Sunday, August 14, 2022

Unsuitable for any audience at any time

 So my dental student* saw a couple of funny looking spots on the inside of my mouth and was suddenly talking about mouth cancer and taking photos and measurements to compare later.

I almost said, really wanted to say, but did not say, something I like to imagine would have been something very much like the following:

Mouth cancer?  Let's not get too excited about that until I get my colonoscopy.  I'm pretty sure after that I'm going to have bigger things to worry about than maybe mouth cancer.  I'm pretty sure, dead or alive, coming back to check the size of little spots in my mouth will not be a high priority for me.

I haven't had a solid bowel movement in at least 5 years, maybe much longer than that.  I am terrible with time.   My last colonoscopy had to be at least 10 years ago.  This one promises to be a spectacular horror show.  I don't want sections of my bowels removed to save me from cancer only to kill me with sepsis before I ever have a chance to be even briefly ambulatory again.

*"my dental student" may be phrasing that is easy to misunderstand.  I am not teaching dentistry.  I am receiving dental treatment at a University dental clinic which uses students as the primary perpetrators, lightly supervised by experienced faculty.   I would prefer this model of "care" for all forms of medical treatment, were it convenient and available in my area; explaining why is what folks call "a whole 'nother story".

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Is Everyone Dying?

 Yes.  Of course.  But is everyone I know, including myself, dying right now, very soon, all with symptoms resembling pneumonia?  Momma Kitty's symptoms seem to come and go with the weather.  Patricia's mother died last week of something more akin to pleurisy. I've been sick for a week with something confusing.  Definitely not pleurisy.  I've had that, after my open heart surgery many years ago, and it hurts a lot more than this.  But maybe I have something like pneumonia, which is annoying because I had a specific vaccine against that earlier this year. 

This isn't like when I went to the hospital and found out I had congestive heart failure.  If anything, I am dehydrated.  I have been losing about a pound a day for a week, and that is almost certainly water weight because I am not exercising.  So much chest congestion, to the point that I feel I can barely breathe, and I have almost no voice, and my breathing sounds like an Aztec Death Whistle (look it up, if you don't know), which keeps me awake.  Some nasal discharge, but definitely not to the degree of sinus infections of the past. 

Why am I even writing this?  I don't know.  Forensic bread crumbs?  For whom?  I had intended to go to a clinic today (Friday), but woke up feeling better than I had for awhile and it all seemed so inconvenient.  But then the symptoms come back.  Coughing to the point that I nearly pass out and my stomach muscles ache, just to divest my lungs of a tiny measure of sputum. 

Maybe tomorrow I will go to a clinic.  Maybe tomorrow I will feel better. Again, I don't even know why I am writing this.   My apologies to my audient (right or wrong, I hold that to be the singular form of the plural "audience").

Friday, April 22, 2022

Three Mothers

Yesterday, technically still today for me, my Wife's Mother died.  This is a complicated passing, with a complicated back story, and my part in that story is one that I will probably never fully tell.  Ultimately it is sad, in no small part because I don't know if I ever saw her truly happy.  It feels strange and wrong to have nothing more to say than this when a human life which has so thoroughly intersected with my own has ended.

My own Mother moved with my younger sister to another state a year or two ago.  I honestly can't remember which state right now.  My Mother, at least as of a few days ago, is still alive.  The story of these relationships, with my mother and my sisters, is also very complicated, and a story I feel I have every right to tell to anyone, but I do not feel very motivated to do so at this moment.  My immediate concerns and responsibilities are with and for my wife at this time.

The third mother is a cat.  "Momma Kitty".  She is very old.  It seems she has always been living on my back deck, with food, water and warmed shelter provided. She became the matriarch of a minor cat population explosion, but I managed to get her and her first born all captured and fixed, and her grandkittens all socialized and placed in homes.  Now only she remains, having outlived her own offspring and several other neighborhood ferals.  Just a few nights ago her breathing sounded very labored and I was afraid she wasn't going to last the night, yet she still found her way to unreachable shadows before I could pick her up.  Fortunately, she seems a lot better today.

Sunday, March 20, 2022

Notes for an Introduction to a Book (which will probably never be written)

I'm sorry to give away the ending, but there is no point, there is no meaning.  Life is not a Movie, it isn't even a Story.   It's just something that happens until it stops happening, and every one of them is different, and the only person who knew it all is dead.  Soon anyone who knew any part of it will forget, and then they die, and eventually all of it ends.  Entropy wins.  Creation loses. 

Or I'm wrong.  I don't know shit, and I certainly don't know you or your life, or the universe in which it is happening. 

I very much want to be wrong, but wanting doesn't make it so any more than pretending to know does.

A good writer, a popular writer, would feed you a bunch of happy horseshit about how the meaning is in the moment or some such brain vomit as that.  What good does living "in the now" and finding meaning "in the moment" do me after I am dead?  None that I know of, and none that any dead person has ever bothered to tell any living person.  Anyone who tells you otherwise is probably lying or delusional.

But again, I am really good at being wrong, and I really want to be wrong about all of this.

A Vague Sense of Final Purpose

The brief flurry of "Retro-Blogs" was an attempt to rescue increasingly hard to access writings on other online platforms.  I lost the initial manic drive to pursue this effort rather quickly, but it should resume at some unpredictable time in the near future, or not.  Some will not be recoverable, but I may have offline drafts that can be refurbished.  As layers of my life peel away, some shadows of memory are returning, and there may be an effort to document some of those.  As I review what I have written, I realize some of what I have not. There may also be some overlong emails in my sent folders which may spark other memories or tell stories that can be reclaimed.

