Friday, February 13, 2009

A Note From Yesterday

Friday 5 a.m.

This post is indicative of where I am in life right now: struggling to be 150% at home, struggling to be 150% at work, struggling to be 150% on the bike (where I burn off steam and create headroom for the two prior entries).

I started this post Thursday morning at 8 a.m. Got to the office early, skipped my ride, and wanted to have an hour to think, write and be. Didn't really work out cos I wrote half a post and saved the draft. I've decided to finish the post, even though you already know from Jo Ann's Thursday post that Pablo's blood numbers weren't high enough for admission. Why do I want to finish and post this writing? Because erasing or gutting a post is something I've never done since we started the Pablog on May 18 2008. It's a rule that has helped me keep communicate accurately the emotional as well as the informational. If this blog were just information, it would be called the PabWire—just another information ticker in a world full of scrolling babble.

So here it is....

Thursday 8 a.m.

Jo Ann and I are hoping that today Pablo will be admitted to CHLA. The dude needs more chemo, needs to keep turning over those pedals so he can reach the summit of this mountain called cancer treatment. He's a l m o s t there. If his blood numbers have risen as much as our hope, we'll be in business for the next two nights. And he'll be that much closer to the finish of this insane race that kills cells as it grants Pablo life.

As I sat down to write this post, something occurred to me: Who
wants and plans to have their child admitted to a hospital? That's kind of insane. But it's our reality. And we've gotten so used to it it feels strange to drive by CHLA and not stop there. I can see CHLA from my new office—it feels strange to see it as a giant cluster of buildings, and not the spot where Pablo's residing. The energy we have gather—and manage—is immense. It's a mix of 'always on' and 'always off.' The latter is a rare state for either of us, especially me. In the mix of all this treatment stuff, I have to go to work and be the person I signed up to be with clients, employees, colleagues, et al. Sometimes I'm operating on the emergency backup to my reserves. Take that back: since May, I'm almost always operating from that standpoint.

These days, when there's a crisis in my professional life, I am able to observe the situation, my reaction, other people, in a way I'd never imagined. It's not that I consciously think 'this is not as [insert word] as Pablo's cancer.' But it's not too far from that. Almost always, I try to insert a positive word or phrase. It would not be fair to others or me to counter-weigh every situation against Pablo's cancer. It'd be like Rocky Balboa walking around all day at the mall randomly trying to find an opponent who could take his mighty punches. Cancer is a fierce foe. And it's not my job to use it as a weapon. The handful of times I've invoked Pablo's fight in a moment of anger or verbal struggle with another person, I've regretted it. So...turns out, when I don't make things into 100-pound monsters, they don't take on that darkness. And when I do, it takes me longer to pull through than ever.

Before I sign off, I have a quick story to insert—you know how I get when it's story time.
A few months ago I spoke at a tour of the new CHLA hospital, which will be opening this time next year. The tour was for philanthropists and assorted VIPs. Among them was Johnny Carson's nephew who, along with the head of the Carson Foundation, donated $5 million to the new hospital at the event. On the mic was me and Mary Hart from Entertainment Tonight and the CHLA CEO Richard Cordova. Kind of ill, if you know what I mean. I got up to the podium and started talking off the top of my head, from the heart—freestyling is what we call it in the biz—I never use notes.

The first thing I said was, 'This is the most beautiful building, filled with the best technology for the best medical professionals to help our sickest kids. My greatest hope for this new hospital is that nobody would ever have to bring their child here.'
Some people smiled (they knew what I meant) and others scrunched up their faces wondering why they'd written checks for millions to a hospital that would allow such a nut to speak to them. I elaborated, weaving our family's CHLA story into a larger narrative about what a symbol of hope and strength the new hospital will be when it opens. The room loosened up. Coffee was sipped and cookies were bitten. I noticed that some people were wearing their hard hats even though they weren't required in the room we were in. While I was standing at the makeshift podium—I recall that it was a construction cart of some sort—I wondered if I could ever truly convey what it was like for me, for us, for Pablo.

I went on about Pablo's amazing journey at CHLA, and how even though his cancer diagnosis was the toughest thing our family will ever face, there were myriad blessings embedded on his path of treatment and recovery. And plenty of angels with CHLA ID badges clipped to their shirts helping us along the way. By the time I was done, Mary Hart was ready to do her thing. She hugged me, and, at long last, I was just one tiny step away from the loving arms of John Tesh. My message was simple: thank you for the Benjamins,
and let's hope that the research tower does such great work that, one day, the hospital could be empty. I couldn't—and still can't—stop myself from feeling this way.

Friday 5:30 a.m.

Don't ask me to explain how I went from pondering Pablo's blood counts to a recollection of a speech I gave months ago. It just happened. There are probably more than a few connectors joining the two moments. Before we turned out the lights last night, Jo Ann told me that she and Polly are going to take Pablo to Disneyland first thing this morning. They're going to have a blast. And I know why I'm saying that.

D-land pix and tricks coming later today. Thanks for listening....

1 comment:

chad said...

Have felt many of those feelings myself. Glad you guys are starting to see some light at the end of the tunnel. All the best as you go forward, and thanks for the John Tesh reference, made my day.