E-mails From Susan, Part II
Date: Saturday January 20 11:06 PM 1996
Subject: Update: Possible
It's near midnight, Saturday night. Susan's
nurse just came in and said that there is a possible heart
donor. The person's heart is still beating; an angiogram is
being performed now: a catheter (tube) is inserted into a neck
artery and a device that lets one look into the heart,
somewhat like a video camera, is being used to look at the
heart. It's fifty/fifty right now as to her getting this
In an hour, they will make a decision. It'll be
midnight. If it happens, then it'll be around six o'clock in the
I'm here with the laptop at Susan's side.
When the nurse told us, Susan began panting with fear. She's
asking for a rabbi. I feel weak in the knees. Susan just said
"isn't life odd?" I put a blanket over her to keep her
Keep an eye on the time stamp for these e-
Date: Saturday January 20 11:24
Subject: Uh, Uh, Uh...Andreas,
my wonderful husband, just wrote. It's 50/50 for the heart. In
a bit we'll know. Thank you all for your wonderful e-mails,
cards, cat pics (the kids!) and your prayers.
thought up a recipe to post and the Bee *finally* posted the
recipe for Spanish rice from Vallejo's. These will be posted
So, you see, I'm into food again!!!!
will post updates.
I love you all.
Sunday January 21 00:15 1996
I'm keeping a notepad next to the
When the nurse told us that there was a possible
heart, Susan's heart monitor jumped from her normal 112 to
11:30 p.m.: Susan asked for a rabbi. The UCLA
on-site minister, a Protestant, called around to find a rabbi.
While waiting, Susan had to use the toilet, a portable chair
toilet that is brought into the room. While she was sitting
there, the rabbi called. Yes... nature called and God called.
11:42 p.m.: Susan wants to brush her
teeth and wash her hair. With two nurses in the room, she
brushes her teeth. I promise her that if there is a go on the
heart, we'll wash her hair. There's her hair dryer
11:45 p.m.: Her nurse, a very charming, very
funny Australian named Judith (that's right: the Tin Man
went to Oz for a heart) came in to draw blood for the
11:50 p.m.: Susan and I hug and hold each
other. She looks forward to having a normal life
11:54 p.m.: Judith came in again to give Susan
some morphine to calm her down. The injection went into a
tube that leads into her. She sits still for a bit, and then says
"whoa!" A warm, flushing feeling goes through her whole
body. She slowly sinks back into her bed, with a soft
00:02 I walk out of the room to answer Bill's call
from Seattle. Another nurse cheerfully asks me "Is she
going?" It's like getting called to win a contest. I reply that
there's no final decision yet.
00:06: Susan is very dozy
on the morphine. Judith came in with a cup of potassium.
Susan has to drink it. Very foul tasting stuff, like chalky salty
brine. She followed it with iced tomato juice.
Sunday January 21 01:15 1996
Update Sunday morning
00:45 am. It's a go. Judith
got off the phone, looked at me with a beaming smile and
gave me the thumbs up. She says "it's a go! Do you want to
I go into the room. Susan's smiling dozing. I
wake her with a kiss and say it's a go. She so zonked she says
"I was just dreaming about lamb, roasted, with a yogurt
marinade. and lots of garlic."
She's discussing food
with a nurse right now. An hour ago, I was very tired, at the
end of a long day. Right now, I'm wide awake and
Date: Sunday January 21 02:35
Subject: Hattie Update
One of the doctors from the transplant team came in. Susan
has to give an informed consent, to agree to what they are
going to do. He's a big fellow, unshaven, with a grin and a
Tennessee accent. He looks up and says "are you a lawyer?
Uh, oh..." Susan says "that's right. You better cure me or kill
me, or I'll sue!"
He starts off. "We're going to perform
a heart transplant. That means that we will remove your
Susan says "Whoa! nobody told me about this
He says "You are Number 603: the 603rd heart
transplant at UCLA."
He reads through three pages of
what the problems could be, so that Susan is aware of this.
Zonked on morphine, how aware can she be? She keeps
talking about food.
In the first 30 days, 5% will die.
After that, only a few die per year.
Surgery will take
about 4 to 6 hours. I can go home (but I'll have to clear out
her room first, of hundreds of get-well cards, etc.) She'll sleep
for about 12 hours. I should be able to see her again by
When he finished, Susan said "Sounds
good to me. Let's do it!" She signed the consent
It's going to be a busy night at UCLA: they are
doing three transplants tonight. One starts in an hour. Susan
will be next and the third is after her. He is being flown up
from San Diego tonight. The donors are young males. I don't
know if they are from one accident or separate. Susan says
"his heart will live on through me." She plans to write to his
Another nurse came in and put ID tags around
her foot and wrist. In a few hours, they'll paint her with
antiseptics and shave her front torso. Her heart monitors
look great: good steady pulse, etc. She'll be wheeled down the
hall to the other end of the hospital where the surgery rooms
Susan continues to talk about food. She's very
anxious. Judith the nurse gives her yet another dose of
morphine. After ten minutes, she's finally asleep. I'll be
awake all night, here with her. Before they take her to
surgery, I'll remove her wedding ring.
