Dear sweet friends and family,
Here is a story of Seattle, COVID, Clare and I, 3/29-4/1/20, a Battle in Seattle
Alone in going and alone in coming back was my call because I didn’t think it prudent to put anyone in position to go with me into one of the most absolute epicenters of COVID19. I not only was going to Seattle but into a hospital in Seattle. Enough said. But I knew I was going to put someone in that unattractive yet necessary role of being with me after my procedure, to be escorted out of the hospital while still in somewhat of a la-la-land post anesthesia state. Clare was my hopeful choice but it was still up to her whether she would feel safe being with me. Turned out she was ‘100%’ in. I was confident that she would be there for me but still she lived in Bellingham in a mini epicenter herself and was concerned for me that she might be a carrier. A risk I was happy to take.
The chances of me being a carrier were in my opinion very low but I am at very high risk for contracting any virus frankly because not only am I ‘an aged one’ but I am also immuno-compromised and because of my liver lab results were not in a healthy state. She had to be willing to take on that risk. How much risk I was to put her in was my responsibility and I chose to be collaborative with that. I talked with her, Pam Curry (a neighbor and good friend), her mom, and others near and far. With Pam Curry’s help here I got masks, gloves, sanitizer enough for three once I found out Clare was bringing a very dear friend of hers, Eli too, along with his most generous offer to drive her.
I had booked a room at the Collegiana Hospitality House where I typically stay for these things. Upon further reflection I also decided to minimize contact with her even more by not asking them to come until after my procedure which was scheduled for Monday morning at 11. They wouldn’t have to arrive until 1-2PM, and I decided they didn’t need to come up into the hospital to retrieve me as usual but would arrange with Dr. Balmadrid’s staff to wheel me to the curb outside at the appointed time. Then even further still, I booked another room next door to mine for them to stay so that we wouldn’t be sharing the same space for that night while I see if I am going to be okay to travel home the next day. I didn’t expect to have any hugs or much of any interactions closer than 6 feet. This is the pain I most have to endure going there this time believe me.
On the plane to Seattle there were maybe 10 passengers spread out as far away from each other as we could which made conversation virtually impossible. Then there is the mask thingy. Many have masks on like me and even if I did try to talk to someone, it’s a muffled mess and neither party has much of a face to express with anyway leaving human interaction down to almost nothing.
The walk to the light rail station from the terminal is long. It’s late and lonely on the train too, just a handful of passengers mostly comprised of marginally normal citizens and homeless people, several just talking to themselves or ‘an invisible person nearby’. I have an hour long ride to the end of the line and a short LYFT ride to the Collegiana. The hotel is not attended on weekends or evenings and I have to be let off at an office building two blocks away that has a security person there 24 hrs/day so that I can pick up my key then haul myself down to the hotel. I think I got in around 11pm. On the trip there I found out that my procedure had been rescheduled to 9am the next morning instead of 11.
I haven’t eaten much since dinner in Boise before leaving and I have to fast anyway before the procedure in order to not throw up during the procedure. I was thankful it wasn’t very cold that night too because the long walk to and then standing at the rail station outside can be pretty brutal.
The LYFT driver and I had a nice little interaction being a LYFT guy myself that brought a bright spot into the mix. He was a foreign born guy with a guitar in his trunk that he offered to have me play when I said I knew a few cords…not that they could possibly be strung together in any meaningful or recognizable way, so I passed.
There is a university shuttle bus that picks up and runs between the clinics and hospitals that normally runs every 15 minutes but as I passed the pick up zone outside the hotel there was a sign saying it wasn’t running according to the usual schedule and there was no way for me to know exactly what that meant, so I had to prepare to leave and stand outside in the early morning coolness earlier than my usual routine. Since I didn’t plan on being outside very long that day (only that initial wait for the shuttle and later being picked up by Clare and Eli into a warm, dry car) I didn’t put on my sweater, didn’t wear my gloves or hat or umbrella. I’ve learned not to take anything to the hospital that is not absolutely necessary since I have to store whatever I have in a ‘patient belongings’ bag after signing off that I take responsibility to relieve responsibility of anything happening to it while under anesthesia.
