7.31.2006

Monday, July 31, 2006 11:30 pm

As much as this sucks and sucks and blows and sucks... I am so lucky to have so many kind and amazing people in my life. I keep returning to this theme. The role of social networks - the goodness of others. Our ability to care for one another and lift each other up. Today I had great chats with Russ and then with Lance, Jenny, Steve, and Scott from UDel who brought food and beer and laughs.

I took Susan's suggestion to heart and wrote in my lunch/dinner dates and other hoo-ha on the calendar. Great idea, CSM. Yet again.

This is just to say that reading posts and emails today really showed me that I'm not alone. Not only that I am processing my grief as many other people have in the past with the loss of a loved one... but that right now, other loved ones are grieving for the loss of Michael in a similar way to me. And that makes me feel like I'm not alone.

This blog is an amazing thing. It gives us a space to come and share our pain and laughter, our memories and our sadness and our hope for the future. It's served so many different purposes over these months, but now, turning to it to share this experience with you all- once again brings me strength.

Love to you all. I hope you .. .and I... sleep well.

danna

7.30.2006

Sunday, July 30, 2006 - midnight. Not sleeping yet.

I can't sleep. I feel sick. I sob, stop, sob, want to throw up, sob, sit in the quiet and feel like I'm floating into nothing. In my life, when things aren't right, I do things to make things better. I plan, I organize, I strategize. But, there is nothing to do here. Mike's dead. As much as planning this bash and looking at pictures and movies keeps him "alive" - he's not. And he will not be. And that thought makes me feel lost.

I flipped through the TV channels to find something mindless. Hillary addressing the Democratic leadership council. How f*cked up is it that Mike's gone and she and Bill and George and Dick and the rest of the headliners are still here? Not like they were supposed to go first... but... yes, they were supposed to go first. They're old - er. It's crazy. The war is still a mess, Israel and Lebanon are imploding. The war that Mike and I protested in March 2002 is still still still going on. And he's gone. It's f*cked up.

I flip some more. Sweet Sixteen, MTV's nod to a hyper-materialistic Celebrity-adoring culture is on. Some uber-sexualized sixteen year old girl is at a Beverly Hills jewler buying a $175,000 necklace to wear to her big bash which is going to be so great that people will "remember it for the rest of their lives!" I don't even know what to say to this one except that I found myself unable to change the channel because I didn't want to miss it if (as I was desperately hoping would happen) the $415,000 car she rented to drive up to her red-carpet party accidentally ran over her and her $175,000 necklace.

I flip some more. Ali G. Show. Borat is singing the "Throw the Jew down the well" song to a bar full of townies. Mike loves Ali G. We sang that song all the time around the house... and to Tom tom. Who is a Jew. And Armenian, if you're interested. Tomtom, can I post that?

Anyway, there's a finality here that I can't get my head around. Cannot. How can he be gone? He was just here. One year ago we hadn't even moved into this house yet. We had just returned from a vacation up in New Hampshire where Baxter sat in green grass for the first time at the Hebron town common where we met with old friends and listened to folk music.

And in case you're considering it - grieving alone blows. Avoid it at all costs. All I want is to be held and have someone wipe my tears away without even saying a word. But, the person who would do that isn't here. F*ck. All the planning and organizing in the world can't make this better or even different. Distration is the way out. But sitting here in bed watching the ceiling fan spin like a scene from Apocolypse Now isn't exactly distracting.

I'm going to get some tea. And maybe watch some other mindless show that won't help distract me.

World Cafe Live Tickets Available - but boy is the setup confusing...

Tix are available for purchase... Either call: 215.222.1400 OR go online to: Get tickets here.

But... bear with me. This is confusing.

The illustration above left is what you will see if you choose to buy a ticket for a seat at a table for Sunday Aug 27th. You will soon find yourself frustrated that most of the best tables appear to be already marked "unavailable." The five tables you see way down in front and center are all marked "Unavailable" as are the four tables in the second row center (just in front of the audio console).

HOWEVER, this is waaay misleading. Not only are these "tables" not unavailable... they're not even really tables at all! --- see... told you it was confusing. Ok, so, the online system does not have the capacity to illustrate a mix of theater and reserved table seating. There is no graphic to show partial theater seating. So, Andy, their web-guy, did some creative thinking and instead, used table icons marked "Unavailable" as a way of reserving the area of floor space that will actually be taken up by theater seats.

Everyone get this? It means that in reality, when you get to the venue, the area of the floor that appears to be taken up by the 5 (8 person) front tables and 4 (10 person) second row tables is actually theater style seating available to those with general admission tickets.

This is important because if you are interested in buying a general admission ticket, you might think, "Well, where the heck is there to sit if I have a general admission ticket? It looks like the only place is standing room only and that stinks!" Ah-ha! But no! you see? In reality, all that front and center space on the floor that appears to be "sold out table seats" is actually available for general admission ticket buyers!

Whew...

Geezus.

So, if you don't need a table (and remember, bar service is available to ALL - even those with general admission tix, and there will be a heck of a lot of mingling, so don't fear the General Admission ticket) then go to the world cafe live website and simply purchase tix where it says "quick pick" tickets. Quick Pick Tickets are general admission.

Right now, they only have 50 general admission tickets available for purchase. This is because the webguy needs to powwow with the general manager to get an accurate estimate of the capacity of the space with the current seating arrangement. This "powwow" will happen tomorrow and more GA tickets will be available for purchase then.

Finally, the upstairs Mezzanine (which is all reserved seating) is all on hold. I'm saving it aside (all 50 seats of it) to be certain that everyone we know has ticket. The seats up here are great and it feels a bit like a VIP club - so if you don't get a ticket, fret not. You've got a seat.

Thanks for bearing with me through this bologna. I think we've got it. Now - go get your tix for the best freaking party of the year!!

TICKETS:

http://tickets.worldcafelive.com/eventperformances.asp?evt=1513

Sunday, July 30, 2006 - 1:15 pm - Baxter's naptime

A whole lot of random thoughts to share…

Yesterday I got a letter addressed to Mike Young from the Motor Vehicle Commision dated 7/23/06.

The heading says:

“Medical Fitness - Initial Packet Notice”

And the cover letter reads as follows:

Information we have received requires us to determine whether you are medically and/or physically able to drive a motor vehicle safely.

Therefore, we need you and your doctor to complete the form(s) enclosed and return them to us within 45 days, using the envelope provided. Please include a daytime phone number where we may reach you if necessary.

We look forward to hearing from you.

So, nowhere on the form is there a box to check that says “deceased,” so I am so tempted to fill the whole thing out and send it back to them with an asterisk leading to the following:

  • “In the event that death precludes the safe operation of a motor vehicle, Mr. Young is probably not fit to drive.”
******

On a positive note, I received notification today that Mike was approved for the extension of disability pay.

#$*%!?

*******

On a not-so-positive note, my monthly mortgage/tax payment increased this very month by $125/month. Something taxes Escrow blah blah blah… great. That's helpful.

******

Talked to my mom and dad this morning. My mom said something funny that has kept me chuckling. On their long drive home from Jersey to New Hampshire last weekend, mom turned to my dad and said, “Won't Michael be surprised to learn that a) there's a heaven and b) he's in it.”

*****

Speaking of the deceased… Baxter saw him again. In the backyard. Baxter was drawing with sidewalk chalk on the back patio. I was watering flowers near the back fence. I turned to see happy Baxter looking at nothing, waving (hand open closed, open closed) and smiling. “Bye bye Daddy!” As Bax had been playing with sidewalk chalk he was so happily chatting away. I could imagine Mike squatting there with him playing quietly having a little conversation.

I talked to Susan about it last night. “Why isn't he visiting me?” I asked, slightly annoyed. Then I sort of answered my own question. Mike is so rational and logical, I think he knows that a visit from a dead smoosher is not exactly something I could handle right now. Or… maybe my own “rational” mind makes me unable to see him. I feel him all the time. Not like a ghost, but just a presence. More inside me that in the actual house- but here.

*****

While driving back from World Café Live with Dondon on Thursday I found some words to describe what I'm feeling. I feel like everything is different. Everything looks different, smells different, and sounds different. The skyline is the big one. It looks so different to me. Everything is coated with a sort of melancholy.

I talked to Tomtom and Mary about it, too (and yes, I do infantalize many of my best male friends by affectionately repeating their names twice). Tom said that he was feeling a similar thing. He described it in terms of one of the key elements defining what our world being missing. That's it. Mike was like an anchor or a spoke or a… choose whatever metaphor you want…

Now I feel like I'm trying to navigate with no compass and the North Star is gone.

I can't believe he's gone. Gone gone.

I think I need lots of time with friends over the coming weeks. I might not reach out because I'm a little stymied and in my head, but if you call and say that you're coming over some night with dinner and trashy magazines (a la Susan) I guarantee I'll say yes to the little lifeboat you've just tossed my way.

7.28.2006

A Question and some info about Ticketing and Seating for the Tribute Show

1) Anyone ever sell a car privately to someone out of state - or in state for that matter? I have a buyer from ComedySportz Indianapolis (!) and we're trying to figure out how to do the sale so that she can actually drive Harvey back home after coming to the big bash on the 27th. How should we transfer title and registration etc? Is there a quick easy way to do this?

2) Many folks have questions about the August 27th show and the seating and ticketing. Here's some info:

a) Tix will be available soon at www.worldcafelive.com. (I'm not sure exactly when they're going on sale. Maybe Sat or Sun? I'll let you know on the blog as soon as it happens). You may order them online with a credit card, or by phone.

b) When you buy tix you'll have the option of either general admission seating (for theater-style seating right down on the floor in front or in the balcony - also a great view) OR reserved table seating (on the sides and in back). If you want to get there when doors open at 6 pm to eat dinner at one of the tables and/or eat food at a table throughout the show, you should try to get a reserved table seat. If you choose to sit at a table, you will get to pick your actual seat from an on-line illustration of the layout of the venue on the World Cafe website. If you do not choose to sit at a table, but instead purchase a general admission ticket, you do not get to pick your actual seat. With general admission, you can still order food (to eat at the bar) and you can get drinks throughout the show. They serve food/drinks all night long as the show is going on. The only difference with GA is that you aren't at an actual table.

c) All tix are $10. There will be a donation table at the show where additional donations can be made by check or cash to benefit either 1) Jefferson, 2) Comedysportz (towards space improvements), or 3) Baxter's bright bright future.

d) With the current layout, I think the space will fit 4-500 people. I am holding 100 tickets on reserve (50 table seats and 50 general admission) just in case they sell out fast and friends/family/nurses/coworkers miss out on those first 3-400 tix. By holding back these 100 tickets, it's basically allowing us to make sure that all the folks we know (or know of...) get seats. Because the tickets are going to be made available through the World Cafe Live website, it is possible that random people might scoop some up even before we actually publicize the event in a couple of weeks. If the thing sells out crazy fast, I may consider altering the layout to fit more people by reducing the number of tables. Not sure how this works, but it's possible. POINT: If you are told that the event is sold out, you MUST email me at 185cranios@gmail.com and I'll make certain they hold tickets for you.

e) ALL performers: if you plan of watching the show from an actual seat in the house after or before your bit, I would recommend you get a ticket. Yes, it's going to cost you $10, you cheap bastards. Fine, I'll reimburse you if you want. Mike might not - but I will.

Friday, July 28, 2006 - 4:38 pm

Exactly three weeks ago right now, I had my Michael back. We were joking and talking. I have never written on the blog exactly what it was we talked about in those few hours of lucidity. I will sometime. Not now. Suffice it to say that after I cried and told him how I had spent many of the past 4 months thinking he was going to die or that he was going to have to live in a nursing home - he reached out, touched my face and said, "Smoosher... I'm not going anywhere. I'm right here. I'm not going anywhere."

It's thundering.
It's been storming a lot lately. And while I don't believe that Mike is literally “up there” making the atmosphere all angry, I do find something magical in the power of thunder and lightning since his death.

I haven't felt the urge to write very much. I hate being alone with my own thoughts. Instead, I work work work on the show, the PR, the content, the logistics. I write thank you notes, organize finances, sell Mike's car and then… sit. And in the quiet is when I understand how much this sucks - and why the phrase is “stricken” by grief and not “drowning” in grief. Cause it's not here all the time. I'm not paralyzed by it day in and day out. It hits me out of nowhere and then I crumble and crumble until my neighbor Michele comes over and gets me laughing again.

I have had some terrible nightmares about Mike. Not what you would think. Not the graphic images from that last week that I'm trying so hard to work through… but weird stuff.

Two nights ago I dreamt that a female acquaintance of ours told me that just two days before Mike went into the hospital in March he had hit on her, kissed her, and then they made out passionately for an hour. The dream still bothers me. She told everyone we know that Mike had confided in her that he wasn't sure how happy he was with me. And in the dream, Mike had passed away. He was gone - and here was this woman turning upside down everything I am holding onto about my love with Michael. When I woke up I was angry and sad and it stayed with me through the morning.

After breakfast I told Mike's mom about the dream. Lonia immediately replied, “Well, that makes sense. You feel like he betrayed you. By leaving you he betrayed you.”

And that's it. He left me. Not the same way that most other 30-year old women would use the phrase. But, in essence, he did leave me. And I do feel betrayed. Maybe not by Mike, per se, but just a little bit in general.

Wise woman that mother-in-law of mine.

She left for Cleveland this morning. I miss her already. Yesterday she and I had lunch at a diner, shopped a bit and then sat in the playroom as Teresa, my cleaning lady, finished tidying upstairs. We sat on opposite plum colored couches and slowly - out of nowhere - we both fell apart. We didn't speak, we just cried on and off and looked out the window into the sweltering hot backyard.

This may seem like a weird thought to have and to share, but I feel strongly that I could re-partner - or do some other major thing - very quickly. My partnership with Mike was so completing that not having it - and not even having a remote promise of it - leaves me restless and empty. I spent many years of my life feeling restless, writing in journals about how I was restless, writing songs for the guitar about how I was restless. And all that stopped when I met Michael. No journals, no songs, no time spent looking off into nowhere contemplating life. Instead, I spent seven solid years just living. Happily living. I don't think I'm going to revert back to that super-restless person… the thought of it is just a big drag. But I do think that to stay living in the moment and hopeful about the future, I'll need to - I don't know - do something. Start something big, Do something important, Run for office. That's always been a fascination of mine, actually. I let many a joint pass me by at parties throughout high school and college because I was determined to “run for office” someday.

That reminds me - a friend joked on one particularly stressful day at the hospital a couple of weeks ago that, 'didn't I wish that I had a joint to smoke.' I was like, “Are you crazy? The last thing I need right now is to a) be paranoid and b) have time stand still…. So, no.”

7.27.2006

Thursday, July 27, 2006 - 8 pm

Lots to write, but only a little time before I go to the dentist and get my MUCH needed mouthguard to save my teeth in the night.

1) Saw the World Cafe Live space with DonDon this afternoon. It's stunning. Tix will probably go on sale tomorrow or Saturday. The space will have table seating (with table service for those interested in eating) as well as general admission theater seats right smack dab in the front. All seats have a decent view. All tix (whether for reserved table seating on the sides or theater seating in the front) are $10. Doors to open at 6, showtime start is 7:30 pm. Again, the date is Sunday, August 27th. Performers: we will have access to the space for tech and run through from about 2 pm that afternoon.

2) Random question - I cannot find my Canon Digital camera. I usually keep it in the kitchen on the counter or in the dining room on a shelf. Anyone grab mine by accident while over eating all this glorious food? It's the one filled with photos of a beautiful red-headed baby boy.

3) Had a big fat breakdown this afternoon. Very much missing Michael. The funny, floppy, bouncy, smooshy, laughing Michael. Lonia's leaving tomorrow morning and I think it will be lonely. Grieving feels less like being depressed and more like being hit in the gut with a crowbar...but no one is holding you down... you just can't seem to move your feet to run away.

7.26.2006

yes, maybe it's weird, but...

I'm looking to sell Mike's car. Our insurance is up on August 22nd and I would like to have the car in someone else's hands before then so I can save a bit of money.

You can either think of this as weird - or - in the spirit of Mike's inappropriate humor - darkly funny.

