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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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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The Sugar Nazi

HDU_SugarThe ABBA songs ended.   No more ABBA and no more sugar in the Hook household.

Hook is convinced I’m obsessed with sugar and I’m convinced he has selective hearing.   At his final appointment with the surgeon last week, Hook mentioned to the doctor that he’d had a glass of wine the other night.

The surgeon said, “That’s great you’re able to enjoy wine again.”

Hook interpreted this to mean that he should be drinking wine, that he should be drinking it every evening in fact.  He’d stopped at the store on the way home from the doctor’s office and picked up a bottle of pinot noir along with a bucket of ice cream.  There was an assortment of real food stuffed in the grocery bags like cereal and vegetables but I was convinced that was just to throw me off the wine and the ice cream.  I watched Hook unpack the Pinot as I tried to stare a hole into the bottle.  When I saw the vanilla bean ice cream, I couldn’t keep quiet any longer.

“You bought ice cream.”  I said as I tried not to lunge for the Texas-sized bucket of frozen sugar-in-a-box so I could flush it down the toilet.

“[He] said it was a good way to put on weight.” Hook replied.

The surgeon had also remarked on Hook’s ability to eat ice cream especially since he was worried he wasn’t retaining enough calories.  Hook understood that he should be eating ice cream every day.   He feels certain that that is what the surgeon meant.  I had to wonder what language they were speaking until I remembered that my husband only spoke English and then sometimes not even that language.   I hadn’t met Hook at this last appointment because I thought it was just a routine visit.  I didn’t know the surgeon was going to be mind-fooding my husband into believing he could eat and drink anything he wanted.

Is Sugar Evil?

I’m not a sugar nazi.  Really, I’m not, but in addition to agreeing that no one deserves cancer can we all also agree that processed sugar is neither necessary nor healthy for the body?   Even though Hook desperately needs to gain weight, there have to be better ways to do so than through ice cream and wine.   Hook is and has always been a healthy eater so I do not begrudge him these small pleasures.  Instead, it’s my fear of sugar and how it interacts with those unfriendly C-cells of his that may still be lurking in his body.

Whether sugar is the evil of all cancer is still up for debate.  A layman like me gets confused with all the conflicting information from doctors and nutritionists and whatever else is floating around the web:

  • Some might say, I should listen to the holistic, wellness guru of an unknown, unverifiable website:   Holistic Website Here
  • Others of you might think that the Mayo Clinic remains the voice of reason, except their own comments on sugar and cancer are also without author.  For all I know, some pro-cancer freak hacked their system to write, “Sugar doesn’t make cancer grow faster.”   Random, unidentifiable articles on a Reputable Website Here.
  • Or worse, the renowned MD Anderson Cancer Center which says it’s okay to eat sugar so long as it’s not more than “six teaspoons per day.”   Do you think that’s a typo and they meant per hour?  If not, we’re all in trouble:  Scary Sugar Website Here.

If you’re wondering, ‘Why do you care?  Didn’t they remove the cancer?’

We don’t know.   We expect to find out on Monday the 18th when we meet with the fist-bumping oncologist to review the CAT scans taken last week.

I asked Hook if he wanted to comment on this blog since I felt we had differing opinions on the sugar topic.

“We agree on what to eat.”  He said.

“We do?” I asked, an incredulous tone obvious in my voice.

I could hear him sigh from the other room as he answered, “Yes! Why do you keep asking?”

“Because you keep eating processed sugar?”  I hope that was the right answer.  It feels like it was.

Silence.

I’ve never bore children but something tells me these circular conversations might sound familiar to some of you moms out there.  Who am I kidding.   Anyone in a relationship has had these conversations, has these conversations, is probably having these conversations as you read.

My vote is this:  Cancer or no cancer, stay away from sugar.  Six teaspoons a day?  Talk about sugar nazis.

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From Room 232

The frustration with hospitals is that they are in the business of treating patients instead of people and those closest to the front lines, nurses and technicians, get caught in the political middle … but the body that pays is the one strapped to a bed completely dependent upon those around him.

FRIDAY late afternoon:  Our surgeon said he wanted Hook to be moved from the bed to a chair and that he “will make a note of it to the nurses.”  He said that the longer Hook stays immobile, the harder it will be for him to get moving.

SATURDAY 12:26PM:  The doctor ‘on call’ tells Kelly Scott (my stand-in) that Hook will remain in ICU until Monday.  This is longer than expected.  Later in the evening, long after I return to the hospital, I learn that the extended stay in ICU was due to some issue with Hook’s lungs.

