Many of us are familiar with John Katz, a writer and journalist whose work on technology and hi-tech culture has appeared regularly in Slate, Slashdot, and HotWired. Katz also writes on his own blog, Bedlam Farm, about dogs and plants, and the observations of someone interested in tending closely to the unremarkable rhythms of daily life.
In recent days, his journal entries focus on his brush with death, a recent heart surgery, and his reflections on what it means to be a man who is rendered weak by illness. Katz’s plain-spoken entries are transparent with fatigue, relief, gratitude, pain and worry.
From a recent post:
I have been home from the surgery since July 4. Today, my fitbitflex notified me that I have walked 50 miles in that time. But I hadn’t yet tackled Macmillan Road. Maria wouldn’t let me, and I was afraid that I might not make it, that I might still feel that sensation of gasping for air, or that pressure on my upper chest, gasping for air that never came. I was afraid to feel that again. The doctors have told me to walk only on flat ground for short distances, not to strain my heart. So I’ve been walking on flat roads, one or two miles at at a time. But I have been thinking Macmillan Road every single day, before surgery, after surgery, every morning when I wake up. I was haunted by that road. Maria kept saying no, it’s too soon. I was dreaming about it.
This morning, when I suggested Macmillan Road, as I have every morning, Maria surprised me by nodding and saying “sure.” I took a deep breath and was startled at how deeply I could breathe. Before today, it was too painful. I walked in smooth and easy steps right up to the top of that hill and road and right over it, I breathed even and deeply, it was sweet and sound, and I sailed happily and proudly right past the spot where I had to stop three weeks ago and on over the hill, farther than we had ever gone. I told my doctor about Macmillian Road, and he said I was just a walk or two away from dropping dead or suffering a heart attack.
The good news, he said, is that you are alive…
Katz’s entries treat the healing power of dogs, complications of surgery and diabetes, and the very slow path toward health after a medical catastrophe. We don’t get a much clearer view than this of the human experience of illness and recovery.