Update on Ken Pliska March 16th

Thought this would be a great pic to show everyone today. Ken has absolutely no problem getting both of his hands on his handle bars. Thanks Eric Cummins for this great idea. He didn’t want the nurses to put it away when it was bed time. Everyone in here has watched the video that Jonathan S. Hoag had made of him racing. He gets a huge smile when he sees himself crossing that finish line. Thank you everyone for caring about him so much. He is such an amazing guy. Keep the prayers coming. – Suzanne O’Neil (Ken’s fiancée)


He is still restricted as far as visitors (family only), but we are hoping that he recovers soon so he can resume having visitors, and also transfer over to the rehabilitation facility. – Michael Pliska

•• February 26th, 2016

Today he was moved from OHSU to the Rehabilitation Institute of Oregon at Good Samaritan. He is definitely doing better as far as the nasty cough he had. He was very exhausted from the move, and initially didn’t want to touch his dinner. However, their rules are that a nurse has to be there if the food is in front of the patient, and he just wanted to leave it there so he could pick at it later. After explaining that to him he ended up eating almost all of it (despite having had a full late lunch).

Ken seemed to have slipped back a bit as far as things he could remember. He wasn’t sure what month it was or how old he was. I spent some time slowly catching him up on things like that. He is still having a lot of trouble coming up with words, although he would mumble the F-bomb or “sh*t” under his breath while trying to think of the word he wanted to say.

They want him to get adjusted to the new environment (with the extensive rehabilitation sessions) before getting visitors. They explained that they don’t even want family there during his therapy sessions, as they want him to focus all of his attention on the therapist working with him. Once he gets settled into the routine there he will be able to have visitors in the evenings and on Sundays, and I will post up when he gets to that point.
– Michael Pliska

•• March 10th, 2016

It has been such an amazing last couple of days watching Ken every couple hours say or so something like he used to do it. He’s walking alot better and using both legs really good now and he’s even starting to change his voice to the deep Ken Pliska voice we all know and love. When his voice gets low we all look at each other and he stops with surprise too and commits “holy shit” this is me saying this and he’s so excited and just doesn’t want to stop. His right arm is slowly coming back around and when he doesn’t try he actually uses it more. He’s incredible in every way and never ever gives up on trying to get back to his old self. Keep praying because it’s working. – Suzanne O’Neil (Ken’s fiancée)

•• March 11th, 2016

Ken Pliska update: Ken is showing remarkable progress lately. We had the weekly meeting today with his team. They too are amazed at the recent progress. We are now making plans for him to transition to home care, which should take place in about a week. They continued to stress the need for letting him get his rest, and avoiding distractions while he is undergoing therapy. They said even when he goes home we need to strictly limit visitors, as having too much activity in the room (especially multiple conversations or conversations regarding him but not spoken to him) can derail the progress of his brain healing properly. He will be able to have visitors but just a couple at a time and scheduled so he gets plenty of rest.

Ken was able to walk unassisted (as far as a therapist helping him) just using a cane. He is definitely getting more use out of his right leg.

Ken is now able to carry on reasonably normal conversations (without relying on F-bombs for punctuation). He still has intermittent trouble finding a word he wants, and will end up saying a random word in its place. That gets really frustrating for him (as it did for me during my recovery), but he is taking it all in stride. We reminded him how far he has come in just a few days, and he seemed to feel better about it. He moved his right hand out to shake hands with our dad, and Dad said he could feel a definite squeeze from him. We wrapped up the evening watching some Youtube comedy videos Austin made with some friends a few years ago.

In this photo, if you look over his shoulder you will see a photo of him in the same pose. Just before I took the picture he had the exact same grin on his face as well, but of course once I asked him to repeat it all I could get was screwy expressions.

Please keep up the thoughts and prayers for him! – Michael Pliska


•• March 12th, 2016

Ken Pliska Update: Yesterday we were a bit worried, as Ken fell and hit his head while working with a new therapist on moving from the wheelchair to a “practice toilet”. I had seen him in the morning (before it happened) and he was speaking very well. When I saw him in the evening he seemed to be mixing up his words more, which could have been from the head impact or just from fatigue. I had made up a sheet with close-up photos of each of his immediate family, something for him to practice identifying us like flash cards. He had done very well with it in the morning, but in the evening he could only get our dad’s name right (and after having so much trouble with the other names he just smirked and replied “Allen” for each one).

