Thursday, June 30, 2005

Perspective

Deep breath. I am continually learning to back off from panic, overwhelmedness, the feelings of duty and responsibility that sap one's strength and will.

As some of you commented, automobiles are sometimes a necessary evil. For me, the need for one underscores the sensation that life on the material plane is unnecessarily burdensome. But I remind myself---it is a problem of luxury to own a car. It's even more of a problem of luxury to have one's car break down, and then have the wherewithal to simply shop for a new one! In another country, someone would go to great lengths to keep my old car running, no matter what. I can simply walk away and pick out another. Must keep it all in perspective.

When I feel entitled and lose sight of my vast priviledge, it's time for some humbling thoughts to bring me back to reality. I can resent needing a car, yes, but I can remind myself that for many around the world, what I have is truly unattainable.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Distress

Tonight I am experiencing some distress, cognitive dissonance that saps my strength and resolve.

Last week, my car died. It was twelve years old, and I bought it from my brother two years ago after I totalled my previous car in a stupid accident that was 100% my fault. Mary and I have only bought one new car since we were married in 1989, and we have owned around 10 or 12 cars since then, most of them limping along before dying relatively dignified deaths. My old Toyota Tercel that I had during nursing school had fenders stuffed with newspaper and cardboard to give the Bondo something to adhere to, the body having rusted away to almost nothing. I tried to spray-paint it blue, and then Mary added artistic swirlies with some white spray paint. We called it "The Cloud Car". It's a long and less-than-illustrious lineage of scrap metal.

My distress comes from the fact that my spare time is now taken up with shopping for a car. Used car lots, dealers, Consumer Reports, the Internet, the opinions of friends and strangers alike---all contribute to a maelstrom of conflicting and maddening information that tries my patience. I am utterly annoyed and resentful that I live in a culture/society in which having a car is a necessity, as well as the fact that I have constructed my life in such a way as to compund that necessity. I could live in a city where public transportation is convenient and inexpensive, but I have become so sensitive to noise and pollution and crowds that I can barely stomach forays into little old Amherst, population approximately 20,000. City life is an impossibility for me now, hence the choice to live where I do---sort of a sub-suburban area, if you will.

One might remark that if I made different lifestyle choices, I might be able to live where I presently do and still make do without a vehicle. To this I acknowledge that this may be true, but I am now so accustomed to my lifestyle and its dictates that making such a radical change would be quite distressing in and of itself. This is truly a post-modern dilemma: trapped in a world that I never made, but stultified when considering how to leave it, or at least modify it. Now, I could live in a Bhuddist retreat like one friend of ours, or at a rural yoga retreat center like other friends nearby, but that does not preclude having telephones, computers, cars, and the like. Living on a secluded retreat devoid of public transportation, a car is perhaps more necessary, unless one has shed oneself almost completely of the burden of ownership to such an extent that borrowing the occasional car for forays into the city are sufficient, not to mention hitchhiking and bicycling.

When we were at a Honda dealer tonight and I was beginning to melt down from fatigue and frustration, I said to Mary, "Promise me we'll someday live in a place where we won't need a car." I'm sure she thought to herself: "Absolutely---especially in order to avoid dramatic scenes like this with you again!" I was not at my best, and now I lie on our bed, laptop perched on lap, reviewing the events of the day and my emotional implosion of less than two hours ago.

Another distress signal today is in the area of health. I was taking medication to lower my cholesterol for several years, and all of these medications caused me a great deal of agonizing muscle pain. Thus, for the last six months, I have spent a great deal of time and money on acupuncture and Chinese herbs in an attempt to no longer take such deleterious medications. I have also lost more than fifteen pounds and increased my exercise substantially, cleaning up my diet as much as possible. Sadly, I received the results of my blood tests today and my cholesterol panel shows that my numbers are all significantly worse, and my risk of heart disease has increased by about 50%. I take these numbers seriously since my father has had two heart attacks and my mother has hypertension and pre-diabetes. So, distress in the physical world of metal and rubber, as well as the corporeal world of sinew and flesh have manifested today in my personal orbit.

