Day +4

I am still blown away by the outpouring of compassion and thoughtfulness that comes through in your comments. I don’t know what this is exactly that we are doing, confession and honest feedback, compassionate mutual musings, call and response, or just good conversation. But I’m incredibly grateful for it. For me it also has a strange quality that you may or may not appreciate. Presumably most of you know who I am. But in a good many cases I have not figured out who you are! That lends an air of mystery about this for me. But perhaps it frees you to speak your mind and heart without fear of judgment. It might be that, at least for some of you, you wouldn’t write what you write but for the anonymity. In that case, I’m glad you have it.

In a private communication BC reminded me of the passage in Matthew that precedes the one that I quoted in “Patience.” Matthew 6:28-29 (King James Version): “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: and yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” I have long loved that passage as an expression of wonder regarding nature and natural processes. BC suggested that I consider the stem cells growing, neither toiling nor spinning, in their new home inside my bones. It is a wondrous thought! I marvel at how these things must work—not that I really understand them. In any case, I don’t think that scientifically understanding how seed germination works, when it works, makes it any less wondrous that it works. The disenchantment of nature should not lead to indifference regarding it. In many cases, as often is the case with art, understanding can foster even greater appreciation. If all natural processes were one day well understood, we still have reason to sit back and marvel over their workings, over the comprehensibility of the whole, and, of course, over the sheer fact that something exists rather than nothing. There is something wondrous about those stem cells growing deep inside my bones.

Two events from the day: This afternoon I was visited by a pair of 3rd year medical students, making the rounds for their studies. These were two young women who until then had never examined a living human body! Their job was to knock around on my belly, listen with a stethoscope, and examine my lymph nodes. They were nervous, hesitant, and self-conscious. It was all very sweet. I did what I could to put them at ease. After all, I am happy to further the cause of advancing medical studies!

The oncological psychotherapist also paid me a visit today. We talked at some length about the experience of being a patient. One thing she said that really stood out for me was the nearly complete loss of autonomy that one experiences when entering a hospital. One deals with the disease alongside everything else outside the hospital. But in the hospital treatment of the disease rules, and one’s life is governed by that. So, when one is thrown into the waiting mode, without an everyday life to participate in, it is a much more foundation-shaking experience. Without our usual everyday projects, we my be at a loss. And the realization that one is sick, indeed very sick, can produce a profound loss of orientation, a vertigo. That’s normal under the circumstances. Now, one is not consigned to the bottom should one land there. Rebuilding a routine of valuable activities, while waiting, is possible. And the resultant structure might be all the more secure as a result the fall taken.

I remarked to her that I was less bothered at night after taking the pill the doctors prescribed several days ago. She informed me that it had nothing to do with the pills. Those take a couple of weeks to begin working. The rebuilding had already begun. I’d like to think the same is true of the stem cells, neither toiling nor spinning.

It was another beautiful day here, and a good one for me.


What Single Payer Means to Me

Day +3