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Update on Tristan Anderson Tristan Anderson, cordarone free sample 38 is another American citizen who was critically injured by Israeli troops during protests against Israel’s Wall in the West Bank village of Ni’lin in 2008. Cordarone free sample He was hit in his forehead by a new type of high velocity, cordarone free sample extended range teargas projectile.  Tristan was hit while standing with a fellow protester inside the village, cordarone free sample several hours after the army initially attacked a protest march of Ni’ilin’s residents (joined by international activists) who attempted to march onto their own lands in the vicinity of the wall. Cordarone free sample Anderson’s injury is part of a recent escalation in the army’s violent attempts to suppress Palestinian unarmed popular resistance to the occupation. Cordarone free sample Israeli troops have been using the new teargas canister since December 2008, cordarone free sample coinciding with the beginning of Israel’s ruthless assault on Gaza. Cordarone free sample The black canister, cordarone free sample labelled “40mm bullet, cordarone free sample special/extended range” in Hebrew, cordarone free sample has a range of over 400 meters, cordarone free sample emits a very faint sound when fired and leaves hardly any smoke tail at all – making it extremely difficult to avoid. Cordarone free sample The following responses to questions asked about Tristan's current condition was written by his partner, cordarone free sample Gabby. Cordarone free sample Is Tristan able to talk? Yes, cordarone free sample Tristan started talking in early December (shortly after he ripped out his tracheotomy tube). What is he saying? Is Tristan aware of who he is? Tristan knows who he is and he remembers his pre-injury life. Cordarone free sample He’s maintained a lot of specialized knowledge, cordarone free sample he tells stories, cordarone free sample he recognizes people in pictures, cordarone free sample he sings his favorite songs, cordarone free sample etc. Cordarone free sample His long term memory for life before the injury is generally excellent. What does his voice sound like? Is there heavy slurring? Does he have trouble formulating language? Tristan speaks clearly but softly. Cordarone free sample We have very good communication from him, cordarone free sample but it can be difficult to hear what he’s saying if there’s competing noise. Cordarone free sample While other cognitive functions have been impacted, cordarone free sample Tristan’s language abilities are more or less intact. Cordarone free sample He’s maintained adult grammar and vocabulary and has not needed therapy to re-learn language. How did Tristan communicate during the months before he was talking? Before he was talking, cordarone free sample Tristan communicated primarily with gestures and pantomime, cordarone free sample and also by writing and spelling words out on a communication board. Cordarone free sample (Although it’s very difficult to read his handwriting, cordarone free sample and it used to be much worse.) In earlier days (and for a long time) Tristan had very limited and sometimes inconsistent communication, cordarone free sample primarily with yes/no hand signals. Cordarone free sample Besides hand signals, cordarone free sample communication was also achieved by presenting objects or writing choices on a board and asking Tristan to point to the correct or desired one. Cordarone free sample In the bad old days, cordarone free sample Tristan could really only handle two options at a time. It's been said he was in a coma. Tristan was never in a coma, cordarone free sample but he lingered in a “minimally responsive” state for his first six to seven months post-injury. Cordarone free sample During this time, cordarone free sample life was almost completely dominated by medical complications and Tristan could only maintain wakefulness for a few minutes at a time. Cordarone free sample It was a horrible period with a lot of uncertainty about whether or not life would ever get better, cordarone free sample but he pulled through it and it has. What changed? In August Tristan had two surgeries, cordarone free sample a Cranioplasty (a reconstructive surgery on his skull) followed by a VP Shunt (to regulate the flow of Cerebrospinal Fluid in his body). Cordarone free sample Tristan started noticeably “waking up” more following the shunt surgery, cordarone free sample then experienced a very serious infection and went septic. Cordarone free sample He was put on high doses of intravenous anti-biotics for an extremely long time. Cordarone free sample Weeks later he emerged from the fevers and started making the slow climb out of the abyss. Has his personality changed? How has Tristan been most affected cognitively by the injury? Tristan has maintained a lot of his values and knowledge base as an activist and as the person we knew, cordarone free sample but he has been profoundly affected by the injury to his brain. Cordarone free sample Among other things, cordarone free sample he suffers from difficulties with impulse control and short term memory retrieval that impacts everything he does all the time. I’m afraid in answering this question that I’ll give an overly optimistic or an overly pessimistic view to the people who are reading it. Cordarone free sample At various times talking to friends, cordarone free sample I feel that I have done both. Cordarone free sample