Ten Thousand Days

And Yet, I’m Still Here

October 9, 2019

Photo: Sharon McCutcheon

Day 1757 – Day 1880

It has taken me a long time to even begin to put words to this post.  I have had a lot to process, and I have a deep well that is yet to be examined and re-ordered.

I had a life altering brush with death this summer.  Despite how daunting that is to say, I found myself in hospital with immense gratitude on a daily basis.  In brief, I went into emergency at the start of July with what I thought was food poisoning.  A minor surgery was indicated and performed.  It went terribly wrong, and my organs began to shut down.  In total, I had 4 surgeries to correct what had gone wrong and in the end, I was with the best liver specialist in the country.  For that, I’m grateful.  My belly looks much like the incision in the photo although I also have one that traverses my body horizontally as well.  The words on her body resonate with me as well.  In such stark moments, they will resonate with us all.

Farewell, bikini body, I like to joke.  But you can bet that I wear these scars as my badge of courage, of will, and of strength.  I have one more open surgery to go, in 2020.

I remember a friend once told me that when she left hospital, she sat on a park bench and had a heightened sense of awareness of everything.  Likely that was the drugs, still in her system.  I can attest to that, after 30 days of high doses of intravenous morphine.  But, I didn’t have to wait till I left hospital.  I learned many things about myself, about being a good patient, about being one’s own advocate (thankfully, I was conscious, most of the time), and about the people in my life.  The petty stuff had to go.  This displeased some people some of the time, but I had one focus…getting through this and being alive at the end of it.  I learned a lot.  My learnings are too private to share here, and I hope you will understand, my friends.  But, I hope that we will all see the learnings applied in my life, in the months and (hopefully) years to come.

I am grateful for my doctors at Vancouver General Hospital and St. Paul’s Hospital.  They saved my life.  I am grateful for my nurses and their 24 hour care.  They eased my pain and helped me with the little daily tasks like bathing that make a person feel human.  I finally felt I was in safe hands.  I am grateful for the visits from my family who brought me things like boiled eggs (when, after 10 days of no food or drink, I was able to eat once again), headphones and freshly laundered clothes.  I’m grateful that they kept my deck garden alive while I was in hospital – although nobody actually expected me to be in hospital as long as I was.  And I’m grateful for the many friends and relatives that came to visit on a daily basis.  They did not take offence when I asked them to come often and come for short visits.  I tired (and still do) very easily.  I’m grateful to the kayak buddy who picked me up from hospital, drove 2 hours to my house and helped get food for my house and my medical equipment to help me to recuperate.  I’m particularly grateful that she was able to spend the night and helped the next day when others came to move over 20 plants off my deck because my landlady needed to do construction commencing the day after I was released from hospital.  That particular situation is not something I welcomed but I’m grateful to those who helped get me through it and to those who stored my plants for an entire month while contstruction stretched on.  I’m grateful for many people in my community garden that took care of my plot while I was in hospital and even after I was released, clearing the plot, and cleaning it up for winter.  It was beyond anything I could have hoped would happen.

And, being a person of faith, I am grateful most of all to the Divine.  I both surrendered to and co-created with my concept of the Divine all the time I was in hospital.  I believe this deep sense of faith has always been the source of my strength.  I’m sure that those who are not people of faith will have their own reservoir from which to draw.

As difficult as some of the lessons were, and some of the things I recognize that I want to change, I’m grateful for the wake-up call that this has given me.  I’ve been granted a second chance at this life and whatever time I have left, I intend to use it well albeit, in some ways, differently.

I will leave this post with a singular focus on gratitude.  I know that there were moments of oneness, and joy and even a few moments of service.  When one is faced with their mortality and must put all of their will and energy into fighting to survive and heal, one is truly in the moment, nothing but authentic, and extremely mindful of everything that is important, and equally, that which is not.  What became very important for me was the concept of purpose and meaning, and being aligned with them in all that I do.  Life is short and I intend to live it even more purposefully than I ever have, before.

I have a lot of words in this post and yet, I haven’t really said much.  Good writing comes in the detail.  But these details are among the most private one can have.  Let me just say this:  I’m altered and yet, I’m still here.

For what are you most grateful?

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