Sunday, January 6, 2008

22 Resolutions; and Pissy's Revenge

Happy New Year, Dearest family, friends and loved ones.

Well, ’08 is here and just a few days old. And Dennis has resumed his assigned seat in the Infusion Room. This past week has been somewhat rugged, (it has even exceeded “Pissy) in spite of the fact that he hasn’t been rayed for over a week, and his chemo-umbilical has been severed. He’s officially a free agent. However, Dennis’ gastric system didn’t get the memo, and old habits are hard to break. He’s been tossing his cookies with aggressive regularity, and he hasn’t even eaten cookies! “Nausea-R-him,” and he never goes anywhere without his trusty blue plastic bowl we fondly refer to as his “porta-barfy”.

In fact, we keep the potty completely surrounded with soft warm towels in case he gets the urge to “fall on his knees” in front of the porcelain “goddess of hurl.” Dennis has managed to maintain his niceness through the whole ordeal, but the problem is that he has become the incredible shrinking man. So the Clot decided to handle the situation in our usual democratic fashion. We held an election. On the ballot was the question “Do you want a feeding tube?” Dennis voted “no.” The Clot immediately vetoed his decision. (Hey, we gave him a vote…and he voted wrong!)

Erin presented her case for the tube with charts, bullet points and expletives, while Brodi and I punctuated it all with, “You go, girl!” Dennis, in his extremely weakened condition, finally succumbed and agreed to the proposition just to stifle the all-out verbal assault that was our version of “shock and awe.” Oh, there is power in the spoken word…and tantrums! Our motives were pure. We just wanted Dennis to be larger than the mass that’s to be resected! And he had definitely exceeded the “skinny threshold” of tolerable body mass. He now has a feeding tube! Yesssss!

The feeding tube is an amazing contraption. It’s a small distal tube that hooks around his ear, is taped securely to his beard (oh, there will be a primal scream when that formidable piece of adhesive is removed!) enters his nostril, extends down his esophagus, by-passes his stomach, and ends somewhere in his nether regions. I am not sure just where it all goes, but some things I don’t need to know. I do know that after the first night of nutrition infusion, he put on three pounds. This was in direct opposition to his daily 3-pound weight loss. I don’t need to understand quantum physics to know this is a good thing. The feeding bag, when full, assumes the contour of a full bladder. And since I am particularly subject to the power of suggestion, I spent the night on the couch in order to get some sleep. (You know the consequences of listening to the sound of a stream.)

So, what can go into the feeding tube? Here’s a list of possible candidates: pablum, 7 cans of Jevity 1(a curious-looking liquid resembling the concoction regurgitated by birds to feed their young) and plain unflavored soda water.

What cannot go into the feeding tube?

Pureed hamburger

French fries

Muffin mix




Bubbler Gum

Political campaign promises (something to do with a viability threshold)

Marbles (the grandkids were just wondering)

In addition, we have been instructed not to try to further shrink the mass by shouting harsh language down the tube, because this might interfere with normal bodily functions. This was a bit of a disappointment because we all want to get in touch with Dennis’ inner bowel system by unleashing our pent-up expletives. We were advised that such action, justifiable though it be, could exacerbate constipation, so once again we reluctantly agreed to comply to prevent any further distress for Dennis. But this is way hard.

Dennis and I partied our brains out on New Year’s Eve. And then we retired at 9:00 p.m. And I thought as I was drifting off that when I awoke, it would be next year. But I had neglected to factor in the “aging bladder phenomenon.” So when I next awoke, it was 11:00 p.m. and still 2007. At first I expected to be disappointed. 2007 has been, in the words of Queen Elizabeth, our annus horribilus. (That’s Latin for “a buttload of trouble.”)

But the final hour of the year gave me a chance to reflect on things, and I found that I was rather reluctant to relinquish great portions of these last few months. I have pondered so many things in my heart, and I realize those things will be influential in shaping the year to come. In years past, I have looked at the coming year as great expansive pristine territory to be consumed with carnivorous appetite. I no longer feel that way. I now understand that it is vital to reminisce, remember and recall…to ponder and assess…to look around, not just forward. And so, in my best John F. Kennedy “Ask not what your resolutions can do for you, ask what you can do for your resolutions,” I have assembled a rather motley collection of ‘o8 commitments. You will notice right away that they are not intended to improve character, lose weight, or finally earn that elusive degree in rocket science. But they do have an inherent value that has been missing from my list of resolutions past.

