Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Impatient to Inpatient

It was four years ago this week that we left Connecticut. Many have asked why we left and the reasons are varied, but it was a necessary step to get us where we are today. Among these was the distinct feeling that I needed to make a personal change in my life. I sensed that I was becoming increasingly impatient. I was always looking toward the next item on my agenda rather than giving my full attention to the present. I was impatient in meetings at church as well as at work. I tried my best to hide it, but I felt it. Two hallmarks of my personality have been hard-wired into me from a very young age: Economy of Resources and Economy of Time. These attributes have served me well for my entire life. I wish to accomplish as much as I can in the least amount of time and for the minimum amount of cost, whether it be in dollars or effort. Do not think that this would indicate a compromise on excellence; rather it is more of a desire to avoid distractions and waste along the way. However, eventually, I began to feel a gradual slipping into impatience which ultimately would rob the moment of its innate beauty.

The culture at Kaiser was more structured and required that I slow down to carefully regard the relationships and feelings of others. I was surprised to find that I wasn't as good at this as I thought I was. There is an inverse relationship of how much control you have in your life with how much patience is required. This was a beginning. The same occurred at church. Clearly, this was a life lesson that was critical for me to learn. But, it wasn't easy. The first year was very difficult for me. But it was a necessary preparation for what was to come.

Two years ago my symptoms of weakness became apparent, but were not so significant that they were obvious. I continued life as normal, but always with the thought questioning what was happening to me. Not ever wanting to be seen as weak, I kept this mostly to myself, but Barbie knew. Then things worsened.

It has been six weeks since we shared the news of my condition with others. The response was immediate and overwhelming. I have always believed that I am not entitled to anything; that everything I receive in life is either earned or it is a gift. Since I never expect anything from anyone, I am never disappointed. But in a way , I do err. I do need other people. I realized this as the words of encouragement and prayers of concern filled my life. I have never experienced this before. I feel gratitude all of the time to everyone who is helping me.
I am now completely reliant on everyone else.

Dina, my medical assistant is working hard to help my patients get follow up, while my partners have all come together to take care of my patients. My responsibilities at church are fulfilled by my brethren there. Barbie does everything else. The kids are doing great and take care of home. I miss them.

My life in confined to my hospital room and the telemetry unit at Kaiser Santa Clara. For activity, I walk 5 laps three times a day. I counted the steps and 5 laps is a half mile. I have two constant companions; the IV pole on which drips a solution of Dopamine that keeps my heart physically strong; and Barbie, who keeps my heart spiritually strong. My love for her is immeasurable. I couldn't do this without her. Last of all is the wait. We have no idea how long we will be here. The endpoint is unknowable. There is no economy of time. But time now, means something very different to me.

My patience today is an investment. I need to buy more time. So many others have stepped in to carry my responsibilities while I commit my heart and soul to this goal. And yet, all I can do is be patient and submit to my doctors and to God. My life is in their hands. I can't imagine being in a better place, especially with Barbie at my side.

If God wanted to teach me patience, I can't imagine a better path than the one that I am on.

I am so fortunate.