Monday, July 31, 2006

7.31.06, Double Play: The How of Fear Not Why

[So, brief intro, then dinner, then the conversation at after paragraph three.]
Part 1. Non-Conversaton

Franky Scale feels something like 6, it's been bouncing higher a few times then back down, overall an unusually active day might be the reason for this. Dinner only happening now at ten, which gives an indication.

This is my studio view, where the composing will take place:

However, there will be a post after that, something like a simulcast, or for the younger generation like an IM dialogue between two people, Disenchanted Princess and myself, which will be posted. Not live, an edited version and cleaned up version will appear tonight before bedtime. If you must sleep, sleep and get up to read it over coffee while I'm getting ready to head off to the hostpital for my very expensive bloody marys. If not sleep, then check back, we will be here.

Part 2. Late Night Conversation

me: A long quote adapted from Dr. Ira Byock's, Dying Well (1997), from a pamphlet give to me by a social worker at the SCCA recently, and only more recently actually picked up and perused by me, like this:

me: "Quality End-of-Life Care" [is what the pamphlet is about...] "Every person who confronts the end-of-life has the right to medical care aimed at relieving physical suffering. We all deserve support and care from professionals and individuals that understand the emotional suffering that is sometimes present as we strive to understand the meaning of our life and death. We also deserve the opportunity to express our hopes, fears and desires regarding death and dying and then have those sentiments respected and honored by our caregivers."

me: He goes on to say that "We may need a 'place' to stay, people to help us keep ourselves clean, and as we get closer to death, depending on our wishes, help with food and drink. We will need people to keep us company, to listen to us, and to just 'be there.'" That's it.

me: So, all of that I read and then go proceed into the body of the pamphlet proper, where it reads "IF this information is in your hands, you or someone you care about may be facing the final stage of life." Here, I hear echoes of William S. Burroughs' theories about language as virus, word virus, the contagion of a phrase or a description, of the fact -- you can call it a peformative fact / statement, if you will -- that it's in my hands. God, is it in my hands. The words are there, here, and I've got it. The banal shock of those lines are juxtaposed in my mind, set up against the schockingly banal words that open the Byock quote.

me: He writes "everyone has the right," yes. He writes, "we all deserve," yes. And a number of caregivers are around, could be around, should be around, who can "strive to understand" the simplest things for us: the manner in which we try to understand the "meaning of our life and death" he writes. He's missed one point, there should also be striving after "the meaning and the lack of meaning of our life and death"--there is nothing wrong with confronting, squarely & actively, that No Meaning might be the right answer. It does not reduce anyone to nihilism, no body to relativism moral or any other variety, no person goes bad for it. It's merely one more option, a call to search for something, an option to make something where nothing existed before.

me: So, why, what, and whence, with my now long post? The idea of a "place" to do this, to get all your understanding, to work out your wishes, to need people, and to be needed. I read all this and I think about issues that have rarely if ever crossed my mind before. I read all this and am reminded of my where, that my where-I'm-going is over there, to such a "space." I read it all and think goddam, once again, how complex life is and is it really all happening as it seems to be.

Kim: It makes sense that these issues wouldn't have crossed your mind before, in the sense that no one does, no one thinks about these issues till they find themselves in the situation of holding the pamphlet, in whatever role

Kim: It's worth highlighting your choice of words, the shockingly banal

Kim: The banality is a bit hard to comprehend and will probably be harder to deal with in the long run. That this shit happens, just that no one is prepared to have it happen to them.

Kim: The quote is quite interesting, in the many perspectives that it incorporates, the many angles to consider, and yet all from the viewpoint of being the 'patient' and being entitled to it. It's articulate and insightful, and all about the things we never have to think twice about.

Kim: As such, it's almost like a mission statement, written in reverse, as a pledge. That as a 'caregiver,' I will provide these things because that is what dignifies this experience. I wonder though, how do I fit into all of this? Am I part of the 'caregiver' capacity? I would try to argue not, because there is a sense of selflessness that I lack . . .