Before Susan fell
asleep, I told her that when she sees the bright white light and
the old man in flowing robes, be sure to ask for Monday's
lottery numbers. She gave me the thumbs up. She says to play
all lottery variants of her #603. I sang her one of her favorite cat
songs. She's sound asleep now. I'm wide awake. It's 2:20
Date: Sunday January 21 05:45
Subject: Update 5 AM
Two nurses came in and removed Susan's clothes and bed
sheets. they shaved her and painted her with an antibacterial
solution. The lights in the room are turned up: it's bright
surgical lights. She asks for her sunglasses. She lays there,
basted in a shiny orange color.
They give her the first
of her anti-rejection pills; she'll take these for the rest of her
5:30 AM: Judith shows me the Surgical ICU
(SICU) where Susan will be brought afterwards. It looks like
sickbay from the star ship Enterprise. Outside, on the floor,
sits a family, holding each other, some are
Date: Sunday January 21 06:49
Subject: Update: 6 AM
The anesthesia people come in and tell Susan what may
happen. More informed consent. Death, brain damage, etc.
By this time, Susan has had so much morphine that she smiles
and says "sure, whatever..."
6:30 AM: Everything is
ready. All the forms are signed; the team is getting ready. We
The nurses and doctors whom Susan has gotten
to know over the past two weeks drop by, to say hello and
wish her luck. Susan is napping. I'll walk with her to the
surgical theater in the basement.
Afterwards, it's home
to sleep. They'll call me sometime this Sunday afternoon. It
looks like a beautiful day in Los Angeles. I'm crashed from
emotion and exhaustion. I'll post when I hear
Date: Sunday January 21
Subject: Phone call from
I just received a phone call from Andreas.
He called to say that it's happening. Surgery started at 8:00
this morning PST. Now we just wait to celebrate Susan's new
birthday. Andreas said he will be posting as he hears
I have to say that Andreas sounded very excited.
He was out of breath. He said he was exhausted. I said he
would never be able to sleep. He told me that he took
something to help calm him down. Hopefully he will be able
to get some much needed rest before Susan wakes up from
I'm sure that all of you are thinking of
Susan. She has not left my mind all morning. Take care,
From: Kay Hartman
Date: Sunday January 21 15:23 1996
Subject: My Own Hattie Update: Sunday 21st Jan
Sunday afternoon 3:23 p.m.
talked to a very physically and emotionally exhausted
Andreas. The surgery is over. It was a success! The quote
Andreas gave me from the thoracic-cardiac surgeon is that the
operation "went extremely well."
Susan is currently
being moved from surgery to Surgical ICU (SICU). She is still
unconscious. She should be waking up around midnight
tonight. Andreas will be there when that happens. Andreas
thinks she will wake up ravenous. I'm not convinced. She
will be on IV for two days.
Susan still has all sorts of
tubes going in through her mouth. (Is that right? Andreas
made me take notes but maybe I could have done a better job
of that.) The tubes are helping her breathe. The tubes will
come out in about 9 hours.
Andreas says that Susan
will be running all of us ragged now. He said it will be like
she got a change of batteries. I look forward to a day in the
near future when I can say to Susan, "Slow down. I can't keep
up. You're going too fast."
OK. We can all breathe
Date: Sunday January 21 18:24
Subject: My Own Hattie Update: Sunday
Andreas just called me with the latest news at
the hospital. Here's what is happening.
Before I start
this story, let me say that everything will be OK.
is in the SICU. She began suffering a lot of internal bleeding.
She developed a blood clot. The clot caused too much
pressure for the heart and the heart stopped. This was
foreseen by the medical staff. Her chest has been reopened.
The bleeding is coming from tissue scarring from her
previous cancer treatment. In 10 minutes they are taking
Susan back to surgery. They will raise up the heart and clean
her up. She will be in surgery for about an hour.
was briefly awake. She looks healthy. The staff says that she
is in good condition. The doctors also say that she received
an excellent heart.
Andreas says he will call me with a
new report when Susan is out of surgery. I will re-post
Don't let down your guard. Keep your thoughts
going in Susan and Andreas' direction. The battle sounds like
it is not over.
Date: Sunday January 21 21:20
Subject: Later Sunday 21 Jan
received another call from Andreas. I can't tell you enough
how tired the poor man sounds. I wish there was something
that could be done for him. As he told me, the only thing he
wants now is for them to tell him that it's all over and
everything is going to be OK.
Susan is out of surgery.
She is stable. Andreas is going to be allowed to see her in
about a half hour. Personally, I'm glad he can go in. The
thought of them being separated tears me to
Have a good night. Keep sending all of those
positive thoughts to UCLA medical
Date: Sunday January 21 23:51
A second report,
sent from Bill's laptop.
