ALLENE ROHRER – El Cerrito – 2014

Dearest Ed and Bea,

I just wanted to reach out and tell you about yesterday’s procedure and what a valiant patient Eddie was.  For an old dying guy he sure can charm the pants off of just about anyone that walks by. I think in a way he loves the attention and care he gets – he laps it up like a kitten with cream. Nonetheless, he did go through quite a bit yesterday and he took it like a very brave, strong man. Ed, he would (and does) attribute all his strength to you. You taught him well on how to be a good man – helpful as he possibly can be in any circumstance, a great fixer of things, and stoic and brave when necessary. Bea, from what he relates to me, you have given him sweetness, understanding, a great thoughtfulness and compassion. All of these things and so much more, make him without a doubt, the love of my life.

Ann and he drove into the city (we here in the Bay Area call San Francisco “The City”). I took off from work around 11a.m. (got in at 5:30 so I could leave early) and went to CPMC to meet them. Eddie was already having the CAT scan when I arrived. Ann was out somewhere re-parking the car. (2 hours is all you get on the streets of San Francisco before you get a ticket.  We set alarms on our phones to remind us that Ann had to go re-park again, which she did in her practical and cheerful way – no tickets were incurred – yay!!) I didn’t have to wait long before Eddie came wheeling out of the CT room in the portable hospital bed. Apparently he won the support of a lovely young blonde blue-eyed nurse who went to battle for him when he was told he could not have the paracentesis procedure because his platelets were too low. (That is the Buchanan charm at work there!)

Next he was sent to ambulatory care where another lovely blue-eyed blond nurse named Jodie (who looked a lot like Jodie Foster) took up his case and got him some much needed pain reliever (she called his PCP and worked it out in about 2 minutes, God bless her and all the rest who served him yesterday). She was a sweetheart and just gave Eddie big smiles, lots of patience and the best care possible. As you might know, he can be a bit difficult at times. Ask him a question like “what is your pain level on a score of 0-10 “ and you can get a much convoluted answer. Nonetheless she was sweet and patient and very attentive to him. (And Ann and I sort of filled in the gaps.) It took a while to get the whole platelet thing straightened out and she was diligent in pursuing it (as it wasn’t “ordered”).

Then we went back to the other floor for the much needed paracentesis (or as I like to call it, tummy tap). Again, we encountered the sweetest medical professionals and again, Eddie charmed the pants off of them. My oh my, he has a way about him. The young lovely nurse (this one was dark haired with tattoos – oh kids these days…) went over the procedure with him while she performed a ?? (whatever that thing is called that they use to see babies in the womb, crap, I can’t remember) to find the best place to stick him with, without hitting bowels or other major organs. That was actually really cool to watch. Both Ann and I got to see that. We could see all the fluid (it was dark vs. the lightness of his internal organs).  She took photos of various locations so to speak with the fancy medical machinery. Here is the funny part – Eddie was afraid he would react physically to the pain of the needle going into him (to administer a local anesthesia) and said he might need to have his arms in restraint so he didn’t punch the doctor. This adorable young woman said, oh go ahead and punch him and she’d stand back from the danger. I got the feeling that she wouldn’t mind and might actually get a kick out of him punching the doctor.

There was another completely cute adorable young male nurse (whom I quite enjoyed myself) who was watching over his vital signs and helping with all the set up, Carlos was his name, and he was a total sweetie. He asked Eddie what music he might like to hear during the procedure and then dialed it up on his iPhone. Young adorable Carlos told Ann and I we would have to go because there wasn’t enough room for all the machinery and people involved. Ann quickly bowed out (such a doll she is) and I stuck around until the last minute, crammed up against the wall at Eddie’s feet. It turned out that I was enough out of the way that I got to be there with him the whole time which is what I had hoped for. When arrogant young Dr. Whatever came in to do the actual poke, I held Eddie’s feet and young tattooed cutie pie held his hands. It really was a big needle going into his gut, but he fended off the pain quite well and didn’t try to punch anyone. I was so proud of him and the way he took it all in. I can’t even imagine (well actually I can a tiny bit having had injections into my knees, but I don’t think it really compares). The easy part was the suction of 5.4 liters of fluid from his gut. (At this point young arrogant doc was gone and we were left with the cutie nurses.) The woman really went to bat for him. When the drainage slowed she had him shift a bit and pushed on his abdomen to get as much fluid out as possible. Eddie was all in for this. He loved that she really wanted to get it out as much as he did. She pushed so hard she left fingerprint bruises on him but he was totally OK with that as in the past people have given up on this procedure when the going got tough. He wanted it all out. She did another ultrasound (ah – I remembered the word!!!) after and it was really an astonishing difference. Eddie, in his ever brave self bore all this so well, I can’t even express it properly. He thanked her profusely for her efforts, told her he loved her (as did I, though I didn’t verbalize it).

Next we went back to the ambulatory care unit (where they had his clothes) and were quickly discharged. (I was very impressed here and discharging can take quite some time.) Then we hit the road home through SF rush hour traffic. Eddie was a prince through all this. I think he was just so relieved to have 12 pounds of fluid removed. Ann dropped me off at the train station (I had rehearsal to get to) and then went to her place to retrieve his medical bag and took him home. Ann is a total hero to me. Her devotion, attention and friendship to Eddie is instrumental to his survival over these last 6? (or so) years. I admire and love her and am so grateful for her.

Eddie was very pleased and relieved by the whole day and for that I am also grateful. Although I know it cannot change the inevitable, I am happy as all get out to know that his suffering will be lessened and he can eat better, probably play music, and tinker with all his projects. The drugs he has to take for the acetis (ugh, sp??) really knock him out. I want his time to be as meaningful to him as possible. I love him so very much.

I hope this email gives you some small bit of happiness. Your beautiful son continues on in his last days so very valiantly.  And again, I love him and I am so proud of him and will be by his side, along with Gen and Ann, and all those who love him.