Dialysis Number Nine (#9, #9, #9)


El Milagro: Got here about noon and the place is hopping. On Saturdays staff try to squeeze the last shift (me) in early so they can get off early. It seems the patients like to get done as early as possible too. I like it on Saturdays because it seems the staff are more friendly…. Perhaps because we who are served are also serving them by coming in early.

I don’t want to suggest the staff are unfriendly on Tuesday and Thursday: they actually seem to be very caring, professional, and conscientious all the time. Nurse Phyllis has said this the best place she has worked in the 30 years she’s been a nurse. Spending 12 hours a week here, I am getting to know the staff in a more personal way than I did at Moritz’s office or when I was in the hospital last summer. I’m already finding staff who are good at sticking me, and Tory is my favorite. Today he was standing near my chair but not responsible for it, yet I asked him to stick me (). He agreed and then asked me to tell the other tech (who is responsible for my chair), and they made a small joke about who’s the best sticker.

One of the interesting things about coming here is that it is a perfect opportunity to observe a system almost from outside the box. I am just one of many patients so my impact on the system of staff is probably minimal, allowing me to observe their patterns of interaction, organization, and processes. I am enjoying observing their system rules and structure without asking questions about how they operate. So, that is a mental amusement while I sit there for four hours.

I am a person of habit and I find myself developing a habitual way of spending my time while at dialysis. (Of course this will change when I begin working from the dialysis center). When I arrive and get hooked up, I observe the setting for a few minutes and then start writing a post. Once I’m tired or bored with that, I read whatever materials I’ve brought to read (today it was The New Yorker (April 17th issue) article about Pete Seeger’s life and Bruce Springsteen’s new CD of his songs.) Last Thursday I read an article from The Family Therapy Networker (refusing to call it by it’s new name) on working with Stepfamilies. I counted that one as work time.

After reading, I begin to fidget and decide to watch TV: today it was cooking shows on PBS that featured things I can’t eat but love seeing prepared. Then, before I know it it is time to get unhooked and weighed and out into the sunshine.

Data Notes: I weighed in at 71.6 Kg. and Tory said they’re “pulling off 1.2 Kg. In 4 hours. When I left I weighed out at 70.6 Kg. (1Kg. = 2.2 lbs.).

Later at Home: I got an email from my friend Richard in Utah (who hasn't kept up with my deteriorating kidneys). He looked over my blog and wrote, “Damn, Jack, it's worse than I thought, even if you insist on making it an adventure. …I don't recall your ever being much good at sitting still four hours at a stretch. Still, it's better than the alternative. I'd rather not hear too much about the letting go part of you letting go. it's selfish, but I prefer your being around.”

I wondered if he was taking “letting go” in a different way than I meant, or if he is just being morbidly humorous. And then I started hallucinating that other people might not understand the “letting go” so I wrote back to Richard the following clarification:

Damn, Richard, letting go is not "giving up"! Letting go is about accepting what we can't change and if possible, recognizing it is a necessary part of the total process. As Chou Tun-yi (1017-1073) said long ago "That which has no Pole! And yet it is the Supreme Pole. The Supreme Pole moves and produces motion, the yang. When the movement has reached the limit, rest ensues. Resting, the Supreme Pole produces the yin. When the rest has reached it's limit, there is a return to motion. Motion and rest alternate, each being the root of the other." This quote is from Alan Watts’ Two Hands of God (1963). Jack Kornfield has a whole chapter about this in his book, A Path With Heart but I leant it to someone, so I can't dig up a quote from it right now. Jack.

In this experience, I have to cognitively integrate the new dialytic part of my life with my other learnings and experiences so as to fit it in rationally. Learning is a process of data intake and integration with data that already exists in my fuzzy brain. Back in an NLP training in the 80's I imagined my brain as a floating sphere with compartments on the surface and with electric energy zooming around, zapping new data bits into the compartments they most closely resembled. Once integrated into their compartments another operartion, working through the center of the sphere, developed a data link between the new information and every other possible data bit that it might fit with, such that the whole spheres insides were a system of interlocking connections between the data bits. Some of them organize around ideas to produce new realizations that are more than the sum of the data bits and they become ideas, theories, designs, or creations and are pushed from the interior to the surface of the sphere as new compartments. From the space outside the floating sphere, the compartments resemble polished aluminum library card file drawers. So, my posts are a reflection of my thoughts about how this new experience integrates with the rest of my life experience.


Luis said...

Hi Jack. I love your blog! Very thoughtful observations. I can imagine you sitting there observing everybody. That's one of the qualities I love about you, my friend.

Take care

Anonymous said...

Hey Jack - It's Cheryl. I found your blog without incident - hope you recieve this note as I've never commented on a blog either. Anyway, I enjoyed reading your thoughts - I guess you'll have that entire place figured out in no time! I hope you are getting better all the time (isn't that a line in a Beatle's song?). Take care. Cheryl