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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

BLACKHAWK DOWN: Confessions of A Dirty Shirt

Hey y'all, it got hot today, yeah, we didn't escape the record-breaking "last gasp of summer" and are roasting in Seattle.

My shirt hasn't been washed in a month. I use it for a napkin. Who has energy to go get one? All the meals I've had are wiped on it. It resembles a Jackson Pollock painting...a volunteer may come Friday to help. I've never been this filthy before, outside of backpacking trips...and even then we could always find high country lakes to splash about in...i really stink but am too weak to shower or bathe and the place hasn't been retrofitted with grab bars and stuff yet. I'm disgusting. Laundry room is way down in the parking garage. For the entire building, three old washers, two dryers, none of them accessible. Guinea pig cages are cleaner. (And always will be, if we have to make a choice with precious little energy.)

There's no photos with this post, just felt like rambling about tiny things...little losses and amusements, the cultural vocabulary POI and I are developing...he's a Veteran of the U.S. Military, so whenever i fall down in the apartment and he hears a 
Ka-LUMP! it's usually followed by a puny: "Blackhawk Down."
(In reference to the 1993, tragedy in Mogadishu, Somalia, in which 2 Blackhawk helicopters were shot down...)  POI and I watch lots of documentaries and military films together because he explains, too often first-person, the nuances and subtleties sacrificed by our Service men and women: those who served and those serving now...his co-worker pitches for the "Wounded Warriors" softball team and is the only amputee on the team who made his own prosthetic leg. They received a standing ovation after playing First Responders of Boston following the Boston Marathon Bombing once children amputees joined them on the field at historic Fenway was amazing - and he totally had the coolest leg out there! We are so proud of him. 

It's still 9/11, isn't it?  Are we at war in Syria yet? I checked "The Daily Show" from last night, but am afraid of The Nightly News. 

Thing is: this is such a great country! I just have problems knowing that some of the men and women sleeping beneath the roaring Interstate are wounded not, have not received the care they deserve and are entitled to...yes, POI reminds me how fortunate I am to have an apartment, but it isn't a home until THEY HAVE HOMES, TOO! Food doesn't taste good when they are hungry two blocks away. It's agonizing, falling through gaping cracks in our severely flawed medical system living in housing not conforming to the "Americans With Disabilities Act" or "Fair Housing" laws but by the Grace of God, at least i HAVE HOUSING AND FOOD!

POI told me to quit calling my doctor "Barbie." He's a very respectful person. He's a better person than I am. 
(Would it be wrong just to say "I have Tourettes Syndrome and don't mean every snarky thing that comes out of my mouth...and, yes, I can tell by the expression on your face I DID SAY THAT OUT LOUD, DIDN'T I?") 

So many have no doctors at all. So many too proud to admit they need help. So many who served and are serving, both here and overseas...our flags at half mast, our country still at war, wounded warriors walk invisibly amongst us, unrecognized for their valor.

POI just walked in so now it's safe to get out of bed and cash in frequent flyer miles for a flight to the bathroom...

Outside flags still fly half-mast and as sad as I feel at 5 a.m. every morning when I wake up realizing "This is NOT A DREAM? For REAL?" I feel sadder for our veterans. POI makes legs for them.
Their stories put my situation into perspective. A very different perspective. 

Every time I fall and eek out "Blackhawk Down," POI wakes up and picks me up or at least gets me comfortable on the floor until we can get me back into bed: How many never get picked up? Have no beds? What happened to LEAVE NO MAN BEHIND?

Our warriors are proud. They served and serve with dignity and courage; they and their families, our families sacrifice lives to preserve freedoms we take for granted.

It's still 9/11: America, "BLACKHAWK DOWN!" Please...
pick us up. 

{Update - since this writing, "Blackhawk Down" events are increasingly becoming "sheltering in place" events. We were taught by the Transitions to Hospice Team how to get cozy with the floor. TRANSITIONS folks are indescribably AMAZING!  Moving from "Blackhawk Down" moments which end up getting lovingly tucked back into bed to "Sheltering-in-Place" events in which the floor becomes the bed are details, such tiny losses, yet - taken together - represent a gradual disintegration of life that comes out easier in tears, cannot be spoken of, requiring so much vulnerability to reveal, explaining why I write, re-write, remove, delete, even replace posts like a real Whack! Because this IS WHACK!
Such intense vulnerability frightens me initially until it becomes part of the warp-and-woof of life and we pay no mind.
But, it's a process. Thank you sincerely, readers all, for your profound forbearance...} 


EPHEMERA: Early Morning

"You cannot simultaneously
prevent and prepare for war."
~ Albert Einstein

Which begs the question:
"How to simultaneously prevent
and prepare for death?"

The Hebrew Wall hanging is
from "Song of Solomon" 6:3,
and translates:
"I am my Beloved's and
my Beloved is mine."
My POI (Person of Interest)
gifted it to me nearly
20 years ago. It isn't up
because we are observing
the Jewish High Holy Days
because I am not observant;
if anything, more of a Sufi...

It is up because the
whole thing is just so damn
breathtakingly beautiful!

Seattle wakes up to predicted
record-breaking high temperatures,
Summer's final "Farewell!"
Fortunately, the breeze from
Elliott Bay spares us the swelter
and no piggies will need wrapping
up in cool, moist towels today.
We see flags flying at half-mast.
Yes, it is 9/11. Again.
It always will be now.
Nothing can take it back and we
have been inexorably changed,
each in our own ways.

