Serle understands boiling an egg better than anybody … you need not be afraid, they are very small … what say you to half a glass of wine? A small half-glass … (Emma, I:3)
her own cook at South End, a young woman hired for the time, who never had been able to understand what she meant by a basin of nice smooth gruel, thin, but not too thin … (Emma I:12)
Dear friends and readers,
This morning the admiral’s dream nearly came true. You will instantly recall how he had a dream a couple of weeks ago about eating out one of our olive green bowls. Well, this morning he was not able to eat a full bowl of shredded wheat (3 biscuits) in milk heated in the microwave oven because (as he had already discovered the day before), his stomach is too small. As yet he resembles a person who has had his stomach stapled (traditionally a roux-en-y gastric bypass): the Admiral’s stomach is lifted above his diaphragm and close to his chest cage. So he had merely one biscuit and a glass of orange juice. He has also to chew all his food very thoroughly.
Still he enjoyed it. The first time in over 31 days. We vied in attempting to quote from Emma passages in the voice of Mr Woodhouse (or the narrator as Mr Woodhouse) praising or implying Serle’s mastery of thin but not too thin gruel.
The good news on Tuesday when we visited the thoracic surgeon’s office and saw Dr Kandor (Dr Fortes is on vacation) was that the Admiral could now gradually return to eating and drinking by mouth and retire the use of the feeding tube. He was two days on liquids with full use of the feeding tube (12 hours, 6 packages of isosource): water, milk, pho soup, Campbell’s tomato soup. Today began the two days on soft foods where he is still to use the feeding tube for 12 hours. (Then 4 days of soft foods and half the usual feeding tube, and then 8 days of soft foods with no feeding tube at all.)
I regret to say it was not all relief and feeling much better. Basically he ingested too much. It’s easy to do even when you are trying hard to be careful and stop eating or drinking upon feeling full, partly because the doctors all emphasize how he should try not to lose weight and eat many small meals. So today at around 11 he had a glass of water, around 1 a small plate of scrambled eggs, around 5 chicken livers fried with cooked apples (! — once for him a British boy’s delight). Had he stopped there it would have been all right but around 7:30 he had a small glass of hot milk chocolate, a digestive biscuit, and his pills.
Just now 3 hours later he is recovering from that and we won’t use the feeding tube until after midnight and then less than half the usual amounts of water and formula.
Yet worse: right now tea tastes terrible to him and he fears this cannot improve because of the configuration of his organs. He does love tea. (English peoples’ love of tea shows how much they have been a colonial power – there are no tea plantations on the British Isles. This by-the-bye.) That’s why we tried making the chocolate. He can drink that and like it but that must not be on top of other food, but as a substitute.
Drs Fortes and Khandor have been agreed that many people who have this form of esophageal removal and resection end up thinner people for the rest of their lives.
Along with this now modified good news, there was not such good news. The results from the pathology tests from the biopsies came through and it seems he is not T2, N0, M0 but T3, N1, M0. He was in stage 3 because the cancer had indeed penetrated the esophagus wall. All that is now removed. But there is nodal involvement; why one node (N1) without further spread (M0) should matter so much I don’t know but it does. He has to have both chemotherapy and radiation. Dr Antabili’s nurse phoned and we have an appointment with her set up for July 31st, and perhaps a few weeks after that, these apparently harsh (debilitating, painful?) treatments will begin. The radiation goes on for 5 weeks (a few days on, and then a few off); how long chemotherapy lasts is variable.
This does mean at least 2 weeks between the time the feeding tube is out (July 17th is the day set) and this appointment. Already we’ve planned an outing to the National Museum of Women in the Arts where there is an exhibit of Audrey Niffenegger’s work. We will look about for movies, and while it’s not likely, we can dream of going by car to Glimmerglass (New York) where we reserved a pretty room in a hotel with a lovely garden just outside town for 2 nights and were planning to go to the Flying Dutchman, Camelot and a concert. Probably the drive is too long, but we can think about it …
It is the the 4th of July weekend, a traditional US holiday:
We stayed in and kept cool – the heat in the DC area was intense, over 100, with a burning sun. The admiral and I walked in early morning for 2 blocks and then around 6:30 when there was shade again around 1 block. I had read & blogged about a flawed but powerful gothic novel on the experience the Admiral and I have been having, Harvey Pekar, Joyce Brabner and Frank Stark’s Our Cancer Year. I answered letters and caught up with my list-serv email in the morning, and then spent much of the afternoon reading about Andrew Davies’s marvelous film work, and watching his great films: the Signalman, Vanity Fair, returned to my edition of Smith’s Ethelinde.
Yvette had her last day with her boyfriend David (he’s going to New Zealand for 2 weeks for a vacation and then onto graduate school in New York State) at Mount Vernon: it was hard for them to find parking but there were shuttle buses for all from far away lots; and the two had pizza, listened to music, saw fireworks, actually touched some horses, and visited George Washington’s farm lands.
A mishap for the poor pussycats. The cat fountain Caroline set up for them is broken – a hairline fault in the reservoir. Instead of lovely flowing water, a veritable flood. Ian did look sad when it was taken away. No Caroline to play with string with, for she is off to the beach with her partner, Rob.
I am not sure that Clary was drinking much from it; she prefers the high cup just her mouth’s size which Caroline set up in the front room on a living room table.
It’s not just another 4th of July however — whatever people might like to pretend. It is now publicly and widely known that the people running the US gov’t, their hired private contractors, with fearsome military backup are conducting massive warrantless surveillance on millions of people living in the US (including you and me and all of us). In a sentence:
The government reserves in storage and taps (on occasion) the emails and internet activity of the customers of nine major companies including Google, Apple and Microsoft
More largely put:
Imperialism has been defined as doing abroad what you would like to do at home but can’t. Snowden, from the nature of his work, was made to recognise with growing dismay that what American intelligence was doing to terrorist suspects abroad it was also doing to 280 million unsuspecting Americans. The surveillance-industrial complex has brought home the intrusive techniques of a militarised empire, with its thousand bases and special-ops forces garrisoned in scores of countries. It has enlarged itself at home, obedient to the controlling appetite of an organism that believes it must keep growing or die. Of course, the US government cannot do to Americans what it does routinely to non-Americans. The key word in that proposition, however, is government. In fact, the same government can do all it likes with the data on American citizens, so long as it obtains a follow-up warrant from the FISA court. This court is always in session but its proceedings are secret; and qualified observers say it grants well over 99 per cent of the warrants requested
It’s important to read the whole of Bromwich’s diary from the London Review of Books for July 4th, 2013.
I’ve blogged about the slow-grinding destruction in the last decade of Freedom of speech, of the press, the right to a trial & to assemble & protest peacefully. So tonight I end on one of the greatest of the songs many of us like to think project the essence of American ideals, with a reminder I came across by Bruce Springsteen that “with counties just like with people it’s easy to let the best of yourselves slip away:”
Click at least twice. You will glimpse Barack Obama. He is not joining in, does not like this songfest, has that look of hauteur we’ve all come to recognise. Life for the elite young mixed race boy growing up in Hiawaii with his intellectual mother, formidable businesswoman grandmother and eventually high-powered Indonesian step-father probably did not include it.