The Gift of Time

There was this whole story I was concocting in my head about how to lead you to the updated news.  Perhaps if I had cried less in the last month I could muster the enthusiasm and passion I normally feel, but since I’ve had to put my big girl panties on then I’m going to ask you to put yours on, too, so I can get right to it.

The Good News

Hook and I signed off on a gift to St. Edward’s University for the Dr. Allan W. Hook Endowed Wild Basin Creative Research Fund.  After much discHDU_waspmanussion on how to provide a legacy for Allan’s lifelong work with science and education, and to highlight the gem known as the Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve, we created this endowment with an initial gift of $125,000 dollars.

We felt wowed by the idea, the planning of it, and now the future of the endowment.  In a separate blog post, I’ll share more details.  For now, feel wowed with us.

The Bad News

For all the good wishes we have desperately hung onto, our positive thinking wasn’t enough to blink back the cancer from wherever it came from.   Was it the surgery?  Was it the lack of good guidance?  Or, was this how it was always going to end up?

Throughout this past year, Hook and I have believed he would recover and that he’d beat every statistic on the pancreatic cancer books.  We believed we were getting on a plane in August for Australia, and we believed we’d have a year like no other.  Well, we did have a year like no other, and for all the trials of the last 12 months, I know when to be thankful for life’s simpler plans.

Hook said, “Tell them Australia is still a possibility just not in 2013.”  For me, I can’t imagine anything more unimportant, more insignificant than whether we go anywhere.  My home is where Allan is; he is my adventure.  My father, Lou, always said, “Make do with what you have,” and so we will.

Whatever reconciliation the oncologist and I had from the last post is gone, gone, gone.  As of mid-May, Allan went back on chemo but with a different treatment.  The oncologist’s analysis:

  • Without chemo treatments:  ~ two months.
  • With chemo treatments:  up to 14 months.

“You’re now in stage 4” was his opener.

If you had asked me two weeks ago about our status, I would have blurted out the answer amidst a shower of tears and nose blowing.  Today I have a little more self-control.   Yesterday, I wrote to a friend that I can pray every day and I do, and I can keep believing in miracles and I will, but I see what no one else does including the doctors and I don’t have the luxury of denial.

But even knowing what we know doesn’t mean we give up.   We’ve decided that knowing what we know is its own gift.  There may or may not be a clock.  This estimate of months is guesswork at best.  All I have to do is re-read the story about John Betak who was given the “six months, get your affairs in order” pancreatic cancer talk but who is still alive today after eight years.

Then there’s the video of David, the pancreatic cancer survivor, who was told by his doctor to cash out his 401k and live it up because he only had six months.  That was more than five years ago.   David says he’s poor now but alive.

What’s that cliche:  Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.  I never liked that saying.  Instead, I’m going to pray for a miracle, set aside time for Hook and me to write, and make plans we should have had in place anyway.

More Good News

On June 1st, Allan will officially begin his long-awaited, well-earned, 12-month sabbatical.  A “sabbatical” to some might conjure up images of goofing off or beaching it.   For a scientist like Hook and with his obligation to the university, he’ll use this year to conduct uninterrupted, focused research.   Allan easily has enough research projects to last longer than a year, but he has some specific works (what he considers his “life’s work”) he is determined to finish.

That Allan will have this year to do what he loves the most is an enormous gift from the universe.

Turning a Complaint Into a Compliment

As part of my Hook The Talent career management business, I host two different events every month.  One is an Ask The Coach forum where I invite in a local coach, usually a career coach, to do a Q&A over coffee with an intimate group of seven career changers.

Not intending to be in need of a Wellness Coach, I nonetheless scheduled one onto the events calendar thinking others might be in need.  Turns out, I was the one who benefited the most from Wellness Coach, Lauryn Sires, who comes from a science background but now specializes in coaching cancer fighters and survivors.   Her advice to the forum when dealing with a health issue for yourself or someone you love:

“When you feel yourself getting ready to complain, try complimenting someone or something instead.”  Lauryn said three things would happen:

  • You’ll catch how often you complain.
  • You’ll see the good/positive in a person/situation.
  •  You’ll start to express more gratitude for what you do have versus what you don’t.

