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Update – Mandy Nagy 3 years later

Update – Mandy Nagy 3 years later

“It is a sad situation but she is comfortable and hopefully content. It’s not a very good life, but it is life.”

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This time of year is always very painful for our Legal Insurrection family.

Three years ago our beloved writer and Editor-to-be Mandy Nagy (aka Liberty Chick) suffered a catastrophic stroke in her mid-40s.

Readers may recall that before joining Legal Insurrection, Mandy had been Andrew Breitbart’s key researcher and a writer for Breitbart News.

But Mandy was so much more than a writer and editor. She was a key part of the movement.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then take a look at our 2013 post about the death of Parker “Chip” Gerdes, and Mandy’s memory of him:

There are so many great stories I could tell about Chip Gerdes, but not many I could tell publicly.  It’s true that he was a behind-the-scenes guy.  He was always getting his fingers into something, but always doing so with humor and a light-hearted spirit.

I first met Chip several years ago, when he decided to come out to the East Coast for one of the big labor union marches in NYC.  I’d already been planning on attending to cover it as a blogger.  But as Chip was wont to do, he preferred to make covering the event a little more fun.  I won’t go into all the details (there were no dirty tricks, though) – I’ll only say that it involved waving a Gadsen flag as parade marchers passed by.

The ensuing discussions from the crowd were remarkably civil and equally fascinating and enlightening.  I joined Chip in a discussion with a real-life communist academic who tried in earnest to convince us that the world be a much better place – if only the US would just submit to communism, it would work.  Really, it would.

Last year when our dear friend Andrew Breitbart passed away, I was in Chicago at the time.  I’ll never forget the early morning phone call I received from Chip.  “I don’t want to be alone today,” he said.  “Please come be with me.  Let’s get the gang together.”  And that we did.

I recall spending that entire day and evening with Chip and several of our other friends, sharing stories about Andrew and trying to keep ourselves distracted.  It was one of the most painful days of my life, yet oddly, also one of the most enjoyable.  We were surrounded by friends and love, and I often reflect on that day and wonder how I would have gotten through it without Chip and our friends there.

But that was Chip.  On the one hand, he was a jokester and a loud, boisterous personality – to the point that you sometimes wanted to shake him.  Yet at the same time, he was a big teddy bear that would engulf you in a hug when you needed it most.  He was a friend that I am thankful to have had in my life, albeit for far too short a time.

Chip’s passing has reminded me of one very important thing:  keep the ones you love in life close to you and remember to tell them how important they are to you.  You never know if you’ll have that chance to do so tomorrow.

Rest in peace, happy warrior.

Mandy’s first post for us was March 21, 2013, and her last post was September 4, 2014, a Thursday. The following Monday, September 8, Mandy was to take over as Editor of Legal Insurrection, joining us full time to run the show. Mandy would have been the first person in that position, a signal of the confidence I had in her abilities and trustworthiness.

But it was not to be. On Sunday, September 7, 2014, I received an email from Mandy’s mother asking me to call her and letting me know that on Saturday, September 6, Mandy had suffered a massive stroke and had undergone surgery.

With Mandy’s mother’s permission, I posted about the situation, Pray for Mandy Nagy. At that post you can track the outpouring of affection for Mandy as well as a chronicle of her condition and frequent updates from her mother.

https://twitter.com/HatingBreitbart/status/508757189805080576

We promised to keep Mandy’s seat warm for her to return whenever she could and in whatever capacity she could:

We’re praying for Mandy, and keeping her seat at Legal Insurrection warm awaiting her return, however long it takes.

When Mandy was in the hospital immediately after the stroke, I visited her and had a chance to meet Mandy’s Mom Ginny and her step-father Victor. They are wonderful people who have had to deal with a difficult situation.

But one year after her stroke, it was obvious that was never going to happen. My post, Mandy Nagy – One year later, conveyed a message from Mandy’s mother, which read in part:

In the first few months she went from being unconscious to opening her eyes every now and then. She was missing the left side of her skull for four months, was deaf and blind on her right side and had a feeding tube for several months. She was bedridden for two months.

After about six months of rehab she has recovered enough to walk small distances by herself with a cane but no other assistance. She is still paralyzed partially on her right side. She has no use of her right arm, but her right leg is functioning enough to walk a little. She spends much of the day in a wheelchair. She seems to be able to hear and see again on her right side. Her speech has improved slightly. She can say a few words and I am teaching her to speak in sentences.

I have tried to get her interested in using the internet and email again, but have been unsuccessful.

She is very slowly learning to do simple everyday tasks on her own. Over the year she has had to learn how to do things we learn as children such as using utensils to eat or brush teeth.

I have to read print to her since she says she only recognizes and knows the meaning of some words. However, she understands most of what I am saying to her. She has started to do things without my telling her to do them such as letting the dogs out the door. Months ago she wouldn’t have thought about taking the initiative to do that.

Her recovery continues to be a long, slow difficult process. Her life has changed and she seems to have accepted that. I believe it would be safe enough and she is now ready to live more independently in her own home. I am working on finding her a place to live and making arrangements for someone to take over my duties. I knew when she came here to live with me that it was going to be life changing for her, my husband and me.

Mandy, Victor and I are very grateful to all of the people who have donated and sent good wishes over the past year. It’s incredible to me that she knows so many people that care.

Last year I received another update from Mandy’s mom, Update: Mandy Nagy two years later:

Mandy still needs help with everything: bathing, dressing, walking, cooking,  etc. She can only speak and read a few words.  She mainly identifies things by pictures.  She wears a brace on her right leg and needs spotting while walking short distances.  Her right arm is paralyzed and her right leg is partially paralyzed. She is very disabled.  I do my best to take care of her needs.  She seems content and not depressed.

