Friday, July 31, 2009

Siblings in the City

Hi, Everyone,

The docs okayed Barry’s release this morning, so he’ll be joining Melanie back at the apartment by early evening today; another hurdle behind us. I know he’s looking forward to being in his own bed, watching his own TV, and won’t miss being woken up several times a night by the efficient Mt Sinai staff.

Melanie is better now, but had a rough morning, feeling sore, nauseous, and just generally very uncomfortable. She sounded better by noon or so, saying that she’d probably done a bit too much yesterday, and was definitely going to take it easier today. Good idea, Ms. M - Never miss the opportunity to do as little as possible when an iron-clad excuse is at hand – Bad TV and pampering are definitely on the weekend menu.

I know some of you have had trouble posting messages to this site, so if you’d like to get a message through, feel free use my email address, and I’ll forward it on from there:

It was just about 6 mos ago that we became aware that Barry would be on dialysis until a new kidney could be found - And now here we are, successful transplant behind us. I don’t care how many times a year they perform these surgeries, it still seems like a miracle to me that a person’s entire future can be changed in the space of a few hours; unbelievable but true.

You all deserve a few deep, cleansing breaths – Consider yourselves hugged across the internet and have a good weekend.

With love and appreciation, Renee & Co.

Thursday, July 30, 2009


Hi, Everyone,

Melanie has been discharged and is now back at Barry & David's apartment, having tea and bagels (chicken soup to follow). Unlike here in CA, they literally let you walk out instead of being wheeled out, and walk she did, all the way down and out of the hospital on her own two feet.

The cab ride was a bit bumpy going from the Upper East Side to Chelsea, so she was pretty sore and exhausted when I spoke to her a few minutes ago from the apartment, but still in good spirits and happy to be in her temporary home.

Barry is also doing very well - He and I spoke for close to a half hour last night, and says he feels so much better already. He has a heartier appetite then he has in quite some time, and according to David, Ruth and Naomi, has more color in his face now then any of them can remember him having for many, many months.

Just this second read a text from David telling me that Barry's doing so amazingly well, that they're releasing him tomorrow!!! All tests look great, lab numbers/ultrasounds normal, and they couldn't be more pleased with his progress!

All parties have raved about the excellent pre & post-care of the surgeons, internists, nursing staff and administrative teams. At every point, they've been treated with respect and sensitivity - Our thanks to Mt. Sinai; we are forever in your debt.

Melanie told me this morning that when she woke up around 2am this morning, she decided to take a walk down the hall to see how Barry was doing. He was also awake, so she stayed together and they chatted for awhile.

Apparently, they both would fall asleep midsentence, wake, try and remember where they left off, laughed when neither of them had a clue, and continued like this for at least an hour. I said it was great practice for when we're all a bit older and such communications become commonplace; "I'm sorry, what were we talking about?" (I'm afraid we're closer to that already then any of us would willingly admit)

If you'd like to send a card or note to either Barry or Melanie, the address is:

224 West 18th Steet, Apt 2A, New York, NY 10011

That's the up to the minute report, I'll post again later today/tomorrow morning, Renee

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Oh, My Goodness, what a difference a day makes!!!

It’s not even 24 hours post surgery, and not only do they feel pretty good, but they look fabulous, no?!!

Our thanks to Naomi for her photojournalistic ability – I have to admit to some sibling jealousy here over Barry & Melanie’s matching sister & brother outfits; so chic, so elegant, so exclusive – I believe it’s the only time we’ll ever see Barry in a “one size fits all” garment, so enjoy while you can.

Both patients got a good night’s sleep, and the doctors are very pleased with their stable, all-systems-go recovery thus far – Ultrasounds show only positive results. Both are a bit tired and sore, but otherwise resting well and enjoying being on the other side of their surgeries.

Melanie will stay overnight again today and go back to Barry & David’s apt tomorrow – Barry will go home either Friday afternoon or Saturday, as scheduled.

That’s all for now - Another post tonight and/or tomorrow morning.

Our thanks to all of you, from all of us.

