Status: 9.0/10.   Another pretty good day after an unusual night.  The HVAC system went awry about 7 PM with the air conditioning going on full force (at least on this floor).  I keep a digital room thermometer by my bedside so I’ll know if I start feeling hot or cold whether it’s me or the room.  The temperature began dropping, and by 10 PM it was down to 64 degrees.

    No one could find a way to turn it off.  So they started bringing in extra blankets and then heated blankets.  Felt like I was camping out overnight for a Stones concert in a poorly insulated sleeping bag.  I had been looking forward to and had planned a sound night’s sleep, but per Robert Burns, “The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men, Gang aft agley.”

Events:  Received two bags of platelets this afternoon.  Usually they determine the need for transfusion after a nighttime blood drawing for labs, and that means waking up during the night for frequent vital signs.  They looked at the morning labs and guessed I’d probably be low enough tonight for a few more platelets, so getting them in early is good.  Perhaps tonight I can drift off unimpeded.

    Good friend Sheryl Stolberg, who covers the White House for the New York Times, came by for a visit.  Always fun to talk politics and policy with an insider.  She’s invited me to play her in an Internet Scrabble game (wonder if she realizes she’s challenged a Dan to a competitive contest!).

    Finished the Oprah book, unfortunately from what I know, most of it is true.  Kitty Kelley catalogued and quoted from more than 2,400 interviews Oprah gave herself – hard to argue with a direct source.

Comments:   The standard around here is vital signs every four hours, or in the ward lingo, VS q4h, unless warranted more often.  Vital signs are temperature, heart rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure, and now in the modern era, oxygen saturation.  O2 saturation is a measure of how much of your blood’s oxygen carrying capacity (hemoglobin) is actually carrying oxygen as a percent, with the normal range being 97-99%.  It’s measured using a little clip-like device attached to your index finger called a pulse oximeter.  It works by observing the red cells’ color through your skin, and almost magically gives result in seconds.

   When I  worked at NASA’s Electronics Research Center in Boston, the year between graduate school and med school, I was assigned to help a group designing non–traumatic medical devices for astronauts (they were getting a little tired of having needles and catheters stuck into them every time the boys in Houston wanted some information).   My last assignment was to look up all the medical research being done on pulse oximeters, which at that time were being attached to earlobes.

   And back to politics – I was actually let go, as were hundreds of others, in a giant downsizing at the NASA site.  The government calls this a reduction in force, or RIF; so I got riffed.  This sudden decimation wasn’t a result of someone determining that NASA’s mission needed to be limited (this was the height of the Apollo program) or that it was an example of government waste.  It was that Richard Nixon was President and looked at Ted Kennedy as his likely opponent and made an Executive decision that weakened Kennedy’s image of legislative power since there was nothing he could do about it.  That was also the break between Nixon and my close friendship.

   But I’m fortunate to have close friendships with so many others and use it for great support.

Love to each of you,



13 Responses to “”

  1. wendy Says:

    So was the book worth the read? Or just time consumption… If you haven’t seen the movie Crash..I just rented it and it was good.. Not a big movie going person..so I’m always a bit behind most people, you might have seen it. I have recently gotten hooked on doing instant movies with netflix.. maybe that will add to your fill the boredom hole. Some really good oldies but goodies…prayers daily from all..

  2. Wendy Yaross Says:

    We are all pulling for you, Bruce! Sure hope the a/c got fixed!
    Lots of love and good wishes,
    Wendy and Daniel

  3. Denise Hanten Says:

    My best wishes that all will go well and you’ll be free of those blasted cancer cells!
    I know you are rather busy but…
    1. Could I get some Continuing Education Units for following the blog? I need several days worth for my OT license renewal!
    2. Your pulse ox story got me excited. I have been trying to think who I could get to invent a new blood glucose moniter that patients who are one handed or have vision loss could use independently. Your readers/friends are the cream of the medical crop. I can describe the problem. Need help with the solution.
    Much love to Lisa and Rachael and Ethan. I so appreciated Lisa’s support during my time.
    I can’t believe I never saw you on the TV during Jake’s Loma Linda University Medical Center stay last year. I assume you did not do the handwashing video that my sons said the lady in the next bed watched for hours and hours one night!

  4. Carly Says:

    So while it may have been down to 64 in there today, I’d take that over my house. Our A/C stopped working and it’ll be another few weeks before it’s fixed. today’s temperature in the house (middle of summer in Florida) ranged from a cool 87 to a nice sticky 92. To say the least I’ve been staying with friends during the night. Hope all is better, and better everyday! Say hello to the kids for me Uncle Bruce!
    Love, Carly

  5. joel steinberg Says:

    I was in King Richard’s Army when Watergate was going down in 1973. I almost got sent to the Sinai for the Yom Kippur War. We figured that we would get involved to distract everyone from the impeachment brouhaha, but that did not eventuate. RMN was a genuine disaster for our country–but I had fun in the Army, sort of. Conserve your strength for the battles yet to come. Joel and Margaret S.

