Category Archives: Caregiving

A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Carcinoma 13

Having never read any of Douglas Adam’s books, the only thing I’ve taken away from them has been “Don’t Panic” because those words were written on the cover of at least one of the editions in his 5-part sci-fi trilogy. That advice has been more useful than anything in all the other books combined that [...]


Eye for an eye… 29

… a tooth for a tooth. This is familiar territory to just about anyone, mentioned in the Torah, the New Testament, the Qur’an, and much earlier, in the Code of Hammurabi. In all those references, it has nothing to do with exacting revenge, but everything to do with promoting justice… limiting retribution… encouraging appropriate response. [...]


Passing the Stone 23

Ancient rituals often include the passing of a sacred object—a shell, stone, sometimes a goat—that may or may not have any inherent magical properties but is imbued with them regardless simply by being part of the moment. The object is passed from one person to another conferring a transcendent quality, or removing one, or sometimes [...]


End of the world—reprise 19

There were several options available to us when Diana’s tumor started growing again in April 2009. For the first time, surgery was on the table with curative intent. As attractive as that sounded, it made no sense to go through such an invasive procedure with possibly debilitating life-long implications if there were still microscopic outposts [...]


To do…or not to do 12

It’s hard to beat a Northwest sunset, especially when most of eastern Washington and good portions of Oregon and Idaho are ablaze. The particulate matter in the atmosphere from the smoke of a raging forest fire scatters light in a way that can be spectacular… sensuous… seductive. We had some stunning sunsets throughout the opening [...]


Don’t believe everything you think 4

The months after the blip showed up on Diana’s CT scan were filled with exercises and expeditions into the extraordinary: explorations of any and all energy healing methods with hands on and minds off; extended forays into the jungles of Buddhist thought and biblical allegory; excursions into the elsewhere seated under dolmens, walking around labyrinths, [...]


Remember to exhale 6

Fear of public speaking is the Number One phobia in the United States according to some surveys, probably conducted by those who say they can cure it. It’s ahead of death, spiders, darkness, and heights and is classified as a performance anxiety, like erectile dysfunction but with the added trauma of a roomful of witnesses. [...]


Sense and nonsense 3

Several years ago we visited the asylum in San Remy that harbored Vincent van Gogh while he worked out some personal issues and hoped his ear would grow back. Looking through the flawed and inconsistent thickness of glass in the windows overlooking the fields and courtyard turned the olive trees, mown hay, benches, walkways, and [...]


Total immersion 6

When Diana was 13, her family pulled up roots and relocated to Switzerland. She and her younger siblings were abruptly thrown into the local school system and while all four came home the first day in tears, at least they were crying in French. I, too, was transplanted into a foreign culture at an early [...]


Uncertainty 98249 8

When pulled over for speeding and asked if he knew how fast he was going, Nobel laureate Werner Heisenberg replied, “No, but I know where I am.” That joke apparently leaves freshman physics students rolling in the aisles of the lecture hall at MIT. I had to have it explained to me. It has to [...]


Weight! Weight! Don’t tell me… 8

There are examples in Western literature of Love so profound that the death of one party is followed shortly thereafter by the death of the other from heartbreak. It is a sub-genre of Romantic Tragedy not nearly as popular as it could be because, frankly, it is a commercial dead-end. There is no Romeo & [...]


War zone 7

The radiosurgical strike on Diana’s tumor had met its objective. Accurate targeting. Acceptable collateral damage. Minimal loss of lifestyle. We celebrated, of course, but stopped short of unfurling a “Mission Accomplished” banner not because we were doubtful of the results but because you just never know if heavy-handed hubris is going to turn around and [...]


Waiting and seeing 8

There are five types of desert in the American Southwest: Chihuahuan, Sonoran, Mojave, Big Basin, and Cultural with the range of the latter coinciding with the city limits of Las Vegas. From the middle of any of the other four on a cloudless night of a new moon, far removed from the ambient light cast [...]


Drawing a blank 4

A dream: I walk into an art gallery the size of a high-school gymnasium. Everything is white. Walls. Floor. Ceiling. I’m dressed in white with black shoes. The door closes behind me and vanishes. I walk to the closest wall and peruse it for several minutes as if something were displayed there even though it [...]


Next stop: the Twilight Zone 10

The waiting room during Diana’s first surgery for colon cancer in 1993 was crowded with family and friends. Some needed to be there, to assuage their own worries and insecurities and to lend their presence for Diana’s benefit. A few were there because they needed support themselves but most, I suspect, were there because they [...]


Ready or not… 4

What in other circumstances could have been a memorable romantic moment cuddled up in the big leather chair in the living room at midnight devolved into just a memorable moment when Diana, recovering from a punctured lung and curled up post-operatively on my lap in her robe, passed out and threw up at exactly the [...]


Lack-of-vision quest 11

When I think about crossroads of significance in our life—opportunities that sent us in one direction or another other than the way we were headed—the decisions were invariably based not on there being a good reason for doing something in particular, but on there being no particularly good reason not to. Mid-September of 2007 found us wading [...]


Smoke and mirrors 12

“I feel it in my fingers. I feel it in my toes. Love is all around me, and so the feeling grows.” Nothing like a ’60s love song by the Troggs. Unless its another love song by the Troggs: “Wild thing, you make my heart sing. You make everything grooooovy.” Maybe you had to be [...]


Slack tide 7

It could be better. It could be worse. An optimist could utter either one of those statements. So could a pessimist. Without another point of reference, neither statement communicates anything other than a complete disregard for the moment. Nothing we did leading up to and surpassing the one-year anniversary of Diana’s diagnosis could entice the [...]


Single-point perspective 10

It seems to be a common assumption that any catastrophic event in life somehow confers the superhuman ability to put things in proper perspective, to know what is truly important. I think it’s more the case that any trauma—or non-trauma for that matter—offers the opportunity to consider a different perspective and ponder what else may [...]