Monday, February 15, 2010

She's Back!

[Susannah writes] Things people should know about me:
  • I am wearing my eggplant hat, made by Marla Emery. I have dubbed it my engraftment hat; the green tendrils may become permanent. [She pauses, and comments: “People won't think my brain is back, will they?”]
  • One of the most beautiful and kindest things that Ethan has ever said about me was that even when I wasn't really there, I was still nice to people. I am totally heartened that with my rationality stripped away, I was still trying to be kind to others. That's pretty cool.
  • I need desperately to put one of those vacation-responders on my email. But what should it say? All suggestions will be considered.
  • It is so lovely to be back in my own narrative present—that's what it feels like. My body is slowly starting to follow suit: I'm resuming eating, drinking, walking.
  • I would like to give a shout out (a sing out?) for the most wonderful singing Valentine ever: to Becky Stratton and the amazing singing women of Middlebury. Their valentine brought me to tears, and I've made everyone listen to it. As with the eggplant hat, the nurses want to know if they can more where that came from.
  • Finally, the chain of prayer on my wall now includes Britain Yearly Meeting and Cuba Yearly Meeting. Which is kind of terrifying. Thanks to Maria Armenia Yi, Marigold Best, Grandpa George Watson and others for the personal messages grounding those august bodies of prayer.

She's back!
Susannah has recovered from what seems to have been a steroid-related confusion. Meanwhile, all of her numbers are significantly improved, and we are currently looking at a discharge date of the 19th, though that might change. Nicole Martin and I have been super-cleaning the apartment in preparation.

This is not to say that we're entirely out of the woods. Susannah is still at high risk for infections, graft-vs.-host disease, and other complications, many of which can be very serious. And in fact, the deep confusion she experienced is not really a run-of-the-mill part of this treatment. So our relief at seeing her recover from that is kind of an emotional red herring. There is a lot of work yet to be done. All the same, it is an amazing thing to see someone harrow that space.

I don't like the idea of miracles. By that I mean, I don't like the idea of specific miracles, the “Lo, then God parted the SUVs and gave His faithful free on-street parking” type. It grates at my intellectual desire for explanations. It also gives me a kind of ethical qualm...if we see a bone marrow transplant as a miracle, aren't we snubbing the thousands of people who have devoted their lives to the work that makes it possible?

But I do believe in the general miracle; I am in awe of that. Death and stasis and entropy seem so compelling. Bad tends to go to worse. In contrast, the riot of living and thinking—more life, as the old blessing goes—feels almost like a sucker bet. If I'd never seen a human brain and someone showed me one, slimy tofu mushroom blob that it is, I wouldn't sit through the pitch. Obviously something like that couldn't do more than drip and ooze, let alone write a sonata. If they then told me that this brain thing had stopped working properly...well, forget it, there's no way it could recover. Right?

And yet the whole world is full of life and thought, and it persists tenaciously all the same. That is the miracle.


  1. Vacation responder: "Gone marrow fishing!"

    Ray Rappold
    NYSC Staph 1975-77, 79-86, 92-93
    (and fellow Geographer)

    **Got you in my thoughts.

  2. The whole Warfield-house in Dallas erupted with cheers when Rich finished talking to Cheryl, last night and told us you were doing better. We are so happy and thankful, that things are going better. I am also so thankful to Ethan for posting this blog. I look everyday to see if there is an update, and although I knew you were better as of yesterday, I was so eager to read it in black and white as well.

    We all love you both!


  3. Mensaje de Zoyla: dile que se cuide, cuéntale que rezamos por ella aquí ("aquí" es nuestra congregación, la Asamblea de Dios en Vergennes), que le mando un abrazo.
    Mensaje de Irma: admiro muchisisisisisisímo a ambos, a tí Susana -brillante hasta en los momentos más oscuros- y a ti Ethan - tan científico y amoroso, increíble narrador y esposo-. Mil abrazos... y seguiremos rezando por ustedes.

  4. OK dear ones, time to get ready for the most massive South Beach Dance party of all time. Jam all of those dear doctors and nurses and PCAs and PTs and Reiki therapists, and restockers, and nutritionists, and case workers, and room service folk, and neighbors into your tiny room and bogey on out in case I can't be there with you that glorious day when you leave. And then we can have an exuberant but maybe smaller one back in South Hadley.
    Deep love and gratitude to you both for sharing this incredible journey with all of us.

  5. Hooray!!! Welcome back! Reading this totally made my evening.


  6. Your dad announced you were better in Quaker meeting Sunday, and we all lapsed into a deeper silence of thanks!

  7. So glad to hear this news! Welcome back! Relish those every day miracles. Life is, indeed remarkable and wonder-filled.
    Big love to you both,
    Sarah Neelon

  8. I'm so happy to hear this news! You are both in my thoughts and prayers.
    Much Love,
    Mariah McGill

  9. Awe, to the miracle of life!
    With deep gratitude

  10. So glad to hear this good news !!!!
    Much love, rockets, and rock and roll !!!!

    ROCK ON ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !


  11. I've been so grateful for these blog posts. Susannah, I love you so, so much... I'm so glad you're back "in your own narrative"!

    Ethan thanks so much for holding it down. You both rock harder than a 70s hair band.

    Love, love, love,


  12. Hello Susannah and Ethan.

    It's been a long time. Amy Dickson was here this weekend and let me know that you need some extra thoughts, light, and love these days. It's coming at you! Can you feel the live feed from the West Coast?!

    Coincidentally, my girlfriend is an RN on a hematology oncology floor at the University of Washington. She's a new nurse, but let us know if there is anyway in which her knowledge can help!