Turns out I make it to my procedure check in on time. I’m very pleased with myself. The check in crew has put my hospital wrist band thingy on me and I am waiting for GeeGee (It’s always GeeGee) to come out to get me to take me back to the prep bed, etc. But instead of GeeGee, out comes Dr. Balmadrid himself! Usually we talk after I am prepped with my IV tube installed and dressed so smartly in my wonderful green hospital gown with the tie in the back. I always have questions for him and he always expresses his concerns having reviewed my labs and recent history. But here he is now out in the unusually deserted waiting area sitting knee to knee with me. He without mask and me with mask muffling my eagerness to see him without facial expression or handshake.
He leans well forward in his chair to quietly and carefully tell me that the hospital has begun a new protocol that started that morning without warning that requires all patients to be COVID tested before any procedures. He gives me a paper with an address a few blocks away and a phone number to call to schedule that. He thinks they will be able to test me relatively soon but no promises, and if I’m negative, he is pretty darn sure I can get in for my procedure the next morning.
Gee whiz!…I can think of other ways that I could more accurately express this particular sentiment. The bottomline is however, now what?
He leaves and there I sit on the eighth floor of Harborview hospital looking out a bank of windows overlooking a big portion of Seattle and sky. Ever since arriving the sky has been indecisive but this particular moment dark clouds rule followed quickly to reveal a patch of open blue sky then rolling along again to darker, dark, light, open, rain, a patch of openness, and on. The sky can’t make up it’s sky mind what it should do or wants to do or is forced to do. I know I have no control over it. That I know. All feels very uncertain.
In the days ahead I will have walked a lot down many streets by myself or with Clare. No one seems certain either. The street population is almost nonexistent. Around the hospital there are a few healthcare people scurrying about but they walk past the same homeless population that has been out here through thick and thin, day in and literally day out. They certainly see life through uncertain lenses. No one asks them what they think of it all.
I call Clare right way to tell her that everything, like down feathers in my hands, thrown up in the drafty air. Should she come now? Should she turn back? When should she come? How is this going to play out? She and Eli are bringing food. I haven’t eaten in a good while. She tells that they have just gotten on the road and are not going to turn back. Okay then.
I next call the number Dr. B has given me to schedule my COVID test. It’s for 11am. There is an address a few blocks away. I am hungry. I leave the building not really thinking things through. I can’t just reenter the hospital without going through the ER entrance across the street again. I’m not prepared for the weather. It’s windy and turned much colder. I don’t have my sweater or gloves or hat. I’m shivering trying to find where I can get some food while I wait for my test. I’m asking random people on the street where to get something, at this point anything. Someone points to a place down the street they think is open, a little coffee shop. Whew, it is! I get a coffee and muffin but I’m not allowed to stay inside to eat it. Back into the cold again the only warmth is coming from the coffee cup in my left hand. I literally beg the guards at the ER to let me sit just inside the door away from people going in and out. I still have a good bit of time before heading over for my test and I figure they will have a place to sit and wait inside. When I find the address it turns out it is just a tent on the sidewalk. Two aids ask me if they can help because I am not sure I’m in the right place. They assure me I am and say, I don’t have to wait. I am escorted to a single plastic chair on the street under an awning. I sit there a little while alone while they go inside their tent to get me situfied. (pronounced ‘sitch-you-fied’. This is a word Clare invented when she was a teenager that means something like ‘situation being handled’. I think it is a remarkably good word.)
The aids come out with one or two very, very long (I’m talking twelve inch long) swabs that they proceed to, after having me lean my head back sufficiently, stick up my nasal passage clear back far enough to reach my mid brain. It is not a quick little swabbing either. I am squirming with a good bit of yee-oowee! Then they inform me they will be doing the other nasal passage…just to be sure to harvest enough material. When they finish they inform me that the results will come back in 24-48 hrs. What?! I’m supposed to have my procedure by next morning at 9am.
Still shivering madly, I now have to call Dr. B to let him know that it will be 24 hrs at least before the test result gets back. Thankfully he tells me that it will probably only take half a day. But of course, I don’t know if it’s going to be positive or negative.
