November 26, 2013
"Now, where do you come from?" the Queen of Hearts says to Alice.
Alice replies, "Well, I am trying to find my way home."
"YOUR way?" retorts the Queen. "All ways here are my ways!"
Thus ensues a ridiculous game of croquet with hedgehogs being used as the balls and playing cards as the wickets. It is an unlikely game, filled with misadventure and threats of "Off with her head!" issued by the angry Queen. And all poor Alice wants to do is get herself out of that danged rabbit hole and back home.
It is all most of us ever want, but sometimes we need to put up ridiculous and seemingly meaningless rituals to get there.
We are on our way home, home from the hospital and the last of the tests Ron needed to endure before he could get the clearance for the ketamine infusion therapy. The tests have taken most of the day and involved a stress test, a tilt table test, and other measures of cardiac health. I have held my own breath the entire time, remembering that many, many people are praying for a positive outcome. As my friend Madeline told me on Sunday, "This will work because it HAS to work."
It has to work, it has to work, it has to work. That was the mantra as we headed up to the hospital and negotiated the morning rush hour traffic on Broad Street. It is to work it has to work, it has to work. We are the Little Engine that could, Little Toot the tugboat out on the foggy ocean, the Brave Little Toaster. We are the epitome of Alice and Dorothy and Luke Sywalker, trying to find our way back to a world we once knew, one that made sense to us.
Hearts are tricky things. They are the central organs of our bodies, the one that keeps us moving and living and loving. But, according to the ancient Egyptians, they are also the seat of our emotions and breakable. Hearts can be affected by our diet, our exercise, and our lifestyle. They can be transplanted successfully from one human being to another. But scientists have not get found a way to live without one. Even the Grinch had a heart, albeit a small one. But, as you will recall, his heart grew and grew and grew when he, too, finally found his way back home.
Years ago, when the infections that have always plagued Ron during his many hospitalization began to affect his heart, we were told that the damage was irreparable. An enlarged heart works harder to pump the blood. Four years ago, we were told that Ron's heart was working at about 12% capacity, making him out of breath all the time. We resigned ourselves to it. Ron endured another surgery to have a pace-maker/ defibrillator inserted. Of course there were complications--there always are--and the simple two hour procedure took five and resulted in another infection. Ron carries a card in his wallet in case his bionic powers sets off alarms in stores and airports. But in the last four years, the defibrillator has never gone off.
Yesterday was the ultimate test. As the doctors at Hahneman Hospital put Ron literally through the ringer, I continued the mantra. It has to work, it has to work, it has to work. Finally, by 4 o'clock, the doctors exited the exam room, clearly puzzled.
"We can't find anything wrong," they said.
What's that, now? I am not sure I recognize the words. They sure sound like English, but I am not used to hearing them.
"We even called his cardiologist--Dr. Lee--and she faxed us his records. His heart was damaged, no doubt. But from what we can see, well, we don't really know how to explain this, but, his heart looks okay." They shake their heads, these three men in white coats. They look at me expectantly. Surely there is a rational explanation for this?
I shrug my shoulders. "Everyone we know has been praying," I say. They nod, unconvinced.
"Well, " they say, "there's no reason we can't put him into the ketamine program."
Hearts are tricky. They can be damaged and scarred and still keep on beating. They can suffer attacks and come back to function again. They can break and they can heal. They can hope and love and never ever stop believing that somewhere out there is a place called home.
It has to work, it has to work, it has to work. We are now several steps closer to what we hope will be our own way back.
To all who are praying, who have upheld us these last thirteen years, who have never given up hope, accept our deepest gratitude. We are not there quite yet. But, like Alice when she finally realizes just how ridiculous the Queen of Hearts and her court are, we are finding our way back.
We may yet find our way out of the rabbit hole.