Thursday, May 25, 2006

5.25.06, Another Toothpick

“Another Toothpick.” --Janice Soprano

* The medical trivia: At times I forget that a primary reason for the blog is to pass on medical information, share the news, let people know what’s up. Today’s Franky Scale is around a 7, which is good for a Thursday during the chemo cycle -- by Thursday the steroids and other feel-good balancing drugs they give me during the Tuesday oil-change usually wear off and the fatigue, the blah of food, nausea, and overall physical malaise sets in. I’m better at managing all with each week, but that’s the cyclical nature of this beast. Two days ago, I finished an antibiotic regimen, I believe what they call a Z-Pack (azythromicine), related to a few spots seen in my lungs during the restaging process. Dr. Whiting, my oncologist & the primary doctor I see these days, says they don’t look cancerous but possibly inflammatory (cause, don’t know), or an early-stage infection. Since my immune system is getting its ass kicked every day for two weeks in a row, or getting attacked at least and then trying not to get its ass kicked, there is of course increased likelihood of infections. Thus the Z-Pack--another medical unit that sounds vaguely superheroish, like Protonix Man! (Btw, you should see my cape, it kicks ass.)

*The formal narrative: There is some excellent dream analysis from the first disk of Season Three of The Sopranos -- though Dr. Melfi’s self analysis in the episode might in fact be too perfect, it’s too fast, she’s too practiced, especially in the spontaneous setting of a session with her own “Dr. Melfi,” Eliot -- this is all about the rape episode, btw. Not an easy one to watch. She dreams: her office after hours, alone, the ACME vending machine, the Rottweiler, then the rapist, then the catharsis. In waking life she gets right up after a few days, goes back to work, takes the same route she walked from her parking lot, up the same stair case, up through the architectural “blind-spot” with no cameras, nothing. She knows her fear, finds it, and walks straight into it. The solution of direct address. So many approaches to anxiety and fear. This just struck me particularly, I might be cathecting too much onto certain characters, the impression was serious though.

[written last night] And in the realm of serious impressions, I had some more after reading the post the Princess submitted a few days ago to have me put on the blog; she’d sent it in for the possible editorial work. You read it, the previous post, but there she mentioned how it’s now two months later and that there are only a certain number of months left and as I started to read my head started spinning with questions -- real and rhetorical. Months. Till what? Till somebody addresses the 800-pound elephant. It’s until I die. Soon I die, I think. And the last few days, after reading the princess missive, I’ve felt some anxiety about this, more than usual. Looking out over the city of Seattle tonight, the skyline lit and spread outside my windows, and having thoughts about how the view expires. It expires soon. What do I do about this? How much is possible? Realizing and knowing, knowing is the word, that I will die and leave this big round soft cookie that never tastes quite as good as you want it to. Still, it’s a cookie, and who doesn’t like a good fucking cookie and now and then? Worse still, who doesn’t want cookie when they’ve had it and it gets taken away? Where’s my goddam cookie?

Looking at it otherwise, no one wants the vision that comes with the blinding of their eyes, nobody wants the gift called prophecy when they realize what the cost of knowing the future is. Nobody really wants to hear it and nobody really wants to know. Anyway, here is where I find myself. Never the option to say “no,” to not come here, to not have these experiences. There is no life before your “made” (on HBO), and, there is no war in heaven that follows the first exercise of free agency in the world of Christological mythology (a drama followed by many of my people). The state where no one, not any more, wakes up and goes to work, again, another day, no more anxiety of being and no more anxiety of freedom. How is that for a solution to the old existential double-bind?

You rethink it daily. Everyday, though you step up and go to work. Nobody wants to walk out of their office, a bit early let’s say, say about 2 p.m., then walk over to the steps of Kane Hall to sit and enjoy a cigarette. And you do enjoy it, for a moment. Then the phone rings. Here you learn that no one wants to hear from the doctor that -- once you strip away the tempered and euphemistic language of medicine, once you learn more about the words being used -- that you might have a few more years but either way you’re gone. Irony of the plot at this point. That was the good news. Definitely nobody wants to learn two weeks later that it’s worse than that -- the euphemism of the day: “metastasize.” New jargon. Meaning? Metastasize: the possibility of several years traded in for several months in the course of one doctor visit. Or you can spin the Big Casino metaphor differently, you can locate the fear and walk straight into it, and/or you can gamble, gamble and fight, and see what it gets you. Nobody wants to hear this. Me neither.

And likely nobody wants to comment on it, back to one more Sopranos figure, Uncle Jun -- one with stomach cancer like the Princess points out! --, nobody wants to comment on “all this goddam morbidity.”


34DD said...

I'll comment on it, the first to respond to such raw honesty. I've now wiped away my tears and can see the keyboard clearly again. You would think being so removed from the situation I would not be affected so deeply, however watching my boy's heart break apart a little each day infects me with great sadness. Having been in his shoes not too long ago I can relate somewhat. Never having been in yours no one can relate to your anxiety and fear and this terrifies us. We (Francis, CC & I) on occasion choose to delude ourselves into thinking it will turn out ok. It is self-indulgent, but it gets us through. He tells me every day how you've made this big cookie taste a little sweeter...much love

Slarry said...