I wander down several streets to where the pick up for the shuttle is and just stand shivering until it comes by to take me back to my room. I get there just a few minutes before Clare arrives. When I see her,more than anything I want to do what we always do…hold each other in a long embrace sighing with gladness to be together again…all is right with the world again but it’s not.
After getting the two of them masked and gloved they get situfied in their room. We fall into family mode and I catch them up on what’s happening. I have to cancel my flight home knowing it’s non-refundable and not knowing when the flight feather is going to land. I’m not sure when but I reach out to a small part the network of friends and family to give a little of what is changing.
Clare arranges food delivery and we pick out one of their generation’s favorite movies from the DVD collection at the hotel, School of Rock. It was memorable watching them sing the songs and lip synch the lines of the characters.
I didn’t hear a word from Harborview so we went to bed in our own rooms with a plan for the next day. I haven’t been sleeping too well lately and this night was no exception but I had a lot to look forward to with what I hoped and you, my support system hoped would be the usual outcome…discovery and reprieve.
Tuesday morning I got up quite early because now the check in was at 8am so off I went by myself. I usually bring lots of chocolate for Dr. B and his team. I didn’t let them down. The only problem is I think they might be unconsciously making mistakes so that my procedures don’t last as long because when I come, I think I hear them all cheering back there, “Pat’s back! Yeah! He has chocolate!” It’s a Pavlovian thing.
Dr. B never knows before hand what he’s going to do because he doesn’t know what he will find when he goes in there leaving us both like the Seattle weather outside, uncertain. Without going into the strange lab numbers I have exhibited of late and the completely unexpected downturn so quickly, Dr. Byran was there to greet me as I came out from anesthesia. He is a crazy honest physician I’m gonna say right now. What I’m about to tell you some physicians could cover up easily but he said he was totally surprised to see one of the stents he took out in February had migrated basically upstream and back to block my major duct. Usually the body just flushes it out. He said he has never seen that happen before or heard of such a thing happening ever.
He put new stents in and we are hoping to not see me again for 6 months. I think he was just as relieved to find a good explanation as I to why the lab numbers were telling us a confusing story.
Clare was at the curb to pick me up. Eli had gone to visit his family in Tacoma while I was under and now it was just me and Clare. I moved her into my room for the follow up night. All was well. We always have very stimulating conversations and we did some bodywork on each other.
The next morning we found some coffee and muffins. She took me to the airport 2 hours early so she could get on her way to meet Eli for a little R & R in a cabin on the Olympic peninsula.
I’m back although I feel like Joe Frazier slugged me in the stomach which is what I feel like after some procedures but have nothing to complain about and everything to be grateful about…YOU ALL MOSTLY! From time to time I find myself suddenly taken by the spirit of gratefulness to the point of tears. I am going to call on you, and I’ve said this recently to some, to find something, anything that you truly feel grateful for and STAY IN that feeling for as long as you can! Hopefully you will experience a tremendous feeling of liberation from whatever you might be holding onto stress-wise.
The generosity you showed me and Clare as my beneficiary in the donations raised for us back in 2014 is still providing me with necessary out of pocket means to continue this most amazing ride! I wish I could feel I deserve it. Thank you, my dear friends. God is as good as we let Him/Her to be. I feel blessed to be a servant of my Lord.
Bless you all, each and every one,
God @ work. God @ work. Sometimes I think God has the easy part. There is a lot of work involved, real work…but it seems I’m the one doing all the work! It’s not that I envy the Creator side and the management side, I’m just saying.
We, and I include myself more than anyone, have many ideas of who, what, where, and why God is. There is clearly a long-standing drive within me/us that looks deeper, higher, and in all times for meaning and explanation for whatever Is and what was. There is no better a mystery thriller than a life on the planet. It’s not a quick read either…it continues unfolding. A friend of mine, Steve Bhaerman a.k.a. Swami Beyondananda who also goes by the moniker, the Cosmic Comic says, “We are all unique…just like everybody else.” It’s a different story for every person. Many people may not think they have a very good story to tell but my experience leads me to not believe anyone who tells me that. When I get people to talk about themselves, it’s almost always crazy and almost always crazy amazing (and sometimes unbelievable) even when they don’t think so.
