Los Gatos, California — Saturday, December 11th
A strong recovery
This is Srila Gurudeva's third day in the hospital. His Divine Grace, who was diagnosed with diverticulitis in Mexico, had a colectomy here on Thursday morning, and is recovering nicely. The surgery was performed by Dr. Gutman, assisted by (Dr.) Pusta Krishna Prabhu, at a private hospital in Los Gatos, near San Jose.
I saw Srila Gurudeva for a few hours yesterday and he looked good, but very tired. He looks so much better today. And today he has on his saffron robes, not that horrible hospital gown!
Today I stay at the hospital for ten hours. Srila Gurudeva is recovering well. At lunchtime he eats his first solid food: some mashed rice and dahl. After lunch, it is time for Srila Gurudeva's physical therapy.
It is important for Srila Gurudeva to try to walk, the physical therapist says, to aid his recovery. "The bed is not your friend." The more Srila Gurudeva can get in and out of bed, sit up in his chair, walk around, the better he will feel, she says, and the sooner he will recover. "You get energy by expending energy," Pusta Krishna Prabhu reiterates.
They help Srila Gurudeva out of his bed, and stand him up. The physical therapist expresses surprise when Srila Gurudeva, who still has all his stitches and surgical dressings on his lower abdomen, draws himself up to his full height. "Very good," she says.
With Pusta Krishna Prabhu and the physical therapist at his sides, Ashram Maharaj and Srutasrava Prabhu at his back, and me in front, Srila Gurudeva starts to shuffle along, and then around his hospital bed with the aid of an aluminum walker. He is still very weak on his feet, and leans heavily on the walker as he pushes forward determinedly.
We all think that Srila Gurudeva will stop walking after a few steps (this is, after all, his first physical therapy session after the operation) but he keeps going — past the bed, past the bathroom, out the door of his private room and into the corridor!
In the middle of the corridor, Srila Gurudeva looks over to his right, down the long passage that stretches eighty feet to the far wall. I think he thinks that he has to walk the length of the passage, because he slumps his shoulders slightly, and as he lets out his breath he mutters, "Aahre baba!"
We help Srila Gurudeva turn his walker to face the end of the corridor and he takes a few steps forward before asking to sit down. Ashram Maharaj is right behind Srila Gurudeva with a wheelchair, and Srila Gurudeva sits down gingerly.
"You did great!" says the physical therapist, and pats him on the arm.
But Srila Gurudeva is not done yet! To our collective surprise, Srila Gurudeva lifts himself into an upright position, and with a resolute look in his eye, presses forward in the walker again.
The walker starts to slide forward dangerously and I brace it with both my hands until Srila Gurudeva can step up to it. But Srila Gurudeva thinks I'm hindering him, and chastises me: "Go, Maharaj!"
On we go! Down the corridor. One step after the other. The walker is very shaky. I steady it with both hands. Srila Gurudeva is leaning too far forward. If the walker slides too far forward he will fall. He pushes strongly against the walker. You won't believe just how strongly he pushes against the walker! I try to counterbalance the forward thrust. I push back against the walker. I'm walking backwards. I can't see where I'm going. Again Srila Gurudeva says, "Go, Maharaj!"
I'm sweating bullets, folks!
When we reach the end of the corridor, Srila Gurudeva turns around in the walker to look back at the long distance that he has walked. Eighty feet if it's a foot. I'm breathing harder than Srila Gurudeva. I'm a nervous wreck. My wees are kneak. I steady the walker so that Srila Gurudeva can sit down in the wheelchair. I could sure use the break.
I don't believe it! I'm, like, "Huh?!"
Srila Gurudeva shakes the walker impatiently and scowls at me.
"Oh! Go, Maharaj!"
Back down the hallway we go! Srila Gurudeva pushes forcefully against the walker. If I let go he is going to fall flat on his face — or start running!
You know, I think he just might start running!
Laura Mercy! I can't take much more of this. Thankfully, about halfway down the ward, Srila Gurudeva stops. For maybe about, oh, all of fifteen seconds. And then he continues to plod steadfastly forward. All the way to the door of his room, into the room, to stop, finally, in front of his chair.
Everybody is incredulous. As Pusta Krishna Prabhu and the therapist lower Srila Gurudeva gently into his chair, Pusta Krishna Prabhu says, "Maharaj, you've walked further today than you used to walk before your operation!"
Me, I'm finished. I'm exhausted. My hands are shaking. I'm a nundle of berves. Srila Gurudeva isn't even breathing heavily...
"No, no! — For me!"
Soquel, California — Sunday, December 12th
Srila Gurudeva returned to the Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Seva Ashram here in Soquel this morning. His Divine Grace spent the last three nights at the Los Gatos Community Hospital after undergoing surgery.
Many devotees are here to greet Srila Gurudeva, and welcome him back with kirtan and garlands. Srila Gurudeva is a little tired after all his exercise this morning, checking out of the hospital, but he speaks briefly to all the devotees before having a little something to eat and retiring to his room.
We are especially indebted to Pusta Krishna Prabhu (an accomplished orthopedic surgeon in his own right) for his love and devotion to Srila Gurudeva, for making so many house calls (!), for assisting in Srila Gurudeva's colectomy, and for so expertly and professionally facilitating Srila Gurudeva's preoperative and postoperative care.
Soquel, California — Tuesday, December 14th
This morning Srila Gurudeva tells us that he got up on his own last night. This is incredible news: to be able to get up out of bed and stand unaided so soon after his operation is a remarkable recovery indeed.
Later in the morning, when Srila Gurudeva is sitting quietly, I go down to the prasadam room to see if I can get some breakfast, but before I can get anything to eat, somebody shouts: "Srila Gurudeva's outside!"
I bolt back up the stairs; Srila Gurudeva is sitting serenely on the bench on the deck at the back of his cottage.
Goswami Maharaj says, "Srila Gurudeva got up on his own, without us noticing, and walked outside — without his cane!"
Now even before the operation, this would have been an amazing feat, but to get up and walk unassisted — and without his cane! — just five days after undergoing major surgery is nothing short of phenomenal. Unbelievable, really.
So there you have it, folks. I'm out of a job. Unemployed.
I don't know how it happened, but for the past few weeks — especially during Srila Gurudeva's extended World Tour to Venezuela and Mexico — I seem to have become Srila Gurudeva's main arm-leaner-onner. If His Divine Grace no longer needs my arm to lean on, what will I do?
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