01 November 2020

November 1, 2020—A New Year One Year Later

 

This morning Henry and I agreed that from now on our year begins on November 1. We are so grateful for life! I couldn't imagine the pain and struggle my cherished husband would have to go through to thrive this year. Not only brought down by a horrible accident when a careless driver rushed the traffic light and caused horrible injuries to his body; then to suffer through the isolation from the pandemic when he needed the physical support of his friends. After being hospitalized for 12 weeks and then 8 weeks at California Rehab and another six months of home rehabilitation he is beginning to enjoy his independence once again. Henry has had the best care imaginable from doctors and physical therapy professionals but all the progress he's made is due to his courage and determination to "get his life back' as he never tires of telling me. In a few weeks he will begin outpatient physical therapy to begin to strengthen his legs and learn how to deal with whatever comes to him. 

I learned this year to challenge doctors and nurses when I got vague or conflicting
information; I also learned to challenge the insurance companies who denied him coverage when he needed it the most and while his care was never delayed I had to act on his behalf to make sure he had continued care from his employee plan. Like all caregivers I had to learn a skill I didn't think I'd ever have to learn. People tell me Henry is lucky to have me but I remind them all that we took vows to support in sickness and in health until death...My job is to keep others out of his way so he can reclaim his life-potential.

Thank you to everyone for the kind words of support we received today. Your loving kindness helps us more than you can know. This year was one catastrophe after another but thanks to our mindfulness practice and our friends we got through this and will remain fierce and thrive...

—Ph/HOPBELL

29 September 2020

The COVID Blues

Yes. Summer is ending. The days are warm now and the evenings are cool. There was some joy this summer; not many beach days that counted; no picnics; and no gatherings of friends. Like most of you, we've been isolating from most people—strangers and friends alike. A few brave and perhaps foolish souls flew out from the east coast to visit for brief periods. Henry and I don't encourage this. His lung health is not fully back to normal and the virus would be brutal on him. Henry has been in at home physical rehabilitation since April and he is improving rapidly, though not as fast as he would like of course. He's eager to drive again but his license expired while he was at California Rehab and he was not able to file for renewal online. Then on September 1 he had surgery to remove the hardware that was in his hip and thigh. The recovery was very painful for three or four days but he quickly rebounded and has healed well and this Friday had the remaining staples removed from his leg enabling him to put his prosthetic leg back on. This morning he and his friend TC went out for a ride and to get hair cuts. He's back to working with his personal trainer (Phil) and Rehab Without Walls has begun to work on his physical and occupation therapy sessions four days a week. Are we where we hoped to be last December? No. His injuries were extensive back in November of 2019 and his body is still healing. I unrealistically thought we could travel to Europe this year! Even if we had we would not be able to because of the pandemic.This brings on a double melancholy for us. We miss our friends in Europe; we miss our friends here in America; and we miss our lives as we once lived.

Our many friends and family: you have our gratitude. Your rescue I'm sure helped save Henry's life and give me the strength to get through the hard times. We are approaching one year since the accident that upended our lives in November and it is now 6 going on 7 months of isolation due to the virus that has affected everyone. I hope next year at this time Henry and I will be spending time in Europe visiting Ibiza and Paris and Amsterdam and Berlin enjoying friends, drink, and food!! Stay well! Wear your masks and wash your hands. And most of all—

Be fierce and thrive!

—Ph/HOPBELL

09 September 2020

Beethoven was black...!

 

—Beethoven—

I have no idea if Beethoven was black but he was called The Spaniard because of his dark complexion and the composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, himself of African descent, made the claim 80 years after Beethoven's death which is recounted in this  article I found the other day in The Guardian. As the article points out this phrase became a mantra: ""Stokely Carmichael raged against the deeply ingrained assumption that white European culture was inherently superior to black culture, the baton was passed. “Beethoven was as black as you and I,” he told a mainly black audience in Seattle, “but they don’t tell us that.” A few years earlier, Malcolm X had given voice to that same idea when he told an interviewer that Beethoven’s father had been “one of the blackamoors that hired themselves out in Europe as professional soldiers”." Read the article here...

—Alexandre Dumas—

Alexandre Dumas was black!