I think the key is that the compliment has to be genuine. If you don’t really believe it, you’ll remain frustrated plus you’ll be insincere.  (My thought, not Lauryn’s.)

I struggled with this one relative to Hook’s oncologist.  I really did.  But I dug deep and came up with an authentic, deeply-felt compliment:

Let us all thank the universe for those individuals who consciously choose to become oncologists and cancer nurses and grief counselors.   These jobs see more death and dying than the average person could ever bear.  Some of these individuals are angels walking this earth, guiding us, loving us, caring for us in a way no other could or would want to.

Hook and I have tomorrow and the next day and the day after that and for now we will make do with what we have.  We will be thankful for the gift of time however much of it we receive. 

God bless you all for sticking with our story.

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No Matter What

HDU_PopeyeWhen I wrote Anything is Possible it was with two goals in mind.   One was to infuriate my husband into action.  Score:  0.5.   I erroneously made the assumption people would pick up the phone or email him and ask Why did she write that? What’s going on? Or better, Why is your head up your ass?

The second goal was meant to rope in some serious prayers for Hook.  Score:  1.0

Turns out anything really is possible and sometimes in a way even I could not have predicted.  The heavens opened up and sun shone through with a big Hallelujah.  Actually, it rained in Austin which was a glorious sight all on its own in our sun-beatened city, but the more improbable happened nonetheless:  The oncologist and I stumbled into agreement on three things during last week’s appointment:

  • No more chemo for now.
  • The focus is on nutrition and getting weight back on Hook.
  • We’re not at death’s door yet.

Did Hook’s god of reason, the oncologist, temporarily lose his mind?  Who knows and I don’t care.

The oncologist struggled not to roll his eyes at my insistence that the supplements Allan took pre-surgery were of any value then or are of any value today.   Now that I think about it, Hook probably did roll his eyes.  The stubbornness of these two men makes me want to inject chemo into myself and I would if it weren’t for the obvious:

  • Pre-surgery:  Hook gulped down supplements daily.   Had zero side effects from chemo and radiation for an entire six months.  Gained 10 pounds during chemo.  Note from Editor:  Hook gained a total of 20 lbs — 10 extra plus the original 10 he’d lost which was our first indicator that something was amiss.
  • Post-surgery:   Hook was off all supplements.  Has struggled to maintain enough weight that would allow him to withstand more than two injections of chemo.  Has consistently lost 1-2 pounds a week, the worse of the weight loss occurring directly after each chemo injection.

It would be easy to assume the downward spiral of Hook’s system was due to the reconstruction of his insides except things function fine albeit differently.

Do I think supplements can cure cancer?  No, I’m not insane just desperate.  And I don’t think the whey protein that I bought at the health store is going to remove the microscopic cancer cells that keep showing up in his blood count either.  But none of us have to be scientists or medical doctors to know that nutrition makes a difference when you’re raping the body of nutrients and stripping the lining of important organs and cavities.  Have we all forgotten, I’m strong to the finish ’cause I eats me spinach”?

A second opinion on this from another oncologist or even a nutritionist wouldn’t hurt.  But when I said anything is possible, it apparently didn’t include Hook agreeing to a second opinion of any kind.

Lots of Opinions but no Second Opinion

Someone, somewhere in the world just screamed out loud, He’s never gotten a second opinion???? No and if I were a recovering heroin addict, I’d definitely be shooting up as I type.  Instead I’m quoting Popeye.  Why do you think I wrote what I wrote in the last blog?

Hook “trusts” his oncologist while I ask myself daily why would anyone ever trust any doctor for anything.  They’re only human.  They’re only supposed to be advisers of health with final decisions decided by the individual and their family.   Example:  When a doctor continues to advise to use Miralax and Milk-of-Magnesia to alleviate certain issues, it is okay for a spouse to silently curse this advice and wonder when Disney started handing out M.D.s and instead incorporate more natural fiber into the diet by way of grains and nuts and berries.  Bingo!  Problem solved.  And I didn’t even have to take out a student loan.

