Monday, May 20, 2013

The Compassion of Strangers


My writers garret boasts a bay window overlooking a stand of California Redwoods, and a segment of the Russian river in the valley below, which has inspired more than one to nickname my place "Ewok Village."  Just the other morning I saw a deer calmly strolling down the road, as if this expressway through the forest had been made exclusively for her.  They are around all the time, but just the same I hold it as special whenever I manage to catch sight of one.  The lower left corner of this bay window is the favored spot for one of the smarter local spiders to construct his web.  He has figured out that since I write at night a lot of times there is never a shortage of moths hanging about, drawn in by the light.  On any given morning there are at least a couple moth corpses hanging in his gossamer net.  Working at the computer this morning, going thru emails, I couldn't help but notice the spider happily having his breakfast, as I was also enjoying mine. 

A few minutes passed when suddenly my peripheral vision caught a very quick flash of movement right in that lower left corner of the window...turning my head I was puzzled to see the web bouncing a bit with a moth carcass dangling in the breeze...but no spider.  I just stared at the sight in a minor case of cognitive dissonance as I tried to figure out what had just transpired...when a blue jay flew up from the ground and snatched the moth...exactly as it had just snatched Mr. Spider.  It seems as my lamp is feeding quite a few mouths out there...beyond the glass.  The point of it all being ... it's becoming harder and harder to make a go of things out there, if you're resorting to spiders & dead moths.

Being something of a retired hermit, (which I suppose makes me a recluse these days;) I've been watching the descent into madness gradually devolve to the current state of affairs we collectively find ourselves in*.  From the looks of things in general I'd have to say that it is also getting harder & harder to make a go of things in the world out there beyond the confines of my Redwood hideaway.  I see the signs of it more frequently as do we all but mostly I see it in the faces of the people I meet.  Increasingly I see what we vets call the thousand yard stare on the faces of so many in the general public.  It's a kind of psychic numbing which allows one to function while being traumatized by the conditions they find themselves in. These are not easy times to be sure.  We see people hoarding survival supplies, even as the government in many places has made it a crime to collect rainwater!  With each new assault against the soul of humanity, it gets harder still to retain one's sanity while navigating the daily grind and trying to prepare for a most uncertain future which some days seems so close we can smell it's foul breath on the nape of our neck. 

I tend not to write much about myself, firstly because I'm so familiar with the subject it tends to be boring and second, well that isn't what this blog is all about.  Regular readers of my work will know that I am a Vietnam veteran and that I lived in Alaska for many years.  Partially by design and partly by luck of the draw, I have enjoyed an uncommon life, which among other things includes having wolves living in my home as equals for over 30 years.  But that will have to be a story for another day.

What this blog strives to be about, is spirituality, the human condition, and trying to live our lives according to the spiritual principles we embrace.  This can be quite a struggle, especially in these troubling times.  You see; it's relatively easy to live according to spiritual principles when everything is clicking right along nice & shiny.  The more chaos, confusion and fear that is pumped into the equation, the harder it sometimes seems to be to stay centered on that spiritual path.  Things tend to pull us to one side or another, and when stuff gets really nasty we tend to circle the wagons and pack our spirituality in the closet, lest it get dirty from all the conflict...we often forget that we become spiritual beings expressly to make getting through tough times with our sanity intact, a bit easier.  For the first fifty years of this incarnation I've been blessed with extraordinarily good health, which at times (many years ago) had me thinking I was indestructible.  Over the course of the last decade or so I've seen just how foolish that notion was; as a growing list of conditions and diseases have caught up to, and are playing merry hob with me.  With patience and attention to detail, one can find a balance point with such health issues; and that is where I thought I was Just a year ago this month when things went from bad to worse, and atherosclerosis first began threatening to take my left leg from me.  The onset incident was a nightmare of unrelenting, agonizing pain; and for as bad as it was, having to deal with the quagmire of incompetence that is the VA medical system for this past year has been a far greater nightmare and risk to my health in every regard.

I'm not going to get into a ton of detail here because that just gets my dander up, which in turn ain't so good on my high blood pressure: suffice it to say that in the last year I have been an unwilling guest of the VA Medical Center in San Francisco on three occasions; and each time I went home in worse condition than when I was admitted.  The last visit was for vascular surgery last August.  My roommate was in for the same procedure as I, and because they must all be sadists, I was ignored like a fart in church while they carved this man up.  Three times they took him into surgery, and three times he came back none the better.  When this man regained consciousness he told me they had tried 3 times to insert a stint into his femoral artery, and botched the surgery each time.  When they came for me and asked if I had any questions; I said I wanted to see the surgeon who was going to work on me.  When he showed up, and asked what my questions were, I replied I just had the one.   "Did you work on my friend over there"  as I pointed to my roommate....and if so I want someone else. 

