Tuesday, August 19

"Well, Good Morning Fay..."

Looks like the Tampa Bay region of Florida has again missed the brunt of yet another seasonal storm, this time tropical depression Fay, she having come ashore this morning just south of Naples, about two and a half hours south of St. Petersburg as the seagull flies. Judi and I have just returned from my recommended morning constitutional, wherein I am suppose to walk briskly for 20 minutes, three times a day. Though it best to try and get in our morning session before the outer bands of Ms. Fay sweep as predicted westward and we are socked in with rain squalls for the balance of the afternoon. Not to worry...except for the occasional tornado we should weather this storm just fine.

It is at times difficult for me to comprehend that a little over two weeks ago I was flat on my back recovering from open heart surgery, believing I was on death's doorstep and hurting bad enough to be looking for the key. Today I am sitting up right and taking occasional nourishment! Actually, I'm progressing most remarkably and must temper my desire to become increasingly active with the knowledge that my spirits may dictate otherwise, but my body is far from ready to enter the next 100 meter heat in the Olympics. My constant reminder of days past is the continuing discomfort in my chest, especially around the incision. The sternum has a number of weeks left to heal completely, which I am reminded of when I absentmindedly again make a sudden involuntary move that sends spikes of pain to my conscience, which in turn screams, "Are you crazy!?! Don't do that again!!"

I also continue to struggle with my mental acumen. Had I mentioned that before? I've forgotten... Seriously...I am far less then my usual witting self, which is probably a blessing to those who would otherwise classify my self-proclaimed "quick wit" as being a profound smart ass. Enjoy it while you can my detractors, now with more oxygenated blood pumping through my heart and into my brain, I'll be even sharper than before. In the mean time...what were we just talking about?

Enough for now... Somewhere in yon room awaits a couch with an indention that perfectly fits my soon to be reclining body. Here's hoping that Fay expends her energy soon and the bright tropical blue skys of sunny central Flordia again hold sway.

Wednesday, August 13

"Emerging From The Fog..."

I have been eager to again resume a regular schedule of posts to this blog, but that intention has not been sufficient enough to give feet to my desire. I feel as though I am wadding through waist deep muck, so noticeably slow are my mental faculties. Just comprising these few sentences taxes me beyond description. The words seem clear enough in my mind, but their translation to visual form come stumbling from my fingers as I attempt give them birth. They made so much sense when I first thought them. What happened between the synapse? I am not familiar with this current mental state. It requires me to expend too much labor to given voice to even the simplest idea. I am in a mental fog and everything looks the same.

Trust me when I tell you that I will be thrilled when I again have difficulty deciding which of several phrases best conveys my thought, rather than in my current mental state when I sift through word after word as though they were brand new to me only to be lost in the moments of uncertainty and indecision. If this is an example of how the mind of Alzheimer's patients function then God bless 'em. To be uncertain about such trivial things as how to engage in social interaction must be so bewildering. I feel that way at the moment...kind of just stumbling along and letting life pull me in whatever direction the path of least resistance dictates. I miss being alert and on top of my game.

I have been assured that these feelings of mental fatigue are to be attributed to the massive amount of anesthetics that were administered to me during my six hours of surgery. That in time the effects will dissipate. Good thing the doctors won't let me behind the wheel of a motor vehicle for another four weeks. I can't even drive a stationary keyboard. Y'all count your blessings that I am sequestered away under the ever vigilant watch care of my lovely wife. Later...

Sunday, August 10

"If Patience Is A Virtue...

Then I'm in need of a transfusion!" I'm back, but I can't say none the worse for wear. If what I have experienced over the past week is anything akin to being run over repeatedly by a herd of stampeding elephants then count me out as wishing to sign up for the next scheduled safari. What was initially to be a single by-pass and a cursory inspection of the rest of the plumbing, turned out to be a triple. Does a single by-pass inflict any less pain than a triple? Couldn't prove it by me one way or the other. Sort of like asking does it hurt any less than to stub your toe against the night stand as opposed to dropping one of Tom Clancy's novels on your toe? One is still writhing in pain regardless of the source.