I just watched an episode of The Twilight Zone, maybe #23 or so with Pam Curry here on the solstice 12.21.18. It was about a man who contracted an alchemist 2000 yrs ago to make him not age while the everyone else’s lifespan came and went. He forever adapted to the changes in culture and clothes yet he never gained any real wisdom and died at the hand of an ex-wife who he jilted for yet another young woman. None of this matters except that it got me to think of my situation. Except for the miracle of transplant and Roni, the love and mission of being here for my daughter, Clare, and the love and support of so many, I should have died 4 yrs ago.
Here I am still living in this body albeit with some new and challenging plumbing but my mind still works, my body still works relatively the same as before BUT I should have died or passed on 4 years ago! How has what has happened changed me? What am I doing with this new life? Is this a “do over”? Is this a sign by God that I am to be something different from what I was? Should I do something different with my time? Use my experience to some new use? Develop something new? New insight? New realization? Another opportunity for…what?
Here I am 4 yrs out and what have I to show for it? What does it mean? Granted I am making attempts to write a memoir. I’ve renewed my membership at the Y. I still have the phone number from before transplant. I’ve joked about being 4 yrs old this last summer not the 70 I ‘would have been’ or am.? I sometimes struggle to write something meaningful when in fact everything is meaningful. Sometimes I have a fuller realization of this, however most times it is intellectual abstraction. I can’t deny that I am different in some ways. Certainly more grateful. Most times more easy to talk about God, my mortality, my journey, my life with Clare mostly, and how dedicated I am to earning enough to pay for her final year of college. I am doing my part with my faith community pitching in on the operations, contributing to discussions and caring for others, tithing when it certainly didn’t make sense to and now making more and not actually tithing ‘enough’, whatever that means.
I settle into my work as a sports official with a certain joy but it’s not over-the-top in any way that might be obvious to others. I am a Uber/Lyft driver. It is a beautiful way to flow with people and do a bit of service, make a few impressions quietly in the few moments we share in the sanctity of my quiet little Prius. I don’t really know if it’s that more special than any other kind person driving out there. I do have people crying and grieving and telling me very personal stuff sometimes. I have had spontaneous prayer sessions in my car. My journey of miraculous transplant comes up from time to time and gives reason for riders to pause. Sometimes my car takes on a unexpectedly therapeutic mission.
My life in general is pretty amazing yet not really. Not so really deep down fundamentally, crazy amazing that I am making profound statements everywhere I go with everyone I meet kind of crazy amazing.
I am living within my means. Not taking any risks. Slowly rising up and getting more able to maybe do more things besides putting money aside for Clare. I keep telling myself and others my plans to finish Clare’s education with the sub-plan that in the spring when I’ll be done, I’ll then devote a full time writer’s dedication to writing. My life is still on the edge of uncertainty almost as much as before. My liver enzymes are and have been wacky again after two yrs of normalcy. What if I die a miserable death from these complications before I get my ‘oh-so-amazing’ writing out?? Then what?
When you were growing up we always said our prayers before bed. The most significant part was saying what we were thankful for that day as well as bringing to mind who was important in our lives. I don’t know about you but with me if I don’t re-member the good that has come my way then that good starts to fade like muscles not used. Maybe it actually is one of the explanations for miracles…the belief more and more that love and good come from a well of gratitude within us and if we don’t bring that bucket up from deep within, our thirst won’t be quenched during times of drought.
Let’s be conscious with our love for one another by making sure in our private time we recall our thanks for whatever we can. Recently, I have not been as deliberate as I once was with this. I notice that when I do though that it is hard for me to doubt the presence of love in my life as is evidence in what has happened to me with Roni and so many others. And I am much more attentive to seeing others when in need.
This is a compilation of entries from August through December 2019
My last posts were two poems that gave an energetic place for the suffering and dying experiences to have shape. This opened up something in my experience, my more creative side, in my writing. I like what I got some inkling for. I saw the value it has of putting into words what is very difficult to understand in other ways. Many artists touch this place in their drawings or sculpture or music or poetry.
