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Letters to the Editor • Healthcare

My Recent Adventure

MY ADVENTURE Life is What Happens… Most folks have probably heard the epithet, "Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans." This is certainly true of my most recent experience. For those of you who haven't heard "through the grapevine", I just got out of the hospital after a ten day adventure there.

This unsought interruption of everything else going on in my life gave me the time and motivation to do some serious thinking about my 78 years aboard spaceship Earth… and this resulted in some new insights that I feel compelled to share with you. Some are personal. Some are abstract. And some are keenly focused on the Titania Project that has been my peculiar wÿrd for the last 30+ years.

About that adventure… Some who know me will want to know the details of the "adventure". If you aren't interested, get off the train here. I'll meet you at the next "station".

On April the 10th I began feeling low level pains in my abdomen, and these pains gradually grew into a crisis that I wasn't able to manage on my own, though I'd succeeded in living 3 weeks without resort to drugs. Nonetheless, on the evening of May the 1st, I checked myself into the emergency room at the Banner Desert Hospital in Mesa. To their credit, and my surprise, the attending physician didn't wait to find out what was wrong with me before making me comfortable by doping me up with morphine.

There followed a 24 hour period of probing, testing, and evaluating, and then a night-time surgical interlude called, "bowel resection". It seems that sometime in the distant past a cyst had formed in the wall of my transverse colon. And this fact somehow caused the formation of a tumor inside the colon. Apparently my colon had tried to defend against this abuse by turning itself inside out in a process called intussusception - a phenomenon rarely scene in adults. My surgeon did what he had to do. He cut out about a foot of my colon - including the intussusception, the tumor, and the cyst.

These discarded components turned out to be benign, so 3 days later I was glad to learn I wouldn't be dealing with any form of cancer. Meanwhile, he stapled and sewed the severed ends of my colon together in what a plumber would probably call an "elbow", thus bringing recovery into the realm of possibility.

The Ordeal in "Adventure" I've often said that an "adventure" is just an ordeal that one happens to survive. As of today, I have no reason to change my mind. It was 8 days before I felt any confidence that I was actually headed for recovery. The assault by doctors, technicians, caregivers, and staff - the confusion induced by powerful pain-killers - the need to get to and from the bathroom while tethered to IV drips and instruments of destruction - the pressure of carrying around intestines swollen to resemble a small watermelon - the demands that I eat and walk while wishing neither, all the above combined to make the prospect of recovery seem an ephemeral possibility. Yet here I am on day 11, at home, struggling to land on my feet after an adventure that was actually life threatening for a while. I'm still uncomfortable, and yet committed to getting back up to full functionality as soon as humanly possible.

Finally… Those in the know, my doctors, nurses, technicians, physical therapist, occupational therapist, case-worker - all tell me that, given what I've been through, my recovery is progressing at an extraordinary pace - beyond what any of them have seen previously. While this is vaguely reassuring, I don't take it for granted. No one ever gets "out of the woods" alive. I just feel grateful for the time I have in the woods - and for the well-wishes of the wonderful friends who are seeing me through this difficult time.

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