Hopped Up on the Goofballs

December 30, 2012 at 2:15 am (Hospitalizations, Medical, The Panniculectomy) (, , , , , )

I am, as my friend Stephanie would say, hopped up on the goofballs. That is, I am on high amounts of dilaudid through a PCA pump.

Yes, this means I made it through the surgery. However, there was a scary moment, just like I predicted, where I needed to go on a respirator. My uvula has been so swollen since the surgery that I keep thinking it’s a loogey I should spit up. (I know you were dying to know that.) I also awoke with deep and abiding memories of having spoken to Hel, the Norse Goddess of the Underworldd (as I expected to) as well as my friend Jon, who died earlier this year (which I did not expect to). I was lucky that Rave was able to write down my babbling so I have more than my swiss cheese memory to rely on. It was very intense and maybe once I’m on less goofballs and in less pain I might relate some of it to you.

I have lost a significant portion of my pannus – it’s kinda freaky – 30 or so pounds gone. My belly no longer hangs over my thighs at all, and instead I kinda look like a dude with a beer gut. It turns out that the larger abscess, the one they’ve been draining all this time, was so big it went all the way back to the abdominal wall; so they had to cut that deep in order to remove that, along with tons of infected and dead tissue.

I’m in a lot of pain – like, probably the worst pain I’ve ever had, postoperatively. I was in ICU for about 12 hours, and one of my memories was them asking me to roll on my side and me actively trying to find the words, at full volume, to let them know that not only did it hurt, but that I no longer consented. You know, a safeword of some sort. But now I’m able to get up and shuffle around with the assistance of a walker and one or two other people to wrangle all the tubes and wires attached to me. I have a “vacu-bandage” of some sort, that is both sucking all the fluid out of my wound, but is also holding my new improved belly in place so it heals without drooping.

That’s all for now. I just wanted to let you all know in blogland that I survived, I had a very intense Underworld experience, and I am on the path towards healing.


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While I Am Gone

December 28, 2012 at 10:15 am (Living, Spiritual, The Panniculectomy)

Through the magic of WordPress, this will be published at the exact time my surgery is scheduled.

I know that I’ve been pretty honest here that this is more than just a routine panniculectomy. Not only is it more complicated by the various infections, the many abdominal surgeries I’ve already had, the mesh that was installed in my first ventral hernia repair, and more; I’ve also been open about the fact that I believe there is a spiritual element to it – that I asked Loki to release me from the part of my contract that forbade me from committing suicide, and He responded by putting a life-threatening health crisis in my path.

I should come clean – there is a lot more to the story, but most of it has been kept behind a shroud, only shared with my closest confidantes and colleagues that I trust. Hey, when Baphomet allows me a modicum of privacy, I have learned to take full advantage of it.

What you need to know, here and now, is that I intend to live. I intend to do everything within my power to make another blog post after this one, telling you that the surgery was successful and I’m on the road to recovery. I have a sincere desire to move into a new chapter in my life, where the Sacred Work I’ve been asked to undertake finally takes center stage. All of the distractions, the hurdles and complications have either been removed or are being addressed. I don’t expect that this one surgery will cure me of all the odd symptoms I’ve had over the years, but at the very least it will both remove the very hard-to-ignore boulder that has been in my path since August, as well as hopefully integrate me into the Johns Hopkins health care system so that I can finally have a team of doctors all working together to figure out what the heck has being going on.

And after all, that’s what this is all about. Dying for a Diagnosis. If it took a life-threatening surgery to bring me to the place where I might find salve; where the doctors are all actively interested in the symptoms I’ve been desperately trying to get doctors to take seriously – starting with my fatigued immune system, and going from there – then it was all worth it. It has been scary, stressful, depressing, anxiety-producing, and difficult on every aspect of my life and my ability to live it, but if I can get through this and move into another phase, a better place to move forward into the next incarnation of what I am to be, what I am to do to fulfill my Purpose, then I will have no regrets.

