Update on my daughter's broken back. December 22, 2009 4:12 PM   Subscribe

After our daughter was nearly killed back in April, we all struggled to find a way for her to heal both physically and emotionally. We found the answer halfway around the world.

A few people have asked for an update on this situation over time, so this seemed like a good time to do it.

In April, my daughter was bent in half and pinned under a large (67 ft - 1,500 - 3,000 lb.) tree. Her lower spine was broken/crushed. By a true miracle, she survived and was not paralyzed. She spent 3 months in a full-body brace/leg-extension. She did not heal. The insurance company and doctors screwed around with her for 3 more months. Surgery was scheduled, then postponed.

After the last visit with the neurosurgeon, it was decided that although her spine was still fractured and would not heal, the fracture was stable. Surgery was postponed again.

In the meanwhile, an opportunity came up for us to go to China for an extended visit. My daughter, who has always been interested in Asian culture and had taught herself some Japanese while she was bedfast, desperately wanted to go. At this point, she had gone through 3 weeks of gentle PT. She had bruised lungs, bruised ribs, could barely lift her legs. The neurosurgeon gave her permission. We pulled it all together in about 2 weeks.

Fast forward 6 weeks. We went to China. It has given her her life back. She went hoping to volunteer, do some good and connect with people there. I was thinking yeah, un huh, that's going to happen.

But...she volunteered at 2 schools, toured a third, met a gang of young Chinese professionals, students, workers. They adopted her, came to our apartment, cooked meals for her, taught her Chinese while she taught them English, took her out to clubs and internet cafes at night. They're planning to (and we hope they do) visit us at various times over the next year. She's learned an amazing amount of Chinese. She's now considering working and living in Shanghai.

No one in China knew what had happened. For the first time in a long time, she was not a victim.

She's working on adopting a library for a rural Chinese school ($600 buys a library). She's now (mostly) looking forward to returning to the universsity in the spring semester.

Physically, there will always be limitations. She's lost a lot of flexibility. She tires more easily. She hurts. She'll have more PT now that she's home to try to regain motion, and she will have more x-rays to be sure her spine is stable.

I have no idea where life will take us next, but this was a pretty good ending to a truly terrible year.
posted by clarkstonian to MetaFilter-Related at 4:12 PM (133 comments total) 181 users marked this as a favorite

Wow, what a wonderful story! She's amazing, and your whole family is fantastic for giving her this opportunity. Go, clarkstonian's daughter!!!1!
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:16 PM on December 22, 2009


That is amazing and I glad things have turned out so well for daughter! Thank you for updating, that story made my day!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:22 PM on December 22, 2009


This is so amazing. Flagged as fantastic.
posted by _dario at 4:24 PM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is very good to hear. I hope you and your daughter and everybody you love have a happy and peaceful new year. I hope she gets around to visiting Japan, too, someday!
posted by misozaki at 4:26 PM on December 22, 2009


That'a fantastic. Thank you for sharing, it had been on my mind. I wish your family all the best!
posted by Magnakai at 4:29 PM on December 22, 2009


Thank you so much for letting us know what was going on. You and your daughter have been in my thoughts.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:30 PM on December 22, 2009


Awesome. Sidebar? Jess?
posted by Joseph Gurl at 4:30 PM on December 22, 2009


Six hundred bucks buys a library? I would kick in for that.
posted by fixedgear at 4:31 PM on December 22, 2009 [24 favorites]


You're making it really hard for me to be cynical right now. It's good to know that sometimes things turn out okay.
posted by Uppity Pigeon #2 at 4:32 PM on December 22, 2009


MeFi needs a human interest section. This is a wonderful story! Best wishes to your family and your daughter. Kids are remarkable and someday you'll wake up and realize you haven't thought about the accident for a day, and then a week and pretty soon life will simply be life again.
posted by GuyZero at 4:40 PM on December 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


That's fantastic-- thanks for the update.
posted by darth_tedious at 4:46 PM on December 22, 2009


Flagged as fantastic as well. A great story, and I'm so glad things are looking up!
posted by Lutoslawski at 4:47 PM on December 22, 2009


That's amazing.

