Thursday, July 13, 2006 - evening

[Dopamine - what they're using to try to help increase Mike's cardiac output]

Mike's C.O. (cardiac output) was down again this afternoon - to about 2.4-2.5. It should be above 4. This number is indicative of his heart's capacity to pump. Low isn't good. But again, his other numbers (heart rate and BP) are good. Still in DIC, though. They are giving him Dopamine to help the heart. They tried another one, Dobutamine, but he "didn't like that at all" (to quote Dr. Lee). It made his BP plummet.

So, here we are.
For the past couple of days I've been wrestling with something and talking with friends and family about it. I've been struggling with whether or not to tell Michael that if it's time to go, it's ok. That we'll all be ok. But, as many friends brought up, maybe Mike would think that this meant we were giving up on him. So, today, I told him something that I thought an awful lot about.

At about 6 pm, when it was just the two of us, I got right up close to him, and his eyes were open. Now, remember, he squeezes our hands in response to us, so he's definitely in there and can definitely hear us. Here's what I told him:

"Mike, you are amazing. You are a fighter. No one can believe how much of a freaking warrior you are. We all want you around. We have things to do - playing with Baxter, going camping, going to Disneyland, grilling turkey sausage burgers out on the grill - lots and lots of things. So, if you want to keep fighting, we're all going to fight along with you and help pull you through this. But, if you're tired, it's ok. You do what you need to do. It's ok. We'll all be ok. You do what you need to do. What ever it is. If it's to keep on fighting, then do it. And if it's not... it's ok. We'll all be ok. Do you understand?"

I didn't get a real response from him, but he looked at me right in the eye and I kissed his cheeks over and over.

I realize that people might be upset with my having said this to Mike.
At this point, you can be upset. No one wants Michael here more than I do. No one. He is my best friend. He is my smoosher. He makes me a better person. He is the funniest man EVER. He completes my life in a way I never thought possible. It's easy. It just is. We just are. So, for me to tell him that it's ok if he's tired and that we'll all be ok regardless of what he decides to do... well... it's a big f*cking deal.

I just see him lying there with all these f*cking tubes and wires and meds and he can't even close his f*cking eyes... and I feel like this is his goddamn nightmare
. It is. This is Mike's total nightmare. You know Mike. He is in control. He's a control freak. How long did it take for him to give up the director position in ComedySportz after he was totally burnt out? How many excel spreadsheets does he have to outline vacations and house rentals day by day, detailing activities, itineraries and floorplans? How much does he love entertaining a room of people? How much does he love his managerial position at DiscMakers? He's a guy who needs to be in control of his destination. If he needs to fight it through - ok. He will. If his body just can't, then ok. But to be there the way he is now is his f*cking nightmare.

One thing became clear in talking with Dr. Lee. Mike cannot physically remain in this condition forever. He can't. His system will crash. He needs to go up or go down. He can't remain in this limbo (or purgatory as Sasha eloquently termed it the other day). His heart is being beaten up - by the racing heart rate, by the paddles, by the pressors forcing it to work overtime. He cannot sustain it forever. Either, we need to witness some changes in his cardiovascular functioning, or we're going to move in an unfortunate direction.


Diana said...


No one could be angry with you for saying these words of love. None of this is in your hands, nor is it in Mike's, despite all of our strong desires to be in control. And you don't want him to feel like he is letting you down any more than you would ever want to feel that you are letting him down.

When my boyfriend of many years died, I was angry as hell at him for abandoning me -- as stupid as that sounds! If he hadn't already been dead I would have killed him.

But I always worried that my anger had shown in my conversations with him over those last few days. It is good to say everything we need to to those we love, every day, regardless of the circumstances. But you are especially wise to make your peace and acceptance clear to him. For now, I will picture the three of you in my mind's eye at Disneyland. But we'll all be here for you regardless of what the future may hold.

Jalena said...