This article reminded me of in incident with our beloved nephew TJ (RIP). TJ came to live with us twice and I greatly enjoyed watching him grow up but he died too soon. When he was in high school at John Marshall here in Los Angeles, his reading teacher gave the class an assignment to read a black author and write a one page report on the book. When TJ came home that day he asked me if I could recommend a book by a black writer he could read. I asked him if the writer had to be American and he said only that the author had to be black. Knowing TJ had a taste for adventure I pulled a copy of The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas. We had watched an old movie of the book and he liked it so I figured he would like to read the book. He read the book over the course of the following week and wrote a little one page report/summary. He told me several times how much he liked the book and I was happy he found reading a pleasure. A few days later he came back with the report and it had a big red F on the front with a note that Dumas was not black but French! I was furious to say the least and wondered how this teacher did not know Alexandre Dumas was black...and French! I went to a parent teacher meeting and asked the teacher if she had assigned the class to read an American black author and she said no he could read any black writer but that Dumas was French. After much discussion I was able to get her to understand that while Dumas Grandfather was white his grandmother, Marie- Cessette Dumas, was, in fact, of African descent. Alexandre Dumas the great French writer was black. This was a fact well known in Dumas' lifetime and something he never hid. Dumas wrote a novel call Georges about a man who was of mixed race. TJ's grade was changed and he got an A which was probably the only A he ever received. You can read about Alexandre Dumas here

Many white people have a hard time conceiving that cultures and races other than white European culture have any value. Of course this is the genesis of the problems we are experiencing in American now. Black lives are valued less than white lives for no reason other than the color of the skin covering their bodies beneath which we are all very much alike. This same entitlement reminds me of the outrage that was expressed when Larry Kramer (RIP) announced that Abraham Lincoln was gay even though that same thought had been expressed obliquely by Carl Sandburg in his multi-volume award-winning biography (read here for interesting commentary). If one is an example of white European entitlement the other is an example of heterosexual entitlement.

Update on Henry

On September 1 Henry had surgery on his left hip and thigh at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in West Hollywood. The surgeon, Dr. Moon, removed the hardware from his hip and cleaned out the MRSA infection. Blood cultures now show no sign of infection. He spent a few uncomfortable days in serious pain after but was able to sit up and take himself to the toilet. On Sunday, September 6, he was transferred to California Rehabilitation Institute in Century City where he is going through rehab under Dr. Cushing and his team on the fourth floor. He's doing great and spending the days in therapy and watching tennis on the television. We hope he will be able to come home next week. He currently can only have one visitor a day and visiting hours are between 5 and 8 in the evening. Please call him if you plan on visiting as he has a schedule of visitors already and can only have one visit per day. Of course this is all due to the Covid pandemic and we want to make sure he and the staff remain virus free. I hope you are keeping safe and isolating when possible as well. Los Angeles seems to be coming out of a critical time but that doesn't mean the virus is gone. I suspect you and I will be living this way for a very long time.

Remain fierce and thrive!

—Ph/HOPBELL

BEETHOVEN WAS BLACK!



 

03 September 2020

09-03—Back Again...


Here we are again: on Tuesday (09.01) Henry had surgery on his left hip and femur to remove the hardware and infected flesh. The surgeon also put a "nail" with antibiotic coated on it to kill off any remaining MRSA. This was a planned procedure but stressful and very painful for Henry. Today (09.03) he's still at Cedars and we think he will be there to Saturday. He really wants to come home but there are therapy and tests that have to be done before he can be safely released. Needless to say this is very stressful for the two of us and he appreciates the prayers and chants everybody gives him. All the staff on the 7th floor remember him and come in to say hello and wish him well—he's well liked and taken care of. The nurse in the recovery room after surgery remembered him and he remembered Halim as well. Halim was the nurse who helped me put Henry back in bed after he tried to get out of it after the amputation and when he was delirious. If you know Henry you know he bonds well with people.

I am taking care to eat this time around and get sleep and I thank everyone who annoy me by reminding me to take care of myself. It's taken me these ten months to get over the shock but I understand I need to be strong and healthy for him to fully recover.

Thank you everyone!

Be fierce and thrive...!

—Ph/HOPBELL

03 August 2020

Autoportrait #1 (Picking Up Where We Left Off)


Autoportrait of the right hand by a camera obscura—August 2019

I've been thinking a lot about photography lately: Drawing with light—light and shadow. The word for CAMERA comes from the latin for ROOM or CHAMBER—Camera Obscura. When I retired I took up a camera other than my mobile phone for the first time in thirty years and it's become a second language for me. Since November I've only made photographs for this blog and to record Henry in the hospital and in recovery but I'm beginning to see again—observe my surroundings other than my immediate concerns of Henry's progress. Too, I've begun to look at other's photographs as well. I reacquainted myself with Robert Frank and Hervé Guibert. Yesterday I spent a few hours looking at the photographs of Stanley Kubrick who was a great editorial photographer before he made motion pictures. I also like to look at very early work of photographers just emerging in the field during the early years of the 20th Century like Brassaï, Atget, Nadar, and Cartier-Bresson. Henry calls this "getting back to normal" for us: we had a way of living before November 1, 2019 and we loved our lives the way we lived. His goal is to get back us to that state again. He is constantly pushing me to "return to my life". Of course my life these 30 years has been with him and I know that whatever life I have left will be with him. But he's right. It's time to get on with "it" and begin to pick up where it was left off. To that end I'm beginning again to make pictures and catch up on my reading; the book takes a big part of my day but I'm carrying a camera again all the time. As that happens the posts to this site will be a mix of Henry's life—and my life.

