The World with New Eyes
A blessed day, rest, walking, and community connections to China, to a new baby’s birth this afternoon and more. Below I finish my hospital experience.
Okay, the last surgery is done. More chest tubes to drain but hopefully more quickly removed. Chie, my Japanese ‘daughter’ is coming from Thailand Tuesday the 22nd to be with me. I have made that my goal even though we have chest tubes have to exit and lungs have to clear X rays. I have the nurse write the departure date on the daily board.
Most hospital staff all recognize how patients deteriorate if hospitalized too long and they are pulling for me to leave, too. There is a time to get out, after a whole month it was time.
THE PARTING WITH THE MACHINES.
The full on hospital experience which I was able to have through all the procedures, means I got to experience virtually all the machines and tubes they could come up with, sprouting plastic tendrils from every possible orifice! The most annoying and most necessary and last to go in my case, was the annoying heart monitor, claiming the right to record every heart beat and spreading its tentacles across my body to the sticky patches of little node connections. All this centering in a box, a ‘way-too-heavy box in the pocket of my shapeless gown, pulling its weight on the back of my neck where the gown is tied and pulling the gown off if it wasn’t tied!
At first I had the breathing tube for 2 days following the near death time, a time mercifully in my two ‘lost’ days, for these I don’t remember. But my daughters Lauren and Mary bore witness, putting in 36 long and arduous hours as I lay writing in pain. As I react violently to all narcotics, they found an effective alternative, but they didn’t want to use it more than two days, as it attacks the liver. So they are trying to cover it with Tylenol till
they find something that will work.
So leaving the hospital will mean we go through severing the relationship with a series of tubes, most separations taking place at just before I left.But in the sequence of things the next thing after breathing tube was the major tubes I have described the large plastic chest tubes draining away blood and serum to acceptable levels. With their removal I told them thank you and good by with heavy, grateful sighs.
Then there are the IV’s. They have their own laws. Profoundly cranky with every real or imagined bubble they usually behave while the nurse is adjusting it, and start yelling the moment she leaves, and just when you might drift off for a few moments of respite. The beep was designed by some clueless engineer who never laid in a hospital bed and is its own form of torture. The staff simply cannot always be there to correct it right away, and you can count on at least an hour of your day listening to them while you wait for help.
The catheter in first days was actually welcome, because it meant not having to drag oneself out of drugged sleep to relieve oneself, but when the parting came it was thoroughly welcomed. ‘Goodbye’ one more appendage!
A good meditation in this state are the pondering on the chains of Jacob Marley in the story of Scrooge and the Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, “the chains he forged in life” with his stubborn focus of selfishness and greed. While these particular appendages we drag in a hospital are necessary and life giving they can be tethering reminders of our need to forge a legacy not so burdensome as Jacob’s!
When I parted with each machine, whose entangling and limiting tethers had determined every move in bed and out, Oxygen, IV’s, lastly the heart monitor, I patted them, thanking them for the brilliant technologies they embody and pronouncing our DIVORCE FINAL!
As I am wheeled down the corridor for the last time to go home, the tall East Indian doctor , who had so dismissed and humiliated me, happens to be at the nurses station. He looks at me with what I can really only describe as a disdainful glance. But as he watches I must admit there may have been the smallest sardonic curl on my lip as I had seen on his, as four nurses came out of doors and hallways to give me warm and heartfelt hugs (including Biker Chick telling me her latest adventure) I smile and tell her to try Parasailing over the cliffs of Torrey Pines as I did for my 75th birthday. I am sure Mr. ‘dissing’ Doctor wonders at these connections going on with the nurses and the addled, trouble maker old lady!
BACK INTO THE WORLD WITH NEW EYES
This part is very important to me, the final thoughts I hope to always remember and want to share. As I have written, my husband, my white knight, rescued me and we rode off into our future even as I had followed him sixty years ago, breathless and full of wonder after our wedding day into a new life.
Beholding the world after a month in a hospital was like leaving a forced (but necessary) incarceration. The first thing I did was roll down the car window and feel the sun. For much of the journey home I was hanging my head part way out to feel the sun and wind on my face, like the grinning, panting hound dog in back of the pickup. I couldn’t help smiling and was profoundly happy. I was also in an altered state.
As we rolled through neighborhoods to the freeway I wanted to call out to the tune of “Hello Young Lovers” the phrase “Hello, dear people where ever you are, do you know what gifts we take for granted, to breathe, to walk, to eat, to move. to be!!” But there was no urgency, or real admonition behind it. They were doing what they needed to do, being what they needed to be. I watched them at sidewalk cafes, college students with backpacks trudging off to classes, people scurrying to shopping or focused behind the wheel of their car.
As we drove the freeways and gradually into the country side, I realized I was viewing it all as though floating partly above the landscape. I was in alternative time and space and viewing it through a lens of both minutely in the moment accuracy, and the broad reach of transcendent time and space.
Everything interested me. The sky, the vistas, the drivers, Each sign. The trailer hitch on the semi truck, a novel car. I felt the hum of human genius to design each car, each device, each technology, the irresistible need to in the human soul, to design, innovate, improve and to then profit (or share for the benefit of others) from the result. All I behold was part of a tableau of human life and effort. I took in banners flapping in the breeze to entice customers into the store, the restaurant, the tire shop, variation after variation of advertising from truck sides, to neon lights.. but with these outer things I now I sensed behind all the lives, the hopes, the dreams, the mortgages and contracts, to buy the store, to support the family, to work and sweat, despair and hope, to age, to suffer, to live the drama of relationships and to die. Generations of human endeavor building up the world I now beheld and fading as another generation came and changes came. And moving back in time to all the drama of human life, innovation, genius, and drudgery, that had preceded this time. The line from Carl Sandburg’s poem rang in my soul, “The people will live on!” A red barn built long years before was still beside the crowded freeway, once the corrals were filled with cattle, and a cowboy’s horse tied to the post.
From my vantage point the most stunning realization stood forth in a startling clarity. I was viewing this all with no judgment! The history, the drama, the panorama, the coming future,all vivid, tangible, poignant, objective. It is and it was and it will be.
For those transcendent moments the burden of the judgmental glance and stance was lifted from me. Such a freedom! Like tangled roots clogging the third eye, a annoying, cloying, befogging clutter, to the truth of what truly is , gone, swept away, the vista cleared, wiped clean! I MUST remember this! I marveled in my revelation. What incredible freedom to transcend self judgement and judgment of all and everyone around us!
As we came closer to the ranch all the familiar vistas beside the road, the abundance of pine trees and oaks and natural environment, I was feeling the relationship to each tree, each plant, both objective and distant while being deeply personal and connected, cognizant of their life forces, their enduring, growing, leafing, fruiting, giving their seed, dying, selflessly offering up the beauty of the Creator for our sustenance of body and soul.
My smile widened as Gordon drove the bumpy road to our beloved White Feather Ranch and stopped to open the big farm gate, behind which lay the blessed healing acres we steward and love, and which we have shared with so many.
Home! Is there a sweeter word?
Flooded with gratitude, I soberly recorded within. “I must remember this state, for it will not happen again this way. It will fade (and it has) But I must try to share with others, that the state beyond the bounds of judgement of self, all and others, is a place of exultant freedom! May I always remember this.