June 4 2008
Frank Muller is Remembered

We are sad to announce that Frank passed away on Wednesday, June 4, 2008 at Duke University Hospital in Durham, NC. Fortunately, our whole family arrived in time to say goodbye. We treasure the years we had him with us as he was an amazing husband, father, son, brother, and uncle to us all. Knowing that the long struggle is over for him gives us some measure of comfort. We will miss him dearly but we celebrate his life, his love, his career, his heart.
       from Frank's Official Website

Fall 2003 Update
This is an update from Frank's brother, Leo

On Friday, October 24, 2003, the family and a caregiver boarded a chartered plane in California and flew to their new home just outside Raleigh, NC. Frank will live at home for the first time since his accident, in a house that has been modified specifically for Frank's therapeutic and rehabilitative needs, and that provides a setting for the family to reestablish their life together.

The flight went very well. After Frank entered the small plane and sat down, he exclaimed "Sweet ride!" The aircraft included a couch for Frank to sleep on in case he needed it, but he spent most of the time enjoying the flight. They were warmly received at their new home by Erika's parents, Frank's sister Tanny and her daughter Rachel, Frank's brother Henry, and Frank's friend Scott Swimmer, who was also the contractor for the house renovations (and did an incredible job!).

Erica said Frank was so happy to be there. She told him, "Frank, you're HOME!!" Scott told me this morning, "I was elated to witness Frank's arrival home. It is so right and he knew it. He raised his arms up high and YELLED. Twice!"

New caregivers and rehab therapists have been engaged and are being trained to care for Frank and continue his recovery process. This will still be slow and difficult work. Frank's progress remains "variable," a term we have heard often the last few months. Some days he has extended periods of focus and lucidity and seems very present to others, especially Erika, the kids and the dogs. Other days are less so. In general, however, he seems to be increasing his capacity for short-term memory, his vision appears to be improving slightly, and his periods of lucidity are increasing.

Frank will still need help with many daily tasks of living, such as dressing, grooming, eating, etc. He needs constant cues for many tasks and body movements. However, he seems to be taking more initiative with various tasks. He has extended his walking distances, and makes transfers in and out of his wheel chair with more consistency. These small steps are encouraging and indicate that progress, however slow, is still being made.

It still appears that Frank will need long-term, full-time care, although we have not ruled out the possibility of recovery beyond that stage. The likelihood of Frank returning to his career as a narrator of recorded books, however, is very small. Frank's eyesight has a long way to go, and his speech patterns, although improving, are still quite limited. Moreover, the cognitive presence and ability that would be required to perform the complex skills required for narration at Frank's previous level appear to be well out of reach.

Erika is more committed than ever to Frank's success and the family's health and well-being. She is so happy to have Frank out of the hospital and in his own home. They are settling peacefully into their new environs, and have already had several outings in the community. The area there seems to be a very good place for them to be. Erika feels that this move will bring new levels of rehabilitation and recovery for Frank, renewed strength and support for her and a positive new beginning for their young family.

You can add your best wishes to the Mullers by sending cards, letters, financial assistance (still badly needed) and any other form of support you would like to offer. Below is contact information you can use. Email will be available soon.

Frank & Erika Muller
Diana & Morgan
4621 Meadow Lake Drive
Apex, NC 27502

15 April 2003

Dear Friends of Frank:

I apologize for the long delay in updating you about Frank's recovery process. This has been a busy and stressful last few months for Frank and Erica, and also for me.

Frank's progress has continued to be, in the words of the medical team at Casa Colina, "variable." This means he has some good days and some bad. Some days he has extended periods of focus and lucidity (up to two hours on occasion) and seems very present to others, especially Erica and the kids. Other days are less so, and he has difficulty with nearly everything.

Frank still needs help with many daily tasks of living, such as dressing, grooming, eating, etc. He needs constant cues for many tasks and body movements. However, just yesterday Erica called to say he had eaten his whole lunch by himself, with a spoon. These small steps are encouraging and indicate that progress, however slow, can be made.

It has become quite apparent that Frank will need long-term, full-time care, although we have not ruled out the possibility of recovery beyond that stage. This also does not mean he cannot live at home. In fact, Erica is currently exploring possibilities to bring him home with live-in care. She has found, with great consistency, that Frank is much more responsive and cooperative when he is with his family.

