pa-tient adj. 1. Enduring affliction with calmness. 2. Tolerant; understanding. 3. Perservering; steadfast. —n. One under medical treatment. [< Lat.  pati, to endure.]

As I lie in bed this morning this word — patient — started to loll around in my brain, and I began to wonder how the two meanings — the adjective and the noun — had become entwined. Later in the day, knowing that my “main” dictionary was still MIA in a basement box (a recent search during a debate with Todd over the defenition of the word “machine” revealing this to be the case), but wanting to hold a book in my hands as I searched for the link between adjective patient and noun patient, I thumbed through my ancient, namelesss paperback dictionary and found the definitions listed above.

And now it is clear: I am patient if I endure; I am a patient if I am enduring — something, like, say, high dosage chemotherapy replete with blood transfusions, vomiting, quite noticable hearing loss, and a semi-permanent tube poking through my chest.

Today, I like to think I am not only a patient, but a patient person as well. I am currently on a sort of Leave of Absence — in the literal sense from my job with CTM of course, but more immediately from my stint in the hospital, and in many ways from life (or at least my life) as well.

Fortunately, I am home with Dawn (which is something like magic), with our cats, in our cozy house (the house that was supposed to be a post-cancer home), but I am also subject to a kind of house arrest. I’m still feeling quite tired, frequently nauseas, and this ringing in my deafened ears is at times a bit much to bear. It’s cold outside, and if I do go out in public, I have to wear a mask in order to protect my still fragile immune system from infection and disease. So, I’m staying in mostly. I am recuperating, and trying to bolster myself for the next round.


With patience comes gratitude — and, man, I can’t tell you how full of the latter I am. I’ve said it many times before, in many different ways, and I suppose I can’t help but say it again: in times of despair, distress, and disease the walls that separate people (even those already tremendously close) simply evaporate. Friends, family, and strangers step forward with unbelievable resolve to shore each other up — we have a functioning bathroom to prove my point.

But, really, there were a few people who really stepped up to the plate for me over the last few weeks as I lay mostly prone in a hospital bed, surrounded by beeping pumps, tubes, and round the clock nurses taking my “vitals.”

First, there were three of my brothers, who all sort of showed up on our doorstep the weekend before I was to be admitted to the hospital. Aside from filling our house with that unique sort of Lawler charm that I’m sure folks just can’t get enough of, they also swept through our work-in-progress fixer upper and, to put it bluntly, got some shit done. It was wonderful to have them here, and it reminded me how much (down deep) I miss my family, and how I sometimes long for that time in my life when I was surrounded by them (quite literally). All of this makes it even more of a disappointment that our planned trip to California for Christmas this year will not be happening — a discovery that I fully made this morning, knowing how close to my discharge from the hospital Christmas is. I just don’t think I’ll be up for the trip at that point.

Aside from the “Lawler brothers visit,” I have to mention two friends that came to spend days on end with me in the hospital. One is a friend of twenty years that I met when I was 15 in sophmore gym class. Tara. She made the drive up from Cincinnati several times and stayed right there in the hospital room with me on a shitty little pull out sleeper chair (that’s right, chair) for a handful of nights. She kept me company, advocated for me with my nurses and doctors, and was the kind of friend I hope I could be to her too if need be. The other is the guy known around this blog as Todd the Drummer. He is a friend I’ve had for only a brief period of time, but he too showed up in Indiana for the last stretch of my time there and even stuck around an extra day to take me home when my doctors decided to discharge me on Thursday. I can’t begin to thank Todd and his wife Jeanne — who did for Dawn here in Madison what Todd did for me in Indiana, keeping her company and being a true friend — enough.

It’s hard for me to imagine how to repay people. So, for the time, I am focused on what I know they want me to focus on: my recovery. Some day perhaps I can repay each and every one of you that have shown me so much, taught me so much. I hope so.

Again, thank you.


2 Responses to “patient”

  1. It’s so good to read a post from you at home! After our phones stopped chatting, it didn’t seem worth the effort to call back, and when I was done teaching, I thought you might be home already, and I didn’t want your reunion interrupted with a ringing phone–at least not my ring!

    Enjoy the time in the magic space–may it become run-of-the-mill to be at home with the woman and cats you love in 2009. Well, not run-of-the-mill! Naturally, it will be filled with a different kind of daily magic! Oh, heck. You know what I mean.

  2. I know we haven’t met, and I don’t get over to your blog often, but on the occasion, I always find something interesting to read. I hope your recovery continues strongly, and that your friends and family continue to overwhelm you with their support. Thanks for the great read and the constant push for an eco friendly theatre world…!

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