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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8 Comments

  1. Kenaz Filan said,

    Wherever your path may take you, may you be blessed. And so that I don’t have to take over your client list as Loki’s replacement Madness Shaman, let me add: stay alive, you bastard, stay alive.

  2. Tracy Rydzy, MSW, LSW said,

    Good luck!

  3. Amy said,

    I don’t say this often, because so often it seems an empty platitude… but I am praying for you, and will continue to pray for you. I love you Del, I have never been able to adequately explain what and how much you have meant to my life. I truly hope the Gods allow you to continue, the world is a much better place with you in it.

  4. Wendy said,

    Thank you for sharing this.

  5. Kate said,

    Looking forward to seeing you again soon! On this side of the veil! Good luck wishes, prayers, and healing thoughts for you, for your medical team, and for your loved ones.

  6. Babs Johnson said,

    I look forward to hearing from you when this is over. Your threadspruces are all pulling for you. You are in my thoughts and I wish you love and speedy recovery.

  7. Rebecca Rose Vassy said,

    I am thinking of you today and I love you.

  8. facingthefireswithin said,

    Congratulations on a great four round bout! So glad that it did not go the possible 12 and that the ref did not call the fight. Well done, my friend.

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