All is well this morning for both Barry & Melanie - Will send more in another hour or so, but they're both doing great, Renee

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I've learned that some of you haven't been able to post a comment today - So sorry, but do try again and if you can't post, call me: 707-322-4627
Last update of the evening:

Melanie and Barry both out of recovery and into individual rooms on the same floor, different wings (Ruth, David & Naomi are getting great exercise).

Melanie is still in quite a bit of pain, but resting comfortably now. The nurses weren’t quite as proactive as they should have been in relation to her latex allergies, but Naomi was persistent, found a staff member who actually listened to their concerns, and got it taken care of. The night nurse sounds like a good fit.

Barry is doing really well, all ultrasounds show a best case scenario, post-op status, and he sounds like he already feels so much better now that his body has the necessary tools to make him well. I spoke to him an hour or so ago, and he was already responding to emails on his Blackberry about a sweater order – Such a slacker, that one!

Ruth & David are home at the apartment, Naomi’s staying with her in-laws, and all is well.

Goodnight and sleep well – More updates tomorrow, Renee


Hi, Everyone,

Melanie’s in recovery waiting for a private room. She came through the surgery very well, but is definitely in some pain and just generally exhausted. They’re being very cautious of her latex allergy situation, and may have her go back to Barry & David’s home earlier than they might w/another patient, to avoid any allergy repercussions, but it’s too soon to make that decision. For now they’re focused on keeping her as comfortable as possible, making sure her body is functioning well, and getting her into a nice room ASAP.

Barry is also now in recovery! He came through the surgery so well, his kidney is already happily cooperating with all of his other healthy, neighboring organs. The doctors are doing ultrasounds and monitoring him very closely in these hours post-surgery, but so far, so very, very good.

According to Ruth and David, both patients are a bit pale, tired and uncomfortable, but quite coherent, talking and falling in and out of sleep, as would be expected.

Naomi arrived in Manhattan this afternoon, dropped her things off at the home of her wonderful in-law’s, Sue and Ivan Rosenblum, and came directly to Mt. Sinai to take her place at her mother’s bedside. Ruth and David are happy for the extra pair of capable hands, and I’m sure her mommy was very happy to see her.

Time for us all to take a collective deep breath, and be grateful for having arrived in this moment - A less anxious, frightening place than we were in just 24 hours ago.

I’ll likely do one more post this evening, and of course a morning update, but at least we’ve gotten this far

Thank you all, Renee
Just spoke to Ruth - She's in the recovery room with Melanie, and Melanie's doing really well.

The first hoarsley whispered words out of Melanie's mouth were "Mom, how's Barry?" (I'm pretty sure the second words were "I need some damn Demerol!")

Barry's surgeon just spoke to David & Ruth a minute ago, saying that Barry's surgery was very successful - In fact, the kidney is already working well in Barry's body! Unbef'nlievable, and such a relief.

Melanie asked the doctor if Barry could be wheeled in right beside her in recovery - We love each other, and, given the opportunity, can never resist manipulating our environments; just a Miguel thing.

More after Barry's in recovery, Renee
David texts "Melanie doing great in recovery! They're working on Barry right now - He has her kidney and surgery going well!"

So far, so good.
Melanie's listed on the big board as "GP 3 RECIN" - Guggenheim Pavillion 3rd Flr. Recovery

According to David, he and Ruth had a good lunch in the cafeteria and Ruth is now dispensing advcice to two different people: One woman whose husband needs heart surgery, and another whose son is having gallbladder trouble - Yes, that would be my mother.

Both of them very anxious to hear anything at all about Barry, as are the rest of us, I'm sure.
Text from David a minute ago:

Melanie was officially in recovery room at 11:55 - Ruth is trying to find out when she can visit, but doesn't want to miss Barry's post-surgery update from the doctor. Barry's estimated time in the recovery room is 1:30 this afternoon SF time.

I'm writing as soon as I hear anything new, so stay turned.
Just heard from Ruth 2 minutes ago - Melanie out of surgery and in recovery room.

