Before El Milagro: I have been rushing around all day preparing for a trip to Fredricksberg for February 1st and thinking that tomorrow is February 1st until it finally dawned on me that there are 31 days in January and my trip isn’t until the day after tomorrow. So, all of a sudden I don’t have anything pressing to do. Okay. So, I guess I’ll just complete myself an Organ/Tissue Donor Card, which I’ve been asking my readers to do but I haven’t myself done. I am sticking that card in my wallet, announcing that I will donate tissue (gesundheit!) and all my functioning organs, which would be my eyes and liver and heart basically. Liz says she’ll complete the card I printed for her too. There. I am now a donor.
El Milagro: I’m here and seem to be the last one arriving for my shift. Matt cannulates me and we discuss Osama Bin Laden and how he handles his dialysis. According to Matt, he is doing peritoneal* which means he has to do it several times a day and the process is much more touchy as far as getting infections, so we wonder how he is able to keep from getting infected since he is probably in less than adequate situations, like being in a dirty cave. Matt heard that Bin Laden has a cadre of physicians that care for him but it still seems like it would be very difficult to be on the lam and on dialysis.
Jennifer the Dietician reported to me that my last blood work shows that my phosphorous is back up to a dangerously high 7.9 so it is time to experiment with another binder. What does dangerously high mean you might wonder? Well, “some of the serious effects of hyperphosphatemia are: 1) bone disease (bones lose calcium leaving them brittle and weak); 2) Calcifications and mineral deposits in body (lungs, joints, eyes, heart, and skin); and 3) Cardiovascular problems (heart disease and stroke).”** So far the only symptom I have at times is itching and it comes and goes.
J the D wants me to 1) put away my Renagel 800’s for awhile; 2)take one chewable Fosrenol*** in the middle of each meal; and 3) continue to take 3 Phoslo at the beginning of each meal. Hopefully this new regimen will bring the phosphorous numbers down to acceptable (3.5 – 5.5). Of course, this means purchasing one more very expensive medication….. arghhhhhh!
After Jennifer leaves me, I am bummed out and lethargic and spend the rest of my session dozing and losing myself in NPR’s All Things Considered**** in my earphones. Nebraska’s recent difficulties over their state song brings me out of the doldrums… and I notice suddenly that it is about 7:30 and I’ve slept through Marketplace. I switch earphones to my TV set and begin to watch Law & Order for the remainder of my session. So it goes.
Notes: In at 75.9 and out at 72.8 Kgs.
* Natl. Kidney & Urologic Disease Clearinghouse (2006) Treatment methods for kidney failure: Peritoneal dialysis. Retrieved online January 31 from http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/kudiseases/pubs/peritoneal/
**About high phosphorous levels available online at http://www.fosrenol.com/Consumers/PhosphorusLevels/Diseases.aspx
***Fosrenol info available online at http://www.fosrenol.com/Consumers/Default.aspx
****All Things Considered available online at http://www.kut.org/news/show/25
El Milagro: I’m here at 3:30 today and walking in past Herman the Nurse, asking if he will come look at my arm when he gets a moment. Well, he comes over and checks it out: I have noticed a lump in my arm that seems like it is in my vein about an inch above the pin-cushion area where they stick me up and down a stretch that runs about 4 inches up my arm. He feels it carefully and reports that there is a lump (duh!) and that it is not in or part of the vein. He shows me how he moves the vein aside and the lump is still there, so it is maybe in my muscle. He says if it doesn’t hurt or get bigger I shouldn’t worry about it. I replied that I just didn’t want it to turn out to be a clot in there. He explained to me that clots usually feel gushy, not hard. Since Herman is giving me a medical opinion, he sticks around and sticks me. Turns out the dialysis machine is not connected properly (the transducer line isn’t tightly connected) so he has to finagle the machine to extricate the air bubbles from the lines so the machine doesn’t sound it’s alarm every few minutes. These machines are calibrated carefully to sound an alarm when any of about a hundred things go haywire.