PM: Susan came up from surgery and is in the Surgical
Intensive Care Unit (SICU) where transplantees are
Susan's chest has began bleeding. Due to the
radiotherapy for her Hodgkin's cancer 20 years ago, the left
lung is mostly scar tissue. The pericardial sac, which is a
membrane around the heart, was also scarred. This made the
chest a difficult area into which to place the
Susan began bleeding and the chest filled up,
which put pressure on the heart. The new heart stopped
beating. The team had expected that and she was revived
right away. Her chest was then reopened so that they could
have access to the sites which are bleeding and to reduce
pressure. She was taken back to surgery, where the transplant
team examined her closely, especially the area under the new
I waited outside until 7 PM, when her family
came and took me to dinner. We ate and returned.
PM: Her condition is sufficiently stable that I was allowed to
enter. I wash my hands and put on surgical gloves, mask, and
cap. The SICU is far more advanced than CCU. These folks
really like technology. I'll bring my camera tomorrow and
take photos so that you can see.
Susan is on a surgical
bed, a large flat bed. She is completely unconscious. Her
hands and feet are restrained. A small doughnut, the size of a
Frisbee, is a pillow to hold her head still. A single sheet
covers her. Four doctors and nurses watch her
I held her hand and talked to her but she is
unconscious. I held her and talked to her anyway. She looks a
mess: tubes lead in and out of her mouth and nose; a number
of tubes into every available artery, including tubes for urine.
Her nurse told me that I could look under the sheet if I liked.
I carefully lifted the sheet. Her chest is open. A sheet of clear
adhesive plastic, like Saran Wrap, covers her chest and seals
it. A plastic tube, as thick and as large as a finger, holds the
sides of the sternum apart. Inside her chest, her new heart is
beating strongly. More tubes lead away from the chest with
suction to remove blood. Her toes are a good pink color,
which means that the heart is moving blood well through the
lungs and her body is getting a good supply of oxygen. Her
kidneys are working strongly.
Susan is extremely
critical. She has only barely made it off of the surgical table.
They will keep her chest open all day Monday and most of
Tuesday. If the bleeding stops, then they will began to close
her chest slowly, a centimeter at a time. If upon reaching the
final centimeter her bleeding stopped, then they will close
her chest. She is on several powerful sedatives and pain
suppressers. She won't remember any of this. By early
Wednesday, she will began to wake up.
transplant teams knew about her lungs before they started.
They were aware of the possible problems. They've dealt
with this sort of complication before and they feel confident
that she will recover. It will be slow and critical, but Susan's
in great condition, young (40), and has a strong will to
I covered her up, tucked in the sheet around her
neck, and brushed her hair out of her face. I walked out of
the hospital in shock and began weeping in the car and
couldn't stop until I got home and sat here for a while. She's
a very sick little kitten and I love her very much. I keep her
wedding ring with me.
It's Sunday night. I
don't know if I'll be able to sleep tonight.
Noon. Bill from Seattle is here again. We went to see Susan.
She's stable; the bleeding has stopped. She's still in a very
critical condition. Her chest is still open. By late Tuesday,
they may began to close. She reacted briefly to a nurse's
command to squeeze her fingers and flex her toes. She's still
heavily sedated. I slept, but only with sedation.
Date: Sunday Monday 22 20:45
Subject: My Own Hattie Update:
Monday 21 Jan
Andreas called this evening at about
6:30. He spoke with Jack. Since I usually do not arrive home
from work until 8:00 I am working from Jack's usually sparse
notes. Jack wrote a list of things from the conversation. I will
report those now. I cannot embellish because I was not part
of the conversation. Here is what we have.
Susan used 5 units of blood. Her numbers are improving
today however. Because her chest is still open the chance of
infection is possible. They are planning to close the chest
tomorrow. She currently has 32 tubes in and out of her
Her heart stopped yesterday. This is not an
unusual situation. I am guessing at this point that this is the
same heart stoppage that happened before her second surgery
yesterday. I will try to find out for sure next time I talk to
Andreas. I will report again if I find out that I am
Of course we are all still pulling for Susan and
Andreas. I know that they are in my thoughts all day each
day during this trial.
Date: Tuesday 23 19:21
Subject: My Own Hattie
Today at about 2:00 in the afternoon Jack
talked to Andreas. At about 6:30 this evening I talked to
Susan's sister Ellen. Here's what we heard from our two
Basically, as near as Jack and I can tell,
not very much has changed since yesterday. According to
Ellen (whose comments are easier for me to relate since I
talked to her directly), Susan is still in critical but stable
condition. Susan's chest is still open. They are going to look
into closing it tomorrow. I told Ellen that I thought Susan's
chest was to be closed today. She said that Susan is just not
stable enough yet to close the chest. Ellen did say that the
bleeding is greatly reduced. Then Ellen proceeded to tell me
not to worry. I found this ironic. First of all, it seems that I
should be telling this to her. Second of all, how can any of us
Date: Wednesday 23 14:46
Subject: Tiny Update
I just talked
to Andreas. There had been some question about all the
blood that Susan received when they hadn't expected her to
need any... 6 pints total.
Susan Aitel had asked if there
was a need to donate blood to replace what she got. Andreas
said the answer is yes.