They've taken out her intubation tube, and will be monitoring her closely, but the head nurse came in to tell Ruth and David that all went very well, just like clockwork, no surprises. She also said that she passed Barry's surgery room and they were just sewing Melanie's kidney into Barry.

Please continue sending all good thoughts, prayers, wishes their way; you're doing a wonderful job and we can feel you all out there.

Will post again soon, Renee
Just heard from David – Melanie still listed on the board as “in OR”, so not yet in recovery room. Ruth and David reading, talking, trying to keep themselves busy; not an easy task, I know.

Will be back in contact w/any word at all..
4:25am SF time

They wheeled Melanie into surgery at 6:39 and Barry at 7:01am NY time

A few funny things from Ruth & David:

1) Melanie split for the surgery room without taking a moment to say goodbye to them, even though the docs gave her the opportunity to do so – According to Ruth: "She didn't say goodbye, so long, I love you, go to hell – Nothing!!" Barry had to come back to tell them she even left; what a cool customer she is!

2) When they took Barry to surgery, they gave Ruth a "pager", which apparently looks exactly like those blinking things they give you when you're waiting for a table in a restaurant - It blinks and you go to the front desk to learn the status of the surgery - Actually a good idea.

3) They have a "big board" that looks like the ones at airports telling the flight status - Both "B. Miguel" and "M. Miguel" are up there and listed as "in process" - Also a worthy innovation.

Now that two of her three chicks have headed off to surgery, Ruth has headed for the hospital chapel. I’m joining her there in spirit, and invite you to do the same.

It’ll likely be several hours before we have more news, but stay posted throughout the day.

This is it, think good thought, Renee
4am SF time

Melanie wheeled into surgery 10 minutes ago - Barry to follow soon.
2:45am SF time

David's most recent text says:

"All fine so far - Checking in. Your mom and I had some breakfast. Both patients in good spirits; ready to give and get a kidney."
2:00am Tuesday Post

I’ve just gotten off the phone w/Melanie and Ruth, 4:50am NY time (no, I can’t sleep right now). All 4 were up & dressed and set to be there by 5:30 – Not much traffic at that time, so shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes.

Ruth was just slicing some apples to have as a snack for later – I can’t imagine she has much of an appetite, but it’s nice to have something to do when you’re anxious.

Melanie and I said the Mi Sheberakh together (Hebrew prayer for physical & spiritual healing), and Barry is wearing his beautiful Prayer Shawl, given to him by his mother-in-law, Sara, as a gift from her and her congregation – How wonderful for him to feel so wrapped in their warmth on his way to Sinai this morning.

Ruth is our “insider”, and will be calling me as soon as Melanie is brought down for surgery, then when Barry is, any updates by nurses or doctors during their surgeries, and also when each is in the Recovery Room and then back into their respective hospital rooms.

If the timing is as expected, they could both be post-op by 11am or noon NY time today, and quite possibly earlier than that.

That’s all for now; I’ll post again the moment I hear from Ruth or David.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Dear Friends,

Here we are on the night/early morning prior to the surgeries, and so far, all is well.

Melanie has been on a simple clear liquid diet for 2 days, and was so hungry and in need of flavor of any kind yesterday (Monday), that she was actually on her way to buy and make Jell-o - Now that’s desperation.

Barry, on the other hand, hasn’t had much in the way of restriction, and when we spoke an hour or two ago, had just come home from what we all hope will be his last dialysis appointment – From his lips to G-d’s ear, as we say.

They’ll be arriving at Sinai at 5:30, surgery’s set to begin with Melanie around 7, 7:30am, and Barry to follow soon after. Ruth and David have sworn to be in constant cell-phone contact so I’m able to give up to the minute reports on this web-page throughout the day.

