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All Prayed Out

January 19th, 2009

As promised, I’m going to tell you a little about our adventurous January, but before I begin I must say that my book launch at Poisoned Pen Bookstore went very well. A friend stayed with Don so I could do it. Had a nice big crowd, and the store sold out of all my earlier titles. There is a detailed report on the launch over at www.lesasbookcritiques.blogspot.com, the January 18 entry, if you’re interested.

There is a well known teacher and writer by the name of Ram Das, once known as Richard Alpert, who has been a student of enlightenment for a good forty years. He’s written many books on the subject, and has quite a following. Four or five years ago, Ram Das suffered a severe stroke, which nearly killed him and did leave him with some speech and movement impairment. After Ram Das recovered enough to resume teaching, this is what he said: After so many years of study, guidance, and meditation he had become fairly confident in his understanding of the nature of life and death, and felt that when his time came, he would be able to face his end with equanimity.

But when it actually happened – when he was in the midst of the stroke and knew he was dying at that moment – all his philosophy flew out the window. It was, he said, quite an instructive moment for him.

Many of you Dear Readers are aware of my husband’s health problems of the past few months, and that we underwent our own crisis recently. As I promised, I’m going to post the saga of his illness on this site in short installments. He is home from the hospital now, at least temporarily, and things are under control at the moment. This tale is not over yet, and probably won’t be for a while, and I expect that the raw facts of the matter are only of interest to him and me. But like Ram Das, I’ve discovered that the way I thought I’d react is not necessarily the way I did react, and I’d like to share some of the things I’ve found out. Number one is that philosophy and belief are all very well and good, but reality overrides everything.

When you see the headlights coming toward you, you will react in the way that is normal for you – you’ll panic, or pray, or curse, or rise to the occasion like Superman. But after the car goes off the cliff, and you’re sailing toward the moment of impact and you realize that there is nothing you can do, that all flies out the window. You’re not even afraid. You’re nothing. You are totally there. You are the thing that is happening.

Here’s how my little moment began.

Don had been ill for several days – at first we thought it was just a cold, then maybe the flu. He was tired and achy. Then he grew lethargic and sore all over. Sunday, Jan. 4, he never got out of bed, then Monday, the 5th, he could hardly stay awake enough to talk to me. He was shaky, his speech was slurry, and he was saying rather odd and hallucinogenic things. I tried to call his doctor six or seven times, but the phone was always busy. I was just about to jump in the car and drive over there when the doctor’s office called me to remind me about his scheduled colonoscopy the next day. I asked to bring him in immediately, but they said the soonest anyone could see him would be Wednesday morning. He was too lethargic and odd for that, so I managed to get him up and dressed at about 3:30 and drove him to the emergency room at Tempe St. Lukes hospital. To make a really long story short, his kidneys weren’t functioning. Giant stones were blocking both his kidneys and he was being poisoned. On Wednesday, they transfered him to another hospital, where they tried to run stents past the stones. It didn’t work, so they drilled holes into his sides and now his kidneys are draining into bags. Fortunately, that fixed his head and he’s behaving normally again. The tubes will just be in until his kidneys “cool down” enough for them to remove the blockage in a few weeks. He was able to come home on Friday the 16th.

HOWEVER, in the process of all the tests, they discovered that he has a heart problem, and after many more tests, he’ll be returning to the hospital on Wednesday the 21st for a final procedure to determine whether he needs a defibrillator implant, and if he does, they will do the deed right then and there. We are assured that he will only have to stay overnight, and then can come home again. Then we can address the kidneys stones.

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