Friday, December 5, 2008

Nightlife in the hospital

The IMCU stepdown unit, where Brooke is now, has some real advantages, chief among them comparative quiet and a fold-out hideabed couch. The staff is so kindly that they will even bring you sheets and blankets, and let a Significant Other sleep here overnight. This is my third night here with Brooke—we’re trying to think of it as a swank hotel in some remote exotic place.

So here it is 12:24 am and the respiratory tech has just arrived for the breathing treatment—this happens every four hours around the clock, and consists of checking the numbers on the ventilator, putting albuterol and mucomist in vent lines (this opens up the bronchii and breaks up the secretions), then using a percussor to pound on his chest (Brooke likes this, even though he can’t feel most of it), then sucking out the secretions through his trach. I have a hard time watching this part of it but B is pretty stoic. But it’s more fun this evening—the tech is from Puerto Rico, from an area we’ve traveled in years ago, and wonderful guy. So we put a wild disk of Cuban music on the CD player and are, well, partying.

And the tech will come back at 4:24am for more.

It’s nice to share the lighthearted moments with you. They’re not all that way. Indeed, this is more like a rollercoaster ride than a continuing party—hard uphill climbs, fearsome downhill swoops, a few breathtaking views, but for this one a pretty hefty entrance fee.

I’ve been reading Brooke the current comments on the blog and it is amazingly energizing to him. Indeed, that’s how we got into such a party mood, even before the respiratory tech arrived. Thank you guys for writing.



Christian said...

I just read the story in the Daily Chronicle. I'm so sorry to hear about this! (And I'm sorry I hadn't heard about it sooner; I just happened to check the Chrony today.)

Now that I am a professor I think often of the "model" professors I've had over the years. I never had Brooke in class but he did come give a guest talk at a retreat for the MPA program when I was the student rep to the faculty committee. We were in Cedar City and he talked to us about the play to see that night. It is amazing that a single lecture could stand out so much a decade later. I still distinctly remember his passion for sharing what he could about Shakespeare.

I wish Brooke and Peggy all the best!

Amber said...

Dear Brooke,

Why am I not surprised to hear that you have transformed a routine medical procedure into a late-night Latin dance party!? Peggy, you tell the story so beautifully. It is like something out of a novel--the stark reality of the treatment details contrasted with this lovely, spontaneous moment of humanity and community.

I just discovered the blog and feel so lucky to be able to share in all of your triumphs and progress. Many, many thanks to your family for allowing those of us who are far away to feel a little bit closer to you during all of this.

Lots of love and good wishes from

Amber Kuzmick (it was Baird-Baidinger back when I was your student)

T.R. Hummer said...

Great spirits, all of you. Can I send some music? Seriously, what kind of gear do you have available--if I were to attach an MP3 file to an email, could Brooke listen to it? And would he like to hear music from outside your personal library? If so, let me know, and I'll gladly send some.

Keep the faith as best you can, all of you.

Love, Terry

Peggy said...

Dear Brooke,
Whitey and I have been thinking a lot about you and Peggy during the past few weeks. I hope I have figured out the process of commenting and thus letting you know that correctly. We admire your courage in making your way through this troubled time. We also send Peggy love and are so sorry that we are so far away. Lisa has kept us up to date on the happenings. Love to you both, Peggy and Whitey

Margot said...

Dear Brooke,

I just heard the news and wanted to let you know that yet another far-flung former student is thinking of you and sending warm and hopeful healing wishes westward to you. I'm grateful for the blog and glad to note the increasingly upbeat tone - you have an amazing family and friends.

All the very best,
Margot Singer
(Ph.D. 2005)

Anonymous said...

Hello, former student of Dr. Hopkins in the late 1970s, early 1980s here. He is a helluva good man and I am sorry to hear of his accident but glad he is recovering. Will keep him, and all of you, in my prayers and thoughts.

May god bless you.

Harry James

David and Bonnie Bennett said...

Dearest Peggy and Brooke,
I am not good at this blog business but I will try one more time. Maybe the third time is the charm.
We are so grateful for the blog you share with us and you are in our hearts and thoughts constantly.
People who don't even know you personally are telling us that they miss seeing you at concerts. You two are a very big presence in this city. We wish you the very best for your recovery Brooke and look forward to seeing you in the customary places again.
With love from David and Bonnie Bennett

George Constable said...

I've been trying to think of ways to turn your situation to my advantage--such as by visiting you and unstoppably reading you books by enlightened conservative thinkers. In the meantime,get better fast. You've always been a high-speed guy, and I expect you'll set some medical records this time. Evelyn and I are thinking of you.

David and Bonnie Bennett said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Brooke: I keep imagining that waterfall of words tumbling out when you first had the chance to speak after all of this time. What an amazing moment! Today, I'm just adding my entry to the chorus cheering you on from out here. No matter what else we might be doing, we have an ear cocked toward the hospital room, wondering what progress you made today, sending love to you and Peggy.

Steve Adams said...

Dear Peggy and Brooke,

I just read your Thursday and Friday postings and am heartened to hear about your "up" times and progress with speaking. The chest clearing procedures reminded me of the documentary that Frank Deford produced for public television 25 years ago about his daughter's multiple sclerosis. I spoke with Brooke about the film when he came here last August.

My love to both of you, Steve

Jack said...

Brooke and Peggy-
Caulk up another tiny victory to your account. You have broken me in as a blogger. Of course, you have also taught us all much more important things over the last three weeks--especially the capacity to see glimmers of light through dark clouds. May your skies brighten over the next three weeks, and over the coming months and years. Looking forward to seeing you soon. Onward, dear friends!
Jack Newell

Lincoln W. Hobbs, Esq., CCAL said...

