Thursday, October 4, 2012
Thursday, August 30, 2012
It's been three weeks since my last report, and in that time Lynne has made an almost ridiculous amount of progress.
• She has taken to walking downstairs without using the railing.
• For her birthday last Saturday, we went to brunch, shopping, and a movie. There was more walking involved than we had planned, and she did it all with a cane, the occasional hand on my shoulder, and glee.
• On Tuesday, her physical therapy team cleared her to walk on her own anywhere, without benefit of cane or walker. They encouraged her to go out to public places, like groceries stores, and navigate with no help.
Lynne and I were alone in the kitchen on Tuesday evening when she told me she wanted to see if she could dance, given the regenerating nerves in her right foot. I tuned the radio to a music station and we “gave it a whirl.” I'm happy to report that she not only dances, she leads! We're scheduled to attend a party this Saturday night, and Lynne is looking forward to making me jealous by dancing with every man who asks her (and many will).
I'm looking forward to it, too.
Love to you all,
Hello folks, we're back in present time:
That was the last installment of the update emails I wrote to my family while Lynne was recovering from her surgery. As happily as the story ends, things have gotten even better since then.
Last winter, one of the things that Lynne had had to give up was Bikram yoga, because the cyst was causing her too much pain. This past Sunday, she went to her first Bikram class since the surgery, and she experienced no pain at all. She had a great class and even felt good the next day.
Tuesday was Lynne’s final physical therapy session, and the PT gave her some really challenging exercises to do from here on out. She is running around "normally," and she's feeling increasing sensation in her right foot as the weeks go by. She is very happy her body feels as good as it does, and is enjoying the challenges of living a life worth living. Bring 'em on!
Thanks for reading.
You have to love somebody to be enthusiastic and it has to start with yourself.
-- Vic Baranco
Sunday, August 19, 2012
Lynne is being truly inspirational. Today she and her PT, Mike, had me witness Lynne walking about 25 feet without the aid of a walker, and walking up a flight of stairs with a railing, and back down, twice! At first Mike shadowed her, then he taught me how to do it, exactly where and how to stand in case she needed help, and the most efficient ways to catch her should she fall. But neither of us touched her once. She did all of it independently.
Mike explained that he didn't want her to do more because, while her motor skills are clearly improving rapidly, she still needs to build up her endurance. She takes some pretty deep naps between sessions. Throughout the actual exercises, and while listening to Mike's explanations, Lynne's face was beaming. It's odd to say it, but she's having the time of her life.
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Thanks for your responses to the first installment. Some of you expressed a desire to know how Lynne is doing now. The answer is really, really, well. You'll see as the story progresses.
Thanks for reading.
You will never lose at calling a person to perform at his highest level.
- Vic Baranco
Stay tuned for Part III, y'all!
Saturday, August 11, 2012
You only forget the things you don't care to remember.
- Vic Baranco
The surgical team numbered at least five, and they introduced themselves to us ahead of time, clearly competent and confident. The operation took about 6 1/2 hours, and those of the doctors with whom I spoke afterwards were all smiles at the results. When I left her this evening, Lynne was quite groggy but smiling and conversing. Pretty impressive, considering she'd just been told she'd have to stay completely flat on her back for 24 hours. I'll be returning to the hospital at 8am.
Many thanks to all for you for the constant blessings being sent our way.
Overwhelmed with love,
Lynne has improved immensely. Today she was able to stand with the aid of a walker. Tomorrow she is being transferred to a rehab facility in order to focus on physical therapy. She still has to take a lot of pain medication and we are told that the newly-freed nerves in her spine may take some time to recover.
Saturday, April 14, 2012
As some of you have already heard, we recently had to put our beloved dog, Spritzie, to sleep. She was 14 years old.
Intellectually, I have to accept that other pet owners are as attached to their animals as we were to ours, but on an emotional level it's really hard to believe. Spritzie had been so intertwined with our souls for so many years that it truly feels as if a physical part of us has been wrenched from us. She saw us through so much, most recently the upheaval of our move to California. No matter how stressful things got, she was always there to be hugged. She died the day after our two-year anniversary of moving here. It's as if she were saying, “You guys can handle things on your own now. My work here is done.”
I have a tendency to be over-affectionate. I have had to learn over the years not to stroke, hug and nuzzle everybody for whom I have positive feelings. It makes people understandably uncomfortable. Spritzie had no such compunctions. I could pour out my love onto her, and she would take it and take it and take it, and still welcome more. I have many recollections of her lying on her side in the middle of the floor, say, during family gatherings at Lynne's parents house in Connecticut. Everyone would be sitting around the living room talking, and I would be unable to restrain myself. I would throw myself prostrate on the carpet and bury my face in Spritzie's flank and breathe in her dogness. Yes, I had the thought that the others might be judging this as a ridiculous way for a grown man to behave, but this concern paled in the glow of how good it felt to love my dog. I'm at a loss as to how I'm going to replace this experience.