Be fierce and thrive...!

—Ph/HOPBELL


25 July 2020

Beware The Thin Ice...

How does one know when the journey is complete when the destination is unknown? A little fox early in its life leaves the family and explores the territory not knowing where the boundaries are and what it will experience along the way. The little fox will encounter many dangers along the way and needs to be alert to the thin ice that covers the little brooks it crosses lest he get his tail wet but there will be happy surprises too along the way such as wonderful sunsets and sunrises and good food to eat and social nourishments: there will be joy and happiness and fear and anger. This is how our life has been these nine months.

All I know is that I look for the long moments of joy and happiness. Henry looks for independence from having to have me or anyone else do for him what he used to do for himself. Henry and I are solitary people who love to come together and enjoy the company of each other and talk about what happened in those times when we are apart. I know we are getting closer to that boundary but so far it's unknown territory. We have longer moments of joy and happiness than moments of despair and anger. Henry is spending much more time up and walking with the prosthetic and walker and he's learning to walk with a cane. Six weeks ago we measured his walks in feet and now we can measure a mile or more in a single walk. 

On my big book case 
I keep a handmade box with a cobblestone from Paris; it reminds me that we walked so many of those streets and discovered so many places and made so many friends over the years of our visits. It also serves as inspiration for future journeys.Henry smiles and laughs more now than he has in the last nine months: this is how I know the journey is nearing a milestone but perhaps not the end. Of course I am referring to the journey of the moment one does not want to look forward beyond the present and we are taught in Mindfulness not to be judgmental of the moment but that is so hard and when we lose ourselves we suffer by remembering what used to be and what might come. Joy can be found in the moment: Henry painting and coloring, music playing to accompany our day: I absorb myself in a book or write in my journal. 

The COVID pandemic has isolated us from so many of our friends but Henry and I stay in touch through texts and video calls on FaceTime and WhatsApp. Recently several old friends found this weblog and contacted me by e-mail. It is a wonderful thing to reconnect after so many years. Likewise Henry's FaceBook page gets so many happy responses to his posts and I can tell how healing it is for him to read the loving and caring messages he gets. Everyone ends these messages of reaching out with three words: Keep in touch.

Keep in touch!

Be fierce and thrive...

—Ph/Hopbell


09 July 2020

A Random Update On Our Lives Now...


A few weeks ago I turned 71. Of course it was meant to be a milestone and celebrated with friends but we opted to delay any celebration until after the quarantine is lifted and people can gather again. Last year when I turned 70 I was joined by my close friends here in Los Angeles and we kicked off what was supposed to be a year of celebrations. Henry and I left for Europe that September and spent a wonderful time with our friends KB and WB there; visiting the little village of St. Agnes and lounging at our hotel in Talamanca, Ibiza; and dancing all night to dawn at Heart. Then we flew to Paris where we spent two weeks with our friends TMT and CD. Henry and I love Paris and he shopped everyday and we explored new neighborhoods discovering little curio shops we never would have seen had we not walked down streets no tourists would. Henry being Henry smelled a fragrance he loved and chased the wearer (a young man on his lunch break) to ask him what he was wearing: we later came upon the little shop that made the perfume. It was a magical time for us. Henry left and I stayed on for another three weeks 
and began work on a project I had planned during the summer and came back to the US on October 21. I was only home for two weeks before the accident and the rest is recounted here below in the many posts since then...

