Orley keeps ‘em smiling at UMMC


So, I went up to University Medical Center Friday afternoon to visit my old pal Orley Hood. He was on his fifth day of chemo treatment getting ready for a bone marrow transplant scheduled for next Wednesday.

I hoped to cheer him up. Fat chance. It’s hard to cheer up somebody who treats every day like a gift from Santa Claus. Instead, he cheered me up. His attitude throughout his ordeal — since getting diagnosed with acute leukemia on 11/11/11 — has been nothing short of inspiring.

Orley Hood

Orley has made best friends with the nurses and many other patients and keeps them laughing. When I saw him today, he was just back from a 30-minute walk, pushing his chemo along with him, around and around the fifth floor.

You’ll love this part of our conversation:

Me: “So I hear you are getting your bone marrow from a 21-year-old woman.”

Orley: “Yeah, when I get out of here I’m going to go out for cheerleader.”

He insisted on taking me down to visit the children’s playroom on the 5th floor where the Mississippi Braves have decorated a part of it and called it the dugout.

I used my C Spire I-phone to take these photos:

   “Makes you love the Braves even

more doesn’t it?” Orley said.

It does.

One bit of bad news: The UMC cable doesn’t get the Braves games, so Orley is enduring a case of Braves withdrawal along with his chemo. I had to describe every pitch of Craig Kimbrell’s ninth inning, three-strikeout save last night, also Evan Gattis’s pinch-hit home run.

“Kimbrell’s slider just isn’t fair,” Orley said. “Those guys are so much fun to watch. What’s it going to be like when they get Freddie Freeman back, not to mention Brian McCann.”

My question: What do they do with Gattis when McCann comes back?

“Nice problem to have,” Orley said, and he is right.

But back to Orley’s health. He’s optimistic. His doctor is optimistic.

If attitude has anything to do with it, OHood is going to knock leukemia out of the ballpark, a la the Upton brothers.

Mary Ann, Orley’s lovely wife (M.A. to long-time readers of Orley’s columns, put it best on Orley’s CaringBridge page:

” I wish that all of you could spend a little time with Orley and see how amazing he his. He never feels sorry for himself or questions why this happened to him. In fact he just doesn’t spend a lot of time dwelling on it at all. Says it’s just a bad break and he’s living life to the fullest each day. In fact, he does everything he can to make everyone around him more comfortable – the nurses, housekeepers, doctors – making them laugh and telling stories. It’s just incredible how he has handled the last 16 months.”

You can keep up with Orley: http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/orleyhood

2 Responses to Orley keeps ‘em smiling at UMMC

  1. Hap April 19, 2013 at 6:11 pm #

    Can we go visit him???

    I thought he might be quarantined during the treatment.

  2. Rick Cleveland April 19, 2013 at 10:04 pm #

    Call ahead. So far, so good.

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