Jack Herer: A Man Well-Loved is Saved Again
Bonnie King Salem-News.com
The Hemperor is slowly improving, with constant TLC the best medicine.
Jack Herer is alert and communicating with family and friends. Here, he is recovering from oral thrush, and his mouth is dry and irritated. 11/09
(EUGENE, Ore.) – For over 30 years, Jack Herer has been the inexhaustible guru of the hemp movement. Many people have expressed their deep concern for Jack’s well-being since his heart attack in mid-September, at an Oregon hemp festival.
Sunday night, Jack Herer was taken by ambulance to the hospital in Eugene from the rehabilitation center where he has been receiving care. His breathing became more distressed throughout the afternoon, and finally he was rushed to the Emergency Room.
He was diagnosed with bronchitis, and given antibiotics to overcome the illness. Such prevention may not have been possible just a few days ago, when a "Do Not Transport" order was in effect. Because of a recent change in Jack’s care, they were able to get him appropriate treatment, which could literally have saved his life.
More good news, Jack has been responding well to Speech, Physical and Occupational therapy treatments administered at the care center where he’s residing in Eugene, Oregon. He is coherent. His speech is beginning to come back. He has no IV’s, no breathing tube, and though he has a feeding tube, they expect to remove it as soon as this week.
The bad news, is the breakdown within the ranks of Jack’s supporters. While Jack works to heal and rehabiitate, the world outside his room is swirling with controversy.
Much has been said as of late regarding the recent change of Jack’s care management, and the subject has seemingly taken on a life of its own. Jeannie Herer and others are unhappy with the new decision by the care center to acknowledge a Power of Attorney that moves authority of Jack’s care to Joy Graves and Chuck Jacobs.
Avamere Riverpark is a reputable facility providing nursing care and physical rehabilitation for Jack. Nurses and rehab therapists are working closely with him and the medical staff, providing a personalized treatment program for Jack.
Jack Herer in rehab
Before the Storm
Chuck Jacobs has been Jack’s right hand man for three years. As driver/assistant and friend, he worked, lived, and traveled with Jack and the team. He just returned from a European tour with hemp oil innovator Rick Simpson, standing in for Jack. Jack depended on Chuck.
Joy Graves is Jack’s assistant and long time friend. Working shoulder to shoulder at the hemp festivals through the summer, she was a strong, trustworthy staple of the team.
In early summer, Jeannie and Jack went their separate ways. Not surprisingly, they are both overwrought with obligations and a packed schedule, and she hoped to inspire Jack to take it easy. She says she believed they would reunite at the end of the season. Jack had Jeannie’s name taken off his lease in July. By many accounts, they were separated.
From his house, Jack worked on his new book and prepped for the festivals. Eve Lentz was a writer-in-residence for some time, editing the long-awaited mushroom book, which is still a work in progress. Jack was continuously surrounded by friends, new and old, confidants and professional partners.
According to friends, he was outspoken, as usual, and made it known that he didn’t plan to leave his house to move with Jeannie, or accept the "take it easy" proposal. He left for the festivals in the NorthWest, an annual tradition for the Jack Herer team.
At noon on September 12th, 2009, the first day of the Portland HempStalk, Jack called a meeting with Chuck, Joy and a notary public. Jack had a Power of Attorney drawn up, and explained that, in addition to other issues, he had concerns about the publication of his upcoming book in case something should happen to him. It was a subject of some contention between he and Jeannie, as she’s recently noted there were some "problems with the book" that he had been working on for over a decade. Chuck and Joy signed the paperwork, and got back to work.
Little did they know, the documents would gain sudden importance, and become the fuel for an underlying flame, ready to ignite.
When Jeannie heard that Jack had been hospitalized in Portland, she flew in and assumed her position as caretaker and wife. And it’s been a tough road to haul. Since his heart attack, Jack has been moved 3 times, had one diabetic episode, and even suffered a fall out of bed.
There have been difficult challenges, difficult decisions, and more than not, long difficult days.
His drive to decriminalize marijuana and bring the value and benefits of the hemp plant into focus has never waned. The people that have joined him on this journey are not just a bunch of followers. They are leaders in their own right, speaking up and putting into action their belief in the future of legal cannabis use, and industrial hemp production in United States.
Chuck and Joy, along with many others, were integral in the successful organization, set up, break down, manning of the booths, travel to and fro, and overall care of Jack throughout the festival season.
Now, seven weeks later, they have taken the reigns of his care again.
DO NOT RESCUSCITATE
Joy Graves was at his bedside last week when she discovered there was a DNR order in Jack’s chart. "Do Not Resuscitate", the nurse explained, means that should Jack have a heart attack, he would not receive CPR, they would not make every effort to save him. They would let him die in peace. "Do Not Transport" was also checked, which means there would be no ambulance ride to the hospital.
The order was a surprise to Joy, and a shock after all the effort to save his life. She inquired as to how it came to be, and how it could be changed. Jeannie Herer had signed the order, so it was up to her to change it. Unsatisfied with that conclusion and in an attempt to ensure Jack’s ability to survive a future health emergency, she revealed that she held Jack’s Power of Attorney.
The care center took some time to deliberate the ramifications of the situation, bringing in their legal team, and determined that the document was legal and binding.