• • •


I've kept a diary/journal/notebook for over 60 years. My first diary was given to me by my aunt Mary Hopbell Maines: it was one of those My Diary books with a lock and key. I wrote diligently in that little book all my secrets until I used it all up. 
I then bought a composition notebook to continue my daily habit that I've kept up since then. Now I carry little notebooks with me and type my entries every night or early morning into a text program on my computer. Since 1 November 2019 the only topic I write about is Henry and his status and progress. I've only just began writing about anything else like the Coronavirus or the Black Lives Matter protests in last two weeks. This is because Henry's progress is so great and while we have many emotional moments caused by the damage done to his body we also have many joyful and hopeful moments because of the achievement of his goals to get his life back to some new normalcy. This is difficult because of the "Stay Inside" orders here in Los Angeles which has caused an absence of friends but we are having more good times than bad these days.
• • •
Yesterday Henry walked well over a mile and went to the market in our neighborhood and today he is going to his dentist to have a partial dental plate fitted in his mouth which will greatly improve his self esteem. His physical and occupational therapists report he is improving his balance and his stamina. He spends part of every day up and walking and where a month ago he spent most of the day in his bed now he spends most of the day moving about the flat or playing cards with me while sitting in his chair. He is able to make his breakfast and help with the cooking (like teaching me how to make proper collard greens); he can clean up the flat and pull his bed together. These are all activities you and I take for granted but for him it has taken eight long months to achieve. 

His progress is a tribute to his strong desire to heal. I am beginning to feel better about when I am not around him in the flat and he loves his alone time. These eight months have been so difficult and I am grateful to have discovered Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction classes that have given me back my sleep on most nights and eased my anxiety about Henry's well-being. I am so grateful he is alive and I am hopeful that we will soon walk the beaches of Ibiza and dance all night in the clubs there and walk the streets of Paris and enjoy our great friends again.

Be fierce and thrive!

—Ph/HOPBELL



28 June 2020

A Letter to Our Friends...

06.28
Thai Town, Los Angeles, California

Dear Friends—

I hope this finds you all well and happy.

A week ago we went on a grand adventure and four of us traveled to Claremont and had a long afternoon lunch with Eva. Henry was in great form and managed to walk up to Eva’s door using his walking frame and walk through the house and sit in the parlor. Eva made us deviled eggs and had a wonderful Hungarian cheese made from sheep milk. LC brought two bottles of good Champagne. Dinner was a corned brisket of beef and cabbage and a hazel nut cake for dessert. It was a good beginning to a good week.

Henry had several long therapy sessions with physical and occupational therapists and spent long times using his prosthetic and walking frame. His mobility is improving and he spent some time at the Observatory and Elysian Park during the week. He really wants to drive again but we could not get an appointment at the DMV so that will have to wait. The line was around the block and one of the staff told him even disabled people had to arrive at 6AM to get in line.

I’ve been spending the week dealing with my anxiety and depression by meditating daily. I’m trying to take care of myself by eating healthy and practicing the mindfulness meditations I’ve learned at least twice a day. Henry and I both have some sleep deprivation: neither of us sleep well these days. The prospect of a longer lockdown here in Los Angeles is very real and this has us both concerned and a bit depressed. I wear a mask and carry hand sanitizer with me everywhere and I stay as far away from strangers as possible. Neither Henry nor I can afford to catch this virus. 

Henry is working on colouring in a colour therapy book one of the therapists sent him. It helps him relax and keep his mind active and he loves it. I spend my time with Henry and reading and writing when I can. I’ve decided to return to my long essay project “Forbidden Knowledge”; the writing keeps my mind relaxed and is good for my mental health as well. I’m also reading “Posthumous Memoirs of Brás Cubas: A Novel” by Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis in a new translation; It’s very entertaining and gives me great joy to read. I have a large line up of books to read this summer and I am looking forward to the time to read a lot of books, mostly French and classic works that have gathered on my list. I also have time for a new Daniel Silva thriller—a guilty pleasure and a book that gives me strong dreams!

We would normally be preparing to go away this week and next to celebrate my birthday and relax over the Fourth of July holiday, but not this year. Instead it looks like we will be in quarantine like everybody else these days. I hope you are well and being safe. As I said earlier, it’s very depressing and alienating to spend so much time without being able to interact freely, but it’s better than becoming ill. Henry and I make sure to have an end-of-the-week special dinner and have a glass of wine or Champagne to celebrate the accomplishments of the week and feel like we are going out, though I can’t make liver and onions as good as Musso and Frank’s does.

Both Henry and I wish you all the best of health and happiness. Please let us know how you are doing. We are well but miss all our friends.

Remember, be fierce and thrive!

—Ph/HOPBELL

13 June 2020

06.13—Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world...

06.12 (From my diary: Beware The Thin Ice)

I'm reading Yeats before bed time as a form of meditation. His words inspire me and pull together my dark thoughts about our country and the pandemic the world is experiencing. 