  1. I am going to go for extended periods unaware of what time it is. ( This is a result of my watch battery dying suddenly and without warning yesterday.)
  2. I am going to take side roads and drive 40 mph to reach my destination. ( I already do that on the freeway, but always run into a flock of “birds.”
  3. I am going to single-task…or better yet, practice task deletion.
  4. I am going to sit down to talk on the phone.
  5. I am going to shred every to-do list and every deadline.
  6. Eat popcorn.
  7. Color with crayons and go out of lines.
  8. Have so few obligations that they must expand to fit the day instead of wishing for more time to accommodate my severely over-programmed agenda.
  9. I am going to take a vow of silence…for at least a few seconds each day.
  10. I will own up to being a frosting freak. I, however, solemnly vow not to change.
  11. I am going to lobotomize my inhibitions. (Yes, Virginia, I actually do have some inhibitions!)
  12. I am going to try to avoid rehab for excessive jelly belly addiction.
  13. I am going to work on staying up past 9:30 p.m. and still be compus mentas.
  14. I vow not to make tacky hand gestures to my fellow drivers…even if “he started it.” This will be enforced more from lack of manual dexterity than self-restraint.
  15. I will put some pictures in an album.
  16. Nightly accounting will consist of what was done, not what was left un-done.
  17. I vow to chew all our bubble gum before June. (We just purchased 2 cases, and there are 800 gumballs to a case!) That’s 1600 gumballs in six months. How many gumballs per day? You do the math, but by June I’ll have jaws like a steel trap!
  18. I plan to dress in leather and get on Dennis’ screamin’ yellow motor scooter and race my daughters up and down Wallace Lane, until the neighbors report me for disturbing the peace and contributing to the delinquency of a senior (that would be me!)
  19. Read a book in one sitting…beginning with War and Peace…while chewing bubble gum. (This is the only multi-tasking I will allow.)
  20. Bake Irish soda bread.

21 I will not think what ’08 will bring, but what each day will deliver.

22. I will severely restrict dusting to semi-annually…quarterly at most.

As you can see, these commitments are not designed to enhance the year, but to glorify each day. I would hate to come to the end of my days regretting I hadn’t chewed more bubblegum!

Saturday night Dennis and I were able to attend the annual WillowCreek Pediatrics party, and it was so fun. Our confidence level was high because we remembered to bring along our designer blue barf bag we were given at the Huntsman. It is an engineering marvel, and obviously designed to be multi-functional. Besides the obvious, its design could accommodate episodes of hyperventilation, carry toys and books, act as a silly hat, carry cookies, and can be hung by the chimney with care. It fits neatly in my purse, and is aerodynamically adaptable for hurl with trajectory in any direction. We were delighted to have lasted till the salad was served before conditions made it imperative for us to leave. This was difficult because it was so good to be among some of the dearest people in the world. We were waving good-bye when, as if it had all been planned, everyone picked up horns and noise-makers, and spontaneously gave us a “21-toot salute” that Joshua himself would have envied. Talk about synchronized tooting! It did not, thank goodness, bring down the walls of the restaurant (you know, liability suits and all that), but it did generate that strange climatic atmospheric phenomenon once more that causes rain to fall on Dennis’ beard. Of course, the guy has eyes of cork, but it was reassuring for me to witness visual confirmation that he is hydrated. The eye-drought was ended. This is all very good.

Most of all, this year and always, we will begin and end each day with profound gratitude that we are blessed with such cherished family, friends and loved ones.


The Clot


Snowflake Ashtons said...

Way to go Den, get that food stuff down the tube and you'll keep putting on the pounds. Let the other member of the Clot eat the frosting and muffin mix! You get the nutritious stuff??
We're praying hard for your success.
Love ya Bro, Dave and Sandy

Kenton and Marianne Ogg said...

I wish I could give you one of my butts Uncle Dennis! Wouldn't that be one of the best Christmas presents?