Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Andri (Part 2)

"You like that life? Kind of tough to settle in and make friends."

"Actually, I have lots of friends everywhere I've been. The best get to tell your stories and jokes new every time you relocate somewhere. I like to think I stay long enough to be considered boring and then I move on. It's been a rewarding experience. Someday, when I'm finished, I'll stop doing it. For now, I'll stick with it."

"Good for you."

Silence. Andri looked at the clock to see if it was 20 after or 20 until the hour. He had heard that when the silence happens in a conversation, for some reason it always occurs at that time in the hour. The clock showed 6:29.

"Not this time, " he whispered to himself.

"Not this time, what?" asked his new friend.

Andri relayed the story of the "clock silence" and expressed his belief that he had seen it happen more than once.

"Interesting. In some of the places I have been, I have heard the same story. Except, the time is different based on where I am. Some places, it is 10 after and 10 of, others are 15, some have been 7, etc., etc. Don't know why there is that variation, but I guess that is what makes humanity interesting. Similar, yet different."

"Guess so."

"Sir, your platelet counts are good today. Do you have time to give us a double?", Joni, the staff member asked, "You'll be in the chair about 75 minutes once we start collecting."

"Sure thing. Good way to impress you all on my first visit here."

"Thank you sir. We appreciate it."

"Andri, you'll be out of here in about an hour. However, your platelets will be used up before day end right here at the hospital."

"Excellent. Be out of your hair soon enough, I guess."

"Yes, but we will expect to see you back in a couple weeks."

Andri's collection went without a hitch and indeed he was finished in a little over an hour. He never really stuck around for the snacks afterwards. He had done this long enough to know he never experienced any side effects and his office was less than a mile away, so if he had any problems, there would be someone around to help.

"Catch you all later. Nice to meet you sir. See you around. Don't let these folks tell you they need to switch arms in the middle of  your collection. That is there favorite initiation ritual to new people."

"Get out of here, Andri. Don't lie to him."

"Someone needs to tell him the truth."

With that he was out the door and down the sidewalk.

"Good start to the day," he thought. He only hoped that the person receiving his platelets would have plenty more good days ahead.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Part Of Chapter 2


Andri was normally the first appointment of the day at The Blood Bank in University Hospital. He would arrive early, make his donation and then head off to work, arriving 15 minutes later than normal. He was surprised when he saw another person already in one of the chairs beginning the platelet donation process. He felt like the staff had “cheated” on him. He felt that he had developed a bond with them because of his early arrival time. Given the time of the day, there normally weren’t a lot of folks donating and in spite of the fact that he would bring along a book or a DVD to watch, he would usually end up talking to the staff for the two hours he was there. It was a time for him them to bond by sharing stories of vacations, celebrations and heartbreaks. In addition, they solved all of the worlds’ problems and in doing so, brought peace on earth. 

Andri knew of the value of platelet donations to those who ended up receiving them. He knew they were needed by those going through chemotherapy treatments for cancer. He wasn’t sure exactly how, but he had known too many people affected by his nemesis, cancer, and this was his way of striking back. In fact, his donation today was going to be used specifically for a current patient that he was matched to. He heard the stories of previous donors being matched and eventually meeting each other. He wished for that for himself, but it hadn’t happened yet. In addition, he also had signed up to be a bone marrow donor for the same reason.

Maybe even he was sometimes a little too proud of his mission. He always wondered if the others in the chairs next to him were as altruistic. Until the time he saw a donor a few chairs down nearly pass out as they began the process. Once the staff stabilized them, he asked quietly, “Are they OK?”

“They’re fine,” the staff member replied, “Can’t tell you their background due to HIPPA, but they are as dedicated as you to helping cancer patients. Let’s get you started. What arm do you want to use today?”


“Ha! That’s a new one.”

“From me?”

“Nope, first time I’ve ever heard that response. However, it doesn’t surprise me that it came from you.”

On this day, Andri was a little too tired from some long hours at work and restless nights to engage in too much wittiness. Plus, the guy in the next chair, well, something didn’t seem right about him. It was as if there were words poised on the tip of his tongue and in his countenance, but he wasn’t saying much.

“Maybe a first timer. Might need some calming,” Andri thought.