Ron the Nurse comes up and I ask him about a form I completed last time I was here. It was a form that documents that I know the rules of the facility. One of them had to do with not cutting my toenails myself; recommending that a podiatrist do it. I asked Ron about this one and he replied that that rule is really for the people here who are diabetics. I replied, “Why don’t they specify that then?” and Ron and Herman both replied, “Because 90% of the patients here are diabetics, so the form is written for diabetics”. That was an interesting detail that led me to ask how many people are here because of PKD and it turns out there are only three of us! Aside from the diabetics, most of the others have kidney failure as a result of hypertension. I had always hoped there would be more PKD folks and had planned to get to know some of them to compare my experience with theirs. Oh well. In this conversation we also briefly touched on the passing of Sandra (Post # 52 in September) who died on Christmas eve after a stroke. Around here we can go for awhile before we realize the absence of something that at first seems to be a nuisance. In this case I remember that it had been awhile since I’d heard a person who is part of the group saying “help”.
I was in Houston yesterday and at some point catching up my colleague and friend, Deborah, on the dialysis adventure; trying to explain that it has become boring now that I’ve been doing it for almost nine months (I could be birthing a kidney right now if it was a pregnancy). Boring is only the best word I could come up with at the time: meaning that nothing in the experience is new and curious at this point… it’s more like a chore that must be done with no chance of making it into a “fun”, or “educative”, or “developmental” activity. Deborah responded that maybe it is now an emotional drain, but that’s not quite it: mostly it is just tiring. I’m tired of it! Oh well.
So, today I’m watching UT basketball; one thing that helps pass the time here where I am tired of the experience. UT and Baylor played a good game in the respect that UT didn’t just beat them to a pulp. UT was lackadaisical and Baylor played pretty good, and at the end UT won… “Whew” We didn’t need to lose another conference game.
So, I write on and wonder at times why I even do this. I do enjoy the writing part, and as all writers, I guess I partly hallucinate that someone will read it and either learn something, or get a laugh, or be reminded of something that is flitting around on the edge of their consciousness. When the experience of dialysis is “boring” I am led to further consideration of the purposes of writing, since the original goal was to document the experience of dialysis. I guess I could go on indefinitely documenting how boring it is but that sounds very adolescent when I say it to myself. “I hate dialysis. It’s so boring.”, he whined pubescently. Another goal is to use this medium to advertise my need for a healthy kidney and a munificent doner person. So, in the service of that goal, I guess I should write, write, right? I worry sometimes that I’m just composing for my own aggrandizement, and then I think that that concern probably keeps some people from writing at all. I have to move beyond that worry and positively hallucinate that there is a good reason to continue this even though the actual experience of dialysis is becoming a bore. For now I conclude, “Oh well”
------"The sooner you fall behind,
-------the longer you have to catch up."
Notes: In at 75.7 and out at 72.9 Kgs. (I have gained some weight and Herman adjusted my dry weight to 73. That’s 160 lbs!)
* Keillor, G. (2007) A Prairie Home Companion, available online at http://prairiehome.publicradio.org/
El Milagro: I’m driving across town in the rain at 10:30 am because I’ve arranged to attend dialysis in the middle of the day today so I could attend a surprise 30th anniversary party for one of the stalwarts of youth services in Austin; old Mitch. Going in for dialysis after an hour or so at the office is a bit strange. There are people here I’ve never seen before so it is kinda like going to dialysis in a different city. The TV’s are all turned to soap operas and most of the patients are one-legged men (it seems). I am a bit out of place and the staff recognizes it. They say things like, “What’re you doin here?” and “You like it so much yer coming in early, huh?” and “Want an extra fix?”. We’re jokesters all, since I say things like, “Just an oil change and wash my windows please.”
I don’t quite know what to do with my time today. I am NOT going to watch TV at this time of the day. I settle in to plugging my ears with music from KUT over my own little radio and settle in for a slow four hours. Some reading of Winik’s book (see Post # 84), some napping, and some thinking about the world without Insoo (see Post # 91). Marion Winik has written a bit about death… losing her man and leaving Austin because of the memories. She describes emptiness and its feeling creeping into locations that formerly had good feelings attached to them. Or, maybe she said something like having that empty sense follow her into locations where she used to feel good… going out to eat in a place you used to go with the person lost and feeling totally out of place there and ultimately having to move outa town.