You know there's some good in this world when you think the worst has happened, but it just ends up changing your life for the (net) better.
posted by Askiba at 4:54 PM on December 22, 2009


Wow, that's tremendous! I'm with fixedgear if you need help with the money for the library.
posted by maxwelton at 4:55 PM on December 22, 2009


That's wonderful news :)
posted by amyms at 4:58 PM on December 22, 2009


What a wonderful story. Thank you for the update.
posted by Sailormom at 4:59 PM on December 22, 2009


Fantastic news! I visited Shanghai a few years ago; it'd be an awesome place to live!
posted by graventy at 5:00 PM on December 22, 2009


This is good. Also, I'd throw in some money for the library.
posted by Ruki at 5:05 PM on December 22, 2009


I might take you up on the library - or challenge meta to buy a library. One of our daughter's friends is an attorney in Shanghai - she looked into this and found that this organization is the real deal:

http://www.ocef.org/newocef/en/

Corruption is endemic, even in charities - but this one demands accountability and gets results.

In Shanghai, the poverty is not so obvious, but if you go a little way outside of the city, it is truly shocking.

I was able to visit one of the schools and was amazed - both by how little they had, and how much they did with it. And they loved Americans! We're still looking for a way to help the one school we visited. For example, the homework for the students was copied onto half sheets of paper - whole sheets were too costly.

I was amazed by the random kindness, generosity and decency of the people. We had an apartment in the heart of the city, which gave us opportunities you wouldn't have in a hotel. What an extraordinary place!

I thought the end of the story might be appropriate for this time of year. I wanted to thank everyone for their support and advice - when things were pretty bleak, meta came through for us.
posted by clarkstonian at 5:12 PM on December 22, 2009 [7 favorites]


Wow, what a story. I'm happy for you, and wish your daughter all the best as she continues recovering.
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:12 PM on December 22, 2009


I'm so glad :D
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:17 PM on December 22, 2009


I never heard the first part of the story, but what a great sequel!

Glad things are going so well for your daughter & you.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:18 PM on December 22, 2009


I totally loved reading this! Very happy for your daughter and your family...healing comes in surprising ways sometimes.
posted by MultiFaceted at 5:18 PM on December 22, 2009


And now for some obligatory snark:

Funding a MeTa library is all well & good in theory, but it cannot possibly end well when we get down to deciding which books to stock.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:21 PM on December 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


I am so glad to hear this! You have been in my thoughts. I hope every passing day makes your daughter physically stronger.

Thanks for the update!
posted by readery at 5:23 PM on December 22, 2009


deciding which books to stock.

Nonsense -- 600$ buys quite a few copies of The Fountainhead.

Thanks for the update and best wishes to your family, clarkstonian.
posted by Rumple at 5:27 PM on December 22, 2009


I'm so glad that your daughter (and whole family) is making a new future out of this. It's different than how she thought her life would go but it will be amazing. Finding a passion in life and following it is the best way to live. So yay!
posted by shelleycat at 5:27 PM on December 22, 2009


I wish I could give you many big hugs right now. Sometimes this is just the kind of thing you need.

{{{clarkstonian}}}
{{{{{daughter}}}}}
{{{everyone else}}}

If we get this going, I'll chip in.
posted by Madamina at 5:27 PM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


ALL HAIL THE INCREDIBLE CHRISTMAS SHMOOPY!
posted by Jofus at 5:33 PM on December 22, 2009


My eyes are burning from the onions. Really.
posted by FritoKAL at 5:38 PM on December 22, 2009


So glad to hear she's doing well and that you're all getting your lives back together.
posted by OolooKitty at 5:43 PM on December 22, 2009


Sometimes the "holidays" need a little turn around when things aren't all that good... thanks for giving this one to all of us....
posted by HuronBob at 5:44 PM on December 22, 2009


Wow, that's so awesome!
posted by 6550 at 5:46 PM on December 22, 2009


That's a wonderful update clarkstonian, I feel all warm inside now!
posted by jonesor at 5:50 PM on December 22, 2009


That's wonderful. I would definitely love to help your daughter buy a library. I know that wasn't what you were asking, but I'd still love to pitch in.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 5:56 PM on December 22, 2009


If there's a specific way to help your daughter with her library, I'd love to.

Meantime, I believe my New Year's Resolution will be "count your blessings - out loud".

