And What Followed...

Monday, July 31, 2006

Update from Aaron - Milestones

Hi folks. I just want to tell you about my visit with Christine on Sunday afternoon. As always, it was wonderful seeing her, and we talked for about 30 minutes. She looked tired, but she also looked good, and she is very encouraged by how she feels a little more energetic as each day passes.

Christine is measuring her progress by way of the little things...things most of us would never even think about, but what for her are significant steps. For example: sitting in a chair. Christine said that a week ago she couldn't even sit in a chair. You know, it takes a certain measure of body strength to sit in a chair. But 99.9% of people are way past that point of their bodies being able to do it, so it never even crosses our minds. But there are a lot of muscles in our bodies -- like, say, in our backs -- that see to it that we can sit in a chair. And if those muscles are severely weakened or in pain...well, for some people simply sitting in a chair for more than a minute is as daunting a task as doing 50 straight push-ups is for others.

Christine told me that a week ago she could not sit in a chair. The first time she tried she
absolutely could not do it. She then set out on a goal to be able to sit in a chair for as long as 5 minutes. She gradually built up to that, and she did it. On Sunday she told me that the last time she tried, she was able to sit in a chair for nearly 15 minutes.

Christine also used the example of drinking from a simple cup. (Think standard Styrofoam cup size.) Before it would take her several hours to drink an amount that any of us could literally down in four or five gulps without the cup even leaving our mouths. At this point, though, she is able to fully drink the contents of a cup in less than an hour.

Christine said she feels grateful because she knows that a lot of people who went through what she is going through were never again able to regain the strength to sit in a chair; or to drink a full cup of juice. But she has achieved those simple milestones. And they ARE milestones. And that gives her strength and hope.

Christine absolutely loves it when she is able to receive visitors. And she is tickled saffron when she talks about the impression her friends have left on the other folks there. Christine recounted several -- SEVERAL -- instances when a nurse walked in on her friends doing something...shall we say...out of the ordinary for your typical visitors at City of Hope. She gave me a nice little demonstration of the various facial expressions her nurses have made when walking in on Christine's friends being...well, Christine's friends.

But Christine absolutely loves it. And she thinks the nurses on her floor secretly love it too. Christine said they are so used to visitors to the other patients being serious and morose. Most visitors who come to see people at City of Hope exude a vibe of sadness. But Christine's friends come to City of Hope with a vibe of being alive and ENJOYING being alive. Christine said that everybody notices; and that THAT is a major source of her determination to fight on.

Oh, Christine and I came up with a simple little game, and Christine has asked all of you to contribute either when you come to visit or even here on this site: The Duo Game! At one point during my visit Christine noted how she now has someone else's cells flowing through her body, and she ended the thought by saying she and her donor are now " Simon and Garfunkle." And that's how it started. All of a sudden we started trying to name as many famous duos as we could.

Yeah, Christine and I both agree it doesn't make much sense. But for some reason we really got into it, and we spent a lot of time coming up with endings to the sentence, "My donor and I now go together like ______ and ________." Will Smith and DJ Jazzy Jeff. George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley. Abbott and Costello. Hall and Oates. Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. Barnum and Bailey. For some reason, though, we couldn't name any famous duos that didn't make us feel...well, a bit dated. We just couldn't think of any from the last few years. And no, duos like "Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie" don't count. The main rule is that both individuals had to have (have to had?) become famous AS a twosome. Anyway, we surmised that maybe people
these days are so into themselves that folks with talent (real or marketed as such) aren't as interested in sharing the glory and the spoils with someone else. But extra points to anyone who can name for Christine any famous duos of the late 90's or 2000's.

I was also able to get out of Christine a particular desire she harbors: a puppet show! It seems that glass partition separating Christine from her visitors provides a great set-up for a puppet show, and Christine has been wondering how such a thing would go over. Now, I was in Chinatown right before heading out to City of Hope, and I had gone by a friend's cult toy store to get a little something for Christine to add to the gallery of knick-knacks and playthings in her room. I wound up getting her an obscure little Luke Skywalker X-Wing fighter pilot figurine. So when I learned of her desire for a puppet show, I was ready to use it to act out a few choice scenes from "Star Wars" for her. But she was getting tired and it was time for me to
conclude my visit, so unfortunately no show on Sunday. But in someone out there who will visit Christine this week is a puppet show that will make her smile. :-)

It was great spending time with her.

Oh, hey, Christine...Dave Wakeling and Rankin' Roger!!!

(Hmmm, still feel old...)


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