This morning, as I was warming the milk to go in my coffee, it occurred to me that this would be the last coffee drink for some time. I’m expected to check in for surgery tomorrow, before dawn, at 5:15am. (When nearly 12 hours are blocked out for your procedure, they like to get you started early.)
But catching myself thinking “last coffee drink” made me realize I’ve shifted over to count-down mode. Since my last post, a lot of my time and activity has been about preparing. We’ve been busily charging our emotional batteries, and taking care of needed tasks, and squeezing in things that had to happen before.
Kimberly arranged a quick trip for us to Hawai’i, which was wonderful. We went to coffee plantations, and we saw sea turtles, and we walked through steam venting into a jungle from a volcano. We saw plants and animals and fruits I’d never seen before. We watched the sun set on one side and the moon rise on the other and between them the glow of lava lighting up the steam in an active volcano crater. We packed in a lot of new experiences, and had a great time.
Back on the mainland, there were other things we did to prepare. We went to our pre-op medical appointments, of course, and found that they’ve done good work streamlining and improving their process since my 2004 procedure. We even have a little chart showing what the important milestones are each day for the seven or so days I’m expected to be in the hospital. (My psychic shielding did get a little dented when I was reminded that “sitting on edge of bed” and “able to clear own secretions by coughing” are things that make the list.)
I put in some time at work, to do a little bonding with my closest co-workers and to feel like I was contributing something to getting our new release out the door. It may seem silly, but knowing that release is out makes it easier for me to not think about work for a while.
The package I’d ordered from Vermont arrived. When considering how much time I’m going to be spending lying in bed and lounging around in the next month, I decided I needed some nice new pajamas. I splurged on two sets from the Vermont Flannel Company. They are both very cozy and sturdy. (Like me, I think, smiling.) (As with a few other things since the PET scan, I’ve been willing to spend more, and more quickly than I would normally consider. We are fortunate to have the resources, and now seems like a perfectly appropriate time to adjust the knob a little higher for the right things.)
Not all of the preparations have been so straightforward or pedestrian as ordering new pajamas. We also included an unexpected and much more spiritual preparation, a ‘medicine buddha puja’.
One of our friends from college has in recent years been seriously devoted to Tibetan Buddhism.There is a lovely little temple tucked away in the Greenwood neighborhood of Seattle that our friend Chris attends. She had previously offered to include me in what could best be understood as analagous to a Christian ‘prayer circle’, and apparently, upon seeing my photo, one of the lamas suggested the more elaborate ceremony called the medicine buddha puja. I’m too ignorant of the practice to fully understand it, but imagine it as the equivalent of a powerful blessing ceremony, conducted by one of the Tibetan monks. Kimberly and I and Chris were there on Friday morning, and while I consciously understood very little of it, I tried to be open to the healing power of this ancient practice. I believe in accepting the compassionate offering of healing energy, from whatever tradition, and felt honored and touched by this experience.
Yesterday, Saturday, was the day I had planned for some last preparations. Kimberly’s mom arrived from Houston last night to stay while I’m in the hospital. I went to the office-supply store to pick up a small white-board, so I can communicate post-surgery before I can talk again. I even managed to get in some chicken coop winterization, and a couple of good naps.
But, as crept into my head as I made coffee, today is the last day of Before. If the operation were an airline flight, I’d be able to print my boarding pass already. And, to tell the truth, I’m ready. I’ve been in increasing amounts of pain over the last two weeks, and I want to get this taken care of. I have confidence in the medical team, and in my support system and our preparations. And I have confidence in my own durability.
I’m not eager to go through what lies ahead, and if the situation were different I wouldn’t choose to. But I’m not afraid, and we might as well get on with it, as hard as it will be.
Though I might just have another cup of coffee from those Hawaiian beans first. I’ve got all day.