Monday, August 14, 2006 - 11 pm
[Photos of Mike taken March 12-14, 2006 by Victoria. Just after our Baxter-free March 8-12 trip to Charleston, SC (read more on that below) and less than one week before Mike was admitted to Jefferson. The photo on the left was pretty much how Mike was about 50% of the time in those weeks leading up to his hospitalization. He often wasn't even aware that he was sleeping.]
I've been busily working on things for the tribute show. Assembling the program, order of performances, burning CDs to play before and after the show. It's a great way to focus my energy. I'm so tired, but I feel almost manic in my need to do things. I have such frenetic energy that I've had an upset stomach for 2 days. Lovely.
After coming across these photos from Victoria, I started thinking a lot about the months of February and March. Mike had a series of three operations from Jan 27 to Feb 2 to implant a shunt to drain the cyst that had quickly formed in his head. The shunt turned out to be infected with staph which is why he appeared to be falling apart before my eyes throughout the month of February and into March. He was so fatigued, incommunicative, and occasionally confused. It was crushing to watch - especially since we had no fucking idea why.
I remember going to dinner with Sasha, Dee, Marianne, Heather and Michaela in February in Chinatown. It was Oscar night, March 5th. We ate dinner at Vietnam Restaurant, and talked movies. Brokeback Mountain was the subject. I admitted that Mike and I had gone to see the movie a week prior and that I cried from the second the music started until the credits rolled. When the ladies asked why, I took a moment and decided to say what I knew I wanted to say. It went something like this:
“I hate to be a downer, but the movie is about a love that is lost - and right now I feel like I have lost Michael. He's not right. I don't know if he's depressed or sick, but he's not right.”
I remember the girls just sort of sitting there stunned. I think some suggested that he was just in a post-op funk and others just sort of patted my hands, but this was a major bomb to drop in a circle of happily married friends. I could definitely feel the “holy shit” in the air.
In spite of the aggressive tumor/cyst that Mike knew he had in his head, he was set on going away with me for a much needed and deserved vacation in early March. The radiation oncology team outlined a general plan that would have started Mike in radiation therapy during the first week of March. Radiation has to be completed in 6 successive weeks, so interrupting the treatment for a vacation was not going to be in the cards. So, Mike made it passionately clear that he needed to get away before radiation started.
Throughout this entire chapter, something was not right with Michael. I discussed it in detail with Victoria and Deke when they came up two after the Oscars to watch Baxter while Mike and I went away to Charleston. They listened, but at that point, the only one who could really see the changes in Michael was me.
The Charleston trip (March 8-12) was wonderful and horrible. Mike was sweet and charming and funny - but not right. He slept about 16 hours a day, was viciously forgetful, and had lost all sense of direction. He left his palm pilot in a drug store (not like Mike at all), forgot to bring the camera, forgot to bring one of his medicines (DDAVP), and went for a jog one morning only to return 15 minutes later because he had gotten confused and counted find the water (1 block to our East - AND he had a map).
It was like watching the slowest car crash you've ever seen.
But, I do not doubt that the trip was what Mike desperately wanted and needed. Between his intense need to get away with me in March and his almost aggressive request to come home for the weekend between the March 28 transphenoidal surgery and the April 4th craniotomy… I wonder if he knew. Not in his rational mind, of course, but somewhere else - I wonder if somehoe he knew the importance of time. Time with me, with Baxter, and at our beautiful home. It sure seems that way in hindsight.