I also talked about the latest ERCP, prayer and Clare. As quick follow up to my August 2019, Univ of Washington transplant evaluations and consultations, blood tests has returned to healthy normal ranges. They were allowing me to lower my dosages on rejection meds again on my advocacy for that. I still hold on to the notion that my body can fully accept and transform this liver into ME thereby removing the need to fight rejection which would eliminate the rejection meds. I also would love to have the peripheral neuropathy lessen in my hands and feet. I also have been observing that my blood pressure has been increasing over time getting into the 150+/90+ area, sometimes higher. It is one of the side effects of the meds. So now I am in the mode of discovery to find out whether I can lessen this effect through natural means. I will be starting a program of nutritional supplements to throw a good amount of extra support into my cardiovascular system. I also, have been changing my inner awareness/thoughts to open more doors to balance this drug effect. One of the more significant inspirations along these lines has come from a book, Dying to be Me by Anita Moorjani (I am in the process of writing a book review/commentary about it, mostly as a writing practice). She experienced a near death experience/NDE as she was about to pass away from a 4 year journey with terminal cancer. In that short journey out of her body and down the tunnel of connection, if it’s fair to use her as a template, we apparently all pass through this type experience to the other side, she experienced herself as a pure, magnificent spirit, free of all conflict in her mind and body! Guess what? Upon return back, the cancer disappeared not to her surprise but to everyone else’s. This experience of pure magnificence is what I am making steps towards…without having to die first. I do know from experience what it feels like to be in my body AND free of my body at the same time. Commonly we experience this when our brain is in theta wave which is a wavelength we pass through going into and out of sleep, also in some meditative states and perhaps in some drug induced states from cannabis and psychedelics. I believe that the difference maker is in the area of intention as far as launching a prolonged healing of disease. I’ve learned that there are only about 3500 cases of documented NDEs and brain waves are not measured with these experiences that I know of. So bottom line…I’m in process. We’ll see how it comes out.
I do blood test pretty regularly and the last one (Sept 29) showed that my liver enzymes are rising again. UW thinks it is the lowering of my meds that is driving it. I’m not so sure yet. We are in another process of raising them again. My followup blood work (Oct 11) now shows the enzymes rising at an alarming rate yet again even with the raise in medication dosages. Again, as has been my intuition, it is not rejection but stent failure/obstruction. I am scheduled for another ERCP on Friday, Nov 1. Please send your prayers to Dr. Balmadrid for his continued stealth and steady hand in another discovery and stent replacement.
I DID NOT SEND THIS UPDATE THEN. I THOUGHT I’D WAIT TIL AFTER TO REPORT THE USUAL GOOD NEWS AFTER NOVEMBER 1st. TO BE CONTINUED…
In the weeks prior to heading to Seattle for the Nov. 1 ERCP, I continued to decline to the point where when I got on the plane to fly there that morning I hadn’t slept in 3 days, had a low grade fever, the bilirubin had built up in my system to a high degree causing constant itching, my urine had been agent orange color for weeks and feeling like I was peeing out fire. The procedure went very well as usual and with Clare at my side, all the better. The procedure was a late morning one on that Friday. I was released in the mid afternoon. Clare accompanied me to my usual UW guest accommodations where I planned on resting/sleeping overnight so that I could return Saturday. However, by 10pm that night, I broke into a very high fever, chills and within an hour was vomiting. We were forced to go the ER where we spent the night me going through scans and blood tests, etc., talking to various docs, hooked up to a boatload of antibiotics and fever reducers, hydration drips while my dear Clare without a place to rest herself eventually curled up on the floor and apparently fell asleep. I was admitted to the hospital in the early morning Saturday being finally told that the way forward was unknown and of uncertain duration. Clare had to cancel my flight back not knowing when I would be able to go. Clare was unprepared physically and emotionally to handle all this uncertainty and opened up to me about it. It was a challenging morning. She needed support. Serendipitously, Pam, a dear friend from Boise felt compelled to just get on a plane to be here for me and Clare. This knowledge came as much needed support for Clare and by that afternoon Pam was there too. Around that same time, my fever broke and I was able to fall asleep later in the evening after Clare arranged a mobile massage therapist to make the first ever visit to see a patient in this hospital. Having slept all night for the first time in days, I was in very good spirits on Sunday morning. Clare also made many calls to friends and family over that time to keep at least some people apprised of the situation. I was informed that I would be released later that afternoon. Clare had some vital regenerative soul work to do that evening, Pam accompanied me back to the guest house for even more sleep. We all met for a traditional and celebratory breakfast at Portage Bay, a most sumptuous restaurant in the U district. One of Clare’s dear friends took Pam and I to the airport and I was in my own bed later on Monday. I began a slower but steady recovery with only great thanks to so many friends and prayers and doctors and nurses and Christ and those wonderful invisible cohorts that guide and support not only my life but all our lives whether we know it or not.
