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LIFE FORCE

February 15, 2010

We live life, we die…..simple, a given, a universal, the human condition, not negotiable, we all share the inevitability of it, and also some of us cling….not the best Buddhist practice, the teachings of the Buddha are all about Impermanence, suffering, detachment, cravings, about the path to meditation, the ultimate aim of Nirvanah, no not that of Kurt and others….

It is now over a month, the days drift by, dates are blurred, memories a shambles, but the awakening from the coma is vivid enought to spur me on to this stream of consciousness…bear with me as I tap it out, as a self indulgent exercise possibly, as something to be shared by friends, family and strangers…

It was ICU, been there done that both in Thailand and now in Melbourne.  Things became more apparent by the time I was sent to the ward.  Four beds in the one room.  Constant movement.  Voices from all cultures.  Nurses and doctors, stethesopes draped like some Bantu Tribe Jewellery, bum bags around waists, holding all things medical, rather similar to that worn by carpenters on building sites.  My body was rigid with anxiety, more tubes than the London Underground.  Where they came from, where they were going was all a mystery.  The morphine was swilling round in my sick and sutured body.  What have they done to my body.  Whats it all about, not Alfie, but someone please tell me.

Then the conveyor belt of life began.  Morning.  Thermometers, tablets, questions, confusion, discomfort, fear, apprehension, it was not a deck chair on Koh Samui that is for sure.  Who were the other people in the other beds.  I was too sick to even be interested other than the constant swish of curtains closing around peoples beds when teams of ‘medicos’ did examinations of their patients.  Who was that one, a surgeon, a nurse, a consultant, a registrar, a social worker, a tea lady, a cleaner, gawd, the sheer numbers of people was alarming……p.a. addresses across the entire hospital announcing various levels of ‘codes’…it was another language, and there was no interpreter despite it being in my native tongue of English and in my home town of Melbourne.

Lloyd you have been very sick.  You have had major surgery. You can expect to not remember.  ‘Thanks a lot Doctor, although first names seemed to be de rigeur now.  The chief surgeon I saw arrived in khakhi shorts, trainers and a striped polo shirt.  Thought he had lost his way from the Squash Courts, guess being a New Zealander, he must be forgiven.  Beside manner.  This is the 21st Century old boy, they were like storm troopers each day, their speech like rapid fire in Afghanistan or Sri Lanks, get the data, write it down, and run.

I was now a little more informed.  Here was this piece of plastic attached to the right side of an abdominal wound that was as long as Brunswick Street.  ‘Lloyd you have an Iliostomy.  A stoma.  It was all greek to me both literally and metaphorically.  The first operation was not a success.  ‘What first operation?’  What is going on here”?  I had been rushed to Emergency, and was ressuscitated, and fitted with this bag, the Stoma, this was now an accessory I did not particular enjoy.  Had it been some bangles, some scarves, sure not a problemo, but it was now my bowel receptacle and I had to learn how to deal with it.

The anxiety levels were through the proverbial roof.  No medication.  Only for pain.  ‘Lloyd press the button when you feel pain and it will release the morphine”  Shit the whole darn show was getting spookier by the nano second.  I started to have the most hidjeous hallucinations.  The curtains began to have the pattern come off them, peripheral vision was including all kinds of bizarre  images.  Oh Ajarn was not a happy man.  And sleep, or should I say lack of it, was turning me into a demented old fool.  The body could not find a position in which to relax enough to nod off.  I spent days and days with my dear friend Lenny’s transistor radion stuffed into my ears listening to Radio National from 11 pm till around 6 am…..I heard and understood the broadcasts but it was a huge kulcha shock from my restful nights in Bangkok with my daring Sammy along side me.  I also used the ear plugs to drown out the screams, the cries, the staff chatter, as people who were sick were brought to the ward from the operating theatre, of course some did not make it through the night.  Several nights the morphine tripping took me through death, or so I thought, until I was woken by a nurse wanting to take blood, empty my newly acquired bag, take my temperature, dole out medicines, too numerous to mention.  After nearly ten days of this I began to feel a little better.

The surgeon who had done the slicing said I was looking too healthy to be in bed.  I think that is a political reference, we want your bed mate.  So this man, who looked to me like a senior prefect at a private school, instructed the nurses to start detaching, now there is that wondrous buddhist concept, all my tubing which would give me some level of ambility thankfully.

My first walk was exhausting.  It was with the help of a physiotherapist, Sam, of course I could not resist in falling in love with her and quickly telling her that was the name of my partner back in Bangkok, she was a darling, another 20 something graduate.  I had a walking frame.  Me who only two and a half months earlier was outta bed and into the pool at our Bangkok apartment doing 20 minutes of laps before my morning repast of bran, fruit and soy milk.  The shock immense.  But to move one leg in front of the other was scary but I had the determination to continue.  And then Iwas on my own, walking around the complex corridors of Ward 7 West, my sense of direction totally out the window.  The only marker being the nurses station where all the action took place.

The first shower.  Oh who could have thunk it.  Warm water over the tired old body.  The wound covered by plastic dressing and my newly acquired plastic handbag, the Stoma, dangling from my abdomen like some Sci Fi creature.  The soap, the post shower unguents, rose scented lotions, all were so energising.  The balancing act in the shower became precarious at times but I tried to invoke another my buddhist lessons, mindfulness.  Slowly, be aware Ajarn, one slip and you will be a dead duck.  I think fear and anxiety kept me vertical for those days.