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in the sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
                   —WB Yeats: The Second Coming



On the right is the route Henry walked with his PT today. It's over three quarter of a mile around our neighborhood and through a shopping center, up the escalators and down a steep ramp to our street. He was so excited about the achievement that he cried tears of joy! He and his therapist are very close and the work he is doing is making him stronger and more capable of dealing with the pain both physical and emotional. He is most alive when he is able to take control of his life and get out and about with people. I am an introvert but he needs people to interact with. 

His therapist reported that all along the way during his walk people stopped and talked to him and gave him words of encouragement: one man even made a U-turn on the street in his car to cheer him on. He didn't know any of these people but his soul is such he draws people to him. On our street everyone knows Henry and they see him out practicing walking with the walking frame and his prosthetic every day: they all call out to him and greet him with lots of love and encouragement.

Earlier this week on Monday we went to an appointment with Dr C at CRI. Our friend Tim drove Henry's car and Henry was able to sit in the front seat and get in and out of the car with the help of the walking frame. We used the wheelchair to get him into the offices. After the good meeting with the doctor we went to West Hollywood and went to AAA to get his membership renewed and pickup a Handicap placard. We had a great time waiting in line and seeing all the people out on the street; nearly everyone with a mask. Henry loved being out and about other people. This coming Sunday morning Henry and Tim will venture out to get their hair cut and perhaps go to the beach to sit by the road. These little trips go a long way in keeping his morale positive.

Today his therapist, A came by for a long extra session with him—she also fixed the limb support on his wheelchair. As I type this they are out taking a walk around the neighborhood. 

After he finished his shower we cooked together with him making lemonade and supervising me while I prepared the collard greens for tomorrow (he's the chef). Then we played cards, talking and enjoying each other's company. We met 30 years ago this week and I consider them the best 30 years of my life.

Be fierce and thrive...!

—Ph/HOPBELL

© Ph/HOPBELL Beware The Thin Ice 2019-2020

06 June 2020

Full Catastrophe Living...

I have been remiss in posting here for too long and I am sorry. I'll try to do better in the following weeks. Today I'm posting an excerpt from my diaries this week.

06.04
Woke at 4. 
Slept better after MBSR practice for 45 minutes

Arrived and Henry was still asleep. He finally woke at 7:30 and reported that he slept through the night. He got up immediately and had cereal and coffee in the front room. Still in pain and none of the supplies have arrived and the provider and our doctor still haven’t connected to extend Henry’s wound care. It’s frustrating that I have to bird-dog these guys to get them to fill out an authorization. Dr C is good with getting the scripts requested. I spent all day writing emails, texting, and making phone calls speaking only to voice mail or answering services and no one responded. Such is my life.

• • • (Deleted text)

I bought another 10 cloth masks today. Henry and I now have about 40 pairs of cloth masks that I wash and disinfect when used. I keep the surplus for friends who visit who don’t wear a mask. I need large gloves or xl gloves but can’t find them anywhere. Every day I count back 14 days and look at who I interacted with, where I went, who came to the flat. I live like so many others in constant terror of contracting the virus. I don't believe either Henry or I could survive it.

• • •

06.05
Woke at 5
Long day. 
It’s only 19:00 but I am very tired and will go to bed in 30 minutes. I spent all day on the telephone and on the hospital app trying to get wound dressing for Henry. Finally at the end of the day the Doctor got the fax and called the Health Care company so we can get a nurse again. It’s been six days since his wound has been dressed and I still don’t have any supplies. I’ve order a few boxes from Amazon at $50 for five pieces!

Henry had a speech class and then we met with the Social Worker for an hour.

Meanwhile the country is still in turmoil over the Police murdering black men. I really dislike the Police Culture.

Meditated for 45 minutes—

06.06
Woke at 3
D-Day
This is the 84th day of our quarantine or isolation. Though neither of us has been entirely isolated and I am in constant fear of contracting the virus. I wear a mask everywhere I go and I wash and disinfect my hands constantly. This morning the Uber driver told me he works at night and picks up young people who are coming home from late night house parties that they pay a cover charge to get in. The host pays the local cops to ignore the party. All our police are corrupt in one way or another. It’s the culture the police are trained in that bothers me and so many others. They are above the “law” and act as judge. Now that there are cameras everywhere it is harder for a police officer to get away with bad behavior. Unfortunately, our justice system favors authoritarianism. 

• • •

I am reading Fang Fang’s Wuhan Diary and it’s a great insight into her experience in quarantine. Very personal and very interesting. She writes wonderfully about her family and neighbors. I'm very interested in how much time she spends on social media. I gave up on FaceBook a long time ago and I deleted my Twitter account when I retired from Disney. But I do miss the social interaction of bulletin boards and message boards. It seems Chinese people use the medium a lot though It may be my misinterpretation. Some people speculate that the virus will go away once the weather turns hot which it did last week and will do again later this week. I don’t know if the warm weather affect SARS or not.

