Post from a guest columnist

(Editor’s note: I checked my email after the last post; this “guest post” from Chris was in it. Obviously, she had way exceeded the word limit on comments. I met Chris Golde at Brown University, shortly before I met Paul. She has been a wonderful friend since then, supporting us both through Paul’s first bout with cancer, maintaining friendships with each of us during the long period when we didn’t speak to each other, cheering us on when we got back together, giving a wonderful toast at our wedding. She was one of my college roommates, and Paul’s housemate before I moved to California to live with him. Her “column” below made me cry. I know it will make Paul cry. Maybe it will make you cry. All good.)

I can’t exactly refer to my perspective as “objective,” God knows, it is as subjective as anyone’s is who is a friend of Paul and Kimberly’s. But I have been privileged to have a ringside seat these last two days, and I offered to write a guest blog posting. Yea, this is probably as much about making myself feel better and useful as anything…

I spent most of Friday in the waiting room with Kimberly and her “posse,” as someone dubbed us. I arrived around 10 am – Kimberly was already about 4 hours into the ordeal. Her parents and Seattle friends had already commandeered the best corner in the waiting room. This was a wonderful space to be in. Large floor to ceiling windows offered a view on to gardens and large pine trees. Over the course of the day, the clouds cleared and sunshine streamed in. It was the anti-Las Vegas-casino environment: comfy chairs for napping, no televisions blaring unwanted noises, a keen sense of passing time, and easy access to bathrooms, corridors for pacing, art, water fountains, and a very nice espresso bar. (My favorite art piece: Down one corridor, signs spaced every 2 feet, just like exit signs, at the top of the window, except these said “inhale,” “exhale,” “inhale,” “exhale”….) All day long friends dropped by, with the offerings of chocolate, and lots of conversation, stories about everything from travel to wedding toasts, and all manner of distractions, all offered in a kind, generous, gentle and loving way.

I was completely impressed with Kimberly. She was totally in the moment, accepting everything that was offered to her. Not in denial about the difficult ordeal she and Paul are in the middle of, but surfing the wave. I would have found frequent tears understandable, but she seemed peaceful. I think that the love in the vibe-o-sphere was having an effect. It certainly helped that every 2-3 hours there was a report from the OR, and each was positive and reported that everything was on track.

Today I visited Paul twice in the ICU. I took the liberty of making these visits, rather than waiting like everyone else, because I am on a plane back home to California on Sunday. I am delighted to report that Paul was epically more healthy and coherent and present and GOOD looking than I would ever have imagined. When I stopped by this afternoon, he was sitting in a chair. Yup. Sitting in a chair. His hair had been cleaned, his wounds were neatened up. He looked great.

(Skip this if you don’t want somewhat graphic details.) Paul has yet to look at himself in the mirror, and so I will tell you what I told him. (Ed. – Thanks, Chris, I’d been meaning to write about this.) From his nose up, he looks completely like himself. No swelling or bruising. His chin, neck and throat look swollen and jowly, however, there is no bruising apparent, at least not yet. There is a wound that runs down the center of his chin, across his throat on the right side, and sort of up to his ear. There is a second incision somewhere in there as well. They are each held together by metal staples at roughly one-half to one-inch intervals, with the exception of the incision from chin to lip which is carefully sutured together. Sometimes you see a wound and you think, “yikes, that is a mess, and not well reconnected, and is going to leave a scar.” This is the opposite of that. It is extremely neatly reconnected and already looks like a merger is taking place. Someone should start doing appliqué quilts. All of these wounds are very clean, and there is little dried blood.

Paul’s left arm (I am notorious for Left-Right confusion, and if I bollux this up and get it wrong, I apologize) is bandaged, as is one thigh (I didn’t peek to see which one.) There is also the trach tube into the middle of his throat, and a couple of thin tubes entering his neck which seem to be pulling out blood and sundry liquids. (Ed. – Yup, it’s the left, both arm and thigh… and I have peeked. And the tubes are drains, both in his neck and his left arm.)

There is a clip board on Paul’s lap and a purple ball point pen for writing notes. He is making some notes for himself about what he is thinking and feeling (my throat feels weird, my shoulders get cold) and lots of notes to Kimberly and me. He is fully participating in conversation. Although I secretly relished the chance to blab on and on, he managed to get the requisite word in edgewise. And true to form, he even managed to give me some life and relationship advice. (Once a life coach…)

He is napping a lot, but he is napping because he is sleepy, not because he is dopey (gotta keep the dwarfs straight). He is remarkably lucid and cogent. This is delightful, I think, because it seems so, well, Paul. He reports being in small amounts of pain, but the pain meds are administered at 3 hour intervals, and that seems to be working.

Just one other thing to report. When Paul and Kimberly look at each other, the love is an almost physically discernable cord that ties them together. When they first fell in love in college, lo these many decades ago, we all swore we could see the little cartoon hearts floating up into the air… They are floating up and collecting on the ceiling in the hospital room.