Bright blessings to you and your family.
posted by ersatzkat at 5:57 PM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yay! I am so glad to hear this story turned out well. You and your family sound like amazing people.
posted by lilac girl at 6:05 PM on December 22, 2009


Six hundred bucks buys a library? I would kick in for that.
posted by fixedgear


Yeah, if there's a way to pitch in, I'm there.
posted by The Deej at 6:24 PM on December 22, 2009


Seriously, given the number of librarians on Mefi, if we each pitch in 5 bucks, we're there.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:27 PM on December 22, 2009


I'm so happy for you. Best wishes.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 6:34 PM on December 22, 2009


You're making it really hard for me to be cynical right now.

Uh, me too.
posted by Forktine at 6:50 PM on December 22, 2009


nthing the library project, & adding my congratulations to your daughter & your family. sometimes miracles DO happen!
posted by msconduct at 6:52 PM on December 22, 2009


Your story has reduced by "what if something horrible happens to one of my kids and they're physically disabled somehow" fear by about 99.5%. Seriously. I'm so happy for your daughter, especially since so many people who haven't been through something like this can't find a way to be happy in their lives.

yeah, set up something non-PayPal we can send our money to for that library, please, I personally could care less if it's nothing officially tax-deductable
posted by davejay at 6:57 PM on December 22, 2009


Also, pony request: can I somehow favorite this harder?
posted by davejay at 6:58 PM on December 22, 2009


I would contribute to the library as well. Just don't use Paypal. I spent a few weeks in Shanghai and agree that it is a wonderful place with both amazing riches and abject poverty.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 7:08 PM on December 22, 2009


Beautiful! Beautiful! BEAUTIFUL! What a miraculous turn in this saga. Please update us again in a few months.
posted by BlahLaLa at 7:09 PM on December 22, 2009


So...let's buy a couple of libraries. One for your daughter and one in honor of these people. I'm in.
posted by neroli at 7:34 PM on December 22, 2009


Well, I was going to make some sarcastic remarks about posting this at Christmas and blah blah blah, but honestly, just turning 40 and another unemployed Christmas have both been getting to me, so thanks for posting something that is genuinely in the spirit.

Tell your daughter that making freshly-turned-40 year old men tear up a bit isn't bad. I would also contribute.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 7:39 PM on December 22, 2009


Thanks for posting this, I'm glad things are looking up. I'm down for helping out with the library.
posted by marxchivist at 7:43 PM on December 22, 2009


Tossed this on the sidebar, sorry for the delay. Let us all help her buy a library.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:01 PM on December 22, 2009


Yay library!

I'll throw in the first copy of The Fountainhead!

(at least, that's where I'll tell myself my money went...)
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:11 PM on December 22, 2009


Thank you. So very inspirational. Your daughter reminds me of the Warhawk Matt Scott Nike Just Do It commercial that I saw for the first time yesterday, not because of any possible similarities in physical condition, but for the qualities of courage, and indomitable spirit. You must be incredibly proud and a damn effective parent.
posted by b33j at 8:12 PM on December 22, 2009


I'll be in for a second copy of The Fountainhead, for after Ubu's Chinese doppelganger steals the first one.

Who's going to organize a funding scheme?
posted by Rumple at 8:54 PM on December 22, 2009


I just dumped my change jar into savings. Lemme know where to point it!
posted by lysdexic at 8:58 PM on December 22, 2009


What a wonderful Christmas present for you and from you, to us! So glad to hear the good news!
posted by Lynsey at 9:44 PM on December 22, 2009


Fantastic. I'm so glad to hear this. Thanks!
posted by rtha at 9:46 PM on December 22, 2009


Great. Thanks for the update!
posted by kathrineg at 9:51 PM on December 22, 2009


Yes, please let us know how to help your daughter with the library project!
posted by leesh at 10:10 PM on December 22, 2009


又一个例子证明中国特色社会主义的优越性 :D
Well, more like a testament to how many great and good people there are in this mixed-up great nation. So glad to hear that your daughter has found good things and is doing the same herself after those trying times, clarkstonian.
posted by Abiezer at 10:25 PM on December 22, 2009


I was wondering about you and her just yesterday and spent some time looking to see if you'd made an update. How wonderful it is to see this news!
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:26 PM on December 22, 2009


Wow, I'm so happy for you guys. Thanks for sharing this.
posted by salvia at 11:44 PM on December 22, 2009


First, so glad to hear an update, clarkstonian! I remember when the first thread came out, and am glad to hear that things have improved so dramatically.

Second, what about using Firstgiving? One of my fave blogs, Cakewrecks, is using Firstgiving this month to get small amounts donated to nonprofits.

