Friday, October 27, 2006

A Surprise Gift From A Complete Stranger

A young man named Rick Uhl saw "Goper's Lament" posted at The Huffington Post and sent me this video from YouTube. This thing is a hoot!You can see the video by clicking the title.

Sometimes the most thoughtful gifts appear out of nowhere. I hope you enjoy this and pass it along to your friends.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

While I Was Away III: Gathered Angels

I don't think I could have looked any worse. Four days after surgery, in a hospital, hooked up to 3 IVs, a realtime EKG and tubes coming out of God knows where. I think that even for the happiest guy on Earth I had reached a low I hadn't expected. For the first time in my life I felt old and not only sick, but infirm. It was really the first day that I really started coming back from the anesthesia. All I could think about as the tv droned on aimlessly was that what I was feeling at that time, was the rest of my life was going to look pretty much like this. except I'd be at home. I don't know what put the idea in my head, but it seemed as though life as I had known it was over.

There was a sadness that comes in the serenety of realizing your job is done. Long ago when I first brought my guitar to the Staten Island Ferry, someone complimented me by saying that I had made their day and to be able to do such a thing is a great gift. In a purely off hand reply, I smiled and said, "Then I won't stop 'till the whole world smiles."

From that moment on I sang and played as if every heart that heard me was like a tiny pebble cast into the middle of a still pond all its own, sending just a few quiet ripples all the way to it's outer banks. Millions of ripples later (Oh if ripples were dollars!) reality said that I was hanging up my guitar and going home just to try not to be a burden to my wife for the remainder of my time here.

Somewhere in me grew a slow and steady panic at the thought of becoming dependent on one who, less than a week earlier, was far more disabled then I'd ever thought of being. The thought of going home began to frighten me, as each thought made me feel more hopeless. Sitting in my chair I felt I should just give up right then and there.

As fate would have it, at about that moment three smiling women entered the room. Part of me thought I was dreaming. Part of me thought I was delusional from being awake under sedation for at least 18 hours. It was Puddle, Agatha and Thankful, (Who, by the way has a great deal of healing energy in her hands!) and it was clear to me that they had brought the affection of the entire community with them, Their hugs were those of cherished friends.

All at once, my Hospital room was transformed into a Deaniac Convention Hall. I remember joking to myself " When two or more are gathered in Dean's name the whole community is there. I told them that ConSec let me know that Renee put up an internet Get Well card and a bunch of people sent their regards. We talked about Francine Busby's loss in court over what should have been a slamdunk recount ruling. We talked about Ned Lamont, and I told them that I wanted to get involved in unseating Vito Fossella, another Goper rubber stamp running as an "Independent Fighter." Within 10 minutes I felt like I had come alive again, and I was itching to get back in the fight.

These three "Dean's Angels" were only permitted to stay for half an hour, but ended up stealing an additional 30 minutes. Near the end of the visit, Thankful came around to rub my shoulders and I let my entire being drift into her fingers all the while. When she stopped and they gathered up to leave, I was ready to go with them. But then I remembered all the tubes and wires I was connected to and realized I wouldn't be going anywhere anytime soon. As it turned out it was September 24 before I was able to leave, only to return 5 days later to the ICU because of abnormalities in my blood work. My final release was on Oct 4.

Have no doubt, my dear friends that the Compassion of the Community was carried on the wings of these three Angels, and it gave me the strength and encouragment I needed to get through quite an ordeal and get home. I'm even beginning to hear my guitar call to me from its little corner of my room. Thank you one and all! (Click the title)

Deaniacs Rock The Nation!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

While I Was Away II: Renee's Candle

ATrue Story of Community

On the Morning of August 23, a friend came to visit. When I opened the door, she looked at me and gasped.

"David," she said in suprise, "your eyes are all yellow. you better get to a doctor." I invted her in and asked that she have a seat. Thinking it might be a joke, I went into the bathroom and looked in mirror. She was RIGHT!! So I got dressed to go out and immediately went to the Emergency Room. By the next day, I was told that I was to have a pancreatic biopsy and some kind of major surgery. The biopsy came back negative but the surgery went forward.

As I unpacked in my hospital room I began to realize I'd probably be sidelined for most of the campaign season. After all, I have as have all of us, been waiting since July of 2002 to see some concrete results in our efforts to take our country back. We all know that Howard Dean leads this Party, and the Democratic Leadership Council can kick and scream all it wants. Facts are facts. Howard Dean is at the helm and the lot of this community is cast to stand with him. Now was the time to see if our work, all of the progressive efforts from grassroots to netroots put enough feet on the ground to regain the Congress, and I wasn't gonna be there.

