The AB-180, 1997 Prototype

From reading Sheryl Recinos’s harrowing memoir of surviving on the streets as an under-age runaway, to Stephen Westaby’s memoir of his most wrenching heart cases.

Sheryl Recinos ended up a doctor (amazing), but that part is not in her memoir, Hindsight: Coming of Age on the Streets of Hollywood. (Maybe there will be a sequel? Self hopes so)

Stephen Westaby’s memoir, on the other hand, describes his work as a member of the team that produces the first artificial heart.

Ch. 7, Open Heart: A Cardiac Surgeon’s Stories of Life and Death on the Operating Table

It took the team five years to produce a spinning blood pump the size of a bicycle bell, weighing just half a pound . . . First called the AB-180, it was intended to support the circulation for up to six months . . . It was so simple that one of the technicians attached a prototype pump to his garden hose and drained his fish pond with it.

The first English “guinea pig” for the AB-180 was a 21-year-old woman who had contracted “viral myocarditis, a viral illness like a cold, but when it involves the heart, it can be fatal . . . a desperate situation for a vivacious young woman who had been normal the week before.”

As self told Dearest Mum many years ago: Dying has nothing to do with age.

Look at self’s older sister, dead of streptococcal pneumonia at 34.

Look at Dearly Departed Sister-in-Law Ying, who died at 38 of leukemia which had been diagnosed less than a year before.

In Westaby’s memoir, Julie’s “leg was already blue — pouring out lactic acid.”

Self was the person who received her sister’s autopsy from Lenox Hill Hospital. Her parents couldn’t bear to read it, so self did. It listed her sister’s cause of death as sepsis. Blood poisoning. 11 days earlier she had presented at Lenox Hill’s emergency room, complaining of a bad cough.

As Westaby writes, “most patients with viral myocarditis get over it.”

As most patients with streptococcal pneumonia, what self’s sister contracted, probably do.

Self can tell you she never, ever expected her sister to die that year. That it happened so close to Christmas made all subsequent Christmases into depressing occasions. In fact, a Christmas present her sister had mailed from New York arrived in California three days after she had passed.

11 days. That’s all it took to move a healthy young woman, a mother of three, to illness and then death. That was time enough, though, for self to fly to New York. Time enough for her parents to fly in from the Philippines.

In Westaby’s book, “the doctors scrubbed with haste. What was more important now? Survival or sterility?” He grabs a scalpel and runs the blade “straight through, hard onto the bone.” He runs “the saw up the sternum.” As Julie’s “heart was stopping, I kept moving . . . ” He gathers Julie’s “flickering little ventricles” into his fist and hand-pumps.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: London Smiles

Self just got back from a trip to Ireland and England.

The last week of May, she met up with Amy Toland of Miami University Press and took her to her favorite London restaurant, Chez Nous, 22 Hanway Street. Self has been coming here since 2014, Julie is an amazing cook!

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Julie, chef of Chez Nous on Hanway Street in London; Amy Toland, Managing Editor of Miami University Press

This cheeky picture of Harry and Meghan was hanging on the wall of a wee cheesecake shop on Drury Street:

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Son was in London for work. Self spent time with her daughter-in-law, Jennie. Here’s Jennie in a London cab:

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Love the prompt from Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge!

Stay tuned.

Maud, the Sow: ONCE UPON A RIVER, p. 61

It was amazing how a man’s mind might remain half in shadow until the right confidante appeared, and Maud had been that confidante. Without her, he might never have known certain things about himself, about his son. On this spot, some years ago, he had shared the disagreement between himself and his wife about Robin and the theft from the bureau. As he retold the sorry tale to Maud, he saw it anew and noticed what he had registered but not paid attention to at the time.

Global Dickens

Self spent the morning at the Charles Dickens Museum on 48 Doughty Street, checking out the house where Dickens and his wife spent probably the two happiest years of their marriage. The house offers fascinating glimpses of the man’s domestic life, and the audio tour is highly recommended. She came away with a small fridge magnet showing her favorite painting of Dickens: he sits in his study, surrounded by a cloud of his inventions.

She saw a very distressed copy of David Copperfield and read that this copy “travelled with Robert Falcon Scott and his men to Antarctica in 1910. When half of Scott’s men were stranded in an ice cave for 7 months, they read to each other every night for comfort and entertainment. After 60 nights they finished David Copperfield and, as one of the men wrote, they were very sorry to part with him.”

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Dickens also exists in manga form!

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Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

Back in London!

Prague was very pretty but people do not speak English there.

London is adorable because as usual there is traffic and the skies are grey.

It’s another Bank Holiday. OMG, so many of these! Can someone please explain what is going on?

The last thing she remembers doing in London was watching John Wick 3 at the Odeon on Tottenham (Five Stars!) and meeting Jennie for dinner at Chez Nous immediately after. Then walking with Jennie down Great Russell Street and pointing out the British Museum and the Antiquarian Bookseller and paying a very brief visit to the Bloomsbury Hotel (The lobby looks like most of the space is taken up by a bar. Or mebbe it’s always been that way and she’s just mis-remembering?)

In Paddington, she used an ATM to withdraw pounds. A message told her: PUT YOUR CASH AWAY QUICKLY.

Then, as if she needed another reminder, the PA system began to squawk: THERE ARE PICKPOCKETS HERE.

She dashed into an exit elevator like her pants were on fire. GOTTA GET OUT OF PADDINGTON I’M SURE I’M BEING STALKED BY SOMEONE WHO SAW ME USE THE ATM.

The taxi rank was beautiful: it snaked all the way back, looked like at least 50 taxis, each moving smartly forward evey few seconds. She wished she had the wherewithal to take a picture. But she was SO deathly afraid of pickpockets. Seriously, though, that is some serious taxi business going on at Paddington.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Dear, Sweet Catherine!

A woman especially, if she have the misfortune of knowing anything, should conceal it as well as she can.

Northanger Abbey, p. 122

Self loves this book. Loves, loves, loves it.

She hardly remembers anything from the first time she read it, it’s a good thing she decided to read it again. Catherine’s innocence, her enthusiasm for the “horrible” — who would have expected such an entertaining tale to be spun from this?

Catherine confides in her new BFF Eleanor Tilney that she is very much looking forward to the arrival of “something very shocking indeed” (p. 123) and that “it is more horrible than anything we have met with yet . . . it is to be uncommonly dreadful. I shall expect murder and everything of the kind.” (p. 124)

Eleanor assumes that Catherine is talking about a “riot.”

Eleanor: Have the goodness to satisfy me as to this dreadful riot.

Catherine: Riot — What riot?

Henry hastens to explain: “Miss Morland has been talking of nothing more dreadful than a new publication which is shortly to come out . . .”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Lovely London

Self was supposed to go on an Old Parish Maps walk of Clerkenwall but she bailed because she wanted to take things slow today, after that loooong train journey from Cornwall yesterday.

She had an early breakfast, then set off walking. Soon, she found herself in front of the British Library, but instead of going in, she went next door, to St. Pancras/Renaissance Hotel, and inquired at reception if they could ring her son’s room.

He did not pick up, probably because he’s just arrived in London. She told the receptionist to let son know that his mother had stopped by. Then, she twirled and waltzed out without waiting for a response from the receptionist.

She wandered on Leigh Street and found North Sea Fish was closed. She walked down Marchmont Street and stopped at a cafĂ© for very yummy hot banana bread with yogurt. Topped that off with red bean gelato. Picked up a couple of flyers from LSE (London School of Economics, Dear Departed Sister’s alma mater), returned to Russell Square (one side of which was sprouting police cars, she wonders why) and resumed reading Northanger Abbey.

UGH, the horrible stress inflicted on poor Catherine Morland (so far, self’s favorite Jane Austen heroine — yes, a better heroine than Emma or Anne Elliot) by manipulative Thorpe sibs Isabella and John! In the latest situation, they have conveniently dismissed Miss Eleanor Tilney (sister of that elusive love interest Henry Tilney) without checking first with Catherine whether she intended to keep her appointment with Eleanor. Catherine, on learning of the Thorpes’s horrible presumptuousness, goes running full tilt after Eleanor (and why should she not? Henry Tilney is quite a fetching man! Self too would go running if someone told her that Timothy Olyphant or Nikolaj Coster-Waldau were just around the corner!).

p. 111:

Thorpe would have darted after her, but Morland withheld him. “Let her go, let her go, if she will go.”

“She is as obstinate as — “

Thorpe never finished the simile, for it could hardly have been a proper one.

lol

Morland refers to Catherine’s older brother, James. And a wonderful older brother he is, too. He’s in love with Isabella Thorpe, who’s a ninny. If not for that, he would be self’s third-favorite Jane Austen suitor, after Mr. Knightley and Henry Tilney. He most certainly is self’s favorite Jane Austen brother.

Stay tuned.

 

 

 

Northanger Abbey, p. 24

This is a 2nd reading, and great is her reward, as she really lingers over the story now, and sometimes even bursts into laughter in public, so much so that, this afternoon, an American woman in a party of four just had to break briefly from her companions and ask self what it was she was reading that made her laugh so much. When self showed her the book cover, she seemed a little taken aback.

Catherine Morland and Henry Tilney have just met. Tilney is a clergyman. Not as exciting as being a Captain in HRM’s navy, but Tilney is way more flirty thatn Captain Wentworth, and Catherine is much livelier than Anne Elliot (perhaps because she is 18 and not a spinster of 27!) therefore twice as much fun.

They danced again; and, when the assembly closed, parted, on the lady’s side at least, with a strong inclination for continuing the acquaintance. Whether she thought of him so much, while she drank her warm wine and water, and prepared herself for bed, as to dream of him when there, cannot be ascertained; but I hope it was no more than in a slight slumber, or a morning doze at most; for if it be true, as a celebrated writer has maintained, that no young lady can be justified in falling in love before the gentleman’s love is declared, it must be very improper that a young lady should dream of a gentleman before the gentleman is first known to have dreamt of her.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

“Safe in all worldly matters”

The above words from Mrs. Smith, Anne Elliot’s former governess, who has fallen on hard times. The fact that Mrs. Smith has been the person Anne has sought out in Bath, as a way to escape the pressure of society, the fact that she then reveals her wish to have Anne settled, comes as a disappointment.

The next part of the conversation, with Anne being so gracious and so cheerful (so — pardon me — dense) results in this:

Mrs. Smith: “He was not married when I knew him first.”

Anne: “And were you much acquainted?”

Mrs. Smith: “Intimately.”

Next: Mr. Elliott is the devil incarnate! It appears he married, purely for money, a woman whose “father was a grazier” and whose “grandfather had been a butcher.”

Stay tuned.

Jane Austen Sentence of the Day!

Persuasion, p. 105:

  • Their conversation, the preceding evening, did not disincline him to seek her again.

Wowoweeee, things certainly looking up for Anne Elliott! Her every word and every gesture being registered by not only disingenuous Captain Frederick Wentworth, but every member of the walking party in Lyme Regis!

Stay tuned.

 

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