Thursday, May 9, 2013

For Jamie

Jamie Baker, last summer.
My old pal and animation colleague James "Jamie" Baker had a stroke just after last Christmas.  When I say 'old pal", I don't mean he is an old man.  He's pushing fifty, but still, not your typical stroke-having age.

Initially, he kept his condition very private. He was in bad shape, completely paralyzed on his right side - his drawing arm side.  Julia Lundman has been there with him through it all, and started posting to friends on the Caring Bridge website.  As Jamie became more lucid, he started sharing his thoughts and experiences of this truly horrifying ordeal, and in doing so let it be known that he had not lost any of his sharp Australian wit.

Some excerpts from Jamie's posts over his time in the hospital:

"It was Boxing day. I was just getting out of the shower when I felt a little twinge in my right leg, and went to lay down a little. Three hours later I was face down on the floor, paralyzed and in no pants, trying to make myself understood over my iPhone. Struggling for my life, I was having a stroke."

"One week as a partially paralyzed patient in a major metropolitan hospital gave me more mortifying toilet stories than an entire lifetime. And now, at the several week point, I have so many tales of horror that embarrassing is commonplace. Ghastly is standard.... My ego undergoes a kind of breakdown at this point.....I mean, how seriously can I take myself when I cannot wipe my own arse?  The only thing that makes it partially bearable is that the staff are so blasé about it all. I get my showers much like a hippo might be hosed down at the zoo, with the nursing staff leaning on their mops with about the same attitude whether they are soaping my back or sudsing my undercarriage. Sigh...."

"I was doing some exercises with the physical therapists. Suddenly, when lifting my leg into a deep stretch, I felt a searing pain shooting down my numb, paralyzed side. It had been explained to me that I might not ever get feeling back in my right side but now, my face was a simultaneous mirror of pain and joy caused by this beautiful, marvelous pain in my arse."

"I am excited about the prospect of going home but I must admit to some trepidation as well. I have only been walking unassisted for a week, so my stride is two parts Jerry Lewis busting for a pee and one part of a doddering little old lady with sagging underwear."

"Thankfully, I do not have to do this all on my own. Right from the moment I was struggling for consciousness in a palsied tangle on the floor of our apartment, Julia showed up in the nick of time to call the ambulance. By doing so, she quite literally saved my life, and she has been by my side ever since. What a marvelous girl she is. How would I ever get through this monumental task without her? I'm so grateful that I will never know the answer to that horrifying question because I have Julia by my side. Dear Julia."
Julia and Jamie
Now Jamie and Julia need your help.  His first week in intensive care was NOT covered by insurance.  They're on the hook for $137,000.  Julia has set up a page on to raise the funds,  and has raised nearly $25,000 in just a few days.  Jamie told FLIP:  As to the generosity of friends....I cannot believe it. The amazing thing is that many of the donors are complete strangers. is such an incredible help. And quite touching as well, for me."

For all the crappy work-related stuff that I gripe about on this blog, when real tragedy strikes, animation people always come through for each other.  Please, take a few minutes to help some colleagues at their YouCaring page.


1 comment:

  1. Stories like this one help define how resilient we can be. It also is a blaring reminder that we are oh so lucky to have our health! Thanks for writing