I’m not thrilled at how this all came to be, no sir. I’m not at all happy that it took my marriage falling apart to see how little focus I was giving the Work. I laugh at the series of accidents and coincidences that lead to the finding of my abscesses – if you remember, I was sent for the wrong kind of ultrasound, and it was only the tech’s observation that we were looking in the wrong place that lead to seeing the abscesses to begin with; that I happened to be living close enough to JH to go to their ER when I started having troublesome symptoms; that I happened to get assigned to Dr. Awesome, who has kicked a lot of ass and taken a lot of names in the process of getting this surgery to happen. Maybe it was coincidence, but if I’m willing to see this as One Big Cosmic Set Up, the good is just as important as the bad.

You, the reader, should know that I’m not scared. I’ve come to this place of zen about it all. No amount of hand-wringing and frantic energy is going to change the outcome – in fact, it would probably be detrimental. Instead, I’ve taken a long hard look at my life and if this is how it’s meant to end, I’m at peace with that. I’ve had some amazing experiences, created some epic stories that people will tell for a long time, made some incredible heart-connections, loved and lost and laughed and cried. I couldn’t really ask for more; in fact, one of the more difficult parts of this contemplative process has been trying to think forward and try to predict what more life could offer me. I have answers now, don’t you worry, but I’m still peacefully facing this with the attitude that if this is the end, I’m okay with that.

When I told my friend Eric about that, he asked me “But what if you have to fight for your life?” Oh, there is fire in my belly; I have found not only the Will to live, but the dedication to use whatever more life I am granted to fully commit myself to doing good works for my communities, the demographics I inhabit, and most importantly my Gods. Personal pursuits will still be there, but much less emphasized – I’ve had the opportunity to taste some of what I thought I wanted out of life, and was left wanting. I got to have two and a half amazing spouses (“half” because there is a partner of mine I never married but our relationship was everything but), a lot of amazing experiences, a fair amount of troublemaking and excitement, and it’s time to put that all behind me and move forward into a time where my life is less about what I can get out of it, and more what I can do with it.

Think about it this way: You’re 14 years old. A relative you weren’t at all close to dies and leaves you $10,000. Not a million, but it might as well be by your young standards. You are overwhelmed with the desire to spend it on items and experiences that you think will make you cooler, happier, and closer to the image you have in your head of who you want to be. You buy the clothes that will ingratiate you into the clique of your choice, you get around parental control by purchasing directly what you once had to beg for, and in general you’re completely focused on what you can get out of it.

Now, instead of being 14, you’re 34. Instead of blowing your inheritance on video games and fashion, you’re likely to chop it up into pieces; use some to pay bills so they can stop haunting you, use some to splurge on some things to make your life easier (a more reliable car, a new computer, a better vacuum), and maybe if you’re studious enough you might throw a little into a savings account.

Now, instead of being 34, you’re 84. Immediately your thoughts go to who you can help – your immediate family, maybe a friend or neighbor, your place of worship, or your favorite charity. Your day to day needs are basically met, and so you can afford to give everything away and you don’t feel deprived at all. Imagine telling that 14 year old that they can have $10,000, but only if they give it all away – how resentful and angry they would be.

This is how I have faced the tangible gift of being alive. I spent way, way too long – longer than most people – spending my life trying to bring my image (inner and outer) into alignment with the person I knew I was inside. My mother always teases me that in some ways, I’m perpetually 18 with my funky colored hair and my facial piercings. But honestly, I didn’t have the ability to create my image with absolute abandon until later than most, because when I was in my late teens and early 20’s I was too busy figuring out what that image was, and also trying to stay alive. I didn’t have the luxury of parents who could continually support me through years of college, graduate school, and then looking for the right job, instead of the right now job. So in retrospect, I probably didn’t really come into my own until my late 20’s.

