Getting wonderful cards, letters, and gifts.  Keeps our spirits up.  Can’t say enough about Lisa, she’s keeping it all together.  Please see previous note today about spam emails. 

Status: 8.5/10.   Rash is about the same, lets me use the term “evanescent.”  Thoughts are that it may be the recovery of the lymphocyte cells, which produce lots of chemicals (called cytokines and the like).   Still a little tired from yesterday.  Received two more units of platelets in preparation for today’s lumbar puncture (LP, in the business).  So that’s 5 units of blood, 4 bags of platelets, 3 bone marrows, 1 lumbar puncture, and a partridge in a pear tree.

Events:   LP was a done by a Resident.  Had to share the fact with him that not only do you have to talk the patient through every move (“I’m just going to press on the small of your back to locate the best area.”), but you have to announce the action before you do it (Not, “That was just my ballpoint pen marking the spot.”).  I’ll give him a B, still needs some grooming.

   The Fellow injected 3 cc of Ara-C, with a nurse assisting and the Attending supervising.  They want to make sure there are no leukemic cells in the spinal fluid.   Early on pediatric oncologists were making great progress in children with ALL (acute lymphocytic leukemia) at St. Jude hospital in Memphis, but they kept getting relapses.  Turns out leukemic cells were in the cerebrospinal fluid.  They figured that out and were able to treat it and now have something like 95% cure rates.  I remember my grandparents going to fundraisers and coming back with a Danny Thomas autograph.

 Comments:  I was studying for medical Boards between my 2nd and 3rd year at med school, so had some time on my hands.  I decided to do my 3rd year rotation on Neurology early, and had the residents and fellows all to myself.  They had no trouble letting me do all the LPs, and I must have done close to 50.  My fellow 3rd year students came on service having never done one, so I enjoyed talking them through.  Developed a reputation of being able to get one done when everyone had tried and failed.  Hard to lose in that scenario, either you accomplished it, enhancing your reputation further, or if you failed you said, “No wonder you guys couldn’t get it,  I couldn’t even get it, it’s impossible.”  Have to keep up the magic.

   Reminds me of the famous story of Rogers Hornsby later in his baseball career when he was a player-coach.  The left fielder kept making errors, so he sent in another player who was no better, and finally Hornsby became so frustrated that he put himself in the lineup to show them how it was done.  He made errors on the next 3 balls hit to him.  When he came back to the dugout at the end of the inning, the players were of course smirking.  He said, “What are you guys laughing about?  You screwed up left field so bad, nobody can play it!”

  Fraternity brother Ken Zwick (and other ZBTers) will remember that I did a lot of magic tricks at parties and mixers at the fraternity house.  Including one in which I’d throw a deck of cards across the expanse of the commons area to another brother without the cards separating.  One night I tossed them, but they slipped out of my hand hitting the ceiling and exploding all over the room.  Everyone started laughing until one young coed, pointing to the ceiling, shouted, “Look!”  Stuck by a corner, in one of the acoustic tiles was a single card – the Ace of Spades.  You just smiled and didn’t have to say a thing.

  I’m smiling, after a tiring day, and looking for a little magic.






12 Responses to “”

  1. Art Ulene Says:

    Hey, Bruce…… Wanna see some magic? Get a mirror, buddy…. and take a look into it. (Hint: Look at the shiny, reflective side — not the painted, dull side.

    Your messages are filled with magic…. the same kind of magic you’ve been pulling off for years. And they are filled with love…. not just your love of Lisa and the kids and the family, but your love of life… your love of medicine… your love of ingenuity and creativity…. your love of meaningful relationships.

    Because of your messages, I read “A Piece of My Mind” again from cover to cover. It’s filled with love and with the magic of medicine.

    Because of your messages, Priscilla and I are once again saying “I love you” to each other OUT LOUD. Hey, it’s magic.

    So pull out the mirror…. and take a good look in it. That’s where the magic is. Then get your ass well and get out of there. (Comment: The ass is that portion of the anatomy located on the back of the body between the top of the legs and the bottom of the back. It’s composed of two “cheeks”, separated by a deep, visible crack.)

    Priscilla and I send our love….. AND OUR GRATITUDE for your magical messages…….. ART

  2. Wendy Yaross Says:

    Your blogs are incredibly entertaining, touching, and insightful, Bruce. I call that magic! 🙂 Daniel and I are thinking about you and Lisa all the time!
    Love, Wendy and Daniel
    PS – Hope to see you this weekend!

