This word I like... We architect our life...
A song, a sigh... developing words that linger...
Through fields of green, through open eyes... It's for us to see.
Interanimate: To animate or inspire mutually

Monday, January 25, 2010

Speedo, July 10, 2000 - January 24, 2010

Speedo, one of our 2 Italian Greyhounds passed away in his sleep early Sunday morning.
We are reminded of him all the time now when we are at home, and he is not. He was a lap dog, more comfortable in our laps than anywhere else. He was always there at the door to to meet any of us when we got home, and he'd try to climb us when we sat down in order to playfully lick at our ears. We got Rudy, the other hound, about a year after we got Speedo. We're all hoping Rudy adjusts well to his new life without his friend and tormentor. One of Speedo's favorite pranks was to start barking in Rudy's face until Rudy started howling back. Eventually, they would bark in sequence, one, then the other, for minutes until they tired. Speedo seemed like the brighter, more spirited dog.

It was really hard to see Speedo's lifeless body lying on his dog bed Sunday morning at 7. He first appeared to be sleeping, but normally he would be up, or at least move his head to look up at me. As I stood in the doorway to the lower bathroom where the dogs slept, I rubbed my eyes to better focus on his form. His chest was not moving. Rudy was not lying in his familiar place next to Speedo. He was not even in the room. I crossed to the outside door, opened it, poked my head out and shouted for Rudy. He came running from the corner of the yard. When he got close to the house he dovetailed over to the back door, did not seem to want to come to me at the side door. Later on, I walked to the corner of the yard and found a small cleared area in the leaves where it looked like Rudy spent some time sleeping in the cold morning air. Hours before, Rudy must have sensed what happened to Speedo. He was afraid.
Speedo had a vet visit last Tuesday. Dr. Meyers was not hopeful. Speedo had been developing several health problems over the past 3 years. Italian Greyhounds do not have a long lifespan. But it amazed me how the spark and spirit of life animated that little dogs body. Like all animals, his body is the result of perfect creator engineering. Billions of of atoms, molecules, structures, chemicals reactions, come together to animate a small, nervous sack of bones and fur. For all the perfect engineering, the animal was not a machine. It was a unique spark that animated Speedo. It caused him to connect to us in ways that could never be engineered or constructed from the elements. That's my opinion. The spark, the spirit that animated Speedo has moved on, that's all. He died on his own terms. We actually thought we'd have to take him in to be euthanized on Friday. But he seemed to be doing well, not in pain by the end of the week. He still met us at the door with the gyrating tail. He still had an apatite. But he was breathing quite hard. The vet gave us some doggy valium to relax his muscles and not concentrate on the tempest going on inside. Saturday night, while sitting on the couch watching the Vikings self destruct, Speedo sat by my side and kept looking at me with his cute brown eyes. He visited with all of us in turn that night, I think. He knew he had to go. He left on his own terms. We were really glad for his nine and a half year visit with us.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Day +730 TWO YEARS

The suspense for me officially ends today.
Thanx to statistics on post stem cell transplantation outcomes, if I kick off from here on out it will not be because of 'transplant complications'. My odds of living to a normal old age are better than 95%.

Today is the day, 2 years ago that I laid in a hospital bed overlooking the beautiful Torrey Pines golf course, dying; poisoned by chemicals dreamed up by some creative geniuses sitting months before in their cubicles in some silicon valley think tank, clicking furiously on their mice to make new and strange combinations of hexogonal carbon-based chains on their CAD/CAM computer software. The jet from Baltimore had arrived the night before spewing ozone-killing gases from its engines, yet carrying various joy-giving very-late Christmas gifts as well as a life-giving small igloo cooler marked 'Biohazard'.
The poisoning had worked to perfection. Because I was a good and well-behaved patient, the hospital staff had decided to postpone my impending exit by administering daily transfusions of bodily fluids one normally doesnt give a second thought about. The poisoning produced no pain, just a deep, deep queezy feeling and dreams of an increasingly bizarre nature. The dreams were becoming less and less an activity associated with sleeping. I'll be writing more about that one day soon.
On this day in 2008 I was to witness some rare events. It started in the early afternoon. First, I was visited by 2 head nurses at the same time. Even one head nurse was a rarity in my room. They brought in a large round bag with an orange colored concoction. This was the first round bag to be hung from my chemo-tree. Every other bag had been rectangular with round edges. Those bags always came in round around the middle but left the room flat in the middle, empty. The orange bag was round and full. It was like a big orange donut. As I watched in stupefied wonderment, the nurses commenced a procedure between themselves that I instinctively knew would be very very bad to interrupt. For instance, a joke to them about orange donuts, and I'm not here today writing this hoo-ha. The nurses read the copious text on each bag to each other, saying "check" this and "correct" that. I drifted off for what seemed hours, woke up to the head-head nurse asking me "Are you James Anderson, birth date October 4, 1954?" I almost said, "Yes, but I know for a fact there is another James Anderson with the same birth date in this hospital." I really dont know why I think such things at the most inopportune times. The orange fluid in the bag seemed to be glowing. "Yes", I said, "I am one and the same person."
As Tiger Woods warmed up his clubs for the Buick Open on the golf course outside my window, and the afternoon sun shown brightly through the January afternoon mist, a concoction of Steve Ever's blood and stem cells was strapped onto my chemo tree and the pump adjusted to 200ml per hour. The thin plastic tube between the bag and the port on my chest turned neon orange. From a slow death, to a quick poisoning to an unimaginable antidote; in fifteen minutes, the mad path my life been taking had come to this fork. The orange bag was empty. I could once again take some control over my future.
On this day Steve flew home to Pensacola from Baltimore. I entered into a twilight zone. A zone of of waiting, of dreams, of existing; waiting for deliverance, hoping and praying for the next 2 years to be kind.

Steve has had good things happening in his life the last couple years; new kind and caring people, new job advancements, new responsibilities. We keep in touch often. I am very happy about this and think he deserves all good things for what he has done for me and my family. Apparently he was able to grow back the stem cells he so graciously gave me 2 years ago today. Stem cells are like love. You can give some of yours away to someone in need and it will grow back thicker than before. Wait, that makes stem cells more like hair.