Bad News-Good News
By Sydney Gay Kislevitz
For the last fifteen years in Ajijic people ask me what happened to your leg? Why do you need crutches? By the time I was forty-five years old I had had two bone transplants, involving twelve surgeons and eight surgeries that failed, and this was happening in the peak of career that allowed me to travel the world. Each surgery required three months in bed, braces, crutches and a wheelchair. Twelve years of life, tucked to a wheelchair. Doctors in Santa Barbara, Los Angeles and New York said I would need this wheelchair permanently.
My wonderful husband, a comedic generous-hearted sort of guy, set me in his art studio with a tv screen half the size of the wall. It felt being in a movie house. He gave me Moonwalker, a full-length movie of Michael Jackson singing and dancing. I began wheelchair dancing. One day as Michael was singing “Billie Jean,” something in my spirit changed. I stood and began to make tiny foot movements in rhythm to the music. The next day I got braver and challenged myself to walk across the room, like a baby taking first steps, knowing I could fall any minute, I toddled twenty feet forward and twenty feet back to the wheelchair.
I held on to this miracle like a secret between me and Michael. Each day I got stronger. Then, a night came when I woke up at two in the morning and smelled something strange; the smell of death seemed to be coming out of my breath. Frozen with fear for myself and family—we had ten children, the youngest being three—I met with a trauma therapist who sent me to Saint Luke’s Limb Preservation Hospital, in Denver, Colorado, the last hurrah for patients when all else fails.
After being examined, I was told the bone in my right leg had completely disintegrated into a powdery substance and the smell I noticed was the dying femur bone. A ninth surgery was scheduled, hip to knee, the quadriceps for walking forward had also been permanently damaged. This information added fear and dread. That’s the bad news.
The good news is that before surgery number nine all my fear and anxiety disappeared in the most unexpected way. The surgeon informed me it was their practice to surround each patient with a one-hour meditative prayer circle and they wanted both me and my husband to be in the center of the circle. I never knew any doctors who did such a thing. What hospitals do this?
The circle—three surgeons, surgical nurses, anesthesiologists, and post-surgical rehab therapists—held hands praying for guidance, literally asking God to enter their hands, hearts and minds to perform with the highest intelligent care. This is a reality that cannot be adequately put into words. Although my eyes were closed, an electrified sweetness entered the room, and as this energy passed person to person, a golden spiral surrounded us, I saw a golden spiral. I saw fear spiral out of my body, spiraling up and up and out until it completely vanished.
On the third day of recovery at Saint Luke’s, my husband went to Red Lobster restaurant and brought a dinner to my bedside, a huge lobster with butter and potatoes. “Eat this,” he said. “You’ll get strong quicker.”
Somehow between the praying doctors and my fun husband, instead of failure, instead of three months in bed, I was walking in twelve days, back to work making breakfast, lunch and dinner for my family. I began to travel the world again. And here I am in Ajijic, walking one mile a day, making new friends, building houses. But that’s another story for another time.
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