Today, I resurrected and doctored my Turner mountain bike, which has been hibernating since its last trek in the biking mecca of Sedona, AZ, November 10, 2008. How do I recall the exact day? Can’t forget — the following morning I was stabbed in the left flank while sleeping. I startled awake in excruciating pain, forcing my contracting eyelids open to see the perpetrator. I urgently scanned the room while reaching for my flank to feel the bloody knife (or red-hot poker). I felt nothing, saw nothing, then realized I was having my first kidney stone attack! My eyes rolled back in my head in utter disbelief as another sharply expanding wave of pain and nausea took over. The clock displayed 4 a.m., so Danusia was beyond my door, down the hall, asleep. So, for the next 45 minutes, in a cold sweat, I closed my eyes and focused on breathing deeply through the repeating waves of attacks. After an eon and hundreds of shallow gasps, I heard Danusia moving around. I speed dialed her, and next thing, found myself in the Sedona Urgent Care ER.
I posted the following to my Facebook 3/14/12:
My illness continues:
One’s state of physical health can have a drastic, devastating effect on one’s sense of life, hope, and happiness.
The world shrinks when I am sick–my entire universe is the room I’m in, the things right in front of me, and what I’m feeling. All I care about is getting through the immediate pain cycle (which can last hours or weeks), how to do it, and how long it’s going to take.
“Ink” is putting pen to paper, an octopus defense, a nerdy stain on shirt pocket, and a tattoo. Not “the plane, the plane, boss!” Tattoo, but a permanent (as in forever, as some of us go) declaration of some vision to the world on your skin. Various cultures have practiced this art throughout history. Often, these markings proclaim identity, membership, and ideas. As I have grown, my identity, my membership, and my ideas have evolved. Endurance, survival, and wisdom can be gained from such evolution. As an undergrad dressed in Ralph Lauren attire, I would have shuddered, condescendingly, at an arm with ink. In medical school, I was purely concerned with the physiological results of tattooing, the histology, the complications. In residency and private practice, tattoos were “O.K.” on others, but NOT on me. On and on, ideas evolve. Continue reading
Danusia, my soulet, rescued our “kids” beginning with Coco in 2008. Her intent was to provide comfort, companionship, and just a little bit of joy during the very dark days of my illness. At first, I didn’t have any interest in having a pet. Getting well and out of pain was my only interest, my only focus–I had absolutely no energy for anything else. But when she came to my bedside and opened the box and I saw this tiny, sweet soul looking back at me, I gave in instantly. Coco was 8 weeks old, but underweight and ill, just like me. She had severe kennel cough, requiring subcutaneous antibiotics and fluids. During the first weeks of her arrival, she would sleep next to me at night and stay by my side as I rested in bed throughout the day. Time passed and she healed while still returning to my side and purring in my lap when I could sit up. She’s become even more affectionate as the years have passed, and of course, I love her more each day. What a gift Danusia gave me.
2009 arrived and I was no better, so Danusia rescued our second, presenting her as she did Coco. Milo was 12 weeks old and, unfortunately, had to be sequestered for a month due to an intestinal infection that could spread to Coco. Each morning I would make my way downstairs to Milo’s room and lie down for an hour, letting Milo tread all over my back, kneed my side, and push her head into my palm over and over, purring all the while. The time came to unite Coco and Milo, and after a few hisses and head pats, Coco took to Milo like a proud, caring mother. Danusia had given me another tremendous heartfelt gift, as I found some rare joy in observing our two “kids” form a playful, everlasting bond.
2010 came around and found me worse after more surgeries and hospitalizations, so Danusia made another rescue. This time it was a healthy, melt your heart 10 week old. Not only did Danusia and I fall fast and hard for Echo, Coco and Milo did as well. Echo was special, exhibiting behavior we had yet to witness from a kitten. She would kneed against Danusia’s side for 30 minutes, let herself be held for hours, then bound endlessly from wall to wall in rapid, thunderous flashes.
And that brings me to their names, which Danusia kindly left for me to change. Oreo became Coco, Wilbur, whom the animal shelter thought to be a boy, became our second girl Milo, and Daisy Mae became Echo, or rather, Echoplex Blaze to reflect her raucous, chaotic speed. 2012, our “kids” are all healthy, as is Danusia, and I’m feeling a bit better each day. Never could I have imagined the healing effect such gifts would bring. So I thank Danusia from my heart each time Coco, Milo, or Echo appears to comfort their “dad” . . .