There is always a lot of side talk in hospital wards, when the ‘Team’ de brief one another after their visit to you at 7 am in the morning.  A barrage of questions.  ‘How ya doin Lloyd?’  How does it bloody look I used mumble under my short breaths.  D id they really know the story, sliced and diced, tubed and lubed, how was I ever going to return to some level of ‘normalcy’…One morning when the head honcho asked his stock question I answered with ” Suicidal doctor!  ‘Oh would you like to see someone?”  Code for the Pschciatric Department.  ‘Yes I would!”  And subsequently I did.

During the first week and a half I was inundated by loving and caring visitors, even my brother from Brisbane and his wife and teenage daughters gathered.  People whom I had not seen for many years rallied.  Phone calls from Mumbai to Pennsylvannia, from Bangkok to Brisbane.  It then dawned on me just how many lives I had touched in 50 years.  I have always found people a joy, a reason for living, but had never been on the receiving end of so many phone calls, so many visitors, so much love, albeit sent electronically in some cases.  I think other patients were observing the procession of visitors to my bedside.  And let it be stated now, not a complaint from me, these were the people who were juicing up my Life Force.  And amongst all of the physical madness a further madness reared its ugly head.  My status had changed to ‘homeless’…..not a good look when you are in a hospital, as legally you cannot be discharged on to the streets.  Was I going to set up house in St Vincents Hospital Fitzroy, mind you my view of the Exhibition Building Dome would have made some property developers green with LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION…..

My adopted Greek Family, Lenny, Dina and the kids, Anastasia and Evangelos, of course in Awstrayia, Anna and Evan.  They have offered me shelter, my own room, and I participate in family life, calm, no tension, all within a stones throw of the Brunswick Buzz that so many from south of the River now wish to buy Investment properties.  I remember when these northern inner city suburbs were shunned, full of wogs and poor people, now the capuccino fascistos and fascinistas cant wait to park their bubble cars  outside some box apartment that developers have gentrified into the quick buck.  And after a 20 year absence of competing in the rental market this has been one of the most frightening culture shocks I have endured since my arrival from Thailand.

No you do not go to the agent and pick up the keys, sign the lease and move in.  It is hell.  And having learnt some of the ropes, all on line, am still looking for a place to lay my head, a key of my own door.

The Litany goes on: ‘Lloyd it is not easy’  ‘Lloyd you will find somewhere”  ‘Lloyd the market is tight” ad nauseum.   But I have no choices in this matter.  Self doubts emerge, am I too old for a rental property when competing with gen X and others.  My rental history thin.  But as so many loving friends have stated ” Lloyd something will come up”

So the Life Force propels me to go forward, to be calm, to have confidence that my darling Sam will appear miraculously at Melbourne Airport through the loving help of Brad and others involved here in Melbourne.

I WILL SURVIVE, ALTHOUGH I AM PETRIFIED

NA MO TA SA

PA KA WA TOR

A RA HA TOR

SAM MA SAM PUT TA SA

SATU SATU………This Buddhist Prayer was taught to me by my Beloved Sammy, may The Triple Gem bless us both my darling and help us in accepting what it is The Lord Buddha sends.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. February 15, 2010 9:02 am

    Thanks for this Lols. Regarding homelessness, I think your status is more one of transition. I know everyone is saying you will find something, I prefer to think something will find you.
    In the meantime I have had a word to Benny here:
    http://saints.sqpn.com/saint-benedict-joseph-labre/
    I guess his solution of spending years in adoration in cathedrals really cuts the mustard for you.
    I’ve also had a word to Egidio here:
    http://saints.sqpn.com/saint-giles/
    He’s agreed to watch over you during and after your chemo treatment, though he pointed out to me that hinds are presently in great demand for their milk for the world’s poor and hungry.
    I shall re-light the candle this evening.
    Jaco xxx

  2. dyoll09 permalink*
    May 29, 2010 6:19 am

    Dear David what is happening, I have received very few comments, partly as I do not know how to get the blog, ‘out there’ as it were…the candles are always a gift and your kind words even more…today there has been a number of comments, no complaints, must get on to Chris Goffin he set it up for me and maybe he knows how to connect me to the wider cosmos…June 9 roll on
    Love Llewlah

  3. susan abbott permalink
    September 5, 2011 8:34 am

    Just lovin’ you up, surrounding you with it, my friend. A lot to take in. May you’re road to recovery be steady and grow a little easier every day. I have been through the ileostomy route and totally get the ramifications for that in one’s life. I was very fascinated with the stoma – the body is so amazing! People joke about meditators as navel-gazers. Well, I became a stoma-gazer with it’s marvelous pulsings and blurps. Took awhile to get the bag apparatus to fit and hold properly as the stoma was at my fat crease. And to have to be homeless, yes that’s what it is despite the kindness of strangers. But, my friend the life force is truly is amazing I’m here to tell you. Times like this a different kind of creativity and grace emerges and beauty and love. Soak it up. Let the blessing of it all wash over you. As the doctors and nurses at the hospital kept reinforcing to me “This is just a bump in the road.” I cringed each time I heard it, but in a mqanner of speaking , and in hindsight it was true. Love you Lloyd.

    • dyoll09 permalink*
      September 5, 2011 2:06 pm

      Thank you Susan for your loving kindness….I was given the opportunity to have the stoma reveersed but due to the two nightmare surgeries I decided not to….so am living with it as best as one can…..going to Bali was my test to see how the swimming would go, it was a breeze so to speak and Sammy’s constant love and support has been short of a miracle
      Lovin back atcha sistah….x

  4. Pip permalink
    October 18, 2012 2:57 pm

    “Phone calls from Mumbai to Pennsylvannia, from Bangkok to Brisbane. It then dawned on me just how many lives I had touched in 50 years. ”

    Long may you continue to do so Lloyd :]

    • dyoll09 permalink*
      October 18, 2012 4:02 pm

      I think we know the common thread darling…

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