Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Hall
Have you ever been asked to leave the classroom and go stand in the hall way? Or arrived too late and found yourself locked out of the room or placed you really wanted to be. But alas you find yourself on the outside. Nearly everyone it seems is on the inside. You’re in THE HALLWAY. (Cue dramatic music) You liked be in the room, it was nice in there. There were all your co-roommates. They were mostly nice. You even went to lunch with them. You were in the group and in the room. Life was good. I never really thought much about those that were not in the room. Surely they were enjoying themselves in some other room. I did a pretty good job thinking only about my room. They were my peeps in my hood. I logically concluded that folks in the hall were making a speedy transit to their next room. It’s like going from shop class to gym or the room with the pretty girl on the front row. The bell rings and everyone quickly moves to an open door. But did everyone find the next room? Were all the doors open?
Metaphorically speaking, one day the tardy bell rang or was I asked to invited leave the room I really don’t remember, but I do know that I have been in the hall a very very long time. I remember sitting outside the room in the hall like those folks waiting to talk to the bishop. In time I would confess my sins and step through the hall and in the door ready to embrace the comfort and peace that awaited me with the other good folks. Surely the door would open and I would resume my life in MY room. Time passed and I waited and waited. No Open Doors! Others passing by would say “try this room or that.” “Open doors are only down the hall just a little way.” Or “ things are better over there” they would tell me. “That room is looking for a person just like you” they would exclaim as they comfortably slipped into their next room. That looks easy I thought. Encouraged I ran to the next room and tried the door, Dang! It’s locked. No problem I have some time to try more doors and more and more doors. I knocked and no one answered. I tried the door knobs and they were locked. I yelled through the crack in the door and sometimes the people yelled back but I never got in. I was stuck in the hallway! Confused at the circumstances I found myself in I stopped and looked around and noticed I was not alone. There were others I noticed that had been there a long time too. But the most shocking observation was that my wife and child had been with me the entire time. It was nice that they were there. They gave me hope. And each time the door was slammed in my face said nice things to me and kept the hugs coming. But they also had been suffering in their own way in the dreary hall. It didn’t seem very fair. I had an expectation that I deserved to be in a nice room with all the happy people having a nice life. Well-meaning people who discovered our plight in the hall would carefully open the door to their room making sure to hold tight to the door and momentarily wish us well and put a few dollars in my hat as they carefully sipped back into their room.
I have prayed longer and harder than I ever have in my life to get out of the “hallway”. I have asked God to please don’t make me beg anymore. I wondered if I was not asking the right way. They scriptures would taunt me with the idea that the Lord stands at the knocks. (Was He in the hall too I wondered.) You know, “knock and it shall be opened, seek and ye shall find” “Consider the lilies…” If a man askes the Lord for bread does the Lord give him a stone? I cognitively knew the answers. But do I believe them with all my heart? I have thought often about the walls that seem to separate me from not just my fondest dreams but even the smallest wishes, like “where are my damn keys!? People say this will be a good bad experience. They’re are rooms I will never open again nor try to open. I am glad for these walls. Also many times I have thought or have felt as though the Lord has forgotten me out here in the hall. I wonder if Moses felt that way wondering for 40 years in the hallway looking for the door that would lead him and Israel to the Promised Land. Questions I have considered:
Is time in the “hallway” essential to my growth / salvation? Is it a component of opposition within mortality?
Time in the “hallway” seems absolutely unevenly applied to Gods children. Is that ok? Is that part of the plan? ( I must admit that simply being an American citizen and living a middle class lifestyle must firmly place me in a room fit for the fortunate. A third world man might feel permanently a fixture of life’s hallway and yet quite often I observe these “outsiders” are happy and quite content. Surely something to be learned here.)
What part does perspective and gratitude play in our spiritual survival within the hall?
Consider these scriptures I came across:
Isaiah 49:
 14 But Zion said, The Lord hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me.
 15 Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.
16 Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.
Think about that. God never stops thinking about our “walls”. He is always considering the obstacles to our righteous desires.

I want to share what I consider a sacred dream I had several years ago. I dreamed that I was making a speedy and rather reckless exit from my bed room. Out of the door I darted only to discover too late a rather large pile of laundry in my path. And of course, I fell on my face in grand and humiliating fashion. Almost the moment I landed facedown I began to hope that no one had seen me make such a fool of myself. From my crumpled position on the mountain of laundry I slowly raised my head hoping to find myself alone and free from mocking laughter. As I peered down the hall My eyes fell on a one bearded robed man about 7 or 8 feet in front of me. I instantly knew who he was. It was Jesus. Who He was became instantly clear to me. His face was pleasant with a small kind smile. There was virtually no reaction to my fall. There was no flinching or surprise. It was almost like he was waiting for it to happen. His gaze left me knowing that there was nothing in me He did not know or understand. Every rotten little thought and every life event was clearly in His view. And yet I felt a complete and penetrating acceptance and love. There was no long contemplative thought process that led me to these thoughts, it was instantaneous. As I looked into His face and eyes (as it was impossible to look elsewhere) I was left with one singular thought that has never left me. It was this: I had the most intense immersive singular desire to be exactly where He was, and at any cost. I awoke immediately after the dream and the details remained with me ever since. Was there a reason that this experience took place in the hall.
Perhaps we were never meant to stay in the rooms. Lehi left his home. Adam and Eve left the garden. Pioneers left Nauvoo. We left the presence of God to mortality. And Jesus left the tomb and entered into eternal life.
Where is it that we truly come to Know the Lord.  Consider what the Lord says to Nephi.
1Nephi 17:13  …. ye shall be led towards the promised land; and ye shall know that it is by me that ye are led.
 14 Yea, and the Lord said also that: After ye have arrived in the promised land, ye shall know that I, the Lord, am God; and that I, the Lord, did deliver you from destruction; yea, that I did bring you out of the land of Jerusalem
For Israel the manna was in the hallway.                                                                   (I have tasted manna; it has a Deseret label.)
 Here is where this whole idea becomes real to me. It is in the hallways of my life that my tears are shed and I have those moments when those same tears wet my sheets as I beg God to reveal his arm and have mercy on my family. It is many of those moments that I have come to know God by stepping out into the hallway and finding that He has been there all along. 
If you find yourself separated feeling alone, shutout and forgotten remember this simple idea: God is in the hall. The atonement has provided him a depth of understanding that exceeds any pain.  
The world has a great and spacious building that is full of rooms filled with people content with the temporal seen trinkets and toys that moth and dust doth corrupt.
2 Corinthians 4:
17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment [in the hall], worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;
18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
28 ¶Come unto me, all ye that labour [in the hall] and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light

This is a little proverb I wrote for Christmas in 2016
Remember cutting snowflakes out of paper when you were a child....