Due to being such a late bloomer, I have never really had enough time in that “being responsible” period. One of my biggest weaknesses as an adult is that I’ve never been any good at handling the responsibilities of adulthood in a predictable way. I’ve vacillated between periods of living hand-to-mouth, living with other adults, working some thankless job I hated and resented, and mostly just subsisting from day to day; and periods of finding myself in a situation where someone else was willing to take on the mantle of making sure my basic needs were met so I was free not to worry about them.

I am starting to realize how that all changes, starting right now. It is unhealthy and unfair to depend on finding the right relationship with someone who is willing to hold me in a little bubble of safety, while at the same time I resent them for not allowing me to burst the bubble at every turn. I’ve learned the lesson that when you surrender those sorts of things to another person, it also means surrendering the right to make any substantive decisions in that arena – you don’t get as much say in where you live, or what you eat, or how you spend your money. You become a line item in their budget, and you have to live within that predictable logistic.

I know that my financial situation currently is not tenable long term; not only do I not want to live off of Mike’s alimony forever, but it leaves me in a situation where if he dies or some other major life change happens, that I will find myself once again penniless and relying on the kindness of strangers. It’s a good source of temporary income, but I know it’s time to buck up and talk to a lawyer about SSDI. There’s just no way I can fool myself into thinking that if things get rough, I can just go get another job. I’ve been out of the workforce for too long, and my chronic illness is already bad enough and limiting enough that the stressors of even a part time job would probably do more damage than help. The up side to SSDI is that it will also provide me with health care that is stable and adequate; it sure won’t be as good as the private insurance I have now, but at least it will be mine.

But at least I know that for the foreseeable future, I have been provided enough to start accepting this responsibilities and moving forward. I’ve moved out of a time where I can just live my life as though it was a guarantee, drifting along from situation to situation doing the best I can to keep my head above water. I’ve gone through enough training, both spiritual and real-world, that it’s time to start giving back.

It won’t happen all at once, obviously; I will need some time in the next year or so to figure out a long term plan in terms of where I’m going to live and how I’m going to afford to live, as well as hopefully crack the surface of figuring out what the heck all these symptoms mean. I am resolved to see a JH doctor and start the conversation with, “I’ve been seen by all sorts of doctors and specialists, and I am convinced that I have one of these three conditions. Here’s all the tests and evidence I have; let’s start from there.”

But what this is really about, why this ordeal surfaced at this exact moment in my life, why it took something so earth-shattering to get my attention, is that I have to stop focusing on who I am and start living my life as what I am and how I am. I have to bow my head in deep gratitude for the immense amount of patience and understanding I have received from my Gods, and start showing it in much more tangible ways. It’s not quite as severe as becoming a nun or a monk, but it’s not far off the mark, either. It’s about putting aside the priorities that have nothing to do directly with my Purpose, and slowly peeling away the false idolatry I had burned into my brain as a poor white child in North America with Irish/Germanic heritage. It is not important that I be married or raise children. It is not important that I work a job I hate and that hurts my body. It is not the be-all and end-all if I have or don’t have sex on a regular basis, or if I can afford to go out to eat as often as I might want or to own clothing that fulfills a specific purpose. It is really not important for me to have or do anything at all that isn’t directly in line with what the Gods have asked of me.

Now, before my lovers and friends get all worried, it doesn’t mean I have to give up these things entirely either. There’s a vast difference between prioritizing a thing and not looking for it or having it at all. It just means that I only have so much time in a day, so many days in a year, and so many years before I don’t have any time left. All those other things can come and go, can happen in happy coincidences and incidentals, but the real change here, the thing I have to radically accept as being foundational to everything else, is that none of those things, nothing really, is more important than serving my Gods.