If you have wanted to do
something and haven't figured out what that is... if you live
far away, across the pond even... if you've wished you could
be here to cook for Susan but it hasn't worked out... here's
what you need to do:
Go to any branch of the Red
Cross and tell them you want to donate a pint to be credited
to Susan Hattie Steinsapir. You don't have to be any special
blood type, but you can't have had any kind of body piercing
or tattooing in the last 'x' months (I think that's 6 but it
might be more), and you should be healthy.
bloodsuckers will have you flat on your back faster than you
can say "Dracula!"... they'll whisper sweet nothings in your
ear (like, "Don't forget to breathe")... and when it's all done,
they'll give you orange juice and doughnuts for which you'll
have to demand the recipes...then hold your breath. You
probably won't get the recipe, but they'll give you another
Best of all, you'll leave knowing how many
people your blood will help. It used to be the saying, one
pint, one recipient. Now they divide up much of the blood
donations... sometimes they only need plasma, other times,
Oh, and make them give you a Red Cross
pin, which you'll wear with pride knowing you've saved a
Date: Thursday 25 10:06
Subject: Hattie Update
It's 10 am.
Andreas just called to tell me what's going on. He would
have written himself, but his modem is shot (he's getting
another one later, so he'll be back online soon).
news is good. Susan is stabilizing and they're going to be
closing her today.
The procedure is a bit fuzzy but I'll
do my best to describe it from what Andreas said. The
incision is about 3 inches long and being held open. There is
tape across this which will be pulled shut a half inch at a
time. Each time they pull it, they will leave it for a while and
observe to make sure she is still doing well. This should take
several hours. When she is finally closed, they will staple the
sternum together and sew her up.
Susan should be
awake later today, probably this evening. She has been lying
flat on her back on a surgical table for 72 hours and they're
going to want to get her moving as soon as possible, so she'll
probably be sitting up before the day is out. And she'll most
likely be eating within 24 hours. (I took that as a cue... just let
me know and I'll be down there with food. Hardly worth
waking up after all that and have hospital food shoved in
your face... right?)
Altogether she's gotten 6 pints of
blood, but as I said, she's doing better. Andreas said her color
was horrifying the first day, a kind of pasty look, gray and
frightening. Her color today is much better.
were toying with the idea of dialysis again, but opted to give
her more time, and it paid off. Her kidneys appear to be
functioning at about 80%, which is significantly better than
before. In fact, everything seems to be moving in the right
direction. She was very high risk for this surgery, but I doubt
she could have gotten better care anywhere else.
prior update, Andreas told us about a total of three hearts.
Lest we think that this is only about Susan, the news is very
good for the other two recipients. They are doing very well,
both of them, and are up and walking around.
Susan, they will still try to have her out of the hospital in 6 or
7 days because of the risk of infection. Andreas is getting the
apartment ready for her.
Time to start thinking about
cooking for Susan again. It does a Jewish mother's heart
Date: Thursday 25 21:18
Subject: Hattie Update
Andreas just called... he still doesn't have a
modem, but that should be rectified later today or tomorrow,
so you'll probably be hearing from him directly very
More good news.
Susan's chest is
completely closed and she continues to improve... slowly,
very slowly. They're beginning to wake her up now and she
should be fully conscious later tonight. They do this by
reducing the amount of sedative they give her.
said she occasionally opens her eyes, looks around for a few
seconds, then closes her eyes again and goes back to sleep.
She's still very much out of it and is unable to focus her
vision, but she will respond to certain commands like "wiggle
your toes" or "squeeze my hand." She's also able to hear some
of what's going on around her and responds to
Susan is still connected to all the tubes and
wires, her heart is pumping well, and her internal organs are
nearing full capacity of operation. Andreas said that while
her toes were blue or gray before the surgery, they are now
They're going to start feeding her through the
tube, just a tiny bit at a time because they don't want her to
get sick. Somehow I doubt she'll wake up and ask for their
She won't be able to talk (or complain,
as Andreas said) for at least a couple more days, until they
remove the tubes from her throat. Not only does she have a
tube into her stomach for feeding, but they have her one
working lung hooked up to another tube and they're
breathing for her.
Andreas told me she has been in
isolation in SICU since the surgery, and she will continue to
be isolated until they discharge her in about another week.
He's got a cleaning lady to vacuum and dust and clean and
reclean their apartment, over and over, getting ready for that
I asked Andreas if there was anything he needs.
His answer: 36 hours uninterrupted sleep.
quite a trial for both of them, but you can hear relief and
optimism in his voice. It's very consoling.
would also like to thank everyone for the hundreds of cards,
letters and packages. They're piling up now, waiting for
Susan to wake up and open them.
And a special thank
you for all the prayers. Susan's not out of the woods yet, but
she's on the right path.