It's a 1996 Saturn SL2 with 91,000 miles. Color: maroon

VIN: 1G8ZK525TZ320286

There's a small area on the front left bumber where the paint is scratched and the bumper is dented.

The car rides a little rough right now, but I think it's from lack of use. It's been a great car for us and has always been a reliable vehicle. Has gotten us to New Hampshire and back like 10 times.

Low end on blue book value is about $1500. However, I'm looking for whatever I can get - I'll consider all offers, even those below (even waaayy below) $1000. Truly, my main goal isn't making money from the sale of the car, but saving money on the car insurance which is about $800/year.

Email 185cranios@gmail.com

Big Bash - Tribute to Mike, Benefit for Jefferson

So, it looks like we're ON for a fantastic bash on Sunday night August 27th at World Cafe Live, 3025 Walnut St. Philadelphia. A few of us who are putting the show together are going to visit the space tomorrow afternoon to finalize our plans.

The performance will serve as a tribute show to Mike and all proceeds from tickets and donations will go to the Mike Young fund at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital for projects and programs at Jeffersont that we want to be a part of.

Tickets will be $10 and will soon (2 days from now) be available for purchase through the World Cafe Live website. They will go on sale as early as Friday afternoon or Saturday, so check the blog often. As soon as they are available, I will include the link here.

I am not publicizing the event to the general public until tickets have been available for a couple of weeks. I want to be certain that all of our many friends, coworkers, family, Jeff and Magee nurses and doctors, classmates, and other people in our lives have the opportunity to obtain tickets before they are scooped up by the public.

The show should be great great fun. It will be a night of sketch, improv, and musical comedy in honor of Mike. We'll also be presenting Mike's sketch work from the 80s (Mask and Wig days) performed by Penn undergrads and alumni as well as fantastic footage of Mike's performances that span the last 20 years. The show will contain some tiny portions of adult-ish content, so it probably is not ideal for kids. Also, Mike's humor is irreverent. He is a fan of things that we are "not supposed to" laugh at... like death, for instance. I want to be sure folks know this coming in, so are not taken by suprise.

Love, Danna

7.25.2006

Tuesday, July 25, 2006 - pm

People have been asking how I'm doing. I don't know. This morning, I had an appointment with my therapist, and on my way over I thought, "I don't even know why I'm going. I have nothing to say." Literally, after perhaps the most traumatic and tragic moment in my life (knock knock knock) I'm thinking, “ Do – dee – do… I have nothing to talk about.”

I'm numb.

For some reason I felt the need to tell David (yup, first name basis with my therapist) the horrible details of that last week. What Mike looked like, the sound of the ventilator trying to pump air into his closing airwaves with the sounds of jazz music coming from the radio, the look of his blue and white fingers which had been hours with no blood flow from the pressors trying to direct all blood to the heart, the sight of his skin – purple all over from the vascular issues from the DIC, the feel of his body – rock hard filled with fluid - unrecognizable.

I’m not sure why I had to go over this again. I’m trying desperately to erase these memories with logistics, paperwork, planning for this huge tribute show, and time with friends. Yet, for some reason when sitting there in the quiet with David, I felt the need to describe all the harrowing moments of those last 7 days. I didn’t shed a tear. I just recounted the story as though it was someone else’s.

David grabbed a notepad at one moment as I was talking and jotted something down. When I had finished talking, he handed me a piece of paper. It read:

I am traumatized.
I am processing the unprocessable.
I can do little else.
I’ll be back later.

I started to cry.

I find myself trying to direct my own feelings in a positive direction, just to avoid a downward spiral. So, I remind myself of all the great things that a) have come from this and b) make this situation not-quite-as-horrible as it could be. I feel thankful that Mike's no longer living a life that is not the kind of life he would have wanted to live. I'm thankful that financially, we're going to be ok - because I have been in school for 23 years (!) and have a wonderful job waiting for me at the University of Delaware. I'm thankful I have the Baxman who makes me laugh every day. I'm thankful that we are among those few fortunate ones who have health insurance with no cap -- because otherwise we could be about 10 million dollars in debt. I’m thankful for amazing friends who lift me up. I’m thankful to have had such a powerful experience that will always inform how I think about life, love, and priorities. I’m thankful to have had seven years with such an amazing man. I’m thankful for ComedySportz where Mike Young will always be present. Always. I’m thankful for my garden where I experience growth and rebirth.

Even writing these things right now makes me feel better. Because I know this is how Mike would love for me to be processing this experience – with an eye towards the future and acknowledgement of the good in life.

Tuesday July 25 - Wonderful feature obituary for Mike in the Philly Inquirer

Check out the wonderful feature obituary for Mike in today's Inquirer:

http://www.philly.com/mld/philly/news/obituaries/15113869.htm

*You can actually scroll down below the Inquirer story and post a comment on their website if you would like.

The online story also includes a link to Mike playing 7 things in a ComedySportz show.

DonDon also uploaded "The Mustache Song" (to YouTube) Performed by BAD HAIR performers: Jason, Kevin, Mike, and Johnny (L-R) in the fringe show. This song was inspired by a musical oeuvre written by one Peter Kohn while they were in Mask and Wig together at Penn. The current plan for the fantastic Celebration (to be held in late august at World Cafe Live) is for Peter to perform this number with the Bad Hair fellows.

7.23.2006

Sunday, July 23, 2006 - 10:30 pm

Does anyone know people at World Cafe Live? They have an indeal venue that we would like to use for our bash in late August. I'm sure I could work things myself, but having a personal "in" is always helpful.

Thanks to all who showed up to the ComedySportz shows last night. They were brilliant. I laughed so hard I was exhausted. I hadn't seen a show in a while. What we do is really pretty amazing up there. It's such a joy to watch. And while we were there, Mike was everywhere. In the best possible way.

The weirdest, yet coolest, part of the evening was having some dinner and coversation with Gabe, the person responsible for my learning about ComedySportz and meeting Mike in August 1999.

After living in Philly for only a week (about to start grad school at Penn), a bunch of grad students went to Doobie's pub for drinks. One of my classmates met up with some of his old college buddies while we were at the bar. One of whom was Gabe. He started talking improv and ComedySportz. I had performed in TheatreSportz at the University of New Hampshire for 4 years and had started a longform group in Portsmouth in the spring of 1999 so was so excited to hear about ComedySportz in Philly. Gabe told me that CSz was having annual auditions in 2 days AND that he was having a going away bash at his apartment the very next night where many of the performers were bound to be. You see, Gabe was moving out of town the following week - weird.

So, the next night, I go to Gabe's house, meet Kevin and Mike (who I assume are gay - a whole other story). I audition two days later and get the call from one Mr. Mike Young that I was invited to be a member of the company. I saw Gabe play one ComedySportz show that weekend, and then *poof* Gabe was gone.

I don't think I have seen Gabe live and in person since that time in fall, 1999. Occasional emails to ComedySportz and crazy tales of Gabe's adventures in NYC, but I haven't actually seen him.

Last night, talking with him about everything that has transpired over the past seven years confirmed this feeling I've found overwhelming for the past several days - that I met Mike, fell in love... blinked... and he was gone. In there we traveled, performed, had amazing times with friends, got married, had a baby, bought a house - but it all happened in the amount of time it takes to blink your eyes. Just like that. Gone.

It's fucked up.

There, Gabe. I didn't use the asterisk. So there.

It's fucked up.

7.21.2006

Friday, July 21, 2006 - 9:45 pm: ComedySportz Tomorrow Night

ComedySportz has been a huge part of Mike's life for a long time. He founded the company with Kevin, Bobbi, and Jim about 15 years ago and we continue to perform two shows every Saturday night.

I got a call from one of our former performers, Barry, tonight, and he said he would be coming to town to go to the show tomorrow (Saturday night) and that many of the players would be on stage for an extra-large show to celebrate Mike. Not a tribute show made known to the audience (that's so NOT Mike), but a show that is just special for the players.

I decided I need to go to Saturday's (7/22) show. I miss ComedySportz so much. After Bax was born, Mike and I took time off from performing and then in Spring 2005 started performing again. But in October, Mike was diagnosed, and after his November sugery and all the meds, he was so tired and put on weight from the steroids... I think playing in shows made him too aware of these changes. He wasn't into it anymore.

