Happy Thoughts, Por Favor

Please keep my friend Holly Hillgardner in your thoughts. She is one of the sweetest people I know- young, energetic, full of life, always smiling and best friends with a lot of my close friends, a good member of the community, a yoga instructor who really gets engaged with the students,, and a solid member of the community. She is only in her 30’s and had an aneurysm today and will have emergency surgery tomorrow morning at 8 am.

Happy thoughts, Holly. Pull through, god damnit, please pull through.


I’m counting on you guys to help her pull through. She’s best friends with my buddy Brooke Deal, and she’s just an effervescent fun person with loads of energy, big smiles. We have a small circle of friends around this age who hang out a lot, and she is in this circle, and I am actually kind of distraught at the moment.

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85 replies
  1. 1
    Elizabelle says:

    In my thoughts. Please keep us posted. I hope that her being young, in shape, and enthusiastic helps in pulling her through.

  2. 2
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    You got ’em.

    ETA: She is quite lovely. Joy seems to radiate from her in that pic.

  3. 3
    Aaron says:

    Best vibes sent.

  4. 4
    srv says:

    Ugh, so young.

    Beaming happy thoughts from Vancouver.

  5. 5
    princess leia says:

    Peace and good to her, the medical folks, and to all her friends and loved ones.

  6. 6
    Scamp Dog says:

    Ouch! That’s genuinely bad news. I hope this works out well. I’ll be thinking good thoughts.

  7. 7
    Ash Can says:

    Seconding Elizabelle’s hopes that Holly’s youth and health stack the deck in her favor. Here’s wishing her a smooth surgery and speedy and full recovery.

  8. 8
    Sandia Blanca says:

    Just sent up a prayer for Holly and the people who will perform her surgery.

  9. 9
    Sphex says:

    Lotsa positive thoughts headed her way, and yours.

  10. 10
    The Very Revered Crimson Fire of Compassion says:

    The Chanupa (intercessory prayer instrument in my tradition) goes up in 5, 4, 3 . . .

  11. 11
    brendancalling says:

    My thoughts are with you, Holly Hillgardner!

  12. 12
    The Dangerman says:

    I know someone that had an aneurysm a couple years ago and is back at work (with reduced hours) so there is hope. Prayers/Thoughts/Wishes/Candles, etc.

  13. 13
    David Conlay says:

    Sending all the good thoughts to her and to you, John. I’m sure you could use some too.

  14. 14
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    The very best to Holly, her family, and friends. She has an abundance of white light and good thoughts coming her way.

    And yes, she is beautiful and looks like someone who has energy to spare, and I am positive that energy will serve her well as she goes through this surgery and recovery. Please keep us updated, JG.

  15. 15
    JoyfulA says:

    Joe Biden had an aneurysm and became vice president. You can do it, Holly!

  16. 16
    jl says:

    Holly, her family and friends will be in my thoughts and prayers.
    She looks like a very warm and cheerful person. I can see why those who know her would be very distraught.

    Keep cool, Mr. Cole, if only for her sake, and please keep us posted.

  17. 17
    Elizabelle says:

    Out of curiosity: why the delay in performing the surgery?

    And very good to know that people survive and even thrive after these.

    Holly too, please.

  18. 18
    Tomolitics says:

    Life can be profoundly unfair but here’s hoping she pulls through. Her youth and fitness must give her an advantage, dammit.

  19. 19
    A Humble Lurker says:

    Get well soon, Holly.

  20. 20
    MomSense says:

    Sending prayers and good thoughts and healing energy to Holly!!

  21. 21
    dp says:

    My word, best thoughts and hopes for her.

  22. 22
    Lizzy L says:

    Candle lit; prayers said.

  23. 23
    jl says:

    @Elizabelle: I’m not a doctor, but I think aneurysm can mean either a bulge in a blood vessel, or that bulge bursting. If they are waiting, it may still be in bulge stage, and the medical team is scoping things out before surgery.

    I’d like to hear a doctor explain a little bit about it, in general, if one comes by.

  24. 24
    Kristine says:

    Good thoughts headed Holly’s way.

  25. 25
    The Dangerman says:

    Reminded me of my yoga instructor so I looked her up; an interdisciplinary academic, a person that has followed as similar path as my own (I’ve confessed to my Christian and Buddhist tendencies here previously). Also looked up aneurysm and there’s more than hope, lots of people have great lives after an aneurysm. My known recovery was mid-50’s when he had his event so her age/energy is very much in her favor.

  26. 26
    greennotGreen says:

    This happened a couple of years ago to a friend of mine. I don’t think I realized till much later how precarious his situation was. Luckily, he not only survived but has no neurological deficits (other than being a wild man, but he was a wild man going into it.) I hope your friend has an equally good outcome.

  27. 27
    PurpleGirl says:

    Sending good thoughts her way, to her family and friends, and to you JC.

    Please keep us updated with her status.

    (May I ask, was is a cerebral aneurysm?)

  28. 28
    Felonius Monk says:

    Best wishes to Holly for a rapid recovery.

