Saturday, May 10, 2008

A Good Friend

Yesterday, Kathryn was named Science Fair Champion of her level for Individuals. K-Girl hypothesized what kinds of toys Pepper would like and not like based on his personality and habits. She then methodically tested and cross-tested his reactions in groups. It wasn't flashy science, just sound. She really did an amazing job.

I think everyone knows some parents essentially do their kids' work sometimes ... Dori and I are always willing to guide ours, but never do. Once a concept is explained, a kid just has to do it on his or her own. Dori answered some questions during the test phase, and I explained some ideas about project presentation ... but Kathryn put all of it together by her lonesome. We walked away and let her let it rip.

Clearly, the Sawyer gene is responsible for this. Browns don't do so well at this science stuff. I remember my science fair project at that age ... getting a few different-sized hard foam balls for planets and slapping a ring around Saturn. I was so proud when all the toothpicks stuck in the foam.

Last night, Will and I were joined by Chuck Hendry and his son at the Vanderbilt-Georgia baseball game. Chuck and Dori are close. Both battled AML at the same time. Chuck entered VUMC a few weeks after Dori, and Dori's transplant was two days before Chuck's. Chuck is doing well, but has a few more issues to work through at the moment. He has some chronic graft versus host disease in his mouth and eyesight challenges. He fatigues easily like Dori, still is on cyclosporine and takes about 10 medications (Dori is on three plus vitamins).

Chuck says the scar tissue from seven biopsies causes some stiffness in his back and sometimes numbness in his legs. Dori had about 10 biopsies, we think. When Chuck said he's glad he's done with biopsies, I reminded him AML survivors get one more "on the house" at their one-year transplant anniversary. "Whoa, I think you're right," he said disappointingly.

We spent most of the night enjoying baseball and having some laughs. When Chuck remarked that Vanderbilt's football team looked good last year (another losing season and we haven't been to a bowl game since 1982), I responded, "Rooting for VU football is like going on a date with a great-looking girl. You know what's going to happen. Things are gonna look good, but you're going to drop her off and get a peck on the cheek." [Insert big boy laughter.]

When it began to rain lightly with VU ahead three runs, I put on my black windbreaker, noting, "I've seen a lot of football losses in this thing." Twenty minutes later with VU behind one run, Chuck said, "You might want to take that thing off."

"And exorcise it," I added.

Dori and I are walking the same path as Chuck and his wife, Abbie. Dori and Chuck spent hours in each other's rooms to relate and compare experiences. I know they both believe they were part of each other's recoveries. I certainly do. Our reactions are the same to many things. Whenever we hear a VU LifeFlight helicopter, we have flashbacks to the hospital. Whenever we pass VUMC, we think and pray for the patients on 11 North.

You don't ever walk away from this experience. You incorporate it. It is part of who you are.

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