Dear Brother, I'll comment also. My tears are still flowing, but you know, without my glasses, I can't see anything, anyway- and everyone knows I can't type. : )
So, today I let the tears flow freely, flow and flow and flow. I thank Francis and 34dd for having the courage to write. How brave you are. How good you are. But the bravest, is the one "walking straight into it" and yet still has the ability to write; so honestly, so eloguently- so raw. Mr. Jones once told me I praise him too much when I write, and sweetly asked if I could hold back a little. Well, I cannot. All of you out there, having a glimpse of my brother, now know what I've always known: He is extratordinary, replete, lovely and delightful. And I've been blessed, not from afar, but close by for all of those 38 years. How lucky am I? I can't help but say, the luckiest, Everyday, with each new word or experience-- he continually enriches my life. Even after 38 years, he still amazes me. I'm still in awe of him. More so, now then ever.
I was there for his first steps, his first words and privy to his first poem. It was published, of course, in the local newspaper. It was about How To Save Water, written during one of California's worst droughts. I have the original copy-- I've kept the paper it was written on, dry, clean, breathable. I hold this poem close to me-- knowing even then, that Mr. Jones was destined for great things. He is a good cookie. And my life is all the better for it.
I choose to believe that I will always know Mr. Jones. Knowing this, however, does not bring me much comfort. I want it all. I never want to be without Mr. Jones-- not just for selfish reasons, because I like him so much and because he has brought such meaning and depth to my life, but also, because he deserves it. Mr. Jones is life. He has always respected Life, in all of its various shapes and forms.
So, I am sad, totally infused with sadness and sorrow. I'm frightened. I don't let myself get too close to the reality of his not being around one day, his death.
And to you new readers, and to all those who are close to and love him as I do-- he is all of what you read about and more ....
Mr. jones, please keep fighting-- and stay as long as you can. And though this commment was difficult, I know it is nothing, compared to your fears and questions of "why."
I love you infinite numbers and will care for you, equally as long.
The tears are coming again, just like they did for Daniel, just as they did when you found my precious Chapin lying on the floor, with me holding her, lying next to her, weeping all over her golden fur.
Thank you for being there then ... thank you for being here now.
Much love--

MsDean2 said...

I start this response not knowing where my thoughts will go. Perhaps this will be one of those self-serving comments from a friend, a distant friend. I write anyway. Yes, I admit I did not (maybe still do not) want to hear it. When reading it in your email I looked away. When hearing you speak of the details on Jesus day I, again, selfishly walked away; as if the dishes couldn’t wait. The simple reason being I don’t want it to be true. The injustice, the cruelty of it just seems too great. I tell myself I should know how to react better, I have been here before, twice before actually, and the last not too long ago. My uncle and grandmother died of cancer, two different types of cancer. It was and still is simply cruel. Hearing you only have a few months to live, I am shocked, sad and outrageously angry at the cruelty of this hand. Even my hopeless naïve optimism admits defeat it seems. On the one hand I am each day trying to escape the certainty of loosing my good friend, Mr. Jones. On the other hand I try to understand his struggles, physical and emotional. I wonder about my role as a friend. What should I say, ask, or do? Will what I say or do bring him pain? It is paralyzing. What can I do to be there for my good friend? I hope admitting to this much is a start. I hope?

Slarry said...

Ok, a little addendum. The Nadester, Mr. Jones's mom, the mother of all living is preparing her first blog ever.
She rocks. A very wise woman with a very tender heart.
She likes her one and only son, just a bit. : )
Mom, I'm proud of you and your willingness to learn some computer skills.
You'll make Mr. Spot's day.
Not trying to take away from, or diminish Mr. Jones writing from yesterday, just trying to give my Mom some encouragement wiith the computer. She needs no help in expressing her love for her son. She extols his mulitude of virtues and talents on a daily basis. She will just need a big hug afterwards. Theirs is a very tender relationship-- I am here for both of you. Ok, so who is going to be here for me? : )
Mom, we love you.
Mr Jones-- ditto. you little goob.
Ok, I'm going to wipe away my tears and go to work-- something I'll be more gratful for.
You have touched so many people in so many ways.
Numbers of infinity and beyond--

Anonymous said...

Ah shit. Actually, double shit. I tried to post a comment yesterday in response to 34DD, & to Francis and CC, but I must have screwed something up on the techno side. My apologies. I had intended to say that I had not intended to sadden so much as just share some straight thoughts--sometimes these thoughts are more serious, sometimes not as much silver lining on the cloud, but you know, an overcast day is also nice at times. That's all. And what you, 34DD, wrote and hearing that Francis likes the cookie a bit more--that's worth hearing, I truly appreciate it. So love and kisses--and give a hug to CC. -Mr. J.

tossing salads said...

i have come back to post about the serious shit. as you know mr. j, where i work, gives me a unique perspective on all of this. i have the opportunity to find out so much about any kind of cancer or treatment that i wish. the people here are very supportive of me and deb cuz most all know. but.... from the moment i heard the word pancreas, i knew the outcome. and it fucking pissed me off. all i knew was that it wasnt right, wasnt fair, and shit, someone had to have made a mistake. someone so vital, who contributes so much to the beauty of the world doesnt deserve this kind of end. so i may have never mentioned IT but knew IT very well. so, as before, i see, i hear, what my patients have to say and what their bodies show me and i chose to not say what my head and heart already knew. didnt see the point. so brother dear, i have always known and have so thrilled with each decrease in anything, cuz i know what it means. MORE TIME to have you grace this wonderful cookie. so, peace and harmony to you. i send it each and everyday. hoping beyond hope that a miracle will happen. being the mom that i am, i always hope, hoped with all that i had that dan the man would be well, never gave up but knew different. its like impossible for me to not have hope. so i will, it helps me get on with my day. love you and hope