Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Hank Takes Manhattan

OK, so I have been trying to write this all day. Started this morning and got interrupted and now as I sit here trying to finish, it's just too much. There is way too much to say, and the fact is, in less than 8 hours, Hank's surgery will be starting. I tend to compartmentalize things in my life... And up until now, surgery has been in it's own little cubby waiting for me to deal with it. And now that time is here...and I don't think I am ready! But I am ready...I know, without a doubt, that this is the right thing to do. And I know Hank will be in good hands. And with people praying from coast to coast for Hank, he is in God's hands. But are we ever ready to hand a loved one, especially a child, to a hospital?

So, I have tried to give the short synopsis of these last two days in NYC, prior to surgery... Here is how I started it this morning:

It's Day 3 in NYC. I have a cold. A bad cold. I am so fearful that I will give it to Hank. If he gets it, he cannot have surgery until he is better. So, I sanitize everything after I touch it, try not to breath on him and we don't share any food... Pray that he stays well!
Jeff arrived this morning. He flew on stand-by and waited to get on a plane out of SFO. He watched the standby list dwindle to just one name as they closed the gate...HIS name! Darn! So he ran to the next gate, bound for Newark instead of JFK. The other ticket agent ran to his aid and helped the agent look for seats. It didn't look good...but the agent said, "come with me, and I will do a walk-thru." So Jeff waited in the doorway of the plane while the agent walked through. She came out and told him, "Today is your lucky day....we have one seat!" So Jeff got seat 1A in First Class and flew out on the red-eye. Unfortunately, his luggage went to JFK, but should be delivered later today. In the meantime, I hit the "Duane Reader" drug store and loaded him up with some essentials!

Hank was thrilled to see him. Lept out of bed and told Jeff, "turn around and close your eyes!" Jeff did as directed and Hank brought out the Lego Darth Vader ship that he built after his pre-op testing. "Turn around Dad"...Jeff was appropriately stunned that Hank did it all himself and Hank was so proud!

Yesterday was a fun day. We slept in very late, since we are still getting accustomed to the time change. But after getting going, we took a walk to Central Park Zoo, down 5th Avenue. It is such a cute place! Hank loved it. His favorite was the Kea Bird that looked like a parrot and spent it's time struggling with a cardboard box that was put in it's pen to keep it busy.
We saw penguins, polar bears, tropical birds... but no lions, hippos or giraffes. That movie "Madagascar" is a complete sham! There are no big animals at the Central Park Zoo... No dancing lion, no giraffe with his head buried in the sand, and no ninja penguins, no zebra on a treadmill and no singing hippos!
While looking at the sea lions, I spotted a whole group (herd?) of nuns, dressed in all white habits. I struck up a conversation with 2 of them and found out they were from San Francisco and work with the poor. They asked why we were in NY and I told them about Hank's surgery. They said they would pray for him and asked his name. I introduced Hank to them and they were so happy to meet him.

As we finished up at the zoo, the sky started getting darker and darker and an ominous wind blew through the trees. As we walked on the path towards the sidewalk, we heard the first booms of thunder! Our pace picked up as we made our way out of the woods. And as we approached the sidewalk, the heavens opened up and the rain started to fall. By the time we ducked into FAO Schwarz, it was dumping! What better place to hide from the rain, than a huge toy store?

We managed to waste quite a bit of time there with minor damage to the pocket book and headed back out on the street, in search of a cab. Susan hailed one, which did indeed slow down, only to drive away with Susan still holding onto the handle! I guess he didn't think our short ride was worth it! We were stunned and howled with laughter until a woman walking by said, "next time don't tell him where you are going until AFTER you are in the cab!" Voice of experience?

After getting back from the hotel and drying off from our summer storm drenching, we ran out had a quick dinner and hit the bed for a good night's sleep!

Today (Wednesday) was a good day. Susan and I had some time together this morning. We got on Facebook to catch up with friends and then had a quick brunch. It was good to just talk freely about Hank and his illness and his surgery. I feel so blessed to have Susan in my life. Everyone I know is busy, and she is no exception. But she dropped everything to come to NY with us, because she knew she was needed. I will never forget this kind thing she did for us. And I won't forget the laughter either!

