One day Anni was twirling and singing one of her original compositions.
"It's my gift!" she declared.
Dizzy, she fell with spectacular gracelessness.
Laying on her back on the tile floor she began flapping her arms and legs
as if she were making a snow angel.
"Falling down is also a gift!" says she.

Sunday, April 09, 2006


This Tuesday I'm going to do a 5-minute talk at a press conference here in town to promote National Donate Life month. Illinois' Secretary of State, Jesse White, will be there. He has been a tireless promoter of organ donation in these parts. I heard him speak a few years ago about his own family's experience: they said "no" to donating his brother's organs, and then his sister needed a kidney transplant several years later, which led him to rethink the system and his own attitudes toward organ donation. It was fascinating and moving to hear him speak on the subject. The real difficulty has been limiting myself to 5 minutes. I'm a bit of a droner, you know. But I've trimmed my adjectives and jettisoned some unnecessary medical details, and found the task of focussing my message to be an enjoyable challenge. Not that it should be that great a challenge. I mean it is five whole minutes; it's not like I'm trying to write haiku, here. (Organ Donation Haiku! I like it. Submit some in the comments section, if you're as bored by tonight's TV schedule as I am. Here a page with Haiku links. I like the first article from that page.)
The other night, Jörg called me upstairs in his worried tone of voice. "Come here and look at this. Do you think Annika's tummy has gotten a lot bigger?" I looked. She popped it out for me, arching her back and rotating like a supermodel. "I don't know," I said, "No?" And then I added, "You worry an awful lot, sweetie." A few days later I took Annika in for her weekly lab draw, and her transplant coordinator called us a few hours later. "Everything's mostly the same," she reported, "except her albumin, which dropped by a lot. Have you noticed her tummy getting bigger?" Jörg was at work at the time, so he couldn't throw me a triumphant glance as he danced around the room, shaking his booty and chanting, "Uh-huh! Uh-huh! I knew it!" So we'll be taking Annika in to Chicago on Thursday to have her checked for ascites, which could be signaled by a drop in albumin accompanied by increased abdominal girth. If she does have ascites, she'll need to start taking diuretics. It's not a huge deal, really. She's been on them before, although I seem to recall that oral Lasix was nasty tasting. But it's kind of a bummer. Up to this point, Annika's been on post-transplant drugs. Lasix, to me anyway, is totally a pre-transplant drug. It's one of the drugs you take when your liver is failing. Mind you, this category is 100% a product of my own little mind, but, still, bummer.
Annika has started physical therapy again. Our main "exercise" goal for her right now? Standing. Yup. Just ... standing. Evidently just being up on her feet for 5 minutes caused Annika's pulse to increase quite a bit and her breathing to become noticeably heavier. (Jörg pointed out to me that the heavy breathing could be due to ascites, but I'm not sure if this makes the situation better or worse.) On the way in to Easter Seals, Annika found a gigantic worm in the parking lot, still wiggling but looking distinctly uncomfortable. So we picked him up and moved him to the mulched area around the bushes. Annika got down on her knees and watched him expectantly. The worm was working his way down under the mulch, but he wasn't breaking any land-speed records in the process. Already 3 minutes late for the therapy appointment, I convinced her to go in the building, under the guise of giving the worm some "personal space." On the way in she announced, "That's the best worm, ever. I'm going to name him 'Christine.' " So that was his name. I guess she was having a Johnny Cash moment (I know the song was Shel's, but "having a Silverstein moment" doesn't sound nearly as funny). Later on that day, Annika decided to devote all her efforts to worm rescue missions. She carefully searched all concrete areas for any worms in distress. Just a few minutes later she came back holding one extremely crispy worm and looking forlorn. "I think he's already dead, isn't he?" Showing that I certainly do know when not to be sarcastic, I answered gently, "I'm afraid so. Why don't you go find a good place for him?" She trotted off, holding the worm in her hands, cupped in front of her. But then she tripped a bit over the uneven spot in our front walk. She paused. "Uh, mama? I think his head just broke off." And then I ruined my Good Mommy routine by asking, "Are you sure it wasn't his tail?" She lifted her hands right up to her face for a closer look. Then she just shrugged. "Could be." Needless to say, I wasn't invited to the funeral.


Blogger Phantom Scribbler said...

Did you see Purple Kangaroo's post from earlier in the week about how her daughters "bwoke the woim?" It wasn't a good week for worms, I guess.

Good luck on Tuesday, and in Chicago on Thursday.

4/09/2006 9:44 PM  
Blogger Moreena said...