When I was training in Abilene on Monday I mentioned Insoo’s passing* and it motivated me to really try to get her ideas infused into the participants. Plus I drank some very strong coffee. I felt like I had to take some responsibility for doing Insoo’s job from now on. Those are big shoes (metaphorically, since she had tiny little feet) to fill and I realize I am not the one to do that really. But, thoughts of her did charge me up and I could hallucinate now that back on Monday her spirit was within me as I did parts of the training. I could hallucinate that now but I won’t…. it’s just too weird. Leave it that I had her in part of my mind as I was doing the work and I did try to do a job that she would’ve been proud of. And, I think the group, based on feedback, thought it was a good training on solution-focused family work. (I pretty much stuck to the Solution-Focused ideas of Insoo rather than expand out to other people's ideas.)
Meanwhile, back at my mid-day dialysis, I woke up from some fuzzy dreams and it was time to unhook and go back to work. I mustered up all my energy and headed back to the office for an hour or so before picking up Liz and heading to the Broken Spoke** for the Mitch thing.
When we got to the Spoke we immediately heard that our friend Steve had been temporarily delayed and they asked me to present a flag which flew over the capitol today to Mitch, which I was happy to do, although I wasn’t quite sure what to say about that. “Here is a proclamation and a flag, Mitch. Long may it fly free”, or something. In the actual presentation, I added, “If you want to, I’ll help you put up a flagpole in your back yard” and he mentioned how nice the wooden box is. All in all, it was a great ceremony with lots of funny stories and a bit of Texas speechifying (from Thomas). There were some participants who thought Mitch was actually surprised and some who thought not. Everyone seemed to enjoy the event. Liz and I stayed for the honors and left early to get some Chinese food on the way home.
Notes: In at 75.0 and out at 72.8 Kgs.
* Read Insoo's Obit at The Brief Therapy Center website at http://www.brief-therapy.org/
** Explore the Broken Spoke at http://www.brokenspokeaustintx.com/
El Milagro: Jo the Nurse called me to come in at 1 today. The place was back to full swing and I settled in to watch the Longhorns Men’s basketball team lose to Villanova… terrible game all around. Then I was able to catch the US Soccer team beat Denmark 3-1 so that was a pick-me-up. Landon Donovan finally scored after a 1 1/2 year scoreless streak! That made me think, “you just have to play on and find other parts of the game that you can feel good about until the fates or your skill brings an opportunity to score. And maybe you try to score many times before you succeed but if you stay immersed in the process rather than focusing on the end result, then you can still feel good about your participation.”
Even though I get sick and tired of this dialysis business every several days, I recognize (“I understand…” as Bush would say) that this is the process of functioning in my world; described as “End Stage Renal Disease” or ESRD on the medical charts. Although the outcome is scoring a new kidney, preferably from a live person, I can’t put all my focus on that score. I have to continue to stay with the present, continue to play the game, and find ways to explore and embellish the process. One of the ways is to continue to document this whole thing here on my blog (informing you, the reader about a slice of life you may not be aware of). Another is to become a patient representative with DaVita (I have begun the process on this). Another is to continue my correspondence with Lloyd Doggett about the need of people with ESRD and PKD. And, of course, as with any process, learning more about all the facets of it is a continuing endeavor.
According to the people at the Transplant Center, my process of going without scoring will be approximately another three years and as that time passes the dialysis ultimately wears heavily on my system. Three years is the guesstimate of how long it’ll take to get a cadaver kidney. If I am fortunate enough to find a live donor* (Blood Type A or O) out there in lurkdom (those who read but don’t comment on blogs) then the wait would be less. That’s the solution that I would wish for… so, readers, think about becoming donors!
My new bumper sticker that the Transplant Center folks say will attract donors reads:
Say “YES” to Organ Donation
Notes: In at 74.9 and out at 72.1 Kgs.