She left at noon, to head to the airport and catch her flight home. I was so sad to see her go. She was so much fun and such a great support to both Hank and I. Hank was disappointed that she wasn't staying longer, but I explained that she needed to get home to her family. Speaking of the Hopkins family...thank you to all of you for letting your mom/wife/daughter come with us!

After Susan left, Jeff, Hank and I had lunch and went for a walk down 5th Street, to St. Patrick's Cathedral. It is so beautiful! Smack in the middle of all these skyscrapers, sits this majestic church, dwarfed by everything around it, yet holding it's own with it's magnificent spires. We went inside and were enthralled. Hank and I lit some candles and we all took a moment to pray.
Afterwards, we went to the priests' residence to have the medals and Rosary I bought at the gift shop, blessed. The priest, Fr. Joe, came out and blessed everyone's items at once. I then told him that Hank was having surgery and asked him to bless Hank. (Hank insists that he has been blessed enough...but once a week is not too much!!) Fr. Joe blessed Hank and talked to him about his surgery. When he learned that Hank had a web site, he asked us to type it into his blackberry, so he wouldn't forget it! How fun is that?

We spent the rest of the afternoon at the Chelsea Piers, bowling. Hank smoked me! Apparently, I am not a very good bowler... Bowling was cut short when Dr. Siebert, Hank's surgeon called. He said he could meet us at 5:00pm, so we finished our game and headed to NYU Medical Center.
We met Dr. Siebert in the lobby and he took us to the surgical suite on the 8th floor. We sat down and had an easy chat and then got down to business. He explained where he will make the incisions, what the surgery entails, the length of it and how Hank will feel afterwards. I think he used the word, "lousy"!

We also talked about the possible tests of infected tissue...and he explained there might not be enough tissue to test. That what he usually finds is scarring that tightens up and pulls the face. But if there is infected tissue we will test it for bacteria.
I've known for quite some time what the surgery will be, and yet hearing it and seeing it pointed out on Hank's face is scary. This is major surgery...big surgery...painstaking surgery...microvascular...with microscopes and everything! This is a big, long, major surgery! Probably eight hours long! And our boy seems so little! And although he admits to being a little nervous, I think he is fearless! Hank is my hero...he is so brave. And so I will follow his lead and be brave for him!
We wrapped up our appointment with the very capable Dr. Siebert and walked him out.
The rest of the night was spent looking for a particular restaurant that Jeff wanted to go to: "Junior's". The only problem was that we couldn't remember the name of it and couldn't remember its exact location. Hence another death march for Hank! But we ended up finding it and Hank got his promised -shake! We walked back to the hotel and ran into some Hank fans along the way:
Two of New York City's Finest, wish Hank good luck with his surgery...

And three aspiring recording artists take an instant liking to Hank and become fans. It even looks like Hank might be a part of their group!

So that's it. Our pre-surgery days are over. Now it's time to get to what we came here for. The surgery. I think we've done all we can up to this point. All the fundraising has gotten us here, the prayers and positive thoughts sustain us and lift us up, and our sense of humor keeps us sane. I know I've done my part in getting the prayers...between the nuns, the mass being said in Elk Grove for Hank, the priest at St. Patrick's Cathedral, friends, family, cops and rappers...we can't go wrong!
Thank you to all who have gotten us this far. We will keep you posted on how Hank's surgery goes and how he is feeling. If I am well enough, I will spend the night with Hank at the hospital...if not I will be back at the hotel and will update the blog.
This is it folks....please keep those prayers coming. We can feel them!!


  1. Beautifully done Terri, and a gift for all of us parents to watch your grace and strength. Hank should feel the love and hope from all of us pulling from so many places you have touched. Keep yourself well and be so proud of your family. And continue to take things one step at a time. :-) Frank

  2. I love Hank's serious face in the last pic. So very cute.

    In my prayers.