In the beginning we were all very precious but plain as paper. Not at all like our fancy mother and father. They were fancy times a zillion. They said “we have a plan for you to become fancy just like us.” “It will be difficult and it will require your faith and trust in us, especially when things get difficult.” Most of us agreed to the plan. What did we know; we were just plain squares of paper who wanted to be extra fancy.

So the Master crafter took us and began to fold us and bend us. It was kind of hard but not that bad. We thought this will be easy. A couple of folds and BAM! We will become fancy. “Not so” said the Master crafter and be took out His shears and began to cut!

 “What! “We exclaimed. He cut a little cut here and a little cut there. “Ouch” we complained. But He continued to trim…. But then came the deep cuts. They hurt a lot. This didn't feel like the plan at all. “No more cutting” we complained. “Please, please stop” we began to cry and beg the Master crafter. He reminded this was happening because he loved us. He said “this is the way I became fancy”. And then we began to notice.....the Master crafter had cuts in his hands and feet. They were very deep. But He didn’t complain. He said “because of my cuts you can know, that I know, just how it feels”. And we began to understand that He understood. And He continued to cut. Pieces fell again from our tattered and folded form. Sometimes it was hard to have faith that from all of this we would amount to anything.

When we stumbled and fell we became stained and spotted. We were ashamed at our appearance. But then the Master carefully cut away the stains with the precision of one who was personally acquainted with each stain. Did this cost extra we thought. The Master Crafter explained that He had already paid the price for each one of us, to have each stained removed.

This trimming and cutting continued over and over….and we endured.   Then one day He said "it is "finished" And He very carefully unfolded each one of us. ...one by one. And guess what… we looked just like Him. We were beautiful and looked just like our mother and father too. We were perfect and yet all unique. You might even say we had become holy. In the end, it was all worth it.

( times a zillion )

Here are some scriptures that go along with it.

Beloved, now are we the sons of God,
and it doth not yet appear what we shall be:
but we know that, when he shall appear,
we shall be like him;
for we shall see him as he is.
John 3: 2

Isaiah 53…But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers…
Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise …for he shall bear their iniquities.…and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

Isaiah 1:18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow…

Job 9:  17 For he breaketh me with a tempest, and multiplieth my wounds without cause.

Mosiah 3:  19 For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father

Jacob 5:  26 And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard said unto the servant: Pluck off the branches that have not brought forth good fruit, and cast them into the fire.
 27 But behold, the servant said unto him: Let us prune it, and dig about it, and nourish it a little longer, that perhaps it may bring forth good fruit unto thee, that thou canst lay it up against the season.

Thursday, July 3, 2014


Are we done yet?

After the last two years (outlined in my prior post) I was ready to swear off hospitals and doctors offices. It was like God was slow cooking me in the refiners fire oven. The tender timer had went off and I was ready to resume a "normal" medical issue-free life. The oven door was wide open and it was time to make my exit. I could see myself stepping out and heading down the road to good health. "Thanks for the repaired heart, foot and lessons learned" I would say to Master Chef. I wasn't rare, medium rare or medium, I was Well done. Then almost out of nowhere, the oven door shuts and I'm on the inside. Hey! Whoa there Mr. Chef, "didn't you read my last big ole blog post?" I AM DONE.
Last Tuesday evening I was having a lovely evening with the family. Christian and Liz had stopped by to visit bearing cupcakes. Then out of the blue I began to feel very cold. I started to shiver, a lot. No one else seemed to be cold. Heck, it was a warm June evening. Sweat began to bead up on my face. In short order I was quickly on my way to a severe fever and a trip to the ER. Christian gave me a very nice priesthood blessing and I was on my way. No need to look for my file, the ER was using it for a home page. (It was easier to reference that way.) Being a frequent flier at the hospital I got to move to the front of the line. I guess flirting with death has its privileges. The next few hours were some of the most uncomfortable moments I have ever had. My fever quickly shot to 104. My blood pressure dropped to 70 over 40 and my kidneys began to fail. Every cell in my body was screaming, "what the hell!" I was hot. Like you've been placed in the oven. (note nice tie-in to the prior metaphor) It was clear I had some kind of infection. The problem was the docs had no idea where it was coming from. So let the scanning begin. A CAT scan, x-ray, ultra sound, you name it. I was surprised they didn't lay me across the office copy machine for the little scan-o-rama. My hospital gown was dripping wet and it was time to accept the invitation to have a sleep-over with the nursing staff. (Really, not as fun as it sounds) Patty was wonderful as usual, being a veteran caretaker. She was my angel and my anchor.
They eventually started the heavy duty IV antibiotics. Patty eventually went home to finally get some needed sleep. Tethered to monitors and IVs it began to feel all to familiar. Cue the post traumatic stress. But the sun came up on another day, my fever broke and my salt free breakfast arrived (kaka). My blood pressure was still dangerously low. The nurse declared that unless it improved she would send me to the ICU.  Whoa there ...that place had a lot of weird memories for me. (see prior blog) I then proceeded to will my body to have a higher blood pressure. I say "NO" to the ICU. And sure enough enough my BP went up an hour later. The search for the infection continued. Later that day Patty noticed a large red area forming on the front of my leg. Ding Ding Ding! Clark, meet your infection. It was officially located via the "Patty Scan". ( My wife has mad skills) Doc Scooter then broke out the black sharpie and outlined the red area. I made him also draw a face on my leg. Custom hospital tattoo baby. Finally late Friday afternoon they cut me loose and the oven door cracked open and home I went. Three cheers to healing.
Am I done? It's up to the Master Chef.

Oh ya, my diagnosis: Cellulitis. It is a spreading bacterial infection just below the skin surface. It is most commonly caused by Streptococcus pyogenes or Staphylococcus aureus.

Friday, June 13, 2014

I was off to work like any other morning and my eyes burned a bit from the pollen in the air. My office (Sizzling Platter) was on the second floor of the Social Security building in Murray. I had worked there only three months. I climbed the stairs like any day. It felt like those stairs got longer and steeper each time I climbed them. Prior to then, it never felt like the workout that I was now getting. I was completely out of breath by the time I made it to my desk. My family has some history of asthma and I was beginning to think it was my turn. As I was not breathing very well Patty and I thought it might be a good idea to check things out with my Primary Care Physician. I met with a new doctor as the usual NA I went to was out of town. He thought a quick EKG was in order. (I had one 6 months prior that checked out just fine) “You never know”, they said. Within an hour (in other words, two days later**) I was on my way for tests on my heart (echo and stress test, the whole enchilada) Apparently, all was not well with the ticker. The next 48 (make that 12) hours quickly passed and before I had time to consider what was happening to me I was sent to intensive care and being prepped for heart bypass surgery. We weren't able to meet with the surgeon until 10 PM that evening. My wife, Patty,  and my brother in law Grant and his son Tres were there as  Dr. Cain explained my condition and what would take place during the surgery. He showed us a image of my heart pointing out the near total blockages in my heart. I was a ticking time bomb with congestive heart failure. The Doc said that I might not have survived another two weeks. When you suffer a heart attack due to a blockage in the "widow maker artery" you don't survive they say.  I had an uncommon aneurism just inches away from said artery. I was trying to stay positive. So what do you do when you confront your mortality...you crack a joke. The following morning Patty and the kids arrived prior to surgery. A mere 20 hours after testing began.  A nurse mentioned Dr. Cain would be applying a dressing following the surgery and I asked if it would be thousand island. "Take that, mortality"! 