The car issue is one that will have to be solved soon---I'm renting a car by the week in order to get to work, and that'll start to add up if I continue much longer. (I can't drive Mary's car because it's a standard and my back goes out every time I drive it.) The health issue means a follow-up appointment with my provider, and the very disturbing reality of trying yet another cholesterol-lowering medication, side effects be damned.

Modern life--er, post-modern life---seems frought with pitfalls and sandtraps. What is one to do? For the moment, I blog away, shed my distress through writing, and prepare for what I hope will be some rejuvenating sleep. A heaviness in my heart pins me to the bed right now. This too shall pass.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

The Sensual World

My son ordered a copy of Rivers and Tides for me for Father's Day. For those of you not familiar with this remarkable film, it's a documentary of the environmental artwork of Andy Goldsworthy.
Every time I see this film or look at a book of his work, there is a palpable increase in my perception and appreciation of the physical world.

Especially watching this film---wherein the viewer has an intimate look at the artist's creative process and connection with nature---I am reminded of how much of the sensual world we take for granted. I think of the lake water in which I swam today---did I really fully experience its silkiness on my skin? Did I notice the difference between the air and the water as I rose from the lake? I know I was conscious of the heat and the sun, but was I conscious as the watermelon melted in my mouth, a few drops dripping down my fingers as I raised it to my mouth?

Sometimes I sit and watch Sparkey the Dog, his sensitive nose quivering as he sniffs the air for subtle changes of which I am completely ignorant. He sits and listens intently, using his nose ears and whiskers to detect changes and shifts in our surroundings. I want to bring that quality of awareness into my life more often---at home, at work, at rest. Sitting with a patient, can I detect subtle odors or body position changes that can clue me into something important that I might otherwise miss? Are there changes in tone of voice or timbre that I should listen for more closely? Do I use my sense of touch enough in the clinical setting? How can my senses better serve me? How can I more fully utilize them?

As Mary was falling asleep beside me a few moments ago, I ran my fingernails very gently through a patch of sunburn on her back, tickling her to sleep. As my fingers glided across her reddened skin, the light pressure of my fingers on her skin left a lovely trail of blanching white which lasted only a split-second before turning red again. Do try this at home---it's like drawing on skin, only it's an ephemeral mark which will delight your eye only momentarily.

Thank you to Andy Goldsworthy for the inspiration, and I will watch portions of that delicious DVD whenever I need to reconnect with the wonders of the physical world.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

A Speech for Graduate Nurses

This speech will be delivered by yours truly this evening at 6pm.

Good evening. For the benefit of my students and fellow nursing teachers, I’ll open by saying that I am currently experiencing tachycardia, tachypnea, and diaphoresis at the moment. For the lay people in the audience, that translates as rapid heartrate, rapid respirations and profuse sweating. Allow me a moment to compose myself.

That said, when my students invited me to be their speaker for this pinning ceremony, my first response---aside from feeling both humbled and honored---was to ask them the following question: Why, after listening to me talk for six hours a week for nine months, would they choose to voluntarily listen to me for yet another five minutes on this, their most special day? They convinced me that the invitation was sincere, and I am here today to honor them for their accomplishments.

I am sure that a vast majority of the audience gathered here tonight are family, friends, and loved ones of the graduates. The first acknowledgement I wish to make is for the sacrifices and endless hours of study and clinical that you needed to put up with as your family’s nursing student struggled his or her way through the program. As I look out at you tonight, I wonder to myself how many dinners were missed, how many games not attended, how often was your family’s particular nursing student locked in his or her room, studying for yet another exam? For your sacrifices and support, I encourage the graduates to stand and applaud you for your unerring support.

Speaking of family, several of our students experienced the loss of a loved one during this past year, and I ask for a moment of silence in memory of the family members who left this world during the last ten months, not to mention those who passed before. I believe that they are here in spirit, smiling down upon you all with unceasing pride.