I recently reached out to Mandy’s mom again, and received another update:

It’s been three years and a very challenging time for Mandy, Victor and me. Her situation, for now, is stable.

Her condition has stayed the same for the past year. She can walk very slowly for short distances with a cane. She has no use of her right arm and very little of her right leg. She needs assistance everyday with bathing, dressing, cleaning and meal preparation.

She cannot form words except for no, hi, okay and a few other words. She can’t read and doesn’t understand things she should.

People she should know, she doesn’t unless I show her a picture of them. She doesn’t understand instructions. I gave her a brush to use in the shower and she didn’t know what it was or what to do with it. Even after I showed her how to use it, she just stared at it confused.

So, this is where we are. It is a sad situation but she is comfortable and hopefully content. It’s not a very good life, but it is life.

My message back to Mandy’s Mom:

Thank you for the update. I guess things could be worse, as least she’s stable. If she remembers me or is able to remember something about the website, please send her our love.

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Comments

… prayers to her, her mother & family… never give up hope!

It is not often that I shed tears these days, especially for those that I have never met, but today reading this post I feel no shame in my tears.

It is so sad to see such a dynamic, intelligent, and vibrant person struck down when they have not even reached the pinnacle of what they could achieve is a cause for sadness.

To those that know and care for Mandy, you have my prayers and thoughts, no one knows more what was lost than you. It is not easy taking care of someone who is debilitated but you will receive the riches of heaven for your love and dedication.

Know that, even if she can not tell you, Mandy does feel your love. I have seen many situations like this in my 20+ years of nursing and I pray that you will keep hope alive, grab all the happiness that you can, and live everyday to it fullest.

I know that I speak for many here at LI that even though we can’t stand right next to you we do stand with you in spirit. God Bless you all.

Gremlin1974

Will continue to keep Mandy in my prayers.

Prayers for Mandy – always

There is a quiet courage in continuing on with life when menial tasks that the rest of us take for granted become complex, confusing, and frustrating.

Please tell her mother that those of us reading this see that courage in her daughter and her mother’s love for standing by her side as difficult as this may be.

Hold on to the Mandy that was. Cherish the Mandy that is. Pray for the Mandy that will be.

Please keep us updated. I know the struggles are private, but the updates are appreciated even if the progress is geologically slow.

My thoughts tonight are with Mandy and her caregivers. Bless them all. Better times for them.

Upon hearing this latest update, words fail me.
Tears, however, do not.

I think about her from time to time as I daily read this blog and I wonder how she’s doing. I so wish the news was better.

Gremlin1974 said it best for me, too.

Never far from our thoughts.

Faith manages.

God has not promised
Skies always blue, or
flower-strewn pathways
all our lives through.

God has not promised
sun without rain,
or joy without sorrow,
or peace without pain.

But God has promised,
strength for the day,
rest for the labor,
light for the way.

Grace for the trials,
help from above,
Unfailing sympathy,
Undying love.

My grandparents had a young family during the Depression, and food was sometimes in short supply. They held fast, and made it through. This was one of several poems and stories I found around their house when I was a young child.

I will pray for Mandy, and for her parents, too. But I am going to pray for a full healing. When I was pregnant with my first son, I had a car wreck, and got my bell rung. While I was recovering, my mind was running an endless loop, all with the same questions: I would have a terrible feeling that something bad had happened. I asked “Am I pregnant? How’s the baby?” The answers were reassuring: “your’re pregnant, the baby is fine, and I would start crying and say “Thank God.” Then a few minutes later, I would start again, same questions, same sequence.

So, Mandy’s confusion and lack of retention are familiar to me, and not necessarily a sign of permanent lack of function. I am going to ask for a full healing. Why not? We are asking God, after all.

I hope Mandy’s mom will keep talking to her. Keep telling her over and over what is around her, and that she is loved. Talk about everything, and nothing. Just keep talking to her.

OK, I’ll be the jerk who brings it up. There sure are a lot of people associated with Breitbart who have either died “unexpectedly” or been incapacitated at a young age. Besides Andrew Breitbart himself, Chip Gerdes, and Mandy Nagy, there was also Mike Flynn who passed away at age 49. Flynn headed up the explosive Acorn video series in 2009. I would be real worried if I were Steve Bannon.

Sorry to hear that it’s still rough going for Mandy. She’s such a sweet, wonderful person. She was always friendly and helpful to me when I was writing for Breitbart and gave me lots of advice and recommendations on how to do research. We worked on a couple items going after Students for Justice in Palestine together as well. It was a real honor.

Strokes are among the most tragic events. When my step-father had one I tried to help him establish outward communication through hand movements to indicate yes and no to see if there was anyway for him to express himself. It was a disappointment when he was not able to do so. He struggled to make his body move but could not. We knew that he could understand us by facial expressions but could not initiate outward responses. Always continue to engage a stroke victim with affection, stimulation and keep them informed. They are still there.

I really miss Mandy and pray for her every day. Mandy was very kind to me personally and she has a special place of honor on my Diskos at every Divine Liturgy I celebrate.

I want to thank you very much for the update. I’m so sorry that the news isn’t better. It’s a very very sad situation, and my heart goes out to Mandy and her loving and devoted family.

I suffered a stroke myself about a year and a half ago. I was very lucky in that my biggest loss was the ability to walk and muscle strength. I learned how to walk again (Drake Hospital, part of the University of Cincinnati group; one of the best places to receive therapy), but still can’t lift very much, nor do I multi-task as well as I used to. Some days when I’m feeling shaky I use a cane, but most days not.

…Then I read about someone like this wonderful young woman and I realize how truly fortunate I have been. My prayers to her and her family.

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