Thursday, September 27, 2007

Plan B

I was thinking this morning as I took the dog to the park and almost felt like a normal person that, yes, I actually am feeling a bit better. Haven't thrown up in a few days, don't feel quite as light headed, haven't lost anymore weight (a subject to be discussed later) BUT, and there's always a but, isn't there...BUT, for the first time in my grown up life I don't actually have any plans until the end of the year. What I'm saying is, the better I feel, the more I realize that at this moment in time I don't seem to have any identity. Who am I right now? You know how you get up and go to work or take your kid to school or maybe you're in a theater company, as I was once, and you spend all day thinking the next play you're going to do. Well now, at this moment, I guess I am a convalescor ( a word I believe I made up). I am a person who is spending most of their waking hours just getting better. But the more conscience I become the more anxious I get about what I'm actually going to do once I'm completely well. And this is what makes me even more neurotic, if that's possible, and that's the notion that what I have to do, of course, is write something. And I think that's why I was relaxed and calm in the hospital and all through chemo because I could give myself a break and not write anything except my blog. I could put off that novel and that play and all the things that I want to do more than anything but as I get better my excuses fall by the wayside. The little conscience on my shoulder is starting to talk to me again.

"Trish, what are you waiting for? Time is of the essence here. You've got to sit down everyday and turn out those pages, you lazy bum."
"I'm not lazy. I'm sick. I have (had) cancer, for God's sake."
"Oh please. You're not really sick anymore. You walk, you go to the store. Come on! Get off your lazy ass and write that...That...Book, or whatever."
"See! That's the problem. What am I writing? A book? A whatever? I have no idea what to write. A play? A one person show? WHAT SHOULD I WRITE?"
"Just make a decision and write it? You're not twenty, you know."
"I hate you...Hello?...Hello?..."

Okay, now that I'm alone again I can talk about weight which I know I've hit on before but isn't it a subject that never gets old? I remember now why I never had a scale. Because they drive you crazy! I have not lost a pound since I've been home and that is exactly what should be happening. But something is not right. I'm hardly eating a thing. Oh yeah, a spoonful of peanut butter, a teaspoonful at that. Some cheese. A bit of fish. A papaya. That is a day's worth of food. Shouldn't I look like Kate Moss? I guess that would mean I'd have to grow a bit taller but isn't this weird? I know this is going to sound crazy but yesterday I was walking towards the scale and I SWEAR I saw it change it's base weight to be up a couple pounds. The scale was playing a mind game with me. I'm telling you, they're alive. The scales have a mind of their own. Every time I walk past him I feel him staring up at me and...Laughing. Yes, laughing...And no, I am not losing my mind.

"Trish, that's insane."
"You know, I'm not talking to you anymore. You are just a downer"
"And by the way, nobody wants to know about your issues with the scale. They just read this stupid blog to find out about DeNiro."
"Oh, come on. My friends are much more compassionate than that."


You know, maybe I'm not quite as well as I thought I was. Maybe I should relax and give myself more time to mend. Yes, that's what I'm going to do. Put off that novel just a few more days...Weeks...I've got to get my strength back. Then I'll remember who I am. What I was. What I was doing before all of this started. Right now I'm watching a spider crawl along the top of my moniter. I think he's making eye contact.

I think I need a plan.........................

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

T's Anatomy

Here's a frightening revelation...I was having trouble flushing (yuck) my feeding tube (which I still have and which I'll talk about later) so I called the doctor's office and a nurse told me that the only way to clean it out was to use either Coca Cola or Adolphs Meat Tenderizer. What! She told me that the first thing they learn in nursing school is that when all else fails, use Coke. Hello! They can replace an entire liver and the best thing they can come up with to flush a tube is Coke! But it did work and I don't know if it was just psychological but I felt all bubbly inside and kind of...Happy. God knows what I would feel like with Adolphs Meat Tenderizer. Kind of soft and rare, I suppose.

So I went to the doctor's last Friday and he told me that I was way ahead of the game as far as recovery was concerned. I think that's because, once again, I picked the right outfit. Something with a little color to perk up my cheeks and help me look almost normal. I wore a purple sweater. He remarked on it. What he did not see was that my pants were falling down. I decided to take the plunge and actually put on a pair of real pants instead of sweatpants but what happened was the PANTS themselves took the plunge and when I stood up they were way below handyman position. Normally this would be rather exciting, the loss of ten pounds. I just don't want to lose anymore. Guess I'll have to buy a belt.

What he didn't do was take out my feeding tube. First of all, you can't just pull these things out. It's an operation. I don't know if you're asleep or not (forgot to ask) but he told me he can't take it out until I can eat two weeks of just "table food". I still plug myself in at night and feed myself that Ensure type of stuff and I think I need it but boy do I want to get rid of this tube. But here's how much I can eat at one sitting...Make one peanut butter and no sugar jelly sandwich...Cut it in half...Cut it in fourths...Cut it in eighths.

Now eat HALF of one of those eighths. Then...You're full. FULL! My stomach is full but my brain wants the whole damn sandwich. Last night I went to Panda Express. They loaded my to go Styrofoam dish with a bunch of fried crap. None of which I should eat but I was determined to walk of there like I was just regular and I was going to go home and scarf it all down. (Scarf? Is that a word? It can't be spelled like...scarf...Or can it?) Anyway, I brought it home and I had...Three bites. They were fabulous bites. I put it all in the fridge and I'm thinking about having some right now......................

Okay, I'm back. Here's the thing, for all of my adult life I have eaten nothing but healthy food. I think I ate more broccoli than Alicia Silverstone. But what good did it do me?! So now...Now I'm going to eat crap. Eat crap and live. I told someone that I was eating a lot of peanut butter. They told me that at Whole Foods you could get freshly make peanut butter with just salt. No fucking way. I am eating Skippy with as much crap in it as they can fit in the jar. I'll eat Skippy from China. Why not? And I'm eating white bread, not that stupidass multi grain. What is the point? White bread you can roll into little balls and you can tear it apart into different shapes and toast it until it turns black. What's better than that? Smothered in butter. I eat that now and I'm not kidding. I'm going to die anyway, whether it's tomorrow or twenty years from now. A person has to take risks. Do something daring. When I finish eating white bread I feel so good I put my hands in the air like I've just finished a turn on the parallel bars and I've gotten all tens. Yes! She ate crap and lived! What a brave, brave woman!

Next week I begin the Table Food Olympics. Can she go two weeks without assistance? Can life be sustained without broccoli? Does anyone really care?

Hmmmm. Wonder if there's anymore chow mein?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

I am walking ze dog...............

The above title is in honor of Marcel Marceau, who died this weekend. Following is a eulogy I wrote for him upon hearing of his passing.

We'll miss you Bip............................TS

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Two Original Breasts

The above title refers to what I ordered last night from Koo Koo Roo. (Another poor chicken bites the dust.) I suppose it also refers to what I have on the front of my body. Original and yet, well, aged, you might say. Mellowed. Original mellowed breasts. As I believe I've mentioned before, I spent much of the sixties exposing these originals on stage. And in other venues. Occasionally in a Volkswagen Van, but that's another story. The thought of doing that now with a mid section that looks somewhat like Frankenstein's neck is horrifying. It's kind of cool, though, to have a scar down your tummy. Think of the stories I could make up. Attacked by a shark...Attacked by a buffalo. Most likely attacked by a herd of chickens trying to kill me for my blatant chicken abuse. I must get back to tofu. There is no guilt in tofu...Is there?

I have always cried in the movies. However, not as much as I cry now due to lack of food. The tears are way over the top and I can't wait to be full and out on the streets so I can stop this foolishness. In the hospital I cried my eyes out after watching Remember the Titans. A football movie! Denzel Washington, black coach in an unfriendly town, black player against white player. And in the end...They win the game together and they all get along. Oh the humanity of it all. I was on the floor, IV and all.

