#6 Making Progress And A Spiritual Experience At The Hospital

On most Mondays, I plan to publish a past communication or two about Eric Russ and his Health Journey that originally appeared in Caring Bridge.  For anyone with a “health opportunity” as my nurse friend calls it, I hope these posts are helpful.

Making Progress

Today was quite a day.  Eric has decided to pursue some medical help along with alternative methods.  We had a number of visits from doctors and have a plan in place for the future that Eric is comfortable with.  He is beginning the hormone therapy which has the best chance of reducing the size of the main tumor.  He may also do radiation that is very specialized.  Not sure about that yet, but the docs will study the situation and see if they can do it safely.  They are conservative, and if they aren’t sure about the effects, they will not do it.

What I’m so impressed with about Pardee, is that if a doctor and a patient don’t seem to match, they adjust.  They send a different doctor or nurse who is a better match.  It is REALLY wonderful.  We’ve experienced the shifts along the way, and today was a stellar combination of caregivers who could relate with Eric really well and offer some alternatives that are now working for Eric.

I cannot even begin to tell you how much was accomplished today on so many levels!  Really wonderful!

A Spiritual Experience at the Hospital

By the way, before I forget, I wanted you all to know that the John of God herbs came yesterday in the afternoon, and Eric started on those.  I think the “John of God” process has been going on ever since Eric’s photo went before John of God on Christmas Day.

Yesterday was an amazing day on every possible level. Even today, I am still in awe…. and in total and complete appreciation.

Each doctor, caregiver, nurse that came into Eric’s hospital room yesterday seemed like an angel in human disguise.  Each person entered gently, offered their wisdom and assistance, and left having made such a difference to Eric and to anyone in the room.  It was a life-changing for me and I do not use that term loosely.  It was a full day, but relaxing in the deepest way possible.

First, there was Alexis, the chaplain.  She came in and had a talk with Eric.  Kind of the usual gentle kind of talk, no pressure to do anything or say anything in particular, but it was clear that she was truly available to assist in any way. And I thought to myself, “that’s my girl. I could talk to her.”  So as she was leaving, I said, “I would love to have some time with you.  Could we do that?”  So we went across the hall to the conference room, and I started talking.  Venting, laughing, crying, the whole bit.  Which I am good at.  If I know that someone can hear me, and that they know it’s just “stuff”, I let go.  I was so, so, so, so completely thankful for her ability to be neutral.  Then nothing gets “stuck in the corners” and everything can be released.  So wonderful.

I described what was going on, why I was frustrated.  I told her that for me, (and for me only) the whole process with Eric for months and months now has felt like a pattern of avoidance, where everything is basically on hold, constipated, locked up, and unmoving.  I said that it was clearly my view, and that my view was causing me stress.  I wanted to feel easier about his choices, whatever they were, and that it had to be OK with me for him to do nothing, continue in whatever way he felt best about, but that it was clear that I had some emotional work to do — yet again, oh boy — but that watching him suffer was unbearable to me and I couldn’t stand it any longer.  Whew. That was a long, long run-on sentence!!!  So you really get my state of being at that moment!!!

She listened.  She received.  She understood.  She was heavenly.  I want to know this woman more, outside the hospital.

I told her that part of the burden for me is financial, like what in the heck was I going to do about mounting medical bills??  So she put some wheels into motion about that. And the first person to come to the room was a woman on staff at Pardee Hospital who helped Eric apply for Medicaid.  It’s all she does, every day, all day. Instead of the process taking 2 years, often ending with being rejected, her goal is to get it done in 45 days or less and she is successful with this on a regular basis.  So that is done.  She also got another process started that will help him while he can’t work.  At one point, she said, “In case you haven’t noticed, I have very big shoulders.  This financial burden is no longer your problem.”  And she laughed and said it with complete joy.  Anybody who can have a light heart about helping people apply for assistance is quite something in my book.

The next person to come in was Dr. Anthony.  This man is both heaven and wisdom on two feet.  He is Indian, and has one foot in the world of alternative medicine, and another in traditional Oncology.  How perfect is that!  He spoke slowly in a beautifully measured and present way, as if he was choosing every word just for Eric.  First, he asked Eric questions.  A lot of thoughtful and very direct questions. He asked about Eric’s understanding of what was going on, what Eric’s priorities were, and what he wanted.

Then, slowly Dr. Anthony laid everything out.  Here is what is going on in my view as your doctor, here is my extensive experience with the kind of aggressive cancer that you have, here is what will happen if nothing is done, here are your possible options, side effects, here is what I see about how much time you have, etc.  He said that since all of his relatives are from India, they do everything alternative as well, and that he has all the room in the world for that.  He also said that, in his experience, doing alternative medicine right along with traditional medicine works well.  He said that his experience is “do everything and see what works.”

I felt as if I was in meditation or prayer while he was talking.  I learned SO MUCH listening to him, and feeling what he was doing, his perfect transitions from one step to the next  — it was nothing short of masterful.  The most important thing Dr. Anthony did with Eric and with the rest of us in the room was give Eric permission to do nothing medical at all.  Dr. Anthony said that “doing nothing” is a perfectly respectable thing to do, that it just depends on your priorities.”

So after that session, Eric said he still needed time to think.  Dr. Anthony said, “OK, I’ll be back tomorrow to check in with you.”

Then came the Palliative care woman, Dr. Hart, who patiently and gently went through more information. She took him on another journey of understanding, and at the end of that, he said, “let’s just get started.”  At one point, after a quite a bit of time, she described herself as someone who is a bridge between heaven and earth — as above, so below. And she smiled and said that knowing this is her real job in the medical community makes her day totally joyful and worth every minute.  She said that people occasionally ask her if she ever gets to “really talk” with her patients, and she smiled even more and said, “Today is a perfect example of the fact that I do get to REALLY TALK to my patients.”  And she thanked us and went on her way.

So Eric is doing well, all things considered.  He is on his way to wherever he is going.

Thank you for your prayers and well wishes.  He is moved and touched and in appreciation for all the assistance along his journey.

Love, love and more love,

cancer journey, Eric Russ, health opportunity

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