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“Rumors of my near brushes with death WERE NOT greatly exaggerated.”


Dear Friends,

Thanks for your support and kind thoughts for my music. I am writing an update to those of you

who have heard of some of my medical challenges of recent. While I am not one to broadcast

personal information, I think it best to lend some accuracy to what bits and snippets some of you

have heard. So the rumor mill might be somewhat slowed.

About 30 days ago, I had a mild and very short-lived 'mini-stoke (TIA) with no apparent after

affects except some weariness. 4 weeks later, Easter Sunday, I looked forward to playing at

Ricard2 and a few hours before I slung my guitar on back, I experienced some similar symptoms

and briefly fainted in the most perfect of situations—among some of my closed friends, two of

which caught me as the floor rushed to kiss me. That episode quickly dispelled, however I

canceled that gig. Thank you to those of you who came to Ricardo2. I trust the food, view and the

companionship made up for my absence.

In the interim I had gone to the Caja, danced through a plethora of tests scattered throughout most of late March and finally met with a neurologist, Dr. Rincon, who thankfully spoke much better English than my preschool Spanish. For all the criticisms of the Caja system I comparatively breezed through once all the prelim tests were completed. And I had the last results confirmed with the head of the neurology department at the main hospital in San Jose after a very hasty trip last Friday morning.

The upshot of a number of synchronicities which defy standard bureaucratic slowness, I will be

returning to Calderon Guardia Hospital very early this Monday, admitted, probed and prodded a

bit more, then wheeled into surgery Wednesday morning to clear a blockage in my left Carotid

artery. A common and relatively safe procedure, a bit complicated by the fact that the artery on

the other side of my neck is completely blocked and inoperable. So it seems that I have been

starving my brain for quite some time, which could account for my lop-sided thinking since you

have known me ;-). It's a bit like learning that you have only one good pipe when you assumed

that you had two and the one “good” ain't.

I intend to be back to you all before the end of the month perhaps with a little clearer head. For

those of you who believe in messages from divinity (and I include myself) consider this clear note to me: Test results: unusually strong heart; very clear mental activity, and almost total blockage between the two. I'll have to toy with that lying in hospital with very little else to do. Sheri will be stoking the home fires, but won't really be able to tell you much more until after Wednesday, and she has her hands full with dogs, house and supporting our friend Marguerite.

Know that I am in very good spirit and energy. No fear and I have done a similar dance at the

edges of mortality before. I have faith in divinity, be it something so vast, so complex yet

sublimely simply that I cannot begin to comprehend its wiles and ways. However, I do know you

all, and I am forever buoyed by your spirits, by your courage, by your willingness to leave the

complacency and stupefying comfort of your ancestral home to try life anew here in this fair

country of foreign tongue, seemingly counter-intuitive cultural tendencies which, at best seem,

quaint. This is no small thing – to break oneself open wide. To stand very independent of past

cultural arrogance and allow a new beginning to roughen the edges of perception and stretch old

beliefs to the breaking. I adore that in all of you. It is actually what I sing and write songs to. And

if I can't sing again, then, I'll listen.

So, I hope to announce my return to Kapiblu Cafe and Ricardo2 in the near future. In a bit more

than a week, I'll drop you a few lines when I can get my hands on a keyboard. Meantime, take

care of you, sing a bit for me (even in the shower) thank you again and God Bless.

Know that I am recovering quickly, resting at home and trying to do nothing. Such opportunities

are rare in life, as life screams shrilly, as opposed to her barely audible whispers. But her

communication is always the same: “be still, be open, and see my magnificent synchronicity.

Dive deep into the miracle of creation”.

So, in the past week I dove beyond my breathy limits. I danced with mortality a couple of times,

but as Vyola will tell you, I have such quirky rhythm, I am darn near hard to follow. So the black

wraith and I departed.

For those of you who were in Vipassana or otherwise engaged, I've asked Ilena to reprint my initail announcement to many of you which I call “My Guitar Group”. And so yes, this is my first

response to your many loving requests that I keep writing prose, wit and poetry and let you know

more of this experience.

I kept extensive notes during my stay in the Caja, Calderon Guardia Hospital in San Jose; that's

right, the social medicine system here that we are often prompted to speak of in frustration. Not my experience, and it quite literally saved my life. Give me a week, to condense my notes about my little sojourn out onto the skinny branches of survival, and of those who extended their hands to steady my tenuous perch and pull me back to safety.

Not the least of which is you all, this community we have fabricated from nothing more than

sincere interest, compassion and concern. No small thing in this modern world that the mass

media tells us is a world of strangers. Not here. Thanks for the multitude of notes, the silent

wishes, your quiet chats with the angels. They heard and I as well. I am carried in your hearts,

now safe and well-protected. Bless you all.

More next week.

Russ Giles


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