Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Eat A Peach

You know you're back in California when you wake up, pull a peach from a backyard tree, and eat it before jumping into the pool.

This paradise is the home of my longtime friends Janelle and Bobby. Right around the time Dave and I decided to give up our house and live a traveling life, Janelle and Bobby decided to focus on home. They wanted space to host friends, kids, and grandkids. They love to cook and garden and lovingly populate space with the perfect thrift-store find.

So they sold their Santa Cruz condo and bought this sweet Hollister house that rims a golf course--one of Bobby's favorite past-times. Talk about expert manifesters:  They knew they wanted a fireplace, and they ended up with three!

It's hard to imagine a better place to be right now as Dave and I navigate the medical derailment of our travel plans.  And yet a derailment doesn't mean an end to the journey; it's part of the journey, and we're already experiencing the incredible power of this detour. Much of the power is surfacing as serendipity, synchronicity, stars aligning--call it what you will.

Start with the fact that the other day our doctor friend Garry mentioned to us the name of a highly-regarded Stanford-affiliated Santa Cruz neurosurgeon, Dr. Ciara Harraher.  An hour later, Dave and I were sitting in the Santa Cruz office of my general practitioner. He was writing me a referral to a neuro guy when I said, "Do you know Dr. Ciara Harraher?"  And he said smooth as buttah, "I can write you a referral to her too, if you like."

Turns out my insurance covers her! Turns out she had an appointment available the very next day.  Turns out she specializes in the type of tumor I have and has performed many of these surgeries. Turns out she can do the surgery next Thursday, August 8.

I loved her immediately. Probably in her early 40s, she was kind and warm but no-nonsense. Wearing lime-green pants and a matching necklace, she vibed highly competent yet caring energy.  She reminded me of a number of my friends.  Her office is run by women, and in a subtle way it recalled being aboard the Piko Kai at this time last year--a woman-staffed dolphin boat in Hawaii. 

"Piko Kai" means "umbilical cord to the world." That's a comforting thought right now, thinking of how I'm being held in the warm womb of life blessed by the expertise of this surgeon, and the love of my family and friends.

Bobby and Janelle making peach and berry cobbler.
I was in awe of the vast world inside me when Dr. Harraher showed me images of my brain. It was easy to see the walnut-sized meningioma nestled into the left hemisphere in the "pre-motor region." She said that most of these types of tumors scoop right out, but that some are more adhered to the tissues.  So the surgery could take anywhere from 3 to 6 hours.  She discussed with me some possible complications but is pretty optimistic that things will go well since I'm in excellent health and this type of tumor is 95% likely to be benign.

Afterward, Dave drove us to the beach. We sat a few blocks from the house we'd left just a few months ago. Even though being with Janelle and Bobby is perfect right now, we knew that before and after my surgery, we'd need to be in Santa Cruz. We floated a few ideas, including finding a place to rent or staying in a hotel.

Santa Cruz
Then I picked up the phone and called my longtime friend Stacey who lives in Santa Cruz. We'd been playing phone tag all week; she was concerned and wanted to know what was going on. Just a few sentences into our conversation, she asked what she could do for us and said we could come stay. I was concerned because I didn't want to put more on Stacey's plate, as she's the mother of twin 11-year-old boys and she's preparing to teach fall classes.

But here go the stars aligning again! We'll get to spend three days with them. And then, right after my surgery, they happen to be going away on vacation. We'll be staying alone in their beautiful home, nestled in the redwoods. The perfect place for me to heal.

When we decided to live a house-free, traveling life, I hadn't thought about what might happen should one of us fall ill. After my seizure and brain tumor diagnosis last week, I've discovered the answer:  We have been enfolded in the loving arms of our friends.

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