This will be my last update here. If anyone still wants to know how he's doing please send me your email address and I'll put you on the list.
Dear Friends of Art,
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Several of you have asked about Art's condition. I apologize for not writing sooner. Our "committee" of health care surrogates led by Leo Lewkowitz has been trying to solve constantly changing administrative problems in Art's care, and I've been waiting for a respite when things seemed clearer to report.
Unfortunately, one thing which is not changing is Art's medical condition. He is still on a ventilator for breathing, a stomach tube for feeding, dialysis for kidney function and doesn't seem to respond to people, even though his eyes are open and he is technically conscious. The medical staff has expressed a fear that he lost much of his brain function when he was without oxygen for two minutes earlier in his hospital stay.
There are some small possible positive signs. Granted that he is attached to various pieces of equipment, his physical condition is stable with their help. In fact, since he is stable, the hospital intends to discharge him to a long-term care facility able to deal with his multiple needs. Yesterday, on behalf of the committee, I toured the 5 nursing homes in the greater NY area with this capability, so we could express our preferences on Art's behalf. Although quality of care was, of course, primary, we also considered ease of access for visitors. The two highest on our list are, respectively, at a stop on the LIRR 40 minutes from Penn Station and the last stop of the fabled A Train (subway) out in Rockaway. Far as these may seem, the other choices were even more inaccessible. The hospital's ultimate choice will take our suggestions into account, but also have to go with the availability of a bed. In that regard, I can at least report that all of the choices have positive aspects, including the necessary equipment, bright, clean surroundings and cheerful, caring personnel. But I think the best is clearly Woodmere, also in Rockaway beach area.
Other positive signs are these: 1. Leo, visiting, noted that Art smiled when receiving care to alleviate some discomfort. 2. The hospital ran a CAT scan of Art's brain and did not detect damage. They say an MRI would be more conclusive, but can't perform one because of all Art's mechanical attachments. Their best hope is that cognitive function will return as poisons are eliminated from his system 3. Kathleen McGann suggested that it would help to have Art's beloved classical music playing by his bedside. Directly after receiving this suggestion, I heard that the noted neurolgist Oliver Sachs says that the musical part of the brain still functions even when the cognitive part is gone. Leo arranged to get the music playing. 4. As well as Leo, Flo Fox, the third member of our committee, and Bob Griss have also visited, so the medical staff is now well aware that Art has a support group and they seem to respond to our personal interest with a personal interest of their own. I regret to say I ran out of time for a visit at the end of yesterday's excursion, but it's good that all of us who can keep trying. (Since a discharge is planned, it would be well to check before going to Mt Sinai.)
Another whole set of problems, which Leo has been working on, involve Art's practical affairs, since he didn't leave any power of attorney to deal with them. There are a lot of complications because of this which will take a while to resolve. We'll tell you more when it becomes clearer. The one thing that would help now is to let us know if any of you know any way to get in touch with Art's somewhat estranged sister, who would have the legal authority to deal with these problems. It would also help if anyone knows the name of his bank or if he has had any lawyer.
Perhaps the biggest positive element in this whole sad situation is the realization for all of us that, even in such misery, we are not alone. I've been touched, and I'm sure Art is, at some level of his unconscious being, by knowing he has such a circle of caring and competent friends. I pray that I may one day be able to provide you happier news, but it makes a difference to have such friends under all conditions, both sad and joyful.
The renumbering in the Subject box above reflects that this now the fourth report in what it appears will be a longer series. Next will be V, which I hope to send quickly when Art is transferred.
Thanks and best wishes to all, Peter
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