Henry's Blog

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Two Beautiful Daughters

Like many people, I find inspiration from The Colbert Report. The guest last night was Chris Hedges, who appeared to talk about his book American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. [UPDATE: this program was a rerun from Feb. 8]

When asked about his apparent anger, Hedges stated: "I don't think anger is a bad thing. I mean, Augustine said hope has two children, anger and courage. Anger at the way things are and courage to make them better."

A Google search of St. Augustine to check out this quote revealed two things: One, a lot of people were watching Colbert and had the same reaction as I. Most of the hits referenced the show. Two, the more accurate translation states it thus:
"Hope has two beautiful daughters. Their names are anger and courage; anger at the way things are, and courage to see that they do not remain the way they are."
When Mama found the Pathologies of Hope article, we posted it partially out of a growing frustration of media branding of the word, which alters meaning and robs nuance. Hope is frequently presented only as the option avaiable when doors of opportunity are blocked.

Augustine reminds us that hope is active, not passive.

Hearing these descriptions of the attributes of hope helped me realize part of the disenchantment that lead to posting the Ehrenreich article was, in my case, due to the presence of the anger but not of the courage.

There is plenty of courage, however. And I'm sure you can guess where it is: in Henry's heart, and with Mama beside him.

Meanwhile, Dad is left with his anger.

And, yes, hope.

- Dad

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again

With Dad's visit over, Henry and Mama are back into what passes for routine at St. Jude. At the end of every day they get a printout of their schedule for the next day. Fifteen minutes before their first appointment they check in; Henry gets a wrist band, gets weighed, BP check, temperature and sometimes blood work. They also get a new printout of the daily schedule which, as often as not, has been revised since yesterday. While every day is different, there is a level of predictability:
  • Occupational and Physical Therapy, usually three days a week in the morning,
  • Speech Therapy, sporadically scheduled one to three days a week,
  • School, usually afternoon, three days a week,
  • Radiation, five days a week, usually afternoon,
  • Other spontaneous exams.
Henry has been doing well on all fronts. He has shown few side effects to the radiation, although he is losing some of his new (darker) hair at the target areas around the head. He takes Zofran three times a day and so far does not suffer from any nausea.

He has had a few tests to determine his neurological damage and progress. We have learned, sadly, that the damage to the left auditory nerve is total and permanent. We also found that the left vocal fold is completely paralyzed. This, however, has a 80%-90% chance of full recovery, but recovery will take at least a year to eighteen months. This condition also contributes to swallowing difficulties, but for the most part Henry's swallowing is quite good and, with care, he can pretty much eat what he wants (see Eating Our Way Through Memphis, below).

Henry is to receive 33 radiation treatments so, depending on delays, holidays or other setbacks, he should be getting his last treatment on or around March 23.

Counting the days...

Eating Our Way Through Memphis

In the Comments, Sharon asks us if we were able to enjoy some "Vitamin CH" and favorite beverages on Valentine's Day.

But of course. The Russian Kiss Martini at the Peabody nailed both criteria in one blow. Besides that, as is our wont, the quality of our Memphis memories will be directly proportional to the number of our gormandizing exploits.

Besides the aforementioned sushi, we have dined on ribs and pulled pork from Rendezvous, Black-eyed Pea cake (from Alex Haley's family recipe), and a banana cream pie, listed as one of the 100 best desserts in the country by Epicurean. Henry enjoyed a hand-held crepe filled with strawberries, powdered sugar and dulce de leche.

Emeril disciple Felicia Suzanne served us salmon deviled eggs with Arkansas caviar, and barbecued shrimp and grits.

At BB King's on Beale Street, we had gumbo, fried pickles, and more ribs as well as hot electric blues. And we also feasted on Denny's Grand Slam Breakfast and Space Alien Pancakes.

There was Pizza, Lasagna, Veal di Napoli, and Calamari. We ended the sweet day with more Dulce De Leche and something called the "Sweet Sarah Bernhardt Chocolate Cloud."

"Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside." - Mark Twain

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Valentine's Day!

Question: What could be more romantic than sitting in a hospital cafeteria with Lucky Charms and turkey burgers ?

Answer: Nothing.

Not when you can cherish the memory of the family laughing at a stale joke repeated 5 times ("No, a dromedary is not a play about milk products!").

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Radiation Officially Begun

Henry had his spinal tap yesterday and all went well. Today he had his first radiation treatment, so I guess, barring further delays, we're counting down 6-and-a half weeks from today.

Henry has stepped up to the plate and has brought back his mature, determined self. Mama reports to Dad with such obvious pride and admiration it makes the heart glow.

Henry's Godmother visited today and they all went to the Bigfoot Cafe for lunch. Mama, however, got on the wrong side of some Chinese food last night and has felt dreadful all day.

Back at the Ronald McDonald House (where Henry and Mama were transferred last week), a volunteer group is hosting a Civil Rights version of Jeopardy tonight. Born in Montgomery, Alabama, the seat of the civil rights movement, Henry should fare pretty well.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

No, not Henry and Mama, although I'm sure that they have made an impression in Memphis.

Dad has been back home for technical rehearsals for a production of The Odd Couple. It opens Friday night; Friday afternoon he will be on a plane to join the family in Memphis, where he will stay through Valentine's Day.

And he can't wait.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Radiation Begins Wednesday...

...we think.

Henry and Mama have been through an intense and ever-changing daily schedule since Dad left last Tuesday. With physical, speech and occupational therapies, assorted CRT and MRI scans, miscellaneous tests and meetings with doctors, counselors, social workers and educators they have barely found time for lunch. Although he has been very tired and somewhat testy, Henry the professional patient has re-emerged and has brought his own determination and goals to the party. He has set his own pace for increasing his walking ability, and challenged himself with keeping up a nerve-wracking testing regimen.

Sunday night Mama and Henry went to bed early since the first appointment on Monday was at 6:30 AM. Henry, however, was kept up with a stomach ache, and by 4AM began vomiting. Although the nausea subsided, Mama was looking to cancel the morning agenda (which included a spinal tap), but Henry said he wanted to go ahead with the day's plans. He completed the first procedure (another MRI - will they never end?) but the staff felt that the vomiting might be a virus, so they postponed the spinal tap until tomorrow.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Pathologies of Hope

As they say in the blogosphere: "Go read the whole thing."