So I called my son, whom folks know as Conspiracy Secretary here in blogspace, and asked that he write to the blogs and let them know I'd be away for a while. Not long afterward, word reached Renee and Demitrius (of "Soylent Dean" fame) at Howard Empowered People and within what looks like less than an hour Renee had set up a Virtual Candle as a focus for the community to send positive energy, prayers and Compassionate feelings in my direction. Notices of the candle were posted by Renee to Firedoglake, My Left Wing, Blogforamerica, Booman Tribune and DailyKos.

After I came home from the hospital, I found a huge outpouring of thoughts and prayers from all over the progressive blogsphere. There were in time, over a hundred messages wishing me well and urging my return to work and good health. But for me it was more than just the words of support. While I was in the hospital, I felt many hearts in this wonderful community come together in Compassion and it filled my heart when I was feeling down.

It is just this sharing of Focused Compassion in action that drew me to Howard Dean's campaign way back in July of 2002. I knew if I put my heart into it, thousands of caring individuals would be doing the same with me, and it was true. While I was singing, Teri was working on the National Nurse Resolution, Linda was putting together a cookbook for the Harkin Steak Fry, Renee and Demitrius were doing graphics, and we were giving it all we could. We became a community, and when we gathered together from across the country and beyond, it was as if were gathered in Dean's living room.

Now in 2006, over the past month or so, the far flung community gathered together to pray for the Court Jester. I just want you all to know that I felt it, it sustained me and I was deeply moved by the outpouring. Click the title and see for yourselves.

May the Love that knows no Comprehension find refuge in your hearts and in your homes forever.



Saturday, October 07, 2006

While I was Away...

On August 30 I was admitted to Staten Island University Hospital for a pancreatic biopsy and a subsequent surgical procedure called a "Whipple." I guess it had something to do with squeezing my Charmin'. Much of what happened to me between the surgery and Sept. 12 is a blur due to heavy sedation, but I'm told I was rather difficult to deal with. The following two weeks was spent conscious and semi sedated, (Morphene is your friend.) my first really sentient recolection being that the TV in my room was tuned to Fox News. So my friends can begin to realize how important Renee's virtual candle was in channeling all your thoughts and prayers.

As Teri, my National Nurse can attest, when you wake up from major surgery, the medical staff likes to get a grasp on how far back to reality you've come on a regular basis. At the beginning of every shift they would ask me if I knew what month or day it was. Most of them would ask if I could name the current President. Folks should know better than to ask Subway a loaded question like that, especially when I'm being held on Morphene under the Mandatory Sedation Act. Here are some examples of these exchanges:

Q. Do you know who the President is?

A. Sure. That's Dick Cheney's sock puppet, um what's his name...?

Q. Do you know who the President is?

A. Oh I know. His father trained Ossama bin Laden... Name rhymes with tush...

Q. Do you know who the President is?

A. You mean that lyin' sack o...

All in good fun, mind you. Which brings me to the topic of the day:


I spent more than three weeks in the Intensive Care Unit and got a rare opportunity to watch the half dozen or so nurses who saw to my every need. Thinking of Teri Mills, who had advanced the idea of a National Nurse during the Howard Dean campaign, I saw that these dedicated medical professionals, these Caregivers needed a voice equal to that of the Surgeon General, to oversee this country's vast post doctor treatment delivery systems.

Many of my friends in the politblogs know that I've been a caregiver for nearly 2 decades. During that time I've seen many hundreds of others who care for disabled loved ones at home. Those who do so should be compensated in much the same way as those folks who care for foster children. Such folks are quite rightly treated generously by government because it's very cost effective in the long run to place these children in stable homes. Similarly, in most cases, caring for a disabled relative at home costs far less than having that same person in a nursing facility. Yet the caregiver shares in virtually none of the cost savings and in many cases handles the burdens alone. Imagine a single mom with a disabled pre teen, or the one with two kids and a disabled brother. Many of our veterens will come home to families that will care for their injuries and disability for life. Some wife or husband or parent is struggling tonight between putting food on the table and caregiving.

We need a National Nurse to not only speak as one voice for all the caregivers, professionals and family members alike, to help the states formulate policies that lift these families up. We need a National Nurse to stem our terrible shortage of Nurses. Someone who will reach out to the high schools across the country to encourage young people into the nursing and caregiving professions. Someone who will advocate for better pay and lower stress levels for nurses.

Most of the nurses in ICU worked 12 hour shifts four days a week and here in NY nurses are unionized which is a great place to start. After a while I could see signs of emotional fatigue and caregiver burnout even in these seasoned pros. A National Nurse can work with states to develope policies that address overstressed nursing staffs.

Every surgeon needs a nurse. So does the Surgeon General.

(H/T to Oscar at HEP.)