Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Why I sit Zen

This morning, rested up, dressed decently for the heat wave in a loose blouse and shorts and my blindingly-white new athletic shoes, I do not feel like one of those warrior creatures in Avatar ran over me yesterday in the form of a hospital.  I have figured out what happened there:  a mismatch in our understanding of the purpose of the appointment.  I thought the transplant unit was there to serve me, that it would help me prep for the upcoming surgery.  And the doctor seemed to think his job is to keep stupid people out so verifiably healthy people can have the few available kidneys.  It was only toward the end of the appointment that he got it, that I have a living donor.  He pointed out that a lot of things can get in the way of that transplant.  And it may not take.

I've been on the transplant list over two years, and had to go through a lot of tests to get on it.  Then once a year, I have to meet with one of the several transplant kidney docs, who reviews me from head to toe, except the part about how you have a brain, and what symptoms I walked in with.  So now we were at it again, questions arising about my heart.  Okay, get another stress test.  The cardiologist didn't think I needed one in March, but he knows the renal tx doctors trump him, like in that game of Wizard - the Wizard trumps everything.  I don't care.  I know what a stress test is like, hey.  The colonoscopy, that's going to be more unpleasant.  It gives me some party chatter, anyway.  Actually true, this is the kind of stuff we old people talk about here in America, where some of us have the privilege of good medical insurance (though many don't).

The doctor had one opinion that kept sticking its snarky nose into this evaluation:  I should be on dialysis.  This was not argued but implied - I just listened.  He examined my poor stomach and finally seemed to get it - peritoneal dialysis blew up on me three years ago, and we're not going to do that again.  I stuck my skinny little left arm out and tapped on it the way the doctors do to try to make a vein visible.  I think he got the point - you're not going to put a fistula in that arm.  That leaves my skinny neck.  I touched it and got a sentence in about a Permacath, and he did say things about the possibility of an infection with dialysis at that source.  God, how did I get through it? And does it ever occur to these guys that walking in the door, the patient knows more about her body than you do.

At the end he agreed to keep me on the list.  That blindsided me - I didn't know the issue could be in doubt.  I mean, I have a live donor being processed.  But I still have to do these major major tests, which always end up being scheduled for 7:30 a.m.  They can't all be, but they are.

When Tom and I got home, we were both exhausted.  I lay on the bed too tired to rest.  But Tom suggested going to Zen.  I'd forgotten it meets Tuesday evening.  Since he drove, I was able to go, like a package someone just takes along, but did not feel able to walk kinhin, which is my favorite thing when I have some energy.  I did not meditate very well, but I can sit still pretty well.  After the two sessions, I felt like I'd waked up. I didn't realize that I'd become deeply depressed.  My perspective was restored.  This morning I felt human again.  At one time I would have thought this is a selfish reason to meditate - so you feel better.  Well, there you are.


  1. Koan for you: Whats the difference between sitting in a hospital, waiting, and sitting in zen, waiting?

  2. Thank you for sharing. I wish you all the best in the process.
    (Found via Barry's Ox-Herding blog)

  3. Great koan, hadv ! Sending you Metta, DG!

  4. I spent four years waiting for a new liver. When it finally came, I felt reborn. I began a serious, daily Zazen practice as soon as I was able to sit up in a chair. Two years later, serious complications are creating a whole host of new difficulties, but my daily Zen practice (one hour in the morning, 5 days a week and 1/2 hour every night I can manage) has helped me keep involved and happy in my day to day life. When ever I lapse for more than a day or two, my mood goes down and the pain comes up.

    From my experience I would say to keep up your sitting as much as you can. I know that's not always possible to do, but I'm sure it can help you hang in there. And do hang in there!

  5. David - Thank you for this. I have been hoping to have the rebirth experience, and not a difficult transplant. I am so sorry complications have set in for you. I also notice how much difference sitting makes. Hanging in there.