More about live donors at "Help Save A Life" online at http://www.unos.org/helpSaveALife/promoteOrganDonation/
El Milagro: The place is eerily quiet with only about half of the patients here for their sessions. The staff seemed to all be here, although Herman had mentioned earlier on the phone that some of them were having trouble getting in this morning. So what’s the deal?
ICE! We in Austin have had two days of the kind of weather that stops this city… aside from the Governor’s Inauguration Ball, which Rick Perry refused to cancel because it is HIS big deal. After all the money spent “the Committee” was not willing to cancel, even though only about half his nobility could perambulate the ice. For all others, the city authorities cautioned staying home. Schools, state offices, and restaurants were closed. Honky tonks stayed opened.
However, when one is dependent upon 21st century machinery to stay alive, one must brave the elements for a fix, no matter the slickitiness of the ice or depth of the snow drifts. I fondly remember my mother saying when I was an impressionable youngster, “...I remember… when I was a kid we walked fifteen miles through snow and slush just to get to school…” So, against the cautions of Toby the City Manager, I bundled up and headed out into the freezing afternoon sleet in Liz’s Sienna. I wasn’t gonna risk wrecking my T-100, was I? Besides, her Sienna has front-wheel drive.
The drive over to El Milagro was uneventful and I even picked Katie up from her on-and-off-again friend’s house and delivered her to her mother’s house on the way. There was no sliding around on the roads and actually very little ice that I could see.
But, the idea here is to consider how it feels to be dependent upon a machine that sits across town. I wrote in Post # 31 (click on July) about possible scenarios after N. Korea nukes Central Texas and here I am considering another scary scenario in which the needed machine sits across an icy wasteland racked by the worst blizzard of the century; and I must set out on snow shoes from my Oak Hill homestead, hoping to make it to the I-35 corridor before my energy wanes and I hallucinate that the next snowdrift looks a lot like my fluffy pillow and boy would it be nice to just lay down and close my eyes for a bit… “No. No.” I say to myself; “I must drag myself on. One step at a time. Don’t lay down” I scream at myself internally. “Move on! Onward through the fog.” So, just then this maroon Hummer comes along and the window rolls down and it’s Jerry Jeff, with his ‘old friend*’ hat on and he offers me a ride to the dialysis center. “Thank God for Austin musicians” I think, and Jerry Jeff adds, "..and don’t forget to support the Sims Foundation.**” And then, as I hop into the huge vehicle, I yell out to the white flurry, “… and support Musicares*** too!” Well, that’s one hallucination in which I make it. (I think I must have little icy shards within the folds of my brain.)
I don’t really like the idea of being dependent upon a machine across town. That is one of the down-sides of dialysis. Darn! But on the other hand, for an old person who used to live a life of risks, I guess the notion of depending on machine in a storefront across town does have a little exciting pizzazz. But driving over there and back in Austin's version of winter weather didn't really do it for me. (Boy am I getting old... and another fun exciting thing to do is to run backwards down the hill in my skivvies waving a pair of pinking shears.)
There ya go, Kokomo. Onward thru the Fog.
Later: Herman was interviewed on the 10 o'clock news tonight about how important it is for the center to stay opened during inclement weather. According to the report, "Madrid says he's had to dramatically alter patient schedules over the past few days to accommodate those patients. "For the most part, we have to stay open to make sure that these patients get the dialysis they need," said Madrid. "**** Good show Herman! You look very handsome on TV, by the way.
Notes: In at 75.9 and out at 72.1 Kgs.
