It has been awhile since my last blog. I will explain my absence. After collapsing in pain in an acupuncturist’s office waiting room, where I was seeking help for a back issue, the receptionist called 911 and I was taken to a local hospital emergency room. After tests and scans a thoracic surgeon told my wife, “if I don’t operate right away he will die.” Not much of a choice considering she was not yet eager to get rid of me. Seven hours later, after replacement of a piece of my aorta with Dacron, I was still alive.
Six weeks have passed and since I am blogging again I’m obviously still alive and fortunately have a decent prognosis for survival. I am home receiving physical therapy and able to use a walker for short distances. I take a lot of pills and am able to take care of my basic needs around the house.
What have I learned, especially within the framework of masculinity, is the operative question? I cry a lot, not out of self pity but more for gratitude of being alive with such a supportive, loving wife and children. Attempting to preserve a sense of self while needing others, particularly strangers, to monitor ones basic needs has been a tremendous challenge. In the hospital it took four strong aides to move me from bed to chair. At rehab they needed a mechanical lift to do the same. Of course, since I could not get up by myself I urinated in a plastic container. often spilling its contents, and just defecated in place which required two underpaid and indifferent female aides to clean me up. I closed my eyes, let them do their thing, and separated my mind from my body as best as I could.
I attempted to deal with my new reality in the light of masculinity. I did not dismiss or stuff my strong emotions. I did and do experience fear, depression and helplessness but for the most part I have accepted those feelings to be present without allowing them to control my behavior. My wife and kids didn’t need to see a sniveling and hopeless shell of his former self while visiting in the rehab facility or while talking to me on the phone. Drawing on my king archetype I set my goals as trying to make each day being better than the previous one. That way any progress I made in therapy would be empirically empowering. My warrior archetype did the work and continues to provide the energy to become more functional. My lover has accepted the care and devotion of my wife, family and the good wishes o f friends who I have connected with over a lifetime. Of course the magician is always present figuring out how to navigate the everyday as efficiently as possible.
Each of us must find a way to deal with adversity and the challenges that await. For me, I know that they can be met by me living in and drawing upon what I consider the best of being a man.