But real Mike loved ComedySportz. Someone I was talking to recently reminded me of how Mike would say the same thing to every rookie class when they became a part of Comedysportz and met with the whole company for the first time. "Take a moment to look at these faces around you. Soon these people will be among your best friends."

It's true. It's also true that Mike played a large role in casting new players for the company - so it's almost as though he chose this amazing circle of people to be in his life forever.

So, if you're looking for something amazingly fun to do tomorrow (Saturday) night, come join us. It should be a fantastic time. (Comedysportz: at the Playground at the Adrienne Theater, 2030 Sansom St, Philly, Showtimes 7:30 and 10 pm, Tix are $15 or $12 with student ID)

Buy tix online at:

http://www.comedysportzphilly.com/tickets.html

Tonight

If you're interested in coming over tonight, please do! I want to start culling through old footage and finding great stuff of Mike to use for the show.

x0x0
danna

Footage of Mike at his finest


[Mike (right) performing in ComedySportz with Jeff Kramer (left) of CSz San Jose]

Thank you to Gary Kramer (brother of Jeff - cow in photo above left) who runs the San Diego and New York ComedySportz teams (National Comedy Theater) for this great footage of Mike. Mike is featured on this promotional video that Gary uses:
http://www.manhattancomedy.com/nctVideo.html

For those of you who don't know - Mike's the shorter, thin, bearded floppy haired genius. I have to imagine that this was at least 5 or 6 years ago. My favorite part is watching Mike in the background as one of the other performers does something hilarious. Mike throws his head back and laughs hard. That's what I think struck people about Mike as a comedian. Those of us in comedy know that comedians are a tricky bunch. Many of them have a hard time laughing at themselves and others. This is less true in CSz than in other comedy circles, but still - it's out there. Mike LOVED laughing, and loved watching other people perform (ok, mainly if they were funny. Unfunny comedians were Mike's freaking nightmare - and yes, his standards are pretty high).

Most of all, Mike loved performing. This celebration show is going to rock.

It looks like the big bash will probably be a weeknight between August 19 and August 30th. More info to come once the space has been confirmed.


Thanks again, Gary. I can't wait for more footage as it rolls in. It's helping me erase those last months.

7.20.2006

Thursday, July 20, 2006 - 11:45 pm

For those of you who haven't yet read yesterday's comments, Dondon included a message from Mike to all his friends after his November surgery. Don, I think you're right. Mike always knew how loved he was. Always.

From Mike
December 6, 2005

I must say I’ve been deeply moved by the generosity and loving concern shown by so many people. I thank each of you who sent an email, phoned, or just sent a kind thought for my recovery. I am humbled by the depth of your care for my well-being. In some ways, it’s been a chance to understand what my funeral might be like, without the inconvenience of actually dying. I am so fortunate to be a member of your community, and thank you for your friendship.

Warm regards,
Mike

********


Here is an email exchange between married Mike and me in December 2003, after about 6 months of marriage. I loved that we never let our bad moments get the best of us. We always talked things out and got smooshy once again. It wasn't in my nature to be like this. I learned it from Michael.

From: Danna Young
To: Mike Young
Sent: December 11, 2003 10:09 am

Hi there, smoosher.

I was so in my head this morning that I missed my subway stop and had to walk 15 minutes in the rain. Doh!

I am sorry that I was grumpy this morning and that I have not been more affectionate. I think I have been in my head about various things related to school (as usual). I also feel like my feeling were hurt from different small things this week that I never talked about with you. That is my own fault. I think that the two things together (my being in my head and feeling hurt about things that I haven't talked about) have contributed to my pulling away.

I had a wonderful weekend with you and we can't be too far from that since it was just four days ago. Tonight I hope we can talk about this stuff and get smooshy for our trip.

I love you and I'm sorry I jumped on you this morning. I'm also sorry that we initiated a conversation in the car that deserved far more time than we had at that moment.

Love,

smoosher

********

From: Mike Young
To: Danna Young
Sent: December 11, 2003 11:52 am

Hi smoosher,

I just upgraded my system and email program, so now when I read your
email, your smiling face appears in the header, kind of like how the IM
program worked. It made me chuckle when I realized that this morning.
So even when you send me something sad or mean, you're still smiling at
me.

I love you very much, and am also sad we started that conversation at
that point. We'll continue it tonight. We'll have a nice night packing
up and writing a few Christmas cards with the kitties.

smoosh,
smoosher

July 19 12:30 am AND Call for photos, recordings and footage

If you have any photos, recordings, VHS or DVD footage of Mike, I would love to have them. We're going to be putting together quite a show. All footage (old and new) would be super helpful. Email me at 185cranios@gmail.com and I'll arrange to pick them up or have them sent here.

I have to say that I'm loving the warmth of friends all around and will have our doors open again tomorrow (Thursday) night. There is a lot of yummy food here, so please come join us.

I am feeling Mike around me all the time. More than I have in months. As I've told many of our friends, for four months, the many photos of Mike all around our house made me so sad. as the comparison beween the Mike in the photos to the Mike in the hospital was so depressing, even on his good days. Now, though, the pictures of Mike around the house bring me joy. He's so himself there! Dancing at our wedding, playing with Baxter, exchanging vows with me on our wedding day. He's so Mike again. Not the sick no-short-term-memory-living-in-the-hospital-guy formerly known as Mike, but real live Mike.

That being said, I'm having a hard time erasing the horrific images of those last 5 days. They were beyond dreadful. But, I think I've decided that Mike left us long before his body did. I think Mike left us on Friday. After I told him what I did on Thursday night, I think he was no longer in his body.

And truth be told, I am pissed at his freaking body. When Randy, the funeral director, asked what kind of container I would like to have for Mike to be moved from the hospital to the crematorium, I was like, "Mike? That body is not Mike."

I've tried to explain it this way: I feel like towards the end, his physical body insulted who he was. His body disrespected him and his spirit/soul/identity (whatever the f*ck you want to call it). For those of you around in that last week, you understand what I mean. His physical body was so so far from who he really was. I have no need to honor the body. I would like to celebrate the person.

Plus, Mike's a self-proclaimed "cheap bastard." As I signed the dotted line to order the cheapest box they have to transport the body from one building to another, I could imagine Mike saying, "That's my girl!" He's proud of me and of all us. I can feel it all around me.

SMOOOOOOSH!

7.19.2006

Wednesday, July 19, 2006 - 4:22 pmhttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gif

[Mike as "Worst Dad Ever" for Halloween several years ago.]

Today we met with Randy, our fabulous funeral director, who we are from here forward refering to as our "celebration producer." We got the wheels in motion for what is going to be a fantastic celebration of who Mike is...was... whatever. This will happen in about a month.

Lots of people are asking where they can send things. In lieu of flowers, there are three ways that you could help.

1) Baxter Young Charity Fund
PO Box 233
Collingswood, NJ 08108
(towards savings for the beaner)


2) The Mike Young Fund
Jefferson Foundation
925 Chestnut St. Suite. 110
Philadelphia, PA 19107
(towards various projects at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital where Mike spent over 14 weeks since November, 2005) or to


3) ComedySportz Philadelphia
1721 S. 10th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19148

(towards purchase or a theater (if we get a lot of contributions) or towards improvement of Center City theater space),

Wednesday, July 19, 2006 - 1:22 am

Thank you all for your amazing support. For those of you worried about me, know that I am ok. I have been farther down this road than anyone for a long time. Yes, I feel empty. I feel sad to know that there no longer exists any flicker of a possibility that he could come back. - But I also feel an honest sense of relief for Michael. It's time for us to bring ourselves back prior to February 1, and start recalling images of floppy-haired Mike. Funny, energetic, smooshy Mike.

In the end, Mike made the call. It was possible that I was going to have to make an impossible decision a day or two from now, but Mike did it for us. In the middle of a situation with no autonomy, it brings me peace to know that in this, he was autonomous.

So, logisitcs - Rather than a funeral which seems completely inappropriate for someone as alive, funny, irreverent, and young as Mike, we are going to be throwing a huge fantastic show and party. I'm thinking about a month from now... More info to come.