Now that we have acknowledged the loved ones who kept the home fires burning while the students were battling the demons of nursing education, I would like to turn our attention towards these courageous and ambitious individuals who have been doggedly pursuing their education and professional betterment for the last ten months.

Often, when thinking of students, our minds may wander to the quintessential and stereotypical undergraduate—living in a dorm, buying food with a campus meal plan, perhaps buying clothes and other necessities with Mom and Dad’s credit card, possibly working a part-time job on- or off-campus to supplement financial aid. But these graduates sitting here in this auditorium tonight are a different breed of student altogether. Oh yes, many of these graduates have children, mortgages, rent to pay, spouses, ill family members who need tending to, bills, loans, debts, and, last but not least, full- or part-time jobs. While lecturing to this class, I was painfully aware that many students, after leaving a six-hour lecture from 4pm to 10pm, would rush home for a bite to eat, don a uniform or scrubs, and head out to an overnight shift in a nursing home or hospital, working 11 to 7, only to come home in the morning to get the kids off to school before collapsing for an abbreviated sleep before clinical or another lecture. This is nothing short of heroic, and I stand in awe of your dedication and hard work.

Having been there myself, completing two different nursing programs over the last ten years, I understand how much concentration and dedication it takes to forge ahead, even when the studying is laborious and the exams seem to never stop coming. Being adult learners, you have little time for socializing and leisure---if you’re not engaged in some type of study, class-time, or clinical experience, you are most likely helping your kids with their homework, cleaning the bathroom, or going grocery shopping. The fact that you are all graduating today, ready to be licensed professionals, is an amazing feat deserving of much praise and recognition.

It’s often said that nurses eat their young, and it’s also said that nurses are overworked, undervalued, and underpaid. Bearing that in mind, I personally find that there is nothing more satisfying for me than nurturing and encouraging new nurses to be their best and perform well, whether in school or in the workplace. As for overworked and underpaid, that may be true in some settings, but nurses are also held in high esteem in this society, and just saying that one is a nurse can feel extremely gratifying in almost any social situation. While not being self-congratulatory, nurses can count themselves as members of a profession which holds compassion, caring, and healing as three of its central ideals. Saying that one is a nurse is something I encourage the graduates to do with pride, as well as with humility.

Speaking of being a nurse, many of you may realize you’re really a nurse when everyone you know begins coming to you with every ache, pain and symptom they experience, fully expecting a definitive diagnosis. You also may find yourself washing your hands for a full minute in public restrooms and turning off the faucets with your elbows. On the bright side, whenever anyone asks for a pen, you’ll probably have three in your pocket. But it’s most disconcerting when you start checking out people’s veins for IV access while standing in line at the grocery store. Just try not to be too obvious, and refrain from touching strangers.

Despite the sarcasm and jokes, being a nurse is a noble and honorable profession, and it was a true honor and pleasure to be your professor for this past year, watching the light bulbs go off in your heads as we discussed the finer points of fluid balance and kidney function. You are a bright, kind, considerate, funny, and only moderately argumentative group, and I will miss you all very much. Thank you for your patience during my first year of teaching, and thank you for making the experience so heartwarming and enjoyable. My blessings to each of you today and always.




Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Ministers for a Day

Father's Day evening brought the unprecedented and soul-stirring experience of having the honor of performing the wedding ceremony for the lovely young couple mentioned in my recent post entitled "Public Speaking 101". The ceremony was flawless, I think, and our words seemed to be greatly appreciated by all present. We felt that we did our very best to honor these two beings and their sacred moment of betrothal. Although legally married for six months, this ritual of sharing private vows of devotion with family and close friends as witnesses is a time-honored tradition of publically proclaiming intentions of sacred partnership. The witnesses, in my view, are bound morally and spiritually to support and honor the couple in times of joy as well as despair, and my words during the ceremony reflected the notion of such responsibility. Mary and I were so moved by the experience---and so appreciative of one another in that context---that we are considering becoming Justices of the Peace and taking the show on the road, as it were. The fact that we live in the first state to allow legal same-sex marriages gives me even more reason to want to perform such rites for others. Another one of life's more interesting turns........

