Monday, August 29, 2016

Contemplation of the act of "posting"

A lot on my mind these days.

The need for an audience, 
the need for obscurity.
I've been blogging for over twelve years now.
This is my fourth blogfront.
Congrats if you're on board
I suppose.

My first "posts" were mailed out, thirty years ago.
I don't remember what they said
except for that one letter about star-gazing and constellations.
That one glittered.
But poor boy.
Poor little boy who got letters from that strange 
lonely tomboy in the adjacent town,
who promised with each that it would be the last
and then couldn't stop writing.
Needless to say, this is an old habit;
this message in a bottle act
that is somehow public now.

I've lost one of my longtime regulars 
and I'm mourning her absence.
She mattered, though I'm not altogether sure why.
Probably has to do with how I respected her own writing
and the fact that she's always seemed 
to have it together.
I know she didn't,
not always,
that's the illusion
—the seemingness of online installments.
But when these reliable characters 
go on extended hiatus after a years-and-years 
pattern of checking-in,
of being there daily to read your words when no one else is
you feel the loss.

I feel the loss
of the woman who read my blog 
every day 
for three years.

Even when the depth of connection we shared
was no more than a daily URL hit
from somewhere back East
where I've never been.

Even when what is gone is no more than an idea 
of how cool she must certainly be.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

New schedule

Week one of fall semester, completed.
Tomorrow, I wake at 4:30 a.m. to serve my first shift in the temple baptistry.
I am baffled by vagueness and metaphysics. 
Poetry evades my intention to pin it down. 
Greek and fiction are only slightly less daunting.
My husband cheers me on. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

One does not
simply build
an altar
to offer sacrifice

One sacrifices

Monday, August 15, 2016

Speaking too soon

Today, I laid another foundation stone of gratitude, added five smaller stones bearing questions. 

Thank you, but why? We thought we were sailing through this one. We thought we were free and clear.

My last post went up 240 hours ago.

He woke up at 8:30 a.m. a week ago without a neck. It ballooned in the night to roughly the same circumference as his head, and his incision site bulged like an ugly claw waiting to strike. His voice, which in the days since the thyroidectomy transitioned from Marlon Brando to Christian Bale's Batman, gurgled and rasped with each gasping breath like Star War's Chewbacca. The panicked glint in his eye told me the pain was intense. I gave him two Percocet and combed my house for the missing hospital discharge instructions hoping they offered insight into this new development. Our aide arrived at 9 a.m. to give Mr. PNU his shower. By then my husband had erupted in a cold sweat that drenched his clothing and his breathing continued to be labored. I feared heart attack. The aide helped me dress and wheel him to the car.

At the emergency room his blood pressure registered at 90/50, an alarming change from the 165/105 hypertension he was experiencing before initial discharge from the hospital four days earlier. His oxygen saturation levels hovered around 83%. Nurses quickly designated him a priority patient and he was wheeled into a room where his chest was affixed with telemetry monitors and his veins accessed for IV. 

Inside the incision site a blood vessel had burst through the clotting, filling the cavity and surrounding tissue with clotted blood, or hematoma. The culprit: Lovenox, the medication that ensured Mr. PNU didn't experience blood clots after discontinuing blood thinners for the thyroidectomy. Our surgeon arrived, and after calling for a 50cc syringe, told my husband to brace himself. He plunged the needle into Mr. PNU's neck and began drawing out syringe after syringe of the pooled, clotted blood—300cc's worth—to relieve the extensive swelling. A nurse brought green towels to pack the puncture site, and the surgeon held them in place to stop the bleeding. After a few minutes, he stopped applying pressure, checked Mr. PNU's neck, and announced that the area was simply refilling with blood. The only way to stop the increase of pressure was to reopen the site, drain off the blood, and cauterize the offending vessel. He called for an anesthesiologist, excused himself to prep for emergency surgery, and a hospitalist took his place to gather my husband's medical history for an extended admission to the hospital.

On Tuesday, five days after his initial operation, Mr. PNU underwent emergency surgery to save his life. 

I read extensive medical literature to inform myself about possible side-effects and complications coincident to all medications and procedures my husband receives. I knew that the likelihood of hematoma following thyroidectomy is .3 to 1%, and most patients who experience hematoma do so within 6-24 hours following thyroidectomy. Neck hematomas cause airway obstruction and potential asphyxiation. Thursday afternoon the hospital released Mr. PNU back into my care. The drainage site is a collar bruised nearly black just above the curve of my husband's throat like he'd escaped an attempted garroting, or aggressively necked with the devil. The bass in his voice evades him, but with each new day he's much less raspy. 

Somehow we're back to joking about our bad luck, back to toting an oxygen canister everywhere until someone with a medical degree says otherwise, back to sharing blissful habitation in the duplex on the south side of Provo City a block from the cemetery. By all accounts we have the option of relaxing now, but this afternoon on our way home from the clinic to check his INR levels (blood clotting speed) he confessed, again, that he's tired. And if this blog is confessional, I am too.