In the meantime, I find comfort in the company of friends - hence the "stealing Shiva from the Jews." We had an open house tonight, with tons and tons of amazing friends and food and it was wonderful. We'll be having people over again Wed night and Thursday night from about 4 pm on. Please come over to our house - no advanced notice needed. I'd love to have you. So would Mike.

7.18.2006

Friends Gathering at Young House

(it's Anne L. here writing at Danna's request.)

Mike died today at 11:20 am.

Danna would like all their incredible friends and loved ones to know that everyone is invited to join together at the house all afternoon and evening. Children are welcome. She plans to turn on the sprinkler to run around in, and we'll all roast outside and remember our dear friend Mike.

There will not be a traditional funeral. Instead, Danna will have a celebration of Mike's life in a few weeks. She will post more tonight on this.

If you need the address or directions, you can call me (Anne) on my cell phone at 609-413-3979.

Tuesday, July 18 - 10:30am (posted by CSM for Danna)

I’m sorry to post this here, but there’s no way to make phone calls to everyone we love.

Mike’s pressure started to drop about 4 am this morning. His blood pressure is now about 65/38. It is slowly (very slowly) dropping. There’s no more that they can do at this point. He’s on full oxygen and max pressors. He’s dying.

We’ve issued a DNR because his pressure has been so low for so long, there’s no doubt that his brain has been severely damaged. We’re just waiting for Lonia to arrive from Cleveland to start weaning him off the meds. We’d like her to be able to see him. She should be here this afternoon. We’ve thought of calling her cell phone to tell her what’s going on, but she was going to depart at 5 am heading here anyway, so calling her to tell her what has transpired this morning would only upset her and possibly make her not drive safely. It’s impossible to know what’s the right thing to do in this situation.

If you would like to come, please do - not necessarily to see Mike, unless of course you feel you want to – but frankly, it’s horrible. I just sit at the foot of his bed, talk to him and play funky music on the radio for him. We’re all here, just chatting, eating, laughing and crying in a little room on the 9th floor in the NICU of the Gibbon Building.

I have a feeling we’ll be doing this for days – chatting, eating, laughing and crying. I’m not a Jew, but I’m stealing Shiva. So there.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006 - 6:45 am

Just got a call from Mike’s nurse. They’ve got him maxed out on all his pressors, full oxygen, full everything and Mike’s blood pressure is dropping. Systolic (top number) in the 70s. They are basically just watching because there’s nothing more they can do. This pressure issue precludes dialysis… So here we are. I’m heading there now.

My mom and dad are coming from their hotel nearby to help take care of Baxter and Lonia is heading back into town. Victoria, Chris and Diana are heading to the hospital now.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006 - 3:45 am

3:45 am: I can't sleep. I haven't really tried, but I just don't feel like it. Talked to Mike's nurse, Nicole, just now. She's up to 12 on the Versed. The seizures are slowing, but if you do anything to him at all (like touch him) he has another seizure - so is still considered to be in status.

His heart rate is running high (140-150). His blood pressure is ok, though starting to get a bit lower. Currently, he is maxed out on two pressors (Neo and Levophed) to increase blood flow to vital organs and maxed out on the primacor (for his cardiac output). She has been able to bring the Dopamine way down to 4, but it looks like she's going to have to increase the dopamine yet again.

She was very glad that we told the surgical team to leave Mike the f*ck alone regarding the insane intensine removal procedure (?%&*$). She said that she was prepared to tell them that if they decided to roll him to the O.R. someone else could bring him down because she wouldn't. She told me that she thought he'd never survive it and was annoyed that they even presented the option. Freaking neurosurgery residents - what are they thinking?

I need to sleep. My being awake isn't helping Mike at all.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006 - 2:30 am

2:30 am: Just got a call from the surgical team. They had been called in by neurosurgery to look at Mike because the C. Diff bug seems to be getting worse (or something like that). The surgeon presented the option to me of operating to remove mike’s entire intestine. I was like, “What the f*ck? He would never survive that surgery. You’re aware that he’s in Status and in full blown DIC?” To which he replied, “Yes, I’m aware. And I completely agree with you. He most likely would not survive this surgery. To be frank, I don’t think he’s going to survive anyway, but I had to call you and give you this option of a surgical procedure.”

“Umm… no.”

Diana’s on the phone with him now. She agrees that operating right now makes no sense at all.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006 - 1:30 am

[I want to thank Jadico for this fantastic shot of Mike from ComedySportz this past fall. He's so handsome... and funny.]

This shot is especially important because right now Mike's physical body is so so sick. I can't even stay in the room for long because it's so disturbing. It's not Mike in there. It's not. He is toxic and critically ill and he looks just that way. Don't read the rest of this paragraph if you'd prefer to stay in the dark.... His eyes are swollen out and yellow with blood on the rims and he can't close his lids. They tried to tape them shut, but it didn't work. His body is puffed out so much that he looks like a distorted wax person. He has been seizing and biting his tongue and due to the coagulation problems it's not clotting so he's bleeding around his mouth. The DIC is causing purple blotches all over his body. It is utterly horrifying. I am actually discouraging people from visiting because it's a horrible sight and is not the Michael we know. I go into his room to put on music, touch his hand and have him hear my voice, but I try not to look at him too long. For the most part, I stand outside the room and peer in through the glass.

In spite of this whole situation, I am feeling surprisingly ok right now. I am intermittantly angry and sad and anxious and tired - but I'm ok. I don't know why, but I don't feel like this is all "wrong" anymore. I have always thought that something big was going to happen in my life. Maybe everyone feels that way - I don't know. I always thought the big thing was going to be politics or a theory or a book or music or some performing thing... But now I think that this is it - that being Mike's advocate and learning how to be strong and peaceful and in the moment is that "something big" that I always anticipated.

It feels weightless to be in this place.

And don't get me wrong, I sob and weep and pace and punch the wall when I'm in the shower - but I'm not paralyzed by this.

I feel oddly unshakeable. Stakes are so high that nothing else really matters. I have my friends, I have my boy and I have myself. The rest? In Mike's word of choice, "eh...?"

Tuesday, July 18, 2006 - 12:30 am

Well, they were able to start the Versed drip around 10:30 pm. They started at 2 units (whatever the units are) and have the ability to go as high as 10 (as I understand it). They are currently (12:30 am) at 6 units. While the active seizures have "stopped," his brain is still showing these peaks in the EEG lines that still suggest the brain is in "status" according to the neurology team.

7.17.2006

Monday, July 17, 2006 - 7:30pm (posted by CSM for Danna)

Short story – not good.

Long story…

They were able to place the line for the hemodialysis (CVVHD – a slower more gentle form of dialysis which they’ve opted to do). That line is in his neck. As they tried to insert it into his groin, they had trouble because he’s so filled with fluid that all the marks they use to navigate in are messed up. So, instead of the vein, they hit the artery. There may be bleeding in the abdomen as a result, but right now, that’s the least of our trouble.

The real trouble is that he has entered status epilepticus, meaning he is seizing almost constantly – in the entire left hemisphere of his brain. This is bad. Very bad. A person cannot survive in this condition. Once in “status” they use “status protocol” to address the problem. This protocol involves a progression of meds to see if any one of them stops the seizures. Since he’s on EEG leads, they can monitor the activity in real time to see what medicine works. The first med, phenobarbitol, did not stop the seizures. They then tried dilantin, which slowed them, but didn’t stop them. The next med to try is versed. This is a med that basically induces a coma to protect the brain and stop the seizures.

The problem, among the other 2000 problems, is that his blood pressure has dropped. It’s currently about 75/45. His heart rate is high (130-140). They have him maxed out on dopamine (28 mg/hr) to keep the pressure up, and have started the other pressor (neo) again to also bring the pressure up. No success yet. Ok, so other than the general fact that blood pressure this low is not good, there are a series of indirect effects of the low blood pressure that are f*cking with our plans. Namely, low blood pressure precludes them from a) starting any dialysis (systolic needs to be at least 90) and b) starting the versed drip.

So we’re just sitting here, waiting waiting for them to get this under control.