*Jerry Jeff Walker's hat from Texas Hatters, online at http://www.texashatters.com/product_detail.php?id=86
**SIMS Foundation, online at http://www.simsfoundation.org/
***Musicares online at: http://www.grammy.com/Musicares/
****Ochoa, E. (2007) Patients weather ice storm for treatments. KVUE News available online at http://www.kvue.com/news/top/stories/011707kvuedialysis-cb.4d8c91a6.html
Morning: It is now public on the web that Insoo Kim Berg has died last Wednesday night. Insoo was a friend of mine and Liz’s and we usually visited whenever she came to Austin. Over the years I attended a number of her trainings and when Liz started bringing her to town I got the chance to begin going out to dinner with her. I always looked forward to time with Insoo because I always learned something from the encounter and she was great fun to hang out with. Even though she was a famous originator of cutting-edge ideas in family counseling, she was down-to-earth, genuine, and easily approachable. I recall a dinner where we got into a spirited discussion about Bill O’Hanlon’s marital escapades and how at some point Insoo tossed a teaspoon at me to make a point. I had just been in touch with her in the last few weeks, arranging for her to come do the pre-conference institute for our next conference. Insoo had emailed me on January 4th, saying about her husband's passing; "It has been a profound loss and I am finding my ways slowly to learn to adjust and build a new life.." When Cynthia wrote me that she had died, I couldn’t believe it and it is still difficult to accept. Her passing is a great loss to the world of strengths-based counseling, to the world of social work, and to the world of compassionate people.
You can read several announcements of Insoo Kim Berg’s death on her Brief Family Therapy Center’s website www.brief-therapy.org and on the Solution-Focused Brief Therapy Assn. Website – www.sfbta.org
El Milagro: Crystal cannulated me and I basically spent my session watching the UT basketball team handily beat Oklahoma (Who’d you go for, Tom?) and then watched an exciting finish to Virginia Tech upend the top ranked North Carolina Tar Heels. What a game. VT also beat Duke earlier in the week, so they are currently the team to watch.
Notes: In at 75.3 and out at 72.8 Kgs.
Renal Transplant Center: Got my annual physical today (EKG, blood work, chest X-ray, and poking and prodding) by the Head Doc, Dr. Lewis. At the end I had a longish conversation with Dr. Lewis, the Transplant Nephrologist for our region. He concluded again, as last year, that I am an “excellent candidate for transplant” and he wondered if I had found anyone to donate their kidney to me yet. I said I had had two interested people who weren’t a match and am still looking and publicizing my needs via my BLOG… which would be this very one.
As part of our conversation about the miserable condition of our regional kidney program, Dr. Lewis said there are currently 2000 people waiting for transplants in our region (Austin, San Antonio, and down to the Rio Grande valley). He told me the story of how things have gotten worse over the years: that originally Austin was one of the first areas to do kidney transplants and the Austin community (doctors, patients, relatives and community interest groups) had done all the work to organize and administer a well-functioning program. Then in the 90’s the feds decided to regionalize the nation and put Austin into a region with SA and southwards. According to Dr. Lewis, SA and southwards has done a poor job of publicizing and marketing organ donation and because of that most of the organs up for giving still come from Austin, but now they go to a much larger region, which hurts Austin. He continued that SA and southward just aren’t able to market organ donation successfully and I offered that perhaps it has something to do with the proportion of Catholics in that area. Dr. Lewis said he didn’t know what it has to do with, but he wishes Austin could find a way out of the region and get back to doing work just for our community.
We also discussed the coming change that will allow trades among prospective donors who don’t match their donees. According to the doctor, we are this (fingers ¼ inch apart) close to being able to trade donors, and it doesn’t have to do with a legal change; just with organizing and computerizing the procedures. Dr. Lewis doesn’t think that donor trading will make a huge difference in the finding of donors or in increasing the total number of transplants. He thinks there are just too many variables involved that continue to mess up the process.
He also reported to me that the way people are chosen for available cadaver kidneys is by length of time on the list first. Then, the criteria is the match, and only in very few instances is the need considered over the time or the match.
I also touched base with David the social worker, who gave me some marketing bumper stickers. The transplant coordinator (Alisa) warned me to get ready for a donor; saying, “Those bumper stickers’ll have people knocking at your door.” I’m a bit less convinced, but do like a sticker or two on my truck. That’s it for now.
El Milagro: Got my most recent blood work report from Jennifer the Dietician today. J the D reported the good aspects of my blood work first (good Solution-Focused girl that she is): Albumin protein stores and protein intake are good; red blood cell count is good; and iron saturation and stored iron are both good. Although it looks like the Sensipar is helping take down my PTH (parathyroid hormone; see Post # 10 in May), it is still in the high category at 308 (should be 150 – 300). Also, this time my Potassium is high again at 6.1 (over 5.5 is bad), and my Phosphorous is still high at 7.1 (over 5.5 is bad).
