For those who’ve read my history, you will know November 21st completes the seventh year of my visit to Ron at John’s Hopkins.  It was the day before Thanksgiving and my uncle, who lives in the area, drove me to the appointment, the contents of which he taped in order to ensure nothing would be missed;  I still have the tape somewhere.  The meeting’s result was Ron’s prediction, his answer to my question of approximately how much longer I would live, about his estimation of when I would die.  It was the second such estimation but more concrete, more credible.  Ron’s answer, five to eight years.

The meeting with Ron was something of an enlightening, sobering revelation.  In many ways it turned things upside down, it changed many of life’s paradigms.  The foremost thing that came to mind was the probability was now that I would die before my parents, that unfathomable thing for all parents, and something for which I harbor great fear when it comes to my son, particularly when he had his open heart surgery at two years, five months old.  The whole of my situation was a bit confounding, to me and to my family.  My father, in particular, who survived lymphatic cancer, an aortic aneurism and a trans-ischemic attack (analogous to a mini stroke).  Recent events suggest I will exceed Ron’s projection and by his own admission, I am far out on the ‘curve’, the statistician’s ‘normal distribution’  curve, which describes probabilities of, in this case, survival.  It now seems that at a minimum I will likely survive at least another two years and therein altering expectations, paradigms shifted and perhaps life’s order restored, expectations reset.

Nearly two weeks ago my father was hospitalized for a gall bladder attack.  Pretty standard by most measures but in his case, as someone approaching 81 years old, not quite the conventional.  When initially admitted the doctor said surgery would be scheduled for the next day, it didn’t happen.  The delay came with the need to obtain clearance from his cardiologist, because, along the way, my father also had by-pass surgery including the placing of a defibrillator.  By the time the clearance came, my father’s condition deteriorated, he began experiencing fluid on his lungs and weakness.  His release from the hospital came when the doctor decided to do a less risky procedure to place a drainage tube in his gall bladder.  The experience cost my father twenty pounds of weight and took a very active, confident, self-reliant person to someone now unsure and feeling very vulnerable to death.

Conversations with my older sister evolved from discussions of how well he was doing, his ability to drive to Baltimore to visit our aunt and all such things, to the idea of whether he was now able to live entirely on his own.  In some ways there exists basis for such conversations, in others perhaps they are premature, much like Ron’s prediction for my longevity.  Perhaps following his upcoming surgery for the removal of his fouling gall bladder, his prognosis will change, perhaps the conversations will change back to those prior to his recent trials, perhaps my longevity, my ‘predicted’ life expectancy will once again fall short of his; but, perhaps, just maybe, order returned, perhaps the expectation the child will outlive the parent restored.

Happy reading, happy thoughts and happy trails.

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