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.


Jalena said...

My crew had BMX racing last night so we are late leaving today!!! Anyway, my thoughts are maybe Baxter is simply missing Mike. After all,he had been going to see him once a week and he may just realize that its been a while since he has gone away to see him? While we think time means nothing to them at this age, that its endless, they do have internal clocks. I am surely hoping that is the rational explanation!!! Still forgot to ask Amy about the laptop!!! Hang in there while I'm gone. Youre doing great with all of this and I'm proud of you. Everyone, please keep the Mike stories coming. I'm getting a kick out of them and learning more about Mr. Young each day!!! And Danna, keep the emails between you coming as you have time. They are wonderful!!!

Scott said...

OK, here's my favorite Mike story. Well it's not a story. More of a running joke. At work one day we were talking about Paul McCartney for some reason. And Mike goes off on how cool it must be to be Paul McCartney. "Dude. Paul McCartney. He's like one of the five most famous people alive. He's written half of the greatest songs ever. He was a friggin BEATLE for crying out loud. He goes to a party and he's always the coolest guy there. He could go up to the Pope and say, 'Hey. I'm Paul McCartney. I was one of the Beatles, so sit down, Pope-boy!'" Now I'm not Catholic, but I had to agree that the pinnacle acheivement anyone could hope for would be to be able to tell the Pope to sit down. And this was back when Pope John Paul II was still alive. We're talking about a serious Pope.

So over the next week or so we'd come up with other people whose resumes were equally impressive. I'd run over to his office, "Hey Mike: Tim Berners-Lee. Inventor of the friggin' world wide web." And he laugh and say, "Yeah! So sit down, Pope-boy!" We basically stopped after he came up with the ultimate one. Neil Armstrong. Hard to top being the first man on the moon. My favorite part of this whole exchange was that Mike would always comment on why it was so funny. "I just love that it's the Pope. It's not nearly as funny if it's someone else."

So, here's my dream. Mike surives all this and he and I fly to Rome for an audience with His Eminence and he says, "Hi. I'm Mike Young. I had 13 brain surgeries and I'm still hilarious. So sit down Pope-boy!" And then as we fly back home (for maximum effect, we will only be in Rome for the hour it takes to go from the airport to the Pope and back. I think there's a shuttle) Mike will say to me, "Would have been cooler if had been John Paul."

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to say hi and that I'm thinking of you guys constantly.



JHN Neuro stepdown nurses said...

Danna, Here at JHN we're monitoring Mike's progress vigilently, we asked Dr. Andrews how Mike's doing and some of our nurses went to visit, but Mike was at getting a CT scan. We left a blood stone crystal for Mike, this promotes healing of blood disorders and enhances courage. You're in our thoughts and prayers. Love, Denise, Judy, Maria, Shamell, Camye and Chris V.

csm said...

Still working on getting unpacked and settled. Broke down and got Comcast for internet access instead of verizon (which won't be ready until 7.25). So i am back online and writing to tell you i am thinking of you and will get over to visit mike today. love, csm

francine said...

Hey Danna:
I haven't left a comment for a few days, but I've been following the blog every day. I think what you said to mike a few days ago was very kind. Of course we all want him to be well again, and he DOES have everything to live for, but I think that it was very kind to sort of relieve the burden of his feeling so bad about sadness and fear and all the emotions that the tumor has caused (of course not his fault, but logic isn't always in charge in these situations). I think in his moments of clarity he must hate to see how sad and worried everyone is---which is why I'm so glad all the REAL mike stories are being told to remind us how happy he makes us. At least you were able to reassure him that you and Bax (and everyone) will be okay. and now I hope hope hope that he's able to use his incredible spirit and love of life to get better.

PS. I LOVE your mike-danna emails! I remember when Mike first told me about you, I think after your first date even; he was one happy, happy boy :)

Anonymous said...

Children & animals don't have the "filter" we do. The constant daily bombardment of stimuli has caused our brains to "tune" out a lot of things and focus on the stresses/distractions of every day life.

Lisa said...

Well here's my take on this... Kids are open to "other worlds". They can see things we do not see. With Mike being in the state he is in, his spirt maybe "roaming" around to make sure things are ok. He may be "out of his body". With Baxter being so young and having an open mind, he may be seeing Mike. I guess it's all on how you believe. I believe in the supernatural, and the other plains, plus God. I will say a prayer that things start turning around for the good. Take care.

The Brain said...

Thank you, Lisa. This is almost exactly how my sister is interpreting Bax's interesting Dada-moments. I have no idea what to think, but the idea of Mike floating about is simultaneously sad and wonderful.