Wednesday, 27 April 2011

26 April - Updates on Lama Zopa Rinpoche's stroke condition

For the time being I will be focusing on news and updates of my guru Lama Zopa Rinpoche's health condition, so I might not be blogging about other stuff. Thanks to Jeff who left me an assuring note.

Below is the latest update from Venerable Joan who is with Rinpoche in Australia right now.

26 April, 1:00am

We received the news that Khadro-la and Woser Rinpoche, a lama in Mongolia, have said that there are signs that on Wednesday, 27 April (Tsog Day) Rinpoche could have a second stroke. This is to be avoided at all costs. Another Khadroma has urgently and specifically advised the retreat participants here in Bendigo to do 100,000 Vajra Armor mantras ...See link for mantra...

What has been happening

On Friday morning (April 22), about 7:00 am, Rinpoche left the prayer hall of Atisha Centre, Bendigo, Australia, after having completed the initial part of a Yamantaka initiation. He walked back to Shedrub Ling Monastery, a five minute walk through the eucalyptus forest, stopping, as usual, to bless every single insect along the path. I and Ven. Dechen from Malaysia, caught up with Rinpoche as he entered the gate to the monastery and as he turned off toward the building where he was staying we both noticed that His right foot seemed to have a slight limp.

That same day, at the beginning of the afternoon session at 3.30 pm, as Rinpoche started to talk I thought the audio wasn’t adjusted right as I was having difficulty understanding him. Then Rinpoche himself paused in mid-sentence, with a big smile on his face, to say: “Do you see the difference in my speech? You can hear it? Do you notice my speech changed? My speaking, do you see a change? That happened when I went out. This morning when I went out, I felt that outside. Maybe I shouldn’t have gone outside. That’s good for the self-cherishing thought, for the selfish mind. It is the opponent to harm, to destroy the self-cherishing thought.” However, after a couple of minutes Rinpoche started to speak more normally and continued with the preparation for the Yamantaka initiation for the next 3 hours.

After the session Rinpoche told Ven. Roger that as he left the gompa he suddenly felt a sensation on the left side of His forehead, and that something had tried to enter to cause harm. Rinpoche strongly insisted that he return to the gompa that evening to confer the initiation but he was equally strongly requested by Roger and Gyatso to rest and, in the end, did not return to the gompa.

That night Rinpoche and Ven. Roger called Khadro-la in Dharamsala who also informed His Holiness the Dalai Lama about what had happened.

The next morning, Saturday, 23 April, when Ven. Roger went to see Rinpoche in His room, Rinpoche's condition had worsened. His right arm and leg were not functioning well and Roger couldn't understand Rinpoche's speech at all. Rinpoche had to communicate by typing on His iPad.

Rinpoche initially refused to go to the hospital, but in the early afternoon finally consented to go and stay in the hospital after both His Holiness and Khadro-la insisted that Rinpoche receive Western medical treatment. He was able to walk very slowly without assistance to the car.

According to the initial MRI scan, neither bleeding nor a blood clot was found in the brain, but the doctors admitted Rinpoche to the hospital for more tests, as well as to observe Rinpoche's sugar level and blood pressure which were very high. A doctor, Alan Molloy, who is a student of Rinpoche’s came up from Melbourne and spoke to the doctor on Easter morning. That afternoon he reported to the participants at the teachings here in Australia that a thrombosis (blood clot) had lodged in the part of the brain that controls speech as well as part of the right face, arm, and leg. He said: “No quick recovery, Rinpoche needs intensive therapy and he may get better. He will need physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy intensively. He will also need the speech therapy to protect His airways, as He will have to learn to swallow again. If moisture gets into the lungs there is a real possibility of fatal pneumonia. Rinpoche is struggling to get His words out, as the connection between the meaning part of the brain and the part that forms sounds has been cut. His cognition is intact but the spoken words are not. He can still type. The scary bit is that it can occur again, unless he has exceptional care and strict compliance with Western medicine, which could indeed be life-saving. Being a 65 year old male with diabetes and high blood pressure, it is a degenerative disease/event that is quite common.”

On Monday, 25 April, Rinpoche was taken from the public hospital in Bendigo to a small private hospital. His speech had slightly improved and he was able to move his right leg slightly, whereas his right arm was not functioning. He, however, needs help with everything – walking, washing… He types messages on his iPad, typing a period between each word. His message to the retreat participants

His Holiness has checked, and it came out better for Rinpoche to continue to stay in Australia to receive Western medical treatments and the various intensive therapies.

Khadro-la has said she wants to come to Australia to help Rinpoche with the recovery. She said it is important that we act quickly and that she comes to help, and so Ven. Roger etc. are trying to sort out the visa issue for her. She also said that as far as she could see, there was no permanent brain damage.

Please EVERYONE also continue to do the practices that have been advised.

Here in Australia we are fulfilling Rinpoche’s wishes by continuing to do four sessions a day with Eight Mahayana Precepts and Lama Chopa in the morning, followed by meditation or the reading of Khensur Jampa Tegchok’s commentary to Bodhisattvacharyavatara, in the afternoon we do the practices for Rinpoche’s long life (Medicine Buddha, Tara Chittamani, Vajra Armor), and in the evening we are doing Lama Tsongkhapa Guru Yoga, Protector Practices, and sutra recitations. The gompa is filled with beautiful offerings – lights, water bowls, flowers, food – and every holy object on the property has been surrounded by water bowls including the huge Padmasambhava statue in the Great Stupa of Universal Compassion.

Sorry to have taken so long to write this email but the days have been very busy here. Joan

Received this morning 27 April:

Correction: In Ven. Joan's note, it is mentioned that Khadro-la requested 100,000 Vajra Armour mantras to help prevent a potential second stroke from occuring tomorrow (4/27). It is true that this was announced at the retreat, but it turns out not entirely accurate. Khadro-la did request the mantras be recited (and, per Ven. Robina, they completed 111,000 of them in short order!), but she did not actually say anything about a second stroke happening or Wednesday 4/27 being inauspicious. As everyone is working hard to get the best information across so everyone can be up-to-date and following Rinpoche's wishes in terms of practices, communication lines must have gotten crossed. Sorry for the inaccurate information!

Other entries on Lama Zopa Rinpoche's condition:
Lama Zopa Rinpoche has manifested a stroke
- Heartwarming response pouring in regarding Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche' stroke 
30 April - Updates on Lama Zopa Rinpoche's stroke condition. Even when manifesting illness, we learn by practice.

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