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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

News Flash--Susie Price Dutcher Discharged from ER with No Definitive Diagnosis, BUT, "This Too Shall Pass"

So when I got back to the ER with Mickey D's coffee in hand, Dr. Asia was re-assigned to a patient unburdened with a comedically-challenged spouse hanger-on.  Or had he heard just HOW BAD my free-associative joking riffs can be and requested re-assignment?  Personally, I hadn't actually met Dr. Doyle, the female doctor whom I talked to by cell phone the day Susie got hurt and I was out in Colorado on the train ride in the mountains with Liam, K.C., and Devon, and I was delighted I was now going to see the doctor who, as far as I was concerned at that time, saved my wife's life, and "wheels."

Susie began to get irritated that she was being kept "on ice" for several hours before she finally got a chance to meet the Gurudeva in person, up close and personal.  It finally dawned on me, however, that the longer you wait in the ER, the less in medical danger the ER staff thinks you are.  As hard as it is for us "gotta have it......RIGHT NOW" Americans, if you go to the ER with an ingrown toe nail, you'll probably have to wait longer to see the doctor than if you go in because your face has been bitten off in Stamford, CT by your best friend's Chimpanzee.  Being a very impatient, "inappropriate," person, I frankly can't see why the latter case is more urgent than the former, but that'll have to be addressed in a future blog post.  Hey, you may disagree with my sense of priority, and probably do disagree with my sense of propriety, but that's why we have a First Amendment right to free speech and free association.

Finally, Dr. Doyle strolled in, looking like she'd just gotten out of work at a summer camp.  Her reddish hair, pulled back along the sides of her head and fashioned into a pony tail, green eyes, and thin, healthy physique made her look like the young Irish women Susie and I saw many of on the streets of Cork and Dublin.  "Because she was here yesterday, we know that whatever the problem is, it's not her liver, gall bladder, or pancreas. It's probably either the medication she's been taking to, shall we say, get he intestines moving again, or the one she gets because she may have picked up a virus at Hartford Hospital. I'm going to give you a prescription for a medicine you'll have to take when you give a sample of your [contents of her large bowel.  Editor's note, for propriety sake, the actual mechanism by which this medication gives relief has been removed by the a voluntary act of  self-censorship by the author.]  

Dr. Doyle then requested that Susie call Dr. Reiman to have a consultation with a surgeon about her gall bladder, which needs to be removed soon.  At the urging of Dr. Doyl, Susie also called Dr. Shroth about the general of her abdomen and intestines.  Susie also discovered, yesterday in the ER, that she has a hernia which the ER doctor yesterday actually "pushed back in," after Dr. Shaver, a general surgeon also said the hernia needed to be surgically repaired.  Add that to the growing laundry list of medical challenges Susie has to deal with to "get on over to the the other side," to the land of milk and honey.

In the Jewish bible, Satan inflicts boils all over Job's body.  Susie has no boils, at least not yet, but she has something which may be just as hard to deal with.  A broken neck.  And Job had to wait many chapters, complaining to God about his suffering, before God's voice came forth from the heavens.  As you probably recall, God essentially told Job to cut out the toxic narcissism and stop bugging him with petty demands that God should do a better job of looking after Job's well-being.  "Where were you, Job, when I was laying the foundations of the world, knitting you together in your mother's womb, and steering Hurricane Irene away from a direct bee-line to Ur and towards the coast of Connecticut?"  

When it comes to my wife's plaintive cry, "When will this all end?  When will I get past the hard part?  Have I reached the hard part yet?", or words to that effect, I can't help but interpret this as her Job-like wail to God, asking where He is in all of her suffering. Will goodness, sense, meaning, come from all Susie's suffering?  Without knowing how or when this will become clear, I do have faith Susie's present ordeal is planting seeds which will yield a rich harvest of goodness, sense, and meaning.

I am not sure I would be able to say this if I were in Susie's place. Last fall, I tortured myself, Susie, and my friends with fantasies of violently bringing my life to an end. Finally, I realized that it was my old way of life, not my physical life, which needed to be changed in fundamental ways, which had to die before, its dark residue could be used to nurture then-un-imagined, unseen treasures.  Only now, some twelve months later, am I finally beginning to harvest a richer fruit than I ever imagined was possible to grow on my tiny plot in Middletown.

This too shall pass, sang the Persian Sufi poets.  My dear Susie, as hard as it is for you to live out that truth, you know I lived it out last fall, with your patient, steady, and loving support.  Your friends and I are there for you now.  Lean on us, as we have been supported by you. And this too shall pass.

[Editor's note: On the origin of "this too shall pass," see  ]

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