Which reminds me of the two beautiful nurses from Ethiopia who came into my room around 3 a.m. to fix something and I thought I was going mad because I understood part of what they were saying but not all. Sounded like gibberish to me. It was..."She seems okay but ratafaqua cimminitra e sui but I don't think for long." I felt like Elaine in that Seinfeld episode at the Korean manicure place. So I asked if they were speaking English and they laughed and said it was mostly Ethiopian. And they laughed again and left me to watch the end of Titans. They loved Denzel. That I understood.

So last night I made the mistake of watching the last hour of Field of Dreams. Oh my gosh, when Kevin Costner plays catch with his father who is the same age as Kevin I had to be peeled from the couch. And now I'm thinking...This is interesting. The only movies that make me cry are sports movies. A baseball curves it's way out of the ballpark in slow motion and the crowd goes wild and I'm a basket case. So this means I only seems to cry when a ball is present. Wonder what that means? I only cry when a ball is present...Hmmmm. Maybe I shouldn't spend too much time on that one.

I actually got a hair cut today. Why, I don't know, but I felt like I needed to do something just a little bit normal for half an hour. And if you think going out into the world with this damn feeding tube attached to you is not a challenge...Well, I tried on five different pairs of pants and sweatpants and yoga pants until I could find a pair that would hide the tube. Found one with a pocket. Tucked it in. And it was all going swimmingly (Oh, I miss the Y pool. Just one lap, that's all I want.) until after I got shampooed and I was sitting in the chair and somewhere between the sink and the chair the tube had gotten dislodged and was now sticking up between my legs causing my beauty salon robe to rise a few inches from my groin. I looked down and saw this and spent about five minutes trying to push down the tube.

I'm not sure I'll be able to go back to that hairdresser. She's awfully good but I believe she thinks I'm hiding something. I should have told her what was going on but I don't know her that well and it's a very weird thing to tell a stranger.

Tomorrow is my first post op visit to the doctor. Wonder if he'll take out this tube? Wonder if I'll miss it?

Maybe we're in love.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

What Am I? Chopped Liver?

I got my car washed today because I know it's going to rain. Pre rain is the perfect time to go to the car wash because no sane people are there. Just people who don't follow the weather or people who play mind games with nature and decide if they actually get their car washed then it won't rain. Everyone sitting on the chairs next to me (three people) looked like they should be committed. Like characters out of Cuckoo's Nest. But they kept looking at me like I was the crazy one. Oh right. You have no idea who I am or what I've done, you car wash people, you. Just because I'm wearing my pajamas and have tube hanging out of my sweatshirt does not mean you cannot respect me! I tried to make conversation..."You know, it's supposed to rain." But they just ignored me and pretended to check their cell phones. But when my car was ready I triumphantly closed my robe and put my slippers back on and marched to my Prius as if it was a waiting carriage. Crazy people. I have so had it with them.

Whilst (Oh my God I need a drink badly) in the market which for some reason took forever because I was a little light headed and kept wandering from aisle to aisle trying to remember what I wanted to buy...And when I realized that I had no idea what I was doing there I picked up three items that I thought might be useful...Dog food, paper towels, and a small container of chopped liver. Now, I haven't eaten chopped liver since I was 15. I haven't eaten red meat since 1969. (True) But in my weakened state I feel a great need for meat products. It upsets me greatly because the idea of killing a cow or a chicken goes against the goal I had set for myself before all of this weird illness stuff started happening which was to become a vegetarian...Again. And then suddenly I lost part of my tummy and I think part of my brain and I now want to devour an entire Holstein. (I went to school with a Minnie Holstein but I'm not talking about her.) Oh, the guilt, the guilt. This can't be right, grinding up a little chicken's liver. No, I'm going to throw it out. Not that that will bring back the poor chicken who had to suffer for my crazy whim. Oh, I feel awful. But at the same time I am fucking starving! Oh, but I'm not really starving. That is such an exaggeration. I know, I'll send the chopped liver to Africa. Is that a good idea? Oh, I'm a terrible person. Wasting food, killing chickens and cows.

I think I need a job.