The fact is, cordarone free sample it’s complicated. Brain injury can make a person a bit of an enigma. For instance, cordarone free sample Tristan can legitimately play adult trivia games at a higher level than I can, cordarone free sample but he can’t play Connect Four or other simple children’s board games because he gets too caught up in putting all the pieces in and he can’t wait his turn. Tristan oscillates constantly between being knowledgeable and insightful to being unreasonable and child-like. Cordarone free sample There is never a time that I am unaware of his injury. What parts of his body and brain were injured on March 13, cordarone free sample 2009? Tristan was shot in the forehead above his right eye and was primarily injured in the right frontal lobe of his brain. Cordarone free sample He also suffered injury due to hemorrhaging and swelling during his first week in the ICU which very nearly took his life and did more damage. Cordarone free sample These secondary injuries caused significant harm to the right temporal lobe and to other areas of his brain. Tristan was also blinded in the right eye and the orbit (the bone surrounding this eye) was smashed to pieces. Cordarone free sample He is classified as having had a “severe” traumatic brain injury. How has he been affected physically? Tristan is hemiplegic. Cordarone free sample He is not completely paralyzed but has almost no movement at all in his left arm and left leg. Cordarone free sample This is particularly difficult for him because he was left handed. Tristan is also still recovering from the extensive damage done to his body by the months of being mostly bed-ridden and immobilized. Will he walk again? Tristan is in a wheelchair. Cordarone free sample Recently we’ve been seeing some movement come back in his left hip, cordarone free sample and his physical therapist feels optimistic that given proper therapy, cordarone free sample he will be able to regain some ability to walk. Cordarone free sample However, cordarone free sample she has warned that this may take years of work. What is daily life like for you guys at the Rehabilitation Center? On a good busy day, cordarone free sample the mornings are a flurry of activity as Tristan moves between physical, cordarone free sample speech and occupational therapy appointments. Cordarone free sample We squeeze in two meals and hopefully have time leftover for exercises and practice on a Standing Frame (a supported structure in the physical therapy room that lets Tristan’s body get used to standing again.) Sometimes we also use a recumbent style stationary exercise bike that Tristan can peddle actively using his right leg and passively with his left. In the early afternoon Tristan goes back to bed and rests for about two hours. Cordarone free sample He typically gets up about 4:00 or 4:30 and goes on a long walk with his father, cordarone free sample then comes back and eats dinner. Cordarone free sample He eats a lot of variations on rice and beans and vegetables and a lot of different kinds of soups. After dinner we figure out what to do with the rest of the evening. Cordarone free sample Sometimes Tristan works with a computer. Cordarone free sample Other times we play card games, cordarone free sample board games, cordarone free sample stuff like that. Cordarone free sample We try to get him used to operating his wheel chair for himself. Cordarone free sample Sometimes we work him pretty hard, cordarone free sample other times we just hang out. Cordarone free sample We read to each other a lot, cordarone free sample including some of Tristan’s old writings. We try to keep him company here and do something in between “work” and “play” in the free time we have. Cordarone free sample Mike, cordarone free sample Nancy, cordarone free sample and I have no lives at all. Cordarone free sample We’re here at the hospital pretty much all the time. Does he ever get out of the hospital? Not very often, cordarone free sample but sometimes. Cordarone free sample We try to get out on the weekends. How is he handling this emotionally? For better or worse, cordarone free sample Tristan has never heavily grieved over his injury. Cordarone free sample He is very aware of ways that the injury has affected him physically, cordarone free sample but less aware or accepting of the cognitive repercussions. In the last several months we’ve seen him slowly start to get more in touch with his feelings, cordarone free sample and I believe this will continue to develop with time. Are you still seeing improvement in his abilities? Yes. Is he still in critical condition? No, cordarone free sample at this point, cordarone free sample Tristan is in the post-acute stage of his injury. Cordarone free sample He’s living in a hospital because he gets rehabilitation there. Is he pretty much independent now or does he need a lot of help? He needs a lot of help. What’s happening with the court cases? There are two court cases, cordarone free sample a criminal case and a civil case. As of now, cordarone free sample the Israeli Police who investigated Tristan’s shooting have closed the case without bringing criminal charges against anyone involved. Cordarone free sample The investigation has been widely criticized as a sham, cordarone free sample and we are appealing this decision. (There was a misleading article published by Ha’aretz entitled “State to Re-investigate Wounding of U.S. Cordarone free sample Activist”, cordarone free sample which was spread