The Unexpected Present

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Battle Stations, the Body Battleground

Three headed Hydra

If anyone has gone through SCUBA PADI certification, they may recall a momentary panic freeze being under seventy feet of water and having to pass a shared respirator (breathing tube) to another person in a potentially dangerous underwater situation. This is called Buddy Breathing. I assure you, there is nothing fraternal about it. You must trust that the tube will be passed in time as the trail of little bubbles escape from expanded lungs. The tail slowly ending before panic-stricken eyes.

It’s in their eyes – a deep concern on whether a trusted partner will see them through it all. Questions arise. Will they make the right decision, stay vigilant–because someone has to– who can they trust when there are so many opinions? Options? The right for refusal? so many complications? Yes, I know. Yuri is a complicated man.

That’s where we are, Yuri and I. Yesterday was the first day in two weeks when Yuri opened his eyes and recognized me. It made me so happy. I even said, “May the Fourth Be With You.”

Our penchants for puns make us laugh, smile, enjoy a Star Wars moment once a year. It’s forty-four years since Star Wars came out as a blockbuster in theaters. I took my three-year-old nephew to one of the first screenings. We both sat enthralled and rooted for the Wookie. The Heroes prevailed.

But Yuri wasn’t suddenly awake. He was brought out of heavy sedation, still intubated. Since the ventilator setting was lowered, the staff are testing whether Yuri can start working his lungs on his own. He needs to be aware that’s his job. As are the other vitals that he may have influence over. So, this isn’t an end-all. He’s not in any sort of recovery. This was just a prelude.

orchestral prelude: overture, introductory movement, introduction, opening.

It’s just starting. I finally came to the realization of what kind of battle Yuri and I are in. These small changes in his vitals are not improvements or recovery in any way. Not told in a way to make me think they were indeed improvements heading in a positive direction. I assume they are. Who wouldn’t? Who doesn’t think being off the medications that have regulated his heartbeat, cleaned inflammatory blood vessels, beat back infections now mean he is getting better?

Not so. They are setting the stage for what is coming next, the real battle. The Death Star. Darth Vader. The Monster. Vasculitis. What the doctors might have said was this– this is a two-set program. The first set is just a warm-up. Making sure we are all on the same page, instruments tuned and sorted to where they should be set and at their best.

This orchestra of vital signs was severely injured, overworked, depleted, and certainly not in their top form. But we can’t wait any longer for the second set. He’s a very sick man. We have to take the chance that Yuri will get through this somehow. I see this in his eyes. We are both afraid yet we have no choice but to face this prospect together trusting the physicians. It’s like trusting the generals in your army just before facing the enemy.

May is also a month dedicated to Mary, Mother of God who also has the role of The Holy Protectress watching over armies before their major battles. Virgin Orans of Kyiv image is one of the greatest sacred symbols in Ukraine, defending the people of the country. It has been called an “Indestructible Wall.”

Tomorrow, May 6, we celebrate Yuri’s Name Day – St. George the Dragonslayer. Christian churches use the Julian calendar, as well as most in the Middle East observe the feast of Saint George on May 6. Palestinian Muslims have also adopted the custom through the identification of the saint with al-Khidr.

Universal beliefs are welcome. We are grateful for all the prayers and good wishes from our universal family. Some big decisions will have to be made tomorrow. Yuri trusts me to do the right thing. I pray to God that I do. Bring on the Dragonslayer. May the Force Be With Him.

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