Second Line of Defense

If a healthy body and a healthy mind are the first line of defense, prayer is the second.  God is not going to pull the wagon all by Himself and why should He.  Sometimes I envision the lips of our Lord poking out from a blue sky with a militant whisper, “You’re either with me or you’re against me.”  And of course it’s Popeye’s voice which sounds a lot like an upset Dick Cheney which is weird, right?  With Hook, I must lead with the tangible of nutrition, something that can be measured in grams and ounces before I introduce anything else.

Those not accustomed to prayer think prayer is for God.  It’s not.  Prayer is for the individual asking, sometimes on behalf of someone else, sometimes only for you.   I feel confident enough to promise atheists and agnostics that you won’t lose your anti-religion membership card by saying a simple prayer.  Pray to the flowers, the bugs, your motorcycle!  Pray to nothing but pray for Hook.  At worst, you’ll feel stupid or think, This is stupid, but you won’t actually become stupid.   You have nothing to lose while Hook has everything to lose.

Is My Begging Working?

The power of the heart and the mind is not something that can be measured.  It cannot even be seen.   In one of Hook’s and my science & data debates, I asked him to “prove” that he loved me, “Show me the data!” I said.  (Okay, I screamed it, but remember I’m desperate.)   I wanted to see research, something that scientists across the world would nod in unison what Hook knew to be of infinite truth in his heart.  “That’s different.” he said.   But it’s not and he knows it’s not, but my ornery husband is resisting the spinach.

One friend, a sorority sister, sent a private note sharing the story of how her husband was at death’s door 16 years ago.  He was given an 8% chance of survival.  At one point, their insurance carrier refused to cover further treatment because his chances were so slim.  The friend told me about an evening in the middle of the worst when her husband caught her in their walk-in closet crying over the magnitude of what they were facing.  They had two small children, 2 and 4 years old, now 19 and soon to be 21.  She didn’t want anyone to see her weeping.  After reading her story and for the rest of that day, I felt less alone.

I have a lot of alone time because I work from home, still I never know when tears will flow.  Actually, they never flow.  They gush out like pressurized water from an unused faucet mostly when I’m taking a shower, something to do with the warm water loosening muscles and with it any resolve I’ve falsely built up with the lone thought, I’m not getting through to him.

Linda Lou put things into perspective in our now weekly call.  “He’s a scientist, Rosebud.  He’s got to absorb each new piece of data the only way he knows how.  You have to give him space to think and decide, and if he decides he’s too tired to keep fighting, then you have to keep quiet and support him.  Can you do that?”

“Okay, I won’t say anything anymore to the oncologist.”

“Noooooo,” Linda Lou said through the phone.  “You stay on top of the oncologist!  Follow your instincts like you’ve been doing because you see what he can’t. But for Hook, Rosebud, you have to support him without saying anything.”

I love Linda Lou.  I trust Linda Lou.  I agreed with Linda Lou.   Then I set up a second opinion appointment with MD Anderson quietly just in case. Now each morning, I place the whey protein and supplement bottles in Hook’s line of vision, but I say nothing.

One friend’s three-year old daughter added “Dr. Hook” to her prayer list last winter.  The friend said, “Sometimes ‘Dr. Hook’ comes after her stuffed animals, but he’s still on the list.” I’m both comforted and inspired at the thought of this little blonde girl, Lily, her tiny hands folded in earnest request praying,  “And please bless Dr. Hook,” for a man she’s never met.

Just this morning Hook blended a whey shake with fresh strawberries and supplements and declared it was good.  He’s not giving up and I’m not giving up no matter what.

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Anything is Possible

HDu_AnythingIsPossibleI’m at home this morning while Hook waits at the hospital for the case manager to stop by and give the okay for a Tuesday release.

Over the weekend, the doctors were able to contain the blood clot by putting in a filter of sorts to prevent the clot from rising further up the body.   That was the non-invasive procedure I’d mentioned in the last blog.  Blood clots are common for people with pancreatic cancer.  As a preventative measure, Hook will self-inject blood thinners daily once he’s home.   He did these in January for almost a month, right after the December surgery, and it’s a procedure he’s comfortable with already.

Hook feels 100% better.  He looks better, has color in his face, and he seems to have twice the energy he’s had in a long time.    He certainly seemed to have a good appetite in the hospital which is not the gourmet place you want to find yourself hungry.

