Thursday, December 1, 2011

Three Months: A Message From Will

Tomorrow marks the third month since my collapse. It's hard not to think of these days as time to reflect on what's happened to me since September 2nd. Yet such reflection is also overwhelming. My memories of the early days of my illness are patchy, which may be a blessing. One foggy incident in my mind involves a test in an x-ray machine. I couldn't understand why, as the machine moved and squeezed me into and out of the proper positioning, the nurses had chosen to leave overstuffed pillows covering my body, which made such movement extremely difficult. I felt claustrophobic and suffocated. But I realize now that the overstuffed pillows did not exist; they were me, as I had swollen up to 220 pounds with fluid. In turn, a memory of the nurses struggling with my bloated body, as they transferred me to a bed comes to my consciousness. Such memories are uncomfortable, yet they pale beside others, in which I can see my blackened and dying limbs, in which I try to move them and fail, in which my doctor asks me what I think about my right hand's potential for viability. A nurse reminds me that I responded to him, "At least I learned to play the violin." I'd like to write soon of my days of hallucinations -- those memories will have to wait for another post.

Reading my brother's post about the early days of my illness also makes me think of the tremendous outpouring of support that I had at that critical time. I'm certain that reading the cards sent by friends and hearing of all the good thoughts directed toward me contributed to my recovery: my kidney function picked up and gradually returned to normal. The team of kidney doctors and the dialysis machine have not been part of my routine for several weeks.

It's my intention with this blog to work out some of my memories, experiences, difficulties, and also my progress and hopes, as I adjust to this new life. I am so grateful to be alive.


  1. Listening. This is what. Keep it going, Will.

  2. Keep up the good work Will! I'm praying for your knees. Much love and respect!

  3. Waiting for the next post. You're a good writer. Hope things get better, or that you can bare everything with patience. Life is rough and beautiful and scary and joyful. Stay strong.

  4. Will, Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. I am so grateful to know that you are going through all of this so that I can pray for you and send all of my love and positive energy your way. The strength that it take to get through something like you've been through (are going through) is superhuman (remember, in the words of the immortal Michael Stipe, "I am Superman and I can do anything" :-)!) Patients like you inspire nurses like me. Believe me, your attitude and "will" to live through this is RARE! Know that we are thinking about you back home - I was up at Old South Methodist this past weekend for Advent workshop and I saw your name on the list of people to pray for. I look forward to hearing more about your progress. Stay well - your mental strength has more bearing on your physical well-being than almost anything else you can do for yourself. I can only imagine how hard it must be to maintain a positive attitude sometimes, but it is going to be how you recover physically and stay physically well. I wish I could be out there, but I hope you can feel my presence with you and I look forward to seeing you again someday!

    Megan Quinlan

  5. "At least I learned to play the violin." Does nothing make you lose your delicately warped sense of humor? Admirable. By the way, it would also make a great title. To what, I have no idea. But something.


  6. Will,
    I heard about you through Kristal and have really enjoyed reading your blog, thus far. You are an inspiration and I am in awe of your amazing strength and positive attitude. In a world of people spraying others with pepper spray to get their hands on x-boxes and our legislature's inability to stand up for the majority, your words are a ray of sunshine! Keep up the great work.
    Thanks and Aloha!!

  7. Will-
    I'm very sorry that this happened to you. It's not fair. Thanks for sharing your story--it's good to see your face again.
    I'm so impressed with what you've accomplished so far in your life--you really did go to film school and became a filmmaker and a teacher. That speaks to your passion and commitment and courage. I hope you can draw on that inner strength now and shine brighter than ever.
    Yours, Betsy McPartlin Doucette

  8. Oh, Will. I started reading Tom's original post this morning, and had to stop when I realized I was bawling. In the next room, my own twin girls were carefully arranging elaborate doll scenes; a friend was due to arrive for a playdate any minute. Spent the morning distracted anyway; with the girls at school for the afternoon now, I just read (and cried some more) through the whole blog. It's been too long, old friend, and what news... but this post did made me smile a little. As Gilana noted, "At least I learned to play the violin" indeed. All the very very best wishes going out to you... Yee-Fan

  9. Will,

    I am so grateful to hear you.


  10. I know you through Pete Hocking, who I barely know and have never met. No matter, I am sending compassion and loving-kindness your way. May you continue this to live with grace and humor and just by being yourself and through your own courage inspire others.

  11. Dear Will,

    I'm so glad to see you here, and hear your voice, which comes through clear and true in print. It will be good to hear and see you in person, too, and I'm scheming about making a quick trip your way. In the meantime, know that we're thinking of you. "The Grateful Will": the best title I ever heard: sounds like a whole philosophy, a metaphysics even, packed in there. And it reminds me of what our old pal said, "Love is gratitude for being." Take good care.
    PS I hope you realize how honored you should feel to be recipient of my first ever comment to a blog.

  12. So good to hear your voice and see your face. I'm grateful too that you are alive and with the world. Thank you for starting this blog. xo

  13. Hi Will, The last time I saw you was in Boston so many many years ago when you were still working for Styron (?) but already studying film. I was with Tom and a few others and we stopped by your apartment in Brookline (I think). You had also accompanied a number of Watson Street folk on a whalewatch, although I think we only saw a few whales. Minke whales or something like that.

    I learned through Bonnie and Sean about what happened and so glad you pulled through. And to see here and on facebook the amazing folks that love and support you.

    Keep sharing, keep writing. And these days I'm "just over the hill" in San Francisco so if you or Tom need anything. Call on me.

    Peace, energy, humor, and good healing,

    twitter: @jtag