Charles Prugh and the Art of Living and Dying: July 3

Dad explains to the Hospice psychologist who he is. He begins by talking about what he does. He wants her to know. I’m a professional teacher, I’ve written books. I’ve done out placement teaching, I’ve done some professional speaking, I have done some 200 continuing education courses helping people cope with life related problems. I love every minute of it. What I love to do and what I hope to keep in tact. Now that is a third of the life, that is what I get. Now the second part I got a recently I’ve been diagnosed with this. Kaiser said that you have urinary tract signs and suggest that you have ah, and our of the box prostate cancer. Manageable treatment. That means that that I’ll tell you whatever I know about it but in the course of the conversations with them I should tell you have tendencies to see people or things who aren’t even in the room and so suddenly if I see people or things I’ll tell you so please don’t be surprised, so I function is that I function very slowly.

Hospice Psychologist: What does it mean to you that it is out of the box?

Dad: That means out of the box your out of the box your it means that ah, in and outside of your not to able. I can’t always ah… now always in control, always in charge.

HP: Its hard to recall things sometimes huh?

Dad: Yes. For me not always a novel adventure.

HP: Are you feeling tired right now?

Dad: I’m usually very sharp and quick to respond to things on primary limitations, and secondary things I’m not.

HP: The disease process makes it harder to fire the way it used to.

Dad: Jennifer said that that was the case. The result was that I had swelling in my left leg and I was able to recognize it but uh it got so bad that I wasn’t too sure. One day I decided that the swelling behind the leg was so bad I had to do something about it. That lead my the conclusion that I should call Kaiser of which I was a member. I went up to see Kaiser. We’re long time members and they. I see legs and arms. And they said they wanted to see me in the hospital right away. And I went to the emergency room last night. This attendant thought it was a skin infection and that it might or might not result in the diagnosis of a skin. I don’t know what you need to know from us to help us. I dropped some potatoes on the floor.

HP: We spend a lot of time coping with calls like this. And that is the best introduction I can give you.

Dad: That’s helpful.

HP: Are you feeling tired right now? I help with the patient and the family cope with this however I can. This is a tough thing

Dad: But we need some help but we’re not sure what to do. Right now we’re in a mutual warfare and everybody strives in to jump on the pot. We have a wonderful family here. Wherever you go you go we have a wonderful family. Each is trying to do anything. Cooks become cooks and drivers become drivers.

HP: So everyone is doing the best we can.

Beck: Is there anything you want to ask her?

Dad: Do you remember those questions?

Beck: He’s having a hard time coping with is it going to be sooner than later. Is the pain because of the cancer? What kind of life changes does he need to make and from Beck’s obviously now he can’t, is it time to look in the office? Do you think that in two or three weeks, there is this possibility or it it something we’re not looking at?

HP: I’m a non medical person, to be eligible there needs to be a diagnosis of six months or less to live.

Beck: What he’s trying to shoot for.

E: After the deep vein thrombosis, he was naturally weaker. He had to be cautious about how he moved. There was less energy for work. We were being careful about doing much and overall he was doing well. I’d say that there was a rather slow decline. Trying to not look at it as a negative thing just a measurement. Then there was a morning where he woke up in sever pain. But by Friday nothing that he had taken was really doing anything. Getting in and out of the bed was a very difficult thing. Then he went to the doctor and the next day it was discovered that it was a kidney infection and with a shot of Demerol, by the next day he was feeling very much better. And that was a Saturday. So Steph took him back. They gave him more medication and hospitalized him. He was over medicated but still for several days he was in the hospital but he was alert. . hey wouldn’t discharge him until the pain was under more control. He had physical therapy. Showing him how to get off the bed to not aggravate the pain. But the way it is under control is quite a bit of medication. He has never mentioned pain since he has been . When he came home he was terribly swollen. Stephie took him back to get a catheter and he’s beginning to take some water pills. H’es doing much better and we’re cutting back on and god knows there are a million medications. In the last two days, this is only Wednesday.Yesterday speaking with Clare he’s getting the message that perhaps he’s getting the message that perhaps we’re entering a final chapter. He will let me know that I’m wrong and I as well. So obviously yes, as far as decline yes.

HP: So is your understanding from Dr. Lakes that he be on hospice?

E: We asked to be on hospice. We hoped we could take off some of the drugs so we could have some quality time. It’s a coming and going thing. But physically he has to pay attention to every move he makes.

HP: He has awareness.

Mom: He’s not eating

J: He talked about learning how to learn.

Mom: Takes him a while to formulate what he wants to say

Dad: Certainly areas I’m learning .. how to get that learning process going.

HP: Your relearning some things aren’t you?

Dad: Having worked with people over the years, seemingly have a application to your own life, but when they learn to you have to learn how they for you You can learn the full psycho dynamics of learning because you had to apply them and learn over a long period of time but when your having to learn how they apply to you, your having to learn them all over again. It’s a brand new experience, how they apply to you. I am attempting to help people all the time and what I’m learning is that I can’t help people. Not easy thing to do.

I worry a lot about women because I see women have a tremendous challenge ahead of them

Me: in the context of work (am trying to explain to the HP)

Dad: They ah, face built in cultural constraints preclude them from advancement that require them to have. I an see that constraints cultural constraints which say after all, women increasingly will want to stay home and be mothers because the and yet the production requirements will. A woman will say to me I’m 63 what should I expect to do with my life. I say that your short objectives will enable you to convert your present job to an equally paying.. which isn’t bad… high paying job which so you can achieve there are things that women far and beyon d unless there is a tremendous tremendous constraints built in them.

J: Fortunately your daughters do. It’s a good thing.

Dad: So there are

They do achieve by tenure, by writings in specialized fields, they attract others around them which enable them to form a pool of talent, and they are.

B: Can’t even describe it. Happy that he’s so coherent and can talk with him. Vacation and the last three days been difficult. Its out of hands. There is nothing we can do except spend quality time.

HP: It’s a balance between comfort and mental alertness. What would he have?

Mom: He can’t function with sever pain.

Mom And when you let it go to such an extreme thing, it took a number of days to get it managed. So that you don’t want to go down the road again.

HP: Are you the durable power of attorney in healthcare?

E: She said Steph thought he was on it.

Dad: Emotioanl soup

Mom: There is something else that Charlie didn’t tell you about. Since the diagnosis he has coped with his PTSS since the World War. Most of that trauma has he has kept until it spilled over. He had to cope in the last few years he has kept the the business running, he has been fighting something in his body that he just assume he deny and the world war II. So much has been given to these battles, that we keep hoping that there is something left there. Now it’s a new one. I didn’t want to go hear but he’s now having to go and look at this thing looming.

HP: How long have you been married.

Mom: It will be 43 years, August 29. Given the statistics, I never even considered that we would make it to 4l. so many men just keel over. There are days that I’e thought that someone who is like a mountain can not be here?

Dad: Or transformed….

Mom: Shipping out.. a more journey oriented metaphor. There was a more close relationship with the first psychologist. He died. At 55 He left teenage sons. All of those men are Vietnam vets, but they had experiences that were similar. To understand the horror, the fright, the complete destruction. It says a lot about Charlie that he was willing to go after all these years. He was willing to do some therapy. He understands that from the inside as well as the learning side. All of the experiencing have contributed to being the unique kind of experiences because there is such a damn thing …

Dad: If you would tell my story, fit would be the most incredible thing. I have nothing to do with that I lived here it would be boring nobody monotony and … be so typical.

HP: It would be mean a lot to you to have her tell my story.

Dad: I have so many stories.

Dad: But I don’t know why. I woke up and I went to school and I often thought I tell a story because I don’t know anything. Wouldn’t be. There would be so It would cast upon all the events of our time not in any clerical or clinical way. It would cast light upon all the things that have happened , the depression, the hurts, that people have had, because who wants to read about that. There are tons of people who recovered from war far beyond what I did. That were called upon to war and some of things that I turned into. Struggle beyond that what if anything they have to do with the struggle now just to stay alive. Nothing to do with the inevitable american far nothing… nothing. It had to do with. All it is a continuous struggle. and then he dies after all. It ends up so what. That doesn’t inspire anyone…

HP: some of your mentors are no longer with us?

Dad: I can tell a good story? Are you suggesting that the solution that the conversation with Jennifer. Some guy in a green shirt and grey trousers wants something from me.

I can make a story of out of it. I love a computer. Its like I’m sitting there playing with lightening. I an document idea euphoria … I can capture an opinion and for me its essential. Not that I dislike dogs, I can grasp ideas so quickly…. So avidly… let me finish here. I can set it aside and later come back to it and finish it. I don’t loose the idea I set it aside. I don’t loose consciousness.

HP: You don’t like to loose consciousness any way you want to?

Dad: I like to go to bed first.

I can complete but long ago I adopted a policy never letting anything go to the publisher anything I haven’t approved because they’ll charge me for it. The publisher will.