SATURDAY 3:00PM Kelly Scott leaves to go pick up pizza to thank the ICU staff for taking care of Hook.  We find out later that Nurse Michael was off for the day, Nurse Stephanie wasn’t in yet, and Hook was going to be moved from ICU in a couple of hours.  So unfortunately an unknown team got thanked but I’m sure they earned it with someone else.  Note to self:  scratch future suggestions of pizza.

SATURDAY 5:00PM  I mention to Hook’s new day nurse, Norma, that he was supposed to be moved from the bed to a chair per the surgeon’s orders yesterday.  She says she will look for the orders.  Instead, two technicians come in and adjust the bed into a full sitting position.  This works for now but all of Hook’s limbs are swollen and our surgeon said it was important that by day 3 he be physically up and off the bed.

SATURDAY 6:00PM-8:00PM Hook waits in limbo to be assigned out of ICU and into IMC (Intermediate Care) because someone worse off than him needs to be in the ICU.  All of a sudden the ‘lung problem’ is “okay.”  Neither Norma nor Stephanie is allowed to claim Hook as their patient so I have no GO TO person to go to for help.   I ask again about getting Hook up and out of the bed to anyone who will listen and I’m told I have to wait until a new nurse is assigned which we are told will be Vance, oh wait, no, that is the technician not the nurse, but wait some more, it won’t be Vance but Mark or Kyle or some other random name.  Our new tech does not end up being any of those people.

SATURDAY 8:00PM The ICU floor nurse barks at me to give them space in the room because a team of 4 have entered to prepare Hook to be moved to a new bed. I’m actually okay with this because it means someone is in charge now.   I don’t leave the room as Nurse Ratched demands because not one of the people in the room has been someone who has been attending to Hook for the past 72 hours.  They’re asking each other questions that sound like they hope someone in the room knows the answer.  I helicopter the entire process with a watchful eye as they wheel Hook to his new room:  232.

SATURDAY/SUNDAY 8:00PM-4:00AM Nurse Daniel introduces himself as our new night nurse.   Throughout the night, I whisper stories to Daniel about Hook:  who he is, why he’s here, what he does for a living.  When Hook is awake, Daniel shares why he decided to be a nurse:  “I wanted to help people,” he said.  “I know that sounds trite, but I really enjoy it.  The first time I saw a cranium being cut into, I was hooked.”  I hope Daniel is not a fan of Dr. Hannibal Lecter.

SUNDAY 5:00AM  I introduce Nurse Daniel to the infamous Elton John song, Daniel.  Hook has a Norman Thayer moment when he grumbles, “How can you not know the song, Daniel?  You know Elton John dontcha?”   I intervene with a rub to Hook’s head, “He’s from a different generation, honey,” and Nurse Daniel responds, “Oh, is it an old song?”    I glance at Hook and give him the squinted eye that says he’s not to respond, but he mumbles something about Bernie Taupin and what’s the world coming to when people don’t know Elton John songs.  My baby is back!

Correction:  Nurse Daniel knew who Elton John was.  He just hadn’t heard the song, Daniel, before.   

SUNDAY 6:00AM-8:00AM Nurse Kate introduced herself as our day nurse.   She has a master’s in nurse administration, is interested in training, and she teaches from time to time at Austin Community College.    After Daniel brings her up to date on the stats, I bring her up-to-date on what needs to happen:  get Hook up and out of the bed.   Kate said she can’t do that without a doctor’s order and I run through how the order should have been put through 24 hours ago and if it wasn’t, will she please call the surgeon and get the order.  Kate seems sweet but hesitant to pick up the phone and call the surgeon.   I can’t have a nurse who’s afraid to call the doctors.

SUNDAY 9:35AM  Kate has been in and out and she’s getting the basics in order.   Hook has been moved around on the bed but these are non-ICU beds so they cannot be manipulated into a full sitting position.   I’ll give Kate until 12Noon to pick up that phone and call the surgeon.  I have the surgeon’s cell number from his business card but I think it would be better for the nurse to call.

SUNDAY 10:00AM Kate has talked to the on call doctor and has gotten the approval to at least move Hook into a physical sitting position on the side of the bed.   If he doesn’t feel drowsy, he’ll be moved onto the recliner.

VISITING HOURS:    None in Room 232 and I would hold on sending any cards to this room either because Hook will only be here 2-3 days before he is moved again.  But if you send a card to the P.O. Box 151240, Austin, TX 78715-1240, I’ll be sure to pick up.

