Monday, July 2, 2012

Emergency Room

Paul was transported to the emergency room today. His nurse at the nursing home, a kind lady named Soledad, called me and said she was very concerned about him. Paul's pulse had dropped to 44 and he had an odd twitch on the right side of his face. She was calling an ambulance and wanted me to know. I asked her if it was serious enough for me to skip work and she said yes. I told her I'd meet him at the hospital.

On the ride over, by the way about a 40 minute ride to the town of Escondido, I listened to Steve Reich. I have a knack, when things get bad, to check out on-drift off on- something I feel passionate about, something that can completely take my cares away. Another person might drink or drive fast, I find a piece of music. And so I listened intently, to Reich's Music For 18 Musicians. And floods of arranging ideas came to me for my next album, visions like musical sugar plum fairies. 

By the time I reached the emergency room I was pretty much high as a kite. Very propitious timing; I happened to arrive at the same time Paul's transport--straight from the nursing home--arrived and was pulling his gurney out the back door. I hollered, Hi Paul! and he smiled a huge, rather toothless, grin back at me. The paramedics said later "Paul was uncommunicative and unresponsive until he saw you". 

He still wants to see us, those he knows and loves. And I wish there were more of us here in San Diego. But this is, what is. 

That synchronistic timing reminded me of the time we were to meet one another in Brussels, Belgium...he flying in and me catching a train, and somehow we both managed, quite serendipitously,  to catch the very same car of the same shuttle into downtown Brussels. Very odd. Not quite as spectacular today, but still, we are, in tune.

At any rate, whatever medical condition he'd had earlier had righted itself and he was working at his normal rate of consciousness now. The paramedics wheeled Paul into the cubicle. The emergency room doc came in and and did some checking and speculated that Paul may have had a mini stroke or a small seizure. As is often the case, the doctor turned to me and said: Pretty young for him to have dementia. (he's 64). And so I gave him a run down of the bicycle accident and brain injury so many years ago. The doctor grimaced and asked what Paul used to do for a living. He was a writer I said, mostly about rock and roll, started the first rock magazine, but also he wrote about other writers. "Who's your favorite author Paul? the doctor asked. Paul said "Philip K Dick, ....(the doctor shrugged) ..he's a science fiction author. ....Blade Runner". The doctor said "Ahh, yes."

"Well", the doctor said turning to me, "It sounds like he's had a pretty full life,... full of adventures." And I agreed.

After hours of CT scans, x-rays and blood tests, with nothing found amiss it was time for Paul to be transported back to the nursing home. Ironically he got the same two paramedics. As we were awaiting the final paper work they started asking Paul some simple questions: What year is it? Paul: 2006. His answer was closer than on the way to the hospital when he'd thought it was 1974.

I told them he had written books, mostly about rock and roll music, especially from the 1960s. So they asked him what he thought about Pink Floyd ("That's pretty much the 70s" I said) and Deep Purple ("1970s again") they finally thought of a 1960s band and asked about the Doors. Paul did a big hearty two thumbs up.

And off they go, me waving "See you tomorrow!" my usual line, even when it isn't so. But he won't remember.


  1. I don't know how you do it, Cindy Lee Berryhill, but you always manage to pen blogs that wrench my heart, engage my mind, and uplift my spirit at the same time. Some writer, you.

  2. these posts speak to me. thx. different angle on the in the past...but these posts really speak to m.

  3. Thank you for the encouraging comments posted here.
    The update on Paul today is he is doing much better. Yesterday at this time he was unresponsive to the nursing home staff, not eating, drooling, twitching on one side of his face and the very low heart rate. Today back to his normal (progressive dementia)...

    Tomorrow, Fourth of July, Alexander and I will go visit...

  4. Hi Cindy - I have such strong and fond memories of Paul hanging out with my band Translator in 1984. We were mixing an album in NYC. He ended up writing about it in his wonderful book, "The Map". Will you please tell him that Translator sends him lots of love! Give him a big hug from us!!

    All good things,
    Steve Barton

  5. Apropos Steve's comment, in NYC, Paul slept in the small suite we shared, he'd brought a suitcase, so he'd look legit (we were paying for 4, not 5), and when he opened it, he'd brought a sleeping bag. I thought that was the cleverest thing. We had some great late night chats, talking music and life (which were, for all of us of course) completely intertwined. So, seconding Steve, we all send our love.
    Dave Scheff

  6. Dave, That's a great bit of story there...what was Paul doing in NY, was he traveling with you guys, what year was this?
    One of the things I'd like to do with this blog is get people that knew Paul to tell us a story about their time with Paul, especially a particular time and place...

    ...and thank you too Steve. I know Paul was very passionate about your bands music. He spoke to me about hanging out with you guys and how much he loved your music and something you represented artistically...

    One of my all time favorite singles...."Everywhere That I'm Not"

  7. Hey Cindy - Your blog has brought many a tear to my eye over the time you've been writing it. Yes, as Dave and Steve mentioned, Paul was an integral part of the Translator process while we wrote, pre-produced and recorded our last album... I remember him sitting no more than 2 feet away from me when we recorded the song "Evening of the Harvest"... His eyes shut, swaying, listening in the headphones to the same mix as I... When it was over, he came over to me with tears in his eyes and without saying a word gave me a huge hug.
    How do you forget something like that??? I also remember when he accompanied us to NYC for the mixing and he and I went into one of those many electronic gadget stores in Times Square so he could by his first CD player... Little did I know there was a method to his madness for as soon as we got back to the Bay Area he went on some radio show and played 3 different versions of "Honky Tonk Woman" (The mono 45; the stereo 33 and the CD version)... His point: the mono 45 kicked ass over all of them...! Gotta love that... Love and strength to you all. - Larry

  8. Gotta love it. Great story Larry...

    That tale about Paul taking in the 3 versions of Honky Tonk Woman reminds me of a story he would tell from the Beach Boys SMiLe sessions. He was there for a few days while Brian Wilson lead the guys through a lot of harmonies and weird noise making (Paul joined them on the noises)...Anyways, Carl Wilson brought in a single he picked up in England (was it Otis Reading?) at any rate he'd just bought the American single that day and played it in the studio and Hated It...took the vinyl and broke it over his knee.

  9. Loved all these and Facebook comments. Of course, me and the Dickheads particularly like this from your post: "The doctor grimaced and asked what Paul used to do for a living. He was a writer I said, mostly about rock and roll, started the first rock magazine, but also he wrote about other writers. "Who's your favorite author Paul? the doctor asked. Paul said "Philip K Dick."

    Pretty savvy still ;) As always, thank you for keeping us up-to-date, and once again blessings to all of you.

  10. ....yes still glimpses in there of the great man

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  12. Paul is ever in my thoughts, God bless him and you.