Thursday, December 02, 2004

The opposite of a private person.

When I was admitted to the hospital, one month and two days ago, a lot of what I used to think of as my privacy and dignity were checked at the door. I think I must have lost the claim check.

I've never been an especially private person. I'm happiest in a large group of people, preferably standing at the microphone or lectern, on a stage or in a hearing room. If I spend too long by myself, I start to wonder whether I actually exist.

But I always maintained a fairly conventional sense of modesty and decorum about the usual things. I remember Doug Wilder telling the press that he wasn't ashamed of using the bathroom, but he still generally closed the door.

Eleven days in a hospital can go a long way to breaking that modesty down. Receiving visiting family, friends and coworkers from bed, having a stream of nurses (most of whose names you can't keep track of) in and out of your room at all hours of the day and night, reporting the precise quantities of everything you ingest and egest to those same nurses, and weeping in front of people you'd always thought might think you were fairly well composed, not to mention receiving suppositories - all these and similar things tend to make you a bit less fussy about personal privacy.

Notably, my decision to start and maintain this blog demonstrates a considerable tendency to openness about the most personal aspects of my life right now. Also, a completely bald head affords me an enhanced sense of public nakedness.

So I was a little surprised today when Dr. Rowles left the examining room twice this morning - once so I could take off my shirt and put on a gown, and again so I could take off the gown and put my shirt back on. This is the same guy who prescribed the suppositories.

I know it's the right protocol. I don't object - but it seems quaint to me.

Plus, I am a huge fan of Dr. Rowles. He was also the one who gave me morphine in the hospital, and he has CURED something - my infection. And he's a very engaging person - I can see that especially well now that I am not feverish, delirious and fearful of immediate impending death, as I was the first time we met.

He told me that my progress, from the infectious diseases perspective, is the best that we could have hoped for. My blood cultures are perfect. My blood counts are close enough to perfect. The mass (a combination of the hematoma and the tumor) has decreased a bit.

I'll complete the course of my two current antibiotics on Saturday, as planned, and start another, precautionary oral antibiotic along with chemo and radiation on Monday. It has some potential side effects. I won't describe them here - not because I mind, but because, well, I can still exercise some discretion out of sympathy for the reader.

Tonight, I'm going to engage in some attention therapy. My plan is to play the first set with the band at Rare Olde Times tonight. I hope we'll have a full house.

I promise to keep my clothes on.


Blogger Dorrie said...

My favorite quote of all time is... "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others." -Nelson Mandela or Marianne Williamson
I think you have always let your light shine brightly. I think your willingness to share the details of life invites others to share your life. I think your openness liberates others to openness and understanding. Shine on. As always, I want to share.

5:50 PM  
Blogger marian said...

Hiya Jim! So glad to hear progress is as hoped for.

On the modesty thing, I can sort of sympathize. It was a looong time ago, but I was in the hospital for a week when I was 14. I remember a point when I was having a suppository administered and thinking, "A few days ago this would have really bothered me."

I'll miss you tonight - I feel like I have a cold coming on, and have ignored that feeling twice this season to my detriment already. So home I stay, and keep my germs to myself.

Hope you all have fun!

9:01 PM  
Blogger vkenny said...

Hi Jimmy, My favorite quote, that Ed & I both think of when times are tough is, "What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters in comparison to what lies within us". Ed went through a similar experience
during his 1st round of chemo 10 years ago and although it was not his last he has found a way to tolerate the many hospital stays and treatments over the years. I know you will find a path to not only deal with this but to overcome and command the situation as well. Keep fighting the good fight. V

10:43 AM  
Blogger Jenn said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8:47 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...


Yep. Definately familiar with those.

Can't quite decide which side has it worse- the suppositor or the suppositee. Have been the former many times, and the view is not the most desirable. :D Can't imagine what it must be like on the other end (sorry for the pun.)

Anyhoo, here's hoping for strong yet gentle relief.

Nurse Jenn

8:52 PM  

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