Saturday, April 04, 2009

you are the best thing ever happened to me


(Pablo 'Pau' Casals: JSBach Cello Suite in G Maj, Prelude. F'n rock'n'roll!)

Most people reading here know that my day job providing technical support to L.A. recording studios. It's a great job. I learn new things every day, meet some wonderful people, get to solve problems and exercise creative muscles. And I stay involved in the music business.

Right now I'm doing all the wiring and technical installation work for a new studio for Dangerbird Records. Started in '04 by 2 great guys, Peter Walker and Jeff Castelaz, they are doing quite well for an indie label. Please check out the link above to see some of their artists.

All my initial dealings were with Peter. In fact I never even met Jeff until just before the installation started. I just figured he was more involved with the day-to-day running of the label. But then I found out what was distracting him: The Pablove Foundation:
The Pablove Foundation is named after Pablo Castelaz, the five-year-old son of Dangerbird Records co-founder Jeff Castelaz and his wife Jo Ann Thrailkill. On May 17, 2008, Pablo was diagnosed with bilateral Wilms' Tumor, a rare form of children's cancer. The cancer appeared out of nowhere, with no warning signs in Pablo's general demeanor or health. He is currently undergoing treatment at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, and is doing extremely well. Thanks to decades of research and treatment at places like CHLA, Wilms' Tumor is over 90% curable.

Read the whole thing. Sounds pretty promising, right? Guess again. The Get Well Pablo blog details the latest crises. Pablo had just gotten out of the hospital after his latest round of chemo, when he developed a sudden infection and was rushed to the ER last Wed.:
The fever hasn't really gone down after the first round of fluids and antibiotics. In an effort to cool him, we had to take his shirt off and take the blanket off his body. Not easy when he's shivering. It adds screaming to his repertoire.

Later that day:
Had to stop writing for past 15 minutes. As I was typing P's eyes bulged out of his head and he began to vomit mucous and a bit of blood. This is not a fire drill. There are more docs in here now. They are moving us to a bigger room in the ER. The ICU is full and we may be here for a while.

A tech is in here right now with a giant machine doing an echocardiogram. Another tech is drawing blood from his arm while that's going on. They need to test the gas level in his blood. P's entire body is swollen - out of nowhere. We are all staring at the black and white monitor on the machine, watching Pablo's superstrong little heart pounding away.

Still later the same day:
We are headed to the ICU. The fever has not gone down yet. The docs have him on ice. Pablo is miserable - his blood pressure is low and his heart rate is racing. There are no less than six doctors attending to him, many of whom have become friends of P's and ours over the past 11 months.

We are never in this part of the hospital for anything less than serious stuff. That's why it's called the 'emergency department.' There's something

We do have GREAT news: P's chest x-ray is totally clear. No pneumonia, no fluid and - most significant - no spots. You know Jo Ann and I are not fatalists, but we'd be delusional to not find comfort in the absence of cancer in Pablo's lungs. That's the first place the disease spreads to if it were to recur and spread. We are f**king NOT open to that. But, again, there are facts and we are grateful to have checked one potential issue off the list.

And Wed. night:
Pablo is still in critical condition. He still has fever of 38.4—38.9 Celsius. It's been that high all day. You could cook an egg on P's palm he's so hot. The nurses are literally packing chemical ice packs around his body as he lays in bed. He has the old skool traditional cold wash cloth on his head. Jo Ann and I told him how our mothers used to do that for us, and how much we loved it. He was nonplussed, and seems to hate all the cold stuff up on him.

Readers here know we went through a serious ER-ICU scenario last October, before Mom finally passed. That was tough to deal with, but there was also something expected. Mom was 82, not in great health, and everyone loses their parents eventually.

But I can't begin to imagine what it would be like to try and comfort a seriously ill child, day after day, in and out of the hospital. Jeff and his family and supporters are special people indeed.

Fast-forward to today, and much better news:
we're OUTTA ICU! back on 4 west w/ our FAMILY of docs+nurses+techs. feels soooo good to be here. I'm gonna sleep here again.

4 West, where Pablo knows all the staff, and which is, sadly, his home away from home. Those on Facebook who want to send messages of support, Jeff is: Jeff Castelaz. To follow his updates on Twitter: @dangerbirdjeff.

And Donate to Pablove, please. You get a cool yellow bracelet. For Pablo, for Lizzie, for Kristin, for Mom, for Jane, for victims and especially for survivors of cancer:

(Click here!)

Bonus video: Ray LaMontagne: You Are The Best Thing: