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We spend our lifetimes finding systems that work and then try to practice them as we make our way. When those systems are no longer feasible due to age or disability, we are faced with a constantly challenged survival reality that can no longer rely on “the usual” and requires constant adaptation through changing choices.

Life offers a constant array of momentary choices.  Some are easy to make and some take a long time to consider.  Seems like each choice tells us how long it may take, since waiting until it becomes absolutely clear is the first rule in choice making.  What we eat for dinner depends on what we have or can easily rustle up.  Hunger urges a quick decision. 

How we take care of other pain requires knowing what is causing it and the expertise to help it go away or ease.  Sometimes we consult the medical professionals who give us necessary information, sometimes we apply what we have learned from having lived in our particularly unique body for some years.  When remedies fail and the experts say surgery is necessary we give in and hope for the best.  But when one doctor says one thing and another doctor says another we remain in a kind of limbo of pain until we finally decide to go with the one promising to free us from that pain, even though another fears we may not be strong enough from their perspective to endure the rigors of surgery.

So it has been with recent months of increasing shoulder pain from a seriously arthritic shoulder joint.  In early 2023 my trusted shoulder man read the X-rays and MRIs and CT scans to conclude the joint was completely shot and a total replacement was my next choice to become functional and pain free once again.  Cortisone shots helped initially, but then no longer worked.

At the same time my cardiologist diagnosed an aortic aneurysm which was stable, but at risk of rupture. This was a painless, silent threat that did not impact on my day to day function.  He was suggesting open chest surgery to repair it.  So I was caught in what I called a mobius strip of ‘can’t do one because of the other.’  

In recent months the shoulder pain has become constant and I no longer sleep because of it, so I have decided to risk the heart problem and have the shoulder fixed.  My choice has been to do the shoulder first since the loss of the use of my left arm has hugely impacted life and there is no way I could recovery from open chest surgery in this shape.

At 81 I guess all procedures are risky, but this one seems to be highly so.  To me it is worth the risk, but the heart may not be strong enough to get me through.  It has taken me many months to come to this choice, but I begin the process with my cardiologist on April 1st so he can sign off on the shoulder procedure which my orthopedist is ready to schedule asap.

Somehow I felt to inform those of you who receive “Brief Comments On Now,” this was to be my next challenge.

In hopes it will not be my last I send gratitude to all and a promise to exercise acceptance and patience in what may be a blessed recovery.  My trusted assistant Emma Rose Brown will keep you informed with updates.

See you on the other side, God willin’ and the creek don’t rise.


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