When Breath Becomes Air

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In his foreword, Dr. Abraham Verghese closes with: “Be ready. Be seated. See what courage sounds like. See how brave it is to reveal yourself in this way… But above all, see what it is to still live, to profoundly influence the lives of others after you are gone, by your words. In a world of asynchronous communication, where we are so often buried in our screens, our gaze rooted to the rectangular objects buzzing in our hands, our attention consumed by ephemera, stop and experience this dialogue with my young departed colleague, now ageless and extant in memory. Listen to Paul. In the silences between his words, listen to what you have to say back. Therein lies his message. I got it. I hope you experience it, too. It is a gift. Let me not stand between you and Paul.”

And here’s Janet Maslin in her NY Times Book Review where she quotes Verghese and continues: “Dr. Verghese suggests not only reading “When Breath Becomes Air” but also listening to the overwhelming response it prompts in you. I guarantee that finishing this book and then forgetting about it is simply not an option.”

I completed Paul Kalanithi’s memoir this weekend and agree with Verghese and Maslin – waves of Kalanithi’s words are still lapping my shoreline. And they won’t let me go.

The book is a selection of Amazon’s Best Book of January 2016“At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation from a naïve medical student “possessed,” as he wrote, “by the question of what, given that all organisms die, makes a virtuous and meaningful life” into a neurosurgeon at Stanford working in the brain, the most critical place for human identity, and finally into a patient and new father confronting his own mortality.  Kalanithi died in March 2015, while working on this book.”

Here’s an excerpt:

“The morning commuters began to animate the distant South Lake Tahoe roads. But craning your head back, you could see the day’s blue darken halfway across the sky, and to the west, the night remained yet unconquered— pitch-black, stars in full glimmer, the full moon still pinned in the sky. To the east, the full light of day beamed toward you; to the west, night reigned with no hint of surrender. No philosopher can explain the sublime better than this, standing between day and night. It was as if this were the moment God said, “Let there be light!” You could not help but feel your specklike existence against the immensity of the mountain, the earth, the universe, and yet still feel your own two feet on the talus, reaffirming your presence amid the grandeur.”

And another: [Read more…]

Come on. 30 seconds minimum.

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Source: NY Times Magazine. At What Point Does a Dropped Cooke Become Inedible?

 

A Slow Walk. Back.

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Monday

Bliss.
All systems go.
Light gushes in and warms.

The day was crisp and bright, the atmosphere quivering with life.”

Tuesday

Morning shower – a slow bend to soap.
A twinge in the lower left back.
A punch in the stomach. A kick in the…
Hands stretch to reach for the wall.
Cannot straighten. Will not straighten.

“Ash, bits of bone, a handful of sand”

Wednesday

Shifting and shifting and shifting on train seat.
I stand and let the up escalator work – can’t take the jarring from the stairs.
I ease up and down from curbs as I cross-town.
I shift my briefcase from left to right to left hand to transfer weight.
A slow walk, yet breathless. Sweat beads on my forehead.
A low throbbing migraine. Knee bone connected to…
Rain falls, a light mist, cooling.

“We are wooed, then mocked, plagued like Amfortas, King of the Grail Knights, by a wound refusing to heal.” [Read more…]

SMWI*: Walk. Now.

shoes,

In the back of my awareness,
I also know this:
The day will come when
I shall have to recall the luxuriant splendor of long, solitary walks,
rather than take them.

~ Katrina Kenison, Present. Magical Journey: An Apprenticeship in Contentment 


Notes:

  • SMWI* = Saturday Morning Work-Out Inspiration.
  • Photo by Maxine – My Perfect Void – My october | Russia, 10/30/2015.

But your attention is focused, your vision becomes crystal clear

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As soon as the stressful event occurs, it triggers the release of the cascade of hypothalamic, pituitary, and adrenal hormones — the brain’s stress response. It also triggers the adrenal glands to release epinephrine, or adrenaline, and the sympathetic nerves to squirt out the adrenaline-like chemical norepinephrine all over the body: nerves that wire the heart, and gut, and skin. So, the heart is driven to beat faster, the fine hairs of your skin stand up, you sweat, you may feel nausea or the urge to defecate. But your attention is focused, your vision becomes crystal clear, a surge of power helps you run — these same chemicals released from nerves make blood flow to your muscles, preparing you to sprint.

~ Esther M. Sternberg, The Balance Within: The Science Connecting Health and Emotions

 


Notes:

Saturday Morning Work-Out Inspiration

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Check out Clara’s other work on Instagram.

She is graphic designer and illustrator from Tuscany now living in Berlin.

Source: thesensualstarfish

Moon Scallops

Henry Domke

Henry Domke

Henry Domke creates nature art for hospitals. His “first career” was a family practice physician. He started his company, Henry Domke Fine Art, when he saw a need for better and more appropriate art for hospitals and medical facilities. At the time, research was beginning to tell a compelling story about how patients exposed to nature, or even images of nature, healed more quickly, had less stress, and required less pain medication. He states that the very best part of his job is hearing stories from patients who’ve seen one of his pictures in a hospital or doctor’s office and has been moved by it.

Read more about Henry Domke and see more of his work here: Henry Domke Fine Art.


Source: Mennyfox55

Mondays, Miracles & Musings

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You wake up and body parts are functioning.
Turn the key in the ignition and all systems are go.
Until they don’t.
Two eyes on Sunday.
1.5 on Monday.
Painfully nagging recurring eye disorder. Detailed here.
Blurred vision. Tear ducts flowing.
Nasal passages oozing goop.
Nausea rolling tummy.
Hip bone connected to the thigh bone.
Thigh bone connected to every bloody thing.

And as for Helen Fielding in Bridget Jones’s Diary and for me:

Once get on tack of thinking about aging there is no escape. Life suddenly seems like a holiday where, halfway through, everything starts accelerating to the end.

“Boy, that accelerated quickly.”

Which led me to thinking about Einstein and miracles.
I’m driving from the office to the Ophthalmologist.
And those of you scolding me about driving with impaired vision, one of my working eyes is better than most of the maniacs with two working eyes on the road today. So relax… [Read more…]

No more tears. Here’s to good outcomes.

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It’s a ritual before bedtime.
Nightly.
Now running for 14 months.

I stand in front of the bathroom mirror.
Take a deep breath.
Raise my left hand to pull down the lower left lid,
Raise my right hand to apply a thin stream of the prophylactic.
And if I had a third hand (and was a Believer),
I would make the sign of the cross, look to the heavens, and whisper:
Work your magic. Please.

Sodium Chloride Ophthalmic Ointment.
Generic Brand.
40% cheaper than the Name brand.
Found and bought on Amazon.
Produced in Lake Forest, Illinois by some unknown bucket shop.
You are one strange dude. You don’t think twice about the risk of a no-name eyeball lube bought on the web but refuse to buy generic Raisin Bran cereal at your local Stop ‘n Shop.

Apply every 3 to 4 hours, or as directed by Doctor.
Ophthalmologist’s instructions were nightly. And nightly it is.
For temporary relief of corneal edema.
edema: the collection of excess of watery fluid.

But that’s not the real pain point.
Which is… [Read more…]

SMWI*: The Big Question

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SMWI* = Saturday Morning Workout Inspiration. Source: chikita banana

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