May 31, 2008, we waited as patiently as we could to hear from Randy’s surgical team at UCLA that he had successfully made it out of emergency brain surgery and that we could go and see him.
Any surgery carries risks and brain surgery certainly scared us. Different doctors had come up with different suggestions as to what might be going on, and we were anxious to hear that Randy was in the recovery room.
Randy went in to surgery very early in the AM and by early afternoon I was growing over-the-top anxious. Randy went in to this emergency surgery with his characteristic strength, focus, determination and gentleness. I couldn’t wait to get back in the same room with him, and hold his hand, and tell him I love him.
Mid afternoon the surgeon came to see us in the waiting area at UCLA. Randy and I had shared some Procovery program materials with him the prior evening. We had explained that Randy had always found it amazing that there is an entire industy devoted to improving outcomes of our educational system, and Randy always reasoned that there should be a comparable industry devoted to improving outcomes in our much more complex healthcare system. (That is one of the things the Procovery program was created to do.) When the surgeon came to see us I wasn’t prepared, and really couldn’t have been, for what he said. He said that Randy had a brain tumor in the left parietal region of his brain and that they had sent part of the tumor to the lab, and that Randy had a glioblastoma multiforme (grade 4 brain tumor). That it was incurable, highly deadly, and that there were no statistics to support his healing. Additionally, he said that Randy was experiencing a “bleed” and would need to go back in for emergency surgery, immediately. His second brain surgery that day.
I remember standing there in the waiting area, and a stream of thoughts began to run through my mind, The loudest thoughts were admittedly selfish ones, initially. I remember standing there thinking I might never hear Randy tell me that he loves me again and I might never feel him hold my hand again………I remember feeling that I might melt to the floor, and I remember this tremendous feeling of “I don’t know how to do this.” I remember thinking that when I wake up, Randy is the first person I see, and when I go to sleep Randy is the last person I see. I remember thinking that we spend all of our time together, and have for years. And when people inevitably ask us how we can spend so much time together, we both always said that, in truth, we never felt it was enough. We have always just wanted MORE time together. And I just remember thinking, very clearly, “I don’t know how to do this………….”
Which is just what I said to the surgeon as he was heading back to surgery. And I remember as he continued walking quickly away, he turned his head back in my direction, and he matter-of-factly said, “Sure you do, you gotta live your program.”
I remember thinking, What the f#&# does that mean?
Later that night I remember his words coming back to me, “You gotta live your program.” And I remember pulling out a Procovery primer and my eyes skimmed the principles. And I remember thinking just pick a principle, just pick one. And I chose hope.
I remember all of the things we have long shared in trainings, that there is always reason to hope, that there is a difference between hoping and wishing, that hope is active and it is always present, even if you can’t see it, hear it or feel it. I remember sharing in trainings that in the same way that a plant reaches for the light, people reach for hope. Not because hope is passive or fluffy but because it is a life force, hope is a fuel. Hope is different than wishing and hope can translate in to action. I remember I chose hope.
What I didn’t know at the time, was that Randy, who was unable to speak as a result of the surgery, and unable to move the right side of his body, had not only chosen a principle, he chose 2. He chose Focus on Strengths and Just Start Anywhere. He later said that all he kept hearing was what he couldn’t do, and would never be able to do again. That he would likely be paralyzed on his right side for life, that he had likely lost his ability to both comprehend and to speak. As he laid there, unable to move his right side, unable to speak, unable to get across to hospital staff that YES he was comprehending………….He focused on his strengths and just starting anywhere.
And what neither of us knew at the time was that we were, in fact, living the program.
Initally, when this happened, very early on, I was “mad” at Procovery. I resented all of the years, and all of the money and all of the time that we had spent on Procovery. I wanted our time back, I wanted our life savings and all of our retirement back, I wanted to take Procovery, and bury it at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. I blamed Procovery.
Lucky for me, our little team at Procovery, and my amazing family, wouldn’t allow me to stay in that place for long. And without any idea Randy was living the program, I was too. And now, ten months later, here we are again, with Randy working so hard to heal from his third brain surgery, with most of the medical community never, ever, ever letting us forget the statistics that are not in our favor. Never letting us forget how bleak the outcomes usually are and how hard this path is and how complicated. As though we don’t know that. As though this amazing, brilliant man in the hospital bed, with stitches from the front of his head to the back, unable to speak, unable to move the right side of his body, needs a clear understanding of how grave the situation is. We do get it. We really do. But what we also get is that there is always reason to hope, that love heals and that miracles happen every day. And in the area of medicine, a miracle is often simply a healing that takes place, that cannot be replicated or understood or explained. Something that cannot be backed by science, YET. But aren’t the most beautiful things in life often those that cannot be easily replicated, understood or explained?
So, here we are “living our program,” with more commitment, belief, passion and awe for Procovery than we ever had in the first place. And for anyone who knows us or Procovery, we already were pretty over-the-top in that department.
Next… I want to talk about hoops and chemistry.