Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Darker My Blood, L'eggo My Eggo, Take My Bump

Jo Ann's blood on a three-hour drip
A boy with a different kind of toy
When Pablo gets transfused, he gets to hang in a hospital bed. Most visits to the oncology clinic for chemo are spent in a room with a lumpy exam table and a couple chairs.
The laughing boy lion and his Mommy.

Pablo, Jo Ann and Polly were at CHLA today for a full eight hours. I was there for two of those hours–to meet with Jo Ann and Dr. Mascarenhas–and worked before and after my time at the clinic. It was a full, fairly gnarly day for all of us. I felt good when Jo Ann encouraged me to go to the office. Work has been insane. Our Darker My Love record came out today. Record release day is like baby birth day, except all the people involved in the case of Darker My Love are tall and have beards. They played San Francisco tonight with my partner Peter's band Eulogies. Peter's from SF and DML are half from the city by the Bay, and they were all excited to play together there. I wish I coulda been there. But, really, I am also glad to have been home with Pablo, eating Eggo Waffles, explaining the phrase 'Leggo my Eggo' to him as we did serious damage to our discs of malted wonder.

By the way, while we were eating our wheels of crispy golden brown breakfast-for-dinner heaven, Jo Ann and Grady were at Sunset Foot Spa getting $25-for-one-hour foot massages. In other words, while Pablo and I were keeping American union labor alive and well like John 'M.C. Cane,' they were out getting their hooves rubbed down by two sets of hands in the off-the-books economy of LA. Seriously, though, sometimes breaking the fam down to two sets of two peeps is very nice. We get to hang one-on-one with the kids, and lower the intensity around the house.

Jumping back to late this afternoon...

After many hours in our sweltering, noizy office, I came home from work. Pulled up in front of the house in my dented grey Prius that looks like a thousand others humming along the winding hilly carpaths of Silverlake. I put my key in the front door and sighed as I kicked my shoes off. My eyes lifted from the ground, and I saw Pablo's long, lanky body asleep like baby in Jo Ann's lap. Gloria Walther and Stephen Michael Schwartz, Pablo's teacher and music man from his preschool, the Walther School, were sitting with her in the den. They were gazing at Pablo, talking about him.

It was wonderful to see two people we love so much in a place we've never seen them–our home. We shared stories about Pablo. I showed them Pablo's sketch book. The other day, I was at Blue Rooster, the art supply shop in Los Feliz and got us each a sketch book and some colored pencils. Every night since then, we've been drawing in our books before bed, and after we feed Grinchie. I will scan and post some of the drawings tomorrow. Jo Ann and I are blown away by them. The delicacy and intricacy of his work is moving. As he put the finishing touches on one piece, he said, 'This one looks like a lady ghost.'

As were were looking through the book, Jo Ann shared a powerful anecdote from earlier today.

Pablo walked up to her in the bathroom. He turned to her and said, 'Exactly how are they going to take my bump out?'

Her response: 'Pablo, that is a very good question, and we can talk to Dr. Mascarenhas about it, and maybe we can even look at some pictures and see what they are going to do.'

He was satisfied with that response, and went over to the sink to wash his hands.

The story, like his drawings, blew us away. Two things we've heard consistently at CHLA: if he asks about something, that's when you know he wants to know about it; and: children going through treatment for life threatening illnesses express themselves best through artistic expression. Both of these things are spot on about Pablo. He expresses himself via laughter as well. We'll never know if his new laugh is part of his cancer journey, but he has a definite new laugh that comes up from his heels and doesn't stop. Sometimes he darn near hyperventilates. I like hyperventilation. As long as it's a latent side-effect of someone's belly laughter, and not a reason for anyone, anywhere to spend a moment of their day in the hospital!

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