So I picked up a magazine at the checkout counter and there was one of those articles that makes me want to convince everyone in the market that "I'm not sick. I've got nothing. This is not a bright red and blue tube sticking out of my p.j.s. Nope. I'm fine." It was all about female cancer survivers and how their lives had changed in mostly wonderful ways. One woman decided that having survived cancer she could finally become goofy. Goofy! THAT is what you came away with after a near death experience? If I live for another 25 years and all I've learned from this is to become goofy, then I am telling you that this is one humongous joke to somebody out there. Then another woman decided that now was her time pick up an accordian. Have these women been injected with heroine? Goofy and an accordian? I should write to the magazine and tell them I think I'm about to be a survivor and I cannot wait to get myself a yo-yo. Which, I think means, that all of us survivors should have actually died because it seems like we have nothing remotely useful to contribute to this world. And the woman who wanted to learn how to cha cha.

Cha Cha cannot be the meaning of life. Can it? And if so...What planet am I on?

I feel sick about the chopped liver. I should probably feel sick about the dog food, too.

Think I'm going stir crazy?...One, two cha cha cha......................

Monday, September 17, 2007

I Am Not An Animal

Okay, I have had it with the Chinese. The corporate Chinese. Of course, I've had with all the corporates everywhere but I am just ranting about two particular Chinese items right now...Surgical tape and gauze. So I sent Will to the drugstore to get some tape and gauze for my dressing. ( know, I realize that every time I leave the house for a walk or to go to the market (which is pretty much what my life is right now) I seem to be dressed very much like a hobo. You remember hobos. They pre-date homeless people by a couple of decades. Hobos were more "romantic" than the poor homeless people out there now. Riding the rails from city to city, who knows if that's true. But I always thought of them as happy people who made a choice not to join the rat race.)

Anyway, back to my tape. Will brings home the tape and gauze, both made in China. Now, the gauze the hospital gave me was 100% cotton and the tape...stuck. This Chinese gauze is polyester and the tape is stickless. Useless. I tried to stick it in my hair, I tried to stick it on the wall. I tried to stick it on the dog, I tried to stick it on my shoe. I tried to stick it on a tree. I tried to stick it on a squirrel...(Is this the definition of stir crazy?)

Oh my God, I have to get out of here. But I did have epiphany number three hundred and eight two. (And that's because I spend half of my time in my mind and seem to be epiphanizing constantly due to lack of brain cells.) Anyway, I figured out why I wake up a bit blue and out of sorts everyday. Now I know you're thinking of course I'd be out of sorts because I just had major surgery. But I also woke up out of sorts BEFORE I had surgery and the antidote for that was...SWIMMING! I would not wake up feeling happy and ready to conquer until after I swam. And had my chai tea latte and took my million vitamins, which I can no longer take because I can't swallow pills. So there we have it. Until I can swim again I'm just going to have to crawl out of bed and curse the world and get on with no stimulant of any kind. Is life really worth living with no stimulant? I'll let you know in a couple of weeks.

I may not blog everyday until I am at full strength. I want to, believe me, I want to. But each little thing takes a certain amount of energy and I used to have this load of energy in the morning or mid day and I could not wait to let it all lose on the page. but now just thinking about what to eat next takes a certain amount of that energy and I don't want to sit down with an empty head, which is how my head feels at this very moment while I write. Because half of my brain, the half that is facing the kitchen, is thinking about my Goddamn (thank you Sally Field) dinner. My nickel sized piece of fish and maybe one roasted potato. With no stimulant!! No beverage.

And then there's the shower. Now, the shower part is fun. But then I have to get out and change the bandages over the, not the scar from the operation, but the one where the feeding tube is sticking out of my...INTESTINE! Is that a Corman movie image or what? I have to take the "dressing" off and pretend that it is not MY stomach I'm looking at with a foreign object protruding from it and carefully clean and recover the "wound" with tape that won't stick! I tried to stick it on my sink, I tried to stick it on my...Did we go over this before?

I'd better stop now. You know, I probably should have gone to Calcutta. Met a little Calcutta man wearing colorful cloth. Or, wait a minute, I should have become a hobo...ess. A hoboess. Ride those rails, even if they are Amtrack.