In the event that the status epilepticus does not resolve with meds, Andrews says we have about 48 hours. As long is Mike is in status, his brain is under fire from these seizures. The longer it goes on, the greater the brain damage. And given that the seizures are in the left hemisphere which is the dominant side, this is just bad. And given that we can’t even start the f*cking drip of versed to potentially interrupt this madness, we’re just stuck stuck stuck.

We’re in the Gibbon Building waiting room from hell on the 9th floor outside the NICU. Yes, the one with no freaking windows and bad TV on non-stop. And yes, this is hell.

Monday, July 17, 2006 - 11 am


Note: This post updated at 12:30 pm today with new info about blood donations for Mike

[Left: Why Mike is the "worst person
ever." Right: Why Mike is the "best person ever" (one of the many reasons)... read on for anecdotes to match the images].


For those of you who haven’t read the comments in response the last post, Amy J. has a wonderful suggestion. Mike is going through a lot of blood product very quickly right now. You can donate blood to a) be sent directly to Michael if you’re a match and b) to restock the supply for the American Red Cross.

Mike has been a dedicated supporter of the American Red Cross for years, so this is quite appropriate. His blood type is O Positive. If you are O Positive you could literally be an integral part of helping Mike fight this disease.

NEW INFO:
If you are O Positive and would like your blood to go directly to Michael, I have authorized this within TJ Univ Hosital's blood donor office. You can donate within the TJUH donor office no matter what kind of blood you have, but obviously, it will only go to Mike if it's a match. I talked to a woman named Nancy there today. I will be signing the appropriate forms this afternoon, but you can still donate and request it be sent to Mike before they have my official signature. It takes some time to screen the blood to get it to him anyway (like 2 days). This donation center is on the 8th floor of the Gibbon building in room 8230. Call 215.955.7791 for info. If you talk with Nancy, she'll remember who I am since we just spoke.

Gibbon Building, Suite 8230
111 South 11th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday,
Volunteer donors are welcome.
Phone: 215-955-7791


You can also donate to the American Red Cross:
700 Spring Garden Street
Philadelphia, PA 19123-3594
(215) 451-4000

************

Current situation is as follows: They are putting the arterial line in for hemodialysis as I write this (11 am). The dialysis will start mid-day today and will take several hours, I think. (Additional Note: as of 12 noon they were struggling to insert the line and had already worked at it for 2 hours. The neurosurgery team had called in the trauma tream for help since they are used to placing such lines under even trickier circumstances.)

Last night, he had four episodes of seizures starting at around 4:15 am. However, he is not in “status” which means he’s not in the perpetual state of seizure. (From Neurologychannel.com: “Status epilepticus is prolonged, repetitive seizure activity that lasts more than 20 to 30 minutes.”).

He is still tachycardic, meaning high heart rate. It’s been about 120-130, yesterday 130-140, and last night for a period of about 45 minutes it was in the 150s. it’s tricky because anytime they alter the dopamine or primacor to help the heart rate come down, the blood pressure drops too low. They were considering weaning him off the primacor, but at one point yesterday, there was air in the line and in the seconds that Sharon (his nurse) took to resolve the problem, his numbers went haywire.

He is truly like a house of cards right now.

Thank you for all your great Mike anecdotes and for all your wonderful notes. People are saying that I’m somehow impressive in how I’m handling this – but the only way I am holding my shit together is because of you ( and Bax). Truly. Because of the generosity of others and the moments they take to say something sweet or just be there. That’s how we’re getting through.


Two funny Mike anecdotes that always makes me laugh:

The first was a couple years back, before I was pregnant with Bax. Mike and I were in bed at about 11 at night. Mike had ESPN on and I was reading Time or Newsweek. I think I was reading something about the war or something and I had some deep thought (at least in my estimation) about the whole situation and I started talking to Mike about my profound observations.

Since we were sitting up in bed, I wasn’t’ looking directly at him, but was talking to him with magazine in hand. Mike gave me all sorts of signs that he was listening: “Mmm-hmmm..” “Right.” “Exactly.”

And then, all of sudden, from out of the corner of my eye, I see these green bars on the television screen start climbing to the right. He’s got the remote in his right hand, out of my sight, and is slowly edging the volume up on sports Center!

I was like, “Are you kidding me! Are you really drowning me out right now?”

He turned to me and gave me his “I’m so cute you can’t be mad” grin, biting his lower lip, eyebrows raised.

“Ummm….. I love you?” he said, tail between the legs.

A couple of days later, while we were at a dinner party with the family, I told them this rogue remote control story, but the part of it that has stuck with us to this day is how I prefaced the story while at the dinner party.

“So, everyone. What to hear why Mike’s the worse person ever?”

It’s a great segway – and we continue to use it in our household. You should try it in yours.

*********

Another great one that still makes me laugh. Baxter was about 2 months old. In the crying crying crying phase that all infants are in. It was about 2 am, Baxter had been crying all night, we were delirious from a lack of sleep. In those early days, Mike was wonderful about fetching the baby from the crib, bringing him into our room, and just rocking him, ssshhhhing in his ear, swaddling him tightly and holding him until eventually he would fall asleep. But this night, Bax was inconsolable. Mike would get him settled after a long bout of crying, would put him back in his crib, tiptoe back into our room and right when we would exhale, “Waaahhhh!!!” from the other room.

This particular night, we were loopy. So discouraged, so tired. After the fourth round of crying, Mike retrieved little bundled baby Baxter and walked into our bedroom. Our closet door was open. Mike looked at me, looked at the closet, looked back at me with an “I have an idea” look on his face. He walked over to the closet and pretended he was going to toss Baxter inside. His expression was perfect. No words, just a “can we stick him in here? It’s worth a shot! No one will ever know,” with the addition of a shrug and an “eh??”

I laughed so hard. I remember keeling over in the bed, hugging Mike and kissing him all over his face. We were sooo tired and yet Mike was there with the joke. Always there with the joke.

********

That’s why I love being with his sister. She’s so much like Mike that way. Irreverent and lighthearted. We’re looking through Mike’s chart yesterday, and she comes across a report from the renal team. It included the word “Icteric.”

“What does that mean?” I asked her.

“It means yellow skin,” she said.

We both started laughing before the joke was even made. Mike, Diana, and Deke are all half Chinese. Yes it’s true. Mike’s birth certificate (from 1967) says "Race: Yellow." I shit you not. I’ve seen it.

Diana joked that we should tell the nephrologists that Mike’s not icteric – he’s Asian.

7.16.2006

Sunday, July 16, 2006 - 11:20 pm

Mike is the same today. Non-responsive, still in acute renal failure and acute tubular necrosis. Not making any urine to speak of. However, liver appears to be getting better as enzymes are decreasing. Also, Ammonia levels are down in the 90s compared to the 140s where they were a couple of days ago (normal is about 10-40 I think). Heart rate is 120-150 (a bit high), Cardiac output is good at 5-6. Blood pressure is good with mean arterial pressure at about 100.

CT scan of brain looks the same (midline is good and no sign of stroke). CT of lungs shows fluid outside the lung and increasing compression of that lung (more on that later). CT of abdomen shows that the digestive system is not working. He’s got EEG leads on him now – wires connecting to nodes all over this head – with a computer constantly reading his brain waves. This is to check for seizures. He’s had two thus far, but is not showing signs of constant seismic activity.

The decision right now is to wait for dialysis. His important numbers are not terrible. They’re not good, but there’s not terrible. His creatinine levels (which indicate the level of waste product in blood) which normal should be .7-1.2 have slowly crept up over the past 3 days. This morning they were 2.9, then 3.1, then tonight 3.3. But even these numbers aren’t awful. If his kidneys had totally shit the bed his levels would have skyrocketed over the past few days. It’s true to say that his kidneys are barely working and he’s barely putting out any urine at all (like 5 cc/hour when normal is 30), but he’s not far enough along this path do hemodialysis now. It’s just too risky. The process involved in hemodialysis is hard on the body, especially the blood. As Dr. Diana (Mike's seeeeester) put it, it chews up the blood as it goes through dialysis. Mike’s blood is so f*cked up anyway that this doesn’t make sense unless he’s at imminent risk of death. The DIC is a huge problem. His body gets platelets and plasma and then eats them up. His platelets have dropped again. The whole thing is intensely fragile.