(**Side note from Patty.  Dr. McVoy recommended further testing without mentioning anything other than something odd with his heart.  He scheduled the testing to be done at Alta View Hospital as there were no appointments available at IMC until the following week and he felt it needed to happen ASAP.  We continued to think it was asthma. We went to a Heaton family meeting the night before the testing. We went in for the tests and they immediately said something about a left bundle branch blockage. We had no idea what that even meant.. They did an echo to find that he would not be able to do the stress test as his heart wasn't strong enough for it.  Enter Liquid exercise.. Each test lead to another with the Dr. finally stating that this is congestive heart failure.. What the WHAT!  He told us to go to IMC immediately for further testing..  We were still clueless at this point and I asked if we should be concerned.. They said "No, don't be concerned, however, don't allow him to walk across the parking lot and do not let him drive!"  Cue sudden SSA on my part!)

I do not recall much of what happened the few days prior to my surgery, but I do remember the OR just prior to me going under. The surgeon Dr. Cain introduced himself again and reassured me everything would be ok. And as the anesthesiologist leaned over me and I glanced around the operating room and I considered this might be the last image I see in mortality. It certainly had been the final destination for others who had visited before. The room was cold and way too clean and organized for me to feel comfortable. I really was unsure what would happen to me. But for many others this was a journey they did not return from. Moments later my adventure began and my train left the station to places that were strange to say the least. No bright lights and visits with God. There are no rides like this at Disney Land.
I cannot tell you at what point, while under anesthesia, I undertook these “journeys” but I can tell you they felt very real to me.  I recalled them in perfect detail when I became lucid. I am not sure if these were inspired dreams, drug induced hallucinations or something in-between. I did believe even after I awoke that some things that I recalled had actually happened to me. I am also unsure as to when these dreams took place as I was unconscious for almost 2 weeks. Yet, it all seemed rather real to me.

First Stop: Black Box USA
I found myself confined in a dark black space. I was not comfortable and I panicked. I was not aware that I was in fact in a hospital having surgery or recovering from it.  I wrestled to remove myself from the space that seemed cube-like, maybe 8’x8’x8’. I could not discern if I had been in there for hours, mere moments or a week.  At one point I became aware of my wife Patty, my married daughter Chelsea and her husband Shawn. I wondered why they were allowing me to be confined in this space. As I heard them converse I wondered if I had been involved in some type of high-tech experiment perhaps located in some far off city or the Silicon Valley. I heard Patty’s voice calling out to me. I wondered why I could not respond or find her as I was confined to this small dark black place. I wanted to find her with all my heart. I wanted to get out. This was the cause of considerable distress. Finally, after sometime the cube opened slightly on one side and some light entered into my confined space. As I attempted to leave I became aware of a man who had occupied the same space as me but previously was unaware to me. He was dressed in black as if to assist in his concealment. He held my wrist tightly and at first would not allow me to leave. This feeling of being restrained could have have been a blend of the dream and the actual wrist restraints to keep me from removing the intubation tube wedged down my throat. I was completely unaware of my circumstances, medical condition, or past events, or my actual location. There was absolutely no real or actual point of reference I could discern. After a moment he released me and I became aware of many other sealed cubes arranged vertically over 60 feet in an array that faced a large five or six story window pane through which I could see a night sky, a campus of buildings, a distant city and my family far beneath me. As they waited outside for me, they seemed to be excited that I had been released. As soon as I was in their presence I heard them speak to me and then this event suddenly ended. This does not mean I awoke, rather it means, the circumstances relating to the dream had ended.  I also remember even seeing a high-tech logo associated with the company involved. I was determined to remember it. I have looked for it on the web since I have been home and have been unable to find it. Clearly this place doesn’t have a web site.

Next Stop: Victorian Hotel
I then was in a space that lacked some dimension and any vivid color. It felt spiritually very dark. It also appeared to me like It was in a turn of the century hotel with some ornate furniture and architectural trim.(The old Hotel Utah comes to mind or the hotel in the movie, Somewhere In Time.)  I again was unable to move or communicate with the occupants walking past me.. This was very difficult for me to deal with as I wanted desperately to not be in this place. Occasionally, people in period clothes would stroll past me and glace my way. They looked puzzled as to why I was there. I was puzzled as well. My field of view was quite limited and kept me from turning to much to the left, right or toward the ceiling. I was unable to move or rather walk from one place to the next. However, I was in several different rooms and halls. In each place a older wrinkled woman in very conservative black pioneer-like or Victorian clothing occasionally would lean over me and exclaim in a irritated voice “why are you still here? You can’t be here. You need to leave” She made me a bit nervous. She was rather uncomfortable with my apparent invasion of her space. She looked like any number of women I had seen pictures of on my family tree who lived at the turn of the century, old and unhappy. Finally, two tall men who could have been related to me came into view. They seemed to have a much kinder voice and gentle disposition. They leaned over me and gently said in a southern Utah accent “son, were going to get you out of here”. I was relieved to say the least. My coming resque and departure made the older woman relieved and happy, A moment later I was soon gone and off on another journey.