Atta, girl. I so hate that the time came. I hope and pray there will be a time much,much later in your life, after a lifetime together, when you will have to say those words to him again, but for now, you did what you needed to do and as always, I am SO proud of you. As you said, if he isnt ready, he wont need to heed those words, but if he is, then you did absolutely the right thing for Mike and Mike is the important one right this minute. Just dont let go of his hand. I think he needs your strength right now. You know how much I have come to admire you both.

Anonymous said...

I believe Mike hears you and if he does not understand every word he feels the love in your touch and kisses. You are doing what you know Mike would do for you. Being his best friend, respecting life and death.

my tear are flowing for You and for Mike, for Baxter, your family for your friends. - love surrounds you

Lance said...


You are truly Mike's partner, friend, and soul mate. The words you spoke to him this evening reflect your being there for Mike no matter what road he or his body chooses. There is nothing more a partner could ask for in this life.

csm said...

i am at a loss for words... hard to believe, i know. but i do sincerely believe he heard you. and he will make a choice. and whatever that choice may be (and i can personally hope that it will be to fight for himself just as you've been fighting for him all these months)... whatever the choice, you know we will all be there to help you all. we, collectively, are your past & your present... and most importantly... your future. no matter what that future may hold.

i love you.


Jenny S-G said...

Dearest Danna,

I read your post through tears. I understand the significance of what you said to Mike today. I did the same to my mother two weeks before she finally decided it was time to go. You did and said exactly what needed to be said. Mike needed to hear those words, even if he cannot tell you that he needed to hear them. And, you needed to say them.

I must say that in reading the blog, I believe you are coping as well as any human could with this. You have found a peace, however fleeting it may be, with this situation, and that is the sign of a strong soul. And, you're using your coping skills well to help yourself survive this. F*ed up with grace - may we all be that whole.

Sending you another digital embrace.

Cara said...

Here's a little poem that's been brewing for a few days. Sorry if it's too long for this bloggy format, but I desperately want to offer something to Danna, and my pal Mike.

In Hebrew, Michael means “who is like God.”
It’s a name that is a question.
Who is like God?
And a question that is an answer.
He, who is like God.
It is elegantly simple,
knowable but enigmatic.
The name fits Michael well.
As does Young.
An old soul with an ageless sense of play.
Young his entire life, even a long life.

I think of Mike’s laugh – hearty, head back, with literal “ha ha ha’s” coming out of his mouth.
I think of Mike funny.
I think of Mike with long, thick, reddish hair…perhaps, in hindsight, a shield over brain.
I think of Mike seated silently beside me at a play, for so many hours over so many years.
I think of Mike controlled, not ordering a drink.
I think of Mike giving a warm, solid hug.
I think of Mike outlandishly witty.
I think of Mike forever holding a secret.
I think of Mike inspiring the love of Danna.

It’s hard not to get haunted by images of Michael teetering on the edge of life.
Of his body exploring places I didn’t know existed.
Of things going so grotesquely wrong.
Of his brain outfoxing the good doctors and their millions of dollars worth of treatments.
But through it all, stronger than the catastrophic illness, is an unflinching morsel of Mike.
This deep, powerful thing comes through in a squeeze of Danna’s hand, in another heartbeat,
in the devotion of his friends.

Danna emerges heroic.
She’d rather be normal, I imagine.
But she has been a woman I will never forget.
I read her honest, straightforward blog entries as a recipe for survival:
- make order of chaos by understanding the problem
- record the facts, editorialize only when you want
- ask for help when you need it
- remind yourself what’s good
- be wonderful, and people will be wonderful back
- take baths
- find moments of wonder and humor from the middle of the blackest storm

If to be like God is to inspire awe,
and stir up huge questions,
and exist beyond the realm of what we know,
then Michael truly is like God.

Susan DeAngelus said...

What you said to him was beautiful. He knows he is loved and that is a great gift to have. You are a freakin' warrior too, you know!

Lisa said...

I'm sorry you had to say those words to Michael, but I believe he heard you. I admire your courage through all of this. I will pray and pray that God will sending healing towards Michael. This is his fight and I really hope he fights. {{{hugs}}} to you and your family.