I wish I could tell you for certain how much time Hook has left, but we don’t know.  No one does not even the doctors.  He could have three weeks, he could have three months, he could have three years.   Everything depends on how well we self-manage his diet and exercise and stick to holistic methods of treatment as much as possible.

Thanks to everyone for your kind words and thoughts but especially your prayers.  A special thanks to my friend, Linda Lou, a cancer nurse who has been guiding and helping us to interpret information at each new turn.   Linda Lou has been the voice of reason since all of this started almost a year ago.  She’s been a trusted medical confidant to my family for over 20 years, and it’s her advice that led to my father living 10 more healthy years.  Had he listened to his oncologist, he would have been dead in six months with chemo in his veins.  When my father did pass away in 2011, it was from natural causes and not cancer, and not one ounce of chemo ever entered his body.

Anything is possible.  I know this because I’ve experienced it.  And I think that if my husband is willing to get his head out of his ass and open his mind to something more than just data that he can experience the impossible, too.

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Timing is Everything

HDU_TimingIsEverything“I haven’t posted a blog in weeks,” I said as he sat down at the kitchen table.

“I know.”

“I don’t know what to say.” My words lingered in the air waiting for his reply.  With a hint of resignation in his voice and as he pushed himself up from the table to stand, he agreed with another, “I know.”

“If I say what’s really going on, people will worry.”

“I know.”

“What should I share?” I asked because not everything gets told in this blog.   We only ever share the basics.  Reality would be too much, too bare, too human.

“I don’t know,” he admitted with a sigh.

“Me either,” I replied, giving in to this business of not knowing what to say and when.  That’s why I haven’t blogged for a month because I didn’t want to lie but I didn’t want to tell the truth either.

Status Update

Will the Hooks make it to Australia isn’t really the question anymore.  Will Hook make it another year is probably more accurate.

That second question circles us constantly now.  Certainly, it questions us tonight or I should say this morning/afternoon because that conversation above didn’t happen today but last week.   That conversation happened because of the continuing weight loss followed by a continuing decline of hemoglobin in Hook’s system.  That conversation happened after Hook’s unexpected blood transfusion two weeks ago followed by the really unexpected second transfusion yesterday or two days ago depending on how accurate you want to be because I started writing this at 10:30 at night in St. David’s emergency room.  Then it was 4:30 in the morning when they wheeled Hook up to his hospital room but now it’s almost 1pm central standard time the next day or today, Saturday, April 13th 2013.

Before the second transfusion, we’d had a disagreement over whether Hook should continue with chemo treatments anymore.

“You won’t have to worry about dying from cancer because you’ll drop dead long before then from malnutrition.  Something is WRONG and we need to find out what it is and we need to STOP these chemo treatments until we know what’s wrong.” My shrill voice rose to meet the hysteria that had been hiding behind all those lingering questions in my mind.  Is he going to make it? Why is he declining?  What are we not doing right?

But back to the emergency room which turned into an overnight hospital stay and my contact lenses that dried out over four hours ago are stuck to dry eyeballs and my brain’s not functioning so great so it’s hard for me to know if I’m making any sense.

  • A blood clot has formed in Hook’s left leg and he’s been admitted so the clot can be thinned and dissolved with a non-invasive, minor procedure.  We’d noticed some swelling last night and it was our good fortune that Hook’s oncologist was the on-call doctor.   His oncologist, who only two days ago impressed upon Hook the necessity of calling him for even the slightest changes in his body, recommended the emergency room right away.
  • Things look okay so far.  Timing is everything.   If we had waited until this morning to call, who knows what would have happened.  Or, if it hadn’t been his oncologist’s on-call weekend and instead we’d gotten another doctor who didn’t know Hook’s history, we probably wouldn’t have been recommended to go to the emergency room.  Timing is everything.

I could have begun this blog with the announcement that Hook was back in the hospital but I needed to ease you into it, because I don’t want you to worry and because timing is everything.

I’ll post again tomorrow with what I know.

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Hook the Comedian

HDU_StevenWrightComedianIt’s a Saturday and I’m laughing to myself because I only have the cat, Gatita, as company.