A Four-O-Clock Reservation
I found myself in a semi- outdoor setting. I felt I was close to death. To some extent my conciseness seemed outside my body and I could think very clearly but again had no ability to communicate with those that were around me. I heard others who spoke of my impending death. Patty was clearly discernible about 30 feet in front of me as she appeared to be discussing my dire situation with what seemed like a modern day medicine woman. The nature and appearance of this woman felt like a young version of my deceased grand-mother Dorothy Clark. She was dressed in a combination of both modern and traditional Indian garb. Her familiarity was both curious and reassuring to me. ( I have since learned that my grandmothers patriarchal blessing noted she had the gift of healing. Additionally, she fostered Cody Black a Navajo Indian. Her connection to our Lamenite  / Indian friends was considerable.) I could see a large red rock wall and sand near to where I lay, like you might find in Moab or Arches. There were Indian writings on the wall of the rock and other Indian artifacts nearby. It was a unusual blend of both modern furnishings and ancient props. I wondered where this place was and to what end I was there. I heard a nearby TV type broadcast (audio only) that discussed the features of this modern-day Indian reservation.  It was like I was listening to a documentary of sorts. Those who were aware of me seemed interested in instructing me in some of the general features of the reservation. Some of the details I do not recall but it appeared there was a strong relationship between these Indians and the Mormon pioneers that had crossed the plains. It was as if those who did not make it all the way to the valley and perhaps died were in effect adopted into to this friendly tribe. There were also some obscure references to Abe Lincoln and Joseph Smith. I recall thinking that remembering this reservation was very important. As I mentioned I was in a partially open space where there was a round clock that hung on the wall to my right. I remember that it was about 3:40 pm as my wife and the medicine woman talked. They wondered if I was well enough to continue living.  They mentioned a physician who would consult them on the matter and come to a conclusion at 4 pm.  I also was aware of a tribal bishop (a portly man, of short stature) who was nearby helping to comfort Patty.  I wondered how I could convince them that I wanted to live, however, I was unable to communicate this to them. I wanted to scream “I’m OK, please don’t let me die”. I was not totally sure why I was ill, only that my situation was dire.  4 pm arrived and my wife, the physician, the medicine woman gathered to evaluate my situation.  I felt I was ok and was desperate to persuade them that I was alive and wanted to continue living. There was some debate as to my condition. It was very frustrating. Finally, to my relief they concluded that although I was not looking well, but I would  probably make it. “Probably!” hardly a ringing forecast. Never the less, I was happy with their conclusion. It’s strange to me what role the time 4pm had to do with anything. I later found out that this is the exact time when my dad (Leon) had returned from the temple and gave me a fathers blessing. It was also when the family/ward ended a fast for me. I believe the 4 o’clock reference in my dream was a marker of sorts to connect my dream with something more profound.
I was told later that a troubled nurse (Ali) asked to remain in the room during the blessing. She was LDS but had never heard nor received a priesthood blessing before. She was evidently in tears following the blessing. I have come to the conclusion that events such as mine were not just about blessing and healing my life but providing a blessing for many many others as well.  My father also explained later that he had my name placed on the prayer roll at the temple. He was there when the prayer was offered and recalled that the prayer that was said referenced my situation precisely. My father is such a wonderful man who honors his priesthood and clearly played a key role in my survival. I'm glad he was there. I'm also glad I made the reservation.

Paradise (no, not that one )
I then found myself in a far more pleasant place but was still unable to move or communicate. I was laid under a canvas tarp outside in a tropical setting. It felt as though I was sent here to heal. To my left and right I could see tropical foliage and a cool humid breeze blew from time to time across my face.  I could hear Patty’s voice speak with an islander who was a nurse of some sort regarding my condition. I also heard Jerrea’s (my sister-in-laws voice talking with Patty. They spoke of the economic and medical needs of this small community. It was like my family was on a mission. I was proud of my extended family as it seemed they were assisting the locals in some way. Also, small beautiful native children would peek into the tarp to spy on me. They would giggle each time. which I rather enjoyed.  I also noticed a small spider monkey that darted across my bed. A young handsome native man also peered in (Johnny Lingo?). He was a medical professional who I thought at the time would make a nice husband for my sister Laura. I wondered while I was there and why Patty had taken me to such a faraway place to recover. I did not complain as I found my experience quite pleasant.

China Town Wisdom
The next place was rather odd. I was wheeled into what appeared to be a small Chinese noodle restaurant of sorts. There were Chinese characters and lanterns on the wall visible through the steam billowing up from the stove pots. A large man (whose frame was like my recently deceased father-in-law Grant) stood behind a counter and offered friendly council on how I might best recover. He was kind and I enjoyed his advise however, I do not remember any specifics. I was there at least twice. It was about this time I began to have some momentary consciousness. I could only see what was immediately in front of my face. Again I had no recollection as to my situation. It was like I was an infant child. My entire world was in my mind or the immediate space surrounding my face and head.
During that time I also recall David “Beeker” and his wife visiting. It was odd that I recognized him. He had lied about being related to me to gain access to the ICU. He cried when he observed how pathetic I looked. Sorry David.

The Dry Desert
I thought these journeys had come to an end until I seem to have found myself under a tarp in the desert. It was lonely and desolate with very few signs of life. In a nearly abandoned lot with discarded junk lay scattered about near an old poorly maintained road. The tarp protected me from the bright sun light and heat. While I laid there two or three rough looking bearded men visited me under my tarp. One man wondered why I was still there and the others wondered why I had been left there at all. I agreed. I also wondered when this train was going to take me to a more pleasant place that was familiar to me.
 Clark in Wonderland
There was a variety of other less profound observations I made that were clearly the result of pain meds during a semi-conscious state.  For example I believed I was in a variety of theme  rooms designed for little children at the hospital. The under-the-sea room was especially cool. One room had a cute cartoon image of a little girl in a rain slicker with her tug boat and little dog. Other rooms had a sci-fi feel that was unforgettable.  I even told my cardiac surgeon that I would be happy to design a room for the hospital once I was released. He smiled and played along. I had, in reality always had been in the same room in the ICU.  (how embarrassing) I also don’t think there is a thing such as Japanese ESPN. But I watched it all afternoon once.
Little by little I became more conscious of my surroundings. But even then the surroundings I found myself in seemed strange and very unfamiliar. At one point I believed I was being held against my will in second floor of a small clinic connected to a rundown strip mall. I understood that something medically was wrong with me but did not know exactly what. I was still intubated at the time and my wrists were restrained to the bed posts so that I could not remove my breathing tube. From time to time I belieed two “Asian” looking nurses that seemed too young would enter my room to adjust me in some way. The breathing tube crammed down my esophagus was very uncomfortable and caused me to panic and kick the bedpost wildly. I wanted the nurses to remove it. I would motion with my fingers still strapped to the bed rail, I pointed to my throat and pleaded with them through gestures with my restrained hand to please remove the tube. They would say we are sorry. I would become very angry and kick the bed posts as hard as I could. My thinking was that if I was obnoxious enough they would relent. No way. They wrapped the end of the bed with towels so my kicking would not make much noise. Looking back I suppose it was good that they sedated me from time to time.

At that time I did not know where Patty was, nor where I was. I wondered why she was not there. I was very distraught. I still did not understand what was happening to me.After some period of time I began to understand I actually was in a hospital of some kind and not a asian operated third world clinic located in a run down strip mall. I still restrained, freaked out and lonely. A nurse entered my room and said “I just talked to your wife and she’s on her way to see you. I thought to myself,” at last, Patty has found me!” Of course, she had been with me for some time. She had rarely left me. I cannot described how thrilled I was. She could take me from this awful place. I had no idea that the hospital I was in was the IMC right here in Murray. For a while I thought I was in a small facility near the Murray ice rink. I thought I was lost and Patty had found me. When she walked into my room grasping her clip board and smiling she looked so beautiful to me. It was one of the happiest moments of my life.
The following day or so they removed the breathing tube from my throat. Oh happy happy day! This was a really big deal. I suspect I was being less sedated as a result. On the day when they removed my breathing tube my mother, father, and Patty were there to visit. I felt so relieved, safe and loved. They gathered close to my bed and I held each of their hands. It was a very spiritual moment for me. It’s hard to explain. It felt as if I was in the temple. It was very difficult to speak. I wanted to converse but could not speak well. Patty gave me a pencil to write and a clip board. I was so weak I could barely hold the pencil in my hand. I wanted to write just two words. These words swirled in my thoughts over and over. Looking back it doesn’t make much sense but it seemed very clear to at the time.I grasped the pencil as best as I could rested the lead on the paper and told my hands to move as to form the letters that would spell the words. Nothing. Well, it looked like a chicken scratch. No letters, No words, just scratches. Patty was really patient. I am sure she thought He’s trying to write "I Love you" or our code for I love you, 831. Nope. I tried to write the words “Spirit Guide”. Why? I had no idea. Not a clue. I just knew I really wanted to say it. I soon was able to speak. But my kids said I sounded like Batman. It was a pretty good Batman I thought. Now if I could only get out of the bat cave. So in my best Batman voice I sincerely asked Patty why we had went to a Indian reservation. Because I thought we had really went there (as noted previously). Patty looked at me like “what the…#*^#@?” "Visiting the reservation" has now become code for our spiritual self flirting with joining the universe or severely losing ones focus.
 Still, one of the more difficult challenges remained. I was being fed through a tube. The ventilation had damaged my throat somewhat and had compromised my ability to swallow properly. The nurses explained that they could not risk any foreign liquid finding its way to my lungs. Thus, I was not allowed to drink anything, have a ice chip, nothing, nada, not the smallest drop. My lips became very dry, chapped and cracked. My throat and tongue were swollen and parched. The only relief to me was on rare occasions the nurse would wipe down the interior of my mouth with a small sponge with a minty flavor and almost no moisture. I remember this one nursed promised me she would give me the minty, spongy, lollipop treatment if my blood pressure was good. I have never understood the relationship between the two. Yet, I was looking forward with anticipation of the slight satisfaction this sponge might give me. All day I thought of it. The nurse took my blood pressure and walked away and I waited. and waited and waited... no minty moist sponge. More waiting and nothing. I was so irritated. I was so needy and thirsty. The nurse was beginning to really tick me off. She wasn’t having a good day either and I was thrilled about it. Promising a dying man the smallest smidgen of relief and the withholding it...well she deserved to suffer I thought. Not really. Well maybe a little. I just wanted a little relief.
I had a similar experience with a nurse I later referred to as “nurse fancy pants” who promised me ice chips. My mouth was sans any water since before I came to the hospital. I thought, Oh sweet and refreshing H20 how I love you. All that wet goodness melting the small desert found on my lips and throat. But…NADA! HE PROMISED!!! Never mind my heart problems. I want the damned ice chips. I told Patty, They’re abusing me here, I complained as I stared at a glowing sea plants in my magical room..  Of course, I was fairly delusional. In time, I got a Ice chip or two. God bless my ice chips.
I have would often think I was in a variety of rooms at the hospital. This was not the case. Just my little ole ICU room. One time I thought they had taken me into some kind of lobby. Like the one you might find in a nice funeral home. I hope there was no foreshadowing in that. I had no ability to see much beyond bed. This may have led to some confusion about where I actually was. While in the “funeral lobby” and member of the ward Dennis Bouley (sp?) visited me. He asked if he could read me the scriptures. I taught gospel doctrine in Sunday school and he said he wanted me to keep up. It was real nice to hear him read from the Book of Mormon. I needed to feel connected with something that was real. This was really nice did the trick for me although I’m sure I fell asleep while he read to me. I also found out he had come with bishop and gave me a priesthood blessing. I can’t exlain it but I was so very grateful for his visit. Dennis and his wife visited me at home a week or so after I came home. He told me that while giving me a blessing he had a distinct feeling that let him know that I had chosen to live. At some point I had made it clear to God had I wanted to live and my that desire had been granted. Good decision Clark.
 At one point, I thought I had been abandoned in a hall in a hospital located in St. George Utah. I remember how beautiful the sunlight was as it filtered through a nearby tree. Passing nurses would glance my way and comment how close to death I seemed. One said she thought that I had already died. I remember thinking “I’m not dead yet!”(Monty Python and the Holy Grail style) Then my sis Laura came to visit. I remember thinking, why did you come all the way down here in St. George? At least she had figured out I was alive.
Over the next several days the clouds parted and I began to see things as they truly are. Well kinda. I was about to be kicked off fantasy island and land on the biggest loser ranch. Time to walk. Time to be normal. But what’s "normal" had changed forever for me.

The Water
While in the hospital one of the largest challenges I encountered was the dietary restrictions. After bypass surgery while on the feeding tube I was not allowed to have any water or other fluid to drink or wet my dried and cracked lips (as mentioned before). As humidified oxygen flowed thru my breathing tube I desperately made futile attempts to have micro portion of condensation in the tube to fall on my lips. I would stare at the sink across the room and dream and scheme how I could free myself from the restraints and tubes that kept me in my bed. I wondered how I might steal the smallest sip of water. But to no avail. They finally told me once that I would soon receive a few ice chips. I think I cried. Then one Sunday, 3 senior LDS missionaries who had been assigned to the Hospital asked me if I would like to receive the sacrament. It was difficult to be separated from anything that connected me to my Father in Heaven during such trying times. I gladly accepted there offer. The missionaries proceed to sing a sacrament song. This surprised me. I felt the Spirit very strong. The sacrament was blessed and passed to me; one piece of bread and a  small cup of water. For a moment I had not considered this would be the first food and drink I had swallowed in 3 weeks. More than satisfying my thirst, I want just one more time to renew my covenants. I don’t think I had ever considered how spiritually satisfied it felt. I remembered how sweet the water tasted to me as it is quickly absorbed in my parched mouth. I have never had anything that was so satisfying spiritually and temporally. I am reminded of the following scripture:
John 4: 13 Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again:
 14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
 15 The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.
I repeat her request:” Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not”