The manager of the building I live in posted signs outlining how to use the pool during the pandemic. He likes to use words like “protocol” and “procedures”. The young tenets all think it’s amusing.

Henry is sleeping late today. I arrived before 7 and made coffee and it is now 8:30 and he is still in a light sleep. The birds are singing loudly but the sky is grey with clouds. It is supposed to be cool today but next week very hot. Luna is already up and barking at every person who dares to walk passed the building. Luna is our downstairs neighbor’s dog. She is a large mixed breed and very gentle though her bark is deep and gruff sounding. She loves Henry because he used to bake dog biscuits for her and gives her left over steak.

Looking back on the last seven days I have to say it’s been rough dealing with Henry’s pain—though he has to experience the pain directly it affects me as well in that I worry about him and there is little I can do to help him. When he has physical therapy with E or A he feels better and the activity gives him a morale boost. He’s walking a lot during the week: back and forth on the sidewalk up and down the block where we live. Last week he walked a third of a mile in one session. 

Next week he has an in office appointment with Dr. Cushing and I am setting up his next appointment with Dr. Moon to see when the next surgery will take place.

I am waiting for UPS to arrive for a delivery of dressing supplies that were ordered over a week ago. The Health Care company claims the delay is due to the protests which sounds like BS to me. We have no dressing for Henry’s wound and I want to make sure we get these on hand so he can be comfortable.

It is 10:30AM. He’s had breakfast and so the day begins.

16:00
Sitting quietly reading and writing and listening to Jazz with Henry sitting close by reflecting. I went to the market to buy some dinner and I made a lasagna that we’ll have with broccoli. I also found some bottles of rubbing alcohol and I spent part of the early afternoon disinfecting the bathroom and the hard surfaces of the front room. The store manager told me, incidentally, that they can’t keep rubbing alcohol in stock for much longer than half a day before word gets out and someone cleans them out of every bottle. He put four cases aside to put out slowly so people like me could have some to buy. The store I go to requires the workers there to change masks every hour and disinfect the counters every time a customer uses it. They keep hand sanitizer nearby as well.

We waited eagerly for the post to arrive as I hoped the dressing supplies would arrive and when they did not I texted the case manager who wrote back that they had been delayed until Monday. I was so angry I cried. It’s unacceptable for this to happen since the company knew three weeks ago that the authorization was ending last week. Instead the case manager waited until last Wednesday to seek approval. It is painful for Henry to sit or lay on his back for long and the pain becomes all encompassing down his leg. It puts us both in terrible states of near despair but somehow we both manage to stay somewhat happy and even content in our quiet sitting. He meditates for 45 minutes to help with the peace.

• • •

He didn’t really want any dinner but he ate a big slice of
lasagna and a hotel spoonful of broccoli. He went directly to bed at 17:45 and I kissed him and left for home. Tomorrow is Sunday and Henry will attend his Church service by YouTube and take communion which the Church delivered to him a few weeks ago. He’s a believer and I’m not.

I’m going to have a glass of wine and read a bit of Fang Fang then go to bed at 19:30.

Be fierce and thrive...!

—Ph/HOPBELL

©2020 Ph/HOPBELL—Beware The Thin Ice

17 May 2020

05.17—Out for a Walk...

Out for a walk
This was a good week for Henry. His physical therapy was very aggressive and as you can see here he walked all the way to the camera which is about 100 yards. Earlier he walked down the stairs on his own. [I never post images of Henry during his rehab but this is far enough away to protect his privacy a bit.]

He's also working hard on balance and exercises to strengthen his right leg and arms. He is very determined. All of his therapists are very committed to his goal of being independent around the flat. Some of the upcoming exercises will be cooking and going out on field trips when the lockdown is lifted. His recreational therapist has even promised to get him to the beach as soon as he is able. Anyone who knows Henry knows the beach is what he lives for in the Summer! Rehab Without Walls has been fantastic for our morale and I am sure he will progress fast under their care.

His two nieces are out from Atlanta to help with chores around the flat while I take some time to myself (though I am with him everyday except for today). One of them arrived a week ago and will stay until next Saturday. I am very grateful for the help. Three weeks ago his sister came out for two weeks. This has been great for me. While I love taking care of Henry's needs, I am in need of some time to recharge. Having help from his family is great, even though I stress about Covid: we all practice hand washing and isolation. There have been several folks who have showed up unannounced and I ask that you refrain from that until June. Also I will ask that you wear a mask and sanitize your hands. I think the mask and hand washing will remain with us for many years to come. 

