Tuesday, April 24, 2012

being here now

Evans bali cherry in full bloom

Of course, where else would I be but here now?

I suppose there are places I could say I'd rather be, or other lives that I might prefer living, given all that has happened in the last few months, and particularly in the last two weeks.

But the truth is that I feel lucky to have the life I have- with a kind and beautiful wife and two children that I love more than I can say.  

My garden-- I'm grateful to have deep, dark organic soil there- even if it is fantastic at producing weeds.  Because it's fantastic at producing fruit and vegetables too.  More weeds, given my recent lack of attention.

To everything there really is a silver lining.  I am still looking for the silver linings in some.

lilacs in full bloom too.
This week Gita had a mastectomy. 

She made it through 8 difficult rounds of chemotherapy with flying colors.  The nurse practitioner who saw her on a regular basis was impressed with what she was able to take, as only half of all people who have this chemo regimen make it all the way through, and most are not in as good of condition at the end as she was.

So surgery was the next thing to do.  I knew that it would be difficult, but wasn't prepared for how debilitated she would be in the immediate aftermath. 

She came from the recovery room, with teary eyes, delusional and drifting in and out of consciousness.  The nurse on duty explained that I'd have to 'strip her drains'- pull on the drainage tubes that led to three grenade shaped plastic bottles full of blood and pus- three times a day, and taught me how to do the procedure and measure and record the fluid output.   I stayed with her in the hospital room the first night, hoping that things would be better the next day.

And they were.  She's a strong woman, and now, a week later is back to her normal self, minus some body parts.  Our one-week follow up was today and the prognosis is guardedly optimistic. 

I'm grateful that we live so near the Mayo clinic and for all the good work they've done and how well they've explained all that they've done.  Without them, this would have been much more difficult. 

Strangely enough, the parts of three days we spent in the hospital were some of the calmest days I've had in the last 5 months or so.  I don't normally like hospitals, so I was expecting to really dislike being there.  But it was nice.  Partly, it was because the hospital was better designed and friendlier than the average hospital, and partly it was because there was nowhere else to be at that particular time.  There was nowhere to be but with Gita, in our little room, talking with her while she was awake, and looking out the window at the clouds when she wasn't.

My parents and Gita's sister were watching the kids, so there were no kids to take care of, lunch and dinner were at restaurants or the hospital cafeteria.  Since we were in Rochester, there was no way I was going to go to work or do any gardening.  It was a mandatory vacation from all of the things that eat up my time these days.

While I didn't think that spending time in a hospital would feel like a vacation, it sort of did.  I was glad to have the time to simply be with my wife, listen to some relaxing music, and reflect on the past few months, without being immersed in all of the things that have made the last few months stressful.

We came back home Thursday afternoon.  Early Friday morning we got a phone call letting us know that water was coming through the ceiling at our rental place.  I scrambled to find a plumber on short notice.

Then a little later Friday morning I got an email from the new community garden's contact with the city giving me notice to 'stop all work on the garden' until a new situation is resolved.  The department of transportation for our state is now considering denying all new permits for community gardens in their rights-of-way.  This could potentially make a year of hard work by me and a group of other gardeners amount to nothing. 

I'm still looking for the silver lining on that one.  
gita asked them to do an 'armani pose'


  1. Blessings to you and Gita and your children. A truly beautiful family. Courageous and strong. A great gift to St Paul, and America.

    1. Thank you Hunter. We are blessed to know you too. Thank you very much for your kindness and support.

  2. A beautifully written post. So glad you were able to find some calm in the midst of hospital days.

  3. So, I'm laying on my back dealing with a sore butt, and figgered that I'd check out my old friend Jeff's blog, and well, it turns out that you have your own struggle with out of control cells on your hands. Good luck buddy. (And, yes, I have my own fight with renegade, diseased cells to deal with ... http://myasscancer.blogspot.com/ if you are interested.)

  4. amyj- thanks! I always appreciate hearing from you.

    Jes- good to hear from you-but oh man! Sorry to hear you've joined this club. I took a look at the blog and was grateful you didn't post pictures.
    Cancer ain't fun that's for sure. The 'wiping with 50 grit sandpaper' was a good word picture. I'm getting a check up (for the first time in 10 years I think) this year.