Maybe you have seen movies where patients in a hospital are just shoved aside for hours without being told a single thing.  Try waiting eight hours for an MRI scheduled for noon, and then to be manhandled into the machine by a technician not conversant in English....and who left the room completely when the MRI malfunctioned with me in it.  During the ordeal it for some reason became necessary for two of these simian technicians to extract me from the machine...from the foot end.  Despite my emphatically demanding they not pull me out by the ankles, that's exactly what they did, thereby damaging my right hip even more that it already was.  When I attempted to have said hospital employees brought under scrutiny, neither the VA or the DAV were at all interested in doing a single thing.  As I was told by one VA representative. "You should feel lucky and shut up"   Just exactly what I want to hear from the people who promised to take care of their own!

Throughout this ordeal over the past year my primary care physician at the local VA outpatient clinic has repeatedly warned that I could loose the leg, it just took me a year to finally realize what she meant was I could loose the leg thru incompetence & malpractice, which by the way there is NO OVERSIGHT for in the VA medical system.  A doctor can maim as many vets as he wants and never be held to answer for it!  Part of the reason for this is that the VAMC at San Francisco is "A teaching hospital" kinda like a barber college, where the wanna be doctors get to work on those of us who are not quite cadavers just yet.  During my vascular surgery last August, the surgeon managed to not get the stint in place, but just for extra measure he did manage to set free a roaming blood clot in my foot.  This butcher was about to wheel me out and cut into my foot looking for the blood clot, when one of the nurses suggested they try a Hesperian IV drip try and dissolve the thing.  As far as I am concerned that nurse is the only one there earning her wages, as her suggestion indeed, worked, preventing the need for unneeded surgery.  

As soon as the following morning dawned I wanted out of there, as no additional procedures were scheduled, but was over-ruled by the 'professionals'  who insisted I remain under observation in case complications arose.  I acquiesced, as my room was warm, comfortable and reasonably quiet considering I was adjacent to the OR.   I don't know why, because nobody would answer my questions, but around ten PM that night they moved my bed to another room on the other side of the wing; A cold, dark foreboding room with no heat. Twice I had to request additional blankets when the nurse got around to checking my vitals.  I told her I was freezing, and were they intentionally trying to give me pneumonia?  I made my decision that I was leaving this place at first light, one way or another.  When I made this known to the night nurse, she gathered the doctors and together they tried to convince me to stay another day.  I told them that I doubted I could survive another day in their custody, and was adamant about leaving.  Mind you that walking was being very dicey, and uncomfortable, and I was on the third floor of the building.  In a final attempt to badger me to their will, the head nurse explained that if I waited to be discharged the following day, they would wheel me to the curb in a wheelchair to meet my ride...but that if I checked myself out against doctors wishes, I could just make it downstairs on my own.  I stared right into this woman's eyes and asked, "What part of the Hippocratic oath is that little gem in, I'd love to read it."  She just averted her eyes and walked the walk of shame to get away from me.

After six months of recovering from the surgery, I asked my primary care physician if she could arrange for me to get a wheelchair, as my walking was down to about five minutes before the leg began to hurt, and having a wheelchair would allow me to have a social life beyond the confines of Ewok village.  My doctor declined, saying I needed to keep exercising the leg, or I could loose it.  Three months later I made the request thru the DAV, and my request was bounced to several different departments before finally being ignored.  They didn't even have the decency to call and tell me...just left me to figure it out myself.  This, is a 'snapshot' of how the VA cares for veterans whose claim is still pending approval despite 3 years and one appeal.  When confronted time and again by such staggering incompetence it becomes very easy to believe that the modus operandi of the Government is to stall us Vets out, until we finally die, thereby saving roughly 50 thousand bucks for every one of the 900,000 pending Veteran claims.  Do the math!

Three weeks ago I experienced a major setback, and as a result have lost all the healing and recovery made during the year since the initial onset of point of fact, due to brand new incompetence on the part of the VA medical, I am considerably worse off, and at risk of rather serious problems ahead.  Following the botched vascular surgery I was put on Warfarin blood thinning medication, which is so dangerous it requires regular testing of my blood to make sure it is within the desired INR range.  I was told at the time I would be on this medication for the rest of my life, and that if I took too much I could have a stroke, and if I took too little, I could bleed out internally & never know it till it was too late.  They succeeded in impressing upon me how important not running out of the medication is.  Well, because of the recent setback I am housebound, and was unable to make my blood check appointment.  I called to reschedule, and to re-order my meds, as I was running short.  The technician who does the INR checks informed me that she could not renew the prescription without first checking my blood level...What she didn't do was consult with my primary care physician, who is authorized to send the much needed meds.  As a result, 24 hours after running out of meds, both my feet and ankles swelled up beyond belief, complete with some rather impressive pain.