Stay safe and healthy.

Be fierce and thrive...!
—Ph/HOPBELL

08 May 2020

05.08—More Waiting...

Here I am waiting again last Tuesday (5 May) while Henry was at Cedars to have the IVC filter removed. We arrived at 6:30 in the morning and left at 2:30 in the afternoon. I read Hilary Mantel's book, Wolf Hall, while waiting this time, somehow, I broke my Kindle during this wait so I finished on my iPad.

Henry did well. He pointed out to me that everybody in the IR knew us from November and remarked on how well he looked; they all knew us by name. Henry and I are very grateful to the staff of doctors, nurses, and technicians at Cedars-Sinai for saving his life and making it possible for him to continue his life. They are rightly proud to see him in such great condition and able to do so much more than when they last saw him in December. 

Henry is back home and feels great. He's walking on the prosthetic daily for several hours in the morning and afternoon. He's also able to sit in his chair much longer than before. While his pain is still constant it is becoming manageable thanks to his constant use of his legs. On Monday he starts with a new rehabilitation team from Rehab Without Walls and they will work to get him independent and able to work again if he desires. What he desires most is to be independent and mobile and able to drive again. We are both happy our insurance company approved this intensive rehab. CIGNA has been great in quickly approving and paying providers particularly compared to AmeriBen which has been, in my opinion, negligent and uncooperative.

We are both well and keeping ourselves isolated from general public except for when I have to go out to market. We hope you all are also well and keeping safe.

Be fierce and thrive...
—Ph/HOPBELL

01 May 2020

05.01—6 Months!

Today marks 6 months since the accident. It was a good day. Henry had an appointment with his long time PA Kenny to approve the procedure to remove the IVC filter on Tuesday 5 May at Cedars. This filter was used to keep blood clots from traveling to his lungs from his legs and causing big problems. It was moving when he rolled his wheelchair through his doctor's office to hear and see the staff cheering him on: they all know him by name and he knows all of them by name. I have to admit it was an emotional scene and he was treated like a celebrity there...and he is, isn't he?

Yesterday he walked unaided down his stairs and to the landing at the entrance and back up. He was excited as he stood on his balcony looking out for the first time in weeks. He told me he felt "normal" again. Everyday is a new day and another day of progress for him. Henry told us he wants to walk alone by the end of summer and we all believe he will be able to meet that goal.

We both took the tests for Covid-19 today at the office and we are awaiting the results. We all feel well and strong and we are keeping separate from strangers and our many friends. But like all of you we long for our friends' presence and touch. Until then virtual kisses and hugs have to do.

Be fierce and thrive...!
—Ph/HOPBELL

25 April 2020

04.25—Day 176—Forbidden Knowledge

Not my image...

When I was in Paris in September and October last year I started writing a mémoire I called Forbidden Knowledge. It is the story of my reading of the full text of A Thousand and One Nights as translated by the explorer Sir Richard Francis Burton. I was eleven years old when I saw the 16 gilded volumes at my local library and I became enchanted. I was a precocious reader and was given access to the adult collection but unbeknownst to the librarians the edition on the shelves was published before Burton’s zealous Christian widow expurgated his work. This edition had all the naughty bits including an essay in the appendix that detailed homosexuality in Arab and Muslim  cultures (written in 1886); it blew my twelve year old mind when I read it. At the time—1960-1961—I kept the sexual content of the texts secret, but I detailed and copied all of it into my commonplace books. It led me to read all of Burton's adventures and then Havlock Ellis and his work on human sexuality and then in 1963 Kinsey. The writing of my essay was interrupted, of course, by Henry’s accident on 1 November when I began the work on a much different mémoire I call Beware The Thin Ice about our life since and now. This weblog makes up part of Beware The Thin Ice. I hope one day soon to return to the other essay. 

Meanwhile Henry is progressing. Like all of us he has good days and not-so-good days but his good days are beginning to outnumber...

Be fierce and thrive
—Ph/HOPBELL

15 April 2020

04.16—Day 167


How are you? We hope you and your family are well. 

We are doing as well as can be expected during a difficult isolation here in Los Angeles. Henry is walking a little on his own and even walked down the stair case at the flat. Our lives could be easier but everyone is experiencing difficult times, no?

We spend the day with Henry performing his exercise routine in the morning. Today our housekeeper is coming to help us get a little more organized. I spend the day cooking our meals and working on insurance matters that I'll share with you in a future post. I also write in my journal at the end of the day before reading a little and retiring for the evening early. Our spirits are generally good though we have emotional moments and so appreciate your calls and good will. 

