Those of you who follow me on Twitter or Facebook will know that Mrs. T has been in the University of Connecticut Health Center’s John Dempsey Hospital since Saturday, when she was stricken with a major respiratory crisis that forced us to call an ambulance. (This, in case you happened to notice, is the reason why I don’t have a drama column in today’s Wall Street Journal: I’ve been otherwise occupied.) We subsequently found out that she was suffering from sepsis, a life-threatening infection that had weakened her already-fragile body and left her prey to all kinds of trouble.
The truth is that I nearly lost Mrs. T twice over the weekend, on Saturday morning and late that same night. But she’s the toughest of cookies, and her wonderful doctors and nurses were unanimously determined to keep her out of the cold clutches of the Distinguished Thing. Come Thursday she was, to everyone’s astonishment but mine, on the mend—very, very slowly.Regular readers of this blog will doubtless remember that Mrs. T has suffered for the past decade and a half from a rare and devastating disease called pulmonary hypertension (known to those who have it and those who love them as “PH”) that can only be cured by a double lung transplant. It’s been pretty obvious since January that she was entering the end stage of her long struggle with PH, and that the time for a transplant was drawing near. As her health continued to deteriorate, she was moved up the organ allocation list in May and told that at long last, her “score” was high enough for her to expect to start receiving donor-organ offers.
Mrs. T’s battle with sepsis has been horrifically debilitating, and we expect that it will lead to her being moved still further up the allocation list. For this reason, the doctors at UConn conferred with her transplant team in New York and decided last night to transfer her to New York-Presbyterian, the hospital not far from our apartment in upper Manhattan where she will ultimately be transplanted. She’ll be taken there by ambulance later today, with me in hot pursuit, and will remain there as we await the news that a pair of donor lungs has finally become available.
This is not, alas, what Mrs. T and I refer to as “the Big Call,” the middle-of-the-night it’s-showtime-folks phone call that summons a transplant candidate to the operating table. Would that it were! It is, rather, a precaution, albeit one of high consequence. From now until the Big Call comes, Mrs. T will stay at New York-Presbyterian, where the doctors will treat her for all that ails her, simultaneously watching closely for the sudden deterioration of the right ventricle of her heart that is what all PH patients fear most. What it does mean, though, that she is now a giant step closer to the moment for which we both long ardently.
All this puts me in mind of the soul-stirring words of a great man who was never more hopeful than at moments of supreme trial:
Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.
So, too, do Mrs. T and I hope. Please hope with us.
UPDATE: Mrs. T was transferred from UConn to New York-Presbyterian very late last night—by helicopter. Don’t jump to conclusions, though! This wasn’t an emergency airlift: it seems there was an ambulance-related snafu, and switching her to a helicopter was, incredible as it may sound, the only way to resolve it.
The good news is that Mrs. T had never flown in a helicopter before and claimed to be excited by the prospect, which under the circumstances strikes me as quite amazingly game. I left UConn by car hours before she took off and arrived in upper Manhattan hours before she arrived. (Not surprisingly, it was a hurry-up-and-wait kind of day.) She sent me an e-mail this morning in which she claimed to be feeling chipper and asking me to bring her a takeout menu from the neighborhood diner.
I’ll head down to the hospital, which is thirteen blocks from our apartment in upper Manhattan, in a couple of hours, there to see Mrs. T and talk to her doctors. Assuming that all is well there, my next stop will be a matinée of Kate Hamill’s Little Women, my first show since the crisis began a week ago today. Crises come and crises go, but theater goes on forever.
I’ll keep you posted.
* * *
A montage of scenes from Bob Fosse’s All That Jazz, starring Roy Scheider:
The climactic scene from Darkest Hour, directed by Joe Wright and starring Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill: