I AM NOT SAYING I had anything to do with it but . . . I am hard pressed to say it was a coincidence. (Especially since I don't believe in coincidence.) Two weeks ago I drove to Pittsburgh to pick up my lovely, talented and now grandmotherly wife who had flown up to see the precious little Adrian Gray who was born on the same day that my niece Kristina was moved, to everyone's great joy, to the cancer ward. As my brother said at the time, "everything is relative." When you have been in the intensive care unit, the cancer ward is a move up. Only Kristina's news could have beat out Carson and Nathan's birth announcement for sheer joy.
Anyway, when I stopped by Morgantown on Wednesday, October 27, where Kristina was being treated in the West Virginia University Hospital, I gave her a gift I had bought at Lil John's Mountain Music Festival. It was small handmade rosin dispenser (with aged rosin), like a fiddler might be wont to use. As I gave it to Kristina, I quoted to her from one of the all-time greatest old-time songs, Jack of Diamonds (which is also known as Rye Whiskey or the Drunkard's Hiccups), which quote I hoped would be an inspiration to her:
Gonna take down my fiddle;
Gonna rosin up my bow;
Gonna make myself welcome
Wherever I go.
Then on Saturday, November 6, 2010, her dad asked this question in the following edited CaringBridge post:
Anybody know of a fiddlers' convention with a category for "Best-fiddler-with-IV-line-attached (old-time)"? Kristina's practicing. [See the photo on left for Kristina's new therapy regime. Picture a fiddle hanging on an IV tree.]
Yes, here she is, finally got her baby back in arms. We walked around the halls and found an empty room, where Kristina gave me (her dad Cliff) and Mike (her artist boyfriend) a little concert.
As you can tell, Kristina's in great spirits. As the doctors have said, all the staff talk about how much they enjoy coming into Kristina's room, because they know she'll be smiling and joking.
Oh, yes, why does Kristina have an IV line attached at all? We are pretty sure it is like a Martha Stewart-style ankle bracelet. They think it may deter her from escaping again.
Below is from his CaringBridge post from two days later:
[Note: My brother is not a caps-lock kinda guy. (When he once seriously considered graduate study in linguistics, my thought was that he would specialize in punctuation.) But there are days that demand the caps lock be turned on and left on. (But, let's be honest, he could have used more exclamation points!!!!)]
KRISTINA'S OUT OF THE HOSPITAL!
I [her dad] just received a phone call from Kristina -- she's in the car leaving Morgantown and on the way to Elkins! She and Kerstin [her very Swedish mom] will spend the night there, and then it's on to Kensington tomorrow.
Yes, she was officially discharged. The white cell counts zoomed upward over the past two days, so the doctors cut back on the antibiotics and antifungal medicines and released her.
It's hard to believe. It was four weeks ago, almost to the minute, that she was admitted to West Virginia University Hospital's cancer unit and then diagnosed with acute leukemia. It was only a little more than two weeks ago that she was on life support in the intensive care unit. And now she's going home. It's really a miracle. Thanks to everyone at that hospital who helped save her life at all the different critical stages. And thanks to all of you who gave her such strong moral support all the time.
But don't stop now. Kristina will now begin, almost immediately, follow-up chemo treatments designed to rid her of this disease completely. We can later give you more information about what's in store, but we know that it will last continuously for about four months. At least in the beginning she'll be [home] in Kensington and going to a hospital or clinic for out-patient chemo treatments.
That's it for now. I'm sure there will be more to write once we settle down a bit.
And little Adrian’s doing great too. He's sleeping like a baby. [See the photo on right for proof. Imagine a photo of a week-old baby sleeping on a table.] (And yes, his dad was standing right by in case Adrian moved – but they know this boy sleeps like a rock.)
Gary D. Gaddy has requested that Kristina work on the fiddle part for Jack of Diamonds.
A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Friday November 12, 2010.
Copyright 2010 Gary D. Gaddy