It took a week for my doctor to see me, and upon seeing the situation, she wanted to send me back to VAMC which I flatly refused to do.  I told her if it was that urgent, why send me on a 65 mile trip when there are civilian hospitals all over the local area.  I was sent to a local hospital for a complete ultrasound session on everything below the navel.  When it was done, I asked to see the scan results, and was flatly refused.  The nurse just said my doctor would have the results before the end of the day. Three days later I had to call my doctor to discover the scans showed no blood clots.  I asked her rather perturbed, why she thought it was so urgent I get the scan, but couldn't be bothered to call me with the results.  After having my ability to walk decreased to just a few agonizing steps for three weeks, I asked my doctor, the blood technician and even the civilian nurse if this swelling was caused by running out of meds.  Just like they were parroting talking points from "upstairs" every single individual gave the same response: "I don't know!"  When I challenged my primary care doctor, on this attitude, and inability to ease my extreme discomfort, she just said, "We're not gods" - to which I snapped back, "You've never been in danger of any Vets thinking that."

Like I mentioned, I dislike writing about myself, especially when I am not the focus of the post.  You may recall I began by talking about how very hard it's getting to get by these days.  We only have to scan a few headlines to see the truth of that.  Charles Dickens would never have confused the times we are in as "the Best of times" even in his wildest imaginings.  It is important to make that point as it is kinda central to what this post is really all about.  In a time when so many are busy looking out for number one, I find that I have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to friends, and perfect strangers.  Those folks who comprise my small circle of friends where I live have given selflessly to help me get thru these challenging times.  They run countless errands for me, make sure I make it to medical appointments, and even do my grocery shopping for me.  It is hard to let other people do for me when all my life I have tried to be as self sufficient as possible, perhaps to my ultimate detriment.  Astrologically I have some prominent planets in fire signs, which makes needing and accepting help from others even more difficult.

I was just coming to terms with this as best I could when strangers I've never met blindsided me recently with compassion and love I would never have imagined.  It began innocently enough with an email from Zen Gardner, asking how the leg was doing...and so, I shared with him the above details and a few others.  Several hours later I received another email from Zen, asking me if I had a PayPal account, and that I should be on alert for an email from Mr. Peak Crackers.  As it developed, Zen Gardner deposited seven hundred dollars into my PayPal account to help with living expenses or what have you, and as for Peak Crackers, well he wrote asking for a lot of personal info such as my weight, girth etc...
information he said he needed for purchasing an electric wheel chair for me!!

Edna Spennato at earth-heal. is another loving co-conspirator of compassion.  Edna has done distant healing work on me previously, which was a big part of recovering from the surgery as well, and just today I got a message from her inquiring about my status, and to say she sends her thoughts & love my way. 

I write a lot about Unity, and unconditional love being the frequency resonance we need to embody here at the dawn of the Aquarian age.  I just thought I knew what those concepts were like, in the abstract.  In the here & now of what we call the real world, or real life, when unity & unconditional love stroll into your life and tap you on the shoulder; it is altogether different from any abstraction the human mind can imagine.

Here are perfect strangers, coming together to help one they have never met get thru a rough patch of challenges. 

How easy would it be to just remain quiet, to keep one's own counsel, and tend to one's own problems.

How many would invoke the universal law of non-infringement to justify non-involvement? 

This handful of people are teaching us all that compassion & unconditional love are not just for those we personally know and have come to care for.  By their actions, and generosity these people are as trailblazers; showing us all that unconditional love and unity are not just heady new age abstractions; but indeed, are the very energies that can lead the tribe of man homeward, if we will but pay attention, and try it on for size ourselves.

This spontaneous out flowing of compassion and unconditional love has touched my heart in a way that is hard to describe with mere words.  It cuts thru words, sentences and phrases as if they are impediments to understanding the energy at the heart of things.  It is something you need to just sit with, and be with.  Peak Crackers said something that really speaks to this issue when he wrote that it was hard feeling so helpless when a brother was hurting and in need.  Those were not just handy words, as I believe his discomfort was both authentic and tangible.

Looking around at the condition the human condition is in, it's so tempting to think our best days are behind us, that the archons and their sycophants have succeeded in toxifying the human soul beyond any feasible redemption.  That is a trap, and it's exactly what "they" want us all to empowers their plans for us.  When I see this kind of pure compassion for another living being, it makes me smile.  When I am the recipient of such compassion it makes my soul shine as if being re-born somehow, and I know it is a harbinger of still larger wonders to come.

Take a really good look around.  Look beyond the headlines designed to heighten your fear and anxiety. Look to the things that aren't being reported on but which can be seen by those who look with the right kind of eyes.  You will see things like the younger generation turning their backs on guns, and violence.  You will see a dying paradigm of rich old white men in it's death throes.  Those old dinosaurs are dying out even as we watch, their system all but collapsed in around them.  It won't be long now.

How do I know this?  Because if such selfless compassion can find me hiding out in Ewok village, that means it is on the wing, and covering the earth with its resonance.  You don't need to go searching for it; you just need to be open to receiving it. 

Compassion and unconditional love will sneak up and tap you on the shoulder when you least expect it; and when it does; it will change you in ways that you never suspected, as it has changed me.

Until Next Time ~ Be Good to Each Other