Archive for July 13th, 2009

A very nice weekend apart from the life-threatening medical crisis

Word count: 11182 | Since last entry: 1253

Spent the weekend in Seattle, visiting with our friend Janna. We had several very nice meals with her, including her birthday brunch with her friends Jack, Irene, and others. We had tons of fun playing with Sophie the new kitten and Spanky the not-so-new cat — it was like LoLCats Live! 24/7 and my jeans are covered with little kitten-claw snags — and although my allergies did act up it was never a serious problem. We attended the Clarion West party in honor of Elizabeth Bear at Mary Kay Kare’s; always nice to see Bear, however briefly, as well as many Seattleite friends (both old and new, permanent and temporary). We went to a steampunk swap meet where I scored a fabulous floor-length leather coat and we ran into several Seattle friends, followed by a fine lunch with Jerry and Suzle. We had a nice walk around Fremont and visited Cleopenguin in her new home. And we bopped down to Kent for an excellent Chinese dinner and a game of Apples to Apples with friends Hal and Ulrika.

But the main event of the weekend, and dominant emotional note, was Mark Bourne’s heart valve replacement. The plan was to hang out with Mark’s wife Elizabeth at the hospital on Friday and then attend the Clarion West party after Mark came out of the operating room.

It didn’t work out like that.

The operation went smoothly until they went to take Mark off the heart-lung machine and close him up, at which point his heart did not start up as it should have. Since then Mark’s situation has been a continuous medical crisis and a hell of waiting for those who love him. The details can be found in Elizabeth’s and Janna’s LiveJournals, but at last report his chest had still not been closed (they don’t want to do that until they are 100% sure everything is working properly in there) and he’s still in critical condition. The good news is that he’s been unconscious this whole time and when he wakes up he won’t remember any of this.

The model I’ve been using is that one’s social support system resembles the roots of a tree, with the weight traveling down the trunk and being spread out to successively smaller and more distant roots, putting less and less weight on each smaller root until it eventually vanishes into the ground. The weight of this crisis falls on Elizabeth, of course, and I think Janna’s in second position (she and Mark are Evil Twins and share a birthday, which happened to be the day of the surgery); I viewed my role as supporting them (especially Janna) with my physical presence, stupid attempts at levity and light conversation, and occasional errands. It didn’t feel like much but I hope it helped. I then turned around and depended on Kate and our Seattle friends, and so on. I thought I was handling it well until I showed up at the Clarion West party and EBear commented that I looked wrecked.

Anyway. Home now. Managed to write at least 500 words every day, if by “at least 500” you mean “well, anything more than 250 as long as it’s a good-faith effort”. Haven’t yet written today but there’s still an hour or two before bedtime; I expect to complete a first draft this week with a week to cut it back to 10,000 words before the next critique group deadline. All in all things are going well.

I’m still worried sick about Mark, of course, but I know that he’s in good health, is in one of the best cardiac units anywhere, and has the best circle of friends one could hope for.