Today we worked with him on practice for assisting him at moving into and out of bed from the wheelchair, and similar moves to get into a car. The car proved to be much more challenging, as he had to cross over a wide “sill” area between the edge of the van and the seat, and also the seat was somewhat high for him to get is butt up and on. Between yesterday’s fall and today’s challenges getting in and out of the car, it looks like we will probably have to abandon our initial plans for an outing to his normal favorite dinner place, and instead stick to somewhere very close to the hospital in case anything goes wrong.

On the plus side, as many of you have seen, Ken posted on his own Facebook account for the first time since the stroke! Previously we have read many of the posts to him, then he would read them himself when he had the time, but this is a major step! – Michael Pliska

•• March 13th, 2016

First a clarification from yesterday’s update – when he fell the day before he hit his head on the wall, he did not go all the way to the floor (which would have likely been much worse). He could not remember it happening, but as I noted he was noticeably less lucid after it happened. Today he was back to where he had been before that, much better at speaking and moving around.

Today was the long-anticipated excursion from the hospital, as well as the first day without any therapy. We had run out of time on Saturday to practice the car transfers (we spent the time experimenting with different sequences and techniques to figure out which ones worked the best, but did not have time to practice the “good” ones and therefore the therapist did not feel comfortable approving a car transfer for today). After some consideration we decided initially on Papa Haydn’s which was just 2.5 blocks up the street. While waiting for all of the family members he had a great time joking around with his longtime buddy Eric Filley. When Ken’s middle child wasn’t going to make it in time it was perfect for Eric and his girlfriend Holly Wick to fill those spots. We were blessed with relatively dry weather for the excursion (intermittent sprinkles while heading there and back). Of course when getting ready Ken insisted he would not be cold (kind of like he did before going out for the car transfers), but realized quickly it was pretty dang cold out there! We brought along extra layers for him, but it was quicker to just wrap my raincoat around him once we were on the road (which somehow sounds more impressive than “on the sidewalk”) and he realized how cold it was. Once we got to Papa Haydn’s they suggested that we eat at their adjoining bar as they could get our whole group in to one table as well as get us in immediately. The menu was a little bit different, but still great food. It was also great because we got a cozy corner spot with minimal distractions (something the medical team said would be crucial to a successful outing).

While Papa Haydn’s is famous for their desserts, Ken chimed in that he would rather go to Salt and Straw for dessert (which was on the way back to the hospital). That one proved to be a little more challenging, as their line snaked through the place and down the sidewalk. After seeing that the line moved rather quickly we decided to give it a shot. Ken really enjoyed his Salt & Caramel cone, although it may not have been the best choice for someone who was already feeling cold! Fortunately it was only one block from there to the hospital, and he breathed a huge sigh of relief when we wheeled him into the warm building.

Overall it was a very successful outing, giving him his first chance to be outside (aside from brief breaks) in over a month. After all of that he was definitely exhausted and ready for a nap! – Michael Pliska


•• March 16th, 2015

This is one very excited guy to be going home tomorrow after a month of rehab. Today he walked up and down stairs and did great. He’s using his cane now for getting around with and only his wheel chair for when he’s tired. The therapist said the rate he’s going each week that he probably won’t need to use anything in a couple more weeks. Thank you again for everyone’s prayers and support. I know it has helped him to get to through this journey. – Suzanne O’Neil (Ken’s fiancée)


Categories: Advocacy, Racing

Tags: , , , , , , ,

3 replies

  1. Would like to see Ken. Was an old bmx buddy of mine.


  2. All the BEST Ken…even though I don’t know you, we are from the old Dog 1970’s BMX Cub. My first BMX bike was a 1972 A&A MotoX-Cycle, dual suspension race bike. I grew up in Nor-Cal and got my ABA membership in 79 at age 14.

    I’ve just read your story and the journey you have taken. I too am a survivor. I’ve been blessed with a wonderful family and a great life around BMX.

    Please email hello some time, so I know you got this message. It would be cool to keep in touch, write when you can.

    Kind Regards,
    Reno, NV


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