  6. Henry Miller Says:

    Big bro’,

    You need a Course II* guy to fix the HVAC! When we were at the ‘tute, I used to get Ken Zwick to do anything remotely mechanical. I can still picture him in front of our fraternity house installing a padlock on the hood of my GTO after it had been stolen for the umpteenth time!

    I love reading your blog entries! Hang in there!

    L’il bro’

    *”Course II” was — and is — the Department of Mechanical Engineering at M.I.T.

  7. Hope Dan Says:

    Wonder where that competitive spirit came from Nana, Merrill? Not me or DG. But you & your siblings can sure do it!

  8. Greta Says:

    Greetings from Montana! Michael & I have you in our thoughts & prayers. I know he’s getting updates from Lisa. It’s still cold & snowy here – hasn’t snowed yet today, but I think it did every day last week! I ran across photos from when you, Lisa and the kids were here last – I think it was ’04 – it’s time for another trip! Your blog is amazing. Thank you for sharing. Much love to you!

  9. Lynette Says:

    Bruce, our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Your blog is informative, hilarious and inspiring. Joe and I look forward to spending time with you and Lisa soon. Lots of love to you, Lisa, Rachel and Ethan.

    Joe, Lynette, Manny & Raphy

  10. Bill Silberg Says:

    Bruce and Lisa:

    As the parents of a lymphoma survivor who were lucky enough to have been on the receiving end of your help in our own cancer ordeal three years ago, please know that we’re thinking of you and offer every good wish for your full and speedy recovery.

    That desperately ill 14-year-old whose life you touched is now a strong, healthy (2+ years cancer-free) high school junior getting ready to apply to college. He plans to be a pediatric oncologist.

    Thanks for sharing your story. Just like you to find the humor — and the teachable moments — in chemo!

    Much love from Bill, Char and Jake.

  11. Bill Schaffner Says:

    Hi Bruce:

    Your blogs continue to be fascinating and optimistic. We’re all carried along by your acutely observed events and send you positive vibes catalyzing your road to recovery.

    In the interest of extending your vision beyond the confines of your room, here are a couple of local stories. First a heartwarming one from your alma mater; the other reminds us of the origin of the term “force of nature”.

    Friday evening Lois and I attended a local fundraiser here at the medical school. The beneficiary was Lwala, a clinic in western Kenya established by two VUSM students, the brothers Milton and Fred Ochieng. Their village established a Community Alliance to which all the villagers contributed. These two boys were selected as promising, sent to local schools and then to Dartmouth (don’t ask – I don’t know). Somehow, they applied to VUSM and the school has embraced them. Already as a first-year student, Milton worked to establish the Lwala clinic. It now is in its 5th year and plans to break ground for a new wing dedicated to maternal health and HIV. There are spin-offs, including primary school education and organizing work cooperatives for the local women. The boys remain sweet, modest and completely focused.

    I’m blown away by the collective organization and vision of the village, the focus of the boys who often did not go home for years, as well as the turn-around of VUSM, for which an “international activity” used to be anything out-of-state.

    The force of nature was the rain this weekend, a relentless downpour – over 13 inches. (May averages 5 inches for the entire month). It had nowhere to go; all the local creeks overflowed, the Cumberland River rose, and low lying areas flooded. You know you’re in trouble when Jim Kantori of the Weather Channel comes to your town, doing stand-ups in his rain slicker.

    Cars had water above their windows, folks had to be rescued from their homes by boat, 150 local roads and the interstates were closed, etc. Today, the sun is out but lots of businesses are pumping water out of their basements and Vandy’s hospitals have curtailed elective procedures.

    A couple of staff in my Department lost cars and homes. Lois and I just got a bit damp but Lois’ son and his family checked into a hotel because they had lost electricity. The grandkids loved it – the hotel had a hot tub and even University School closed for a day!

    Other than that, the Yankees are winning (Lois, from Boston, is wincing in the background) and you’re winning also. A great combination!

    Love from your damp friends in Nashville.


  12. Donna Hill Howes Says:

    Hi from Indy, Bruce.
    Brrrr….now I ask you, which is worse, the cold (requiring warmed blankets) or fever-induced hot?? Hmmmm….neither fun in the extreme.
    Hoping to pay you a visit either Thurs or Friday…will call you first, of course, to make sure you’re up for a quick visit.
    Lightening & thunders storms going on here….but no flooding as the surrounding states have endured…
    Loved the NASA story….learn something new about you each and every day. Thanks for the, Prof Dan!!
    Love to you and Lisa.

  13. sheldan Says:


    My wife would also be interested in that Scrabble game 🙂


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