Posted by Hello

Sunday, June 19, 2005

El Dia de los Padres

Last night while out to dinner with Mary and a friend, I was utterly and satisfactorily surprised by the sudden arrival of my son Rene to the Korean restaurant where we were finishing a spicy meal. A lovely surprise which perfects an already wonderful weekend which will culminate in the aforementioned wedding in which we are closely involved as facilitators. Speaking of which, we met with the beautiful young couple yesterday, got a clear vision of what they are seeking, and finished writing the ceremony last night. The sun shines on this Father's Day, and I am blessed to have my son here to enjoy it with me.

Friday, June 17, 2005

The Plot Thickens

A Friday night at 11:00pm seems to be a strange time to be writing the script for a wedding, but this is what I find myself doing tonight, although blogging is the transition for me prior to calling it a night and turning in. ("Turning in"--what an expression. We "turn in for the night", thus I must assume we "turn out" for the morning?) But I digress.

At 6pm on Sunday, Mary and I will facilitate a wedding, as I informed you in yesterday's post. This is an exciting opportunity to practice my Spanish in a non-medical venue, and to have a taste of what it's like to be a Justice of the Peace. Perhaps I'll like it so much I'll want to hang a shingle. Who knows?

This coming week is just full of great moments to be savored: the wedding on Sunday, going to see Modest Mouse in concert on Wednesday, speaking at my students' graduation on Thursday, and attending a friend's nursing school graduation on Friday. How can one stand so much excitement? I will stand such excitement by keeping anxiety and nervousness at bay, thus freeing myself to enjoy and take in each moment as it happens, without regret, without thoughts of the future, with only the sincere action of embracing the present fully.

After a full week of work, evening obligations, patients, complicated lives, dysfunction, drama, and hyper multi-tasking, I can settle in for a long weekend (I luckily have Monday off) and embrace the hours and days as they present themselves.

Dear Reader, can our protagonist stay in the present consistently enough to follow his own rhythms and live in the moment? Can he truly live without regret, without looking toward the future and ruminating about what is yet to come? Can he truly embrace the tasks at hand with equanimity and grace? Stay tuned as the plot thickens and the journey unfolds.....

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Public Speaking 101

When it rains, it pours, they say.

I may or may not have posted in the recent past that the students who I was teaching for the last two semesters asked me to be the speaker at their graduation/pinning ceremony next Thursday the 23rd. It is an honor that I have humbly accepted and have been composing something in my head for weeks now. When they first asked me to speak, I said, "After listening to me talk at you for nine months, how could you even think of listening to me for five more minutes?"

That said, another "speaking engagement" of sorts has arisen with only four days to prepare. You see, one of my son's best friends (whom we have known since he was 10) spent a year or so in Guatemala, fell in love, had a baby, and now lives here in Amherst with his Guatemalan wife, step-son, and beautiful baby. My son is the baby's god-father, and we are totally enamored of their lovely family. This young man's parents are two of our closest friends, having watched our children grow up side by side.

The bride's parents are now here from Guatemala, and they have decided to hold a small, intimate wedding at a local hotel, the legal wedding having been summarily accomplished some months ago. Once again I am deeply humbled and honored---they have asked me to "officiate" at the wedding ceremony, both in English and Spanish. Mary will be my co-facilitator, and for the next two days I must write, translate, and practice my presentation which will honor, celebrate, and exalt this newly-wed couple.

I will most likely post the text of the ceremony and the graduation speech in order to share with you, dear Readers, the fruits of my labor and joy. Life certainly offers new challenges on a regular basis, and these challenges seem to often stretch my self-confidence and ability to focus under pressure. If you would indulge me, please visualize my throat chakra bathed in the blue light of clear communication, and my heart in the glowing green of open-heartedness. Failing that, just pray that I can speak clearly without making a darn fool of myself and disappointing all and sundry.

