Happy: A Quest for Life After Death

Monday, August 28, 2006

The Tortoise and the Tortoise

Mat's officially been home for one loooong week. We're proud of the progress he's made -- he's eating, walking around a bit, and sleeping through the night! (I may use similar language if I ever have cause to start a baby blog.)

Mat's also watching TV (odd to think of this as progress, but it is) and got the XBox Kelly sent fired up within minutes of its arrival (thanks Kelly!).

We're now in search of the most comfortable chair in the world. Mat has a Lafuma zero-gravity chair (indoor and outdoor comfort! http://www.sitincomfort.com/larech.html), but it's a little lacking in back support. Mat bought a chair from Relax the Back, but after four days it's back relaxing at the store.

Suggestions welcome -- but keep in mind that the client is picky!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Homecoming 2006

Mat's home! He's looking forward to getting more than half an hour of sleep at a time and having clothes that cover his rear end, although he can still hear those IV machines constantly beeping.

He'll miss the hospital food, though.

OK, that's not quite true. Mat requested one stop on the way home from the hospital: at a pizza place for a slice.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Prison break

In case you're looking for Mat at MGH and find that he's gone astray -- he made a prison break! No, he's still at MGH, but he has a new room that feels a lot less like a prison cell than his previous room, which was oddly shaped in all the wrong ways.

Mat's now in room 748 of the White Building. I'm not sure of his phone number there, but you can call the main number (617-726-2000) and they will be able to transfer you to his room.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Comic Relief

For some much-needed comic relief, here's a photo of Ian from Sunday (courtesy of Ellen Patton, photographer extraordinaire).

Mat had a good day today. He's pretty wonky from the pain medication he's on, but is in good spirits. He met his goals for today: he sipped juice and took two brief walks to the nurses' station and back (about 50 yards each trip).

Goal for tomorrow: drink more, walk more. More walking means no more catheter (something that completely fascinated Ian when he came to visit this afternoon).

An update from yesterday -- Mat feels up to having visitors, so if you'd like to stop by, you're welcome to. Mat's at MGH in the White building (elevator A), room 716B. He says, however, that you should keep your expectations low!

Monday, August 14, 2006


It's official -- the surgery is over, and it went well.

Note to self: resume breathing.

When Dr. Tanabe and his team "opened" Mat and examined his liver -- up close and personal -- they found exactly what they expected to see. Tumors on the right and left lobes, but nothing in the center section to cause a change of plans.

As expected, Dr. Tanabe removed the entire right lobe of his liver (containing a dozen tumors) and three tumors from the left lobe -- hopefully leaving none of the cancerous tissue. The surgery itself took about five hours, with a couple of hours before for preparation and a couple of hours after for close monitoring in the recovery room. No need to spend the night in the ICU, and, so far, no need for a transfusion.

No photos of Mat for today's post -- I don't want to scare any small children who may come across the blog. Mat's a little yellowish and waxy looking, and has tubes sticking out of various veins, but don't worry -- while I visited Mat briefly after surgery, a doctor came to examine him and pronounced that he looked "great." All I can say is his standards are reeeeeally low. (What do you think his wife looks like?)

The real photo op of the day came before the surgery when Mat dressed in his hospital gown, a shower cap to contain his non-existent hair (last week's attempt to regrow hair was a false alarm), and ... a pair of tights. Thigh-highs, actually.

Mat is left with about 30-35% of his liver, so he may temporarily develop jaundice, but that's nothing that can't be managed. And within three weeks, most of his liver will have regenerated. If you'd like to visit, Mat is at Mass General Hospital, in the White building, room 716B. He's pretty busy being checked out by nurses and doctors, bathed, etc., but by about 11 a.m. is done with the morning ritual.

Heartfelt thanks to you -- too numerous to count -- for helping us walk on water.

Monday, August 07, 2006

The Fine Line

Here's a picture of Mat on his birthday (two weeks ago), blowing out his candles with Ian's help. This picture is the only documentation we have of his hairless phase. It's been about six weeks since Mat's last chemo treatment, and he's letting his hair grow back in!

We're enjoying the last week before Mat's surgery -- doing home repairs. We really know how to have a good time.

In all honesty, we watched the entire first season of Lost on DVD over the last two weeks before doing any work ... Don't start it unless you have a lot of spare time. I liked a quote from one of the show's characters, a religious woman: "There's a fine line between faith and denial. It's better on my side." I can relate.

The thought for today is from something the great philosopher, Mat Burnett, talked about yesterday during fast and testimony meeting. His latest hospital roommate, an elderly man with a heart condition who complained a lot, inadvertently taught him the importance of gratitude.

In reflecting on this lesson, he said: "We're not entitled to a lot of the things we think we're entitled to. The things we are entitled to are a lot more important."

Discuss amongst yourselves.