Friday, April 24, 2009


[image: Jack Kornfield]
Some days it is impossible to feel inspired or light-hearted. That’s what this week has been like. Lots of extra work getting ready for Tom’s big birthday party coming up, so I didn't have time to write. An MRI on my obdurately painful ankle Tuesday. Blood pressure has dropped very low, no explanation. Results of major blood draw Thursday show my kidneys have not recoveredand my anemia is not responding to Procrit shots.
Have developed night sweats, waking up drenched - why?

Now it’s Friday, and I just had PT again for the least of my worries, the muscle spasm in my back that won’t give up. (We noted the good news, though - I can put on a tee-shirt without pain.) The sports doc wants to see me Monday to explain the results of the MRI thoroughly. Uh-oh.

I am actually not so worried about the ankle and what is causing this pain, something that did not show up on an X-ray. I am much more worried about how my kidney functions dropped to 11%, and how this seems to be my new plateau, at best. I really hoped to stay sort of well.

While Chad did physical therapy magic on my back, I told him I know the spasm might be affected by anxiety about having to go on dialysis again. He is a very level, factual guy. He listened to the short form of my story, in which dialysis two years ago turned out worse than I could have dreamed. He told me anybody would naturally feel anxious. Bless him. I wondered if he was religious.

So it was with this that I sat down in a chair to do the final part of the therapy, the moist heat. I love this. I looked through a Real Simple magazine, with special interest in the story about 42 ways to find joy. It turned out to be 42 items you could buy. Like a knit sleeve for your takeout coffee, instead of that old cardboard sleeve. I had a pretty hard time equating this sort of tiny, passing pleasure with joy, and put the magazine aside. I thought, Some people don't get it about the economy and consuming things.

Into this voice, the thought popped out that I really believe I can't fight the massive karma of low-functioning kidneys, which overwork and tend to burn themselves out. Either they will get worse and worse and kill you, or something else will. And I thought how hard I resist that knowledge. Like, "I know I'm going to lose, but dammit, I won't admit it. I'm fighting." What kind of sense does that make?

As I sat there enjoying the heat on my back, I remembered something from a tape of a talk by the Buddhist teacher, Jack Kornfield. He told about going into the hospital room of a man he knew who was dying. They looked at each other, and he said to the man, "Thus."

It was an audiotape, but I could imagine the gesture that went with that. I think he said the man smiled, and said, "Thus" back. When I heard this many years ago I didn't quite understand it; so it stuck in my mind.

Thus or Just this, things Buddhists say, meaning, this is reality now. Here it is.

Sitting in my chair I imagined Jack walking over to me and saying, "Thus." This kidney thing is your reality. I was taken by a warm feeling. At first it wanted to spring out in tears - I cry easily - and then it just expanded in my chest. Thus. I saw the reality. There was nothing there to fight - you just cope, no big deal. It had the fresh green feeling this day has, on which spring has finally come, with day after day of sunshine promised, so that here in Ohio we can pretend we live in California and life is easy, the way the folks out there do.

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