I really feel that’s the answer to the second gate I posted about so long ago, “What will you do with the life you have left?” I hemmed and hawed way too long, trying to find space for all the things I thought were important, wedging them all in until none of them got the space and time they deserved. It pains me to admit that I made a lot of unfortunate sacrifices in order to keep Mike at the top of my priorities, and as I tell many clients, when you start to tell the Gods that you can’t do what They ask because something else needs you more, They will eventually remove that obstacle. And looking back, knowing now that Mike’s infidelity started back in early 2011, that was exactly the same time I started getting very clear and concise messages that life does not spring eternal, and that this chronic illness thing would eventually eat me alive. It was supposed to kick me in the ass and make me reprioritize things, but I just wasn’t ready to surrender my marriage at the altar of my Purpose. So the Gods did it for me. Or maybe Mike did. Or a combination thereof.

But it was at that Beltane, the one where he supposedly slipped a collar around a neck without ever planning on telling me, where my astral form radically changed and the frantic readings done to try to figure out what had happened made it clear that I had a very short time left to live, that these alterations were a manifestation of both the power and the curse of being The Dying Man. Later divinations, some done without knowing what I was told at Beltane, and others that expanded based on that knowledge, were mostly in agreement. I only learned about the collar thing a few months ago, but the timing makes perfect sense in a sick sort of way. It was the marked decision on his part to move on, to seek out a different path, to firmly commit to cheating on me in more than just a casual way, to actively deceive and lie to me for another year and a half until I found him out.

Anyway, I’ve rambled on long enough. I’m trying really hard not to make this sound like a “goodbye”, since I have every intent to post something in the next few days telling you that everything is just fine and dandy. Even with all the bumps along the way towards this procedure, I have still come to a place of confidence that although it will be dangerous, and something will happen that isn’t expected, that I will somehow make it out to continue on my path.

If not? My Will is written, my medical proxies know my wishes, and I have taken steps to make sure my life can be celebrated and memorialized in the fashion I desire. I have changed my name so I will be remembered as the person I chose to become, rather than the product of circumstance. My friends and family know that I love them, and that I always will, even from beyond if necessary. And I can look back at all the (mis)adventures I’ve had, the experiences I shared, the height of ecstasy and the depths of despair, and know that I was pretty damn lucky.

All this will seem so silly come the 29th.

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Remote Support for Surgery: Part II

December 27, 2012 at 12:12 pm (Death and Dying, Living, Spiritual, The Panniculectomy) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

This is for people who are more inclined to working with Deities and spirits rather than physical healing.

Here is the core of the visualization, written by my friend Hugh:

to convince Her that Del can, will, and should be healed and strengthened in body and in spirit by this process (making him more useful to Her on both sides of the veil), and that his work while embodied has been valuable and effective, and will be supported by his tribe. This is something to be laser-clear on, and should hover over/pervade everything.

1. Ground, center, create sacred space. Do whatever you do to get into a prepared and safe space for working.

2.Visualize the lock and hold the image in your mind throughout the working. I’ve put the pic up on Flickr for reference: http://www.flickr.com/photos/19489165@N00/8299095150 I will have the physical lock with me. Start the chant I came up with earlier and keep it going through the working if possible:

This is the lock and Del is the key
Safe is what we need him to be
Safe return to flesh and bone
Safe return to hearth and home
We need his work, we need his art
We give him aid from hand and heart

3.Respectfully address/invoke Hel.

4.Visualize the rune Ehwaz and the journey that Del has taken and is taking (both spiritual and health-wise).

5.Visualize the rune Ansuz and the ordeal/trial that Del faces.

6.Visualize the rune Sowilo and the valuable and powerful things that Del can do only if he is incarnate in a physical body. If he’s done such things for you or friends/loved ones/etc. in the past, that’s good to include.

7.Visualize the rune Fehu and what you are willing to do to support Del’s Work; how you will help Del to want to keep living and do the Work in spite of everything.

8.Cycle back to step 2 as many times as needed.

9.Thank Hel for Her time and attention; release sacred space and ground and center again. Do whatever you need to do to come back safely.

