Nay_ho_tze's Medicine Musings

Columbia Gorge eagle

eagles' wings
part 2 of 3*

     click here for part 1 
     click here for part 3

So it was about this time on the medical journey with my godson 
that we faced the fiercest thing ever to happen to him, 
aside from the accident itself, of course --
he’d encountered this dreaded monster once before and ever since
had talked about how he hoped he’d never have to go through it again …
a medical procedure called a
cisternogram …  

in the case of my godson:
first he would visit an eye, nose, and throat specialist who would stuff his sinusses full of tiny flat marked cardboard tags attached to strings that hung out his nose down to his chin …

in another department, on his stomach he would be secured to a special table
that could be tilted every which way and he wouldn’t fall off …
then a large needle was inserted into the base of his spine to introduce a radiated CSF (cerebral spinal fluid) replacement, the intention being to increase pressure by raising CSF levels -
when put through some radiation lab process, the sinus tags would identify leak locations

a massive headache afterwards is the most common side effect -
he is smack on the pisces aries cusp, 15 minutes away from the ram …
the thing is aries rules the head – 
that means there are issues with the head for good or bad …
it was this  aries’ headache which the pisces fish feared most

eagles flying

it was a horrifying story and he told it with more fear at the experience
than when he spoke about the accident ...
curiously enough out of the 7 people in the car, he was the only one buckled -
everyone else had been thrown from the car -
he was trapped in at the point of contact

 but it was the cisternogram which instilled the most fear, 
and every time he told the story, 
at the word cisternogram, believe it or not, i’d involuntarily stiffen
and counter with a silent prayer against what his fear was surely calling to himself ...

(at the same time, somewhere else there was a young pioneering neuro surgeon 
 still developing his skills, practicing and learning what would save my godson’s life three years hence)

at the time of the accident though the thinking was to repair the hole by way of his sinuses
using a plug of fat taken from his groin  -
that, and a prayer
because ultimately no-one really believed the plug would work but there was no other way 

Now, three years later meningitis suggested a seriously deteriorated plug
which if so, had to be addressed, or this kid’s future was death by meningitis -

to verify and locate CSF leakage, he needed another cisternogram 

two weeks’ worth of deadweight days dragged by until the day of the cisternogram arrived - 
this time he’d found comfort knowing that he wasn’t going  it alone 
(motherless children get to do a lot of things alone) …
he knew i wasn’t leaving his side …
he wasn’t sure how this would happen ('nurses are really bossy' he told me), 
but he knew it was  my intention, and that's all he needed

moving through the longest day the universe has ever seen
the only time we weren't within touching distance
of each other was during the CAT scan –
for that they put me inside somebody’s office that had a full view of the action -
even inside the CAT tunnel, his feet were still visible to me …

afterwards on the ride back home through the gorge 
he was filled with more energy than a launching rocket … 
the monster had been met and its demise deemed a ‘piece of cake’ …

we’d been told to not expect any results for a couple days …
but that didn’t matter to us for two reasons …
he was drunk on his newly-acquired peace and security of knowing 
that he could handle whatever was coming,
and because, quite simply,  we already knew the lab results.

earlier as they worked to increase the CSF pressure,
when they rotated the table so he was near into a headstand, 
i dropped to the floor to stay eye to eye with him …
and when the bed stopped moving, a single drop of clear fluid dripped from his nose 
staining the table’s white pad with the tiny thread of blood it held inside -
we both saw it –
he covered it with his fingers, i covered his hand with my own.

now on staff where my godson needed him,
his surgeon, the aforementioned pioneering neurosurgeon, phoned me that night -
urgency drove his voice; ‘he's leaking like crazy’ he told me -
that a repeat of meningitis was imminent … surgery was the only recourse -
the location of the hole in his skull made it a tricky situation … blindness might be avoided
but his senses of both taste and smell would be sacrificed along with his growth gland.
the surgery was called a craniotomy, i heard
but from that point on, further explanation came from a voice very far away:
after his head was shaved, 
an incision would be made over the top of his forehead, 
from one ear to the other so his face could be rolled back -  
i heard, 'like a carpet' - 
exposing his cranial frontal bone
from which a hefty chunk (his entire forehead)
would be jig-sawed out and set aside for later …
only then would they be where they needed in order to make the repair -
this was begun by lifting the front of the brain from the paper thin shelf upon which it rested
and thus exposing the hole therein -
this would be patched with a piece of his skull muscle 
'harvested' from the jaw muscle on the side of his head …