I checked, and Firstgiving does seem to support the nonprofit clarkstonian mentioned, the Overseas China Education Foundation. They have a transaction fee, but on the plus side they don't seem to be associated with Paypal (nor are they associated with me!)

I would be happy to pitch in some money to set up a library in China, both as one of the Mefite librarians plus because it's an awesome thing to do.
posted by librarylis at 11:50 PM on December 22, 2009


This really lifted my spirit this morning! All the best to you and your family, clarkstonian!
posted by Harald74 at 12:09 AM on December 23, 2009


i would also be willing to chip in a few bucks for a library!

i realize this may be in poor taste, but i am horribly curious, how is it possible that someone has an unhealed fracture in their spine, but is still up and around and doing things? i would think that with it unhealed you'd have to be in traction at all times to avoid the risk of it getting worse with movement...
posted by misanthropicsarah at 12:19 AM on December 23, 2009


or challenge meta to buy a library

I think metafilter would do this very well and probably more than one! Can one of you organised types start rolling with this please. I think this would be an excellent way to herald the new decade.
posted by adamvasco at 12:26 AM on December 23, 2009


agreed. I have some library-building shekels burning a hole in my linty pocket as I type.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 12:30 AM on December 23, 2009


clarkstonian, that's wonderful for you and your family. I hope your daughter's recovery continues to go well.
I'm curious (if you can say), did the park ever take any responsibility? Did it go to court?
posted by Red Loop at 2:13 AM on December 23, 2009


As regards buying a library, I'd also recommend Firstgiving as an option - I think they're the US equivalent of Justgiving, which is very easy to use as a donor. (Haven't used it as a fundraiser, but it looks like funds go straight to the nonprofit's account.) It uses credit/debit cards rather than Paypal, so we won't run into a repeat of the Great Raffle Debacle of 2009. Transaction fee is 7.5% of the total donation, so that means a target of $645 instead. I think that's well within range!
posted by ZsigE at 3:07 AM on December 23, 2009


This was just about exactly what I needed to read right now, thank you. Good luck you both of you.
posted by cj_ at 3:28 AM on December 23, 2009


Yes, make with the library funding action already. I gotta go wash the dust out of my eyes.
posted by jdfan at 3:32 AM on December 23, 2009


Deck the world with MeFi libraries
Fa la la la la la la la la
'Tis the season to, um, try to invent words that rhyme with 'libraries' but give up & go to bed instead.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:36 AM on December 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Put aside a bit for briberies
Fa la la la la la la la la
posted by flabdablet at 4:36 AM on December 23, 2009 [6 favorites]


I'm so glad to hear that the year is ending on a high note for you.
posted by rmd1023 at 4:43 AM on December 23, 2009


Thank you all. I just told my daughter, and she gasped! Tell me, I've never done any kind of online collection - how do I get this rolling? It seems like such an important thing, not just for my daughter or for the school that will get the library, but for international relations.

Bless you all!
posted by clarkstonian at 5:49 AM on December 23, 2009


clarkstonian, THIS IS INCREDIBLE!! From the first words of your post, I had goosebumps and tears. Your daughter (and your family) are an incredible inspiration to me of overcoming hardship and giving more love back into the world. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for sharing this update.
posted by bunnycup at 6:51 AM on December 23, 2009


I'm in on the library, too (though I'm questioning ZsigE's math skills...).
posted by GhostintheMachine at 6:54 AM on December 23, 2009


Yeah, I get $648.65 as the necessary amount to bring the donation to $600 after a 7.5% transaction fee. (The fee for Firstgiving is 7.5% of the total amount donated, not 7.5% of the amount sent on to the charity.)
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:02 AM on December 23, 2009


Yay! I wondered how she was doing, so this is so wonderful to read!

Count me in on the library(ies) too!
posted by min at 7:26 AM on December 23, 2009


More info on library donations when you have it, please! I'm definitely interested.

My husband and I backpacked across China in 2002 and it was the most amazing trip. In rural areas, they have so few resources for learning. We met a young woman who took us to the minority villages around Kaili who made extra money teaching local kids English. All she had was a chalkboard and a few chairs. When we returned to the States, we shipped her all sorts of educational materials. Now she works for a large company in Beijing after making enough money to finish her own schooling. Education is something that acts as the center of a complex web of good things.
posted by jeanmari at 7:37 AM on December 23, 2009


I hope your amazing daughter will blog her stories, and one of us can post it to the blue.

