November 2005 Archives

All The Photos In The World

edit: the photo link now works

Alright, folks, if you want to waste an hour looking at wedding pictures of someone you may, or may not, know you can find some of the photos that Mark took for Mendon and Kristen's wedding here.

Just a note: the first photo is a daughter of a friend of ours really enjoying her cereal. :-)

And now, an update on my mother. We now have the results of the pathology. Briefly, the tumor was on the tail of her pancreas. It was blocking the splenic (sp?) vein, making it rough for blood to get out of the spleen. Tumors are apparently sticky, so part of her small bowel stuck to it, which was why that part had to be removed. Anyway, all margins were clean except the one around the kidney they removed.

So, stage 3 cancer - no metastatic disease. I'll let you decode that. Chance of diabetes is low.

She begins chemotherapy in 2 weeks and it goes on for 8 weeks, then 5 weeks of chemo and radiation with another round of 8 weeks of chemotherapy to finish up.

I'm here for questions.

New Haircut



I got a new haircut!! It really was time. I was a little nervous, because I love my hairdresser in Israel, but my mother's hairdresser did a great job.

Today is my parent's 34th anniversary! Congratulations Maman and Papa!

Oh yeah, and my brother got married yesterday. It was beautiful. Everything went really well. Our mother was able to join us and even participate in the ceremony. The only snags: well, I forgot to bring my dress to the hall (oops, thankfully my mother didn't come early so she was able to bring it), the funniest one by far however, was that Mendon did not have his suit pants! HAHAHAHA! He had to run home to get them, which somehow became a rumor that he had to go out and buy them, which I'm sure would have been truly awful since he is 6 foot 6 - finding pants on the fly would not have been speedy.

And that jacket that the lovely bride is wearing is floor length. It's gorgeous. It was made from some beautiful fabric that she brought back from India this summer - and yet, somehow, in the Henn Mansion she looked rather Victorian.

My Marcus Brody

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My 'husb', as one of my one of my friend's says, arrived last week. Ah, what a refresher.

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Ruth and Ban

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Ruth and Ban were the hippies back in the day that taught my parents the Baha'i Faith (okay, there were others) and they became our godparents (and thus potential guardians).

I missed their visit today, but Maman dutiful took up the ritual and it looks like they had fun with Photobooth.

Heidi (and Kristen and Mendon)


Heidi is my hero. Our family owes her an unrepayable debt of gratitude.

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Heidi is a wonderful friend, has been my mother's travel companion, and they have been mistaken for sisters and lovers both (hehehe - different circles). Anyway, she is an ICU nurse. She came over today and finally was able to help us figure out how to really help my mother recover. My God, it is such a relief. My mom says she feels like she turned a corner. That's not really true: we all feel like we turned a corner today. Today didn't start out so good, but damn, it feels good. It was a good day. And another trooper of a woman brought over enough pasta (finally! not soup!) for an army. Woohoo.

And then to end the evening I picked up Mendon and his fiancee, Kristen from the bus station. Here are they're pictures. Oh, and I've added another element: GRR photos. Just for you, Val! :-)

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How do I spell relief? P-H-O-T-O-B-O-O-T-H!!!

Aunt Cindy

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Aunt Cindy has been in my life almost since I was born. She's a close friend of my mother's. When a Nigerian man moved into our community and started calling all the men "uncle", we quickly transitioned into calling everyone aunt and uncle. Hence the 'aunt' in Aunt Cindy. She's just a few blocks away and is very close to the family. When each of us gets married, she's the one who has made us a quilt.

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Aunt Cindy was diagnosed with breast cancer 2 days before my mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. She's getting an amazing new radialogical treatment twice a day for a week - tomorrow is her last treatment! The differences between her treatment and my mother's are so striking I'm sort of jealous, but so happy for her too. To have them both going through cancer at the same time is bad enough, but having Aunt Cindy (and her husband, Uncle Ev) still be able to come around and support my mother and us is infinitely better.