You are welcome to visit Michael at 9321 Gibbon, but know that it’s a disconcerting scene. He’s critically ill. Because he’s carrying a bacteria called C. Diff, they are asking people to wear gowns and gloves (provided on the little cart outside his door) before you enter the room. It’s just to make sure that people don’t catch this digestive tract bug from Mike. It usually doesn’t affect healthy people, but people sick or with immune deficiency problems can have a really hard time with it.

Tonight at 9:45 pm, I got a call from the surgical team calling to get consent on a procedure to drain fluid from Mike’s lung. Now, I immediately felt like this was f*cked up because Mike is so fragile they don’t even want to do dialysis which could save his life in the end. Why drain fluid from the lung, risk causing major issues due to DIC and just generally stir the pot when his oxygenation is F.I.N.E. I called Diana and she called the surgical doctor to ask the logic behind this. He agreed that given Mike’s DIC issues, this procedure didn’t seem like a good idea. They had been called in by the neurosurgery team who recommended the procedure based on the 1 pm CT scan. Diana and I were like, WTF? Why why why would anyone consider doing a procedure on someone as delicate as Mike on a freaking Sunday night at 10 pm when NO ONE is there! No way. We told the guy no and Diana paged Dr. Evans. He, too, what like, “Whah?” ( though he would never actually say, “Whah.” )

We’re considering placing documentation, signs, or other requests that NO orders for procedures or meds or changes of any kind can be made to Michael without first consulting an attending who is on Mike’s case. After all this battle, I would not forgive myself if Mike lost because some 24 year old whippersnapper saw some fluid in Mike’s CT scan and wanted to suck that out of there and started a crazy forest fire of some kind. Can you imagine? What a f*cking nightmare.

Sunday, July 16, 2006 - 9:45 am

[Freaking Baxter. Read down below.]

Just talked with Dr. Andrews. I have been concerned about the high levels of ammonia in Mike’s system. There are a f*cking bazillion things I could freak about since he is critically ill in so many ways… but to me, his brain is the holy grail. If we can just protect his brain, it is possible that his body (heart, liver, kidneys) could pull through and he could wake up. But one of the problems with non-functioning liver and kidneys is the inability to clean toxins out of the system, one of which being ammonia. High levels of ammonia can cause central nervous system and brain damage.

Talk about a vicious cycle: Brain tumor --> central nervous system problems --> heart rate skyrockets --> heart weakens --> cardiac output drops --> kidney and liver fail --> toxins increase in the body --> toxins poison the brain.


That’s what I paged Andrews to talk about this morning. He told me that metabolic issues causing increased ammonia are generally reversible. That’s good. But as long as these toxins are high, they can be f*cking with the brain in various ways – such as the seizures Mike has had. Yeah – I don’t know if I mentioned that. He had a seizure Saturday night and another this morning right in front of Dr. Evans as he was rounding. They are going to put EEG leads on him to monitor brain activity since these seizures have occurred more than once.

It’s hard to even know what to be worried about right now – brain, lungs, heart, liver, kidneys, body temp (which was 94 degrees yesterday).

They are still quite concerned about going ahead with dialysis because he’s in DIC. It’s a risky procedure in the face of these blood clotting issues. They may do a sort of low-tech dialysis that is less invasive and goes through the stomach. Andrews described it to me, but I didn’t totally get my head around it. Regardless, he has to have dialysis - it's just a question of what kind.

If you are interested in learning more about renal failure and acute tubular necrosis (kidney failure from which Mike is currently suffering) click here. I know, enjoyable Sunday morning reading, right? I’m just throwing it out here in case your paper hasn’t arrived yet and you’re looking for something riveting to read over your coffee.

At the end of my conversation with Andrews I said, “This is insane. He could stay like this – this sick – for months. It could go on and on like this.” And he said, “No. Not months. A week, maybe two.” I don’t know If that meant a week, maybe two and then his system couldn’t take anymore – or if he meant a week, maybe two and then he’ll be getting better. And, of course, I didn’t ask for clarification.

It’s funny – this thing is going on so long and I am trying every minute to imagine what Michael would truly want. When I have the opportunity to make a wish or am moved to say a prayer to whom/what ever is out there (see, Mike is a more devout secularist than I), I don’t know what the hell to pray for. Jae and I were out on the back deck last night at twilight and one lone star was up in the sky framed by the trees. I wanted to make a wish. But didn’t know if I should wish for him to get well or be at peace.

So instead, I just wished for strength.


********

On another note, there’s my son. My beautiful, funny, charming, full of the dickens red-headed boy who I love love love with all of me.

Baxter has done a couple of things that have freaked us out here on the homefront but that I don’t know what to do with. The morning that Mike coded at 6:10 am (Wednesday morning), my sister went in to Bax’s room to get him out of the crib at 6:30. She picked him up and opened the curtain to let the sunlight stream in. He reach out and up towards the window and said, “Dada! “ and blew a kiss towards the sky.


Then, this morning, after breakfast, Baxter looked at the picture of Mike and me that’s on the fridge. “Mama Dada! Mama Dada!”

“Yes. That’s Mama and Dada,” I said, trying to wipe his hands and distract him.

“Dada! Dada!,” he continued. Then, he took his little hands and made them walk along the table and up and down his legs, “Walkie, walkie walkie. Dada walkie.”

“Dada’s walking?” I asked.

“Out-SIDE!” Bax continued, intensely, pointing to the door, “Dada Walkie OutSIDE…. Away a-WAY!”

“What do you mean, Bax? Walking away? Outside? Who?”

Then he went from content to upset, with his little brow all furrowed, “No! Noooo! No, Daddy away!”

Deep breath....

“...ok, Bax! All done breakfast? Nice job eating, bud! Let’s go do a puzzle!” I scooped him up and brought him into the playroom.

What the f*ck.

7.15.2006

Saturday, July 15, 2006 - 11 pm

Here is another romantic - yet neurotic - email exchange between Mike and me from those early days. They reveal what huge dorks we are - but also how smitten we were. Monday, March 6 was the day after our 4th Sunday night movie date. We were quickly falling in love and freaking OUT about it. Little interesting tidbit - in the 11:20 am email to Mike, I mentioned how he's going to be travelling to Hawaii (to hike and camp) and how jealous I was of him. Well, soon after this email exchange, he told me that he couldn't imagine going there without me. I ended up taking that trip with him a month and a half after this email exchange. It was the best vacation ever.

ps: No idea how either of us got anything done this day. It looks like all we did was email each other.

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Monday, March 6, 2000 10:43 am
From Dannagal Goldthwaite
To: Mike Young

Hey! Guess who just got out of bed and is in her pajamas as we speak? Ok, maybe Margaret Thatcher… but I was actually referring to me.
Yup.
I had a wonderful time last night, Mike. Hope you had a good sleep.
-dg

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Monday, March 6, 2000 11:04 am
From Young, Mike
To: Danna Goldthwaite

You just got out of bed? Okay, now I’m jealous. My body is angry at me today for not giving it enough rest. I think it may go on strike soon.


I had a deliriously wonderful time last night. I think my favorite moment was when we were sitting on the couch, limbs intertwined, reading through the Book of Questions and laughing. It was charming, playful, and joyous all at once – a perfect beat in time.

This morning I was thinking of some things we said last night, and how I’m stressing out on how this is going WAY faster than I had planned. But then I realized why I wanted to go down this road: to follow my feelings and get messy. And messy is certainly what I’ve got.

Happy, sunny Monday to you.

