8:19.22: Going to go out today. The ‘team’ meets today (without me) to review all of the data and prepare for surgery. I’m amazed at how many people are involved, all to care for one person (me, this time around!). The pulmonologist said last night that it all looks good, so I don’t expect problems as long as I don’t test positive for COVID!! I have my third test scheduled for Monday. They do it here every few days.
Many of the people I see do not have health insurance. I understand the temptation to go without, but the process I’m undergoing would be impossible without insurance. I suppose a person would wait for the ‘marketplace’ sign-up time, and eventually get covered. But if you have an emergency, you can easily end up with tens of thousands of dollars of debt, or even hundreds of thousands. The echo tech told me how she tripped on her cables, at work, breaking her femur in 4 places about 12 months ago… she had a rod inserted and was off work for months. The cost of insurance isn’t bad for a young person, and the subsidies reduce the cost even more — so please consider it, at least a high-deductible plan for worst-case-scenarios.
Nancy and I have wondered why the people at our local healthcare system are so miserable, or at least seem to be when we’ve been there. I noticed years ago how the staff at Community Memorial in Menomonee Falls were so friendly… everyone smiling and saying ‘hi’ as you pass them in the hall, and smiles and nice greetings from people at counters. It is like that here, and it really makes a difference. People say things like ‘thank you for trusting us with your care’ and ‘I’m really hoping things go well!’ Even staff we pass in the hall smile and say hi. I asked one of the nurses about it, and she said it is ‘part of their compensation’ – that the hospital collects data and feedback, and being nice to patients impacts their pay. That makes the kindness sound insincere but I don’t think that’s what’s going on. I think that kindness, even if the initial gesture isn’t entirely ‘genuine’, becomes infectious. Seeing your coworkers smile and act nice makes you want to be nice too – for ‘genuine’ reasons.
Don’t worry, I won’t go soft on you. None of these people would last a month in a Wisconsin winter! But it is a nice thing while I’m here!
8.19.22: Psychiatrists don’t talk much about spirituality. We’re taught that way — or more accurately, we are taught in a way that completely ignores the topic. I’ve received so many emails from people telling me that they are praying for me, and until recently I struggled with how to respond. More self disclosure… my parents were very involved in the Methodist church, and I was taken to church weekly for most of my childhood. I was in church youth groups, went to summer church camps, got married in a church, and took our kids to church until they were adults.
As part of my recovery decades ago, I became very involved in the steps. In fact I felt that for the first time, I really understood what Faith consisted of. I had always thought that some people believe in God or a higher power, and some people didn’t, as if the belief just came to some people. Maybe some people came across enough proof of a higher power, and that led them to believe. But as I read and read 12-step literature (at a time in my life when I was humbled and desperate… yes, I’ve been here before) I realized that Faith was the opposite of what I’d always thought. I realized that if a higher proved him/herself to me, it wouldn’t be Faith at all. I realized that Faith requires making a decision to believe, when evidence does NOT exist.
I found that realization to be the start of the best years of my life. But I struggled to match that feeling to the religion that I was dragged to over my early years, and over time I drifted away from both AA and the church.
My struggle now, when people pray for me, is that I don’t feel that I have earned those prayers. I don’t do the legwork — i.e. go to church, participate in all those boring church committees, take communion, tithe… and yes, I realize that most faithful people say that those things are not required; that you are still welcome to belief in a benificient holy spirit, even if you haven’t done the church legwork. But I grew up knowing what the ‘regulars’ thought about the people who only showed up to church on Easter and Christmas (because I heard my parents talk about those people!).
I loved being a boy scout more than going to church, and I always felt an instant connection to a higher power when I was in a tent, late at night, hearing the wind blowing through the trees. I loved being in the woods after dark, or the ‘silent swim’ contests we used to do at camp where we would try to sneak up on someone on a pier, after dark, without them knowing we were in the water. That’s another thing I drifted away from, living in larger cities and being too busy to drive to remote areas. Or maybe I just started enjoying hotels too much!
I think that all of the monty python and woody allen movies I’ve watched (my dad was a big fan) made me a little cynical too. I think of a woody allen movie when he feared he had a brain tumor, so he ran out and bought a crucifix and a picture of Jesus ‘just to be on the safe side’ (he was Jewish). I can’t help but feel like I’m doing the same thing now.
I’ll close with pictures from tonight. We are just waiting now until my admission on Tuesday. My daughter Laura is flying out and hopefully she will get here before visiting hours end on Tuesday. They say they won’t try to wake me until at least Thursday, maybe Friday. I’m glad that they do it this way — they deliberately give people a few days after the tests to settle in to the idea. I’m getting there.
AMAZING what an I-phone can do