Monday, December 10, 2007

Run Hard

With Sunday morning came red eyes, a dull headache, and a chance to speak with my Dad. As usual, conversation veered towards our favorite topics: the fragile state of Pakistan's constitutional democracy, and "President" Musharraf's preference for batons over tear gas; the impact of an impending interest rate hike on our 36,000 shares of Google, and whether or not we want our Maserati's to match; life with cancer, and the similarities and differences between a hospital room and a prison cell.

All told, there is good news and bad news. As is always prudent, let's begin with the less palatable: at the moment, A. H. Goodwin is seriously uncomfortable. The difficulty with sleeping has persisted, and very little in the way of food tastes right. I can tell he’s really hurting from the lack of sleep because he talked about the prospect of getting “six or seven” hours of dreamless sleep like you might talk about getting a third home in Aspen. It’s something you’d really like, something you may even physically crave, but it's also something you don’t harbor any delusions about getting.

(On the food front: unexpectedly, along with green Lifesavers, my Dad has found a taste for Fanta Orange Soda, which he describes as "clean and cold." If you're in the neighborhood, he might appreciate a case of Fanta or its similar-tasting cousin, Sunkist.)

And it's not just sleep and sustenance. My Dad's cellular interlopers have continued to wage their unique war of attrition. Unlike conventional warfare where bullets and bodily harm are the principal weapon, my Dad's idiosyncratic enemy seems mainly focused on indignities. Discretion precludes a full accounting of disease-related indignities, but let's just say that life is exceedingly annoying at the moment. His body is exhibiting stubbornness and intractability worthy of adolescence. All the usual parts are doing totally unusual things. Just getting up from the bed is taxing and time-consuming; once accomplished, there is rarely much energy left for completing whatever task inspired leaving the bed in the first place. All of this has come together to make an A. H. Goodwin that sounds unlike himself.

The good news is that all of this is proceeding just as expected. Turns out, sleepless, tasteless, bed-ridden days are a sign of progress. Or, at the very least, a sign that his experience is closely mirroring that of almost all other patients. It may be a tired metaphor, but the image that seems most applicable is that of a marathon. No matter how much you've trained, no matter how many mornings you rose with the sun to get a few miles in before work, come the second or third hour, things are going to feel ugly. Your legs are going to cramp up and you're going to be desperate for water. It's an unfortunate truth that there's no getting around. But with every mile you tough out, you're left one closer to the finish line. And for those of us not looking for an 2008 Olympic birth, it's not about how fast you run or how pretty you look while doing it; it's just about getting from point A to point B without succumbing to heat stroke.

At the moment, then, my Dad is huffing and puffing his way through mile 10 or 11. He's sweaty and foul-smelling, rubber legged and sore across the middle, but he's continuing to put one steady foot in front of the other. He's tired, and sure, he'd probably wouldn't mind if the race got called on account of bad weather, but he's not going anywhere. He's moving on down the track with all the expediency and grace his 240 lbs can muster. He’s going to run as hard as you can when you have to push an IV drip every step of the way.

Finally, although he has to do the running on his own, it's always easier to fight through the cramps when you have cheering fans lining the course. To continue this now extremely tired metaphor, it sounds like he could use a large cup of emotional Gatorade (orange flavored, of course).

So, if you get a chance, leave a blog post or a voicemail: let him know we're all still watching, whooping it up on the sidelines as he runs past.



Jan Klingberg said...


Zach's metaphor of the marathon to describe your battle was poignant. Maybe I can walk alongside you for a mile or two and give you some strength.

All my best,

Jan and Larry said...

We ARE cheering for you from the sidelines. I think of Carolyn while reading about you. She made it! She's enjoying Georgetown and life to the fullest! She experienced all that I read about you and more. Her situation was extremely unusual, as is yours. They still have no idea what they did that worked, but it worked! You ARE NOT alone!! And smaller, weaker folks have completed this race. You can too, Arnie! You've come so far already, now we wait at the finish line for you! Love to you, Jan and Larry

Anonymous said...


What's the best phone number to call for voice mails?

John G.

Al Mitchell said...


Yep, right there with you... cheering from the sidelines... wishing you all the best... and praying for healing for you.


Karl said...

Long time reader - first time commentor. Thanks guys for the informative and personal posts. I feel (and have felt) like I'm right there with y'all. So I thought it appropriate to make some noise to let you know I'm pulling for you. As they say in Louisiana, Geaux Arnie!!
You're all in our thoughts and prayers. You're not alone.

Rhonda K. said...

Hey Arnie and Zach:

Thanks for the post. I eagerly await updates on this marathon of yours - thank you for today's post.

I am thinking of you often and I am sending you energy and strength. I wonder if those little green jelly candies, you know, the ones that look like lime or orange or lemon slices and are covered with sugar, might be a nice addition to your diet. I think the citrus flavor is where it's at for you right now. Go with it!

As they say, slow and steady wins the race. Stay strong. Hopefully you'll find some good sleep soon and those white cells will come in to support you.


Mark Drozd said...

Run, Arnie, Run. Zach's metaphor is indeed perfect, at least from a fan's standpoint, as we cheer, wave stuff feebly as if to will you on, and hope with all our hearts that you get done with this thing in record time. It's your drive and resolve that we admire now, Arnie. (And your love and caring we applaud, Zach, Erica and MaryJo). If one could wish oneself hoarse, well, pass the Hall's lozenges. I wish you better and better days.

In my heart,


Monica said...

I am here on the sidelines cheering you on every step, every stride, every hurdle, every mile until you cross the finish line. Finish you must, and soon, for my life is much richer with you walking among us. Go Arnie Go.

Anonymous said...

They say that if you can run 10 miles you can run a marathon. I’m pretty sure thats a load of crap, but if there’s any truth to it you’ve already passed the 10 mile mark. You can do it man! You have the encouragement equivalent of a gale force wind at your back. You couldn’t slow down or stop now if you tried. And were all waiting for you at the finish line.
Run like the wind,
Joe E.

Rich said...

Hey bud,

I sent you something through MJ's email, mostly because I know you like to read reflective writing. I think about you each day and look forward to Zach's eccentric take on Life with Arnie - The Treatment. I don't have any idea when you start to know about the success, but I have a great deal of faith in your will to win this race. As much as I enjoy Zach's scripting, I want to read your POV once again.


Anonymous said...

Hey Arnie, just thought I’d throw another strategy at ya. Let the hares have the race; take the course at your own pace. The middle of the run is when us non-marathoners normally start to feel a lot like tortoises. Water and lettuce sounds great. And taking power naps inside our shells give us our edge. Just keeping facing forward and remember, tortoise-style is to finish strongly and let the legend live on.

—Oh, and go for the GranTurismo. Sweet.


greg samata said...

hearts and soul are out to you...
I miss you so very much...

Paul Rand told me a long time ago...
don't try to be original Greg...
just try to be good...

and good you are my dear friend...
the very best...