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Remote Support for the Surgery, Part 1

December 25, 2012 at 12:45 am (Living, Spiritual, The Panniculectomy) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

There are two things happening to me on the 28th; on this side of the veil, I’m going through the physical act of having a risky surgery. On the other, I’m going to be facing a challenge about whether or not I really value this body and life I have been given, and whether or not I am willing to commit to making my Job my first and most important priority. (And for my community and family of choice, the second part is about committing to being of assistance and support in helping me do what I need to do, as well.)

Because these are two fairly different goals (surviving the surgery vs being able to move forward doing my Job), I’ve asked two separate priests to construct rituals/visualizations that people can participate in. These are the same visualizations that will be lead in the hotel room we’re calling home base during the surgery, and it will be happening around 10am that day.

Part 1, written by my friend Raven, is for those who feel more comfortable sending energy and Will towards making sure my body survives the surgery. She asks that you use this bindrune as a focus:

This is what she writes:

Restoring The Temple

Basically, We are focused on strengthening the body to endure and survive the surgery, and helping
create the best “vehicle” for Del to continue on with his life in. We are the team who had found the
rundown temple/humfour/peristyle/stone circle/church, and wish to restore it to functional sacred

The sacred structure must be cleansed. That which is harmful or rotted must be removed, and the
structure must be repaired and shored up.. it must be made strong so that it can endure and last to fulfill it’s purpose. It must be solidified, from the ground up… made free of what does not belong, and made ready to receive back its spirit.

Whatever faith-path one practices, the idea of a place that is sacred is not an alien one… it gives us something communal to work together on.

When I built the bindrune, my partner, looking over my shoulder, said “That looks like scaffolding”, and
when he did I knew I had gotten it right. The bindrune can be carved into a candle, inscribed with ink,
drawn with chalk, or merely held in mind.

A word of caution to those who may not be familiar with bindrunes:
Please do not ADD other symbols to this bindrune. If you wish to use other symbols as additional foci, like pentacles, crosses, veve, etc, have that symbol separate from the bindrune. Adding to a bindrune can “accidently” add in runes you did not intend, so of which might be at cross-purposes to this working.

In addition, I wrote some elemental correspondences for the various challenges I face during the surgery and recovery:

1. My heart. (fire) I tend to have low blood pressure when I lay down, and even slower when under sedation. I need it to beat strongly and regularly, but not so strong as to cause excessive bleeding.

2. My lungs/breathing. (air). I have sleep apnea, and also laying flat on my back makes it very difficult for me to take deep breaths. Also I have a mass in my lung, and there’s some concern it could cause a blockage at the wrong moment.

3. Fluid cross-contamination (water). With all this pus and old blood and infected tissue, there is grave concern that in the process of getting rid of this crap, some of it will leak or osmose, possibly causing a more systemic infection, or Hel forbid, cross the blood/brain barrier. It may sound like a remote possibility, but three different doctors have stressed how dangerous this could be.

4. Immune strength (earth). I have a weak immune system, obviously, because that’s how I got here. I need my body to be strong enough to survive the shock to the system of losing a very large removal of tissue and mass – the amount of flesh/fat they plan to remove is about equal to losing an adult leg from the hip. I need my immune system to keep me alive while the rest of my body adjusts to the loss, and then I need it to keep me from picking up new infections while the wound heals. I also need the healing process to move at a healthy but quick pace…I really don’t want to spend
more than a month in the hospital, but if the going is slow or challenged…

Oh, and 5. The surgical team. Dr. Sacks (plastics) is the lead surgeon. Dr. Rushing (aka Dr. Awesome)
(general surg) will assist. Dr. Haut will oversee my convalescence. Two of my favorite nurses on
the surgical floor are Pearl and Ashe.

Finally, a word about Reiki. I’ve written before that I do not react well to Reiki. However, I know it is a healing modality that many of my friends and acquaintances are well versed in. I would ask that if Reiki is what is most comfortable to you, that you focus on sending it to the people who will be the most active in supporting me – namely Rave. Wintersong Tashlin has built a “redirect”, so if someone who doesn’t know about my Reiki thing, or who inadvertently sends it to me anyway, it will bounce off of me and go to whomever is wearing the receptive amulet. So if you don’t know who in my team might need it the most, go ahead and send it towards me and it will be redirected to whomever needs it at the moment.