Frank loves to hold 9-month-old Morgan in his arms. He loves to play with 3-year-old Diana, who crawls up on his pal and tickles him. They sing songs together and cuddle. He also enjoys the dogs very much, when he is able to be outside with them. These family times seem to have a very positive effect on Frank, and certainly on the family as well.

The transition from Casa Colina to a home setting also faces some considerable challenges. Frank will need a home that can accommodate his currently disabled needs. The living quarters need enough space to allow for those times when Frank needs quiet time away. Erica also hopes the home could be in a location and setting that would allow her to make a new life for their family under these circumstances.

Hopefully the right situation can be secured, and the Mullers can become a family again very soon. I will provide another update, hopefully in a shorter interval, as soon as there is significant news to share.

All the best,

Leo Muller

Past Updates
One-Year Anniversary Update
This is an update from Frank's brother, Leo

4 November, 2002

Dear Friends of Frank:

Tomorrow is the one-year anniversary of Frank's accident. The memory of that day is difficult, so I apologize if this update is a little somber.

Frank has come a long way from those first days. I remember learning early on that only ten percent of people suffering from Diffuse Axonal Injury (DAI) ever get beyond a vegetative state. He has beaten many odds, and for many months has been progressing "ahead of the curve" in most areas of recovery.

In the last few months, however, his progress has been more variable, with days of progress and days of regress. This appears to be an indication that his recovery is slowing down, but it is not definitively so. Although I was not available for the most recent monthly medical review meeting, Dr. Patterson indicated in a phone call with him today that progress was still being made, and we should not necessarily assume that this is where Frank will remain.

However, it is apparent that for many recovering DAI patients, the level of recovery achieved in the first year is indicative of where they will remain long-term. Dr. Patterson did suggest the possibility that Frank may need 24-hour care, possibly in a facility, on a long-term basis. This has been a possibility all along, of course, so this suggestion is not new, but it is sobering to hear in the context of the one-year mark.

The primary complicating factor is that, in addition to the DAI injury and his physical injuries, Frank suffered cardiac arrest three times before he even arrived at the hospital. It is therefore quite possible that he experienced anoxia, or lack of oxygen to the brain. Unfortunately, there is no definitive way to test for this injury, but its effects could contribute to Frank's variable lucidity. Its quite frustrating for him and everyone else that he seems unable to maintain this on a consistent basis.

Another, more hopeful factor that Erika believes has made a significant difference has been the amount of time Frank has been able to have with his family. During the last weeks of Erika's pregnancy and the first weeks of little Morgan's life, visits to the hospital were understandably more difficult. However, since early September Erika has brought the kids with her and is living temporarily at a small apartment building on the Casa Colina campus.

Although this has been quite an adjustment for them, it has allowed her to spend much more time with Frank again, and she has begun to see him slowly become more responsive to consistent time with her, Diana and Morgan. She is of course much more tuned to Frank's cues than the staff at the Transitional Living Center (TLC) could be, and can therefore respond more specifically to him. She has also observed, for example, how much more responsive he is to her reading Shakespeare and Dylan Thomas to him, as opposed to more simple reading materials he gets from the staff.

Although Frank is still in daily physical, speech and occupational therapy, and spends much more time with his family visiting him, there are still significant periods of time when he is bored by lack of stimulation. She feels Frank is depressed by his own awareness of his condition, and feels trapped inside himself. He communicates this to her in those more lucid moments. One difficulty that has exacerbated this situation is that the psychologist who worked so well with both Frank and Erika no longer is employed at Casa Colina.

One joy for all of them has been the time that Frank has been able to have with his dogs. Erika is temporarily keeping two of the dogs at the apartment, and this has allowed Frank to visit with them. One day he actually took one of the dogs for a walk, sort of, and it was a great moment for them all. Erika hopes she can find a long-term nearby location for the dogs, so these visits can continue.

The reason these activities make a difference is that they all draw upon his long-term memory and life experience. Since November 5, 2002 is a special, if not happy day, it serves as a reminder to me, and hopefully to all of you, to continue to stay in touch with Frank and Erika. As a part of their lives, we all can continue to stimulate and support them by keeping in contact, or making contact if you not done so yet. Frank is very capable of having brief telephone conversations.

