident, but it is slowly reducing over time. She was unrecognizable her first few days in the hospital, but is now finally looking like herself. The doctors had to remove part of her skull to prevent lethal brain damage, but it will be put back in a few weeks when they think it’s safe to do so. In the meantime she is on a ventilator and will be taught to breathe on her own again in the weeks to come. Once she is fully out of the coma, it’s a matter of reminding her brain how to do familiar things: walking, talking, eating, dancing, etc.

The family asking for your help. It is no exaggeration to say that every single dollar makes a difference here. If you know this family, you know they have survived for years on very little. But they literally cannot get through this accident on their own. If you are in a position to donate any amount, however large or small, please know that it will make an immediate and significant difference in Juliette’s life, and in her family’s. They have been incredibly touched by the response to this crisis: proof that Juliette has made an impact on everyone who has met her. Your donation is going directly into her recovery.

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