from a public HS teacher (Gov't, Religion, Soc. Issues), who is eclectic (Dem-leaning) politically and Quaker (& open) on everything else. Hope you enjoy what you find here.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Tom Oliphant -- Back, and a "must read" 

Tom Oliphant of the Boston Globe is one of the most avowedly liberal of columnists, quite articulate, and has been missing for months.  He returns on today's op ed with an explanation entitled My Journey Into Darkness.  I assure all Readers that it is an important piece, one you should read in its entirety.

As is my usual practice, I will below the fold offer a few selections to whet your reading interest.  And then I will leave to the readership what to do with this diary.

WARNING - SPOILER ALERT if you you do not want me to give away the column, do NOT read below the fold -- use the link above to read the column as written.


If you have come this far, I did warn you.  Oliphant has been among the missing because he suffered -  and obviously survived -- a brain aneurysm.  The blockquotes below will gie some of the background, the experience, and his conclusions.   Go read the entire column.  You will benefit.

I will quote the few short paragraphs at the start of the op-ed before I begin to skip around.

''WHERE HAVE you been?" people have asked.

I have been away -- really far away, almost to the other side.

For those who have wondered what happened to my musings all spring, the official answer of ''on leave" didn't tell the entire story. To those who produced a mountain of correspondence and gifts, I have been more than overwhelmed even as I attempt to answer each one.

Near-death experiences are far from unique, except for the poor slob who almost dies. For each tale of the famous bright white lights, there are countless others like mine of sudden, impenetrable darkness. As with any condition or disease, information is a large part of the battle.

So here is what happened. I remember very little of it, but it's the information I've been able to piece together thanks to my wife, my kids, and the others who saved my life.

I will skip the description of the event as it occurred.   Selective quotation would be unfair.  It is powerful, and can serve as an alert in case we encounter similar things in those we know and love.  What I quote next is after he "came to".

One of my first ''memories" days later in the intensive care ward is something that never happened. I recall removing the sensory devices from my chest and getting out of bed, only to be restrained by a tube protruding from my head and extending to a plastic bag hung on a metal stand.

The staff on duty rushed to my room. I recall offering a convincing explanation of why I should be allowed to leave. I explained that I was just a couple of blocks from my house on the beach, and that if someone went downstairs with me it would be obvious we were practically in the Pacific Ocean. I could point out where my house was, and be gone.

Where was I really? In a suburban Virginia medical complex.

In the next paragraph, you will see Oliphant can still display some hmour even in describing the most serious of times.

The attempt to get out of bed happened, but the debate turns out to have been a hallucination -- a rupture of a brain aneurysm and some morphine will do that to you. Time and place have no grounding. 2005 suddenly becomes 1953. You're talking about your childhood TV set. And you have no idea who the president is -- it really was possible to forget George Bush for a while.

I particularly like part of the imagery in this next paragraph  -- Oliphnat has clearly not lost his liberalism.

Decades of journalism helped me pretend to have knowledge I didn't have. I asked if my aneurysm was big or little, what it most resembled, if it was unusual in any respect, why my head felt like Tom DeLay was inside it swinging a pick ax. Slowly, aneurysm became something much more than a word I had heard countless times before, but couldn't spell or define.

And again, his liberalism still comes through.  

Normally, aneurysm patients have problems -- delicately called deficits -- for months. Miraculously, I can concentrate again and finished reading a book last week. Sadly, I now know who the president is.  

And his conclusion, which after Terri Schiavo is quite pertinent.

This place where I have been is a dark one. The one thing I know is who belongs there -- your family and the pros. No one else, especially not the government. You want the loving hands and the healing ones to bring you home or let you go.
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