Friday, January 1, 2010

Medical Report

The Christmas season has been very different for me this year, a time of disorientation, solitude and also some emotional invigoration. Preparing for the New Year under the bright blue moon, my heart dances with optimism and is sobered by reality.

Forgive the gory details (or skip over them), but to properly convey my state of mind and trains of thought, the specifics of my physical ordeal are required. Consider yourself forewarned.

Two weeks ago, the catheter running through my penis was removed. Like a band-aid ripped off, only deep inside, this was a very painful experience. With no sedation or warning, and eight weeks of bonding to sensitive tissue, there was nothing for it but to yank until it came free, followed by a smoother removal and replacement of the tube in my belly.

Unfortunately, it was immediately evident that the plumbing is blocked and non-functional. An overwhelming urge to pee quickly envelops me like a labor pain, but the passage is damned (sic) by raw scar tissue, now burning with acid, until it backs up and finds the other way out. These spasms have continued since then unpredictably, forcing exhalations and groans mid-sentence, dancing a writhing jig until it subsides.

Able to live somewhat normally in between, I am off the couch more and out into the world, but after a few hours, exhaustion creeps up, knocks me over the head and I stumble back to the couch for rest. Last weekend, determined to overcome this adversity, I actually managed a few gentle runs on skis with my Skatter Monkeys, but paid for it with tears on Monday.

A day of tests in the hospital and a visit to the doctor on Christmas Eve has determined that another surgery will be necessary to eliminate the blockage. To maximize the amount of healthy tissue for the repair, however, we must wait three to six months for the current inflammation to subside. At least another month will be required to recover after the surgery.

This life in limbo, with a tube in my belly and a smelly bag strapped to my leg, will continue for the indefinite future.

There is meaning in this. I know there must be some purpose. In some moments of lucidity, I find compelling answers. Brilliant conversations with wise friends can shed amazing light on these darkest places, but they only seem to fall back into shadow when the exhaustion returns. I can lie for hours in a state of confusion and despair, bewildered by the senselessness of my body’s betrayal and the devastating consequences to a 5 second lapse of concentration on that scaffold.

One of the biggest challenges is learning the balance between laying still in acceptance of my helplessness and pushing through the “inertia” (my fear) or exhaustion, finding the strength to play music, ski, or be with a friend. In this life to date, I have so often worked hard to do what has been “right” or expected. Doggedly determined, often compulsively, I worked my business and my marriage well beyond reasonable hope. My friends painfully witnessed the battle, but all of their best advice was unable to deter me.

We are each on our own separate journeys and for whatever reasons, we are the only ones who can make the changes necessary, and only when we are truly ready to make them. Intellectually, we may know, but just as impotent as our friends, only when our heart and soul give up the battle are we finally able to surrender and connect with spirit. For some (myself) this process is more painful than others because we fear change or want so desperately to hold onto the beliefs which no longer (if ever) work for us.

As I am forced to lie so long on this couch, suffering spasms, surrounded by love, but lonely for romance, I hold on to the faith that these trials have some purpose to help me understand and better thrive in this world. The twisted, stressful path that has raised children, loved too dependently, abandoned my creativity, then embraced it again with vengeance—all of this must be ripe with meaning.

Too stubborn to find it on my own, this consignment to the stillness of the couch is the opportunity for discernment. Resistance is still strong. My intellect wants to dissect, categorize, understand and describe what is ultimately inexplicable. Like the translation of an electrical impulse from our stereo into brilliant sound, the strength of our own particular journey to faith is miraculous.

And so we sing.

Please share with your friends


Hayden Tompkins said...

I just keep thinking "take it a day at a time". I wish I had something better to tell you except that I know it WILL be better at some point.

Happy New Year, Kip. I'll be keeping you in my thoughts and prayers...

Laurie said...

The path to and of faith is miraculous indeed. I am so thankful we do not travel that path alone for it is the One we put our faith in that leads our way....if we have the faith to follow.