I will try to post Part 2 soon, which will deal much more with Hel, the Norse Goddess of the Underworld, and is a little more complex. I ask you to choose whichever visualization/ritual that is more attuned to the sorts of practices you are used to; failing that, prayers are always a good choice. You can pray to whatever Deity you typically work with, or to Loki (in order to be compassionate about the contract negotiations), or to Hel (to allow me to return to Midgard to continue my Work).

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Dr. Awesome Saves the Day

December 21, 2012 at 8:03 pm (Hospitalizations, Medical, The Panniculectomy, Tuberculosis (Inactive)) (, , , , , , , , , , )

This was an odd week, full of really big ups, some pretty scary downs, and a lot of moving in between.

I’ve been somewhat quiet around here (although I have been keeping up with my other blog. Part of it has been that I’ve just had more to say that didn’t fit here, but there’s a lot of layers to it.

As you may recall, I am now in the headlong stretch towards my radical panniculectomy on December 28th. I’ve had my presurgical appointments and test, and now it’s just a big waiting game for the most part. We’ve been running around on the Wiggio I set up for those who are actively participating in the process in some way, trying to settle all the last minute arrangements and details for those who are traveling to be with me before, during, and after the surgery. In that, there has also been significant spiritual set-up and ritual prep, and I’m very lucky to have two priests and two shamans I trust who are handling that side of things with little input from me.

Yesterday was a pretty eventful day, even though that’s not what the calendar said when I woke up in the morning. I had a little pulminologist appointment so he could clear me for surgery, and a plan to go get pedicures with my boyfriend and my girl. Nice, slow, lazy day.

As I got out of bed and starting getting ready to shower, I made a move that didn’t take the drain (currently attached to my abdomen by stitches) into consideration, and felt a shocking amount of acute pain. (My boyfriend was on the phone with his very Christian mother at the time, so although I wanted to express my dismay at this discomfort, I somehow managed only to stammer with my mouth closed and make some pretty exaggerated body language.) After a minute or two, it went from being intense to being bearable, so I decided to go ahead and take the shower. As I stepped into the bathroom, I realized my drain site was bleeding – more than just a few drops, but not a deluge. My panicked brain considered calling 911, but then I remembered they would take me to the rinkydink rural hospital in the town I’m squatting in, rather than Johns Hopkins which is about an hour away. So I took another deep breath, and called for my boyfriend. After we got the bleeding under control with some gauze pads and pressure, I made a slightly less panicked phone call to Dr. Awesome (not her real name, unfortunately) who is the general surgeon who is monitoring my drain. I explained the situation to her voicemail and then sat down for a bit to get myself together.

Forgoing the shower for the wonderful bath wipes I keep on hand for days when showers are too difficult, I was still able to get myself together enough to get to the pulm appointment on time. After wrestling with the poor check-in secretary who had to deal with all the convulutedness that comes with a legal name change (first *and* last, which I guess is much less common and therefore doesn’t have a lot of set protocol around it), all the while nurses are in the waiting room trying to sweep up the glass from a broken sliding window. It takes what seems like way too long, and then they ask me if I have the relevant records from Johns Hopkins. I sigh heavily, as I *know* that both Rave and I called them earlier this week to make absolutely positive that they had them, and we were assured that they had arrived. They had not.

I go back into the examination room, and I hear the doctor talking to the nurse about how really, this appointment is kinda pointless without the records, and maybe we should reschedule. I interrupt to add that although they are important, I’m also here for presurgical clearance for a surgery on the 28th and unless they can reschedule me before then, we might as well do what we can. He comes into the room and introduces himself, and sits down. “So explain this to me, then. What are you here for, exactly.”