Date: Thursday 25 23:18
Sorry that I've not been able to
post directly for the past few days. Thanks to Kay and Mimi
for writing for me. Most of Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, I
couldn't write; Susan was in such a bad condition. My
modem died and today, Thursday, I got another
Here's a summary of this week. It's been a very
long day. I'll explain in a bit why it's been a long
Susan was a high risk transplant. 20 years ago, she
had Hodgkin's cancer and was cured by massive radiation
and chemotherapy. This MAY have led (it's uncertain) to her
heart failure (congestive heart failure or cardiomyopathy). In
any case, the radiotherapy left massive scar tissue on her left
lung (she has practically no left lung function) and scar tissue
on the pericardial sac (a tissue that envelopes the heart). She
was rejected for a transplant at Stanford last year; they felt
that they didn't have the experience to deal with her. The
chief surgeon told us this afternoon that Susan is one of the
riskiest transplants they've ever tried.
As I've wrote
before, the surgery was perfect. But the scar tissue began to
bleed (or rather, didn't stop bleeding) on Sunday afternoon.
She had been brought up to the Surgical Intensive Care Unit
(SICU). The bleeding continued and built up to such pressure
that the new heart stopped. That had been foreseen and she
was immediately revived.
Her chest was re-opened to
relieve pressure. She was taken back to the transplant surgical
theater and the team reassembled. They decided to see how
things would develop.
By early Tuesday, the bleeding
had stopped. Susan had gotten a number of transfusions to
replace lost blood. Her chest was still open. Susan looked
awful; she was more dead than alive. Since she was totally
immunosuppressed to avoid rejection of the heart, she was
completely open to infection. Her condition was extremely
critical. Many of the doctors were pessimistic; the nurses and
I were optimistic and cheering for her, despite the doctors.
After all, what do they know? Nothing.
morning, she had been stable for 24 hours and so they
decided to close her chest. Susan had spent over 72 hours
with an open chest.
Her color returned to her face and
skin. Her toes, which had been cold and blue for the past few
years due to her weak heart, were pink and warm now. She
no longer looked devastated; she looked asleep. One of her
nurses brought her a small teddy bear and put it in her hand;
Susan's been holding it for several days now. We felt that she
is going to make it. Her numbers on the monitors continued
to improve, a single digit at a time, slowly, but always
The new heart was on the border of right
chamber heart failure. The right chamber receives the blood
from the veins, pumps it into the lungs, and then from the
lungs back into the heart, where it goes to the left chambers
which send it into the body. Since she only has one lung, it
has a very high arterial pressure. Susan received a heart from
a larger man so that she would get a stronger heart that could
cope with this higher pressure. However, the right chamber
was overtaxed by the lung pressure and it could barely force
blood through. The right chambers were on the edge of
collapse for several days. Her doctors were ready to use a
heart pump machine to take over and let the new heart relax
By Wednesday, however, the right
chambers had gotten accustomed to the new workload. They
had gotten exercise and had gotten stronger. By today,
Thursday, the right chambers are well on the way to
Susan spent Wednesday resting and
getting stronger by the hour.
Thursday: When I came
in this morning, it was clear that she was out of the worse.
Yesterday, if they tried to raise the bed for her upper body,
her blood pressure would fall. Today, they could raise the
bed's upper part and the heart had no problems with that.
They shift her occasionally from side to side and massage her
muscles; Susan rolls open her eyes. She doesn't focus or
recognize things; she's still heavily sedated. I talk to her and
hold her hands; her eyes move under the eyelids. By 3 p.m.,
her nurses began to feed her: a sort of tube food that goes
directly by tube into her stomach, 20 ml per hour (rfc'ers ask
"what flavor?" Vanilla. Her favorite.) As I left this evening,
she looks much better. Her nurses have begun to decrease her
sedation to bring her slowly awake. By late Friday or
Saturday, she may be awake. We'll see. The doctors have
come around to seeing her optimistically; she's still critical,
but making progress.
When Susan awakes, she'll think
it's Sunday afternoon, the day of the transplant. She'll have
lost an entire week. It'll be one long day for her.
Sunday morning, three people received heart transplants. The
other two are doing well. I met one of them this afternoon;
he was awake Sunday night and out of bed by Tuesday.
Today he went for a long walk up and down the hospital
corridor. He expects to be released by Saturday. He's a funny
guy: in his mid-50s. He was at home when they called him for
his transplant at midnight; he lives a hour away. His wife was
supposed to drive him, but she freaked out and became too
nervous, so he said "move over, I'll drive." He got on the
freeway and came tearing into Los Angeles at 95 to 100 miles
an hour. He was hoping that he'd get pulled over by the
police so that he could tell them that he was headed for his
heart transplant and get a siren escort, but, well, there's never
a cop when you need one!