Here's the bottom line friends...I've got the worse of this ordeal behind me. Now all I need do is be patient and let the full healing that must occur take effect. That is going to be difficult for me because being idle in not in my genetic make-up. So for all of you who lifted up prayers on my behalf, thank you so very much. They sustained me during the darkest hours and they sustain me still. I shall count on them until I am back to full and glorious health once again. Keep my beloved Judi in your thoughts also, as I may, for the most part, make a pretty good husband, but I am a lousy patient. Looking forward to the day soon to when she and I can again take long walks at sunset along the beach...and the hair has grown back in on my chest!! Now there's a visual!

Saturday, August 2

"And Now A Word From My Sponsor..."

Where to begin... I am now less than two days away from entering the hospital come this Monday morning at 5:30 a.m.to undergo a five hour heart by-pass procedure. Although I have had a whirlwind of pre-operative activities these past two weeks...EKG, blood test, x-rays, etc. - I have managed to keep my mind occupied with other than dwelling on the looming certainty that for the next four to five weeks I am going to be reduced to the totally unfamiliar state of inactivity punctuated by an initial period of physical discomfort. I have resigned myself to that fact, but it doesn't take away that ever present sense of foreboding, knowing that even though I tolerate pain rather well, when it is persistent and unrelenting, my patient and tolerance grows very thin. As the saying goes,"It is what it is," and I will bear up and deal with it.

Even though the surgery in its aftermath is certainly foremost in the immediacy of my coming days and weeks, my largest and most nagging concerns resolves around the fact that as of yesterday I will have no weekly income, having been "laid off" from my job. I'm not bitter about that turn of events. The company I worked for has but five employees and it is, therefore, economically untenable for my employer to continue to pay my weekly salary when there is barely enough cash reserves in these continuing hard economic times to sustain day-to-day operations. My employer is continuing to underwrite my health insurance that is costing him over a thousand dollars a month, for which I am most grateful. Otherwise, Judi and I would be facing economic ruin.

I would be a liar if I didn't admit that I am carrying a certain level of anxiety into these coming days and weeks, but I also maintain an prevailing sense of peace that everything will work out, that the God that I love and trust and believe in will sustain us through these difficult times. As a proof of His watch care, I played golf this past Thursday with my senior pastor and our minister of worship. Throughout the round they badgered me lovingly with questions of my mental outlook and prospects for the future. I relayed to them off-handily that I was facing a $400.00 co-pay for my hospital stay plus other incidental expenses that Judi and I would have to pay ourselves out of pocket. The following day, as I was assisting our church's maintenance staff in their efforts to secure favorable vendor proposals to up-grade the facility's fire alarm system, I was invited to step into the administrative director's office at the conclusion of that meeting, where I was greeted again by my "golfing buddies" and told that all "out-of-pocket" medical expenses would be underwritten in full by my church. "This church loves you, Jim. You have for years given so unselfishly in some many incalculable ways to the welfare of this church and it's family of members. You are family and we take care of family." A wonderful and most unexpected gesture of human kindness, or an answer to prayer? Both!

You see...I have long ago given up trusting in fate, but have never given up in trusting in my faith. God has time and time again lead me through many past shadow valleys and said to me in His still quite voice, "Well done, my good and faithful servant. Your full rewards are truly in Heaven, but while you remain as my servant here on earth I am your ever faithful care giver and provider." So even though I face an unpleasant immediate future my rewards are assured. And for this I am truly thankful.

For the time being I say to all who visit this attempt at being a genuine fellow traveler in this journey called life, I must sign off for what I pray will be for a short respite, only to come back again better than ever and to celebrate my recovery and new heath with you all. Peace and may God find you worthy of all that He so lovingly bestows on you as blessings.