Saturday, August 05, 2006

Grace Period

Ten years ago this day, I lay on the operating table at Kaiser Permanente Hospital in San Francisco, going “under the knife” to repair the damage done by years of unhealthy living and bad habits. I had walked very close to the edge, and a series of TIAs (Transient Ischemic Attacks) had sent me to the eye doctor as I thought I was going blind.

That wonderfully perceptive man sent me immediately to the emergency room where they immediately paged Dr. Okuhn and my surgical journey began. There was great fear of contaminated blood in San Francisco at that time, so surgery was postponed while I gave a quantity of my own blood equal to my entire body’s worth of fluid prior to the surgery.

Two surgeries were performed, one on Friday August 2nd and one on Monday August 5th, each taking many hours. I was in Intensive Care for several days and my hospital stay was over three weeks altogether. I arrived home at the Cottage at Ocean Beach on my 59th birthday. Alive and with good prospects for a new life.

Recovery took months and started one tiny step at a time…first across the room, then onto the porch, then down the steps, then out to the street, then down to the corner, then across Lincoln Way to Golden Gate Park, then down the path a few feet, then a few feet farther. The following May I walked over 7.5 miles in the Bay to Breakers, coming in somewhere in the middle of a pack of hundreds.

I look back at the ten intervening years with gratitude for the life extension I was granted. Every day is special to me now as I came so close to checking out back then. I am at this time healthier than I have ever been. Weight, blood pressure, cholesterol levels all where they should be. Energy up, malaise down. The recent move to the Northwest has energized me and given me new avenues to pursue. I am close to my children, I have a book being published, I took my dream trip to Alaska, my son is happily married. Life is good and I look forward to turning 69 in just a few weeks.

My undying gratitude goes to Dr. Okuhn and the other doctors at Kaiser that gave me this gift.


Post a Comment

<< Home