Thanks for both of the last two updates, both of which I just read.

Reading these posts welled up my eyes.

In fact, my eyes haven't welled up anywhere near like that for...hmmm...
a month and a day ago...

Before that, it's been a long time.

Annie said...

All the Foothills Dames and Dogs miss seeing you and Peggy in the Foothills! You are both in my thoughts pretty often these days. I keep thinking of the wonderful and most enviable trip Brooke and Gale Dick did to the Silk Road. It is only one of the things you have done in a truly full life, and we are just in such high hopes that you are well on your road to recovery. Don't give up ship, either of you! Best to you both, Annie George

Sally Smith said...

Hi, Brooke and Peggy!
I got the biggest kick out of your Cuban party. I have had four total joint replacements and have logged many nights at the swank U of U Hospital. In my experience, staff members (especially at night) become the most incredible "friends of the road". They are terrific people, and the relationship is so intimate. The last time I was in, I brought "The
Office" on dvd, and we laughed all night.
As I was folding laundry a few minutes ago, I reflected on the fact that a very few times in my life I have been graced by the example of people who really know how to behave. Thank you for your example.
Much love and many thoughts,

Anonymous said...

Brooke and Peggy - We've been thinking about you a lot. What an ordeal to continue to go through! Peggy - your support in all of this has got to be more important than the procedures and the medicines.

Thank you Peggy - and Sara and Lisa for this blog. Particularly for those of us not in SLC, it's an amazing way to keep up.

As always we send our good thoughts, and prayers and love, and hope for good progress.

Nan and Norm

Patrick Zwick said...

Dear Brooke:
Great to read that you've got a speaking valve! Your first audible words must have been an amazing commentary to hear. I remember your once telling me about a Zen retreat you went on where you didn't speak for a week. I always think about that in my yoga class as I try to clear my mind of all the hubbub. You amaze in so many ways. I drove by City Creek tonight wishing this was a film we could run backward and redo but time as I know it, seems to be a one way street. Stephen Hawking would probably question that premise. I think there will be much to learn on this unexpected route you're taking us all on. Each step in your recovery brightens the lives of the multitude of wonderful souls you've touched in your remarkable journey through life. I don't know if anyone's been reading "Angle of Repose" to you, though I'm sure you've read it. First time for me and I'm enjoying it a lot. Mary's been reading Stegner's selected letters and told me about Mary Hallock Foote, on whom Stegner loosely based the character of Susan Burling. I love the dimension that her sketches give to this complex grandmother. I don't know why I'm telling you, a famous English professor, this. I guess it's just that I miss our conversation so much - you still have a lot to teach me. I missed a bunch, strumming my way through life on an old bull fiddle. I know Peggy reads the blog posts to you, so thought I'd just chat it up a bit tonight. We'll be by soon with a few tunes. Don't know about Cuba but we've got Argentina covered. If love could heal, you'd already be walking. Buenos noches, amigo.

Nancy Hopkins said...

Dear Brooke,

Love reading your former students' comments. They have reminded me that you used to get a standing ovation after every class you gave at Harvard. And you were only an assistant professor at the time! Considering you were operating in the praise-free zone of 01238 it was even more amazing. I hope you are getting a little bit spoiled by seeing the enormous impact you have had on so many lives.

Also enjoy seeing all the love you and Peggy have inspired by your amazing life together. We all feel lucky to know you both.

Have been e-mailing with Lisa. We will try to connect in the next week or so, though there is scarcely standing room in Manhattan this time of year and I go in rarely.

Much love and wishes for continued good news and party updates from Salt Lake.


Ellen B said...

We have continued to follow progress virtually and cheer the wiggled toes and shrugged shoulders, the move to a step-down unit, improved lungs and newly regained ability to talk. We hope that the wiggled toes in particular bode well for at least some recovered function. Our prayers and thoughts will continue to push in that direction! In the meantime a salsa party sounds like the way to go!

Ellen and Leon

Sarah said...

Peggy and Brooke-

Just a quick note to say that Chris, Jack and I are sending lots of good thoughts your way from Seattle.

Lots of love to you both!

Sarah Francis

francois said...

Dear Brooke and Peggy
Just to say that Shelley and I think of you every day. It has seemed from the start that you had more visitors than you could handle, so we haven't been there, but we are thinking of you.
with love
francois and shelley

francois said...

Dear Brooke and Peggy
Just to say we think of you every day.
You've had so many visitors we haven't wanted to add to the crowd, but we do think of you and wish you the best.
francois and shelley

Cynthia said...

Thanks for the blog--it is a privilege to read about your daily ups and downs. Life in the hospital is a competely different world, I know, and it's possible to appreciate the wonderful people who give their all even as you chafe at the shortcomings of the system.
All of us at the Utah Humanities Council are thinking of you and sending best wishes.
With love,
Cynthia Buckingham

Anonymous said...

1:30 a.m. - again can't get back to sleep - again bring your story back up on the screen. Nan and I - and all your great friends and family would like to provide, as the song of the season says "comfort and joy". We know, however, that we can't really do that. What we can send you are words of support, and love and friendship and encouragement and an awareness that we think about the two of you a lot, and we hope.

Yeah, with this and about $3.50 you can buy a decaf latte at Starbucks......but.....To those of us who don't live in Salt Lake, that's about all we can do (except T. R. Hummer who wisely thought of music).

Peggy - thanks for the frequent postings, especially about events like visualizing whirled peas!

Norm and Nan