Hook drove to Port Aransas yesterday morning for a long weekend of fishing and to enjoy a time of de-stress before he begins a new round of chemo treatments in another week. I worried that he shouldn’t be driving alone because he’s been so tired lately. I asked multiple times if he wanted me to go with him, afraid he might get down there and realize he was too tired to drive back.

After asking for a fourth time if he was absolutely sure that he didn’t want me to go, he said, “Well, not if you’re going to bitch all weekend about how you don’t want to be there.”

With my index finger pointing at his face, I said, “Okay, I’m not going to be offended by that but only because you might still have cancer. Otherwise, I would kick your ass all over this kitchen.”

Can you feel the love?

I kissed Hook on the cheek afterwards and let out a sigh because the thought of driving four hours to the coast and four hours back was not enticing. I’m trying to finish my first book: The Mystery Behind the Masters. Raise your hand if you think it’s a book about golf. It’s not. It’s a how-to book for professionals considering a master’s degree as a component of a career change.

It’s hard enough to stay motivated when writing creative fiction. Imagine what it’s been like for me to finish that piece of sleeping material.   But, I’d put so many hours into writing it last Spring then I’d set it aside when everything started happening with Hook.  I’d expected to finish it late last year so I could move on to a creative fiction story I’d briefly outlined.  I didn’t want to give up on The Masters project just because I’d lost interest.   It’s a critical read for anyone contemplating additional degrees, certifications, or licensing for their career or hoped-for career.  Plus, it’s targeted to my Hook The Talent consumer audience.   Oh my goodness, I sound like a commercial.

Anyway, I’d finally gotten my mojo back with the first draft written and now I’m in the editing phase.  I’d been coveting a long weekend that would allow me to think/drink/breathe this book while editing, talking to myself, and drinking massive cups of coffee. When I write, my work is spread out all over the kitchen table with piles of paper everywhere. Notebooks lie strewn in varying positions on the sofa, fuchsia sticky notes plastered on stacks marked READ TODAY, yellow sticky notes on stacks marked READ SOMETIME, and red pen marks on stacks that mean READ RIGHT NOW.

You would think today and right now are the same, but in a writer’s world today is tomorrow and right now is today. Now you understand the need for coffee.

My paper mess annoys Hook. It annoys me, too, but less than it motivates me to keep focused. Hence my secret relief that Hook desired a fishing weekend alone which gave me the physical space I needed. Gatita was relieved, too, because it meant she could sleep on the beds and the sofas without some male voice yelling, “Get off!” every time he caught her breaking unexplained house rules.

Hook doesn’t know it but when he’s not here, Gatita’s favorite thing to do is dig her claws into his leather lounger, kneading the same area over and over again. She pokes little holes into the leather with her claws leaving what looks like pock marks in the corner of the seat of the lounger. Hook felt them one day by accident and he took off his glasses to peer more closely while feeling around for them.

“Has Gatita been on this lounger?”  he asked.

“What?” I said, shaking my head and avoiding eye contact, “She knows you’d scream at her if she did that.”

That’s me telling the truth while not telling the truth.

I was laughing earlier not because of Gatita and her dirty little secret to silently ruin her master’s favorite lounger. I was laughing because I remembered something Hook said to me towards the end of last year.   Something to do with me briefing his people on his hospital stay.   Something that was uncomfortable for him to talk to them about so he asked if I would do it instead, but then he tried to tell me how to say it.

“Don’t worry,” I said. “I’ll be subtle about it.”

Hook snorted, “You’re about as subtle as a nuclear weapon.”

“Yes,” I said.  “and even that isn’t enough sometimes.”

Still, another good one by Dr. Hook . . .

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A Note From Hook AGAIN

The Good Professor Speaks:

HDU_HealthyGuideWell it looks like I’ll begin the final leg of my cancer treatment – back to a six week regime of chemo infusions. That entails chemo once a week for two weeks then a week off (party week!).  This treatment is normal after surgery to make sure if any cancer cells have escaped they can be dealt with.  Last time I went through this my body seemed to handle it quite well so I’m hopeful it will be similar this time.   Indeed I actually gained about 20 lbs over that time period which also included radiation and chemo in the form of a pill.  So I’m hopeful I’ll again put on some pounds.

