A two-fer: a physical tuneup and more importantly, a spiritual tuneup. On April 29th I started having pains in my upper right abdomen. Because I knew I could get test results quicker at the emergency room, I went there the next day when the pain increased. I expected it might be something like gallstones, since I had already had the appendix out many years ago. Blood tests, ultrasound and a CT scan showed no gallstones or gall bladder irritation. Instead, I had something I never heard of–an omental infarction. The omentum is this fatty layer that hangs down like an apron over the intestines. The guy at the emergency room consulted an on-call surgeon, who said I should be admitted to the hospital. I came into the emergency room at 9:30 in the morning; 12 hours later I was on my way to the hospital, 20 minutes away. Not until the next morning did I find out what this was all about. The surgeon said this corner (?) of the omentum may have experienced some kind of twisting. Tissue death–and pain, followed. He put me on IV antibiotics and periodically pushed on the area to be sure where the pain was. Four days later, with the pain going away and no uptick in the white count, I went home. Still, I had concerns. A puffy arm from where the IV fluids had leaked. Worries over what this all meant. Nonetheless, I took it as a message from the universe that now was the time to finally begin that diet and exercise program that would achieve my weight loss/fitness goals. How would I survive to enjoy my retirement years in that New Mexico dream home otherwise? So I began walking, cut back on the food and have lost 16 pounds already. The spiritual tuneup was another matter.
Awaiting a rescan on May 17th, I daily freaked out. Going to the Gohonzon with daimoku I thought the worst as my stomach turned somersaults. The mind/body connection is amazing; more later. I reread SGI President Daisaku Ikeda’s lecture on “The Heritage of the Ultimate Law of Life.” I reread portions of The Buddha in Your Mirror. I reread portions of Mike Lisagor’s book, Romancing the Buddha. Most importantly, I had a long-time SGI friend come and chant daimoku with me. On the 16th, while chanting, I prayed for some word or concept that would refresh and reassure me. Soon thereafter I recalled the postcard I received from my sponsor on the occasion of receiving my Gohonzon almost 32 years ago. On it was a quote from Nichiren’s writing, “Letter to Niike.” It reads: “The journey from Kamakura to Kyoto takes 12 days. If you journey for 11 but stop on the 12th, how can you view the moon over the capital?” That did the trick. It takes as long as it takes. I got the scan on Sunday, confident that my prayers of complete recovery would be confirmed–and confident that I would use this experience to encourage others to remain steadfast in their faith. The surgeon confirmed on Monday that the omentum was healing nicely and no further follow-up or action on his part would be necessary. On Tuesday, the stomach that had been turning somersaults was now calm; a convincing demonstration of how the mind affects the body.
I must add that I have been somewhat lazy about completing my goals of reading the Gosho (the collected writings of Nichiren Daishonin) and the Human Revolution (Daisaku Ikeda’s history of the movement of the Buddhist lay organization in widely propagating Buddhism) cover to cover. Moreover, I have relaxing a bit much from encouraging fellow members. So I am now back on the front lines, assuming the responsibility of a district leader having resigned from a chapter leader position almost 7 years ago. I feel reborn, refreshed, revitalized. If this were Christmas day and the Cratchits lived nearby, I certainly would buy them a goose.