Monday, May 26, 2008


My dear friend, Sally, is a miracle.

After over a week in ICU with an unknown type of pneumonia, she is recovering. She has been in her own hospital room for a week. Progress is very slow, but she is holding her own and each day getting a little stronger and a little more progress made.

If I had to guess how long she has been in the hospital, it has to be going on over a month. She should be discharged this week and moved to a rehab center in Water Vliet - much closer to her home than Kalamazoo where she is now.

But, she can't walk without a lot of assistance. The first few days out of ICU she couldn't move her arms well or use her fingers. Her eye sight isn't real good. She has panic and anxiety attacks when she thinks she will not be able to draw in a breath. And, while her lungs continue to improve a little each day, last week one did collapse 50%. She has undergone painful procedures. She is on a lot of meds.

Her life in rehab will be difficult - learning how to walk again, care for herself, breath without the anxiety attacks. She is on meds for depression and anxiety.

But - she is alive. She is making progress. She will go home (probably in mid to late June).

Sally will be a changed person. Deeply spiritual, she does see this as a journey. She feels there is a message in it. Some of us who know her well feel the message is to slow down and not work so hard. So, now she is forced to do so. It will be interesting to hear her perspective.

I have not seen her since she was first admitted to the Kalamazoo hospital. I will visit her in rehab and will stay with her for at least a week (if she chooses) when she finally goes home. I will purchase more bird feeders for her, a couple of humming bird feeds, bird seed and suet. I will make sure they are hung in front of all of her windows so she can watch the birds while she recovers. I will paint her toes nails and rub lotion on her back. I will brush her hair. I will hang on to her when she walks. I will cook for her. I will bring a ton of books and we will read. We'll rent videos starring only good looking men. We will talk of birds, of life, of journeys - both inward and outward. We will talk of our friends, our families and we will talk trash. We will read and laugh, hug and cry. And, this will all be my deep privilege.

She's a miracle. And I am, oh, so very grateful.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Can't Sleep Thoughts

It's after 3:00 am and I can't sleep.
I went back to the doctor yesterday so now I am on round two of meds for bronchitis and a sinus infection. Steroids. Yippee! Also, a cough med that yesterday knocked me on my ass. Hence - when you sleep all day, you can't sleep at night. So instead of tossing and turning I got up, let the dogs out, made a pot of coffee and here I am
Today marks day 6 of missing work due to this bugga bugga. Actually, though, despite the time of day, I do feel a little better.
No news is good news now regarding Sally (see posts below). She is stable and for 2 days the x-rays showed no more deterioration in her lungs. It is just a waiting game now. I have good feelings about her illness now (if that makes sense). Yes, she will be in the hospital for weeks and weeks if not months, but I have a more positive "gut" feeling she will pull through this.
Hey, street cleaners just went by! What do you know! And, of course, there is a car parked smack in front of my house, so the litter will still be there. Go figure.
Amazing activities in the 'hood at 3 am.
My dear brother-in law, Marty, has a brother who is dying. Gordon, who is 80, has been ill for the past few years. This has been expected. It is difficult, but his death will end his suffering and I believe the family is at peace with it.

My flowers are looking good, but the beds really need cleaning. Too tired and weary to do them lately. Maybe on Saturday I will feel like working in the garden a little. It is probably the best thing I could do for my soul right about now.

Sunday is Mother's Day. Over five years now since Mom has been gone. Hard to believe. I don't think I will be sad on Sunday, but more and more thankful each Mother's Day that I had such a great and loving Mom.

Think I will have another cup of joe and try going back to bed.
Ahhhhh, sweet slumber!

Thursday, May 08, 2008


I'm trying to put things in perspective. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

While my dear friend, Sally, is fighting for her life on a ventilator, I've been home for a week with a sinus infection and bronchitis. Now, that is comparing apples to oranges. I can breathe on my own. I can drive myself to the doctor and get stronger meds to make me better. Sally is trapped inside herself. Our friend, Amy, said maybe this is all part of a spiritual journey she needs to take. Sally is a "shaman in training." I know she would appreciate and value that thought as I do.

As I do things around the house, as I'm able, I think of Sally. She was with me the day I closed on my house. The first thing she did when we walked in was to check it for security. Sally, 20-year veteran of the Chicago police force, wanted to make sure I'd be safe. Then, with sage, salt and water, we smudged my home. Going to every corner from the basement to the attic and all around the yard, we chanted some lines and added another layer of safety and love to my home. I will never forget to the smudging with her. It was an act of love between the two of us. She was so proud of me for buying my own home.