Hooks for Hook was a nice success with students (and faculty and staff) raising about $300 purchasing these hooks for anywhere from $1-$5.  They sell these hooks at tackle stores that can be attached to fishing caps.  Remarkably I’ve been seeing students still wearing their “hooks” to school.  Anyway the money raised will go to fund one student per semester to conduct research at the Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve.  Our goal is to create an endowment large enough to use the interest to fund the students.

Finally I need to thank all of you that are wishing me well in a diversity of means and ways, and especially my wonderful wife.  All this support has made my job of getting completely well again so much easier.

Editor’s Note:  Hooks for Hook has raised over $800 so far.   Unexpected and heart touching to us both.

Regime, Regimen, Regiment

I had no idea there wHDU_Regimenere so many spellings for regimen which I’ve always spelled regimenT (militant) but which Hook spelled regimeN (training) until spell check suggested he use regimE, the original French spelling (political).   Since Hook is half French and since I often feel the need to politic my way through his medical appointments, regime it is.

I missed this last appointment with Hook because I thought it was another routine visit like his last one with the surgeon when all the sugar propaganda was shared.  When I attend any of Hook’s appointments, I write out my list of questions in advance, laying a strategy of when and what to ask so we get all of the information instead of only the information the doctors willing share.   Maybe Hook’s decision to agree to the additional chemo may not have changed even if I had been there to fling questions at the doctor until he cried, “uncle,” but I know I would have understood more of what I understand very little of at all.   What can I expect of myself when I didn’t even know there were three spellings of regimen.

For today, I’ll resist the urge to continue writing my misgivings about this latest diagnosis.  Instead, I’m satisfied to have Hook’s contribution to this week’s blog.  I hope you are, too.

MichAGAIN Program

HDU_MichAGAIN

SXSW 2013: Dave Guzman, Mary Joy Guzman, Hook, and me at the MichAGAIN event.

It’s SXSW (South by Southwest) week in Austin, Texas, and during the interactive portion of the festivities, my brother, Dave, & his wife, Mary Joy, and Hook & I, all attended the MichAGAIN event sponsored by the Michigan Economic Development group.  It was part of the Pure Michigan campaign to entice former Michiganders and wannabe Michiganders to give the great state of Michigan a try, employment-wise.   If I haven’t mentioned it before, I’m a Yankee, a Michigan girl born and raised.  For those outside of the U.S., you like to call all Americans, “Yanks” or “Yankees.”  Inside the United States, only people who live north of the Mason-Dixon line are considered Yankees.

March 2013 marks the 24th anniversary of my debut onto the Austin scene from Michigan.  Someone should alert the press.  Even so, on the way to the MichAGAIN event, Hook and I talked about the possibility of moving to Michigan for a few years.  It was just an idea, one that I’ve toyed with on and off for the last 24 years except now my roots have grown even deeper in Austin.

Editor’s Note:  Hook hails from the great state of  New Jersey and has been in Austin for 28 years as of 2013.  He’s also a Yankee. 🙂HDU_PureSaginaw

On behalf of my home state, give Michigan a try especially if you’re a career changer.   The Michigan Economic Development group created a program called Michigan Shifting Gears and Shifting Code which supports new and seasoned talent with the career shift they need and want — a new beginning in a new state.  The beauty of Michigan can only be experienced by dipping your toe in one of The Great Lakes, walking in fresh air surrounded by evergreens, or responding to HIs and HELLOs from strangers because, well, that’s the Michigan way — very friendly — kind of like Australia

Michigan’s economy is becoming healthy again just like Hook’s body is becoming healthy again.

MichAGAIN.   HookAGAIN.   AusAGAIN (Hook’s return to Australia).

Austin to Australia in August is still on.

p.s.  Right hand over my heart and scout’s honor:  Hook’s “wonderful wife” quote was a surprise to me, too!

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His and Her Dreams

I’m a dreamer not in the John Lennon sort of way but in The Cranberries’ Dreams sort of way.  My dreams are never quite as they seem.   Sometimes in my dreams, I watch what I believe is my own life except the main female character doesn’t look like me and the main male character doesn’t look like Hook.  But, they act like us, using our mannerisms, saying what we would say.   As the non-me female lead, I feel what she’s feeling.

