What a rush these past 4 1/2 weeks have been. I came back for the apheresis treatments and ended up with back surgery, pneumonia and treatments for low blood counts that just knocked me out. Up until this past Wednesday, I hadn't had a "day off" to recover from one thing before they were doing something else to basically put me out for another day or two. MRIs, CT scans, X-rays, radiation treatments seemed never ending. Last Wednesday, it seems that they ran out of things to do to me, and wow what a difference it has made. The last 2 nights I have been able to sleep without any extra pain medications to help knock me out, and I slept well and deep until my daily 5 am wake up for blood draws for the lab work for the day. Miracles. I've been doing so well the past few days to the point where the kind and compassionate nurses skipped waking me up for my 12am, 2am and 4 am "vitals checks" as they are technically supposed to, in order to let me sleep until 5 am. Usually I'm already awake and waiting for them, but a couple of times I've still been dead out, and one nurse let me sleep until 6:30 am. I love these nurses!
I would also like to share with you two beautiful experiences having to do with music and my stays in the hospitals. My desire is not to embarrass the performers, but rather to share with you how their time and talents helped transcend the experience I was actually having to take me to a much better place.
The first was when I was in Twin Cities Community Hospital. I was in ICU and pretty much "totally out of it", including hallucinations. My recollection is that I was quite restless and in pain. I couldn't tell you whether it was day or night. I heard a sweet voice whisper in my ear, "It's Peggy." I remember thinking, I don't have a nurse named Peggy. And then the music started. As the Lord says in Doctrine and Covenants, I believe Section 25, wherein he states that a song of the heart is a prayer unto me. Well, the songs, the music, played by Peggy Cann on the harp brought not only my heart, but my whole body as close to heaven as I could ever hope to be. Peggy and her kind and understanding husband Bob where on a vacation. Had dinner with some friends and found out what was going on with me, and next thing you know she's performing a personal concert in the ICU for me! I literally felt my pain melt away. The sensation was that of being moved on beds of clouds to the very gates of heaven. There I enjoyed a peace and calm that I had never felt before. The feelings I can't describe, and I won't try. However, to me, the experience transcended all earthly experiences. Thank you Peggy (and Bob) for you unselfish gifts of time, and talents, which made a huge
difference in my spirit. I hope that the rest of your vacation was wonderful for you.
The second happened Thanksgiving Day. The day and week of Thanksgiving was a very difficult one for me. Dale and Hillary had returned home to finish up what they could for our medi-cal qualification and spend time with the rest of the family after spending the previous two weeks with me in SF. Doing Thanksgiving all alone in your hospital room is a very humbling and somewhat depressing experience, even for me. I suggested to the nurses that we go around to the others who would not be having company and try and have a group meal. They checked with the higher ups but got the thumbs down. That afternoon, however, Heidi, the head physical therapist at the hospital enters my room all dressed up and asks if I would like to participate in a musical presentation that was going to happen immediately. Of course I said "Sure" and with the whoosh of the wheel chair I was on my way to another floor. It turns out that Heidi's daughter, and I apologize as I have forgotten her name, who is a college student, is very talented on the guitar. As they were wrapping up their Thanksgiving meal at home and the men folk were watching football, Heidi thought it would be nice to do something for the Thanksgiving hospital shut-ins and made the proposal to her daughter, who readily agreed. She played a wide variety of songs, from folk to classic. One of the best parts was that my friend, Dennis Lozano, also made it to the performance. He was quite out of it, but we exchanged encouraging words as we headed back to our rooms. It was so thoughtful of Heidi and her daughter to do this kind act. It lifted my spirits for the rest of the day and beyond.
The last thing I want to write about was the heart attack that the Primary children sent me, along with the pictures. Hillary and Dale put them up around the TV that I have in my room, so that anyone coming into the room can not miss them. I know elsewhere in this blog it shows me with a great big smile opening them up and reading them, but they have done more than just that. It has opened the door to many a gospel discussion with my nurses and doctors. One nurse opened by saying, "These can't all be your grand kids." Another, "You must be a schoolteacher." Another, not even wishing to guess, 'Who are all these from?" They have opened the door to some missionary work. While in the hospital I've been able to place a Book of Mormon and have many gospel discussions about the restoration, the difference between our church buildings and temples, the difference between marriages for time and sealings for eternity (including scriptural references), family history work, the colonization of California by the Mormons, etc. The most important thing that those hearts have done, though, is make my heart full and tears in my eyes every time I look at them. I can't wait to get back and be near my kids. Parents, please explain to your children that just because I come back to church, doesn't mean that I can hug them and pick them up. I can 't have any contact with them if they've been sick, or are around someone who is or has been, in the last 10 days. The same goes for adults. Hand shaking or hugs, etc. to be kept at a minimum, if not avoided entirely. But visits and phone calls are still OK. Just call ahead to make an appointment.
There's my report. Hillary finally left the computer with me at the hospital. With Love and Appreciation, Kevin