He says that he has very
little pain and he feels great. I look forward hearing the same
Tomorrow, Friday, her nurses will
continue to wean her from the sedation. I'll report again
As I said through Mimi, she'll
continue to receive blood transfusions. Some of you have
asked if you can donate blood for her. That's a good idea. As
Mimi writes, just go to your local Red Cross or
Mail for her continues to arrive. There's a big
stack for her to see when she wakes up. Cards, pictures,
boxes, books, and so on..., from every state in the union,
from Canada, Mexico, Spain, Greece, Portugal, Taiwan,
Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Kuwait, just about every
major country. The nurses asked me if she's a celebrity. The
New York Times has sent e-mail and may do a story about
her. I had over 400 e-mails today. Susan's e-mail is probably
I feel much better in the past two days;
last night I was able to sleep without sedation, and only
awoke every few hours. I even managed to noticed that it was
rainy today. The rest of this week has been a blur for
Date: Friday January 26 22:42
Subject: Hattie Update
A short update today: Susan continues to
improve, hour by hour. She's still heavily sedated: when I say
her name, talk to her, or take her hand, she opens her eyes
and looks at me, but they slowly close again. The little statute
of Capt. Picard is above her bed: her heart surgeon looked at
it and said to me "he's had two hearts, you know."
there most of the day, chatting with her nurses, who are very
funny people; they look at clothes catalogs, gossip, tell jokes
and pass the time, watching Susan. With all the staff and
technology, she's the Million Dollar Woman. I've been re-
reading Walker Percy's The Moviegoer.
continues to get mail and her nurses ask me if she's a
celebrity or what. I told them about the net and all of you.
Her nurses told me to say hello to everyone.
night, perhaps from so much stress, I had back muscle
spasms; I limped into the ICU this morning and told the
nurses that I needed a bed as well. By this evening, I can walk
One of the nurses gave me a printout of Susan's
EKG, the heartbeat line from the monitor and showed me
something interesting. It shows a big jump and then several
small waves. In between, there's a tiny jump that called a P-
wave. Susan has two: one is her body's signal to the heart and
the second is the new heart's signal. The first squiggle is the
ghost of her first heart to which her new heart replies. I'll
scan it and put it on the web site in a few days.
From: Bill Kim
Sunday January 28 23:03 1996
Andreas asked me to post the
Things are extremely
Susan has been put on full mechanical support
-- the only thing keeping her alive at this point. Andreas will
be meeting with the family and doctors for a 3 PM
conference in which they will decide what to do. Andreas has
not given up, however. He has told me that as long as there is
high-level brain activity he will demand they continue
Do not give up on Susan. Susan and
Andreas need your support and positive thoughts now more
Date: Sunday January 28, 1996 1:25
Subject: A Turn for the Worse
sad to report that Susan has taken a turn for the
After not hearing anything from Andreas in
almost 2 days, I called him. He and Susan's sister are waiting
for Susan to come out of surgery (again).
what went wrong, but apparently her right heart failed. They
are now pumping her blood by machine.
isn't much else to report. She's been in surgery a couple of
hours now; Andreas promised to call again in about 2 more
I sure hate to ask this, but if you could pray
double time for her, it would help... how about every time a
Budweiser commercial airs during Super Bowl, you put in a
word for her.
The doctors aren't giving up on her... we
Date: Sunday January 28 21:04
Subject: Hattie Update
talked to Andreas again. Susan is extremely
They operated on Susan twice today. Basically,
she's bleeding from everywhere in her chest and because of
the medications she must receive to keep from clotting,
there's no way to stop it. She's now receiving 15 units of
blood every 2 hours. (To put that in perspective, your body
only contains 7 units.)
Her heart is beating, but not
pumping blood, so that is being done by machine. One lung
was shut down prior to the transplant due to the radiation
therapy she had 20 years ago; the other lung is not
functioning now, so her breathing is being done by
She's on complete life support, including 24-
hour dialysis. The doctors say that they hope the assistance
will allow the heart to rest so that it can resume normal
Tomorrow they will reduce her sedative and
wake her up long enough to measure brain activity. If there is
sufficient activity, she can be kept alive another week or two
in the hope that she will recover. In any case, a decision will
be made tomorrow about how to proceed.
family is at the hospital; Andreas' family is on their
Further updates will be posted as information is
Date: Sunday January 28 23:40
Subject: Sunday Night
sorry to say that Susan is doing very poorly. Yesterday,
Saturday, she held my hand and looked at me. I expected that
today she'd be able to get the tubes out of her throat. She had
been progressing very well the last four days.
morning, her heart collapsed because of the high pressures in
her lung. She began massive internal bleeding. She was
resuscitated several times. Her chest was reopened, to relieve
the pressure and to remove blood. She has been given
continuous transfusions all day. The blood comes in and goes
At 3 PM, her chest was opened yet again. It was a
pool of blood. They're looking for places to seal to stop the
bleeding. She's developed an infection in her lung. Her
kidneys have failed completely. Her body is retaining blood
to her torso; her feet and hands have no pulse and are cold
Tonight, at 10 PM, she'll be reopened again.
Her whole family is here; my parents are coming tomorrow;
Bill and Kelly flew down from Seattle.
has been stopped. After 12 hours (to clear the sedation from
her system), she'll be tested for neurological response. An
EEG test will determine her brain activity. If there is any
response, her doctors will maintain her on support until the
heart has a chance to recover. She's too weak for another
transplant. If there is brain damage, well...
Susan and I
talked about this several times in the past year. She doesn't
want to live with brain damage.