HDU_DreamingWhen I have these dreams, it usually means I’m worried about something or I ate too many bread products just before going to bed.   I do recall shoving baked potato chips into my mouth that I’d discovered in the pantry the night before.  Hook’s been trying to sneak snacks into the house which is fine so long as he sticks to our silent agreement to hide all snacks from me so I won’t eat them.  He’s also supposed to hide all junk food in general so I won’t nag him about eating stuff which will make his digestive system work harder than it needs to.

Too many chips meant not enough sleep and too many dreams.

Hook’s Dreams

Hook doesn’t dream often but when he does it usually includes throwing a bug net around or fishing with friends.  He’ll wake up on any given morning and say he dreamt he was on the coast and caught a red fish or that he had been in the field collecting.  He never seems to wake up frustrated even though sometimes he doesn’t catch anything or wakes up just before he’s going to catch “a big one.”  If there were other people fishing or bugging with him and he can identify them by name, I’ll always ask, “Could you see their faces?”

This question confuses Hook.  He replies that if he couldn’t see their faces, how would he know it was them?   In his dreams, the people are clear and real and the places he goes to actually exist.  While Hook’s dreams are exact and definite with a lot of action, mine are fuzzy and indistinct with a lot of feeling.   In Hook’s dreams, he’s doing things he wants to do again.  In my dreams, I’m feeling things I don’t want to feel anymore.

Dream Lessons from Freud

Do our minds continually send us back to learn a lesson that we did not learn the first time it was placed before us?  That’s my question not Freud’s.

Freud said that we are all of the characters in our dreams.  In order to understand the purpose of a dream (wish fulfillment or resolving conflict), we have to decide or figure out which character we represent or if we represent all of them.  Sometimes, we’re not even who we think we are in our own dream.  My Rosemary character in my dreams may not actually be me but represent someone else or something else that is unresolved or unfulfilled.

I’d visited Freud’s house in Vienna, Austria, back in 1995.  The house had what Americans would call, “a comfy feeling to it.”  The furniture was decorated in velvet burgundy giving the impression of intimacy and warmth.  Book shelves crowded Freud’s analysis room so that it felt cozy like all good reading rooms should.  Definitely a place you’d want to lounge around in while chatting over Vienna coffee and pastries.   I doubt Freud fed his patients anything but his bizarre analysis but I’m still going to guess what he might have concluded from our dreams:

  • I’m confused about what is next for us.  I say, “Austin to Australia in August,” because that is what Hook says but I know we’ve no way of knowing if it will be 100% certain until we’re about 30 days away from departure.   It’s that known unknown again.
  • Hook needs to go fishing.  He also needs to swing a bug net around and catch something interesting and exciting.  He did not get out of the country last year at all when normally he would have been gone for an entire summer in Trinidad. The man needs to catch some fish so he can come home excited which will in turn help his body to heal faster.

Hooks for Hook

Hook’s university started a scholarship fundraiser called Hooks for Hook.  They asked students and faculty to buy a gold hook like a jewelry hook with a clasp that pins to a lapel or a hat.   The fundraiser kicked off the Allan Hook Wild Basin Scholar which will be awarded to one student a semester who will study at Wild Basin Preserve in Austin, Texas.

The fundraiser sold out of the initial 100 Hooks for Hook, but in anticipation of your question — Can we still donate? —  why yes you may because there is no end date to donations.   If you click on the Hook Wild Basin link above, it’ll take you directly to the donation page.

St. Edward’s students and faculty were the original donors to the fundraiser with an average donation of $5 per person.  I was a little leery about using this blog to $olicit moola, but I was both touched and impressed that Hook’s department thought up the idea after his students said they wanted to do something nice for him because of what he’s been through.  When I told Hook I was going to add the donation link into this blog, he said, “You’re dreaming if you think people are going to donate.”  Then he said not to tell you the average donation was only $5 in case you wanted to donate more.   What a fundraising hog!

I can think of other dreams I’d rather be having.  I want Hook’s dreams, the kind where you’re in action, doing things you love, excited at the challenge ahead of you.

Maybe we all need Hook’s dreams.   Or, maybe we just need a couple of shots of good Vienna coffee.

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