Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tracks in the snow

The last couple of days have been intense. In addition to spending good time with several friends and family in the Portland area—in the midst of a blizzard and the coldest weather in a decade—I had a short consultation with a melanoma specialist at Providence Cancer Center yesterday and then stopped by St. Vincent Medical Center to check in on my friend Mike, who is in the ICU in critical condition with organ failure. Excuse the run-on sentence, but it’s hard to capture succinctly all that’s happening right now.

Mike had surgery a week ago for an aortic aneurysm, which appeared to have gone well. His doctor was about to release him when he took a bad turn on Friday and things quickly went downhill. I hadn’t called anyone before showing up at the hospital but ran into Mike’s wife, Kathy, who was able to take me into the ICU with her. Mike needs our prayers. He’s in really bad shape, with a ventilator and dialysis keeping him alive. He’s back into surgery today so the medical team can drain more fluid that’s collected. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen someone teetering on the brink like he is. Kathy was bearing up yesterday when I was there, and she even read some Scripture to Mike. My prayer is that God’s blessing and his assurance would be upon Big Mike, in particular, and upon his wife, daughters and extended family.

As brief as that encounter was, it brought perspective to my circumstances. Mike is way beyond where I would ever hope to be in clinging to life, yet is secure in his relationship with the Risen Lord. I believe I am equally secure, and that whatever medical care I receive in the future is merely detail—albeit important in its own, circumscribed way. Dr. Curti concurred with my doc here that I need to carefully track the lung nodules detected by CT. Both docs believe I should continue to have scans on a quarterly basis. He agrees that exercise is the best medicine for me at this point, and that there’s no doubt my lymphedema has been minimized by strenuous activity. I like this guy. He’s bright, engaging and knowledgeable. Because other patients had cancelled because of icy roads, I had more time with him than would otherwise have been possible. I got a lot of questions answered.

I should add that I had dinner Sunday night with Father Tom Murdock, who was the minister at the Episcopal church my family attended when I was young. It was like being with a favorite, slightly eccentric uncle. We talked about our various activities, and about the things that really matter, about life, and even about death. And we prayed together. Tom is the kind of passionate guy that when he grabs your hand, he crushes it. I think we were a gift to each other for those three hours. The storm raging outside only made the spirit of our conversation that much warmer, deeper and more meaningful.

(The photo is of my Mom and Father Tom at St. Aidan's Episcopal Church several weeks ago. Click on the photo for a closeup of two faces who have lived a lot of life, and lived it well.)

1 comment:

wags said...

Hey Peter,
Glad you had a nice meeting with the doc--it must be good to get a fresh perspective from someone who's a nice person as well. Enjoy the snow and all of God's blessings this Christmas season. Or, as they say in liberal Claremont...have a happy winter solstace.
Keep doing what you're doing, and we'll keep praying from this end.