I’ve been given another goal of trying to make it with the current stents for 5 months and take it from there.
I sit here two days before Thanksgiving breathing in the sweetness of life and the radiance of God surrounding all of us…and within me…
And now again, in mid December fully engaged in a life still unfolding with meaning and new purposes. This is my life journey and I accept as much as I am able. Back to work with being a sports official in the evenings, a rideshare driver whenever the spirit moves me, and now after a month of online chiropractic continuing educational course work, I’ve have relicensed myself as of Monday, December 9! I am planning on finding a way to be of service to others again in the healing arts in 2020.
Much love to all who follow…and many who don’t! Thank you, thank you.
December 13, 2019
The healthcare world is going down a troubling road…’modern’ medicine is walking down a sympathetic nervous system like path that cannot bring us as a society into balance and health. So much is a crisis. So much is fear-based. We are continuously looking for what’s wrong instead of what’s right. It seems the only options given are take a drug, take another test, or let’s do surgery. Yet every drug is oppositional to ‘letting the body’ figure out how to resolve a dilemma. Every drug disturbs healthy function which basically means ‘you will have side effects’. The facts are that every drug puts the natural systems into a defensive reaction. Allopathy (the term for modern medicine) means ‘allo’/anti, pathology/disease put together means anti-disease after all. We are participating in a system that is not for something, it is against something.
(All of us in the health care delivery system learned in our basic physiology classes about the central nervous system (CNS). This is divided into two systems: the parasympathetic side which in simplistic terms is the part that takes care of ‘rest and digest’ activities., and the sympathetic side that is our fight or flight system that should only be used for actual threats to our life. Only when the parasympathetic system dominates is there the potential and ability for healing and therefor health.)
This ‘anti’ mentality is pervading not only our personal lives but so much of our society and the world order even. We are more and more taking a combative approach to our natural world. It is driven by ignorance of basic science. Ignorance of how systems work. It is not that the knowledge is not out there. We are just not using it.
We are seeing this mentality promote attitudinal behaviors of greed breed survival approaches, pride brings self-centeredness instead of cooperativeness, and envy promotes class behaviors.
On the flip side where does gratitude in our daily lives live? Where does sharing live? (Our society gives less/donates less than in previous times.)
Even more troubling, where has trust gone?Where has trust in ourselves and our body gone?
TERMINAL…in the depths
A life being discarded,
apparently preparing to be recycled,
tossed into a painful uncertain sea,
death an unknown door in the distance
The edges all fade
into a grey, half light.
There are no sunrises, sunsets,
no brisk clear air,
just a body bag breathing.
Time…confined to the next breath.
The mind…fusses in irrelevance,
dull, grasping, unfocused,
The body…appalling, naked,
without purpose or meaning,
in a searing, writhing stew,
infantile and helpless.
The heart…trickles energy,
reaches, longs to touch
the other or be touched
by friend, nurse, daughter, my God.
and somehow find a sweetness,
Time…still confined to the next breath and
why in God’s name, get another?…
Even tho I had no real relief from my suffering for another couple months until I had my first ERCP from John Martin in late Jan/2011, I endured better. From that moment on I began to find it in me to go to bible study meetings with my sister’s church group. At the end they would pray for me and I would pray with them. That community along with several other prayer communities added much appreciated power for me to meet each new day and more importantly each night…for nights were always the hardest. 7/11/19
Day after day,
Week after week,
Month after month,
With only my body bag holding on
To a mere thread of frayed connection
To an invisible source.
