Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Lots to be Thankful For!

On the Eve of Thanksgiving, I have a lot to be thankful for.

Just under two years ago, I was in a coma for two weeks while doctors tried to figure out what was wrong with me. I had two major surgeries and was in the hospital for a total of a month, and I am extraordinarily lucky to be alive. I am thankful for the excellent doctors at St. Joseph's in Burbank.

My recovery was extremely slow. I was on a walker for two weeks and disability for three months. I was on a cane for five months, and in physical therapy for nine months, and I didn't consider myself fully recovered until more than a year had passed. This thought occurred to me when I was marching back and forth in front of 242 class the other day (to demonstrate the concepts of sync) and I was winded at the end, and again today as we went hiking and I got short of breath. Although my lungs do not expand the way they used to before the two surgeries (for pneumonia, pleurisy, empyema, and pericarditis), they are a lot better than they were at their worst. It used to take me about ten minutes to walk down the stairs from the bedroom to the living room. Walking up was even worse, it took all my energy, both mental and physical. I remember the first time I was home alone and had to walk up the five steps from the living room to the bathroom by myself. I was very close to not making it. The change between then and now is astronomical, but for quite a while, I thought I would never recover. So I'm thankful that I'm alive and well.

I'm especially thankful for my wife. She saved my life as much as the doctors did. When I went into the hospital, I had no idea how sick I was. I thought I would be out in a few days. I was in a coma before I knew how bad things were, so all the important decisions had to be made by my wife. I can't imagine how difficult this must have been for her. She had gone home to the east coast because her father has been very ill and she needed to be a caretaker for him. It was right before Christmas when I got sick, and she had to fly back out here to be with her unconscious husband. At the time, they had no idea what was wrong with me, and even now they still don't know what caused the initial infection. On Christmas Eve, the doctors told her that I would not survive another week unless something was done. She was confronted with different options from different doctors, and wisely rejected one doctor who had completely misdiagnosed me, and she instead decided on emergency surgery. Thanks to her decision, and the care I got from the other doctors, I survived long enough to eventually beat the infection. I'm also forever indebted to her for being by my side throughout my recovery. Even when I was unconscious she visited me twice a day and read the sports page to me. She left being her father's caretaker to take care of me for months at home, then went back to her father. She had to cook, clean and take care of me like a full-time job. I can can never make up to her for what she has done for me.

I'm forever changed by what happened. I'm a lot more appreciative of the simplest things in life, whether it's enjoying a baseball game at Dodger stadium, a concert at the Hollywood Bowl, a hike in the mountains, or a movie or TV show that moves me.

So for that, I'm thankful.
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