August 30th, 2007


Sixth Surgiversary

Mended Hearts calls them surgiversaries--the anniversaries of when we had our cardiac surgeries, whatever they were. This is my sixth and I guess I am in a pensive mood this year. I turn 49 on December 2nd, and I'd really like to at least make it to 50. Reaching another year should make me happy, and yet my heart health seems to be deteriorating lately. I need more diuretic and I'm getting out of breath more easily upon exertion. Maybe that's partly because my heel injury has kept me from walking, I don't know. But it worries me. Today I felt moved to look back at some of my LJ entries about my heart disease journey.

Dave sent out an email on the day of my coronary artery bypass graft (x 4), or what's commonly known as a heart bypass surgery. In hospitals they just call it CABG, pronounced like the vegetable. Later that day, before I was fully awake and extubated, I had a heart attack. This is a risk of both surgery and the angiogram I had the day before. Fortunately they gave me powerful blood thinners right away and the damage was mild. If you must have a heart attack, have one right under the nose of the doctors!

A few weeks later I wrote about the experience in my paper journal, which I later transferred to my LJ.
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Learn about heart disease and how to assess your own risk factors, review heart attack symptoms, and find out what you can do to prevent or at least delay the onset of heart disease, even if you have a strong family history like I do.

The sooner you start, the better chance you have! And remember, if you ever have heart attack symptoms, the faster you can get to the hospital the less damage your heart will sustain. Time is muscle! Those who wait end up far more disabled than the sensible folks who go in and don't worry about whether it's a false alarm. Even the doctors and nurses will tell you that it's better to come in and find out it's nothing serious than to sit at home and die of a heart attack because you're afraid to be embarrassed!

Why I'm a "Believer"

I am a believer because I have had too many experiences where I felt in touch with something or someone not to be. I know there is definitely something more than science can measure. Either that or I am delusional--I concede the possibility.

However, what I believe, how I choose to interpret these feelings and what they mean spiritually, that is a result of my meandering religious path through my Protestant upbringing, my Catholic teen years, my joining the Hare Krsna movement and studying other Eastern schools of thought, and my brush with new age literature, as well as knowing members of several faiths well enough to have a fair handle on what they believe. I also studied the anthropology of religion and got some insight as to how religions are created, and realized that many religions were created by people feeling the kinds of connections I feel and then trying to explain it, not just that they wanted to create a nice bedtime story to reassure themselves about the nature of the world.

As I moved through different belief systems, trying to find a whole system that "fit" what I believed or that seemed "right" to me, I gradually noticed that my sense of connection to the divine (as I conceive it) and the joy I felt as a result, did not change from faith to faith. I always felt that I was having a relationship with the same "person" no matter which name I was using.

I began to think about it from the perspective of a deity. You have this one planet among many with life forms upon it. Many sentient beings in a vast universe, in fact, more than one universe. Some of those beings are reaching out to know you, to love you, from their various cultures and with varying degrees of ability to understand and conceive of you.

Do you expect them all to follow just one religion? Do you really care deeply about the specific rituals they use to connect with you? What silly rules they follow in order not to invoke your wrath? Are you deeply concerned with their individual sex lives? Or are you more focused on the desire to see all these various beings strive to live in harmony with each other and evolve to take on their own parts in maintaining the "music of the spheres" as some call it?

If you try to communicate with them to encourage them to embrace a path of spiritual growth and harmony with others, would you try to impose the same form of worship and belief on all these diverse groups or would you look at each group and craft your message to resonate with their culture and level of understanding?

At the same time I was having these thoughts, I was reading more and more books by long time practitioners of various faiths, and seeing a commonality in their language and methodology that crossed religious boundaries. It seemed no matter where they started, or how different the details of their paths looked, they were ending up talking about the same kinds of things and using very similar language if one accounted for religious terminology.

I began to think that as we make progress we are all led to a similar level of realization, even if the outward form looks different to a casual observer. The Christian monk, former nun, Buddhist monk, Hindu guru, witch, etc., were really coming to a similar platform and the joy in their paths seemed identical.

Influenced, perhaps, by my American individualist conditioning, I came to believe that each of us should follow an individualized course of spiritual learning (our religion) that is best for each of us to connect with the deity or deities we feel called to connect with (if we feel called at all).

Therefore, I do not feel moved at all to debate the "rightness" of my position on any spiritual matter. I feel no need to convert anyone. If the fundie Christian feels they need a highly structured and strict religious environment and that works for them, go fundie! Just don't try to make your beliefs law!

Classic quote!

"Marriage is like when the captain lashes himself to the wheel before a storm." --hausfrauatu, in Salon letters in response to the "Since You Asked" column today about an unmarried couple that split up after 15 years and a five month old baby.

What a mental picture!

Wow, he does have a sense of shame after all

An update on the Wiccan widow that Bush failed to meet with:

Today, during an interview on Lynn's nationally syndicated radio program "Culture Shocks," Stewart also commended Bush for apologizing.

"I just now got off the phone and personally spoke with President Bush," Stewart told Lynn. "I am happy to say that he did give me his deepest condolences. I will give him the benefit of the doubt and I do have to give him kudos that he at least took the time to call, give his condolences, and apologize for the VA problem.

"He apologized for the exclusion and the error that was made and said that he admired me for my spirit and thanked me for accepting his apology and said that he hoped he would have the opportunity to someday meet me," Stewart continued. "I was very pleased with the way the conversation went, very pleased that he did call and put this right."

Lynn asked Stewart if the president touched upon her Wiccan faith. She replied that the president told her that "he would not discriminate against someone because of their religion"

With thanks again to Lark who posted on OC.

(couldn't resist this follow up, quick copy/paste. I'll be good now, LOL)