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Ice Chips as an Entree

I guess when you’ve had part of your stomach removed, then eating falls down the list of priorities in the healing process.   Oh, Hook receives basic nutrients from one HDU_MASHof the half dozen tubes going into his body so no worries that they’re starving him to death, but those tubes tangle with the other half dozen tubes that are pulling things out of his body.   With all these innie-outies, Hook can have all the ice chips his teeth can crunch at once but he’s not to drink gulps of water although he tries to sneak in sips.  He’s very tricky.  He’s gotten me to leave the ice cup on the bed with him where he’ll let it melt so he can drink actual water from time to time.   When the surgeon stopped by yesterday evening, I told on Hook.  I TOLD ON HIM and the surgeon backed me up and explained to Hook that even a gulp of water could disrupt the healing process going on inside him.

“I did some major reconstruction in there and you don’t want to ask your insides to do anything they don’t need to right now,” said the surgeon.

The surgeon stopped by twice yesterday.  Each time he does, he makes sure he hears from Hook directly on how he’s feeling, and then usually, he’ll check his dressings.  I can’t even be in the room when the dressings need to be changed.  It’s too M*A*S*H for me.  I almost expect a green drape of a tent to descend over the bed and for bombs to start going off outside the window with someone yelling, “I need more suction!”

I wish I were one of those people who say without thought, ‘I’d take his pain if I could!’  But that would be too much of a big, fat lie.   I’d take Hook’s smaller stomach though and his ice chip diet because if there is one thing Hook loves, it is sitting down to a robust meal.    The man loves to eat which I attribute to his healthy French genes that he got from his mother.  Everyone knows the French eat whatever they want and that their insides are lubed with butter – real butter – and Hook, for all his German blood, inherited from his French mother, the love of rich food.

Returning to the Hospital

Kelly gave me last night off and stayed with Hook until around 3am when Hook kicked him out and said he (Hook) needed rest.   Kelly’s heart is as big as Texas but his attention span is the size of Rhode Island.  I’m sure every time the nurses came in to check on Hook, Kelly probably started up a conversation.  He’s very social that way.

After being kicked out by the patient, Kelly returned to the house but only for a few short hours, and headed right back to sit with Hook in ICU.  I woke up at 10am (egads!), texted Kelly, and got a quick update:   He’s sleeping then 10 minutes later, He needs his glasses so he can watch the game this afternoon, then 10 more minutes later, He has 175 channels!   Time for me to return to the ICU but not before publicly thanking Dr. Scott:    Anyone who has had someone in ICU understands that yes, it would be better to sleep in your own bed, but no, you’re not going to leave them alone.  What if they need you? Many times in the last 48 hours, Hook has woken up and couldn’t find his finger clicker or needed ice chips or I’ve tracked down our nurse to come shut off the beeping sound that keeps going off from the monitors.   For all the fun I poke at Kelly, it has been a gift to have him be my stand-in and to have him show up and say, “get up, get out, go home.”

Comments & Visiting Hours

I read every comment you all post and I read them to Hook, too.  He smiles when I read them and chuckles at the funny ones so I’ve learned to ask him to click his pain med in before I read him something that I think will make him laugh.

Regarding those visiting hours:  figure next Friday at the earliest.   The doctor has let us know that Hook will remain in ICU until at least Monday.  But remember, Hook really, really, really doesn’t want visitors so only come if you feel like you won’t live unless you see him.  Then when you do show up be sure to say, ‘I didn’t feel like I could live if I didn’t see you,’ or something like that.

And Get Well Cards — probably hold on those, too, or feel free to mail them to Allan Hook, P. O. Box 151240, Austin, TX 78715-1240.  I’ll be stopping by the P.O. Box today and Tuesday.  I only suggest the P.O. Box because there’s really not a lot of space in his ICU room.  There’s one tiny shelf behind a chair but Hook can’t see it and that’s where I store my overnight bag so it stays out of the way of the nurses and techs.  If you send cards to the P.O Box, I can bring them to the hospital once Hook is finally moved to a regular room and is able to read them.

I’m going to take a break from blogging the rest of today.   It has helped a great deal to be able to keep everyone updated this way and I thank you for letting me get away with not calling or emailing or texting.  It eliminates a layer of constantly repeating the same information over and over again but still lets you all get the information you want because you care which is nothing small to me — that you care.

Mucho mucho gratitude from the Hooks on ice.  And now, I’m going to order pizza for the nurses in ICU at St. David’s so as to keep them on ice, too.

p.s.  Jehovah Witnesses just came to the door and I said, “My husband’s in ICU so I can’t talk right now.”  Finally, a great excuse.  Hook’s going to LOVE that. But I’ll still take the little brochures to him because I said I would.  Hook won’t love that, but that’s the downside of ICU– you don’t get to choose your own reading material.  😉

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