  29. 29
    Ruckus says:

    All the hope we can send.
    Youth and vigor are in her favor. Tell you friend that lots are pulling for her.

  30. 30
    Garbo says:

    We’re pulling for you, Holly. What a lovely picture. Captures her just as you described.

  31. 31
    TaMara (BHF) says:

    Lots of healing light and prayers sent, to her and to you. Hugs big guy.

  32. 32
    a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q) says:

    Good thoughts from here for Holly, her friends, and her family, Best wishes sent for an uneventful procedure and full and speedy recovery. Cole, remember to breathe. It’s easy to hold our breath and/or breathe shallowly when we are distraught.

  33. 33
    Chris says:

    Prayer inbound. Keep us posted, plz.

    ETA: for you and all her loved ones as well as her.

  34. 34
    Garbo says:

    Hey John, here’s a thought. Her people will be spending an anxious morning at the hospital waiting for news. Maybe you can channel your worry into a care basket for them of good coffee in a thermos, some pastries, your ipad, whatever might make the time pass more quickly.

  35. 35
    Howard Beale IV says:

    May the Masters of the Age channel their baraka to Holly.

  36. 36
    RobertDSC-Power Mac G5 Dual says:

    Sending good thoughts her way from LA.

  37. 37
    Laertes says:

    My thoughts are with her and those who know & love her.

  38. 38
    elftx says:

    I hope all goes well for her and your worries fade.

  39. 39
    Lokahi says:

    Surrounding her with light, love, and aloha.

  40. 40
    satby says:

    Best wishes for a speedy recovery to Holly.

  41. 41
    Karen in GA says:

    Sending thoughts of healing and strength to Holly.

    (Re aneurysms, two words: Bill Berry.)

  42. 42
    rikyrah says:

    Prayers and positive thoughts for your friend.

  43. 43
    jibeaux says:

    The only person I know who had an aneurysm just gave birth to her second baby girl, who is about the most beautiful newborn I’ve ever seen. May Holly’s path be as good or better. Love.

  44. 44
    Violet says:

    Sending healing thoughts her way. She’s so radiant in that photograph. We need more of that in our world. Sending good thoughts for a successful surgery and swift recovery.

  45. 45
    Shirt says:

    “And in the end, the love you take Is equal to the love you make”

    And, you have an abundance. It will see both of you through this.

  46. 46
    opiejeanne says:

    Prayers said.

    Lost a distant cousin and a shirttail relative to this, both at young ages and both had children. The primary problem in both cases was that they lived too far from emergency care, one deep in the Ozarks.

  47. 47
    aimai says:

    Thinking of you and of Holly tonight, John, and all morning too to get through the surgery.

  48. 48
    lurker dean says:

    good thoughts and wishes for holly!

  49. 49
    MvR says:

    Best thoughts sent your and her way.

  50. 50
    Cephalus Max says:

    Sending good vibes from North Cackalacky.

    That’s a nice pic, btw. If you took that your photography skills are definitely improving.

  51. 51
    Lyrebird says:

    Just sang a mi shebeirach for her… ditto on the good wishes for her medical team & her recovery!

  52. 52
    SiubhanDuinne says:


    mi shebeirach

    Lovely, holistic, all-encompassing prayer.

  53. 53
    Seanly says:

    I feel for your friend, John. My mother had an aneurysm a couple of years ago. They filled the pocket with a platinum filament. She has some lingering effects – the bubble in the vein was near her optic nerve so she has terrible double vision. Other than that though she is doing pretty well.

  54. 54
    ruemara says:

    prayers and blessings to her. sleepy ones, but effective,

  55. 55
    JCT says:

    We’ve got your back, Holly – healing thoughts on their way.

    Hang in John, getting to a hospital alive is a big part of the battle – a good start to a hopefully good outcome.

  56. 56
    Beeb says:

    Warm healing thoughts headed her way.

  57. 57
    Mandarama says:

    Sending prayers and good thoughts to Holly. Yogis are special, wonderful people.

  58. 58
    Scott Alloway says:

    Good health and kind thoughts, Holly.

  59. 59
    Genine says:

    Sending healing vibes her way.

  60. 60
    LanceThruster says:

    The best mojo sent from Thruster I can muster.

  61. 61
    Mnemosyne says:

    Good luck and happy thoughts. As others have said, her age and health status are in her favor, so hopefully all will go well tomorrow.

  62. 62
    CaseyL says:

    That’s a great picture of her. Most positive and hopeful of thoughts heading your and her way. Please keep us posted.

  63. 63
    ChristianPinko says:

    Sending good thoughts.

  64. 64
    Shibby says:

    Since some of you (jl) wanted to know a bit more about what an aneurysm is I thought I might offer my services. I am a 3rd year neurology resident and cerebral aneurysms are something we see quite often. (I am assuming it’s cerebral, if it’s not then an entirely different set of principles applies).

    Aneurysms are outpouchings of blood vessels. Depending on the size and the shape of the aneurysm as well as how long we expect the person to live (we generally don’t do major invasive elective procedures on 90 year olds) we may offer clipping (where neurosurgery takes off a piece of skull and places a clip around the aneurysm) or coiling (going through the femoral artery in the groin and all the way up to the brain and placing platinum coils to clot off the aneurysm) BEFORE the aneurysm bursts if we find it incidentally.