In addition, of course, cards, letters and emails all can be shown and read to him. You may even want to send a videotaped greeting, since he could watch that repeatedly.

Thanks to all of you who have stayed in touch or have even visited with them. It really means a lot.

Leo Muller

UPDATE (07/28/02): Frank continues to progress well medically in his rehab process at Casa Colina. In early June he was transferred to the Transitional Living Center (TLC) on the same campus. Frank can do more than he thinks he can. When he asks for help with certain tasks, and the staff encourages him to do them himself, he usually succeeds. He doesn't seem to retain this awareness, however, and needs to be reminded on a consistent basis. As a result, he is hesitant to explore movement on his own.

He continues to have vision problems; his depth perception is off, with him often over-reaching for objects, and he is unable to distinguish two fingers from one. He continues to experience short-term memory problems. His reading ability is still severely impaired at this point. His speech intelligibility is improving, and has good potential, although he needs lots of prompting. The staff is drawing on his prior narration expertise to encourage his progress in this area. They play his narration tapes for him, and ask him about them to prompt his memory and encourage his technique.

In June, Frank was allowed out of the hospital on a "field trip" to Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream where he "patiently listened to all thirty-one options and chose his long-time favorite - French Vanilla!"

Also in June, Frank could propel himself forward in his wheelchair with his legs, having gone 50 feet in a straight line by himself. Currently, Frank is walking without a walker and with only a single aide to help.

UPDATE (05/01/02): According to Erika, Frank is "cruising along in his recovery"-- small steps but steady progress. He was making animal sounds and laughing with his daughter, Diana, the other day. Erika says that she believes Diana felt her "real daddy" there. His vision and depth perception are not perfect yet, and they hope to get him to an eye doctor in the near future. Frank is even deciding on a name for their son to be born in July.

UPDATE (03/14/02): Frank is still in recovery at the medical center. He is using a 'cantilever' table to improve his balance. Due to damage in his right arm, doctors feel he will never have full use of it. They hope to operate on a large facial scar soon, and then remove his tracheal tube after that operation. Despite the trachea tube, he is drawing thick liquids and occasionally chewing food.

His articulation is better, but still hard to understand. He is, however, speaking in longer sentences. He and Erika are discussing names for the baby.

Stephen King visited on Feb 24 and presented them with an initial amount of the benefit proceeds. The remainder is collecting interest for future distributions.

UPDATE (02/13/02): Frank's wife, Erika, says Frank is balancing himself (standing) well in physical therapy and understands that the therapists are there to help and not to hurt. His cousin from Holland was in for the benefit and stopped by California to visit Frank. When he asked Frank a question, Frank answered in Dutch. And, according to Erika's note: "he also asked for scotch instead of a joking offer of beer."

The physical therapists and Dr. Patterson are very optimistic.

At the benefit, Erika said she'd talked to him on the phone (a first) and she "distinctly heard 'I Love You' and I think 'Don't Go Shopping.'"

UPDATE (01/25/02): Frank's brothers report that he is speaking in phrases and occasionally sentences. His speech therapist reports 80% accuracy in his yes/no responses. He added that Frank shows irony and humor in his responses, which is a good sign.

He's cognizant enough to ask where he is and how he got there, but has no current recollection of the accident.

UPDATE (01/21/02): Frank Speaks! After finally getting his jaw unwired, Frank said "Perfect!" when asked how it felt. (A shock to everyone.) Last week he not only said "I love you" to his wife, Erika, but he also told a visitor on Friday to tell everyone he would be fine.

He keeps trying to talk despite his tracheal tube, and his family and doctors have told him to take it easy...
Original Story
On November 5, 2001, Frank Muller was in a very serious motorcycle accident near Los Angeles, California. He sustained multiple fractures, lacerations and abrasions, and went into cardiac arrest three times. He also suffered severe head trauma, which was subsequently diagnosed as Diffuse Axonal Injury.

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Stephen King, John Grisham and other authors held a benefit in New York on Feb 2nd.
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Please send questions and good wishes to me and I will see that they get forwarded. 'Bitchen' Ric Johnson