12:12 on 12/12/’12
For some strange reason, that word, “interstices” kept popping into my mind as I reflected on what had recently happened to me at the Brigham and Womens’ Hospital in Boston beginning on December 12, 2012.
The definition of the word “interstices” is “the small or narrow space between things or parts; crevice; crack”. Perhaps it was the coming together of my physical and critical emergency with countless Brigham and Womens’ surgeons, interns, nurses, caregivers and staff who joined their care and skill to attend most completely and efficiently to my immediate need. All of these wonderful people had lives of their own put to one side while they attended to my needs of that very moment which indeed contributed to my continued life on earth. To them all, I promise to keep in mind my beliefs and intentions which I expressed because of what they did. It is from that I became aware of how time is racing by and we can never fully retrieve a past event, nor can we really perform any act in the future. All we really have is the present moment. If we are ever to do anything, it must be done “now”. Now is the “interstice between time and eternity. It is so important to take the present moment to act, to do something nice to someone else, to say “thank you” and “I love you” to those we should. It was my experience at Brigham and Womens’ that helped me to understand this. Let me describe what happened in as great detail as I can recall.
On December 11, I saw my kidney Doctor that afternoon. After my visit to my Kidney specialist where I had been pronounced as making a good recovery from bladder resection surgery on November 1st , I felt increasingly nauseous and had severe abdominal cramps in the evening. Later in the afternoon, I discovered that my colostomy was not emptying and I had the beginning of dry heaves, with some pain and pressure near a spot where I had previously discovered a slight hernia. I called the South Shore Visiting Nurse and she said if it persists, go to the Emergency at either So. Shore Hospital or better even, to B&W.
My son,Tom, literally carried me from Scituate to the B&W in our ’94 GMC pickup. Tommy drove the pickup truck while I was semi-doubled up on the seat next to him. I was given a wheelchair at B&W and wheeled directly in to the ER where Doctor Kimones tried to help ease the hernia. It was 11PM.
The nurses , according to Tom, were all aware that the clock was approaching 12:12 on 12/12,’12 but I was totally unconscious as to how close to eternity I had come. I was surrounded by Doctors, Interns, Nurses and aids and was nauseous, delirious and rambling. At 6 AM, things had gotten worse and Doctor Ron Bleday, the Doctor who had done my first surgery at B&W came into the hospital. He was scheduled to do surgery on this day. I was given the high contrast and a Cat Scan. They intubated me to prevent me from vomiting into my airway, but they had difficulty getting the tube past my esophagus. I was sleepy and very confused, very out of it. The surgery, which had been planned for later in the day was moved up to 7AM. Tom called my other children, Claire, Grace and Chuck. Tom really didn’t think I was going to make it. Tom was in the waiting room for 2 hours and Claire arrived. I was placed in 8D in SICU, With Joe and Taryn as my nurses. I needed intensive fluid therapy.
“Benson …and…” I said.
“Charlie, where are you?”
(Ice cream, I thought), “Bergson’s Ice Cream”…”No… Brigham’s… Brigham’s … and … Womens’” I shouted. “I am in the Intensive Care Unit at Brigham & Women’s!!” I shouted, looking up to the right into the warm and welcoming eyes of Taryn my nurse.
“Yes” she answered. “And you’re going to be fine!!”
Thank God for Taryn. And thank God for Joe, Sara H. Peterson, Dave Molway (whom I discovered had been a student in my class years before), and Heather, Sara’s angel, Laurie, Donna, Ellie, Beth and all the wonderful male nurses and all the magnificent Doctors and Interns in Doctor Bleday’s miraculous team. Also Jocette, who sat and prayed and sang with me all through the first rough nights in SICU. And to all the other wonderful people whose names couldn’t make a dent in my troubled mind, THANK YOU!!
Thus, I came to see that every single contact I made with all these wonderful people constitutes the interstices in which one sees the miracle of what takes place every day at B&W ICU. Every need and request intercepts every day in the same way –yet- the magic persists; the magic of seeing God’s greatest work on earth, healing, as each present moment races past the face of the earth. Each and every person, be they Surgeons, Doctors, Interns, Nurses, Aids, Staff or “all night watchers”; doing exactly what is needed when it is needed to 100% efficirncy and caring, then leaving to do this somewhere else perhaps never to be seen by you again.
The time of contact races past and the moment becomes very difficult to recall or retrieve. Yet, these moments were the most important in my life, and I never had the opportunity to thank them all face-to-face from my heart. What I have learned from these experiences and wish to tell everyone, is that after 76 years of life, my only message is Jesus’ first recorded words to his disciples; i.e., his “keynote address” in Mark 1:16 where he says:
“Metanoiete ( Wake up!) the present moment is the right
time; the Kingdom of Heaven is WITHIN you!
Believe this good news,” …
and time whizzes past.
This is going to sound really strange, but since B&W, I have come to a conclusion that everyone is seeking happiness in their lives, but most are seeking it where it cannot be found. Most of us seek happiness through attaining money, possessions, health, long life, success, a good reputation, a “happy” marriage, children that we love and are proud of etc… , all of which are truly good and desirable for sure. But we so often fail to realize that the greatest treasure of all, is within us; and within ALL others. It doesn’t feel like happiness, it doesn’t look like happiness, it isn’t an idea we possess, but it is a treasure we are asked to BELIEVE in. When one person encounters another person with true unconditional and other-centered caring, that is what I sense happens everyday thousands of times a day at Brigham and Womens’ Hospital in Boston.