Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Last Friday we had our three-month consultation with Dr. Mulvihill, and, as always, it is better than an infusion of endorphins. As I have said before, the doctor is well-acquainted with all Dennis’ residual organs, and has pronounced him greater than the sum of his remnants.

We were reviewing the inventory of the “Dennis Warehouse,” and we figured that with all the remaining component organs factored in, and his current weight, he is half the man he used to be. That’s OK. Anything over half…we round up.

So here is the current statistical up-date:

1. Gall Bladder: fond memory
2. Stomach: ½ of original
3. Pancreas: ½ to 2/3 remaining, but happily generating enzymes to the best of its ability.
4. Small Bowel: even smaller
5. Organ Placement: deranged and re-arranged

Bottom line: No asides. No edema. No sweat. But the best news of all is his tumor markers: They are at 24. This is well within the parameters of normal. We are very glad. Dr. Mulvihill advised Dennis to let his body be his guide on activities, but there are basically no limitations as to what he can do. He can golf. He can play tennis. He can even take up running. (Memo to selves: Get personal trainer, STAT!) In fact, the list of things we can do now was so exhausting that we came home and collapsed in our loungers panting and whimpering.

Then Dr. Mulvihill commenced kneading Dennis’ mid-section with unusual vigor…and I immediately went into the fetal position. I have been the sworn guardian and protector of the surgical site,- militant and territorial-and have been known to throw myself bodily between his equator and an approaching grandchild. So you can understand my reflexive, aggravated cringe as I saw the surgeon’s hands head for the restricted area with no sign of hesitation or restraint. However, Dr. Mulvihill has such skilled hands, he can locate, massage and interpret the current status of any residual organ while simultaneously detecting and identifying the miniscule culinary fragments of Dennis’ most recent meal. So I have solemnly vowed to relinquish obsessive custody of the domain…the world is now welcome at Dennis’ belly!

In addition to other questions, Dr. Mulvihill also addressed the issue of post-surgical belching. He not only encouraged it, he celebrated it! Basically his attitude was…if it feels good, do it. (This advice often runs contrary to our basic up-bringing, so we must be discretionary) This is all good. We were thrilled because Dennis has developed the gift of speaking full sentences in one gaseous expulsion. This newly-adopted skill has provided some remarkable conversations at the Ashton household. It has also significantly impacted any impending disagreements. I find it impossible to rebut a debate with someone who presents his side of an issue while belching. When I laugh, I lose! Dennis has yet, however, to best our daughter, Erin, when she’s in top form. She can recite the entire Gettysburg Address without interruption – all 272 words – and take a bow, all within the context of a single belch. Even Abraham Lincoln would envy such oratorical prowess. Dang! We’re so proud of her!

Of late, our neighborhood has been the target of a rat infestation. Actually, I exaggerate. It is a single rat. It has been the uninvited guest of several surrounding houses, but a few days ago, it paid a social call to our residence. Dennis noticed it as he was working in the yard, and its reputation had preceded it. It was a behemoth from the depths of Beelzebub. The thing was huge…Ratus Gigantus! We named it “Ratzilla.”

Dennis called me out to the upper deck, where we could get a clear view of the varmint from above. It looked like a small continent in a sea of grass. So we immediately devised a plan to take the little beast out. Dennis suggested we drop the current edition of the Physicians Desk Reference on it, and, with precision timing and an accurate aim, death would come quick and painless. But I thought the PDR might be over-kill. I know it’s a gender thing, but I figured there could be a kinder, gentler alternative while still accomplishing complete and utter annihilation. So I suggested dropping my anthology of Jane Austen instead. It’s lighter reading than the PDR, and the outcome would be the same…only lovelier. Jane Austen is so pleasant to read. But Dennis insisted that this was not exactly a Lizzie Bennett moment. The choice was either drop a copy of “King Lear” with additional harsh language, or the PDR. We opted for the latter, hoping to do the little bugger in with a preponderance of prescriptions. So Dennis raised the 10-pound tome above his head, chanted a mantra consisting of a list of ingredients and dosages of his favorite medicines for good luck, and released the PDR with great velocity in a downward thrust trajectory. We watched the split-second descent as if in slow motion. The Rodent, unfortunately, anticipated his impending doom, and in spite of its bulk, moved with the agility of a Rubick’s Cube master, evading “rat”ification by a nano-second. We continued hurling insults after the fact, but they were rather impotent in lieu of the obvious…NER…No Evidence of Rat. Actually, I think we were both secretly relieved not to have to clean up rodent remnants from the Physicians Desk Reference…or Pride and Prejudice…or King Lear. This was all good and quite tidy. However, if I see him again, I’m pulling out all the stops. Next time he shows his face…I’m getting out the Tolstoy!

We love you all,
The Clot


Cam Ballou said...

So glad things are going so well for Dennis! What a blessing!

Mykio said...

It's so good to know that you are gearing up for your big comeback to WCP world (well, in a round-and-about way!) We're all so excited and ready to have you back! Glad all is going well!

Deanna said...

you didn't really through the book over your deck--that is such a funny visual. I actually have a rat trap--want to use it? We had pack rats that liked to live inside our cabin--and I have trouble with that. Way to go Dennis! This is all good. Keep it up (I know you will). I love you guys.