Saturday, July 21, 2007

Home sweet home

I got home from the hospital about an hour ago (it's now about 2:30 p.m. Saturday), and boy, is it great to be back amid familiar sights, sounds and smells (remember, I have two cats).

The doctors were impressed by the absence of lingering effects from the surgery and agreed with my entreaties that home is where I should be.

Friday: The day after

The surgery itself wasn't as successful as was hoped for, in that my serum calcium level didn't drop as far as my surgeon and his team would have liked. But the level came down just the same, and we're hoping it will continue.
I'm to report back for tests in a week's time.

I was operated on at Memorial-Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan, and the level of care, compassion and empathy were incredible. ("Yeah, just wait till you get the bill," joked my roommate.) But, joking aside, I was made to feel like a person, not a number or a statistic, by every staff member I met, and the activities and diversions they provide for patients are as impressive as they are broad.

One such activity was a Las Vegas Night on Thursday night, following my surgery, at which I won a bottle of Ralph Lauren "Blue" men's cologne at the blackjack table. As I noted in a response in an earlier post from the hospital, this cologne would've been a true godsend if I hadn't been allowed to shower Friday and today ...

The other activity was a copper enameling workshop at which patients were given precut copper blanks in different shapes and sizes with which to make jewelry.

I made an enso, a circle that in Zen Buddhism represents continuity, no beginning and no end, and reality:

I never claimed to be an artist

But the highlight of my hospital experience was meeting a remarkable, courageous and inspiring woman, Jen Goodman Linn, and her equally friendly and gracious husband, Dave.
I was walking the corridor Friday morning for exercise when I heard a voice behind me say, "You're walking pretty fast."
I turned around and this charming woman was there. We did laps around the hallway together and learned about our respective situations.

Jen Goodman Linn and me

Jen, too, is battling a rare cancer, and her fight inspired her in January to host, with her husband, a fund-raising event at a downtown Manhattan gym to raise money for Sloan Kettering. The event, during which individual riders and teams rode long stints on stationary bicycles, raised $215,000. The couple plan to make it an annual event, and I'm on board for this January.

I mentioned to Jen that I believe the encounters we have with others really aren't random, in my opinion. We meet the people we meet for a good reason, sometimes evident, sometimes not.
The bottom line is, we're all confronting and enjoying and sometimes battling life together.
We can choose to do it together or alone.
I've chosen togetherness.

Once again, I can't begin to thank you all for your good vibes and good wishes and heartfelt comments. My gratitude is a challenge to put into words.


Tom said...


I'm sorry the success of the surgery wasn't the best that was hoped for, but it is great that is was a success and has done good. Keep truckin'! Live not with fear.

Michael said...

Indeed, Tom, I have given myself no other choice. And thanks for keeping tabs on me! I appreciate your comments, as always.

Mungo said...

I am happy you are home, always nice to be around the familiar things - hope the cats are keeping you good company! I love the enso, that's very good - think I will learn more about it.

Michael said...

Hey Simon,

Yes, it's great to be home, where the real healing begins. The cats are great company, and it's good to be among them. Many thanks!

Anonymous said...

I love the Enso. And you are an artist.

You look strong even a day after surgery which is quite amazing to see.

Loved hearing about Las Vegas night. Only you can make a hospital stay sound like fun. This is a gift.

So glad you met Jen. I read some of her stuff and she seems to be a beautiful person inside and out. Yes, there is a reason your paths crossed....

much love

east village idiot said...

Welcome back Michael!!!!!

I'm happy to hear that the news is good. You're making progress in your own time and that shouldn't be discounted.

I'm glad that you're back home and even more glad that your stay at MSK had pleasant moments.

Brotha Buck said...

Great to see you're doing so well, and are sounding positive, and looking well after surgery. I"m glad I dropped in. Best wishes to you. And hey, I was into copper enameling big time in middle school. I bought my own kilm and kits and everything. I was the epitome of artist.

Michael said...

Hi Lisa, EVI, BB,

Thanks for the kind words! It was great to sleep in my own bed last night, lulled to sleep by my white-noise machine after watching old "Andy Griffith Show" reruns.

And today, it looks like it's going to be a beautiful day weather-wise.

Matt K. said...

A partial success beats a total failure any day of the week. Glad to hear you're on the mend.

Michael said...

Thanks, Matt. Yes, hope springs eternal.

Jean said...

So glad to see you standing up and looking well, though sorry the immediate benefits have not been as great as they might have been. I imagine the way your new friend made you feel is much like the way you make us feel. Your health, in the truest sense of the word, is an inspiration, truly. I don't mean to be sloppy. And I don't imagine, either, that you don't have bad moments.

Michael said...

Thanks so much for your thoughts, Jean. You're so right about the bad days. It's very easy on a blog to present a face that's ever positive and saccharine sweet, and to communicate from a world where it never rains and everything always works out for the good.

But the fact is, more often than not, it's a fucking struggle and I have to laugh to keep from crying. I give myself ample time to feel this way, and then I try to get back on the path. It's the only way.

tamarika said...

You are an inspiration especially because of the way you describe dealing with the bad days. Thanks so much for sharing all these feelings. In fact, in my opinion, your blog does not come across as saccharine sweet at all. I read it more as describing hope - human relationships always bring me hope. This, as you write it, says it all:
"The bottom line is, we're all confronting and enjoying and sometimes battling life together.
We can choose to do it together or alone.
I've chosen togetherness."

Michael said...

Thanks, Tamar. Sometimes I don't know whether I'm coming or going, so to speak, but ultimately the ol' gyroscope gets me pointed in the right direction.

forman said...

hey, good to hear your out of the hospital, and in familiar places. I'm looking forward to reading more, always. Today feels and looks like the most beautiful day of the week. Yes and the enso is interesting, maybe i'll try making one with charcoal, or markers. I was never good at making perfect circles myself.

Michael said...

Hi Forman,

Good to hear from you! Thanks for the kind words.

The thing about the enso is that it is perfect in its imperfection. I know, that sounds like a load of horse shit, but I can't explain it.

YourFireAnt said...

Good to see you looking so alert. Meeting a new person often brings energy you didn't expect. She might be part of your healing.

All good.


Michael said...

Hi FA,

There are more people part of the healing process than I ever will know, or likely even begin to know.

Zen said...

I am pleased thing are going in a positive direction, Not as well as hoped but it is progress. You are home! That in itself will improve your well being and health. I believe you are correct every encounter has a purpose, even if we do not see it now.

Michael said...

Hi Zen,

Yes, indeed. I just like to watch things unfold.