Only able to sleep
I don’t know how…
Probably at sheer exhaustion
For an hour in a day,
Unable to find the least comfort in temperature
My skin erupting like bubbling lava
I yell out
Sometimes in anger
Usually in piteous moan
What could I have possibly done
What could my father have possibly done
To deserve this fate?
My voice more and more
Fills an empty chamber,
Eventually speaking not a word.
God can’t be listening
I have lost most everything
But this one breath.
I seem so close to an end,
I have let go so completely
that it clearly seems
That a final one
Was a vexing choice
And in the vexing place
transformed to so sweet a spot.
and in that so sweet a spot,
I stood in a threshold
With suffering behind me
And I know not what before me.
There was a peace waiting
And I choose to take another breath
and another until
I don’t choose anymore
Whatever came came.
Meaning incredibly returned.
There was no fight
Only a sweet act of will.
It didn’t matter one way or the other.
Every year, like a bird in migration, I find my way back to the beginning of that new life of mine. I still find myself standing dumbstruck over what has happened in this ‘little life of mine’. Dumbstruck, crying in appreciation and joy that that same crazy God has me here yet.
I just returned from the annual revisit with its updated evaluations at the University of Washington transplant center where so much additional medical intervention occurs and has occurred. The anxiety within me this year before going in for my 22nd ERCP (that resurrection procedure at the altar of death and life) was higher than usual. That is not saying that it’s ever been very high, for I’ve ‘learned’ that my life for the better part of a decade has not been in my hands or control. I will continue to say that surrender has been my ‘go-to’ mode. When I’ve stood on the precipice as often as I have the trip down seems to look not so far down anymore. But it is still a pretty good leap. There is a part I play in the surrender now that I think of it. First, is to acknowledge the anxiety to myself and a few chosen ones closer to me now. Whew…I said it. Then the spirit of this whole mystery tour kicks in and many, many of the people who have ‘been there for me’ start coming into view from the pictures all over my apartment to writings and lists of them all over my apartment to finding them on the street, phone, email. They surround me like a host of angels watching my life on interactive TV, clicking on ‘like’, ‘sad’, ‘stupid’, ‘praying for you’, ‘love’, ‘again?’, ‘ignore’, ‘skip’ icons/actions. Nonetheless, it is magically true to reality. I love them, connect with some, then as in moments like this, send out an update to as many as I know. A special love bolt goes out to Roni, that special one who knows what it takes to stand on that precipice with me!
Thanks for everything! The journey continues.
This time, at the last minute, the morning I was to start the drive (8/6/19), a dear friend, Steve Tornga decided to join me in the trip as a co-driver and companion on the 10 hr. trip and some of the schlepping about. The ERCP went even more smoothly and exceptionally than expected. It took Dr. Balmadrid only an hour to complete the stent replacement with only 8.3 minutes of fluoroscopy (radiation)…half of what has been normal. My recovery was my absolute best too. I felt great the next day walking all around downtown Seattle with Steve while pushing those nasty anesthesia drugs out of my system in such a pleasant way. For those who believe that prayer makes a difference…I have asked those close to me to pray for Dr. Balmadrid’s focus and guidance of his hands and experience as the main focus of intent. It is so evident that that happened. He, himself seemed surprised at how easily it went! And by way of follow up, I won’t be going back for the next replacement for 5 months (as opposed to 3-4). He says with the number of these procedures, I am in rarefied position in the number and success of the procedure worldwide. So, it seems that I now have 5 months to get my act together. Hep Me?! Please Hep Me?
I jest but I really do need ‘hep’. These last few months has challenged my ability to sustain even a functional relationship with a few once key players in my life. I am at a loss to find a way. Apparently, even though I view most of my relationships as at least functional and most, greatly fulfilling, I must have a great shadow following me with them as we can’t seem to find even kindness to guide us. Distance grows. My heart is heavy and resigned. Prayer and my finding a guide to hep me is required. If you are willing, please pray with a picture something like…, put us all in an opaque bubble in which God and desire can shed light where light needs to be shined growing love at any level. Thank you.
