We all walk ancientrails. Welcome to the journey.

Resilience: starting a conversation

Written By: Charles - Mar• 24•20

Spring and the Corona Luna

Tuesday gratefuls: Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn above the ridge of Conifer Mountain this morning. Brenton, who will probably take Murdoch this Saturday. The Talmud, weird and wonderful. Dante’s Divine Comedy, which I plan to re-read soon. Yes, I read the whole thing. Mark Odegard, who said, “On many levels I like to be in mystery, there is much I will never understand, and that feels right.” Kate’s wonderful resilience.

When Kate’s health took a turn for the deep south, I went into plunge ahead, head down mode. I drove to the hospital almost every day, came home to take care of the dogs, got the Rav4’s oil changed, bought take-out. Hospital. Talk to doctors. Talk to Kate if she was conscious. Drive home. Feed the dogs. Eat a hamburger. Sleep. Again. Again. Again.

At one point Kate had to have an emergency operation to stop the bleeding that had caused her to receive ten units of blood through transfusion. This was late at night, the nuclear scan had failed to pinpoint the source of the bleed, so the surgeon was going in blind. Exhausted and wrung out, you might imagine I would decompensate. It was clear she could die during the procedure, but would die certainly without it.

Not sure exactly when it occurred to me, but I realized that I’d faced this situation before, in 1964, October. Mom had had her stroke seven days before and was now in the ICU at Riley Hospital in Indianapolis. It was 3 am. Dad and I were exhausted. The doctor’s told us they had no more things to try. She was in vegetative state. What did we want to do? Yes, I had faced this crisis before and experienced the worst possible outcome. Mom died after we told the doctors to take her off the ventilator and the feeding tube.

I was not resilient. Her death crushed me, sent me into a black hole that I would try to fill with alcohol and academics. Our little family went into survival mode with Dad going back to work, Mary, Mark, and me back to school. Heads down, plunging ahead, not counting the cost.

Dad and I became estranged. Mary and Mark lived with him until they finished high school and went off to college. I moved to Wisconsin after college and rarely contacted anybody in the family.

It took years for me to rebalance my psyche, shake alcohol and cigarettes. Those cigarettes, I smoked for several years, often at 3 packs a day, revisited me last fall when my doctor diagnosed me with COPD. Mild, yes, but still a lung impairment. You know what that means right now.

In October of 2018, 54 years to the month after mom died, my wife, my love, my best friend, my partner, was also in peril. This time though I knew life was possible on the other side of tragedy. I knew the sun rises, spring comes, even in the worst circumstance.

That was when my own resilience began to kick in. I could make decisions, take care of myself, our dogs, our life while Kate faced a struggle to survive. She made it; so did I.

Only, of course, to come to this. A pandemic of a respiratory illness. Nice, universe. Real nice. More thoughts about resilience will come. I’d like to know what helps you in tough times. What helps you rebalance?

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