Friday, October 14, 2011

4th Anniversary of my Second Chance

October 14, 2007 -- a day as important as my birthday!
Four years ago today, Dr. Darryl Tookes quite literally saved my life with his expert emergency surgery.
October 14th or 15th could very well have been the date after the dash on my tombstone (if I had one).

Dr. Tookes discovered clots in the portal, mesentary, and splenic veins in my gut.  These clots caused part of my intestine to rot and triggered peritonitis which put vital organs in distress.  During my two week stay at the hospital, the doctors searched for the cause of these clots.  I detailed the experience in posts in the Winter of 2007 and early 2009, so I won't digress today.

It wasn't until October 2009 that we learned that I have Polycythemia Vera.  The hematocrit rose to over 69 and I had symptoms that put me at high risk of a stroke.  A bone marrow biopsy confirmed that I am JAK-2 positive;  the protein/gene malfunctioned.

I have not regained the energy, stamina, and mental acuity to return to a 40+ hour career.  I want the old "me" back!  I still dream of making significant contributions to our world.  I want to be back in the compensated career track.  I am continually frustrated by the unreliable and inconsistent "good days" that chronic illness offers.

Shifting focus from frustration to gratitude is part of my daily spiritual practice.  I am aware that my life is much easier than millions of people in this country and the world.  I have a loving and supportive family, excellent affordable health care (which is expensive for chronic illnesses), great friends and community -- both local and on-line, clean water & electricity on demand, plenty of food, a safe and comfortable home...
I don't take my gifts lightly.

With great gifts come great responsibility.  That belief is ingrained in my soul.  Perhaps that is where the frustration is fueled.  There is so much I want to do to act on my gratitude and help others.  I derive intense joy from helping others, easing another's burden.  When I cannot DO, I must focus on BEING... and today I am grateful.

So today, I exclaim a heartfelt THANK YOU to Dr. Tookes and all the great Kaiser Permanente docs and staff who saved my life and keep me going.

May you share gratitude and love to someone who has been there for you.  Trust me, it feels great!

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