Under the knife

We’re actually up at the moment of which it seems to be the point of this story. However, looking at the whole, it is of course about so many other things than the actual surgery. It would be correct to say that the operation spurred a whole slew of other things: Other obstacles, gains, wins, growths, pits of despair, frustrations, moments of happiness. I will stop before I start sounding like a cheesy self-help book (of which I have read plenty.)

MORTALITY
I have several friends or acquaintances who, either have been through or are dealing with, serious health issues. My experiences have put me in touch with what that can mean, and I feel a special kinship with these people. Mortality is a hard, new reality to run up against and to honestly realize that our time is limited. At a certain point, no bargaining can change that. I always felt like any situation was negotiable in one way or the other. There was always a way to either negotiate with somebody to still get to do/experience/have whatever was at stake. You take some losses, but still get to play. You find a new route to it.


With mortality, there is not yet any negotiating. It does not matter what I pull out of my hat, how many losses I am willing to take, how much a promise. It’s a fucking end wall. To me, that is one depressing thought. And when I have thoughts like that, I have to find a way out.

ALIEN’S EYE VIEW
I just started following NASA, and some Space X related accounts on Instagram about a week ago. They popped up as suggestions, and I do think that stuff is fascinating. I figured it’d be an easy way to follow what is happening in that space (sorry for that unintended pun.) The other day there was a picture from one of the windows on Space X, showing a gorgeous view of Earth. Big fat clouds were swirling around it. It was the kind of back-out-from-my-personal-life that I find restful to look at when stressful thoughts close in too much on me. Back up, up, up. Get a bird’s perspective and see how small I am. How little we all are. How everything I do here, stress about here, is so tiny when compared to the big whole. Of course, you can tip over to the other end of the spectrum and, for the same reason, feel like nothing that you do indeed matter. Luckily I don’t have that problem. But if you do, I wish you the best of luck and advice you to talk about it with your friends. Or see a therapist if those thoughts get too overwhelming.

THEN WHAT?
We don’t yet know what happens after we die either, so that is a whole world to explore in itself. It would be a great kicker to find out that the real party is happening on the other side of that fearful passageway. Similar to life, when you struggle to avoid something that seems scary or wrong. Only to discover that even if that something was as bad as you had imagined it, it got you to a better place afterward. A place you would never have gotten to had you not gone through the terrible experience you were just forced through. I guess I can’t stop sounding like a self-help person, no matter how hard I try. Maybe I’ll start a sect of some sort.

Anyway, thank you for coming here and reading this.
Big hugs,

Stefan

Check in time…

Howdy folks,

This week contains the 300th frame of this comic (the one pictured below). Pretty crazy, and it feels good to have produced so much work.

We are finally coming up to the time of the actual main surgery. I had no idea it’d take this long to get here telling this story, and going back reading previous episodes I feel like I was rushing through in some places. I  look forward to editing this whole story for the making of the book. The process of making certain parts more clear and add frames here and there.

0300_iLeftMy checkinOn another note, I currently read a book called “Monty Python Speaks.” It’s a book where they are asking questions to all the members of the group on different subject matters throughout their career. I get the impression that the answers were collected individually and at different times. I am a big fan, so it’s exciting for me to read about their creative process, the making of their TV shows and movies, how they developed together, and how they eventually grew apart. I love reading about other artists’ processes, their ups, and downs. Two things that I am always very interested in learning about are

1. How do you finance your work on your projects: do you work a bill paying job? If not, from where did you get money?

2. How do you find the time?

Needless to say, those are two of my ongoing challenges. If you work a job, it’s harder to find the time when you have the energy to work on your projects, and it’s not getting any easier as you get older – trust me! If you also have a family, to find the actual time can get very tricky too. I also realize that if I am being very determined about doing the hours and sit down or, in the case of music, go out to my garage studio, I feel guilty towards the kids! “Oh man, I should spend quality time with them instead.” I guess something has to give and one has to find a right balance and the process of that can get frustrating, to say the least.

Anyway, enough of my bitching.  Again, thanks for stopping by and reading this. I very much appreciate it!

 

 

Family closeness…

This week talks about family closeness and more time in temp housing. Somebody had to be with me at all times to make sure everything was ok. I was lucky to have my mom come over to the US to help out. Christine had to be home with the kids for most of the time, but, thanks to all the unbelievable help from her parents, was able to come down so we could be together here and there.

