21 July 2007

A Personal Message

My dear Friends and Readers,

Several of you have e-mailed me wanting information about my health problems. All of you know I had a major stroke in April, 2006, and flat-lined twice. I have a genetic blood disorder that causes blood clots. I have had clots over the years several times with no real damage to me until a heart attack in 2005. But I have to take a blood thinner, warfarin (Coumadin) for the rest of my life to prevent further clots. Blood clots cause heart attack in the heart, stroke in the brain and death in the lungs.

What I haven't talked about is another congenital condition, a malformed aortal valve in my heart. I have known that sooner or later, I would need surgery for that. Well, sooner or later is now. My doctors say that my heart will last maybe three months without the operation.

Here's the problem: they would have to take me off the warfarin to perform the surgery. There is a very high risk of more blood clots then, causing stroke, heart attack or lung failure, any of which, in my condition, has a high mortality rate, ie, I would likely die. At the very least, I would be completely incapacitated.

I have chosen not to risk permanent, massive disability and to forgo the surgery. Lilly's father had a massive stroke; I watched him lie in bed, unable to eat, talk, move, communicate, unable to do ANYTHING, yet fully conscious. There are many definitions of hell. Surely this must be one of them! I refuse. I am a warrior, not a thinking vegetable.

That said, please don't write me off yet. The medical profession has pronounced me dying since before my birth. At my last stroke, they told my husband there was no hope, to make funeral arrangements. But, hey, I'm sitting here typing this.

I am not afraid of dying. Perhaps it is my upbringing, my beliefs, or my experiences of flat-lining four times in this one lifetime. (An interesting experience, I suppose, but I never saw tunnels or lights or ran into God, or even Guru Gobind Singh Ji. I did , I think, once meet up with a nihang and once with a nurse and once with another personage, who will here remain nameless.) Whatever the reason, Old Man Death holds no horror for me, in fact, it would be a release from constant physical pain.

However, I am not ready to die. I refuse to die in a hospital bed with weepy people gathered around me. Mai insists on dying fighting. I was born a fighter. I have lived a fighter. And I insist on dying a fighter. I still have a few things to do. I want to finish editing my 1984 journal, for one. And, of course, I want most of all to die in righteous battle as a shaheed.

My one fear of dying is how some people who love me will react. I saw my husband fall completely to pieces for 18 months when a son got killed in a car wreck. If I had not been there, practically force feeding him, shoving him out of bed, pushing him into the bathtub, etc., I doubt he would have survived. He is still horribly dependent on me emotionally; if I were to die, I'm afraid of what would happen to him.

I am almost as afraid for a young lady I have come to care about very deeply. She is 14, which is a very emotional and vulnerable age. She has already had too much tragedy in her life and, God help me! I don't want to add to it. I have told her not to mourn for me while I am still alive.

So now you have it. I hope this hasn't been too dry and personal. Again I tell my doctors what I have told them many times before: 'You have no idea who you are dealing with.'

Whatever happens, it is the Hukam of Waheguru and I accept that without hesitation.

Love to all,