I sigh. I am all too used to having a new doctor look at whatever information they have about me and have no idea where to start. I explain, “Well, there are two reasons, and I guess they relate to each other. I’m having a radical panniculectomy on the 28th, and the lead surgeon was adamant that I see a pulminologist to get clearance; in the whole crazyness that lead up to needing the surgery, an accidental lung CT found a small nodule in my lung, and I think he wanted assurance that between that, my apnea, and my weight, that I was healthy enough to endure a long surgery.”

“How big was the nodule?”

“About 6mm.”

“Oh, that’s nothing. Standard practice with something like that is to re-image in six months and then go from there.”

I sigh. I have now heard this three times. I get it. I add, “Well, I guess maybe they’re a little concerned because I also have inactive TB, for which I’m now on INH. But I haven’t had any cough, no bloody sputum, all the signs I’ve been instructed to be on high alert for.”

He shakes his head, confused but somewhat resigned. “Do you have COPD? Emphysema? Asthma?”

“Nope. And I’ve gotten through several surgeries without issue.”

“Okay. Well, since I don’t even have the time I need to do the testing anyway, and you seem like you’re going to do fine, I’ll write the letter. I just don’t understand why he didn’t send you to a Johns Hopkins doctor.”

“Well, I tried calling, but none of them had any availability until March; even when I told them my surgery was in December.”

Anyway, you get the drift. He made me a follow up appointment to deal with the nodule after surgery.

Afterwards, I was able to secure an emergency appointment with Dr. Awesome for Friday. Still a little woozy from the surge of adrenaline, I decided the three of us (Rave, Alex, and I) would go down to the pedicure place where we had an appointment as a sort of pre-surgery relaxation thing. I almost cancelled it, because I was feeling kind out of it, but decided to push ahead. It turned out to be a really good idea, especially since Rave had never experienced a pedicure before, and watching her face as they took out the various tools was delightful. We ended the day with dinner at my favorite diner.

Today, I saw Dr. Awesome and it was a really good and calming appointment. She assured me that some of the irregularities about my surgery that I saw on the 14th had been cleared up, namely that it was posted as an inpatient, rather than outpatient surgery (oops) and that they had a bed for me in ICU. She threw two extra stitches into my drain to keep it secure, since I only have to have it for another week anyway. Then she sat with me and talked, about the ragey way Dr. Sacks had spoken to me the week before, and answered some of my questions about surgery and afterwards in a much more calm, collected, and caring way. Before I left, I told her my nickname for her was “Dr. Awesome”, and she blushed.

This weekend looks to be a nice one. We are still in high gear in getting the house ready both for visitors prior to surgery, as well as starting packing since we should be moving pretty soon. We’re also going to be stepping up the house looking stuff, since we’ve only been able to see a few places and none of them have worked out one way or the other.

I will try to write one last entry before surgery, but if I go dark for a week or two, you’ll know why.

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Living and Dying At the Same Time

December 6, 2012 at 2:40 am (Death and Dying, Living, Mental Health, Spiritual, The Panniculectomy) (, , , , , , , , , )

This is one of those entries. I have a thought, something not quite formed into a fully functional idea, and before I’m even done having it I can feel Mr. Goatypants breathing down my neck, pushing his fingers into my discomfort, and I know in that moment I’m going to have to write another one of those blog posts that I don’t feel entirely comfortable sharing with a public audience. So there’s your disclaimer.