 Nurses from Heaven
Can I just say that I love my physical therapy team and my nurses. They were very kind to me. One evening I had an accident of the poopy kind. Gross, I know. But what can ya do when you’re tethered to a million tubes and ya gotta go...bad. Unfortunately no time for a bed pan. I really felt bad that the two girl nurses on duty had to clean me up. They seemed very young. I might have been more comfortable with the Aunt Bee type: middle aged and motherly. So there I was out and total exposed to God the nurses and the world. The nurses were very kind and managed to leave me with some dignity. It was a humbling experience to be cared for in such a personal way. The care and professionalism demonstrated turned what could have been a horrifically embarrassing moment into a positive memory.
One night my mouth was very dry and I asked the nurse if I could  have a cup of ice chips. Most of the time they would leave the cup of chips on the table near my bed and they would scurry away.. This late night however, this nurse sat at the edge of my bed for close to 30 minutes (as if she had nowhere to be) and fed me every last delicious ice chip and just talked to me. It was nice to feel nurtured, succored and cared for.
One nurse who knew my brother Matt was especially kind. I could only have ice chips to eat as I was still fed through a feeding tube. I dreamed of Slurpees or a snow cone.  One night he brought me the cup of ice chips I had requested. But he had drizzled a very very small amount of orange juice over the top. Maybe a teaspoon. I nearly cried it was so delicious. He totally broke the rules on this one but it was worth it. The following day he managed to shampoo my hair while still being tubed up in the ICU. It felt great!
  I remember finally getting to venture a few feet from my bed. The bottom half of my bed dropped away allowing me to exit the bed with greater ease. However there was nothing easy about getting out of bed. I was still rather weak and was not all that sure my legs would hold me. The Physical Therapist and a few CNA’s (certified nursing assistant) gather at the foot of my bed as I sprang from my blankets and darted down the hall. (just kidding) My feet touched the floor, yes my old friend, the floor. We had been separated for a few weeks and there it was waiting for my feet to effortlessly glide across its surface. (as if, bahahaha) I walked a whole 8 feet. It felt like a mile. My PTs was very encouraging. I began to look forward to their daily visits. Each day I walked a little further with my bright orange plastic belt. Eight feet then twenty feet, and finally I walked the loop around the entire area in the ICU. There was a great sense of accomplishment when I made that final walk in the ICU with no need for my big plastic belt. It was then,I really began to start thinking or should I say, obsessing about going home. Next stop: the 3rd floor.

Goodbye ICU
They wheeled my bed to the third floor and there to greet me was Torg. He was a 35ish homeless looking CNA that wore mismatched crocks and scrubs you might expect a pediatrician to wear. (with rainbows and unicorns) This guy was great. He messaged my shoulders and was very very kind to me. Apperently he has quite the reputation among patients who have met him at IMC. I wonder if gets anything more than a pat on the back. If I was handing out awards, he would surely receive one. Anyways, there was so much to be happy about. I didn’t die for one. My wife was there. My brain was working “normally”. (well ya know…) I surely would be returning home in a day or so, I thought. Just in time to see my daughter Alyssa graduate from high school. mmmmmm…not so much. The evil buxom social worker lady glided in with clipboard in hand and declared that I would
be staying at the IMC Hotel and Casino on the twelfth floor for another two weeks or so. OR SO!!!! WHAT THE *&#@%^! Let the complaining and protestations begin. “I didn’t need rehab”I protested. I would get plenty of exercise strolling to fridge in my home for a delicious snack while basking in the glow of my attentive wife messaging my feet. A doctor finally had to come in and set me straight. Fine! I wasn’t going anywhere. At least Patty seemed relieved. I was angry and a bit sad. I wanted my life back and I wanted it now.
I stayed on the third floor for only three or four days. While there I could not help but notice there was man of Middle Eastern decent in the room next to me. He must have been from out of town as it appeared he had brought his entire family in tow. His teen aged children giggled and darted up and down the hall ways. These kids that were virtually camping in their fathers room. They were continually refilling there sodas and munching on burgers and fries near my room. I still had only ice chips to eat. The soda machine across the hall seemed to taunt me continually. The  chatter drove me nuts. I admit, I was not in the best of moods back then. I was very tired and really just longed to have a return to something that resembled normal. The international family fun fest finally left, hamburgers and all. I got to stay a while longer.
While on this floor Alyssa graduated from high school. I as was very sad about nor being able to attend. However, She came by my room in her cap and gown following the graduation ceremony. She was so cheerful. I was grateful it rubbed off a bit on me. I was so proud of her.
 (Cue The Jeffersons theme music, “’cause were movin on up, movin on up, to” the 12th floor, to a deluxe apartment in the sky…”.)

A Room with a View
They wheeled my bed at last to the 12th floor which was for the purpose of rehab. At some point during the operation or near then I had some kind of a stroke. The rehab visit was for the purpose of reversing any damage from the stroke. Yes, I was out of it for a couple of weeks but for the life of me I couldn’t get anyone to tell me what damage the stroke had done. (However, since then the stroke has been a convenient excuse for the purpose of explaining why I had forgotten to do something my wife wanted.) They removed many of the tubes and IV’s finally and they explained when I got there that I would be able to wear normal clothes like you might wear to the gym. One more step closer to normal and a sleep over on the 12th floor. Life is good. When I arrived I noticed some patients strolling around. This was very encouraging as I imagined myself doing the same. Soon after my bed was wheeled into my new room I was met by the head physical therapist/doctor and his PA (physician’s assistant). These guys were not exactly warm and fuzzy. They were a bit less than positive about my future in there high rise get away. I was determined to prove them wrong. They lifted the rails on both sides of my bed and informed me that under no circumstances was I to leave the bed. When I asked why and they said they had no idea just what damage had been done by virtue of my condition. Basically, I was quarantined to my bed. I told them I had no need for them to raise the rail. I hadn’t had trouble staying in bed since I was three years old. No deal. They insisted “we don’t know what we’re dealing with here”. Hey, I have an idea…..ask me. Or ask the legions of health care workers that I have spent 24 hours a day with. I felt trapped on my own bed. But hey, I can at least dangle my legs off the bed. Nope. Ok, how ‘bout one leg? Nope. Ok ok, just a foot. Nope. An alarm rigged to my bed would go off every time I thought of slightly breaking free of my mattress sized prison. When I penetrated the sacred air space outside my bed nurses would run in and scold me, proclaiming the evils of foot dangling. But hey, at least I had those yummy satisfying ice chips. Just wondering, is it ok to complain if God has just spared your life? I didn’t think so.
Family Reunion
My first night in that room under (the conditions described) was really rough. I had never felt such an intense feeling of claustrophobia. Sleeping was out of the question. Patty had gone home. I had such a dark and hopeless feeling come over me. I gazed a few city light I could see through the window across my room. My sternum hurt and I even managed to acquire a fairly painful tooth ache. As I laid there I became more and more despondent, panicked and claustrophobic. Still, no sleep. It was nearly 4 am and I began to cry. In desperation I quietly sang any primary songs I could recall. As I did, I started to calm down. A feeling of peace filled the room. I began to feel that I was not alone in the room. If this was real or imagined I do not know but I felt I was receiving visitors from the other side of the veil. I didn’t know they had visiting hours. Ancestors, grandparents, an old friend and even a former art instructor that I was close to in high school were there. I did not see them but I felt them. It was as if they had lined up outside the room each waiting their turn to say hello and visit. Filled with the spirit of peace I finally fell asleep. 

