Friday, March 24, 2017


March 22. 2017


Even from me, Mr. Open and Honest,
there can be TMI.

This morning
I was heading to the toilet,
which is a big production.

On my bookshelf by my bed,
I noticed a urinal full of pee
still sitting there.

I said to Candice,
‘You should take a picture,
put it on the blog.”

Candice said,
“You want me to?”

I said, “no, TMI.”

Then Jackie and Candice
helped me stand up,
get to the walker,
and walk to the toilet.

As I stood up
the urge to go poop
overwhelmed me.

I pooped in my pants.

Jackie and Candice
didn’t know where to put me.
I ended up on the floor.

On the way
down to the floor
my right leg strained
but somehow I found myself
safely on my back.

In some ways
it felt good to lay down on the floor,
but I had no idea how I was going to get up.

Somehow Jackie and Candice
cleaned me up without making a mess on the carpet.

They made some phone calls
looking for a strong guy to help us.
Candice’s boyfriend, Tim, was on his way over.

Tim was able to lift me off the floor,
no problem,
up into the portable shower chair.
He carried me in the shower chair to the toilet.
He lifted me from the chair to the toilet.
He lifted me from the toilet to the shower.
He lifted from the shower back to the toilet.
And then back to the shower.
Jackie took over from there,
giving me my daily tooth brush, shave and shower.


The albatross of the day
is my new ventilator,
the machine that is supposed to help me breathe.

Yesterday, a nurse from Billings
came to help me.
I’ve had the machine for three weeks
and haven’t been able to use it.
With her help, I was able to use it
for fifteen minutes,
a small victory.
I’m supposed to use it eventually
all night long.
In the meantime, in order to get used to it,
I need to do it as long as I can during the day.
The machine blows air into my diaphragm
and helps stretch out my compromised lungs.

After the nurse left yesterday
I tried to use the machine five times.
I wasn’t able to use it for more than three minutes.

Today I needed to try again.
During my massage with Sara,
we tried again with Michelle helping.
I panicked immediately.
I had Michelle take the mask off.

There’s a lot of pressure on me
to succeed with this machine.
Jackie came into the room during my massage
to talk to me.
In tears she told me that the consequences
of me being unable to breathe better with the machine
is a tracheostomy, but more so
the family’s desire to have me stick around
for as long as possible.

I am losing my body,
my voice is weak,
my hands don’t work,
I can hardly lift my arms,
my legs are heavy.
I can still stand up,
I can still walk maybe ten yards,
who knows for how long.
I can’t imagine what it will be like
when I can no longer do anything physical.

I am still here,
I am Mark,
my brain has not changed.
I am who I am.
But, to live without a body…


Jackie tells me,
she compares my need to conquer the machine
to having contractions.
She tells me how much I helped her
during the birth of our three children.
She tells me my soothing voice
helped her achieve an out of body experience
during Micah’s birth.

Sara tells me I am a teacher.
Uses a tuning fork.
My massage ends.

It’s Jackie’s turn.

Michelle feeds me lunch.
Micah and I go for a walk in the neighborhood
with Tucker and Debbie who came to see me and have dinner.

No more TMI.

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