Jennifer the Dietician quizzed me on my recent food intake for the day or so before the blood work and we couldn’t come up with anything that indicated why these numbers should remain so high. All the key high potassium / high phosphorous foods are not being ingested by this guy… although I must admit that I did eat some leftover turkey enchiladas on the night after my blood work. Hey! Those are the first enchiladas since the enchilada boycott began and there is absolutely no way to say “No!” to turkey enchiladas made from leftover turkey from our New Year’s feast. I just couldn’t do that. But, I only ate about four of them… with green chile rice and sour cream… yum yum.
So, J the D is gonna talk to Dr. Moritz about experimenting with a different combination of binders cause she thinks I’m taking a lot of binders for my results to be so poor. And so it goes.
I was also a bit fuzzed out today. I forgot my dialysis bag so I didn't have all the stuff one needs at the dialysis center, like my blanket, Shayna's pocket radio, my TV clicker, and my TV earphones. I had to sit there and freeze myself for four hours. It was like doing a strange sort of penance in honor of the terrible news I heard just before coming over here.
I had just heard earlier about the death of one of my favorite teachers and mentors. I don't like being mysterious, but was asked not to mention who it is yet, since her death hasn’t been made public yet… but I can tell you that the world has lost one of the most beloved, compassionate, curious, extraordinary, and cool people I have ever met. There’ll be more on this later.
People come and go in this universe and some are like shooting stars and some are like supernova and some are like black holes. I think that the more we study about the vagaries of the universe the more we can understand our place and the impact individuals can have on the flow of the universe of consciousness. I have no idea what this means… it just came out and somehow seemed like the right thing to say just now.
Notes: In at 75.0 and out at 72.1 Kgs.
El Milagro: As I walk in I touch base with Marilyn the Social Worker about a form the insurance has sent us and strongly suggested we send back ASAP. Their letter says, “We are constantly looking at opportunities to help control the costs of health care”… which really means, “We’d like to find a way to keep all the money you pay us and not let you have back one penny worth of service if we can discover just one little mistake or one crack of wiggle room to get out of paying anything at all for your care”. I show Marilyn the form and she says, “I think I’ve got it handled’” and gives me a copy of the same form already completed and signed by Dr. Doom…., I mean Moritz. So, I thank her and move on down the isle toward my chair.
Then there is Ms. Jennifer the Dietician just sitting there as cute as a bug… so I tell her the sad story of my nausea in the evenings and ask if it might be because of adding the Sensipar 30’s to my diet. She thinks not and asks questions that bring on definitional confusion: perhaps I have the dreaded acid reflux. “Is that when you feel this metallic tasting burp burbling up your pipe?”, I ask and she says something like “I’m not as doctor” and then it’s downhill from there. “You’re not a doctor?” I shriek. “Well why the Hell am I asking you anything?” “You started it” she says… or, something similar… and our voices quickly fade out and I move along down the isle to my seat, front row center for the dialysis machine. She yells after me down the isle… “This must be a topic for Dr. Moritz when we next see him.”
Tonight I’m listening to NPR on Shayna’s little pocket radio and reading more from Winik’s Above Us Only Sky. She is exploring ‘coding’… how our offspring have some of us inside them and how it pokes out at times and we recall the donor of the code and, in her case, miss them since they’ve departed this life. I too see parts of me in all my kids. Especially in Johnny since he is a boy, I think.
No. It’s not that I think he’s a boy. It’s that I recognize those codings from his mother and me more since he’s a boy….man…. whatever. On the one hand, there’s a way he looks around at times that could be his mother looking around. And there’s things he thinks that are JUST LIKE ME. Katie has codings from me too… in her obstinance about doing life her way. I hate that! She should be doing it MY way! Arughhhh! Really though… the results of her doing it her way are looking much better these days (good grades and money in the bank).