As I clean my desk, I clear my mind and prepare the blank slate from which the words will emerge.....

Monday, June 13, 2005

Oh My

The continuing saga of Rose........She actually refused to go in the ambulance on Friday night and avoided the police who were sent by Protective Services by leaving the house and staying with her daughter. The visiting nurses thought she was hospitalized so Rose missed her methadone and other meds all weekend. Damn!

Today I physically brought her to the clinic to see her primary doctor. After multiple telephone consults on the phone between us, Protective Services, and the hospital, we convinced the hospital to allow us to "direct admit" her, bypassing the ER and going straight to a room. I sent her home extracting the promise from her family that she would go to the hospital as soon as the call came that a bed was ready. I crossed every finger and toe.

At 6, the Admitting Dept called me--the bed was ready. A quick call to the daughter and Rose was on her way to the hospital, at least for a 24-48 hour tune-up while we buy time to figure out what to do next.

At 7:30, her daughter calls me on my cell while I'm at a meeting in my hometown for one of my volunteer gigs (she has Caller ID and has my cell # now)---Rose snuck out of the hospital fifteen minutes after her daughter dropped her off and was on their front step like a puppy dog within forty minutes! I pleaded and cajoled them to return, which they eventually did. Just now (10pm), I called the nurses' station on the floor where she is staying and suggested they give her some Ativan and post security at her door to keep her from leaving in the middle of the night and putting herself at risk on the dark streets. She has AIDS dementia, after all. The friendly nurse on the other end of the line agreed to bring this up with the attending physician stat. That was my 11th phone call about Rose today, and I interacted in person or on the phone with at least six other patients and/or providers in the course of the day---plus the ubiquitous paperwork which such interventions necessarily generate.

Now it's 10:30 and I ruminate. Could I have handled it better? Was my game-plan on Friday a mistake? Most likely. Will Rose get through the night at the hospital? I hope so. Will I sleep tonight? That would be nice. Does the week stretch before me like a gaping maw of unmet need and unknown crisis? Most definitely. Do I still love my work and maybe enjoy the adrenaline and drama? Is the Pope Catholic?

Well, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart is on soon. Must take a shower and settle in for some laughs. Maybe it's me who needs that Ativan......

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Mixed Emotions

My patient Rose who I wrote about recently was deemed legally incompetent on Friday due to my reporting her to Protective Services for the Disabled. Although I have mixed feelings about making such a report, I felt I had no choice based upon her deteriorating state, her children's inability to properly care for her, and the increasing risk that she and the entire building would eventually go up in flames (her bed is covered with cigarette burns from Rose nodding off while smoking).

I have been aware for months that Rose is not long for this world and I have been doing my best to put appropriate services in place. Given her untreated Hepatitis C and HIV, seizure disorder, anxiety disorder, history of trauma, and Xanax addiction, Rose's chances of survival in her current situation are next to nil, and I seemed to be the only person ready to step up and make the call that would legally change her status.

I have called the Department of Social Services once when I felt a patient's children were being neglected, and my hope was that this would lead to a better life for these children. I don't think it worked, but this has alot to do with the relative inefficiency of our state programs. In Rose's case, my hope is that a court-appointed attorney will become her legal guardian, and that she will be placed in an environment where her addiction, HIV, and anxiety can all be addressed appropriately, not by the band-aids that I continually attempt to put in place, often to no avail.

Tomorrow I return to work and hope that this situation can improve, that her life can be qualitatively improved and quantitatively lengthened, and that I won't suffer any negative consequences from taking action.

I sit here in the steamy heat and ruminate on my work, but now I must return to my regularly-scheduled Sunday afternoon.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Brotherly Love

Tonight my brother Ken arrived to our home for a brief visit. He actually just spent two days with our boy in Boston, performing his avuncular duties doing uncle-like things which involved spending quality time with---and quality money on---his awesome nephew. There is no end to the appreciation a parent feels when another adult---family member or not---pays special attention to your child.