  3. Sheryl Stolberg Says:

    Hi Bruce.
    A few thoughts from the past few days:
    1. The lovely image of you playing Liszt for Lisa in that beautiful sunlit atrium sticks with me. I like it and keep it in mind when I am thinking of you, which is every day, many many times a day.
    2. Yesterday was my father’s birthday. A good day for the birthday problem.
    3. It’s your turn to play Scrabble.
    4. I believe in the power of magic.

  4. Joe & Lynette Conrad Says:

    I agree with Art…you truely are magic, Bruce. Your words (and Lisa’s) are inspiring and powerful. I’m humbled and awe-struck by your ability to catalog and share your very personal experience. Your ability to combine humor, emotion and education about what’s going on is wonderfully amazing! Thank you so much for sharing your experience.

    Lynette and I think of you and your family daily. You are all in our prayers as well, always. We expect a speedy recovery and look forward to seeing you soon.

    With love,

    Joe & Lynette

  5. Dan Rosenthal Says:


    It’s hard for me to find the words, but I am simply delighted (I was going to say “amazed”, but who would expect anything else from you!) with the grace, humor and forthrightness of these posts. I know how grueling your days are, but I hope you can feel the outpouring of love and support from all of us “out here”.

    (And remember the blogging rule-of-thumb – for every commenter here, there are 10, 20 or 50 “lurkers” following your trail every day and supporting you silently).


  6. joel steinberg Says:

    I was always adept at LPs. One day I was sitting in the surgery lounge waiting for a case to start. One of my Neurosurgical colleagues walked in and said “I’ll give $20 to anyone who can stick a lumbar drain in the patient in room 6.” Feeling confident, I said I would do it. Sitting on the side of the double-sized OR table in OR 6 was the biggest human being I had ever encountered: 620 pounds, only about 5′ 7″. (They had weighed him on the freight scale on the hospital loading dock, so this was an accurate weight). Using an old- fashioned trans-lumbar aortagram needle (11 1/2″ long), I closed my eyes, plunged it in to the hub, and struck spinal fluid on the first try. After threading in the drainage catheter, I walked back to the lounge. “Easiest $20 I ever earned,” I announced. “Best $20 I ever spent!” said my friend. Compared to everything else you’ve been through, the LP and intrathecal chemotherapy should be a walk in the park. Margaret and I are pulling for you. Joel S

  7. Hope Dan Says:

    Some of your commenters, comments are so touching, they make your mother cry. We salute you, and eveyone gets to know you better. I have since 1945.

  8. Kate Latimer Says:

    Hey, Bruce — I was going to send a private note of good wishes when it dawned on me that if you can blog about your days at Hopkins surely I can publicly declare our support and let you know that we are rooting for great news and your swift return home.

    On a wildly different note, I can tell you that Ethan had a great game at short in Norwood’s 3-2 win over Bullis Monday — just a point of confirmation of what you already know: Lisa has the household steady and on track.

    Sorry we are late to learn the news and to add our voices to your cheering section.

    Kate L

  9. wendy Says:

    B- BTW, since Hopie doesn’t know where the competition comes from, let me refresh her memories and others- that it was from the dinner table discussions, the chalk board puzzles, problems, etc and of course the infamous treasure hunts. And did you bother to tell your scrabble friend that chose to challenge YOU that you memorized the dictionary in order to beat us all on those cruises… she doesn’t have a chance… he can do a seven letter work with NO vowels..When you want to win at something- there’s a plan and a stratey and you do indeed WIN

    so, if I remember correctly- there’s really no magic here..just a lot learning, lots of practicing and a strong memory that you put to good use… so it appears you’re still learning through your experiences at the hospital.and we know you will put it all to good use once you’re well and have a chance to make another change in the world or medicine.. .. Might it be as a consultant to John Hopkins, or another book or perhaps some well deserved time off to travel and enjoy your family

  10. Joe Robertson Says:

    Bruce, your posts are ALWAYS magic! You are definitely the ace of spades in my book! I hope you are able to fill every moment of the day with the good cheer and positive attitude you show in your blog. You certainly make the rest of us feel better, and we hope it helps you feel better too. We’re still pulling for you, and still shouting GO BRUCE!!!


  11. Rick Davidson Says:

    Hey…we both know you learned that trick from Passmore. Thinking about you, bud. I have heard the best way to rehab from this particular regimen is a family vacation at Amelia Island. We’ll meet you there. Best to Lisa.

  12. Judi Golding-Baker Says:

    My Dear Bruce

    Your blogs are so amazing – and really quite magical – these are such gifts to all of us – thank you so much.

    See you on Saturday

    Love you


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