Suddenly, he spoke.

“Nervous?” he asked Andri.

“Nope. Done it many times before. Actually, this is my 40th time. Used to it. How about you.”

“Don’t know how many times or how long. Seems like it’s been forever. This is the first time here, however. Just moved to town.”

“Where did you move from?”

“Let’s see, where haven’t I lived? My job takes me all over the world. Last place I lived before moving here was Toulouse, in France”

“Gipsy Kings!”

“Close. Love those guys!”

“What were you doing over there?”

“I do missions world-wide. So now I’m here.”

“Interesting. How long are you here for?”

“Probably a few years. That’s been my history. Spend 3 years or so getting a project up and running, and then I move on to the next one.” (to be continued)

Friday, June 17, 2011

A Promise

Was reading some blog posts from last year and was reminded I promised this:

Thomas wanted a view. He wanted to see. The floor of the hospital where he was being treated had windows that faced east and windows that faced west.  The east facing windows looked out over a vista that stretched at least 5 miles from right to left and 3 miles straight ahead. There were multiple urban streets, an interstate highway, railroad tracks, a river and a view of one the nighttime city hotspots. Plenty to look at, plenty to see. Looking at the view confirmed that the city was alive. The trade off was that the room was smaller. It was a room that would have been considered a private room in its past. On this floor, all of the rooms were private, except that the west facing rooms were originally semi-private rooms and were somewhat larger.
Thomas’s view, out of the west facing rooms, was of adjoining hospital buildings of various architecture and construction. The buildings included the original hospital structure that was constructed as part of the WPA program.  The red brick and copper roof structure with a visually interesting personality stood in contrast to the concrete walls of the other buildings that created a non-descript canyon. Another building had what looked like to be a light blue rope light along the top edge that lit up at dusk and stayed on until dawn. He thought it to be of decorative intent, but wondered if it was also intended to help Medevac  pilots to find the adjoining building where the landing pad was located. It didn’t matter much. By the time the sun reached the point in the sky when it would shine directly into his room, Thomas would lower the blinds and take a visual siesta from the scene until the sun went beyond the man-made horizon. He would then raise the blind and keep it there until right before he fell asleep for the evening.
The view Thomas most wanted to see, he missed. Fourteen days after his admission for chemotherapy that required a stem cell transplant to “rescue” his immune system, Thomas would be infused with various blood products including whole blood, platelets and plasma. It was a non-invasive process with minimal risks, but there was always the possibility of his body rejecting the new guests in his system. At this point in his life, he was at his most susceptible to infections and viruses. Although he was alert and felt reasonably well, he literally was as close to death’s door as he had ever been in his life. A sobering thought for sure, but he looked at it as there was nowhere to go but up from here.
The infusion process would start somewhere around 11:00 PM and continue through the night. Thomas had accepted that it would be a restless night, but as he had nowhere to go the next day, he could make up for lost sleep during the day. He normally settled in for the night shortly after the 10:00 visit from the nurse when she would administer the prescribed medications, including his sleeping pill.
The next time his eyes opened, the nurse wakened him to take his vital signs.
“How we doing?” he asked the nurse.
“Not long until we are finished,” she replied.
“Are you taking my vital signs early because there is a problem?”
“No, it’s 4:15 and that’s the normal time I do it.”
“Seriously, I’ve slept through five hours of you changing infusion bags?”
“Yes sir.”
“A miracle,” he thought to himself.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Lets Hear It For The Boys

I like that you continue to ask about Bo and Hunter.

This is a picture of Mr. Bo and Miss Ally Baker from Easter morning:

And this is his latest news from his Caring Bridge site

This is a recent post from Hunter's Mothers Facebook page:
CANCER FREE....the two best words a mommy and daddy can ever hear!!!! Many thanks for all your prayers!!  

And this, from a recent article in The Richmond Times Dispatch about yet another oncology nurse from Richmond being a finalist in this year's Extraordinary Healer Contest, sponsored by CURE Magazine.

"That jukebox in the corner blasting out my favorite song
The nights are getting warmer, it won't be long
Won't be long till summer comes
Now that the boys are here again
The boys are back in town........

Spread the word around" - Thin Lizzy