I'm in for at least a book for a library. Matt's probably going to be wary of fundraisers after Paypal hosed us on the 100K userid event but it would be pretty cool for MeFi to build a library.

This is a lovely Christmas present of a post.
posted by theora55 at 7:44 AM on December 23, 2009


Glad to hear your daughter is doing well.

I'm in on the library.
posted by donpardo at 8:16 AM on December 23, 2009


Thank you for the update & warm wishes for a wonderful 2010! That's fabulous news!
posted by pointystick at 8:21 AM on December 23, 2009


Yeah, I get $648.65 as the necessary amount to bring the donation to $600 after a 7.5% transaction fee. (The fee for Firstgiving is 7.5% of the total amount donated, not 7.5% of the amount sent on to the charity.)

Yep, my mistake. Thought it looked like a surprisingly round number...I blame Google Calculator and its inability to read my mind. Although I can't quite imagine that we'll be wanting for $3.65 and having to start a "donate a penny a day for 2010" campaign.

Just in case it wasn't clear, I'm in for a chunk o' cash on the library front, too.
posted by ZsigE at 8:37 AM on December 23, 2009


Another librarian in for a donation!
posted by cereselle at 8:50 AM on December 23, 2009


I'm totally down with the library idea...and maybe i'm in a minority of one, but it'd actually be easier for me to donate through Paypal...so if that's an option at all, please do include it.

But if not, I'll get my $$ to you whatever way I can.
posted by the bricabrac man at 9:04 AM on December 23, 2009


That is beautiful! Count me in for a donation.
posted by bayliss at 9:07 AM on December 23, 2009


Ready to donate to the library - just tell me where to go.
posted by matty at 9:16 AM on December 23, 2009


Yet another librarian down with a donation.
posted by susanbeeswax at 9:26 AM on December 23, 2009


I'm all teary... so good to hear a (mostly) happy ending.
And another in for the library.
posted by Billegible at 10:33 AM on December 23, 2009


Maybe we could each send a nice note to paypal asking them to pony up a bit for our library. We are many. Would they want to risk hosing two mefi charity events? (that was rhetorical. I'm sure they don't give a crap about our charity efforts, but i'd be thrilled if they'd prove me wrong.)

Either way, count me in for a copy of, I dunno, Watership Down.
posted by bilabial at 10:59 AM on December 23, 2009


You've raised an extraordinary young woman, clarkstonian. Well done you, and well done her.

Would be more than happy to contribute towards a library as well. Thank you so much for sharing this story, and happy Christmas to you and yours. :)
posted by arachnid at 11:26 AM on December 23, 2009


Well, I'm not ashamed to say that your story brought me near tears. What a wonderful thing for you and your family!
posted by magstheaxe at 11:45 AM on December 23, 2009


Another library donor here. I tried to find a way to feed my $5 into the monitor but it just stared back at me senselessly. Stupid monitor doesn't know the type of mefite charity we're building. Let me know
posted by namewithhe1d at 12:17 PM on December 23, 2009


Ive followed you and your daughter's struggles since you shared the accident.
I'm so glad that things are looking up for her!
Yay for people seeing eachother as just people :D
posted by Librarygeek at 12:57 PM on December 23, 2009


Clarkstonian, thank you so very much for the update on your daughters condition. It is great that she has taken charge and has begun to move her life in this bold new direction. I am so very thankful that you and those you love now find hope where there had been so little before.

My own story hasn't been the most pleasant these past four years... they have made me hard, distant, and at times... very cold. It could easily be said that I have lost most everything I had come to love of this world.

"All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence. " Martin Luther King Jr.

It sounds as if she is indeed well on her way.

I can't really afford it... not sure how I'll make the January mortgage payment... but I'm in for the library. Just let me known when and how.

Best wishes to you and those you love in the world, Clarkstonian. Best wishes to you all, fellow MeFites.
posted by PROD_TPSL at 1:54 PM on December 23, 2009


I'll be on that library thing as soon as we get a link all up in here. Yay us! Yay libraries!
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:54 PM on December 23, 2009


Seriously, given the number of librarians on Mefi, if we each pitch in 5 bucks, we're there.

I feel compelled to point out that we are all already contributing to *this* library, here, after pitching in our five bucks.