As always, be fierce and thrive...
—Ph/Hopbell

11 April 2020

04.11—Henry is Home!!

On this beautiful day, Henry is home at last. Quinton and I are tending to him and he begins his at-home physical therapy on Monday. 

Of course we can't accept visitors yet but he is taking phone calls and texts from his friends.

This is the next phase of our journey and I am optimistic for his recovery even though we both know there is a long way to go. Your support, prayers, chants, and meditations are welcome!

We are sheltering in quarantine and wish everyone good health and peace during this difficult time. 

Be fierce and thrive...
—Ph/Hopbell

07 April 2020

04.06—The Journey is Not Yet Complete

Le Marais, Paris
It's been a little over five months Henry and I began this journey and on Thursday he comes home at long last. This doesn't mean the journey is over—I don't know if it ever will—but we are entering another phase of his rehabilitation: at home. He will still have healthcare professionals working with him to improve his mobility and strengthen his body. He was always very fit but over the months he's lost a lot of muscle mass. Too, there will be several surgeries yet to come on his left hip and knee but I hope these will heal fast and not hinder his full recovery.

Meanwhile his nephew and I are getting his home equipment set up and stockpiling provisions for us over the difficult quarantine period. Naturally there can be no visitors until it is safe, but your phone calls and video chats are always welcome. Thankfully all of us are well. I hope you are too.

Be fierce and thrive
—Ph/Hopbell

There is a link in my bio if you wish to contact me by e-mail.

05 April 2020

04.05—How Are You?

From my walk down Los Feliz


How are you? 

These three words usually mean nothing and are said instead of "Hello"; today these three words carry meaning: this simple sentence is a powerful act of kindness and human tenderness.

This sentence carries no subtext. 
It is direct.
It is not subtle. 
It no longer means, "Hello."

Saying this sentence to friends and strangers alike is an act of outreach. It is an example of our humanity. 

Now more than ever before we are called to act as a community of individuals who care for each other. Now what is most important is human tenderness...

How are you?

Be fierce and thrive...
—Ph/Hopbell

03 April 2020

04.03—Nearly Home...

This is the "home" stretch! Henry's release date is 9 April probably in the morning. I am very happy he will be back at home soon. There will be champagne and laughter.

Henry is progressing very well and is walking with the walking frame and getting stronger by the day. But this journey is not over; he will have many months of home and outpatient therapy to improve his mobility so his life can return to normalcy. I wish we could have a big party but alas we are all still in quarantine and need to isolate ourselves—the last thing we want is for him to get sick with this virus. I urge everyone to stay safe and don't go out in public without protection.

Stay safe and be fierce and thrive!!

—Ph/Hopbell

29 March 2020

03.29—Day 150

Outside Henry's room...
I visited Henry at CRI on Friday and found this outside his room. It means that he can manage getting in and out of his bed and wheelchair on his own as well as use the toilet and dress himself. This is progress toward being independent for Henry and I am so proud of his accomplishments! 

Quinton and I saw Henry walk fifty feet with a walking frame and walk up some stairs on his own. He is nearing the point when he can come home...soon. We are going to ask for an additional week but if the insurance doesn't approve everyone is fine with him coming home this week. I am so happy!! Soon he will begin to live in his own flat and take rehabilitation there as well as outpatient rehab once the sheltering is over. It's been 150 days since the accident that nearly took his life and changed it so much. It is astonishing that after just 5 months he is beginning to walk and take care of himself. If you saw what I saw on November 1 when I thought, and lots of people told me, it would take a year for him to even stand up, you would be amazed as well. His injuries were so great that to even think he would recover was hard to imagine. But he is recovering.

Your phone calls and FaceTime chats really help him through this very tough and lonely time. None of us can visit whenever we want and contact is limited. He is working hard on improving but he wants and needs human contact even if by phone. Thank you for reaching out to him during this crises and sheltering. 

Stay safe and stay away from groups of people.

Be fierce and thrive!
—Ph/Hopbell

23 March 2020

03.23—Eight Steps Up

Few of us consider climbing stairs an accomplishment; today Henry climbed eight without help from his therapist and that is a great accomplishment. I am beyond happy—and so is he. To get to his apartment there are 14 stairs that he will have to climb and I am excited he is so close to moving back home.

The Institute has requested another week of therapy from the insurance company and we hope they will approve as it will put Henry on a path to success. His proposed release date is now 2 April. He will celebrate his birthday at California Rehabilitation Institute and I hope they will let me be there with him.

Be fierce and thrive...
—Ph/Hopbell