Ken inspired me to begin this blog on one of his wintry visits back in January, and it is to him that I owe the existence of Digital Doorway. He has been my stalwart supporter and cheerleader for some forty years, and the quality and endurance of that love is something to cherish.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

The Rhythm of the Heat

A gold star to anyone who can name the musical influence for this entry's title.

The real heat of the summer has engulfed us. 80-degree heat for a string of days now. The city where I work seems molten in the heat. The pavement is hot, the people sit on stoops and fire-escapes to escape their oven-like apartments. Men squat at the bases of trees in the park and play dominos at card-tables on the shady sidewalks---memories of Jamaica and the aggressive "thwack!" of the dominos as they're put into play amid laughter and yells of appreciation or mumbles of defeat. Children splash in the small sprinkler areas set up in the city parks, running from one sprinkler to the next as the timer sends the children in search of the next erupting geyser of cold fun. Laughter.

Evenings, I come home, pack the dogs in the car, and drive five minutes to the local swimming hole. Some days it's just too hot to walk the dogs all the way there up the sweltering road, even at 6pm. Instead we walk through the conservation land or even drive a few extra minutes to the trail head just above the creek near the baseball diamond where kids play dusty games, parents gathered together on folding chairs or on the grass. The smart ones take their younger children down to the creek for a dip while the older kids sweat it out on the field.

Today was no different---ran off to the creek with two beers in a small cooler, meeting Mary for an after-work dip in the cool water. Some young men from Trinidad poke around in the sand, talking and laughing. The horseflies hound us for a landing place.

Now, after a light dinner, the hammock and the laptop are the current state of being, lawnmowers growling in the distance. If I had a lawn to speak of I'd buy a goat to trim it. Or maybe a llama.

We prepare for heat-related calls at work: dehydration, asthma, summer colds, sunburns. People on AIDS meds and other treatments can be very photosensitive (susceptible to sunburn). As colleagues go on vacation, we cover for one another and our individual volume of calls can be high if a few people are absent from the office. Home visits can be challenging: apartments with no air conditioning, a puny fan, fourth floor walk-up, little circulation. A good time of year to ask patients to come see me at the office instead. Sweat equity is the order of the season. Even as some leave for distant beaches, others languish in the inner city, hoping for a cool breeze, dreaming of actually having the luxury of a trip to the beach or an air conditioner.

This is the rhythm of the heat, and I embrace it.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Night Sounds...

My, how the week sneaks up and swallows one whole. This is a brief missive simply to acknowledge the beginning of the week, the end of a glorious and memorable weekend, and a reminder that those lives with which mine is intertwined from 9 to 5 are still there when I return. An acupuncture session this evening calmed my adrenals and brought me some restful repose. Now, for the moment I have some quiet time on the hammock, frogs hiccuping in the dark beyond the screens. Night sounds......

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Pride

It is with limitless pride that I return home to post that my son Rene has officially graduated from The New England School of Photography in Boston. The actual graduation ceremony was a lovely affair with a very unique and artful slideshow which presented two pieces by each graduate projected onto a very large screen, accompanied by appropriate ambient music. The graduates' work was also exhibited in NESOP's two main buildings for the parents and loved ones to peruse.

Showing us his portfolio back at his new apartment in Brighton, Mary and I were stunned by the personal and profound nature of his work, the depth of emotion and sensitivity demonstrated through his vision. In the course of the weekend, it became more evident to me than ever before how photography represents a true art form which can involve not only the use of technical skills for the manipulation of light and shadow, but also emotional and social awareness which profoundly effects the final outcome of the finished product. Rene's portraits of the homeless people of Boston are stirring and lucidly clear in their depiction of each individual's humanity, and I know that their willingness to be captured by him and exposed on film is a testament to his personality and palpable powers of empathy and compassion. Meanwhile, his self-portraits are an introspective look into the soul and heart of a beautiful and thoughtful young man. I hope to some day share some of these images with you here on Digital Doorway.