Obviously access to computers and (censored or not) internet is not universal. I wonder if there's a project out there to get some of the online world exported back to the offline. Guess it's probably cheaper just to work on the computers and internet issue.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 2:48 PM on December 23, 2009


Guess it's probably cheaper just to work on the computers and internet issue.

Cost is probably not the main limiting factor for a school in China at this time.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:54 PM on December 23, 2009


I wonder if there's a project out there to get some of the online world exported back to the offline.

Something like Wikipedia v. 1.0?
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 3:01 PM on December 23, 2009


Such courage.

Seriously, where can I donate for the library?
posted by Freen at 3:33 PM on December 23, 2009


congratulations to your daughter! +1 on sponsoring a library. She sounds cool.
posted by jacalata at 6:15 PM on December 23, 2009


Your posts are overwhelming. I'm struggling with a hard-drive failure two days before Christmas, trying to backup music and photos (of China! wiped my photo card, my ipod photos - yes, I did back them up, but geez), so bear with me.

As for how my daughter is up and walking with a broken spine - this is what we were told - the pieces of bone are wrapped with scar tissue. Scar tissue is not as strong as bone, but it can hold bone together. Bone can't fuse through scar tissue. In that sense, she has healed, and she will never heal. This is as good as it's going to be without surgery. The surgery is risky. If it was going to be done, it should have been done earlier rather than later. By the time we ran through the insurance co. hoops, it no longer made a lot of sense. The fracture is so low on her spine, putting a rod in (through the back of her spine, not the front, which is broken and won't hold the rod), would make sitting very difficult in the future. The site of the proposed surgery is near a bundle of nerves - important nerves. She functions pretty well now - if you didn't know, you wouldn't know, other than that her back is very rigid. Every time we talk with a neurosurgeon, we get a different story, so who knows? I am not a neurosurgeon, and it all sounds kind of crazy to me. We are changing insurance companies.

The park did not take responsibility - they never even called to ask if she was alive. The attorney seems to think a lawsuit would accomplish nothing - so no, we have had no financial support for any of this. If we had been unemployed and uninsured, I have no idea what would have happened. The university has been very caring and supportive (thank you UM and Tracy).

Our daughter has a weight restriction of 20 lbs. No contact sports - no lacrosse ever again. No jumping. Otherwise, she's good to go and hope for the best. There are a lot of changes being made in spinal surgery - advancements that may help in the future.

As for why books instead of computers? A lot of places in China aren't wired for electricity. In a hutong (living quarters built around courtyards) in the heart of Beijing, they're just putting in electricity now, and the people in the hutong don't trust it, don't want it, and can't afford it. The school I visited had no heat, the kids had no heavy coats or gloves. They didn't seem to mind, but I did. It was 40 degrees with a bitter wind.

A treat for the teachers is a cup of hot water between classes. The students don't even get that. We can't imagine what life is like there. It's neither good nor bad - it's just different. Extraordinarily different.

Our apartment in Shanghai had wifi, but it was intermittent and unreliable. Shanghai is the most modern city in China. Even if you could buy computers for all of the schools and all of the students, it wouldn't do a lot of good right now.

Books are reliable. They're solid. Expensive to ship, but they'll last for years and won't need an upgrade every few months. The school I saw was on the subway line - I never ventured out into a truly rural area, so I can't begin to imagine what it's like there. What I saw will be with me for the rest of my life.

A very small amount of money could make a huge difference. These kids are smart, eager and talented. They have so little.

Our daughter really dislikes the victim-of-the-week syndrome. She wants to be known for who she is and what she does, not for her broken back. She knows she could sell the story. For now, anyway, she has chosen not to. She tried to blog - so did I. Life was so difficult, so emotionally wrenching, and so physically draining for us all, we just couldn't do it. I journal - it's all written down if she ever decides she wants to use it.

I know the story seems surreal. The full story is much more so, but it is true. There are too many witnesses to have made any of this up.

Prod - I hope life goes better for you. i have learned that I can't bargain with God or question fate - I am trying to learn to let it go. Make your mortgage payment if you can, but bless you for wanting to help.

Bunnycup, I think of you often.

Abiezer, I can only read Middle Kingdom in all of that. I can barely pronounce a line of pinyin, and it's all wrong when I try. I owe China an amazing amount for what everyone did for my daughter. China is a crazy place - I've never seen so many calculators in my life - or so much genuine good will (well, apart from Meta). Xiexie.