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Monday, March 6,2000 11:20 am
From: Danna Goldthwaite
To: Mike Young


You went down this road to get messy? Ok, now Mike, I think you’re changing the reason why you went down this road to be consistent with what has actually happened since you started down it… Which is completely understandable, since two hyper-rational people like ourselves would like to believe that everything that is currently happening is under control…albeit “controlled and intended messiness.” I’d just like to throw out the idea that perhaps you went down this road to follow your feelings, but the messiness has just happened… Let’s not kid ourselves…we have no role in what’s going on here. If it makes you feel better to tell yourself that you were looking for “messy” because it makes you feel under control in the fact that you’ve found “messy,” go ahead…

And I’ll have you know that the only reason I’m saying ANY of this is because my dearest danna and I have had this debate back and forth since I got home last night. In the spirit of Mike Young, here is how this debate went:

DL = Danna’s logos
DE = Danna’s eros

DL: Ok, WHAT is going on here, young lady? WHAT are you doing?
DE: No-no-no… it’s ok, It’s really ok. It’s under control.
DL: Do you think I just fell of the parsnip truck? It is so NOT under control. I’ve been listening in on some of these conversations you and your eros friends have been having over there. We’re talking major chaotic disaster, here.
DE: no… you misunderstand. We are completely prepared for this. We planned for it to be all nutty like this. Consider it “controlled chaos.”
DL: You and your ill attempts at rationalizing. Fortunately that’s my job.

I’m just about to get on my bathing suit and lay in the sunshine that’s streaming through my window onto my mauve carpet, while I do some heavy reading. What a life.

And go ahead and be jealous… cause you’re going to Hawaii, ‘member?
-dg

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March 6, 2000 11:53 am
From: Mike Young
To: Danna Goldthwaite


Okay, okay, getting messy wasn’t necessarily the main goal. But I’m pretty sure I already explained it this way to you (because it’s the same way I’ve said it to everyone): my modus operandi when presented with a decision is to research, mull over, and then make the sensible decision. The decision usually turns out to be the right one, or at least a workable solution.

There are several people I know who are more capricious, and would rather dive in and muck around to find out what’s right. I’m not wired that way, nor would I want to be. Being a little more patient is usually the prudent course, and you don’t get so dirty from rolling around in the muck. But I do understand that those who are willing to go into the muck are, at least to some extent, more alive as a result. So following my heart and getting messy are, to me, part of the same plan.

And I remember back when we were first discussing whether or not we should get involved, you saying “If we do this, we have to go like, turtle-slow,” and though I fully agreed, somewhere inside a small part of me kind of knew that was folly.

The truth is that I would much rather be near you than not. Which is why any attempts to ration out exposure to you aren’t working.

So I embrace the crisp simplicity of this moment. Even if we eventually end up in an emotional train wreck, I am thankful for this glorious experience. We get too few chances to really feel alive, to feel human.

And I’d be happy to ballroom dance, but the soundtrack at least right now, is all wrong. It’s funky house music – nothing subtle about it.

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March 6, 2000 1:54 pm
From: Danna Goldthwaite
To: Mike Young


Mike,

You have got to abandon that emotional train wreck analogy. SER-iously. It conjures up all sorts of unpleasant visual images. And thanks for quoting my “we’ll have to go like, turtle-slow” statement. – sigh - I can’t figure out if I’m more annoyed that I used the work “like” in that context, or if I’m just generally kicking myself for jinxing us by bringing up that thought in the first place. I don’t think I would ever have said that if I didn’t have some idea in the back of my head that once this can of worms was opened, it was going to be chaos.

I must share with you what a wonderful day I’m having. Ok, still have not showered, but read a dense article, wrote a paper, and am eating lunch in the sunshine. Somehow I channeled my energy into productive activity. Who knew?

Couple of thoughts:
I wish my work existed within the parameters of 9-5
I wish I had a car.
I wish we were neighbors.
I wish I understood the art of subtlety.

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March 6, 2000 2:45 pm
From: Mike Young
To: Danna Goldthwaite


I’ll abandon the analogy, but you must admit it’s effective. You abandon the can of worms analogy. Icky.

Huzzah for productivity!

Couple of thoughts;

I wish your work existed within the parameters of 9-5
I wish we could get away to some secluded place for the next couple of days – some place with no sense of time.
I hope this feeling lasts a while.

Saturday, July 15, 2006 - 4 pm

Mike's been transferred back to the Gibbon Building at Jefferson (between 10th and 11th and Sansom and Chestnut). He's in the NICU, 9th floor in room 9321 - behind the double doors

Note to visitors: They have opened up a brand new parking garage that's connected to the building. The entrance is on 10th street, and it accesses the Gibbon building on the 2nd floor, near the cafeteria. You can validate your garage ticket on the 2nd floor of Gibbon - this will give you discounted parking.

Mike's C.O. is still good (4-5). But his kidneys and liver continue to be on strike. Normal urine output is around 30 ccs an hour. Mike's has been between 5 and 20 for two days. It's going to take them some time to get over the fact that they had very little blood flow for a couple of days. Tomorrow, they're going to put in the access line for dialysis. (a giant IV). They're going to do this in the cardiovascular interventional radiology unit - so that he's in a controlled environment. This is because he's still in full blown DIC and any attempt to put a line in is risky due to clotting/bleeding issues.

Dialysis means they are going to redirect his blood through a sort of external kidney to be cleansed and then it will be redirected back into Mike. Dialysis is tough on the heart though. It requires good pressure to get it pumped out to that external kidney and back into the body.

He's still on the ventilator, receiving oxygen at the rate of 14 breaths per minute. His actual respiratory rate is 20-23, meaning Mike's breathing about 6-9 breaths per minute on his own.

He's currently receiving constant blood transfusions - and has been for several days - because of the DIC. He's receiving ffp (plasma), some platelets, and some packed red blood cells.

Saturday, July 15, 2006 - 9 am

Brief update on Mike's condition: His C.O. is still good and high (6.0). They've been able to drop the dopamine a bit as a result. Urine output is still low - barely any, actually. He's still in full blown DIC and multi-system organ failure. They are considering transfering him to the Gibbon building (which we know all too well - between 10th and 11th and sansom and chestnut) because he needs dialysis. More to come later today.

*********

Couple of thoughts from this morning’s nice hot shower.


In talking with Jessie yesterday, she said something that I’ve thought a lot about (thank you oh wise Jessie). She basically said that Mike’s got no reason to leave. None. Zero. He has a baby boy, a wife who loves him and with whom he’s got no drama or trouble. He has the most intelligent, funny, irreverent friends in the world, family who is there when he needs them. He has so many things that he enjoys: cooking, movies, dinner parties, walks with Bax and me, going for ice cream, Saturday drives to somewhere fun, the zoo, amusement parks, his job at Discmakers, BBQing, fantasy baseball, football games on Sunday afternoons, Comedysportz, … this is a guy who lives and loves life too much to ever willfully throw in the towel.

It’s true, we could have all said to Mike something along the lines of what I told him, namely if it’s time for him to call the game, we’ll be ok if he calls the game. But it wouldn’t matter! How could it? Yesterday, he had visits from Me, his mom, his seester, Jen Childs, Megan Bellwoar, Michael Hollinger, Susan D’angeles, and other people who visited later in the day. And he’s IN there. So, every person who talks to him is like another reminder of how f*&king great life is here. As you know, Mike and I are pretty devout secularists – Mike even more so than me. Like Jessie said, “What could be better out there than here?” And in Mike’s mind, I know the answer is an unequivocal “nothing. Nothing could be better.”

So if Mike passes away, I don’t think it will have anything to do with will. It will be that his failing body has won the fight. And if he pulls through this which is still very much in the cards?

Well, I’ve thought about of how someone might be profoundly changed by this experience – you know, having met death and all… but then I think about how Mike might be different. Now, assuming that him pulling through this is accompanied by no serious damage to his brain or personality changes, I guarantee that Mike would be like “do-dee do-dee do. Yeah, I met death. Want to put in a movie?”

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I have also thought a lot about something my friends Tresa told me. She shared how when her father was critically ill over a period of about a year, she made multiple trips home to Minnesota thinking that this was it. Each one was accompanied by grief and pain and tears. But the roller coaster continued for months. After a while she made a decision. That she was only going to grieve for his death one more time - that is, when it actually occured.

This has helped me so so much. Each time I go in and see Mike all hooked up, I could fall apart from grief. And sometimes I do. But, he's still here. He's in the game. This is so drawn out and exhausting, perhaps we should all just get off the roller coaster as best we can and watch it - up and down up and down... but so far each down is followed by an up. There may be a time to grieve. Maybe soon, maybe in 70 years (I can say this cause Mike's grandmother is 107 years old). But it's not here yet.

Anyway, thanks Tresa for this important piece of advice. It's helped me a lot and I'm putting it here because I'm hoping it will help others, too.