Aunt Cindy came over to visit with my mother while Nathan and I went to The Gathering Place, a resource center for cancer patients and their families. I'm so glad we went, they were able to tell us a big thing: BACK OFF. Nathan and I, having watched the nurses push our mother to get up, drink, eat, walk, etc., were being a pushy about that at home as well. The woman we talked to at The Gathering Place was able to say, yeah, make sure she's hydrated, other than that, let her sleep, "cocoon", heal and simply get used to how this new body of hers is going to work. It was so reassuring to hear that what she's going through is normal - both us and our mother. And the lady there was finally able to give us a clear idea about how long this period should take - 6 to 8 weeks. Finally. Well, she's 11 days in.

Gloria, Victim #1

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I think I'm going to submit all of my mother's visitors to Photobooth! And hopefully, it'll eventually be photos with my mother instead of me.

Want a picture? Come visit!*

*Just call in advance, wash your hands, be germ-free and get the hint when it's time to go. $19.95, while supplies last.

My Take


Day before yesterday, Monday, was a really good day. My mother was wiped out because of going home - that's a lot of activity - but she was so happy to be home. She had a good day.

Yesterday, in her opinion I'm sure, was crappy. At least, that's what she conveyed to us.

First off, what I saw: my mother slept a lot, drank some, ate 3 meals (albeit small), and walked a bit.

What my mother saw (in my opinion): I'm weak, I hurt, I'm not hungry and the people around me are showing signs of distress. (i.e. I got a migraine, my dad blew off steam at the Clinic for messing up our doctor appointment dates)

My thoughts: my mother is not only recovering from major surgery. She has cancer. One way or another, the surgery was not the end of it. We are, all of us, dealing with this. And as we try to help her heal, inevitably, with the diagnosis death has come to our home. It is not being mean, but it has asked for a seat at the table. And we have no choice but to give it a chair. It may be here a while before it leaves - who knows, it may be 15 or 20 years, but we are aware of its presence. Which means we are all sort of starting to go through the process of dealing with it - and the stages of emotions that go with it. There's no fighting it, we just are. It just means that these emotions are another thing we have to deal with along the way. Winning, for me, means we go through that process, my mother recovers, and when someone does finally die, we can all say good-bye in a manner that reflects us having accepted it.

That's my take, anyway.

Essence of Birthday


Simple Gifts

Today, Monday, 14 November 2005 is my mother's birthday. It is exactly one week since her surgery. This is already a milestone.

Before the surgery, she told me she was looking forward to this year's birthday like no other. Well, she will probably spend it as she has spent no other. Simply a ride home from the hospital and go to bed. Her bed. We might sing to her, but as one of her get well cards said - that may simply add to her suffering! And unless you know how to light candles in applesauce, we'll probably skip that tradition, too.

Here's me signing off for today to carry out my birthday gift - I got my maman to pick up from the hospital!!

Bound to Happen

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Well, I suppose I was sort of waiting for this to happen. Knew it would sooner or later. But it's still tough to watch, and apparently I wasn't there for the worst of it. Nothing too horrible, but my maman simply didn't have a good day today. She went to soft solid foods today and her body told her in no uncertain terms that it was too soon to do so.

Here's to tomorrow.

Day 6


Several sources have sent my mother cards and gifts to be opened each day she's in the hospital, since she was told she'd be there for 7 - 10 days. Right now, it looks like she might be going home on Day 7 or 8! We've started bringing home all the flowers and gifts she has been given over this past week.

She is recovering so well at this point that she's getting antsy in the hospital, feeling badly for the other patients who are, as she says, "actually sick". Folks, I'm still completely aware we are not yet out of the woods, but it is good to hear my maman talking this way.

I'm going out to breakfast with some of my friends (college roomie!). I feel a little guilty for not heading right back to the hospital room, especially because now my mother is able to really appreciate company, but I also know I need a little self-time if I'm going to be able to really focus on my mother when I am with her. My dad has already headed out to the hospital and Nathan will head in soon, so I know she's covered. And if today is anything like yesterday, she won't be alone. At one point yesterday she had S-E-V-E-N visitors in her room. Oops. (normally restricted to 2) But you know what? She had the 4th most difficult surgery performed on her. Yup, that's right. 4th. She's entitled.

Taking the Increments


Well, my mother has now gotten up out of bed several times. She sat in a chair with me yesterday for about 20 minutes. And since she's going to the bathroom on her own now, too, I imagine she's gotten up at least once again since we left her yesterday evening.

Soon they'll take her off her morphine-derivative access (she pushes a button to get more), so I imagine the next couple of days are going to be just oh-so-much-fun.

