Blair Pittman's Web Log
From: ced snyder
Date: June 25, 2011
I had the opportunity to visit with Blair a couple of times, so I thought I'd update you on his progress. I stopped by on Sunday afternoon and again on Tuesday before and during the lunch hour. The reason for the trip was to meet Jean at Blair's place at the Villa and haul back some of Blair's things to Alpine/Marathon. Jean pointed out items to move north and I made a pretty good donkey, minimizing her time away from the bookstore and Blair. Besides, my SUV holds a lot more stuff than Jean's little Toyota Echo.
Let me emphasize that Blair has not moved out of lower Brewster county; his place is still intact for weekend outings for Blair and Jean. Yet because it is not regularly occupied, Jean felt that some of the items in the cabin might be too attractive to an uninvited visitor, even though Steve added a hasp and padlock to the front door; additionally, surrounding Blair in Marathon with some of his personal items might make him more comfortable. So I loaded up his computer, the new flat screen HDTV and DVD/VCR, a selection of his framed photographs, his camera equipment, his Mexican masks, and a few other items.
Now -- the real reason for this little note -- how's Blair doing? I've had the opportunity to visit with Blair several times since the accident: a couple of times at the hospitals, transporting him from Odessa to Marathon, and two or three times at Jean's neat house in Marathon. With (usually) weeks between visits, it is easier for me to note progress than if I were with him daily. The overall impression -- amazing progress.
When I first visited Blair at the hospital in Odessa, I was frankly frightened for his future: the physical and mental damage was extremely disheartening. He acted out a lot, was a terrible patient, and didn't cooperate with his therapists -- he was his own worst enemy. I think that inside he recognized that he had a serious problem, and he was frightened to death, responding by acting out. He did not understand what was happening to him and why he was being "tortured". After the incident of ripping off the "halo" and the medicos' opinion that the thing was not really necessary, things settled down a bit, but he was less than an ideal patient at the nursing home. When it came time to move him from the nursing home to Marathon, I hadn't seen him in several weeks. We traveled together in the car and talked continuously about all sorts of things, including past shared experiences ... impressive progress, but once in Marathon he was still acting out, especially against Jean (which pissed me off, so I told him so).
I have since been in Marathon a couple of times - visits on two successive days with Greg Smith a few weeks ago and the coming-and-going trip this week. Each visit shows marked progress. He's still obsessed with being on oxygen, but less so. He only uses his wheelchair as a comfortable place to watch TV, not as a carrier around the house. He's good at using his walker to get to the bathroom or the dining table (speaking of which, his appetite seems to be fine). Sometimes he even totters off without the walker or any other assistance [which rather frightens me because he's not too steady on his feet; I understand that the walker is awkward in close quarters, but he ought to get into the habit of grabbing the cane when he walks from room to room -- I flagged Jennifer, the local girl who sits with him during the day, to keep the cane in a visible place near him and encourage him to use it.]
Anyway, his progress is better than I expected when I first saw him in the hospital. Greg calls him "the Energizer bunny -- just keeps on going". I'm certain the reason for his progress is Jean. Blair and I were talking when I delivered the stuff from the Villa.
He said, "You know, I married her."
I responded, "I know, Blair; I was there".
His comment: "Best thing I ever did". Their love is holding this terrible situation together and making it work, though I pain for the stress Jean is under.
Blair is not out of the woods mentally, but every time I visit, his progress is substantial; I've observed no backsliding and no plateauing (is that a word?) ... just steady progress. Of course, the primary reason is the love and patience of Jean, but the regular visits by Cynta working with his reading and computer skills has been extremely valuable, as is the visits by other friends (Jim Carrico comes immediately to mind). The continued communication of his friends, whether in person, via cards in the mail, or a brief telephone call, is appreciated by Blair. [Please coordinate any calls or visits through Jean.] He has pecked out a couple of brief emails, but he's not ready for electronic communications, yet.
As soon as the weather turns a bit and it's not 114 (the temperature as I was loading my SUV), I wouldn't be surprised to see Jean and Blair having a 2-day "vacation" at the Villa some weekend. If, in the meantime, you decide to call or visit in Marathon (again, check with Jean), remember that his mornings are best -- he begins to get tired, physically and mentally, after lunch.
