Sunday, September 16, 2007

T+5, T+6: now the tough part begins

As much as I had hoped Richie would be spared the worst of the side-effects of a Stem Cell Transplant, he's getting hammered right now. WBC is down to 0.2. He's down platelets and Hemoglobin, so he's going to be getting a pint of blood. Another thing Richie is getting today is more Neupogen. This time it's not being injected, but infused with the rest of the stuff he's getting through the Hickman. Hopefully he won't get too much bone pain but he had a little with the Neupogen when he was self-administering it leading up to and during the stem cell collection.

He also got nailed with some really sad news: a person we haven't been extremely close to, but with whom we have been "good acquaintances" for years, is dying of liver failure after years of hard drinking and hard living. He was in County+USC for a while but is being discharged to die at home under Hospice care. It's way too much like how we lost the drummer of Richie's old band The Beatniks.

Brian O'Laughlin was a sweet guy who was a great would have to be to be able to play the kind of complex drum parts Richie wrote. The poppy feel of Richie Hass and the Beatniks was deceiving: like a lot of really good pop, it was way harder to play and way more complex than it would initially "read" to your ear. Brian was also a stone-cold geek...he was online before I was, with a Commodore 64 and a 300bps could see words coming in when using one of those, it was amazing. Slow as shit, but impressive back when not much existed outside of business.

Anyway, Brian slipped away from us in a matter of a week...he had been hospitalized for jaundice as a consequence of Cirrhosis and it became clear he wasn't going to live very much longer after that. It hit him about a month after he finally started getting serious about cleaning up. He was going to AA meetings and had kept sober. Then this happened. Damn...that's got to be the worst addiction of all: alcohol. I am not for prohibition of any substance, but I think people have their priorities 100% screwed up wrt substance addiction. You can kick cocaine, you can kick crank, you can kick opiates, but damn, man...the booze is really freaking rough. Keith Richards still drinks like a fish even after getting off of the other stuff he was poly-addicted to. He's also outliving everyone's expectations, go figure.

Richie has luckily escaped the traps of addiction which have snared so many musicians through the decades. His core healthiness aside from the multiple myeloma has served him well through most of this process. However, this is a serious, severe process. In the past 20 years, City of Hope has not lost a single patient through the SCT process, but many feel like crap for a long time during the process. I was hoping it wouldn't be the case, but it may very well be that this is the tough time for him. And I'm going to have to bail today so that I can get some stuff done tomorrow and go to school tomorrow night, Tuesday and Thursday. I feel badly I can't stay with him longer, but it's impossible. I need to be back for a while. I hope he doesn't resent me for leaving me when he's needed me the most. Those of you who know where he is and know how to contact him...please do. He needs all our support right now.