This is already too long. I think you're all serious about this fund, and I am grateful to all of you. If I can't get it done by tomorrow and someone is willing/able to set up a donation site, I'd be even more grateful. I'm not tech savvy, my cards aren't done, and my computer is dying.
posted by clarkstonian at 8:25 PM on December 23, 2009 [4 favorites]


Wow. What a great follow-up to such a traumatic story.

Mods, what about a MeTa category for AskMe follow-ups? Yes this is "Metafilter-related" but it's a special kind of related, and very touching, and I think it deserves it's own category.

But yeah everyone wants a pony for Christmas, I know.
posted by radioamy at 10:14 PM on December 23, 2009


Clarkstonian, what a lovely follow up. Thank you for sharing the story.
posted by jaruwaan at 7:07 AM on December 24, 2009


Okay, so I opened the CD drive and dropped a bunch of quarters in. You guys let me know when they get there!

(Seriously- I'd love to kick in on a library. I live in Korea where we've got TOO MANY computers etc., I'd love to funnel some of my money someplace where it could do some good)
posted by GilloD at 7:38 AM on December 24, 2009


All right - it's up and running - this is my first attempt at this, so I hope it makes sense. We're going for 2 libraries, and we'll see what happens. Thanks, jacalata for showing me how to do it.


http://www.firstgiving.com/rileybrighterfuture
posted by clarkstonian at 7:50 AM on December 24, 2009


clickable to http://www.firstgiving.com/rileybrighterfuture
posted by Rumple at 7:59 AM on December 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Almost there! We could probably do a few more libraries!
posted by susanbeeswax at 10:16 AM on December 24, 2009


I just tossed in a few bucks. Be sure to post an update once the kids have their libraries.

Congratulations to your daughter for choosing a really cool path in life.
posted by tdismukes at 10:36 AM on December 24, 2009


Almost there! We could probably do a few more libraries!

That's because Anonymous purchased an entire library to thank the world for all the advice he/she's received.
posted by gman at 11:00 AM on December 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


Anonymous is awesome. This whole everything related to this thread is pretty awesome.
posted by susanbeeswax at 11:02 AM on December 24, 2009


(except that the impetus was a broken back -- but that she's doing so well despite it, the trip to China, buying libraries, those things are awesome!)
posted by susanbeeswax at 11:08 AM on December 24, 2009


Many thanks to all of you - every last one of you - for your posts, your support, and for funding the libraries. You are all amazing! We will update you, both on the library and on our daughter's future. I hope somehow your generosity of spirit is repaid many times over.
posted by clarkstonian at 3:49 PM on December 24, 2009


Yes, way to go Anonymous.

Between that gift and curing your mud-butt, I think you may be turning a corner in your turbulent life....
posted by Rumple at 4:05 PM on December 24, 2009


clarkstonian, might I suggest slightly raising your goal on Firstgiving? That way, people will know that you'd like them to continue giving (you do want us to continue, right?).
posted by librarylis at 7:06 PM on December 24, 2009


I'd pitch in to help the Chinese buy the library but then they might win the resource war
posted by tehloki at 11:44 PM on December 24, 2009


OK, done, happy Christmas!
posted by fixedgear at 12:07 AM on December 25, 2009


Oh yes, librarylis - we'll up the limit! This is the most positive thing that has come from our daughter's injury. To think that children in China will have books because a girl in America broke her back? It's incredible. I hope some day they can pay it forward, as well.

Thank you all. Merry Christmas to those who partake - Happy New Year to all.
posted by clarkstonian at 10:21 AM on December 25, 2009


Thanks for the heartwarming thread. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good year!

❣❤❅✳✲✱✱✲✳❃✳❆❅❤❣
posted by localhuman at 8:24 PM on December 25, 2009


Okay a lot of people are bothering me about that comment, so I would like to clearly state that it was A JOKE
posted by tehloki at 10:24 PM on December 26, 2009


This was the smile I needed on return from the family holidays. My best wishes and warmest thoughts to you and yours, clarkstonian.
posted by MuChao at 9:15 AM on December 27, 2009


This is fantastic. I wish your daughter all the best, and if she ever gets up to Beijing, there are a few of us MeFites who I'm sure would love to take her out for dinner or show her the town.
posted by bokane at 9:48 AM on December 27, 2009