Let's all pray for Blair's continued recovery.
From: Gregory Smith <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: May 27, 2011 7:31:32 AM CDT
Subject: Blair Pittman update
Our good friend Blair Pittman finally left a long hospital/therapy stay in Odessa, Texas May 10th assisted by his wonderful wife, Jean-Hardy Pittman, and his long time good friend and mine, Cedric Snyder. May 16th I joined Cedric and we both went out to put in wheelchair ramps at the Marathon home and at Jean's bookstore in Alpine. Of course you know flapping jaws here had to supervise Ced because he's such a bad engineer and Ii'm such a great supervisor:)
Blair is now living with his wife Jean in Marathon, Texas for the foreseeable future. His snail mailing address is;
P.O. Box 325
Marathon, Texas 79842
I KNOW that he'd love to get a card or letter from any of you out there. As most of us know, a large part of Blair's life has been to share tales, some being very tall, with old and new friends all over texas but especially out in his loved big bend. His hospital stay and current health issues have put a crimp in his ability to do that and he misses it very much. Again, send him a card or letter. Thank him for letting us use his "mina" bbq pitt and brisket recipes, etc. etc. for the party and give him hell for not showing up at his own party!
His wife, Jean, tells me he's not up to speed yet considering the internet and very frustrated that he is not able to use a computer yet. You can email him care of his wife at:
If any of you would like to telephone or actually visit blair in marathon, Jean asks that you email (address above) her first and she will follow up with you. Here is her latest info to me:
Blair makes improvements daily, but his most difficult physical problems stem from his poor lung capacity. He is on constant oxygen and requires frequent inhalant therapy. He has no pain, sleeps well, and walks about with a walker and/or uses his wheel chair. He enjoys television and responds to photography in magazines. He eats well, and much less than he used to. He neither smokes nor drinks and doesn't seem to miss these things. His most frequent complaint is that he is bored and wants to "do something." He wants to "see people." He has enjoyed visits from our Marathon friends. And he will undoubtedly benefit from visits from ANYWHERE!
So from here, I know the family and his friends would appreciate any followup you'd like to do. All of us who have been close to him for many, many years and I feel Ii have; he's pulled some grand stunts in his life but he really outdid himself this time. Send him a kind word his way. I think at this time his spirits need a little picking up.
This will probably be my last update on BP's condition. My plan of course is to go back out in person to give him "flapping jaws" grief which all of you know I'm quite good at.
Hope all is well with all of you and have a safe holiday.
Blair is doing much better, though has a good way to go in relearning to walk. He has lost a great deal of weight (a plus), endured much claustrophobia and anxiety with his restraints, is relearning his history, etc. Many of the memory losses and other neural problems are correcting themselves with simple healing from bruises and swelling, etc.
He is the same Blair, but has more anxiety and anger (which passes quickly). He speaks of wanting to go to Marathon to my "little house," and that's a good thing. He will not have a car to drive, nor is he capable of it now.
As an example of how the brain heals, however, he had a fall-off in the right eye and could not see to the right. It has now corrected itself and the vision is back. And you remember old stories of amnesia, with the memory, or parts thereof, returning with time. We are hopeful.
Blair will be discharged from the hospital on Wednesday. Upon discharge, Sue and I will be moving him to a skilled nursing facility for additional rehabilitation for up to 20 days. Then we will try our chances at home, if it seems possible at that time. He must keep the hard collar on until his neck heals, and that takes about three months.
We are looking at three skilled nursing facilities that offer rehabilitation services, which include physical, occupational (dressing, tying shoe laces, safety and awareness), and speech (cognition, memory, language) therapies. He is a good pupil (really!).
Thank all of you for your love, cards, flowers, visits, phone calls and other expressions of care and concern. we are indeed blessed. And I think God has a weakness for Blair, just as we all do. He is just so human.
Oh! And by the way: Please, no gifts of scotch, jokes about scotch, offers of a drink of scotch, or anything like that. Blair is becoming new in some important ways.