I think I'll just take another shower.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Forever Jung

Night before last I watched most of The Last Waltz. I don't know if I am high from malnutrition or I've lost my mind which is sometimes what I feel because two and a half weeks ago I felt great and now SOME PEOPLE who told me that I was sick have cut out my middle and have made me weak like in some creepy Twilight Zone episode and maybe I wasn't sick at all and it was all some insidious conspiracy...

But that's not where I was going. I thought The Last Waltz was amazing. An amazing document of men (mostly men plus Joni Mitchell) at the peak of everything. Their looks, their talent, their sexuality, their power. You could feel the heat emanating from the screen. I got hot just watching them. And for a moment I felt like I was there, I too was young and happening and wow it was so exciting to be there. In my head I was dancing in the front row and I was part of everything. And I remembered working with Neil Young on a movie. (Yes I did.) It was called The Human Highway and I played a groupie named Divine Light. Spent a month or so in New Mexico shooting...something. I think we made it up each morning. It's all a slight blur since there were...Let us say, medical additions to our daily life there. Devo was in it. Dennis Hopper. It was fabulously insane. Indians, Russ Tamblyn. I think Dean Stockwell was the director but don't quote me on that. And then I remembered sleeping with Robbie Robertson. (Yup. Is this the definition of a checkered past?) And there they were in The Last Waltz. Perfectly preserved in their thirty years ago selves. You look at Bob Dylan now and he's this old Jewish guy who with glasses might be mistaken for Woody Allen. But then...Then he was this young Jewish guy with...Something...And I was thinking how cool it was to have grown up in those times, with those people, that music, the excitement, the changes...The passion for everything. And, of course, the horror. We never forget the horror.

And speaking of horror. (Albeit in a minor key.) Lying in my hospital bed was definitely a Zen exercise of some kind. Hours alone with myself and the breathing of machines and the discomfort of tubes and needles. So it was just me and my thoughts trying to take me to a place of calm. And here is what I remember thinking most of the time...

I JUST GOT ROYALLY SCREWED! The last two years of my life have been constant mini nightmares that just wouldn't stop. (Thus, the Jung of my Title. Is that too on the nose?) The man I thought would be my partner for life left me high and dry and I got cancer! What the fuck? I asked my son at some weak moment in the hospital, "If there is a God, why is He/She taking away all the things I love?" And my son said without hesitation, "Maybe so He/She can introduce you to NEW things you might love...Like morphine." I laughed as hard as I could with stitches. And this was all in reference to not being able to drink a Chai latte anymore which was my favorite drink. How dumb is that? But I got screwed, dammit, I got screwed and there are no two ways about it. Shit happens. But I slept with Robbie Robertson and Robert DeNiro and I spent time with Neil Young and I wrote plays and I acted on Happy Days (That's a good one, eh?) and I refuse to believe that that's all there is. That I am going to be some tragic figure people talk about when I'm gone..."Oh, she was so nice, what a shame her later life was just one big piece of shit."

Now I feel I should be singing Rose's song from Gypsy. "Everythings coming up roses, this time for me." Oh, come on. Puleeeeeze.

But I don't know. I feel something stirring in the bottom of my much smaller gut. Maybe it's the muenster cheese I ate last night.

Maybe not.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

So Anyway...

I can't do it. This is waaaaay too much pressure. I feel you sitting there waiting to see my first post op blog and waiting for it to be brilliant and witty and I feel SO MUCH responsibility that I CAN'T DO IT! I am completely paralyzed! You have to understand that I have been lying in a hospital bed for two weeks with nothing but my thoughts and from the moment that I pushed the morphine button for the first time those thoughts went straight to...THE BLOG...