Nathan arrives today - the sooner the better for me. We need to get some groceries. I just can't do the cafeteria food and $2 for a bottle of water, and all I seem to bring with me is applesauce and a banana. It's my mother who's on the liquid diet, not me. I need to start eating, but complex mealish stuff doesn't look very appealing to me right now. I've been eating salad in the cafeteria, but that really only goes so far.

I also should find myself a sim chip for my cell phone so that I can use it locally. I went to Radio Shack yesterday and they clearly didn't have a clue that you could buy a sim chip without the cell phone.

Well, I best be off.

Cheers to another day.

Just Another Day

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Yesterday was a day of more improvements. My mother sat up in bed for the first time, and by the end of the day it was her own idea to try to do it again. As you might imagine, the first time wasn't very pleasant for her as this is to essentially get her remaining organs to figure out where they want to lay. She was also feeding herself by the end of the day - just ice chips, but she was doing it herself.

Thanks for commenting, folks. I can't tell you why, but it's so very reassuring to hear from all of you.

Well, it's another day, so I best get ready to head into the hospital so that I can keep you all posted!

Just This


Not much to say really, other than the Dornbrook and Dean families are probably up in the 5th percentile of the top most relieved human beings in the world today.

It's indescribable. Simply put, my mother's surgery went well. They were able to operate and they found no "floaty bits" as my mother called them.

We all simply cried and cried and cried yesterday we were so relieved. I'll still cry if I think about it for too long.

Damn, it feels good to be alive today.

We're not exactly out of the woods, but the first hard part is over and now we can focus on her recovery and Mendon's wedding at the end of the month. Oh, and her birthday on Monday - WOOHOO!




This is what this picture signifies to me. It feels like I have put too much Nivea hand lotion on my hands and because I have nowhere to put the extra lotion, this concept has become slippery in my hands. I no longer know how to hold it, how to make it keep its shape, I am afraid of dropping it.

It even looks like I have utter blithe confidence about my life and my future and my mother has a slightly sorrowful, knowing look that no matter how much she may want to protect me, she knows better. She knows the future will bring hardships that I will simply have to face. But for now, she will love me and guide me and protect me - and with that she has given me the tools to face those future challenges.

But this picture, this is what I know comfort as. It reminds me of how it has been for me. How I always thought it was supposed to be. God, Nance - these pictures are freaking priceless. Thank you so much for this gift.

And now I know that this is not the only way that comfort can look. Now I know some of what my mother knows. And of course, I am the better for it. That's what my mother does for me. Everything she does for me and has done for me has made me better. She has made me worth being. Maybe that's the look in my eyes, too. I know what I've got is good. I know it's worth envying.

What I've got is good.

The Oracle of Bacon at Virginia


To get everyone up to speed:

Kevin Bacon is a well known actor and has inspired a college movie trivia game called Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, which is intended to find the Bacon number of an arbitrary actor or actress. The Bacon number of an actor or actress is determined as follows:

Kevin Bacon himself has a Bacon number of zero.
The Bacon number of actor or actress A is defined to be the minimum of the Bacon numbers of all the actors or actresses with whom A appeared in a movie produced by a major studio, plus one.


The Oracle of Bacon at Virginia computes the Bacon number of any actor or actress from IMDb data (Internet Movie Database).

So, why do I care?

Because I'm related to a woman who has a Bacon number of 3 (that's the average number of a Hollywood actor!).

Folks, tante Corinne was in a film in 1981 (L'Amour nu) as an interpreter (appropriate, since that's her job), and according to the Oracle of Bacon at Virginia, she has a Bacon number of 3.

I kid you not.

Here's the trace:

Corinne de Longevialle was in Amour nu, L' (1981) with Vernon Dobtcheff
Vernon Dobtcheff was in Hamlet (1990/I) with Helena Bonham Carter
Helena Bonham Carter was in Novocaine (2001) with Kevin Bacon

And for our purposes, tante Corinne is the daughter of tante Mona, who was Mimi's sister. Tante Corinne was very close to Mimi and thus knows Maman, Uncle Christophe, Uncle Claude and Uncle Philippe. I met tante Corinne when I was in Paris back in 1996.

Does this mean I have a Bacon number of 4?

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This page is an archive of entries from November 2005 listed from newest to oldest.

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