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Today in My History

2000: AQ&D Won't Be the Same
2001: We've Got Elegance
2002: Famous Friday Five
2003: Jiggle Belle
2004: Thank You, Ruth Bernhard
Never Again
2006:  Chaos Central
2007: No Sharp Objects
2008: Thirty-Eight Years Ago

Avenue Q

Books Read in 2009
Updated: 4/1
"Every Living Thing" 

Recipes for Cousins Day Drinks
(created 2/12/09)

Home Remedies


Brianna Turns 1 from Bev Sykes on Vimeo.

and on You Tube

Look at these videos!
Ned's Birthday Video for Bri
Dog in Blue Sweater
What a Wonderful World
Extreme Shepherding
Amazing Magic Trick
Ode to Joy

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Bri's 1st Birthday

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Airy Persiflage

Bev's 65 x 365

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Premio Dardos Award


2 April 2009

This week's House was a powerful story of a man struck with the ubiquitous mystery illness which leaves him totally unable to respond to stimulus.  People around him have no idea that he is aware of everything that is being done, of everything that is being said.  He can even see bits and pieces of things, but can't communicate at all.

It reminded me of the old Dalton Trumbo book, "Johnny Got His Gun," published in 1939 and seen as leftist pacifist propaganda, which was pulled from re-publication by Trumbo and his publisher after the end of World War II (according to Wikipedia).

"Johnny Got His Gun" was the story of Joe Bonham, a young soldier serving in World War I, who wakes in the hospital after an explosion.   He gradually realizes that he has lost all of his mobility and his senses except for touch — he has lost his arms, legs, eyes, nose, ears, tongue, both jaws and all of his face — but that his mind functions perfectly, leaving him a prisoner in his own body.

It's been a ong time since I read "Johnny Got His Gun," but what I remember of it was that he tries to communicate, but has no ability to and everybody ignores him except for one nurse who senses that there is someone inside there.   He can hear but she doesn't know it.  But she talks to him anyway, and he finally finds a way to communicate--I think he bumps his head trying to tap out Morse Code.  What he wants is to be on display so that people can see up close and personal the horrors of war, but he is a governmental embarrassment and he is moved into a darkened, locked room, and given only the minimum care, his sympathetic nurse being assigned elsewhere.

It's a very disturbing book.  The guy, like the patient in the House episode, can't even kill himself because he is completely trapped inside a non-responsive body.

For someone, like me, with claustrophobia, it's terrifying the think about being inside a body, completely aware of all that is going on around you, everything that is said to you and about you, but unable to communicate at all, unable to make the slightest movement.

I thought about that when we were visiting Walt's mother in the hospital, and listening to what she was saying.  She does get somewhat delusional when she's in the hospital.  She sometimes sees things that aren't there (or...having watched Touched by an Angel enough, maybe she sees things that ARE there and that we just can't see!).  She can't really see much, though she can see some things.   She kind of goes in and out of understanding that she is in a hospital, not the Assisted Living facility.  In one sentence you first think she understands that it's a hospital, but then she'll ask you to "run upstairs" and get something out of the apartment for her. 

I'm trying to imagine what it must be like to be 95, to be scared (I can't imagine she's not scared), not to recognize where you are, to be unable to find a visual focal point to ground you and help you understand that no, Norm is not going to come and visit you today, and that no, you can't just get into the wheelchair and go to the dining hall, because it's far away from where you are.

At one point she was saying that she never imagined that it would take this long to die, but on the other hand if you ask her if she's ready to go, she says that she is not.  She talks about how she will never leave the hospital this time, and then in the next breath asks to go home.

It's like being locked in a box and unable to find a way out, unable to understand where you are, unable to really say what you are thinking to the people around you.  And yet you have to hand it to this lady.  She was widowed at 43, with three children to raise, and she did it very well.  She's traveled all over the world (though can't remember most of her travels now, she says).  She's seen all three of her children grow up to be adults of whom anyone would be proud.  She's seen all of her grandchildren married and she has held a great grandchild.  She is endlessly interested in politics and sports and even if she can't see a golf tournament she listens to it. 

I'm sorry that she is going through such a rough stretch, but very impressed with how she has lived her life and how she is handling this end of life period.    She could die soon, or she might live to celebrate her 100th birthday.   She has been such a fighter all of her life that I'm still planning on making her 100th birthday cake!

LESTER.  Tot has a new name, Lester, following a Sykes family tradition of giving female dogs male names (actually we've only done it once.  After our first dog, Ho Chi Mutt died, leaving behind the puppy Jeff (Mutt and Jeff), we started looking ahead to our next pair of dog names and decided to go with Seymour and Schwenk (the middle names of Gilbert & Sullivan).  We decided if you only had one of the pair, Seymour was a better name than Schwenk.  But when we went to the animal shelter, we all fell in love with a female puppy.  Walt agreed to let us adopt her, but insisted we were going to stay with the original name.  So we had a girl named Seymour for 12 years and never did name a dog Schwenk.

Jeri and Phil wanted to name a dog after Red Sox baseball pitcher Jon Lester, who has survived cancer, and whom they find an inspiration.  And so their new dog, whom Walt will transport to Boston perhaps next month, is going to be named Lester.  

I'm still enamored with this puppy.  She is so well behaved and is so good with the other puppies, though she is three times their size.  I think she will have a long and happy life in Boston--and will have a great relationship with Jeri and Phil.

Ashley received the report on the autopsy of Diana:   "Diana's heart was very very enlarged. She likely had a congenital heart defect from birth. Puppies like this don't die right away, but as they grow and need more oxygen they get worse. All the sudden she stopped being able to use her limbs -- which I interpreted as neurological from the medication, but it was actually because she was not getting enough oxygen so her body redirected her available oxygen to her vital organs. I held her a lot in the end, so hopefully that made her feel better. and her brothers and sister cuddled her a lot too."

FYI:  I don't know what is going to happen with entries for the next several days.  I am reviewing a show in Sacramento tomorrow night and then driving from Sacramento to San Rafael (probably arriving around 1 or 2 a.m.) so I can take my mother to the hospital first thing in the morning.  I will be there at her house most of the week, since she can't drive and has doctor's appointments every other day.   The problem is that there is no longer any internet connection at her house, so I will be posting whenever I get out and look for the nearest wi fi hot spot each day.


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The remaining Royal Puppies with Lester


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MILES TO NOWHERE:  104 miles

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