    In John’s friend’s case she likely had an aneurysm burst by the sound of it. This leads to a diagnosis of aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage which is most common in women 30s-50s (but not a very common disease by itself). SAH (subarchnoid hemorrhage) is a tough disease. Outcomes can be very very variable. The most important predictor of how well people will do is something called the Hunt and Hess score. It is based on how good or bad the patient is clinically when they present.

    If the aneurysm burst, first the doctors will secure the aneurysm using one of the I techniques described above. Afterwards, SAH requires a long long stay in a neurological intensive care unit. Usually about 2 weeks at a minimum. This is because for reasons that aren’t entirely clear patients have a risk of having vasospasm, usually 4-14 days out. This is a spasm of the blood vessels that can lead to strokes. There are many other very serious complications that can occur including hydrocephalus, SIADH, cerebral salt wasting and others. I don’t want to go into all of them but hopefully you have the gist of the disease. Reply below and I will try to answer any questions I can later.

    John you can email me if talking to someone would help or you have general questions. My best wishes for your friend and take it from someone who knows people can survive and do well after this.

  65. 65
    Frivolous says:

    Good fortune and better health and a successful surgery to Holly Hillgardner.

  66. 66
    notoriousJRT says:

    Wishing Holly a successful surgery and full recovery!

  67. 67
    YellowJournalism says:

    You’ve got the last little bit of any positive thoughts I have left for the night.

  68. 68
    Ann Marie says:

    I’m sending positive thoughts Holly’s way — and to you and her friends also. I hope the surgery goes very well.

  69. 69
    Linkmeister says:

    Best wishes to Holly, her family and her friends.

  70. 70
    Betty Cracker says:

    Best wishes and positive vibes to Holly, her family and friends. And thanks to Shibby for the info.

  71. 71
    Gregory says:

    Happy thoughts and best wishes to you and your friend.

  72. 72
    GHayduke (formerly lojasmo) says:

    She’s likely to be fine. Prayers away!

  73. 73
    gogol's wife says:

    Praying for Holly. It can be a successful surgery, so let’s keep a good outcome in mind.

  74. 74
    Sherparick says:

    My thoughts are with Holly and you. Very tough an so unfair.

  75. 75
    Svensker says:

    Sending prayers for Holly and hugs for you and all her friends and family, John

  76. 76
    WaterGirl says:

    Sending good thoughts and prayers for Holly and all involved.

    Cole, if you’re reading this… A friend of mine went through this in his 30s, and he was actually dead for a short bit, so now he celebrates two birthdays.

    One thing he told me that I will always remember: In a situation like that, you need to hold the person’s hand. Even though he was out of it, he said he could feel the life force from the other person when they held his hand. He said it made a huge difference.


  77. 77
    RoonieRoo says:

    Praying in my way for Holly, you and your circle of friends. I will be thinking of her and sending positive energy every day until we get a good update. Love ya Cole.

  78. 78
    Elizabelle says:


    Thank you for the explanations. Shibby, good luck w the rest of your medical training.

    Thinking intensely on Holly this fine spring morning.

  79. 79
    Charity says:

    Said a little prayer for her.

  80. 80
    The Fat Kate Middleton says:

    @Shibby: Thanks so much for this, Shibby. I have a friend who experienced the vasospasm a week or so after her surgery, and has had to deal with those effects since. I did not realize, until I read your comment, that this was associated with women who have surgery for an aneurysm.

    Thinking of Holly, with deepest wishes that she continues a life filled with joy and blessings. Please keep us updated, John.

  81. 81
    Jacquie says:

    @WaterGirl: My stepfather was in an induced coma last year, and he said something very similar about the hand-holding.

    John, I’m very sorry to hear about Holly, and sending all the good will/good vibes/good karma that I possess her way (and yours).

  82. 82
    kc says:

    Oh my gosh, so young. I’ll keep her in my thoughts.

  83. 83
    Irony Abounds says:

    I’ll add her to my list of young folks who have run into terrible problems this year (2014 just sucks big time). The 29 yr old receptionist at our office collapsed, fell into a coma and never recovered, dying a week later. The 25 yr old son of one of our secretaries has been diagnosed with Stage 2 Hodgkin’s. A 26 yr old son of a college classmate of mine was in a severe car accident and has been hospitalized with server brain injuries for almost two months. And finally, my daughter had to have a total thyroidectomy as a result of a large nodule that turned out to be malignant. It’s bad enough when things happen to older people, but when young people have to go through all this stuff, it is so depressing and unfair.

  84. 84
    everbluegreen says:

    All the prayers, good wishes, and hope to Holly and those who care about her.

  85. 85
    EJ says:

    I had one of those last year, at age 40. They come totally out of the blue – no warning. Fortunately I had good luck and a fantastic neurosurgeon and recovered completely – hopefully she’ll do the same. Being <50 and otherwise healthy helps, according to the folks who treated me.

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