We thought we'd cleared the storm. We were ready to settle in for a gradual recovery and a new comfortable stasis where hemiplegia is a gentle guest we've learned to accept. Somehow we made the mistake of thinking this go round we had luck on our side. I don't mean to sound melodramatic. I promise that I am as weary of the constant drama in this narrative as my readers. I'm ready to garden, read ancient Greek, hike Slate Canyon, collect and make art, spin a few poems out of the last sixteen months, and take long naps next to my eternal philosopher boyfriend. I'm ready to be happy and grateful and content without repeat reminder of the frailty of the body and the briefness of remaining time.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Emergence, or, the staying power of a manic-pixie-dream-girl

I'm blaming stress for the death of my creativity, but really, my creativity is just exhausted from having to problem solve my way through all the stress. So please, bear with me. I wish I had the energy to write something lovely or to provide you with life-changing wisdom, but all I have is this:

Yesterday, a surgeon opened up Mr. PNU like a chrysalis, and extracted a cancerous butterfly. We are in awe at the seeming effortlessness of this act. The risk factors for complication stood stacked against us, and our awareness of that tower of probability has overshadowed the last two weeks. I moved through the preceding days and their schedule as if normal; but I'd catch myself occasionally, drifting off, not fully present. And realizing my error, I'd suddenly snap back to the demands of acute attention, to every haunting minute detail, so as not to give room for later guilt at having taken the sacredness of our married life together for granted.

Two days ago, when both of us were spending our daylight hours considering the likelihood that they may be my husband's last, I asked him if he'd learned anything over the past 15.8 months that might justify living this stroke/aftermath trial. (Because of that persistent cultural fallacy that everything happens for a reason.)

He thought for a long time. Finally, he said, "I guess I've learned to just keep going." 

More often than I'd like, we're told that individually and as a couple we are inspiring, strong, and/or amazing. While those kinds of compliments are certainly flattering, I do not see myself as inspiring, or strong, or amazing. I don't believe Mr. PNU sees himself that way either. We certainly never aspired to being pedestalized for overcoming great challenges. You know, a beacon couple. Who actually does that? These kinds of struggles, they're hard. Harder even than other points in my life when I was dealing with crap that most people never consider experiencing. Harder than anything I thought I could ever get through. The kind of hard that keeps on giving, that if you're any kind of decent human you'd never wish on anyone.

So most of the time, I'll say thank you. But, because I know myself, this sort of praise makes me feel awkward in my skin. Because the woman I know isn't strong, barely fakes amazing, and certainly hasn't lived a life that anyone would call inspiring. What I think is that I'm contentious—a fighter. Maybe a little daring and creative and fun at times. But I get that those can be flaws too. I tell Mr. PNU I'm his eternal manic-pixie-dream-girl. Although they're great tropes, no one really wants to marry a manic-pixie-dream-girl. They're stepping stones. Catalysts for growth in others, tenacious and stubborn, a little too smart for their own good, not nearly patient enough to be wise, usually in possession of the largest, most delicate egos to grace the planet. Usually temporary. 

These are not qualities that I consider inspiring, nor worthy of aspiration. But I'm right there with my husband in admitting that I'm not a quitter. Even when there's no "winning" to be had. Especially when the odds are not in our favor. And yeah, I could spend day after day wishing our lot were otherwise, but instead persistence, or moving through makes far more sense. I mean, let's be real. There's no use wishing our reality were otherwise when it simply cannot be. The concept of wishing has become rather irritating to me because of the requirement to persist post-stroke or bail. But I never wish I were somewhere else. I never wish I weren't right here fighting with Mr. PNU. Truth is, hard as this situation is, I'm also excruciatingly happy. I'll leave it to everyone out there to figure that juxtaposition.

For so long I've written about reconstructing life after devastating change or loss. I'd accepted, and maybe assumed too hastily, that permanence was not a facet of my experience and never would be. But I think what I'm seeing surface now in my narrative is not a restructuring, or a redefinition. I'm venturing now into the territory of lastingness and what it takes to create an enduring presence in the universe. Maybe until this stroke and the eclipsing changes to this, the most exquisite of marriages, I was incapable of recognizing the possibility that's emerged; the idea that the personality quirks littering the rubble of my past ruins, are quite possibly the bedrock of my future's sure foundation. I suppose what I'm getting at is that I agree with my husband about the repurposing of my life as a caregiving spouse. This trial has taught me not that I must keep going, but that I do. Which means that we—the poet-philosopher-beacon-couple—persist. Which, in turn, means that persistence is what makes life worth living, manic-pixie-dream-girl or not.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Before the death of Eve

She said—If he doesn't live I'll get a tattoo.
Something blue
I'll hate along my dorsal ribs, the place
of origin and remembrance. A maybe i'll see you Friday counterface
offensive, a fig leaf rhyme-scheme
shuffle between belief & how one seems to believe
that slap of an idea: reconnaisance!
A joke! Here's another giddy cheek; left of the bloody nuisance 
stitched tight at the neck of the throat & the neck of the crotch.
A pox
on our house, darling man
& the vagabond mother she goes a wanderin' outside-the-garden
fro & to
marching the burying ground without ears or stole or harkening clue.