Just read it! That was hilarious. The cowboy boots really make the story, too.

4/09/2006 9:56 PM  
Blogger liz said...

Excellent post as always, Moreena. Poor worms!

My transplant haiku:

Eight lives can be saved
Through your generosity
Sign your donor card

4/09/2006 10:06 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...


Last Tuesday we were at a press conference at our blood bank with the Secretary of State, Jessie White. The local news stations taped Shelby looking cute and interviewed me. I wish I could be there this Tuesday to cheer you on! I'll try to call or e-mail soon.


4/09/2006 11:57 PM  
Blogger Rowan said...

Best of luck with the talk. I know what it's like to try to keep things brief. I usually fail miserably. I'm sure you'll fare better.

I'll be thinking of a haiku for you.


When I was pregnant with Maya I read a lot of Taoist sort of philosphy. In one of them, The Book: On The Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are, by Alan Watts; he compared us to worms in that we are just big tubes. I've never looked at them the same way.

See? I can't seem to keep things short.

4/10/2006 1:54 AM  
Blogger purple_kangaroo said...

Awww. I'm glad Annika rescued the worms. I enjoyed reading the story, too. Worms are wonderful in that they're an animal very different from ourselves, but easily accessible (and safe!) to interact with and observe. We're going to be checking out some library books about worms soon.

4/10/2006 2:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

HAHAHA!!! You are TOO funny. Heads or tails???? Anni, worm saver extrordinairre!!!

Good look on the talk and with the tests. Hoping she doesn't need the Lasix.


4/10/2006 7:08 AM  
Anonymous Beanie Baby said...

Did you know that earthworms have the same gene that gives human beings shoulders? Isn't that weird?

Good luck with your talk. I know you will kick butt. And good luck in Chicago on Thursday.

4/10/2006 7:12 AM  
Blogger Dak-Ind said...

worm funerals... very nice.

i hope your talk goes well. honestly, your blog has changed a lot of peoples feelings on the issue of transplants already, so i KNOW your talk will go wonderfully.

4/10/2006 11:39 AM  
Blogger halloweenlover said...

Good luck on the talk!

I'm glad your sense of humor is still alive and well, and I hope the tests for Anni go well also.

4/10/2006 7:33 PM  
Anonymous peripateticpolarbear said...

good luck, but you're a rock star so you hardly need it!

4/10/2006 8:10 PM  
Blogger Yankee T said...

Break a leg! (But not a tail)

4/10/2006 10:26 PM  
Blogger liz said...

Good luck on your talk!

4/10/2006 10:34 PM  
Blogger Jenevieve said...

If you don't need that
whether it's liver or eye
someone else sure does.

I know eight people
who could use your kidneys now
Do you still need them?

Okay, so maybe I was not so good at the haiku in creative writing. But if you need a transplant sonnet, I'm your woman!

Excellent post!

4/11/2006 10:05 PM  
Blogger Chana said...

I love to read her stories. I like imagining you both happy and content. I hope the new meds don't give her such a hard time and that she may get off them soon. Good luck in your talk. I'm sure you will do great.

4/12/2006 10:06 AM  
Anonymous Sarah said...

There is a book called Diary of a Worm by Doreen Cronin that Annika would love. It's written as a journal from a worm's perspective (he's a child worm). It's hilarious. There is also Diary of a Spider by the same author.


4/12/2006 6:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good luck for Chicago today!

4/13/2006 2:31 AM  
Blogger The Imperfect Christian said...

Aren'tn you glad you have a blog to help remember all these Annika-isms?? Thank you for bringing a smile to my day!

4/13/2006 3:54 PM  
Blogger klhp said...

I ran into your blog by accident through other sites, and I just wanted to drop you a little note to say how beautiful your children are! I have just finished watching the videos and small concerts by the girls -- how adorable.

I am so sorry for all of the heartache that you all have endured in Annika's short life, but I rejoice in the laughter and good times that shine through.

Happy Easter to all!

4/14/2006 12:21 PM  
Blogger Chana said...

Happy Easter to your family!

4/14/2006 4:13 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

I'm not so good at haikus, but I am working on writing a novel about transplants, right now. :-) I enjoyed this post!

4/15/2006 6:40 PM  
Blogger anni metz said...

i adore the worm story! ahhh, to be young again.

4/17/2006 4:12 PM  
Anonymous kathy a said...

hope that things have been well, moreena. xoxoxooxox

4/18/2006 3:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


10/02/2006 10:24 PM  

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