More than one person has mentioned the possibility of us getting another puppy, but this is hard for us to imagine. It seems impossible to us that Spritzie can ever be replaced. Also, if I let myself consider owning another dog, all I can picture is having to go through this grief again, albeit many years from now. All that aside, our experience is that Spritzie's not entirely gone yet. Many of our moment-to-moment, day-to-day responses are to a presence that is no longer there, but feels as if it is. Her bed is still in its customary spot next to the radiator, and Lynne occasionally puts a dog treat in it, like a cup of wine for Elijah. It does disappear, but I'm guessing that's more likely the work of an opportunistic Amenshi (Sierra and Jess' dog) than the ghost of Spritzie.
While Lynne and I had fantasies of Spritzie living much longer than she did, she left us owing us nothing. Many dogs pass away younger than 14, and we are grateful that she provided us with such an intense level of happiness for so many years. As the neurologist, who had recently lost her cat, said, it's worth the pain of losing her to have had the joy of having her. Amen to that.
Thanks for reading.
Life without emotion is food without seasoning.
-- Vic Baranco
Monday, February 13, 2012
The decorations were festive and the food and drink were plentiful. The theme was Tuxes, Teddies and Togas. People dressed in formalwear, lingerie, and Greco-Romanwear. There was a Cupid's Corner crafts table with paper, stickers, markers, scissors, glue, etc., where guests sat and created pretty and clever valentines. They would then summon one of the three Official Cupids (Nicole, Lynne or me) to deliver their notes to other party guests. Some of the valentines were signed From a Secret Admirer, while others had the name of the sender. One man had me deliver a valentine to a woman that said, “I think you're cute and I'd like to get to know you better.” They were at opposite ends of the party from each other, and she immediately walked over, sat down next to him and started conversing with him. Imagine how proud this Cupid was!
Thanks for reading (and looking)!
Romance is approving of the responses of your partner.
-- Vic Baranco
Sunday, January 29, 2012
It's been a long time since I last wrote, and that was when I reported on our unbelievably awesome Halloween Party. “Halloween was a long time ago,” the little voice in my head keeps saying with its hands on its hips. The truth is, I've been hesitating to update you about our lives, because mostly what I have to report about is more parties. I envision my inner voice demanding, “What is it with you people? Why are you always partying?” The answer I've been avoiding telling myself is “Why the hell not?”
One of Vic's most famous viewpoints is that fun is the goal, and love is the way. It turns out that it's not just girls who want to have fun. Everyone does. However, we're raised in a culture suspicious of people who want fun to be more than just a break from the not-fun parts of their lives. Even having lived in Morehouse for as long as I have, I still worry that people will think I'm a lightweight if I say that partying is my highest priority.
Well, so be it! Since Halloween, gatherings large and small at our house have included a lovely and intimate Thanksgiving dinner, a Christmas Eve dinner, a present-opening party and a ridiculously sumptuous brunch on Christmas Day. We also had a big, kickass, combination New Years Eve/Nicole's Birthday Party. Of course, a common aspect of life in a Morehouse is that spontaneous parties tend to break out frequently simply out of our proximity to each other and our common belief that fun is the highest goal.
And partying can take myriad forms. In fact, it could be said that a party is in the eye of the beholder. How about this? I've spent more than 20 years hearing people wonder what it would take to have more fun at weekly house meetings. Nicole, our housemother, has pulled it off. For the past month, she's invited us all up to her room for house meetings. It's very relaxed and convivial, and she somehow manages to make sure that what's going on is a party at which house business happens to get done. And, amidst all the teasing and the laughter and the camaraderie, house business actually does get done. The meetings rarely last more than an hour, and everything that needs to get discussed does. (The agenda often includes party planning!)
We're currently gearing up for our big annual Valentine's Party. The theme will be Tuxes, Teddies and Togas. I'll let your imagination take care of the rest, and I'll report in after the party with photos.
Also, be on the lookout for an announcement about the two-hour course Pleasurable Relationships, coming soon to the Oakland Morehouse. Lynne and I will be teacher trainees in that one!
Finally, a shout-out to Suzanne and Matt, who have been presenting the six-week videoconference seminar Having Pleasurable Relationships Series in Manhattan. The final session is this Friday, February 3, from 7pm to 9pm. The topic is Responsible Hedonism.
Thanks for reading!
My life is great and it's all your fault.
-- Vic Baranco