Watching a young man launch himself into a new career, a new homelife in an apartment shared with his lovely girlfriend, and a new chapter as a young adult in pursuit of satisfying work and right livelihood, Mary and I both were just struck with his beauty and humanity. We returned home filled with pride, love, and an abundant faith in Rene's ability to forge his own unique path in this often troubled and troubling world.

Off to bed with a smile in my heart.

Rene in line for graduation Posted by Hello

Lindsey and Rene Posted by Hello

Proud mother Posted by Hello

Me and my boy Posted by Hello

Mother and son Posted by Hello

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Signing Off 'Til Sunday

So folks, we're off to Boston in the morning for our son's graduation. We'll have a rented van chock full of stuff for his new apartment that he's now sharing with his girlfriend in Brighton, Mass.

Photos and a complete report will be posted on Sunday when we return to the homestead and canines.

Til then, be well, and blessings.....

Small Victories

Some of you may remember Patient X from January and February postings. He is my patient who was hospitalized for alcoholic hepatitis and had moderate cirrhosis and very severe psoriasis. Well, I am happy to report that he is doing swimmingly well. He has not had an alcoholic drink since getting out of the hospital in January, his symptoms have all abated, he's losing weight, and his psoriasis is incredibly improved. He and his friends credit my weekly visits and demonstrated desire to help him for this astounding recovery. I think that my regular presence has simply shown him that others can care, and that his own self-care can pay enormous dividends. In short, this man's life is being extended---not necessarily by medical intervention, but rather by compassion, attention, and renewed self-respect.

Another patient of mine who had been seen as a lost cause can now finally enjoy having her advanced AIDS completely controlled and suppressed through the taking of antiretroviral medications. She has been free of any complications, is doing extremely well, and has energy to spend time with her school-age daughter and son. She is one of my stars.

Mr. D, someone who has failed many antiretroviral regimens due to his unwillingness to take his meds religiously, is now completely suppressed as well, with rising T-cells (immune cells) and a quantity of virus so low that we cannot measure it. He is seeing the benefits of this turn of events and looks great. His previous skin eruptions are gone and he is gaining weight. His wife--also with AIDS--has been much better about taking meds all along, and she is in excellent health. Their young children are benefiting directly from their parents' self-care.

In this line of work, we need to remind ourselves to take the time to count our successes, celebrate our victories--however small--and take a deep breath on occasion.

Today I am off from work yet again, preparing for a trip to Boston tomorrow for my son's graduation from The New England School of Photography. You, my dear Readers, will necessarily need to tolerate some photos of the happy event upon my return, not to mention gushing sentimentality about our wonderful boy---er, young man, rather.

Happy day to you all.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Ripe

This week has brought the sensation of ripeness. Spring has entered its lush final weeks, resplendent with greenery, leaves, flowering trees, seeds and pods floating in the wind. Germination is in the air, literally and figuratively. People come out of the woodwork, eat in outdoor cafes, drink coffee at sidewalk tables, spread blankets amongst the flora and fauna. It is a sight for sore eyes.

The days will lengthen for a few more weeks until the Summer Solstice, and then we will enter the full glory of summer in July, followed by the resplendence of August. Here in New England, it seems we take summer seriously, for we know its fleeting embrace all too well. Six months of mostly wonderful weather generally greet us from May through October, and we soak it in for all it's worth. No wonder people fall in love in Spring---it awakens the body and its passions: for food, for love, for nature, for ripeness on and off the vine.

Our local community-supported farm of which we own a share will open this weekend and the parade of the season's harvest will be upon us. Our refrigerator will overflow with abundant organic produce. We await with bated breath the strawberries, the melons, the glistening cukes and peppers. We'll make fresh pesto with ingredients we pick ourselves. We'll bathe in blueberries and delight in sugar snap peas and edamame. And did I mention corn? Don't get me started about corn. And roasted organic potatoes? Oh my.

As you can see, this veritable explosion of vitamins, minerals, and earthly delight is only now beginning its slow crescendo until the climax of September's harvests. But let us not think of September now, dear Reader, no. June is dawning today, and there is so much, so much more to come.

Feast well.