And the time will come..
If I am lucky and all goes well, when members are in lodge room at its next meeting I will be in intensive care for the second night recovering from major heart surgery. I am likely to spend 3-4 days in intensive care, 10 days in all in a ward in hospital and a further 2-3 weeks in a rehabilitation hospital.
Please do not feel sorry for me: I am absolutely delighted that at my old age my general health and mental state is such that I am a suitable candidate for high risk surgery involving the replacement of two valves, the repair of a third, a bypass and implanting wires for a pacemaker which may or may not be installed. For me, there really is no other option. As a warning to others, my only initial symptoms and until a short time ago were a cough, slight wheeze at night, slight shortness of breath, swelling in my legs and tiredness.
It seems to have taken a long time to reach this point and a lot goes through one’s mind. Foremost is that beautiful ritual “....as the time will come - and the wisest of us knows how soon – when all distinctions save those of goodness and virtue, shall cease, and death, the great leveller of all human greatness, shall reduce us to the same state.” In addition I have my responsibility to care for my wife who requires care, bringing “my affairs” up to date, put in place house management arrangements and all my loose ends resulting from a busy diverse life.
Facing this circumstance is quite unlike facing the enemy in a combat situation where you are well trained, young at times feeling almost immortal – it is never going to happen to me. There are usually things that you can do or not do in order to be relatively safe. There is no unshakable evidence as to the dangers. However, in modern medicine there are a host of intrusive and non-intrusive tests to show the precise nature of the problem in a case like mine and statistical evidence of the likely outcome of intervention.
There are no disappointments from the level of continuing assistance from my immediate support group. One can only be disappointed if your expectations are not realised and in some cases my expectation are low. However the circumstances have produced some stars with a member of the younger generation stepping up and another really lifting his game.
From another quarter, or I should say fifth, you hear the unsympathetic, immature and uninformed comment: “well he does not have to have the operation, he is old and could just let go”. I suppose that is right but with all my mental faculties intact it is not pleasant to feel when I lay down that I am going to drown in my own congestion, so tired that I can hardly lift my arms for basic toilet needs and all day in bed. Quality of life is a major issue. Furthermore, I have not completed my life’s work in caring for my wife until the end. We have been together for over 60 years.
I am quite confident that I will come through this but I am under no allusions that it will be difficult. I am very grateful to my stalwarts for their support.
Yours fraternally ,.
Postscript : Don has had his operation and after a few days in ICU returned home and is recovering. We’re all pleased to hear his surgery was a success and look forward to seeing him, particularly in Lodge. Also congratulations to Don for not missing an edition of Devotion News. No low expectations for Don!