If you can’t be near a computer tomorrow and are frantic for news, you have my permission to call me on my cell #, for a brief but accurate update: 707-322-4627

“May G-d Guide the Surgeon’s Hands”

I’ll be in touch the minute I have any news at all, Renee

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Today’s post is from our kidney donor herself, Melanie Miguel. Though it isn’t the usual policy of this publication to work with guest writers, an exception has been made in consideration of her imminent surgery (not a good time to tick her off). And now her report:

We’re now in the final countdown to transplant! Barry and I met with our team of surgeons and anesthesiologists this morning and all looks great. The silver lining to all of this has been finding out that not only am I in great physical shape, but the team considers me “thin”; always great to hear.

Our surgeries will be first thing in the morning Tuesday, July 28th. They’ll begin with me, then Barry in an adjoining room. When he's prepped & ready, my left kidney will be "harvested" and I will be sewn, stapled and closed while they get Barry all connected. Don't expect to hear anything that day before 6pm Eastern Time. They'll try to get me out of the hospital in a day and a half to reduce my latex exposure. They estimate Barry will be in the hospital between 3-7 days.

I'm spending my days with Mom running errands, going to doctor appointments and meetings. Barry's still working everyday while Zev’s away at camp and Summer is with David’s mom and her new husband, enjoying a country daycamp. David has been wonderful about our extended stay in their apartment and utter lack of privacy; he’s the best brother-in-law and we’re so lucky to have him!

Thank You’s to: Auntie Nee (Renee) for her organizational and shopping skills, to Michael for overseeing Yasmine's whereabouts and taking care of Layla the dog, with Judy's help. To Rachel, Sarah & Rodney for being fun and responsible cousins, to Ivria for doing whatever's needed including helping Naomi & Gary pack & move, to Dad for managing his end without Mom, for what will be at least 6 wks by the end of this, and to Naomi, who is coming out to NY for a week to nurse us back to health

And to all of our loyal “Followers” – It’s wonderful to know you’re out there thinking of us, so keep those messages coming.


Thank you, Melanie, for that late edition update – We’ll be back with another entry by our in-house staff reporter later this week, so stay tuned.

Friday, July 17, 2009



The moment we heard that I wasn’t a viable donor, Barry and I flew our middle sister from SF to NY before she had too much time to think. (And she thought all we wanted from her were those choc chip cookies!)

Surgery’s been scheduled for Tuesday, July 28th, Mt Sinai, New York, NY. Melanie will remain in NY approximately two weeks post surgery, so won’t be back in SF till closer to the 14th or 15th. Our mom, Ruth, has been there since Mon, July 6th, and will stay through and escort Melanie home.

Ron, our father & Fearless Leader, will remain in SF with the rest of our clan, keeping the City running properly in their absence, so not to worry, he’s on it.

Feel free to post messages here for any of us - Should you like to send a message by mail, the address is: 224 W18th St, Apt 2A, New York, NY 10011

This is an up-to-the-minute report, so you now know everything we know. I’ll be posting any news as it becomes available, more so as the surgery date comes closer.

We thank you all for your heartfelt concerns and patience through this rather trying journey towards a successful transplant - How fortunate we are to be held in your loving thoughts and good wishes.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Hi, Everyone.

We’ve had a bit of a change of plans here, so I’ll give a quick, current update:

After another battery of last minute, double testing, we just found out today that I’m not a possible donor for Barry. I’m fine as far as my own health, but would not be if they took one of my kidneys, likely ending up in dialysis myself.

As many of you know, I flew out earlier than expected, having heard that there were some more recently voiced concerns by the doctors – I couldn’t rest until I knew that every possible test was done (twice, three, four times), proving that I wasn’t a viable donor candidate.

We just found that out a few hours ago today, so the disappointment is still quite acute, but in true Miguel fashion, we’re already on to Plan B & C – I hesitate to give details, since it’ll still require medical clearance, so we’ll just have to stay mum for the next few days until we have more concrete information.

Barry & David are hanging in there (Dad’s biscocho cookies are helping us all), Ruth is here for the duration, and I’ll likely be back to SF/SR in the next 4/5 days.

Thanks so much for checking in and for all of your lovely posts, and my apologies for revving-up my own people unnecessarily.

I’ll be in touch soon, Renee