God bless the visitors
While on the 12th floor I was also visited a few times by my living uncle Charles (my mother’s brother). His wife Sally had a heart condition that required frequent outpatient visits. While his wife was being attended to he would come up to my room for an extended chats. He was especially interested in my thoughts about the “journeys” noted above and was pleasant and an exceptionally good listener. I remember falling asleep a few times as we chatted. When I awoke he was right there where I left him and we resumed our chat where we left off. About a year or so after my time in the hospital Charles passed away while working on his pioneer home in Farmington. His always expressed his curiosity about the Spirit World strangely enough. I wonder if his spirit knew something we did not. I wonder how he enjoying the reservation.
At one point the powers that be concluded I needed to be fitted with a CPAP mask for my sleep apnea. Having recently freed myself from a plethora of medical tubing and such I was not thrilled to reattach my body to anything. None the less, electronic nodes were attached to my body and head. The nodes that came in contact with my hair glued into place with gobs of icky sticky paste. After a night of almost no sleep the mask and the nodes were removed but the goo remained. Val lynn Bauer a good friend from the ward came to my room and washed and trimmed my hair and made me look and feel almost human. It really was great.
I can’t recall all the good folks who stopped by to say hello and wish me well however, I love and appreciate the time they spent with me. When I was unconscious, I of course cognitively unaware of them. Looking back however, I believe their presence helped. In many cases I asked if I could hold their hand. Yup, men too. I wanted to connect in a deeper way I suppose. It felt as though touching someone’s hand accelerated my healing in some way.

Rounding Third
The final days on the top floor were better than I expected. I was allowed to wear my garments and normal clothes. It took a long time to get dressed. It was worth it however. I liked the feeling of my tennis shoes on my feet. I began to feel more and more motivated. I loved being totally dressed when the PT came to get me early each morning. I had a change take place in my heart during the remainder of my stay. (no pun intended) I decided it was better to be a heater than a thermometer. Meaning, I would now choose to reach out and greet and be kind/warm to those who were required to take care of me, as opposed to looking inward sensing how “hot and cold” my situation was. Turning outward kept me from focusing to intently on my pain. Nurses and other staff seemed pleased to care for a patient with a generally positive attitude. It was a very small thing I could do to give back, perhaps not a bad way to live one’s life.
My body, well that’s another story. It was hard to exercise because I was so weak. But it felt so invigorating. I was convinced that the harder I worked the sooner they would release me to go home. Lance was my main PT and would take me out to the parking lot and have me walk on the uneven planted areas between the bushes. It was nice to be outside crushing the flowers I couldn’t avoid.  It seemed like every day some new type of therapist would visit with me or test me in some way. They were all kind and professional. The vocational therapist once gave me some huge salad tongs to help me wipe my buttocks. I will spare you any further explanation. A message therapist made me laugh. The speech therapist was in charge of getting me prepared to actually have food. I was restricted to ice chips because the inhibition tube that I had for nearly two weeks had compromised my ability to swallow. If I ingested anything but water and it found its way to my lungs I would likely develop an infection or some other nasty complication. So the speech therapist would come to my room and have me swallow one tablespoon of pudding. This was the pudding test. As I swallowed I thought “please O please, O please Lord help me swallow in the most impressive way possible. I wanted to eat and drink in the worst way. Soon I was able to have thickened drinks and such. When my children would visit they would get me a soda and then per nurses orders add a thickening agent to it. A thick Diet Coke. Sounds gross I know. But for me it was delicious. Two days later I graduated to regular. Oh the sweet bubbly wetness that cascaded down my barren throat. Welcome home mister soda, welcome home!. Next up, Lorna Doone’s and "food glorious food". You know the song. The nurse came by my room and handed me a small slip of paper, a hospital menu. A ticket if you will. A ticket to happy food-ville. I choose to “drive” lasagna street first. I suppose there have been many many nice prayers at Thanksgiving, thanking the good Lord  for the meal. But I am also sure no prayer was more heart felt than my prayer over my humble tray of lasagna. Not exactly gourmet but I loved it.
A very nice recreational therapist took me beyond the confines of my little world at IMC to lunch at Noodles and Company across the street. You cannot discount or overestimate the psychological benefit of this type of activity. It’s better than any drug I’ve taken my entire stay or any time since. Another step closer to home. Generally things went well on the 12th floor. It was still difficult to sleep. I only slept an hour or two at a time. In the middle of the night I would sit on the seat at the base of a window and off to the north at the city lights. Many nights I would watch the city as the sun came up. I missed Patty quite a bit during those times, although she was there quite often. There was a regular analog phone in my room and I would call Patty. We were very fortunate to live so close to the hospital. I would beg Patty to come see me early in the morning. I missed her companionship and kind way she listened to my concerns. She would come, many times and bring the kids. The girls would participate in my physical therapy by playing soccer with the in the hall way. It was way fun. I missed them so very much I began to notice that once or twice a day a song would play over the intercom and the staff stopped what they were doing and began to applaud. Someone finally explained that this was the 12th floor ritual for those who were “graduating” and finally going home. I became soooooo jealous when I heard the music. A nurse came in one day and said it was time to pick a song for my graduation. I selected the Beatles, Twist and Shout. I wasn’t sure exactly what day I would be going home. But I knew that it would be soon. So many of the folks that stay on the 12th floor had been there for so much longer that I and were in far worse shape. Seeing this helped me put things in perspective and appreciate just how fortunate I was.
Home Sweet Home
When I finally left after about 8 days or so, I was told my stay was one of the shortest they had ever had. The day I was to return home finally arrived. I took my final lap around the 12th floor to the music twist and shout. The PT’s stopped and clapped. I tried to “twist” and nearly crashed and burned. Finally I was off to my home and family. Funny thing, I could not remember what my house looked like. I could remember my Rose Park home but not my Murray home. I’ll never forget turning the final corner and seeing my home at the end of the street. The yard was perfect and the flowers were blooming and I was crying. I was completely unaware of the small army that had come to the aide of my family. The interior of our home was cleaned. Many many meals were brought. Front steps repaired and rail installed. A car was donated and the yard was manicured and planted. My salary continued, Prayers were spoken, blessings were given, Blogs written, love extended and miracles made manifest.  A virtual mountain of blessings were laid at my door. I wonder when we finally return to our Heavenly home, if we will see a similar scene when we turn the final corner of our life and look to the end our the street and see our home and family waiting for us. Was it worth 14 hours on the O.R. table, Double bypass surgery, A repaired hole in my heart, stroke, cascade organ failure and a trip to the reservation. A journey worth taking? …I say ”all Aboard!”