For me, its ensuing wars are
taking another casualty: health care.
Budget cuts diverted to military ops
overseas and here in America
 prevent my receiving health care.
I returned to Seattle unaware just how much
had changed since last living here. 
We live amongst Bill Gates, Microsoft,
AMAZON, Boeing...some of the world's
wealthiest! A block away, people sleep
beneath the freeway. I am fortunate to
even have a home...Just not healthcare.
So, Seattle wakes up, that's Century Link
Stadium to the left from my window,
yes, we can actually see into it down to the
field while the roar of the crowd during
Sounders soccer games and Seattle Seahawks
games celebrate with marching bands,
cannons that explode with each point scored,
accompanied by fireworks and cheers that
would pierce the silence of what is not
a sanctuary here, because there never IS
Blessed Silence inside the apartment amidst
the bustle of downtown Seattle. 

Silence only inside what St. Teresa of Avila calls 
"The Interior Castle." (Within, during meditation, prayer, contemplative introspection.)

She guides:
"Let us leave it to the Lord. (For He knows us
better than we do ourselves. And true humility
is content with what is received.)"
~ from Saint Teresa of Avila
translated by Mirabai Starr does one keep hope
alive while preparing for a "Do It Yourself"
end of life? Not a fast one. A slow one.

"Why can't you DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT?"
Because, for whatever reasons, over 20 doctors
at 4 hospitals have botched things up into a muddle and Medicare will not cover inpatient
care without a diagnosis and I am too sick to
endure some of the most important, necessary
diagnostic procedures as an outpatient.
It's that simple. And emergency rooms, First longer work.
No diagnosis, no treatment. No treatment,
then it's in the Hands of the Beloved, is it not?

"I am my Beloved's,
and my Beloved is mine."

So, I  comb, snuggle, and cuddle guinea pigs
with a DO NOT RESUSCITATE sign hanging
on the bedroom door. There is nothing to
resuscitate. I am slowly starving due to
as-yet-and-maybe-never undiagnosed
G.I. and Neurological illnesses...
details, details.

Transitions to Hospice  Care workers
DONATIONS, their services free, and they
are doggedly trying to get the hospital to
admit, diagnose, treat, or at the very least,
provide Palliative Care. The Fire Department
has a key to my door because we seem to have
a lot of dear, precious 95-year-old
neighbor loves to cook. She AMAZES! Every single day she dresses to the nines, and goes
out on town with her walker: astonishing!
Errrr...but the cooking part...?
Not so good given she is going blind.
Further, we also have residing amongst
us a serial "fire-alarm" puller!
Yes, living amongst seniors is an
enlightening experience. My neighbors
here are extraordinary, though, and
take care of one another, strangers
in the beginning, yet they will "adopt"
each other and voluntarily find meaning
in's quite touching.
They all clamor to help me. But I do
not know them very well, yet, how much
do I ask, what is reasonable to expect?

You have all asked me to have a positive
attitude and be hopeful.

I am doing my best.

It is difficult to simultaneously hope for
a bright, beautiful future while preparing
for death. Sometimes funny things happen.
And I will try to write about them.
Sometimes hopes get dashed. And I do
not want to write about that.

But one thing that has never ceased is a
Parade of Unending Miracles: a few months
ago The Times of India published a letter I
wrote thanking the editor for all I received
reading and writing on their Speaking Tree
(Spirituality) many Indians,
people I may never meet, will never know,
all began praying, doing whatever religious
rituals exist to heal those they love, the
outpouring was a Tsunami that actually
stopped all the pain that was keeping me
from eating! All the pain VANISHED.
And, to this day, it has never but once
or twice been severe!

Last month, my POI, 
(Person of Interest/Soulmate/Caregiver who
 has forbidden me to use his name, identity, or any photos of him: righteously exclaiming:
heh-heh, yeah, 
"O.K. lang"
(Tagalog for "fine!!!")
Anyway, POI was
losing control of the walker on our VERY steep sidewalk before we got a wheelchair and instead
of rolling down into the middle of the street during
rush hour traffic (or all the way down into Elliott Bay, depending...) a delivery van immediately appeared OUT OF NOWHERE, the driver leapt
out of the cab faster than superman could spin in his telephone booth from Clark Kent into his cape, and grabbed the walker, helping POI safely navigate it into the building! We thanked him profusely and this is what he replied:
"That's what I am here for."
Delivery man? Or Angel?
"That's what I am here for."
We bought a wheelchair so the angels don't
have to work quite so hard, but they still do.
Yesterday, a gift came in the mail from a
friend I have never met. It was "loveful."
I just burst into tears, sitting in my wheelchair,
uncontrollably sobbing at how beautiful, how
generous, how kind, how full of Grace Life is.
And in those tears, the Fight I have been losing...
fighting for basic human rights which are allegedly guaranteed by law yet not guaranteed by bureaucrats...I stopped. Fighting. The anger I felt about the injustice of it all melted in her loveful gesture, in her generosity, then a flood of tears remembering ALL OF YOUR LOVE, ALL OF YOUR PRAYERS, ALL OF YOUR GENEROSITY and the anger, indignation, humiliation, the desire to retaliate against those bullying, those making the choice to deny medical treatment because Medicare pays so little...the fight melted. I texted POI "Should I let go?"
POI texted back "Yes, you'll feel lighter."

I do feel lighter.

Hope is in the hands of my Beloved.

I cannot read His Mind.
(Nor would I want to, what with everything
happening in the world, There by The Grace of God go we.)

Life is Loveful.
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