4-27-10

 Neighbors have had the kids over for dinner, brought food to the house, taken them to activities, freeing up Lisa to be here with me.  They may seem like small things to those who were kind enough to do them, but they are huge favors we will never forget.  Each and every comment, each and every email, each and every touching note of love and friendship is of the greatest support right now.

 Status: 9.0/10.  Had another good day without side effects, in great part from the preventative measures that are taken nowadays to ward then off.  But for now, I’m grateful to getting one day closer to the finish line.

 Events: The 2nd day of 3 days of this phase of chemotherapy (by the way, just as I have taken the term “my chemotherapy” off the table, so have I dispensed with any cute  nicknames like “chemo.”  Nicknames are reserved for those with whom I have a warm fuzzy relationship.)   Had a long and helpful discussion with my attending physician, Dr. Doug Smith.  He’s ending his two-week rotation as head of service.  I’ll meet my new partner in arms tomorrow.

 Comments:   They encourage exercise to build strength (walking, there are no Nautilus machines on the floor), but I was blocked as I attempted to exit the ward today.  I had previously taken long walking tours of the hospital as they suggest, but this time I had chemotherapy hanging from my IV pole.  Of course, it makes good sense to prevent a bag of the skull and crossbones from spilling all over the cafeteria floor, but no one had mentioned that to us.  Had I not passed my nurse in the hall, I might have put others at risk.  I suggested that they place signs on the inside of the doors of all patient rooms, and on the door at the ward exit.  They said, “That’s a great idea, we hadn’t thought of that!”  I’ll whip these guys into shape yet.   

    Besides protecting others from me, they want to protect me from the bugs that live around here.  Over the last several years, there’s been a big push to raise the awareness of what infectious disease docs have long known, that bacteria are transmitted from patient to patient primarily on the hands of hospital staff.  Having to wash hands between patient encounters, which may occur hundreds of times a day, is difficult to adhere to, and has been a roadblock to good infection control.  But the introduction of alcohol-based, hand-sanitizing gels (like the ever popular Purell) has been a big boon in this arena.  They have a Purell station in my room, one outside the door, and dozens lining the wards walls.

   But hand-washing with soap and water remains the mainstay.  The alcohol may kill the bacteria and viruses, but only those it can get to.  It isn’t effective on dirty hands because the bugs are hiding in the oil and dirt we have on us.  But washing your hands isn’t as easy as it sounds.  As a matter of fact, there’s one area on the hands that’s often neglected … drum roll … it’s the right thumb (the left one on southpaws).  Watch yourself the next time you wash your hands.  And guess what we primates with opposable thumbs use the most!  So sing Happy Birthday twice, and give a big “thumbs up.”     

   A comment from great friend Judie Davidson about Ethan and MLK Day bears some expansion.  Ethan was in 1st grade, having been at his present school for 1 ½ years, and on MLK day they discussed its meaning.  Later, he’s riding in the backseat of the car with me, and referring to his good friend in school says, “Dad, did you know that Robbie is Black?!”  I almost broke out laughing, since I of course knew that Robbie had been Black from birth, but Ethan was totally unaware of it until they discussed race that day at school.  To Ethan, the only characteristic he could identify in Robbie was that he was a better soccer player.  Made my heart fill with pride.

   I have great pride in both my unbelievable children, and I am humbled by what Lisa is doing to keep us all going.  She is the rock, and I send her my love.

 Love to you all,

 -B

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8 Responses to “”

  1. wendy Says:

    So pass this one on also..if they aren’t already doing it… I offered a pen to a patient to sign a form..he whipped out his own and said… that’s ok I have my own….I wasn’t sure why he did this, but it did make me think about transferring bacteria through a simple pen….
    you the patient should have YOUR OWN PEN to sign things that no one else uses. So if you are signing forms… decline their considerate offer of their pen.. and that clip board also…

  2. patricia Says:

    Dear Bruce,

    How alive you make your experiences with love and chemotherapy, the joys of Rachel and Ethan and Lisa, the realities of hospitalization today, as well as how your journey through treatment progresses.

    Thank you.
    Love,
    Patricia

  3. Judy Freedman Says:

    Hi Bruce,
    I just returned from Memphis to empty closets, cabinets, etc. at 5411. A lot of stuff is accumulated in 52 years! When I went through the first box of photos, the first photo I saw was one of you…maybe you were 4 years old! I brought it home with me.