Breathe, Sally, Breathe.

Sally with her lotions and potions. In my shower I have Tate's All Natural Miracle Conditioner. On our trip to Costa Rica a few years ago with gal pal, Miki, Sally brought along this product she found in a health food store. We marveled over all of its uses. Upon my return home I ordered it, along with the shampoo. It is the only product I have ever used to keep my dry scalp from flaking. How many times I have sat with Sally while she applied different facials to my face, made out of oatmeal or honey or whatever? How many times has she handed me a bottle of lotion, "Here, try this. And, while your at it, rub some on my back." "Smell this, Julie Ann. Isn't it fabulous? Put some on." "Let me give you a manicure" "Here," tossing me a hair brush," Would you please brush my hair? I'll brush yours when you are done!" "Want to go for a massage while I'm there?" "Oh, girl, this is just the best stuff." Try it, smell it, put some on. Oh, Sally - you taught me to pamper myself.

Breathe, Sally, Breathe.

In Sedona we sat in the cold on the vortex, stealing looks at each other to see if we were really feeling the earth's energy. We climbed down canyons to watch the sun dance off the river onto the canyon walls. We climbed in caves to hold ritual. We sat in silence at the condo, each reading books we would pass on to each other.

Breathe, Sally, Breathe.

I take little walks around my small yard, watching the progress of the shrubs and flowers. The weeping crab apple tree Phil bought me several years ago is about ready to bloom. My lilac bush is not only all green, but the little flowers are growing like crazy. Only my Rose of Sharon's are just starting to show signs of life. They are always late bloomers. The neighborhood smells of newly cut grass. A smell Sally and I both like.

Breathe, Sally, Breathe.

I think of walking around Ronora together. The land, so special and sacred. Arm and arm we would walk, enjoying the beauty. Sally would see the woodland spirits, something I was never able to see. That's OK, though. She believes in them and sees them.

Breathe, Sally, Breathe.

Sally told Amy the night before her lung biopsy, that she dreamt of a big brown bear. I read Amy the attributes of the bear totum. Power. And hibernation. Sally is a powerful woman, as well as a soulful woman. Maybe the bear was telling her to nurture her power now and go into a deep sleep to preserve her strength. Sally would appreciate that.

It is the time of renewal, of hope of life. May Sally's lungs find the renewal, that life and give all of us hope.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008


Tonight one of my dearest friends is in the ICU of a hospital in Kalamazoo, MI fighting for her life

Sally, my chosen sister, my confidant, my travel gal pal, my friend.

I'm so very afraid we will lose her.

After almost a week in a smaller hospital with what they thought was pneumonia, she was transferred to a larger hospital in a larger city that has a pulmonary unit. A week later, she is on a ventilator which is doing 100% of her breathing.

The cause? We don't know. She had a lung scope, which showed nothing. A lung biopsy, which was sent to California for tests. The part of the lung taken for the biopsy was spongy and crumbly. Every X-Ray shows her lungs deteriorating.

What the hell is going on? She had a bad case of pneumonia about 4 years ago and, like me, usually gets a bad case of bronchitis every year or so. But this?

Sally is a physically strong, vibrant woman. She went from having trouble breathing to oxygen to a ventilator. Jesus!

A long time good friend of Sally's, Amy, has been with her for almost a week. Another true chosen sister, Amy has been dealing with the doctors, nurses and friends who want to see her, touch her and make sure she is OK. However, in the highest level of ICU visiting hours are 3 times a day for 20 minutes. Sally is on morphine and basically out of it. Amy is burned out herself, even with taking time to care for herself.

I was there last Wednesday through Thursday when I heard she was transferred. She had called me on Tuesday, excited to be going home and I offered to come up for the weekend and take care of her and she gladly accepted. She had a turn for the worse that same night and unfortunately, by the weekend she was in the ICU. I returned home Thursday night, sick with my annual case of a sinus infection and bronchitis.

However, while I was there I was able to talk to her a little, hold her hand, rub her head, tell her it would all be OK. It is hard to see someone struggle to breath.

Jesus. What the hell is going on? Where are her test results. She is in "fair" condition and nothing is working.

My last post I wrote about prayer. While I'm praying now. Praying that those test show something that can be treatable. Praying that she keeps being the fighter I know she is and that she hangs in there as long as it takes. Praying that all of the prayers from me and the dozens and dozens of people who know and love Sally are surrounding her with healing white light and love.

Please, Sally, just hold on.