a journey to Ireland

Dr. Timber Gorman's Cataract Symphony

October 20, 2015

Tags: cataract surgery, fall colors

At Mt. Desert Island hospital I'm lying on the operating table on my back. The operating room orchestra starts out like this: bing bing bing bing--a regular beat. Pretty loud. Like something you might hear at a gambling casino. That's my own heart beating.

But to back up a bit, while the orchestra is warming up, I overhear in the pre-op space next to mine, on the other side of a curtain, a nurse explaining about colonoscopy. A lot more information than I needed to know. After she explains about the polyps and the gas (which is normal, says the nurse), I ask my nurse to take me for a little walk.

Then I'm rolled into the operating room. Rachel is my guide across the River Styx, which means she's the anesthesiologist. She knows me quite well and so she will give me zero to minimal dosages of anesthesia, for the most part. She knows I can calm myself with yoga breathing.

I'm a little surprised when Rachel says, in her Virginia accent, "Savitri, I'm going to put you to sleep for about 2 minutes." I found out later that this blank-out moment was because Dr. Timber Gorman needed to give me a shot that I probably would not have wanted to be aware of for the time being.

Rachel says, "Okay, Savitri now it's time to do your yoga breathing." Then Rachel holds my hand, while Dr. Timber Gorman begins the surgery.

Soft background music is a bit like Nat King Cole, but it's not. Dr. Gorman says to the male nurse, a few times, "Go easy on the irrigation." The man giving the irrigation coughs once. I can almost see Dr. Gorman giving him a look. Not that coughing is a bad thing, but maybe it is in the operating room.

A robot speaks now and then, giving directions. It's a female voice. Similar to Hal's in "Space Odyssey," only I don't think this one has designs to take over.

Now and then I hear a sort of rumbling gurgling, like a horse bubbling its lips. I have no idea what it is.

There's an airbag wrapped around my arm that swells and shrinks, with soft breaths. That's the blood pressure machine.

All the while there is an intense white light shining into my eye, and some activity going on there. I know Dr. Gorman is sucking out my old lens.

After a bit, Dr. Gorman asks in her gentle, calming voice, "How are you doing?" "Fine, but I need to clear my throat, is that okay (I'd been told not to move)?" "Yes, that's fine." I clear my throat. Dr. Gorman says, "Okay. Moving on."

Bing bing bing, bubble lips, Nat King Cole, robot woman, BP air bag, Dr. Timber Gorman 2 more times asking how I am and then "moving on."

After the third "How are you doing?" I ask "How much longer?" "Not long. I am about to put in the new lens."

Then it's over. Bright light off. Dr. Gorman smiling. I say, "Rachel holding my hand is better than any anesthesia." And then I say "Thank you," to Rachel, to Dr. Gorman and the two nurses, one male and one female.

With bandage over my eye, I'm rolled into the same room as the pre-op room only now I'm post-op. There I'm given melon and pineapple to eat, and orange juice, and a hot gluten free blueberry muffin. I'm quite hungry.

My neighbor drives me home to sound of Simon and Garfunkle.

The next morning very early, still a bit dark out, with my glasses propped over the patch, I drive myself to Dr. Timber Gorman's office, which is no where near the hospital. As soon the nurse Cathy removes the patch I see very clearly. The world has turned quite bright, and even brighter after the second eye is done. I feel profoundly grateful. And I'm lucky because it is fall season. Colors are brilliant and splendid.


I marveled
at that light,
and grasped it,
and brought it up to the sun.
I laid hold upon it,
and will not let it go.

--Makeda, Queen of Sheeba




Fall Has Arrived

October 15, 2015

Tags: red, orange, yellow, gold, green, tan

A cool crisp walk along Eagle Lake. The beginnings of Fall. An arrow of geese overhead. Water lapping.


Gamble everything for love,
if you're a true human being...
Half-heartedness doesn't reach
into majesty.

--Rumi

Circle of Love Inside Prison Outreach

October 9, 2015

Tags: Inmate connections. writing letters to prisoners, shadows of society

My absence since my last post is due to the fact that Amma has given me an enthusiastic thumbs up to assemble and edit a collaborative book about Amma's prison outreach program, Circle of Love Inside. Riveting accounts of volunteers' experiences will be featured, along with inmate poetry and art.

The letter-writers' stories will reveal information about prison conditions, inhumane and racial. Quotes from inmates will give life to the authors' narratives. The Circle of Love Inside book will present a vital message to the world about those living in the shadows of our society, and about inmates' lives before and during incarceration. Tales of redemption are found in the ways spirituality helps prisoners find peace behind bars.

One of the inmates I write to has this to say about receiving mail:

Next to visits, mail is gold in prison. You should see the men who wait with expectancy to receive something, only to receive nothing from no one. It breaks my heart daily to see the reality of the abandonment of priceless human souls that just needed someone, anybody, in their corner.
—Apollo, Inmate in a California prison

The Circle of Love Inside personal accounts will show how writing letters to prisoners can be life changing for both inmate and person on the outside.


Don't be discouraged by your incapacity to dispel darkness from the world. Light your candle and step forward.
—Amma



Selected Works

Editorial Services
Are you writing a book or a magazine article? A musical? Do you need help with your story-line? Your character development? Would you like a little coaching on creative writing skills? Fiction or creative non-fiction--I'd love to work with you.
Books
A six-stage journey with the Great Mother, framed by Savitri Bess's own years of devotion to the Hindu mystic Ammachi (Mata Amritanandamayi).
A coming of old age story. A magical realism novel of mystery, romance, goddesses set in the village of Southwest Harbor, on the coast of "Downeast" Maine.
Adventure, romance, in the tradition of quest literature. A fast-paced story set in the Sonoran Desert where coyotes play a magical role.
Magazine Articles
An astrological study using mythology as metaphor
handmade books
Hickory Stroogle, a fantasy story set on an island in the Hebrides (long before the islands were known by that name).

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