“Looking Forward” or “Is this for your hamster?”

By Kevin Ryan

Posted on October 31st, 2016

“You don’t have to write big long blogs posts, you can write short ones.” That is what my wife, Willa, told me when I was having problems writing a new blog post each week. It’s hard to even write just one a month. I think sometimes I just ramble and ramble and ramble on and on and on.. So, taking her advice, this will be an attempt at a short post. And since I am currently reading a Hemingway novel, I’ll try to write in his style too (and won’t succeed).

Aidan was released from the hospital on Oct 29, 1999. He had had a liver transplant four weeks earlier. He was in his car seat hooked up to oxygen. He was fragile. We were driving to our San Francisco apartment. We had the brand new Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young album playing on the CD.

“I am already your best friend… who can you completely trust, who loves you baby, who loves you this much” – Faith in Me (Stills)

“Looking forward, All that I can see, Is good things happening to you and to me” – Looking Forward (Young)

“Someday soon you will see by the light of day, That someday soon all your worries will fade away, Keep holding on to the love that has made you strong, And someday soon heartache will all be gone” – Someday Soon (Nash)

From my perspective, driving that short trip from hospital to apartment, every one of those songs seemed to be written for Aidan. Especially Someday Soon. I later discovered that it was recorded on July 24th at Neil’s ranch. That was the same day that I was driving past his ranch on State Route 85. I was getting a cashier’s check from our home bank for a who-knows-how-long stay at a San Francisco apartment.

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Our San Francisco apartment.

Before Aidan was released I had to get a prescription for him. For some reason I couldn’t get it at the UCSF hospital pharmacy. The closest pharmacy was in the Castro district. I drove over there in the evening with my three year old son to pick it up. It was Friday evening before Halloween and there were some very interesting costumes being worn. We parked and walked a couple of blocks to the pharmacy.

I gave the pharmacy guy Aidan’s prescription. It was a methadone taper to wean him off of morphine. It was a very tiny amount that tapered down to zero in a couple of days. Aidan was a very tiny sick baby. He didn’t need much. The pharmacy guy looked puzzled. “Is this for your hamster?”

Yes, he actually said that. It still makes me crack up 17 years later. “Uh, no, my son is tiny.”

On October 31st we rushed Aidan back at the hospital. It turned out to be for another very long stay. His eyes were sundowning. He was not able to regulate his temperature. His temperature was falling low which was really strange.

It was hydrocephalus. The hospital folks knew right away from the sundowning eyes. He got a shunt and our voyage continued.

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Post transplant – Pre shunt.