I lay there for two weeks thinking of what to write. Five in the morning, noon, four a.m....Lying there thinking about the damn blog. In my mind I wrote a million beginning sentences and then things got all blurry and I realized I was writing Play It As It Lays and maybe with only half a stomach I will lose half my brain power and I won't be able to connect my thoughts anymore and since I have to eat so little what is left of my brain is almost completely occupied with thoughts of food. I watched the food channel endlessly and I learned to cook the most fabulous Mediterranean burger and a peach cobbler to die for but see...That's rambling. Who cares about that? Don't I have any original thoughts anymore? I need food! And you would think at this point that I would be thin as a rail but what is up with that? I'm not! Barely lost a pound. But I tell myself that that is a good thing even though it is counter intuitive to everything I knew pre op.

Oh my mind, my mind. Where is that morphine button when you really need it? Okay, I will give you one example of my surreal visit to St. Johns (or as you know what we Jews call it...Sir Johns) You've heard about the THE TUBE. The one that ran into my nose and down my throat to my stomach. The one that was in for eight days!! Well, they pull that thing OUT THROUGH YOUR NOSE! OH MY GOD. Please don't tell me that you're going to do THAT. But she did. Very calmly. OH MY GOD. There's a very long thing coming out of my nose. That's when you know that you are really just a slab of beef. A piece of meat. (Thank you Michael McClure.) They can pull things out of your entire body and it's not sexy and it's not fun. Just plain weird.

But I did have a thought about what to write and it goes something like this...


"Oh my God it's me. It's me. I can't believe it! (kiss kiss) Oh my God. (applause. runs up to the stage. takes the statue of a man with an I.V.) Thank you! Thank you! (audience keeps applauding.) Please. Sit. Oh my gosh. This is just unreal. First I would like to say how humbled I am to be in a catagory with all of those other fabulous invalids. The coughing, the spewing, the farting...What can I say? First, I would like to thank God for giving me this cancer. Without Him...or Her...I wouldn't be up here right now. Second, I would like to thank a few special people who helped me become the invalid that I am today. Dennis, Dierdre, Katey...Your pictures, your love, your company...You are beautiful and amazing and I am so lucky to know you. To look up in my stupor and see your smiling faces made me feel like I was home.

Andy...What can I say? I knew you would be the perfect stand in blogger but I didn't know you would be there to help me figure out how to get to the bathroom attached to all the crap I was attached to. I didn't know you would go get me peanut butter and a banana. I didn't know what a truly beautiful person you were until the last two weeks. Thank you is not strong enough an expression but since my brain is a bit addled...Thank you.

(Now stay off my blog! And don't give away the password!)

And lastly...My son...A Prince among men. He was there, every minute of every day. He reached up into the Universe and grabbed the star that said Young Man and he took hold of it and he rode the emotional roller coaster with so much calm and intelligence that I am beyond proud. I love you Will. More than you can ever know."

(exit music plays)

"And there are more people. You know who you are. I love y..................(and they drag her off the stage and she is so wearing the wrong shoes.)

So anyway, that's one of thoughts that went through my tiny mind.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

There's no place like home...

It's 1:45 a.m., Sunday, as I write this.... and there's a good chance that when you read this, Trish will be home. She's scheduled to go home today, but leaving the hospital always involves a lot of "hurry up and wait". Also, I'm superstitious about predicting things .... but let's hope she's home today.
Saturday, at the hospital, T. was disconnected from her feeding tube (it can be plugged in and out), and was truly free to maneuver for the first time in almost two weeks. When Katy and I arrived to bring her some non-hospital food, her friend Joyce Gass was there, and as we were leaving, Joyce was starting to give her a massage... it looked like heaven.
Anyway.... with any luck, this will be my last blog as Trish's "place-holder". ( Just as I was hitting my stride, too!) . The next "voice" you hear will be hers. I, for one, can't wait.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Sunday, Sunday...