I've held her hand and
talked to her and caressed her face and kissed her. The poor
girl. I'm so scared. I love her very much. Please pray for
From: Susan Hattie
Date: Monday January 29 12:59
Subject: Susan Hattie
I send this from
Susan's e-mail account. It's Monday, the 29th of January,
1996. This morning, the neurologists examined Susan. They
found no evidence of neurological function. Her brain has
Susan has died.
My parents arrive soon, her
brother Stephen as well. Her brother Kenneth, her sister
Ellen, her mother Janet, and my friend Bill and Kelly are
I placed her wedding ring on her hand,
kissed her, and washed her face. We'll remove the tubes from
her mouth and wash her face. Then we'll turn off the
She loved everyone on rec.food.cooking, the
transplant list, the cookie jar. She enjoyed so much using the
net to talk with her friends around the world. She wanted me
to say good-bye for her to all of you.
She is dying
without pain. She looks so lovely.
Please find the
person you love and kiss them and let them know how much
you love them and appreciate them. Someday, you'll miss
them so much. And your cats, and, well, dogs
Good bye from Susan, Andreas, and the cats:
Willie, Dash, Theia, Sephy, and Orion.
Monday January 29 22:13 1996
Funeral and Wake...
On Tuesday, we drive back to
On Wednesday, 2 PM, Susan will be
buried in the Jewish cemetery in Sacramento. I don't have the
address yet: I'll post it tomorrow. Or, call my home phone
Tuesday after 6 pm Pacific time for directions. You're
invited. Casual attire (it's California) but no T-shirts,
On Saturday, 2 P.M. PST, we'll have a wake at
our place. rfc'ers bring their favorite foods. Ray is organizing
this. Let's try to make it a happy bon voyage. Again, call my
machine for directions. I'll also send a note and a map at my
web site. Ray and others are organizing car pools from the
If you want to make a donation, please
donate to your local society for cats. Or, Joann Van Arsdale
(sorry, no e-mail), a vet and close friend of Susan, is setting up
a perpetual trust fund in Susan's name for lost and abandoned
cats. Send to me and I'll forward to her.
Date: Tuesday 30 January
Susan's Obituary appeared in today's,
Tuesday, January 30, 1996, in the Sacramento Bee newspaper,
Born 2-26-55. Died 1-29-96. Graduate of
C. K. McClatchy High School, Sacramento City College,
University of California Davis, and McGeorge School of
Law. She practiced Elder Law. She is survived by her
husband Andreas Ramos, mother Janet, siblings, Kenneth,
Ellen, Steven; cats, Willie and Dash and many loving friends.
Preceded in death by her father Leon J. Steinsapir, MD Her
family thanks Kaiser South Sacramento and UCLA for her
Funeral: Home of Peace, 6200
Stockton Blvd., Wednesday, January 31st, at 2
Date: Thursday February 1 01:10
Subject: Hattie's Funeral and A Susan
I know you've had
about a million messages, and probably won't get to read
mine... but my heart aches for you. I miss her and I didn't
even know her. I feel sad, and I don't know what to do. I am
I read every single one. And cry over nearly
every one. Thank you very much for writing.
night, after all of the families arrived in Sacramento, several
of us began to tell the others (non-net) family about all of you
on the net. They asked me if they could see these messages. I
set up my laptop and our families crowded around and began
to read the messages, silently paging down. Soon, everyone
was crying again. There are so many beautiful and sad
messages, of people weeping in New Zealand, of people
writing from Canada, of people saddened in England... our
pain and sorrow is shared by so many.
I've cried since
Sunday. I can't believe the sense of loss of my wife, my best
friend, and my buddy. Me and Susan had a great time
So maybe I'll tell you about her funeral. It's
made me feel better; I still feel the sense of loss, but I've also
gotten so much from others. So many of you are grieving so
it'll help the sorrow a bit to hear that Susan had a nice
On a Wednesday, at 2 p.m., in light rain, we
held her funeral. It's a small Jewish cemetery, right across the
street from one of Susan's favorite Vietnamese restaurants.
102 people signed the guest book. We could have opened a
university: there were lawyers, doctors, professors, engineers,
computer people, politicians, writers, and so many other
people. Dan Flynn (who Susan met only a few months ago
via the net in a discussion about Sacramento restaurants)
found a friend at the city newspaper who interviewed Ellen
(Susan's sister) and wrote an article with a photo that
appeared in the papers this morning. It talked about how
Susan had touched so many on the net. Many of Susan's legal
colleagues and others came because of the article. Thanks,
Susan was dressed in a simple but beautiful dress,
along with a favorite necklace. She went in style: she wore
her favorite sparkling, bejeweled shoes. I included photos of
her cats, wedding photos of us, small personal mementos, and
her favorite Henckels chef's knife.