My rideshare (Uber/Lyft) experiences are getting quite intense of late. Suicidal passengers, needy and those in some crisis or another keep stepping into my car for our opportunity to connect for the few minutes we travel together. Unconditional regard is about all I have to offer. There is no way of doing follow up.
My writing is moving forward. I will be posting a few of my recent poems. They are essentially right on but know that they will get a few rewrites over time, I’m certain. They can only be understood in the context of the commentary that accompanies them. I hope they can carry something that has been difficult for me to express in any other way.
Clare has returned from her ALG/Adventure Learning Grant year in Australia and Ireland a few days ago. She will be joining me here for a few days as we download that experience as best as we can and begin preparing for her final year at Western Washington University/Fairhaven Honors College. I think all young people need some good unconditional regard from us ‘olders’…and some money. Pray for us on both counts. 🙂 Can’t wait to see her.
This last year has been the first at the onset of my seventh decade! For that I am very blessed and send my blessings to you on your adventure learning experiences!
Please send along any comments, questions, advice. I do eventually get back on this site or otherwise as appropriate.
Some edited parts of a post I made just before transplant in 2014. They are about Roni follow.
“Somehow, details and stories later but God has graced me with more that adequate energy and mental capacity to see this through. I said today that I have yet to be this busy since going to graduate school in chiropractic when I was in my late 20’s! I will need a transplant and recovery just to have a vacation. And Roni left me a message recently that said, ” you know, Pat, that this is one of those RARE times in life where one focuses on the outcome and not the process.” Amen.
Details: I leave this Sunday, August 17 by plane to Chicago to meet up with Roni at the airport from her travel from Tucson. We may be picked up by one of her cousins (a wonder worker) and schlepped to a hotel near the hospital to be ready to arrive at 6:45am for tests and ‘a bunch of things’ that will prep us. Tuesday is a light day except that we will get out to the apartment and try to make it a little home-like, stay in it one night, love each other (not in that way…this is not a novel) and be with each other in a way where I know someone that I am in a room with is the person who is willing to lay down their life for me the next day. Try that on for size. In my opinion, she is giving me the biggest act of love anyone could give another!!! Then I live the rest of my life with a part of her inside me providing me healthy, new function so I can be me, love more, pray more, be there more when my kids might need or want me.”
Thanks again, Roni dear!
I care about my fellow man as I am sure do you. My 70 years of being taught to care, learning how to care, making a living caring for others as a chiropractor, volunteering in serving my fellow person…poor, uneducated, unhealthy, rich, religious, non-religious, disabled, dying, spiritual, cruel, clueless, mean, kind. Everyone of them amazing but…
Now just in one day on my email message board is this representative sampling of those messages that began with something like…
- Our society/country risks falling behind…
- Our saving won’t last long. Hurry…
- I spend much of my time worrying…
- The count down in On!…
- Experts prepare for 100 years flood…
- The wait is over, redemption will happen this weekend…
- You appeared in 12 searches…
- Our son goes to trial in one week…
- I’m asking you for $…
- Help raise the Laugh Force…
- The richest family in America, $170 B…
Again with added info
- Our society/country risks falling behind…could be from any presidential candidate
- Our saving won’t last long. Hurry…could be from any corporate entity
- I spend much of my time worrying…notable leader
- The count down in On!…for more ‘stuff’
- Experts prepare for 100 years flood…give now even more
- The wait is over, redemption will happen this weekend…hoped for currency reevaluation, could be Jesus is Coming too.
- You appeared in 12 searches…ohhh, someone is looking for me
- Our son goes to trial in one week…help us. it’s so unjust
- I’m asking you for $…a very straight up plead, from a candidate, could be from any office
- Help raise the Laugh Force…from a very creative political activist
- The richest family in America, $170 B…I have to admit this is appalling
So how are you coping?
I don’t have TV but what’s that content communicating?
If I listened to regular radio, tv hmmm?
How much do we need to know?…before it erodes our ability to abide in love, joy, belief?