Well, it looks like T. will be sprung on Sunday! I only visited her briefly today, but she was doing well.
Looking back, I see I forgot to mention that she had TWO abdominal tubes, one for supplementary feeding, and another that drained off blood from the surgery. Anyway, the drainage tube was taken out today. (This is a mysterious process that involves NO surgery... they just take the damn thing out ... I guess Trish just heals like one of those self-sealing tires).
She was experimenting with solid food today, and the choices from the hospital were less than inspiring, so she had me bring her some peanut butter and a banana (both on her "approved" list). I also brought her some broth from a chicken vegetable soup they sell at the Co-op grocery. All of that seemed to go down pretty well, though she will have to continue to monitor different foods and the amounts of them she ingests. Trish says she's going to be on the look-out for a good nutritionist when she gets home.
She will still have the plug-in IV (it automatically parcels out the liquid food supplement when she's connected to it) with her when she goes home, but that will only be temporary. When she's unplugged she'll be completely mobile. Apparently she can also take showers, but won't be able to do the swimming she loves until they remove the abdominal shunt.
So.... phase one, the most physically traumatic phase, of her ordeal is almost over.... Now she just has to heal and get stronger .... but nobody who knows her has any doubts about just how strong she already is.

Friday, September 7, 2007

And now, back to "Ironic Hospital" ....

Trish still has the stomach tube to deliver supplementary nutrition, but other than that, she's tube free, and much more mobile.
Hospital irony: The antibiotics and saline solutions that Trish was getting intravenously have been discontinued. All that was left was the IV "tap" in her left arm, so that they could connect the morphine drip if she was in pain.... but the ONLY pain she was feeling was from the IV tap in her arm that was left in in order to connect the .... well, you get the idea. Apparently this afternoon, after I left the hospital, she finally convinced someone of the vicious circularity of this circumstance, and the IV tap was removed. She's feeling much better.
Trish has been drinking juice, water and broth, and all the necessary bodily functions have been kicking in .... so .... knock on wood .... there's hope she'll be heading home in a few days. (She needs to graduate to solid food first).
Another hospital irony: Her new, post-op, dietary guidelines stress a sugar-free (or sugar reduced) diet ... with specific warnings about fruit juices, which have high concentrations of sugar .... so, of course, the first thing they give her to drink is APPLE JUICE.... and the "shake" that she's given, via the tube, has tons of sugar. All involved seem untroubled by this conundrum. (Today, she also had a big glass of warm salt water masquerading as "chicken broth". But this was scrounged up for her by a sympathetic nurse when the cafeteria was closed ... so she felt compelled to drink a little. I suspect it was one of those vile packages of powder that you add hot water to). The sugar thing isn't a catastrophic danger, as it doesn't undo anything that has been done. But, apparently, in her new, smaller stomach, sugar gets into the intestines before it's been fully processed, so the body (I think I'm getting this right) sends water to the intestines, possibly causing light-headedness and intestinal distress. The severity of this effect varies with individuals, so Trish will have to experiment.
Hopefully, when Willie came he could find some less salty broth in the cafeteria. But chances are, that was a tad salty too. It's every comedians joke, but it's still true that hospitals haven't yet figured out the healthy food thing.
Let's see....what else? As I said before, Trish had an X-ray yesterday to test the the "leak-proofness" of the new esophagus/stomach configuration, and though they gave her the green-light to start drinking liquids, there was a "shadowy spot" that caused some concern. So, today she had a CT scan to get a more precise look, and it turned out to be an anomaly caused by the way her esophagus rested on her stomach... or something. The upshot is that everything is great in that department. But, of course, in order to register the image, she needed to drink a large glass of "contrasting" liquid .... while still being under the proscription to not drink more than a couple of ounces in an hour. The CT scan was postponed for three hours while they worked that one out.... but she ended up drinking that AWFUL (I've been there) viscous, "spit-like" liquid, to no ill effect. And, as I said, the pictures looked good.
Several other humorous things occurred, but I'll let Trish write about them when she's back at the keyboard.
Which, hopefully, will be soon.
I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

What we learned today....

What we learned today is: If you haven't tasted anything for over 9 days, apple juice is the most incredibly wonderful thing you can imagine.
And I left before there was broth. What could THAT have been like?
Tomorrow we'll learn whether her stomach likes that kind of stuff as much as her taste-buds do.
Keep a good thought.