    The weekend was full of so many memories, including my Bat Mitzvah party and our afternoon going for lunch and a movie.

    Your blogs are so amazing!

    XXOOXX,
    Judy

  4. Judi Golding-Baker Says:

    My Dear Bruce
    OMG I had to laugh tonight when I read your comment about “whipping them into shape” — you will do it! And you are so right, they should have some kind of signs – very smart…
    I’m so happy that you had another good day without side effects…that is wonderful news…
    Also your gentle stories about Ethan and Rachel are so touching… Thank you so much for sharing these…and your loving thoughts for Lisa, well, she is simply the best.

    I’m sending you both my love with a hug and kiss and hoping you both get some rest tonight.

    Love you
    Judi

  5. Margot Mahoney Says:

    Dear Bruce,
    Your blog is wonderful – even more so than I imagined. One of the 1st things that struck me after I spoke to Lisa was that I missed being able to call you – because YOU are the 1st person I turn to to try to understand any complex (or simetimes, simple – like Michele getting her tonsils out – which you prepared me for exactly as I needed – for every precious step of the way) medical situation. So, your blog brings me comfort, as all of our medical discussions have brought me understanding and comfort. Thank you for that. Now how can we bring you some comfort?

    You are good and brave to share this with us. And you are being yourself – which is wonderful to see considering your isolation and where you are writing from! I hope you will feel well enough to keep it up daily ( no pressure there!) – if you are not too busy whipping them into shape. Keep that up as well! I am certain you will teach them a lot while you are there and you will make them a better hospital for it. Just don’t forget to send the consulting fees invoice after you get home!

    Thinking of you often each day – and wishing you the best possible days this week – as best as can be.
    Our love to you, Lisa, Ethan and Rachel.
    Margot, et al

  6. Ilene Rosenthal Says:

    Hi Bruce – Well, just about 90 days ago we expected to see you at Amelia’s Bat Mitzvah over MLK weekend, only to hear the progress reports from Lisa that week: We’re all coming, though Bruce has a terrible cold…..”The three of us are coming; Bruce is just really feeling awful……Bruce has pneumonia and is in the hospital so we need to be here with him.” Lou and I glanced at each other: Pneumonia? Hospital? Bruce? So, mark your calendar for Cara’s, one year from now, Memorial Day 2011. We expect the whole Stark=Dan clan this time, no “excuses!” Seriously, we missed you all at our ‘simcha.’ And selfishly, I’m eager to show you our house and the spice drawer in our new kitchen, inspired by yours.

    I sent you a book that I’m listening to on CD on my commute to work. It’s called “Irrational Predictability” by Daniel Ariely. It’s a research-based tale out of MIT about the predictability of, well, the irrational. I thought you’d enjoy it. If you’d rather listen to is, let me know and I”ll send you the CDs.

    We are gearing up for our first Tyler Place-less June…we’re off to a wedding in Israel instead.

    Thank you for including us in this journey. I love listening to your ‘voice’ in these entries. I’m learning a lot from you, as always. I can see how this can be healing; to reach out to all who love you, to recount your experience, to share what you may be thinking and feeling in a given day. It’s a privilege to be a part of it.
    Love,
    Ilene and the Rosenthal-Geser gang.

  7. Barbara Bolsen Says:

    Dear Bruce — Really, it’s hard to believe that with all those toxic chemicals coursing through your body you feel well enough to write so humorously and helpfully. It is great to hear your “voice” after all these years of being out of touch. I was struck by your comments on hospital hygiene. As I’ve aged, I’ve been at enough hospital beds & in enough doctor’s offices to wonder: When is it appropriate to mention to the doctor or nurse who is about to touch you or your mother or your whoever … Would you mind washing your hands first? I can’t tell you how many times I have been too chicken to say it. — Love to you and courage in the struggle! Barb

  8. Warren Says:

    Dear Bruce,

    Your blog is so interesting and informative. I think it would be good to have the medical staff that is taking care of you read your blog. It would give them an insight into the patient’s perspective.

    Your story about washing the thumb on the right hand reminds me of the story about the waiter who was serving soup with his thumb on the soup. The customer said: “Hey, your thumb is in my soup.” The waiter replied, “I know. I have an infection and the doctor told me to keep it in a warm moist place.” The angry customer said: “Why don’t you shove it up your ass?” To which the waiter replied: “That’s where I keep it when I’m not serving soup.”

    I hope all your test results are perfect.

    Love,
    Warren

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