HP: What is there about us that interests you?

Dad: In general I’ve devoted life work to developing people cope. In the arena of mental issues, emotional issues that will get along better in the world. And so my work at hospice is to help people cope with this difficult time in their lives that none of us are prepared for. People haven’t been through his.And it helps to have someone who has walked the path with other people before. And that I’m not a member of your family is a benefit because I don’t have the history. All I know is what takes place right now. Does that makes sense? Where do you begin?

HP: This is where we are right now and this is where we begin. Working with you until I don’t work with you anymore. Whatever that means. I’m here to assist with things that are non-medical. We work as a team at hospice. We have the medical side, the administrative side and the clinical side.

C: How long have you worked for Hospice?

HP: I’ve worked for a year all together but I’ve been counselling people for over ten years, privates and groups. I have a sliding scale. It depends on the income and the situation.

Dad: What are you going to slide us to?

HP: Nothing. I’m here as a counselor as working as part of ta team with hospice. Medicare and Kaiser benefits.

Dad: The book will be like a mouse chewing a piece of cake.

Now what would I do with you afterall?

Three is a nude middle aged man editing this. What do you remember about your childhood?

A sea of Hearts… Joseph Conrad

Lining it all together in another way forward, to march in a harmonious way into another day..

Endless harmonious way.

Guy Stevick writing in a tuxedo. Guy Stevick (his good friend) facing a wall.

I’ve had the same thoughts

Fly away fly away all
Whatever happened to the beauty of it all?
Goodbye the simplicity goodbye the pure and all
Goodbye the grass, goodbye the simple.
Instead reach out for the materialistic all abandon the constraints
for it really all belongs to you. How lost you’ve become you have no place to fall.
Rise again rise again simplicity all
Strive once again to be what you once were
What you once became
Once you were gifted to be…
Becoming those things were what you
Were intend to be.
Now take your place. A place in the sun.
If I may find her sh’e have no substance. What would she be?
I don’t’ know, a place stark like me.
I’ll put this in but I don’t believe it,
Yet all would see yet all would see.
I’m trying to say something glorious, astonishing, ways of saying something brilliant Look at this..

Look at this light. I think even Jesus Christ who personified the ethics and gradually achieved his views grew into a body of wisdom. I don’t think it was like here this is it, like the constitution. Over a period of its people grew into a body of wisdom. Gradually someone said lets put it together into a singular document and call it this. Somehow the world needs something that pulls it together instead of pulling it apart. Needs more listening to the wisdom from all sides. You can hear the galvanized wisdom is listening to the other because their too frantically pondering their own dreams. They’ve got to. I hadn’t the slightest idea how it gets there. Not the slightest idea. I’m sure these are a lot of good people. Wont’ come from mushy eyed liberals…that out to save the world from all evil. Not from business is all. Going to come from tolerances from amazing kinds. Its going to come from God knows what. It will come from documents like Lincoln. New customs, new procedures, Got to come from awareness and recognition. Its got to come less from frenzied press and people going home at night. Hide away hide away hide away all.. something because recent events are. It’s anew world. March away march away over the fall. That would put some pace into it.

I asked Dad what his favorite books were:

Day of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
Moby Dick: Kind thoughtful, carried content through, beginning and end. Go from beginning end….
Cry the beloved country
Plato’s Republic tires me out…
The Illiad
The Oddessey
Great Expectations
The Brothers Karamotzof
War and Peace

Talking about the human spirit standing alone on a plateau and its too much pressure to try to identify the greatest

Dad: Nobody can teach you to write. Your learning comes from your writing, from feeling. Your writing shapes your reading.It an be sarcastic. What tone will you give the choice of all your words? To the shape of your paragraphs? There is this exuberance.. Got to say it.. he always punches with his write hand first. A right hook? Then he trails off. After three sentences or so he trails off. As if he’s falling asleep. His words slur… he’s putting it together or he he’s dealing with hallucinations, or he’s moving things that we can not see. Did you say something to me? What did you hear? That is where sometimes I get an idea. A passing word.

Like the sea of hearts.

Me: Who wrote that?

Dad: Conrad. That is what you told me. EB White. You read him its like reading an encyclopedia. He Ok? Stream of consciousness just goes…. I always mention James Joyce because he in his own way evoked a trend of thinking evoked a way of looking at existence that was non conceptual. It was just pure stream. He didn’t allow words to be interrupted by periods and yet he allowed periods to show breaks in ideas in a remarkable way. The world was his book I may forget that you brought it.

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