The DNR order was reversed.
"For a person that was extremely displeased that it took so long for CPR to begin at the time of his heart attack, it was baffling as to why Jeannie signed a DNR," Joy Graves said.
"They wanted me to sign a DNR form," Jeannie wrote in a MySpace bulletin. "The doctor explained that if he had another heart attack, he wouldn’t be able to survive it but if I didn’t sign the paper, they would still have to pound on his chest and possibly crack his chest and also shock him. He said that when people die a natural death, endorphins are released that make them more comfortable at the end but not when you do that. So I agreed."
Sunday night, the DNR order reversal may well have saved Jack’s life.
Throughout the evening, Jack’s breathing became more and more distressed, and the rattle in his chest turned to a struggle for air. Medical attention clearly was in order. Because the DNR had been revoked, they were able to get Jack to the Emergency Room at McKenzie-Willamette Medical Center where he was diagnosed with bronchitis.
He received x-rays, a breathing treatment, and a prescription for antibiotics. Without intervention, he would likely have developed pneumonia. He was back in his room and in good spirits Sunday evening, feeling much better.
The DNR would have made the ambulance ride to the ER impossible.
Jack’s Progress Report
Last week, I was told that Jack slept most of the time, day and night. Sometimes he grumbled in his sleep. He had barely spoken, and was so tense that physical therapy seemed a moot point.
Prior to the change of care, Jack was on daily narcotics including Percocet and Oxycodone (every four hours), which have since been nearly discontinued, and are relegated to specific pain relief when necessary. Saturday night, he didn’t need any drugs to sleep well through the night.
He is NOT being given any hemp oil. The care center, driven by federal guidelines, refuses to allow it.
The staff at the care center has been happily surprised at his improved response in all three therapies. So well in fact, that they are increasing it to five days a week.
According to Eve Lentz, he has been singing "You are my Sunshine". "It is hard to hear him, his voice is very light and breathy, but he’s trying," she said.
He has also said a few people’s names, and short sentences like "I love you", "Oh boy", "Oh man", and "Where’s the baby?" referring to his godchild. Seems like rather slow progress, but then again, his mouth has really been hurting.
Jack has been recovering from oral thrush, a painful mouth infection that often affects those with a weakened immune system. This caused him to be unable to swallow easily, and it was necessary to limit his water intake, for risk of pneumonia.
Joy was corrected when she gave him water one day, and the next day another old friend was stopped from giving him a drink several times. After a brief argument, she was asked to leave by the care center, not due to an order by Joy, which has been inferred.
This week they will begin regular eating and drinking, and hopefully remove the feeding tube.
Jack has been surrounded by his loved ones. His children have been with him often, and Jeannie, now understood to be Jack’s estranged wife, has been allowed in to see him though her authority has been circumvented.
Because of the negative publicity, specifically via online networking sites, the facility has allegedly received threats since the change in his caregivers, and even has fielded calls from imposters of family members and others. This could have interrupted his care, requiring him to be moved yet another time. Fortunately for Jack, that is not the case.
One More Thing
Rumors abound, most have so little merit that it insults the intelligence of the reader to be bothered with them. However, one such claim regarding alleged drug use by Jack at the festivals requires attention.
No one would disagree that a man with his health history should not consider such things, but there is no evidence to back up the charge that has become nearly viral online. There was a drug screen soon after Jack was taken to the hospital initially, and we are told that it revealed THC and nothing else.
Where Does He Go From Here?
The frustration, fear and confusion felt by so many of Jack’s friends is not to be understated. This is a sensitive, emotional subject. Keeping the faith is something they take to heart, and love Jack they do. All the people involved seem to sincerely want what’s best for him, and with time will likely find level ground with one another.
But what’s really important here isn’t all of that, it’s JACK. He still has a long, climb ahead, and he’s showing real progress. He’s working hard.
Several groups and organizations including the THCF in Portland and Jim Matthieson of the Herbivores in Seattle have expressed their intentions to host benefits to help offset the costs of Jack’s care, which is mounting.
By all accounts, Jack loves his home in California where he has lived for several years. Should Jack continue improving at the rate he is, he will be home again, watching the sunset from his porch, pondering his next adventure, in good time. Whether or not he is able to resume his previous lifestyle completely, he well may return to it.
Though his home was nearly given up for lack of finances, some quick minded friends made sure that didn’t happen. Efforts have been successful in keeping Jack’s house, and it waits for his homecoming.
Be it known: The Hemperor Shall Return.
Bonnie King has been with Salem-News.com since August ’04, when she became Publisher. Bonnie has served in a number of positions in the broadcast industry; TV Production Manager at KVWB (Las Vegas WB) and Producer/Director for the TV series "Hot Wheels in Las Vegas", posts as TV Promotion Director for KYMA (NBC), and KFBT (Ind.), Asst. Marketing Director (SUPERSHOPPER MAGAZINE), Director/Co-Host (Coast Entertainment Show), Radio Promotion Director (KBCH/KCRF), and Newspapers In Education/Circulation Sales Manager (STATESMAN JOURNAL NEWSPAPER). Bonnie has a depth of understanding that reaches further than just behind the scenes, and that thoroughness is demonstrated in the perseverance to correctly present each story with the wit and wisdom necessary to compel and captivate viewers.