columbia river gorge, bingen wa

 when i hung up and had regained enough of myself,
i realized i had never had to deliver such news to anyone ever before …
and i didn’t want to this time … 
in fact, i wanted to tell him as little as possible …

i started by saying you do need surgery which he took like the man he was becoming …
not unexpectedly he asked what they were going to do to him, 
but before i answered, i asked him, “are you sure you really want to know?”
he thought for a moment, and then said, ‘no, i guess i don’t …’
and he never asked again … 
and i was glad of it because it would’ve been with deep regret that i would’ve told him …
as it was i did know the details and that night i couldn’t sleep –
in the wee hours, while everyone else slept i went outside to offer smoke and to pray …
i sought familiar comfort in the tall pines secluding us from the neighbourhood
and watched stars come and go through evergreen branches …

other than a solitary, cool musty breeze which rolled through the air, then moved on, 
the night stood clear and still…

Prayer couldn’t silence the surgeon’s words as they just kept barreling 
through my brain like a runaway locomotive …
deafness, blindness, loss of manhood, his sense of smell., no taste …
i thought my head would explode 
until an incredible surge of electricity coursed through my solar plexus,
and with a total of everything that is me, a demand burst through my lips:
“i want the least amount of damage as possible done to this child!”

that’s when i heard the voice, clear as the sky in which the stars hung:
bring him to the river…

the Columbia -  
i knew just where, a sacred Indian spot familiar to us
where the beach curled up into a high cliff like a surfer’s dream wave …

to be annointed, i was told

sunrise broke on a day warm and bright as the kitchen was filled with the excitement
of kids packing a picnic breakfast to take to the river –
they didn’t know the reason we were going, only that it was wicked cool to be going,
and they chattered about how it was like that one midnight when the snowing had stopped,
and i'd roused them all from bed and took them sledding out under the stars
when the entire park was theirs for the taking 

 a different kind of energy in kids’ excitement is spawned from outrageous spontaneity:
the energy of belief in everything

and that was exactly what was needed right now -
so they didn't know the reason for this morning picnic

we arrived at the river, deserted as we'd
 expected it to be, and even though under protest,
the kids first ate part of the breakfast they'd brought before taking off  –
my youngest daughter began to sculpt in the beach sand, a Turtle,
etching details with her fingers, using nearby sticks like pencils and brushes …
finally decorating with found items like shells and pebbles and flowers ...

i was fascinated watching her
she didn’t know we were at the river looking for healing -…
was it coincidence that Turtle People clan are the healers?
to me any coincidence for good or bad is Spirit's calling card

 sipping lukewarm coffee from a thermos, i scanned the area for the other two kids,
my godson and eldest daughter, who had taken off to climb
the steep slope 
of the cliff overhanging the Columbia.
i finally spied them nearing the top edge
and when they reached it, we all waved to each other.

suddenly my godson raised his walking stick to the sky, motioning wildly,
but i was too momentarily taken up with how the wind blew his long black curls from his face -
then, suddenly though i couldn’t make out his words, i realized he was shouting to me  …

and that’s when i heard the call of an eagle and looked away from him
to see not one, but nine golden eagles, circling high above my children on that cliff…  
i blinked to make sure i wasn’t hallucinating –
my godson’s exaggerated arm movements confirmed he saw them too …

we watched, all of us, mesmerized, as the eagles flew in formation
of upwards and downward spirals, 
starting over my godson and eldest on the cliff,
then down around me and my youngest on the beach, 
and then back up over those on the cliff …
the eagles did this three times, then they flew off …

as i witnessed this spectacle sent by Grandfather 
(to some of us Eagle is the Great Spirit's messenger),
even though i’m not known to toss about bible quotes,
recently popularized words rose up in my heart 
“they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; 
they shall mount up with wings as eagles;
 they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” 
Isa 40:31

my godson had indeed received annointment, and i too in a way --
i’d received the faith then and there that,
although the journey ahead of us was not going to be easy,
we would together break through any and all limitations … 

it should be noted, said event earned my godson a new nickname:
Nine Eagles

flying eagle

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             related readings:  April 21st - pt1of1* 
                                          4th of July - pt3of3*
                                         The Dream of Shonone*