all over the internet and gave the false impression that the Israeli state was re-opening Tristan’s case. Cordarone free sample In fact all that happened is that our lawyers submitted an appeal and the other side is legally obliged to accept our paperwork, cordarone free sample so they did. Cordarone free sample That’s it.) Besides the criminal case, cordarone free sample there is also a civil case which Tristan’s family is bringing against the Israeli military to help cover the lifetime of medical expenses, cordarone free sample lost wages, cordarone free sample and continuing care that Tristan will need. Cordarone free sample We have been warned that the civil case is likely to take years before coming to fruition. Cordarone free sample (Rachel Corries’ civil case, cordarone free sample filed in 2005, cordarone free sample first made it in to court here about a month and a half ago, cordarone free sample which is appalling.) What is the basis of your appeal to re-open the criminal case? The investigation into Tristan’s shooting is a perfect illustration of why the police and the army can not be trusted to investigate themselves. The investigators, cordarone free sample for instance, cordarone free sample never even bothered to go to the scene where the shooting took place. Cordarone free sample No physical evidence was ever collected. Additionally, cordarone free sample eye witnesses uniformly testified that the shots were fired from a nearby hill. Cordarone free sample Even though the military has confirmed that indeed there were Border Police armed with high velocity tear gas positioned on that hill, cordarone free sample the entire investigation into Tristan’s shooting relates instead to the irrelevant conduct of an irrelevant squad of Border Police positioned on the other side of town. To date, cordarone free sample the Border Police on the hill where the shots were fired have never been questioned. Is there anything we can do to help demand justice for Tristan? We are demanding that the criminal case against the Border Police involved in Tristan’s shooting be re-opened immediately and a meaningful investigation begun. Friends are urged to contact Barbara Lee, cordarone free sample Tristan’s representative in Congress (202-225-2661) or to picket their local Israeli Consulate, cordarone free sample ( demanding that Israel take full responsibility for Tristan’s shooting. We also recognize that during the time that we’ve been here in the hospital with Tristan, cordarone free sample two other activists have died at demonstrations against the Wall. Cordarone free sample Their names were Basem Abu Rahme and Yousef ‘Akil’ Tsadik Srour. Cordarone free sample Basem was killed while screaming to soldiers that this was a non-violent demonstration and telling them to stop shooting at a woman protester who’d been injured. Cordarone free sample Akil died coming to the aid of a sixteen year old boy who’d been shot in the spine. To date, cordarone free sample Israel has killed 23 people to build their Wall, cordarone free sample and seriously wounded many more, cordarone free sample including Ehab Fadel Barghouthi (age 14), cordarone free sample shot in the head at a demonstration several weeks ago. Putting finishing touches on this document, cordarone free sample I learn that Ahmad Sliman Salem Dib, cordarone free sample age 19, cordarone free sample was shot to death just days ago on the 28th of April, cordarone free sample at a demonstration against land seizure in Gaza. Demanding Justice for Tristan is also demanding justice for them, cordarone free sample and recognizing the role of the United States government in war and occupation around the world.  Will Tristan make a full recovery? Do the doctors have any kind of long term projection? There is no long term projection. Cordarone free sample As long as he’s still doing better, cordarone free sample no one can tell how far he’ll go. Cordarone free sample But the fact is, cordarone free sample you can’t just shoot somebody in the head and then take it back. Cordarone free sample Dead brain tissue stays dead, cordarone free sample but the human mind can learn to compensate. The most common metaphor I’ve heard to describe brain injury rehabilitation is this: You’re traveling down the road and the highway is blocked. Cordarone free sample The question is: can you find a way to get to where you’re going using the back roads? People who are successful at brain injury rehabilitation form new pathways and find them. When do you think he will be ready to come home? This is also the question that Tristan asks all the time. Cordarone free sample We expect to fly back in to California some time in the summer of 2010. Tristan will move in with his parents and live with them in their small rural town. Cordarone free sample He will continue his rehabilitation on an out-patient basis from there. Cordarone free sample We plan to also set up a satellite home for him in the Bay Area and move back and forth. My hope is that friends and family will accept Tristan for his abilities and disabilities, cordarone free sample and find ways to welcome him back home. For anyone inspired, cordarone free sample there will be a lot of work to do. We are accepting monetary donations through this website. Cordarone free sample Also, cordarone free sample we’re starting a Welcome Tristan listserve for logistical coordination of accessibility projects and bright ideas. Cordarone free sample To subscribe send a blank email to