…where the Dear & the Mantalope play
My first night home Patty and I held hands the entire night. The world has a way of defining intimacy, holding her hand that night was the way I choose to define it.

Living in Montana
They tell me I had a stroke during my operation. This explains why the team at the hospital wanted me to go to rehab on the 12th floor. When I asked the doctor what damage had been done he explained that your brain is like a map of the US. The very critical portions of your brain are like Los Angeles, Chicago or New York. The damage to my brain they say was minimal. As if the damage took place on the plains of Montana. Now every time I make a bone headed mistake Patty get a kick calling me a new nick name “Montana” I wonder if they have Indian reservations there.

Heart surgery left me with some major scars on my body. They all required bandaging each evening (thanks Patty) along with debridement twice a week at the old LDS hospital. This is a process that requires a scalpel to scrape (yes, I said scrape) the wound to encourage cellular activity and healing. This process was painful in the extreme. Many times I would cry during the procedure as Patty held my hand. Occasionally they would nick my main radial nerve. This easily qualifies as the most intense pain I have ever felt. This nerve is in the exact place the Savior had nails pierced through his wrist. I cannot comprehend how he bore the pain. My wounds included two large and deep bed sores on my buttocks and two long incisions on each calf and near my knee. (This is where they unsuccessfully attempted to harvest veins for my heart.) The bed sores on my buttocks were treated with a medical grade honey. My children thought this was rather funny and gave me a box of Little Debbie Honey Buns for father’s day to mark the occasion. Often Patty would take a photo of the offending butt cheeks and show it to me so that I could monitor the healing process. She then would delete the photo. Well…most of the time. Sometimes the kids would pick up moms phone to thumb through the photos. (Cue screaming children tossing the phone across the room) My battle scars included a 13”long deep scar along the underside of my right forearm where the harvested a radial vein for my heart.  To this day my 4 year old nephew Ryan believes this scar came from an attack a singled clawed bear. A long scar along my sternum with three circular surgical insertion ports just below the incision. I have named them the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria, as they assisted me in my journey.  

Charcot Foot
Charcot foot is a condition causing weakening of the bones in the foot that occurred in my foot as a result of significant nerve damage (neuropathy). The bones are weakened enough to fracture, and with continued walking the foot eventually changes shape. As the disorder progresses, the joints collapse and the foot takes on an abnormal shape, such as a rocker-bottom appearance Two months after I returned home my right foot cartilage dissolved at the Liz Franc joint (arch). This required major reconstructive surgery. My podiatrist, Clark Larsen, basically emptied a hardware store into my foot in order to reconnect the loose bones. I could not put any weight on my right foot what so ever and thus was required to use a knee scooter for 4 months. I admit there were times I thought that this was a bit unfair as God had just put me through a rather difficult medical challenge a few months earlier. I couldn’t even climb the stairs to get into my house. But dad built me a wooden prosthetic device I strapped to my leg with a bungee cord to assist me in climbing stairs. ( It’s nice to have an engineer for a dad) Patty also had the additional burden of chauffeuring me everywhere I went. This woman rose to the occasion and magnified her calling as a wife and friend so completely it is difficult to describe. Through these many ordeals there never was a single complaint at any time. Her positive attitude throughout was impressive to say the least. I am a blessed man indeed.

Oral Surgery
In August 2012 I had major oral surgery where all of my lower teeth were extracted. My diabetes and soft enamel led to what resembled a war zone in my mouth. It’s time to bury the dead and play taps for my teeth. (Goodbye teeth, goodbye beef jerky and nuts.) I now use a full upper and lower denture.

ICD Implant
On a fairly regular basis I would get a heart check up at the heart failure clinic. On one occasion I received an echo (echo cardiogram) An MRI for your heart, if you will. They evaluate what is known as an ejection fraction. Ejection fraction is a measurement of the percentage of blood leaving your heart each time it contracts. During each heartbeat cycle, the heart contracts and relaxes. When your heart contracts, it ejects blood from the two pumping chambers (ventricles). When your heart relaxes, the ventricles refill with blood. No matter how forceful the contraction, it doesn't empty all of the blood out of a ventricle. The term "ejection fraction" refers to the percentage of blood that's pumped out of a filled ventricle with each heartbeat.  Normal percentages are in the neighborhood of 60 to 70 percent. In the hospital I was as low as 15%. At the time of the test I had only improved to 35% As a result a pacemaker/ defibrillator was implanted in my chest to regulate heart rate and provide a safety net for my heart. My heart rate is almost always 60 bpm. In the event of a heart attack or Afib I can receive a mild or severe shock from the device to restore a normal rhythm. The heart rhythm specialist can receive a RF signal that will tell him what my heart was up to at any time on any day or night. I asked the doc if I would have to let him know when my anniversary was…..if ya know what I mean.
While driving home alone from Idaho on business I noticed a floater in my eye. You know those squiggly semitransparent worm like things that kind of dance on your eye. But this was no regular floater. It was very big and rather black. It appeared to slowly leak into my field of vision as I barreled down the I-15 freeway. The sun was also setting. Within 30 minutes it was like I was trying to look though a gravy covered window. Thanks to God I was able to exit the freeway before killing myself and others. I was completely unable to drive. I called Patty and I was soon rescued by one of her “fly-ladies” in north Ogden. Off to the ER I went.
They diagnosed a vitreous hemorrhage in my right eye which made me completely blind in that eye.. Three surgeries later (including cataract surgery) my eyesight was restored.

 3rd Degree Burns
In mid-December 2013 it was getting quite cold in our drafty TV room.  Everyone had gone to bed and my feet were a bit cold. I thought, Hey I’ll just lay here with my feet near the face of our super powerful space heater. I fell asleep. About 2am Patty came back to the TV room and told me to go to bed. Nothing unusual here. She tells me to go to bed most every night. With left foot near a space heater and the diabetic neuropathy in my feet, I had previously diminished any sensation in my foot.  I learned that I was being “cooked” by the space heater while I slept. My wife woke me saving the amputation of my foot. More work for the podiatrist and more debridement. After 6 months the foot is completely healed. If I was a super hero I might be known as the Hobbler. I can leap tall medical bills in a single bound.

It's been quite a ride folks. There should be some grand conclusive statement that summarizes the two years of lessons learned. But that is a blog for another day.
I'll leave you with a statement by Paul to the Corinthians:

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.