April and May were a fast ride over a rough road with a load of fear, hope and friendship. Our friend in Cottonwood Arizona invited us to housesit and that was water in the desert. Yet, we were only back in Taos for a weekend when we set off again, this time to Denver. PQ had an appointment with the National Jewish Center in Denver; the premiere medical center in the country for lung diseases in order to update his medical status with the intention of getting him on an active lung transplant list as soon as possible. It was a very productive trip and we stayed with our friend Rachel. It was a delicious treat to spend time with her. We hadn’t been to Denver for several years and it was good to renew the connection. Yet, PQ wasn’t up to exploring Denver because our time at National Jewish was an exhausting regimen of tests and interviews.
This medical facility is impressive and incredibly well organized. However, we soon realized we should have done this sooner. Dr. Cosgrove put PQ on Ofev, one of two new drugs that slow down further lung scaring and also prescribed a more powerful concentrator that is able to produce up to nine liters of oxygen. Except for the scaring in the lungs and some enlargement of the right side of his heart caused by the heart’s increased effort to get oxygen from the lungs, he is in good health. However, he won’t be on the active list for a transplant until he loses 15 more pounds. This time he is taking weight loss seriously. I went on a diet with him because I’d like to lose weight as well.
Three days after we returned from Denver, PQ’s friend Dr. Gary Arthur came to visit from Laguna Beach California. He came for well-needed R&R for himself, but immediately began working on a plan to raise money for PQ’s treatment and relocation to a lower altitude. He also helped plan a diet and some supplements that would help to reduce muscle spasms from coughing and improve general health.
All this contact with our old friends was the greatest healing event we’ve had for some time. Our friends
have been incredibly helpful and have been working together to make the necessary changes happen.Thank you, dear friends for your practical help, and thank you for boosting our spirit with your support. There are results. PQ’s general well being has improved mightily in the past two weeks. He is still short of breath but his color, positive attitude and life force is reviving. I can now assure all of you beautiful supportive friends that he has reconnected with his combative self. The new drug, Ofev is not a cure but is supposed to slow the rate of lung scarring. Nevertheless, it has a reputation of being hard on the digestive system. Yet so far, it hasn’t caused him any discomfort. We regret now that we didn’t ask for this new drug when it first came out. We discussed it but his digestive system is sensitive and we thought it better to avoid making it worse. However, it might have seriously slowed the progress of the disease at an earlier stage.
While I’m writing this, I’m also feeling guilty and disoriented about having signed up to be a docent for the Mabel Dodge Lujan and Companyexhibit at the Harwood Museum. I’ve missed several orientations due either to their juxtaposition with PQ’s appointments or general confusion about dates due to the constant busyness since we returned to Taos. One of the things I’ve noticed is how insulated our life has become. I just don’t follow what is happening in this town anymore. Sometimes I fantasize living in a monastery where all I have to do is meditate, pray, write, and garden. Otherwise, I’ve almost become reclusive enough to be a monk.
I’ll admit that the stress of hanging on the edge of the financial cliff as a regular lifestyle is wearing on my nerves and yet it is amazing how every time we fall to the bottom, a situation arises where we sell a painting, someone wants a healing from PQ or we otherwise come into just enough cash to get through the rough patch. However, there is never extra for unexpected situations. Something is always waiting in the shadows to leap out and pounce on anything extra. Now it is the roof of the Pueblo House that needs refurbishing as water leaks are beginning to destroy the earthen walls. There are also a number of things that this house in town needs. I must say that home ownership is overrated.
On the positive side, summer is awesome. It came so suddenly after winter’s gray monotony. Gorgeous summer clouds (New Mexico has some of the most spectacular clouds). I find the skyscape just as amazing as the landscape. On the ground all this green, purple and yellow seems a preview of heaven. Not quite heaven yet however, this morning I noticed hundreds of baby grasshoppers ready to eat the new greens. Again, I remind myself of the Maybe Story and take note that the flowers in my garden are multiplying just as fast as the weeds. It gives me the courage to put my attention back into some life enhancing order.
My 74th birthday is coming up soon. I remember doing the heavy work around this house such as shoveling dirt, laying out the sandstone patio and planting trees as soon as possible after moving in with the thought that I would be too old to do that kind of physical work before long. That was 10 years ago and I keep putting off getting too old to do that sort of work because well, somebody has to do it. I’ve been lucky with my health and stamina but now I wish there was time to do more painting, writing and supporting the ideas and events that are always on my mind. As I get older, I truly appreciate the importance of eldership. It is not a time to disappear into the comfort of escapist entertainment, pursuing age defying surgery, or yielding to illness, but to put the crowning touch on a lifetime’s experience and thought. Like a rose, when the petals wither we should prepare to be seed bearing fruit for the future.
The age thing is a consciousness I’m working on. Inside I feel unceremoniously yanked out of adolescence into now. I find myself imagining a career after years of tedious survival jobs. Nevertheless, I’m very grateful not to be doing those anymore and there is something magical about looking in the mirror at my white hair and lines and then having that image turn around and say “just follow me, I have another world to show you.”