Well.... not totally tubeless. There are still a number of tubes involved in Trish's recovery. But that damned (use Shakespearean pronunciation: two syllables "dam-ned") tube that started in her stomach, ran up her esophagus, and out through her nose, to be connected to a bile-sucking apparatus on the wall, and was in place for EIGHT days ... THAT tube is history!
At around 8:30 a.m. this morning (Tuesday morning to be precise) she drank a "contrasting" liquid that allowed the x-rays to register a picture of the site of her surgery, and show any possible leaks. Later in the day, when the results were deemed satisfactory, the nurses finally removed the tube (somewhere around 1:30). I was there, but left the room when they started to prepare for the extraction. (I think I would have been allowed to stay, but I was afraid of making that girlish, high-pitched squeal I had no idea I COULD make, until Katy and I found the rat in our apartment last year... at least Katy's squeal was slightly higher-pitched than mine).
When I returned the tube was gone! Trish described the process as lasting about 10 seconds, during 5 of which she thought she was going to die.
She looked great, sans tube, but had two raw patches on her cheeks where the adhesive tape holding the tube in place for the last eight days had been ripped off. The first thing she did was wash her face, and then cleverly, in that way women do that always fascinates me, applied concealer to the red patches ... and VOILA! there was the Trish we all know and love.
She was exhausted (having been awake since 3:00 a.m. thanks to a malfunctioning IV machine), but her whole aspect seemed freer and lighter.
Dr. Kuchenbecker, ever conservative, wanted to hold off food (well... jello, or something like that) for a day, as there was a spot in the x-ray that might have indicated a delicate place in the healing area. So, for the moment, her oral intake (remember, she's had nothing by mouth for 8 days!) is one ounce of water each hour. Tomorrow, hopefully, she will have some real food.
As of now, the ability to eat food, and the complimentary ability to eliminate it, are the milestones that need to be passed before she can go home. Trish also will continue having the feeding tube in her abdomen for a few weeks after she's home, to insure that she is getting enough nourishment. Her new, compact stomach needs to be "broken in", so to speak.
Anyway, she is SO much more comfortable now, and continues to recover well. She's able to talk more comfortably now, but asks that phone calls and visits be held in abeyance until she's back home ... which (knock on wood) should probably be by the end of the week.
So... all in all, a very good day.
Keep sending good thoughts, and enjoy the break in the heat wave.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Lazy Sunday

So.... another, relatively uneventful day. Aside from the fact that lying on the couch in Trish's air-conditioned room was much more pleasant than lying on the couch in my un-air-conditioned apartment.... there wasn't much new info today.
Trish whispered to me, "You don't have to write every day, you know". And then she pointed to a blister pack on the bedside table. "Just tell them about that", she croaked.
So: Trish was allowed to suck half of a Cepacol lozenge today. The soothe factor, and the choking factor sort of cancelled each other out, but in the grand scheme of things it was pretty exciting.
Looks like another hot day tomorrow. Stay cool.


Not much to report today, which can fall under the "no news is good news" category. I was at the hospital in the late a.m., until after 3:00, when Dennis Redfield came on, followed (as I understand it) by Willie in the evening.
Trish's regular doctor..... whose name I can't spell right now, but she's a wonderful woman! ... visited, and seemed pleased with T.'s progress.
Trish seemed in pretty good spirits, but the tedium of the hospital stay seems to be wearing on her a tad. At least the new room is sunny and bright, and has a more "spirit-lifting" ambiance.
She's starting to read a little (magazines and such) and was watching a little football on the t.v. today .... but she's still mostly sleeping, that being the most efficient way to pass the time; conversation still being a wearing activity. With the new couch in her room, I even joined her for a short nap.
Still, to briefly break the tedium, Trish and I have been playing our own version of the New Yorker's "caption-the-cartoon" game: I draw a cartoon which I try to draw in a totally "stream-of-consciousness" manner, having no idea for any possible caption, or even what my cartoon means. Then Trish comes up with the caption. She's pretty good. When she decides to add some pictures to this blog, maybe she'll put some up to demonstrate our handiwork.
Sooooooo.... all in all, it was a lazy Saturday. Which is good.
More tomorrow.