Feeling the Rain

A year ago today, I was rushed into emergency surgery that saved my life from a perforated bowel.

During my weeklong stay at the hospital—first in a recovery room, then in a 24-hour observation room where my nurses kept watch for sepsis, I spent a lot of time alone. Covid restrictions allowed me one visitor, which was my wife who had to travel almost 40 miles to see me. When she and my nurses were not with me, I entertained by visiting the internet via my phone and perusing art and writing sites. One night, I found a long quote—perhaps a poem—by Walt Whitman about his desire to be closer to animals and nature. Being a wildlife artist for many years, I felt akin to that desire. So, with pen and paper, I jotted down a couple lines about animal life that intrigued me.

They do not sweat and whine about their condition, they do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins. Not one is unhappy over the whole earth.

The words took me back to the years I studied wildlife. Animal lives seemed so basic, so simple, which led me to practicing a similar simple life. My main purpose then was to care for my children. Although employment stole time from us, it gave me enough income to acquire necessities to keep them healthy and safe.

My children were long grown and raising families of their own when I left the hospital to finish recuperating at home. What had my purpose in life become? To grow old and die?

Beyond making purpose for a corporation by my employment to it, I decided to make purpose for me again. So I retired from the workforce and did a lot of soul searching for what I wanted to do.

I have been an artist—a good artist—most of my life. It brought me awards and recognition beyond my desires. And it brought me to a crossroad where I no longer felt challenged by it. So I spent the winter and most of spring looking at things that challenge me most.

One of my biggest challenges is writing well, mostly because I suffer a form of dyslexia that has hindered me most of my life. When I write well—and by that I mean something that reads coherently and moves my emotions long after I wrote it—the experience is an uplifting one, much like depicted in the illustration above.

I want to feel the rain when I write. And I want to feel it when I read it. That is my newfound purpose in life.

It will talk as long as it wants, the rain. As long as it talks I am going to listen. —Thomas Merton

Life Spent Recuperating

Let’s be silly for a moment or two.

The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.

And I quote to the best of my knowledge, “While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping.”

Now I intensely quote, “His eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming.”

The following is a bulleted paragraph list of three popular and very blind mice:

  • Rufus, the oldest and wisest, makes cheese sculptures at the Mouse Louvre
  • Dufus, who prefers to spell his name d-o-o-f-u-s and refers to himself as Doof, calls himself a “doof machine” and prefers to be in a constant state of “Doof” because “Doof is Life, baby … yeah!”

And

  • Gufus, whom most everyone calls Goofy (but we all know Goofy is a dog … right?), writes love poems in the sand at Myrtle Beach (which does not, as far as I know, grow myrtle beech trees)

The above silliness was brought to you by boredom.

I’m bored because I’m inactive. I’m inactive because I’m recuperating from an illness.

Recuperating may be boring, but it’s also nice.

Sometimes we need to recuperate from all the ills life throws at us. Sometimes we need to call “Time out” and go sit it out before we can go back into the game … if we can still play.

The past week I had to take a time out and recuperate from a complication while wearing the Covid-19 mask (and other facemasks) at my 9-to-5, 40-hour-week job. I have been breathing in too much of my exhale, which contains mostly carbon dioxide, along with methanol, isoprene, acetone, ethanol, ketones, and other alcohols and hydrocarbons. Rebreathing our exhale is not healthy, and doing so has left me in a near asthmatic state. I recuperate (able to breathe regularly again) after I punch out for the day and remove my mask. But due to my age (63), I recuperate at a slower rate than if I were younger.

When anyone rebreathes air, they are at risk for carbon dioxide intoxication or, in extreme cases, carbon dioxide poisoning. Hypercapnia or hypercarbia are names for a condition when a person has an excess of carbon dioxide concentration in the blood. Symptoms of carbon dioxide toxicity include high blood pressure, flushed skin, headache, and twitching muscles, all of which I have experienced while wearing the mask for periods lasting longer than two hours. I have also experienced irregular heartbeat.

So now, after Day #5, I’m off work until (hopefully) Monday, sucking down various medicines, and spending too much time on the Internet.

Will wearing the mask knock me down again? Probably. But I plan to take better care of my health by often removing my mask in safer environments and breathing properly to clear my lungs. It’s my health, after all.