Kim: Even as I try to listen, to just 'be there,' to be good company - I'm not really trying to 'give' anything. I'm still extracting from the situation what I will. While I'm not the one who is sick, not suffering the symptoms physically, I still need to feel like I'm a part of the experience.

Kim: But then I wonder why?
Cancer sucks

Kim: There isn't much more to say about it . . . but that doesn't make it go away, nothing makes it go away

Me: Remember this one? Tell me what you think about this quote—which is foremost what comes to mind when I look again at the one above --, now, in the new context we find ourselves in: “Each man is master of his own death, and all that we can do when the time comes is to help him die without the fear of pain” (p. 10 Love in the Time of Cholera)

Kim: How?
This one is much easier to process, shorter text, easier "instruction" to comprehend but it still just opens the question. i agree wholeheartedly that that is the way to go, to be able to help alleviate the fear

me: Nothing makes it go away, I agree, with all the sucking that goes with it. So why write so much? Is it perhaps a way for me to make the pain go, to see it get pushed a little farther, a strategy for denial....what do you think?

Kim: writing seems to help answer the how, depending on how the 'reading' actually occurs

me: Meaning?

Kim: i'm not sure where the denial comes in, but dealing with just what is written as truth it helps if you lay out the how or if what you write is read as essentially 'the how"

me: ... the "how" of making is easier?

Kim: i suppose it imparts a meaning to certain things, certain actions become conscious if they are part of a greater. specifically, the issue of fear that i know what my fear is, what fuels it

Kim: and, i know that it's different than yours
… in a way, to hear/see/read your fear helps push mine further away. i can focus some energy in trying to help you deal with yours

Kim: it takes out the room for projection, where I can't impose what I feel to what you 'must' be going through, what i imagine it should be like

me: So it could be seen as a "how" of fear, we have the how of fear. And what you wrote makes me wonder another "how," which is how one deals with this with some sense of equanimity? Maybe you've already started answering that....?

Kim: what do you mean by equanimity?

me: Some sense of peacefulness in action, in doing a thing with poise, keeping a cool head despite the fucked-upness of the greater situation.

me: For example, the way you seem to deal with it--or is that too personal to put it that way?

Kim: well, most of those things are subjective in nature are they not?
if you're asking specifically about how i react to this

i wish i could say that it was purposeful and/or conscious, but i'm not sure that it is

it comes down to keeping the finality of the situation as the end point (duh . . =)

i have a lifetime left to figure it out, the rest of it

but in the immediate, i've already been given a deadline

it happens within a timeframe, or never again

Kim: so, plan backwards if you will

me: I will.

Kim: and because the egg timer is chipping away. the longer you think about what you will do, sit and ponder the million and one possibilities, instead of just doing it becomes the exercise in futility. not to be harsh and/or dismissive, but what's the point in thinking why o why?

Kim: it just is, pause to think, then move, one step at a time like always. i think writing helps to lay out the thoughts, think on the go. it helps me get from one place to the next, to follow where you're going in your head

[a typo repeat, maby better left in...]

Kim: it just is, pause to think, then move, one step at a time like always. i think writing helps to lay out the thoughts, think on the go. it helps me get from one place to the next, to follow where you're going in your head.

Kim: it helps the how, how i can be most helpful, how can i help with the fear

me: I can live with that. Not so much a "why" pointed at the egg timer, but a "how" directed at the fear.


tossing salads said...

wow, i would have to up my IQ quotent big time to get all of that kids. very thoughtful and enlightening. also trying to know what i can do. hopefully ill know when the time comes. grateful for the love and support of your dear friends, who are like family, to you. it must be very comforting. peace and have enjoyment.

Slarry said...

Ok you two, that just sent my head and puny mind spinning. Interesting and informative though.
It seems like that FEAR is the real deal.

Other than that, Mr. Spot, I wish for you a nice rest at the Seattle Cancer Hospital and a great cup of coffee.

You already know the IV infusion days bug me. So extra chocolate cheebus is being sent your way. Who is all going today? How are the Princess and Ms. Gill?

I'll have to read your blog again after I've had more coffee. : )
Looking forward to seeiing you and Mr. franky soon.
Love you brother---

Mel Gibson seems to be having a bad day today.