I can’t imagine how overwhelming it must have been for Christine and my mom. Christine had to hold up the fort at home, deal with the kids and take care of all the communication and practicalities. My mom who was 69 at the time and had trekked over here on her own. She had to deal with the crisis situation in a foreign country, in a second language, and drive me back and forth to the hospital, to the pharmacy or wherever I needed to go.

0236_iLeftMy family closeness

Staying in the same room, 24/7, for close to three weeks offered some precious quality time. We talked about our family, old adventures, growing up, my mom’s life history (which is interesting to say the least) and a bunch of other random things. Needless to say that kind of extended time together never happens anymore. With anybody. At the same time, it also awakened the good ol’ parent-kid relationship full force and there a few big blow-outs, sometimes with yelling and tears. It all ended well though and I am certainly lucky to have the families I have around me.

Thanks all for stopping by and reading.

Walking is it.

Hi all,
This week’s episode is about getting into the new routines in the three week stay at the temp housing. It was one step closer to being back into normal life and there were many new routines to get used to, to not forget (!) and, therefore, be nervous about: taking the meds, keeping the LVAD batteries charged, change them in the right order, not getting caught with the chord that went in through my stomach and up to my heart to the pump/propeller that was attached to my heart.

I_left_my walking route

Walking was a central part of recovery and boy, did I learn every millimeter of that walk. I consider myself extremely (!) lucky to be able to be where I was though. Sure, it was a bit of a drab business hotel close to the highway, but it was peaceful, the staff was very nice, it was right by a slough that came from the San Francisco Bay. And it was a hotel! I was being very well taken care of. You’d hear frogs there and once we saw a small leopard shark by the edge of the water. The neighborhood was a car dominated suburban, strip mall sprawl-land, but there were sidewalks to walk on pretty much everywhere. There were restaurants and a grocery store in the strip mall within walking distance, once I healed up more. And, the weather was pleasant.

Thank you all for coming here and supporting this and I hope you had a good Halloween, in case you celebrate that.

Big hugs,
Stefan

Discharged…

Hi all,

I finally got back into the swing of things, at least for this week, and made another episode. It feels great! I never doubted that I would continue, but once you take a long’ish hiatus like this one (7 months), it turns out there’s a bit of resistance to start again. I filled up that time with other things. Walking around, sitting on the couch, looking a YouTube videos.

Either way, this week tells the tale of when I was discharged from the hospital and went to stay for three weeks at this business hotel about 5 miles from Stanford Hospital. There were a handful of other patients like me there too. We would have stayed at some building on the Stanford Medical campus,  but they were, and still are, building a new hospital there, so the air was deemed a hazard for us straight out of open heart surgery or body transplants. The soil contains spores and mold which to an immuno suppressed person is bad news.

I Left My Heart In Palo Alto discharged

So, we drove back and forth to the hospital every third day for check ups, using what I had named our “Death Trap”: Christine’s ’95 Subaru Impreza that had caught fire when I was I going down the highway a few months earlier. No biggie. I feel like I might have gone over this story in some earlier post, but I am too technically challenged to check.

Thanks a billion for coming by to read and I hope you all are doing ok, but hopefully in some cases even better.

Big hugs,

Stefan

 

 

Time flies…

I don’t know why I haven’t posted anything until now, but here we go.

Since my paying work started to pick up earlier this year I got busy to the point of not wanting to cram any all-nighters in order to get the weekly episode of this done. However, I was totally baffled to see that the last round was all the way back in March! Time flies.

iLeftMyHeart_time flies

So, during this time I have produced a bunch of video graphics and animation. I am attempting to move my company Stefangus Design up a notch in seriousness to make it work in a more sustainable way.

Years ago I used to play guitar and croon in a band, and I am finally mixing and producing the album we recorded back in – wait for it – 2008! The songs will be released in a series of online “singles” (remember 7″ records? For those of you who were born after CD’s bit the dust). You can check out the first batch here: https://luminousfamilytrust.bandcamp.com.

To wrap this up, the plan is still to finish this story here online, and then make a book of it.

That’s it for now. Hope you’re all doing great and see you soon.