So, expanding ont the idea of these codings... there must be certain codings that could be discovered in all of us, or at least in those we consider to be our chosen family. When we go back far enough in our human history, we are all related, so the codings at some point evolutionarily are there. Although this is surely the case, those of us who are friends don't usually want to see ourselves in our friends nor do we seek to find codings of them in us. It's funny that we like to see ourselves in our offspring but reluctant to see ourselves in our buddies. There's something to ponder.
Over the holidays I’ve seen and heard from people I don’t usually have much contact with and I want to acknowledge that it is really neat to catch up with them. I only wish they would comment on this blog so we all have the enjoyment of hearing from them…. rather than me forwarding their emails to others of their ilk. Even though it might seem that sending a comment to my blog is like publicizing yourself to the whole world, there are really only about a few hundred people who read this, and most of you all know each other, or at least know of each other. Just a thought.
Notes: In at 75.9 and out at 72.7. We are adjusting my “dry weight” to account for the holidays… I have gained some few pounds, as does every happy person.
El Milagro: This tech who hasn’t ever stuck me stuck me today. He was a little too sure of himself and whistling nonchalantly as he inserted two needles in my fistula in the wrong direction. I pointed it out to him and called Phyllis over to see. She agreed and told him to change the one so at least they would both be going the same direction. He sheepishly went on to change them, sticking me again and never even said he was sorry or apologized. My thoughts: next time he will not be the one to stick me.
So, what a change from the last post already! What is there to be learned here? I guess I must appreciate the bad with the good, huh Dilbert? So it goes.
El Milagro: Came in at 4 and got stuck by Nurse Kim, who said, “Do you mind if I stick you?” in her quiet, tentative Vietnamese-influenced voice. Kim was the first person who ever cannulated me back in April and we talked about that briefly: “You were the first person to stick me.” “I remember that day. You’re a vet now.” We talked about her baby, who is 6 months old already, and all the baby books she got for Christmas. I told her that I have a friend who is adopting a child from Vietnam and we discussed international adoption for a few minutes. Kim wondered why anyone would adopt from overseas since there are so many babies needing homes here. She says her husband wants her to talk Vietnamese to their baby, but she doesn’t want to. She says it’s too hard to think about speaking Vietnamese now that she speaks English all the time. In her world there is no one to practice her first language with so she is shy about using it with the new baby. She seems to me to want to be completely acculturated and not look back. We in my profession have spent much time encouraging people to hold on to their roots and their non-dominant culture, yet many of the actual people from those cultures are lured by the American Dream. They get sucked into the hypnotic allure of becoming part of the Master Narrative of the dominant class (see Hans’ comment on Post # 26 last July). I didn’t reply in any confrontive or educative way to Nurese Kim’s statement… just accepted it and questioned the ethics of my being the monkey with hands over his ears.
Later: So, it is a new year. 2007! I still catch myself thinking we’re in 1977 once in awhile. 1977; 1997; 2007… they really all feel the same to me. The only markers of change are the growth of the kids and the advent of email. There’s B.E. (before email) and A.E. (after email). What was life like before email? I can hardly remember. How did we do business without email? Did I really call people long distance? I remember FAXing notices out around the state: we had long auto-dialing lists of FAX numbers and that FAX machine was just rattling along at a delirious clip. Since email came along in 91 (to me), I have had more regular contact with my dad. I would hardly ever call him… but since he and I both got AOL email early on, our communications grew to about 1 or 2 times a month! For the first few years we emailed like people would write or converse... back and forth. Now it seems like I back and forth and he only forths. So I usually don't know if he has read my emails or not, but I assume he has... just as I assume he reads this blog.
So when my mind drifts and I get unstuck in time and catch myself wondering briefly if it’s ’77 or ’97, one of the things that I can grab onto is thinking about email. Otherwise, it could be ’77 again, right here in the present. In 1977 I was starting graduate school as a stoned-out West Texas hipboy (some sort of cross between a hippy and cowboy). I had the world by the tail back then; I was confident in my profession as a social worker and starting graduate school for social workers and everything seemed to be going just right. My actions, thoughts, and feelings were all in synch with what I was doing and that made me supremely happy. It was an exciting time in my life and now, looking back on it, I realize it was less of a turning point and more of a bending point. My values and ideas were bent by graduate school in ways that have stayed with me since: really a bending into the profession and the belief system of social work more than a taking on of new theories. Also, graduate school brought together a class of people who I really respected and have been proud to be acquainted with (for the most part) ever since. In many ways, it’s been like riding a Utopian Wave for the past thirty years.