As I’ve said here and elsewhere, on December 28th I am scheduled for a fairly risky surgery that the doctors are being very clear with me that my survival chances are not 100%, or even 80%. I have found it difficult to write about all the stuff that’s been going through my head, because I really don’t want people to think I’m some melodramatic queen with his hand glued to his forehead running around hollering “Oh, woe is me! Woooooe is me!” It’s not like right now, sitting at my computer, I am the typical picture of someone facing death; I’m not sickly pale (at least, not any more that usual for this Irish/Germanic redhead), I don’t weigh 90lbs with a yellow pallor to my skin. I look like everyday normal Del, walking and talking like usual. The only clues you’d have that something is amiss is that I might walk a little slower than normal for me, or I might be using my wheelchair a little more often; maybe you catch a glimpse of the large bandage on my back, or a lump in my pants where my rather large drain is hiding from view. You might see me grimace in pain, or rub my belly to help get through a cramp. But there are lots of days when I could be at a party, or shopping in the grocery store, and you’d have no idea that with every breath, I’m contemplating my death.

I’m also aware that I’m going to feel like a pretty big dolt if I come through the surgery with flying colors, regardless of whatever spiritual journey my soul takes while I’m under anesthesia. I mean, we can all hope that the on-call cardiologist will be sitting there reading the Wall Street Journal (or, if my life is at all predictable, 50 Shades of Gray). Instead of a 12 hour marathon, it has a chance of being a 6 hour jog. With luck, I’ll only have to spend a few hours or a day in ICU to stabilize, rather than the grim prediction that I will wake up on a respirator and take days to come off of it. I will feel incredibly embarrassed if I got all emo about things, only to find out it was a normal day at the office for everyone.

I’ve also been kind of vague as to why something as ho-hum as a tummy tuck carries all this risk for me. I have my reasons, and the biggest one is it’s (finally) a detail that Baphomet has not forced me to share, and I’ve learned to take my privacy where I can get it. I’ve been answering a lot of email, and started a small working group on Wiggio for those who are actively interested in helping out. They get the brunt of my Victorian wailing and detailed outpourings about how I think every single thing that has happened to me in the last four months is somehow of utmost importance now.

So where does that all leave me? Inside my head, there’s this giant grandfather clock, ticking away every second between now and 8am December 28th, when I plan to inhale from that intimidating mask (and this time, they can’t trick me into thinking it’s oxygen…fool me once!) I look at my calendar, and all I see is drudgery – doctor’s appointments, looking at apartments, finalizing my handparting with STBX, dealing with the bureaucracy involved with my shiny new legal name change – and then over the weekend, where I was very much having fun with the Boyfriend, I had a thought…

You know all those awkward conversations you have with people when you’re first getting to know them? Where you ask them questions like “If you could have any superpower, what would it be?” (Paint. That is the superpower I would want. Ask me sometime.) One of those question is usually something like:

If you have 24 hours left to live, what would you do with the time you have left?

Well, I’m pretty damn sure that in all the times I’ve asked someone that question, their answer was never “Go to three doctor’s appointments, make a hotel reservation, and check your bank balance to make sure you have enough money to pay that bill.”

So I started looking at December again. Whether or not I’m actually going to die on the 28th, who is it going to hurt to take a few chances, to get in some fun and enriching experiences, while I still have the time. I started looking at the available days I have left, and daydreamed about the fun stuff I could do.

I won’t list the entire list here, but I’ll give you a taste:

  • Go to a strip club and get a lap dance from the most attractive (or skeevy, depending on the joint) dancer
  • Go to Rocky Horror at least once
  • Make one day memorable in some way for the handful of my closest peoples.
  • Go out to a ridiculously expensive and lavish dinner. (I’m thinking either steak or sushi. Who’s in?)

Then, while I was lost making my mental list, I ran across this very thought provoking post by Ivo Domiguez Jr, on the concept that Life and Death are points on a spectrum, rather than a binary. Obviously, as someone who is a big fan of the idea of spectra vs. binaries, my eyes perked up. Although I find this post fairly basic, I’m waiting with baited breath for part two.

It made me realize, too, that this month I have to find that tipping point on the spectrum being Living and Dying. Although it’s my Job-with-a-capital-J to be “The Dying Man”, I best remember to spend some time this month being “The Living Man” too. So who is up for some shenangians? Email me! I’ll likely say yes to whatever wackiness you’re willing to drive me to!

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