Thursday, August 30, 2007

Making space for a miracle

Last Monday when the men's group showed up at the hospital to give emotional support, I was in a low point. Feeling shipwrecked in the middle of an ocean of hospital red tape, I was ready to grab any sign of support coming my way. Somehow Orest must have felt how I was. He called late in the afternoon to ask if I was open to meet at the hospital with the group. I accepted without any hesitation. They were going to visit another man in bad shape at a rehab place, and then they would be at the hospital where Jan is.

This group of men meets weekly after work. The meetings go from 7pm to 10 or 10:30pm in an office or in a park. This is not the first time I belong to a men's group, but this is the first time that without any affinity with the group other than being a male, I was willing to give and receive support from other men. The only person I knew from before was Orest, the rest were perfect strangers to me. This is why I found their support more refreshing and genuine. When these men came to meet me at the hospital on a Monday late at night, just because they made the commitment to support me whenever I am in need, they are teaching me more about compassion than 100 books. Counterculture, no doubt. Undoubtedly life strengthening. Simply, men helping men. And I welcomed their visit and filled my need. No hocus-pocus. No deep dissertations about the nature of pain. They came and share with me personal stories. One of them told me how he kept afloat just going day by day when his wife was dying of cancer, another shared his insight on how to react from what he is for his family rather than from what he feels when his wife slams doors because she made her angry. Orest challenged me to make room for a miracle. And the day folded in a peaceful note. I felt comforted by the compassion from my friends. I realized that night that I was including them slowly also as my people. Fede, the island, was joining the continent!

Two days went by. I kept thinking about Orest’s comment: how to make space for a miracle.

Last night, during my visit, I had read Jan the story of how two blind men followed Jesus asking to be healed; how he told them:
-"become what you believe",
and then their sight was restored (Matthew 9:27ss). She repeated slowly the words
-"b---become, b---believe"
and soon after went to sleep.

I went home thinking about the profound interaction between what we believe and what we become, this was one of the core lessons in the Leadership course. If I believe that the tenets are light posts that will make me a better leader, and if I act on this belief, I will certainly become a better leader. Then, I thought that the notion that “I am the source” [of my problems and solutions] could be also applied to health. More than 80% of our sick-time is caused by psycho-emotional problems. We make ourselves sick 8 out of every ten times!

I know that Jan’s aneurysm has little to do with what she believes, but the dozens of health professionals we have dealt with in the past 18 months have told us that her recovery would depend in great part on her belief and attitude. She would go as far as she was willing to go. In the story of the two blind men, Jesus put the solution back on them. It was as if he was saying that “they were the source” of the recovery of their own sight! Their belief that they could be healed was the key. Were they ready to own their results?

Against all prognosis and statistics Jan had recovered a big portion of speech, and movement. A bit over a week ago we were biking in the park. Then, suddenly, all sense of balance was gone. One day, she woke up feeling dizzy and without any balance she fell to the ground and could not stand up again. Now, a week later she was still dizzy, without balance, loosing speech and movement and feeling miserable. I saw this situation as a way of making space for a miracle. All else had failed. So I went to bed with this question: how would it look like if Jan and I believe that she is the source and that we have been given the tools for her to be well?

The neurologist still had no idea this morning about what is going on with Jan. He wants her to have an MRI, but she shouldn’t until they know the material of which the clip in her brain is made. But they can’t find out because the surgeon is on holidays, and on and on…

When I called her at lunch time she was going downhill. She could not enunciate words, she was crying inconsolably all the time she was on the phone. In fragments of words I understood:
-"..I ssss..leep 'til noon..., I wwwwant home, pppplease, no more p----pills!, I don't w---want to be here. I am getting w---worse".
I could hear my heart joining her cry with a low, deep moan. This is my wife, I thought, the woman I pledged my love. What is there to do when the medical establishment doesn't know what else to do? I mumbled some comforting words to her and cried in silence on this side of the telephone line for a few seconds. Then, I asked her:
-"do you believe that somehow you could get better?".

Up until this point we had believed that the doctors were going to find a cure for whatever Jan had. But they had gotten stuck in a quagmire of paperwork and liability issues of their own make. I thought that maybe this was a good time to believe “outside of the box”, so to speak. What was there to lose? And so, I repeated my question to her:
-do you believe?
-She said “Yes, of c---course. I k---know.”
-“I love you” I said.
-“Me too. Bye now”, then, she hang up.

I arrived at the hospital at about 6:25pm. Jan was circling in the middle of her room with her arms outstretched and a huge smile on her face. I asked her a bit surprised:
-”what happened?”.
She said,
-“I am well now! [her aphasia was hardly noticeable] I was sitting here all afternoon f-feeling sleepy and dizzz-zy. Then, I felt s-something f-funny inside my ear. I began to wiggle it, and pull it, and all of a sudden… pop! I felt fine. My head was clear. I stood up holding the wall, thinking that I was going to feel dizzy, but I felt fine! So, I let go of the wall and began w-walking without any support or help; then I began walking in circles, and then you came in! I am fine! I am well!!! Ha, ha, ha!”
With her arms outstretched she came to the door and hugged me. I was overflowing with joy. So I asked her,
-“So you… you believed?
She said laughing:
“Of course! The Lord heard me say that I had had enough. And here I am, well. Praise God!”

About 30 minutes later the neurologist came doing his rounds. I had brought my guitar and was singing with Jan to celebrate. We both were sitting on the bed. He knocked gently at the door and walked in. Jan received him with a big smile and then suddenly she stood up without any help. I saw that he was quite surprised to see the improvement. He said that he didn’t have an explanation for this dramatic change and ventured a couple of not very convincing diagnosis. I think he is a compassionate man, because soon after he just expressed his relief for Jan and told her that she could go home tomorrow. The MRI will be done later, when the paperwork mess is sorted out.

Is there room for a miracle in my life? Well, I just witnessed one. It was as if Jan would have found her “mojo” and opened her heart to freely express her faith that she would be well. I know I used all my "mojo" to believe with her that faith had to have some concrete application.

Is there room for a miracle in your life?


Monday, August 27, 2007


Jan is back in the hospital with a dizziness and lack of balance that no one can explain.

SinceWednesday she has undergone many tests (CT scans, ultrasounds,ECGs, Dopler, etc.) to find some cause to this problem. She was kept in the hospital because of her aneurysm; dizziness and change invision are two of the five major symptoms of a stroke. So the doctors decided to act with caution and admitted her on Thursday.

She is in a good spirit and impatient to get some answers. So am I.

My first reaction was to act small, complaining about the medical systemand the MDs about their wishy-whashy answers, being impatient with the nurses and with the commotion of the Emergency Room. As if anyone had the power to puch a button and stop the ocean of pain that floods the ERs. But then, I realized that I was the one who called 911!! and that these people were doing the best they can under incredibly stressful circumstances.

The second day, realizingthat this was not going to be solved right away, I decided to change my mod and see this situation as a chance to react with integrity. She is now in a quiet room with a beautiful view of the lake.

What Jan needs most ispeople who bring her energy, not people who drains her of her energy,and when I act from my smallness this really drains her from her energy. I have made the point of keeping all my conversations with her aligned with my purpose of being an energy-giver to her. So far so good.

We keep very close to each other and we both have deepened our faith regardless of the challenges and outcomes. I find this very liberating.

I will have to keep balancing my regular life with spending time withJan. It is possible that I won't post much in the next few days, butI wanted to at least share with you my whereabouts and my current main struggle. I want to participate fully with Jan these days and be compassionate with her and with myself.

In these days of extraordinary circumstances, I need to use extraordinary lessons.