I threw in my share for the library fund. Thanks everyone who donated and to clarkstonian for setting it up!
posted by burnmp3s at 11:19 AM on December 28, 2009


Your post brings tears of joy to my eyes. So awesome and inspiring. Glad your daughter is healing and what wonderful, loving, constructive, intelligent courage she has in wanting and succeeding to do good in the world.
posted by nickyskye at 6:20 PM on December 28, 2009


I donated in memory of Judith Krug and Evan Farber, two huge library advocates who we lost in 2009.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:33 PM on December 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


Here's a donation in memory of Steve Madsen- a colleague who just passed away, far too soon. He would have contributed to this in a heartbeat.
posted by drhydro at 6:58 PM on December 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Could the sidebar posting be updated to include mention of the new metafilter library-building efforts?
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 8:06 PM on December 28, 2009


Late to the party, but just threw in my two cents for the library.

Dedicated to box for an old comment that reminded me of the power of books.
posted by lalex at 11:41 PM on December 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Argh, I finally get back online after Christmas and notice that the library-building fun is happening, and now it's not accepting my Visa debit card. Does anyone know whether Firstgiving accepts donations from the UK, and if so, what magic incantation it requires?
posted by ZsigE at 9:37 AM on January 2, 2010


Another librarian (at least in a former life) in. Glad to help, and glad your daughter is doing this.
posted by apartment dweller at 7:01 PM on January 2, 2010


A lot of places in China aren't wired for electricity. In a hutong (living quarters built around courtyards) in the heart of Beijing, they're just putting in electricity now, and the people in the hutong don't trust it, don't want it, and can't afford it. The school I visited had no heat, the kids had no heavy coats or gloves. They didn't seem to mind, but I did. It was 40 degrees with a bitter wind.

This. I have a good friend who's been living and working in a small village outside Beijing for the last couple of years. I got to visit back in October, and I was coming from 3rd world Africa, but I was pretty shocked that in the hour's drive from the airport we went from a 1st world airport, through a 1st world city, to a 3rd world village. I didn't know such things existed. And they are in the midst of one of the most brutal winter storms at the moment right now. Chinese villages don't have the luxuries of modern amenities like "snow removal," either.

Anyway, I'm in for some library funding. And, not to be negative nelly, but perhaps you should talk to a new lawyer? Your daughter's quality of life and overall health has been permanently affected. It seems you should have at least the insurance company, and possibly the park too, over a barrel. This isn't about opportunism, this is about justice and forcing corporations / organizations to be responsible to the public in performing their basic functions. Maybe your daughter doesn't even need the funding now, but look at it this way: an irresponsible, unjust, heartless insurance company sure could fund a lot of libraries in China.
posted by allkindsoftime at 3:12 AM on January 5, 2010


I wanted to update you all.

Your contributions and comments are all so generous.

My daughter's friend in Shanghai has been in touch with the professor who runs the program. We've raised enough to build 3 libraries - one will go to a school outside of Beijing, one outside of Shanghai and one in the Hunan Province. If we raise more, there will be more libraries in other places. I don't know how long it takes to actually create the libraries, but my daughter's friend will follow the progress, visit the schools and take photos, which I should be able to post where you can see them.

Allkindsoftime, I saw the snow in Beijing and was shivering. It was brutal for a couple of the days I was there - in the 20's Fahrenheit, with a strong wind blowing. Our guide didn't have gloves or even a hat. My daughter's friends live in apartments with very little heat. They wear coats inside. They sometimes sleep in office buildings or go to clubs to stay warm.

We did talk with a lawyer - it seems likely the state laws hold the state & local govt. blameless of harm in a situation like this. The insurance company has a "hold blameless" clause written in to its policy. This is frightening, because there are a lot more dead trees along that path - a path where college students walk all the time. Neither the university nor the City of Ann Arbor seems to care - the trees were not taken down, I couldn't get anyone from the governor (whose daughter attends UM) to the Ann Arbor newspaper to do anything about it. No one seems to care! Since the risk is not remote - it already happened - it's pretty shocking.

We can't change any of that, so we're moving forward with our lives as best as we can. Again, thank you all. I'll keep you updated as we get new information.
posted by clarkstonian at 10:25 AM on January 5, 2010


Thanks for the update, and can't wait to see the pictures.
posted by fixedgear at 8:43 AM on January 9, 2010


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