casket was a pale pink; we placed a portrait of her beside it
and a lit candle. There were a number of floral
The service was led by a cantor who sang several
songs and spoke: he reminded us that we should ask ourselves
"what did Susan teach us? What did we teach
Several family members gave short eulogies; Mo
Miller read a longer version of her e-mail that she posted here
the other day. I printed several poems that many of you have
sent and some of these were read: Cris Derrick's poem and
Michelle Campbell's poems were read. Ken (Susan's brother)
read Vicki Braun's "Death in Cyberspace" posting. Other
family and friends talked and remembered
Afterwards, six pallbearers carried Susan to her
resting place. They were: My father, Bill Kim (my brother in
spirit and close friend to us), Ray Bruman (a close friend to
both Susan and I), Maureen Miller (who wrote the above e-
mail about Susan), Deborah Behrens (a close friend and
colleague), Anne Bourget (a close friend to both Susan and
Well, traditionally, it should be six men, but all of
you know about Susan and her regard for
Susan's favorite newsgroup, rfc, was
represented by both Ray Bruman and Anne
We followed behind them. I carried a portrait
of Susan and walked with Ellen, her sister. We placed the
portrait along with several flowers atop the casket. I touched
her casket and kissed it good-bye. After a chant in Hebrew,
she was lowered. We took turns scattering dirt onto her
Afterwards, many of us went to her mother's
home. There was some food. I've lost my appetite since all of
this happened and I only ate a few strawberries. But it was so
nice to meet so many of our friends. I went around and
around the house, welcoming people, introducing people to
each other, and talking with people. Many were telling Susan
stories: Susan's wit, audacity, and boldness made her a loose
cannon in this tired world. I'll try to collect some of these
stories and post them here for you.
People cried and
people laughed. Everyone talked so openly. So much love
and emotion between everyone and so many hugged me and
talked with me; Susan brought so many people together. I felt
both very sad and very happy, to see how people loved Susan
and many told me what Susan had said to them about me. She
loved me so much.
On Saturday, Feb. 3rd, 2 PM
Pacific Time, we're holding a wake at our home. It should be
a happy wake. If it's like the reception, we're going to have a
great time. Susan would be so happy to see us happy. Ray and
Mo and others told me that people were sending regrets from
New Zealand that they couldn't come to Susan's wake. So...
why not a cyberwake? Since we have friends around the
globe and in all 24 time zones, let's declare Saturday, the 3rd
of January, to be Susan Hattie Steinsapir's Wake. You can get
together with others in your city and tell your favorite Susan
stories and have something tasty to eat, and post to
rec.food.cooking (which is widely distributed). I'll try to
collect more Susan stories and post them.
I'll start by
telling a Susan Story...
Susan loves cats. She rounds up
lost kittens and drops them off with friends "just for the
weekend" which usually turns out to be forever. Her mother
had Laila, a 23-year old Siamese, who was a beautiful lady cat.
Susan had known Laila forever.
One day, her mother
called late at night and began talking about odd things. Susan
interrupted and said "tell me why you're calling." So her
mother said that Laila had died. Susan asked what happened
to the body. Her mother said that she had tossed her into the
garbage. Susan slammed down the phone. We talked about it,
dressed in black, and at 2 am, snuck into her yard to look for
Laila. We found her in the garbage, took her home, and
cleaned her up.
We figured we'd bury her under her
mother's rose bushes that coming weekend when she'd be
out of town. Since it was summer and very warm, we curled
up the poor girl, put her in a plastic bag, and put her in the
freezer. Susan went over and looked at the rosebushes to pick
out the one. But her mother stayed in town for the weekend.
And the next. And the next.
Well, Laila was in our
freezer for about six months. Friends would ask "what kind
of cats do you have?" and Susan would say five live ones and
one popsicle cat.
Our Japanese housekeeper opened the
freezer one day, looked, and shouted "what that?!?" Susan
said it's Laila. She shouted "but Laila dead!" The housekeeper
couldn't figure out how Laila should show up several months
later in our freezer.
So finally, her mother asked
Susan's opinion as to whether she should go on a cruise.
Great! Susan urged her mother to go on the cruise just so we
could bury Laila. So she left and we thawed out
We went over and while Susan directed, I spread
newspapers around so there wouldn't be any tracks and
carefully dug up a rose bush and dug down very deep. Susan
gave a short talk about Laila's life, sprinkled at least half a bag
of Laila's favorite cat food on her, stripped the rose bushes
and added flowers. Laila looked so happy. We covered her up
and removed all the evidence.
Several weeks later, the
Japanese woman walked into the living room and said to
Susan "where Laila? She no in freezer. Maybe you eat her?"
Susan told her that we buried her. But we wouldn't tell her
where we buried Laila so that her mother wouldn't find
Our housekeeper spent Tuesdays at our place and
Wednesdays at Susan's mother's place. So of course she
talked. One day, we're at her mother's place and she finally
says "What's this that I hear that you buried Laila in my
garden?" Her mother asked if we really kept Laila for six
months in our freezer, along with the venison and ice cubes.
Susan denied everything.
Her mother still walks
around the garden, trying to figure out where we buried
Now that's a Susan Story: it makes me cry and
laugh. What a girl. I hope you've laughed too and makes you
feel a bit better.