Even Later: ....that’s what I am getting around to saying: that I am grateful and happy to have had such a charmed life. Even in the worst times I have been lucky enough to have good friends who cared for me as much as I cared for them. We were our own cosmic family. We held each other and listened to each other and encouraged each other through our foibles, failures, and our heartbreaks. And we waited together and looked forward to better times and those times have inevitably come. (Am I just going on like this because we finally won the Congress?). In the best times we have partied and celebrated life in as many of the wild and fulfilling ways there are to be imagined. The other night Liz said, looking back over the past year, that it had been a hard one, especially last Spring, and I nodded knowingly, although I am really jumping up and down with joy inside…. just thrilled to continue being here. We (I) have so much to be thankful for that I have a hard time looking back and thinking it was so bad. Plus, Lizzie says I don’t even remember how bad it was (lucky me). It’s much easier for me to look around myself right now and say, “Look what we have! The weather is sunny. I have the afternoon off (It’s actually January 5th in the afternoon as I am writing this home part of this piece) and I can hear two ten-year old silly girls rolling around upstairs amid giggles and the occasional scream. What could be better? Having several of Kay’s cookies left to eat right now… that would be better.”
When I stay completely in the present everything is just fine. Last year maybe it was a rough one, but I can only think about it in the present and right now all is well. Maybe we have pain and heartache and scary, worrisome times to look forward to, but right now, typing on these keys and hearing the girls playing and seeing the dog sniffing around at my feet, all is well. I can bring myself even more into the present when I breathe… and that feels right and perfect too.
I talked to Johnny in Hawaii a little while ago and hearing him report that he got the box, ate Kay’s cookies, played with the pendulum man, and is on his way to Waimea Bay to body surf…. what a great report for a DAD to hear from his wandering son. Actually, just hearing his voice makes it a good day.
So, let’s hope for a new year better than the last one, and let’s remember to appreciate what we have in every moment. Let’s treat others the way we want to be treated. Let’s live and let live. Let’s remember that all the blessings already are.
I can’t help it. I just have to throw out this old hippy wish that I used to write on my holiday cards back in the flower-power days: May the sun shine upon you, all love surround you, and the pure light within you guide your way.
Notes: For newcomers, there is a review of the basic structure of this Blog at Post #47, which you can access by clicking on "August" on the sidebar under "Archives".
El Milagro: Called in for a 1 pm chair today… plenty of time to see some basketball and the Alamo Bowl, where UT meets Iowa for the first time since 1984, I think. Hopefully it won’t be the same result, cause that time they beat our pants off. Herman cannulated me today and he is really the best! On the second needle I didn’t even feel it! He and I talked briefly about my post # 83: he says they don’t decorate for X-mas cause some people might be offended, but agreed that it isn’t very Hispanic. He reported that when El Milagro opened, it was the patients who chose the name. I replied that I thought it would be neat to have eclectic decorations; some Christmas, some Hanukkah, and some Kwanza, all combined throughout the place, with plenty of colored lights around the perimeter.
Watched part of the Mountaineers / Huskies game and then napped and woke up right at the moment the Alamo Bowl was starting. The first half was scary and we dialysis-chair quarterbacks were all moaning and cussing and wincing until Colt got it together and started playing like the star he’s supposed to be. I got through with my session right as UT scored their go-ahead TD on a pass from McCoy to Charles in the third quarter. It was another of those times when I almost wanted to stay at the center to finish watching the game cause they have ESPN and we don’t at home. When I left the center I was pretty sure UT would win since McCoy seemed to have his arm back and the defense was keeping Iowa from doing much. I reluctantly left and tried to put the game out of my head.
Later: The tower is orange! UT won 26 to 24 and all is well on the 40 acres.
Notes: In at 74.8 and out at 71.8 Kgs.