All of this comes from an absurd conceit that something could be organized and condensed from this blog to form a physical book.  Nothing digital lasts, but physical books can be surprisingly resilient over time.  This grew from the increasing conviction that I have very likely exhausted my supply of things to say, of days with events specific to me even marginally worth describing.

Of all of my shallow ambitions, the most persistent was for me to be some kind of writer, followed very closely by the ambition to be some kind of songwriter and singer.  Singing is largely out of the question now, but I am fortunate to have had a few moments on a real stage, with a real band, in front of a real audience, and I managed to make reasonably finished recordings of two original songs. I have also documented lyrics and non-standard attempts at conveying melody and other musical elements of several more, almost all of which were originally conceived in a very narrow period of my youth.  Writing and editing of writing remains possible, if sufficiently low standards are applied to the quality of the work.

Mine isn't a life that tells a story.  There are some stories within it, but not the kind of thing that adds up to a book of general interest.  But it is the only life I have had, or likely will ever have.  Even boring books of boring lives such as mine exist in abundance, yet I feel some small compulsion to add my own, even if only very few copies can be produced at my own expense.  There may eventually be, I suppose, some small historical value to boring people documenting their boring lives.

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Retro-Blog 2010.10.20 - Self-Therapy Experiment One: FAIL

Office, afternoon.

Dr. Noble: So, what brings you here today?

Patient: Seriously, that's the best I can do?

Dr. Noble: I'm sorry, I don't understand what you mean.

Patient: You're imaginary.  I am in the process of creating you as a character, and I already think the opening line I gave you is hopelessly lame.

Dr. Noble: Lame?

Patient: A completely illogical cliche'.  I mean, I would be here because of an appointment, and through the process of making that appointment you would already know why I am here.

Dr Noble: Perhaps it is just a standard open-ended way to start a conversation and to learn about you.  I may have some idea of why you made the appointment, but your own thinking about your reasons for being here at this time could be different, and illuminating.

Patient: No psychiatrist or therapist I have ever seen talks the way you are talking right now.  You sound more like me.  I'm bored with me.

Dr. Noble: As long as I am allowed to be atypical, allow me to point out that you would not be here if you were bored with yourself.  If anything you are curious about yourself, perhaps fascinated with yourself.

Patient: Well, that is certainly atypical, I'll give you that.  You are so completely unrealistic.

Dr. Noble: How?  Please explain.

Patient: Well, right there, you're asking questions.  Do you have any idea how seldom people in your profession demonstrate any curiosity about me as a patient or a person?

Dr. Noble:  Until I am better developed as a character distinct from yourself, I expect I will know exactly what your experiences with people of my profession have been.  But is your characterisation accurate?

Patient: You present a valid challenge to my prejudices. I'll just say that my characterisation is consistent with my subjective experience.

Dr. Noble:  That's a dodge.  You didn't really answer me.

Patient: And real therapists don't ever challenge me like that.

Dr. Noble: So once again, why are we here?

Patient: I have found my experience with therapists to be boring and frustrating and they never generate any sense of progress.  I was hoping that by approaching the process in a fictional setting I could say, and hear, all of the things that have seemed to be missing in real sessions with real therapists.

Dr. Noble: Progress towards what end?

Patient: Exactly.  Can you believe that no therapist ever simply asked me that question?

Dr. Noble: Frankly, no.  In one way or another I think they must have asked.

Patient: Really, all of them?

Dr. Noble: Honesty, yes.  I suspect that the resulting conversation has never met some need you have, and thus you have projected the full blame for this on the therapist.

Patient:  The only therapist I have seen who would have given such a defensive answer is the original Dr. Noble whose name I borrowed for your character.

Dr. Noble: That's interesting.  Why did you chose his name?

Patient: Maybe it isn't interesting to anyone but me, which is why I had you say that.

Dr. Noble: Another dodge instead of an answer.

Patient: Fair enough.  Of all of the therapists of various disciplines I have seen, he is the one for which I feel the least personal and professional respect.  All of the others I would be hesitant to offend, no matter how unlikely it would be that they would read this.  But him, I have depersonalised to the point that I don't care if I hurt his feelings.  In fact, the idea of him having feelings isn't entirely real to me, thus he is the perfect choice for the namesake of my fictional therapist.

Dr. Noble:  That doesn't sound like a very healthy attitude towards others.

Patient: I would pay double to hear a therapist say that to me just once.

Dr. Noble: Obviously, you've never really expressed yourself honestly and fully enough to justify such a response.

Patient: Maybe your kind would never say anything so directly punative no matter how justified you may feel it to be.

Dr. Noble.  Perhaps. Why do you say that?

Patient:  Please, don't go all Eliza on me.

Dr. Noble: You're the one writing this, not me.

Patient: Yes. That is the root problem we need to solve first.  We need to make you beleivably a distinct individual from myself.

Dr. Noble: Is that even possible?  Is it even a good goal to have?

Patient: Obviously it is possible.  Fictional works by individual authors are full of distinct characters.  As far as being a good goal: in terms of writing, of course; in terms of therapy, that's a good question.

Dr. Noble: Maybe you're just a bad writer.

Patient: Talk like that isn't making you any more real or separate from my own psyche.

Dr. Noble: And whose fault is that?

Patient: Wow, if anything, you are devolving as a character as this goes on.  You are just a sock-puppet manifestation of my self-hatred.

Dr. Noble: Why bother hating yourself?  Isn't there a world of people ready and willing to do it for you?

Patient:  You would think so, but I don't give them much of a chance.

Dr. Noble: Have you noticed how transparent I have become?  I have almost completely ceased to exist.

Patient: That's ok, you've done your job.

Dr. Noble:  Really?  And what job was that?

Patient: You have reminded me that no matter how boring or disappointing they may be, talking to a real therapist beats the Hell out of talking to myself.

Dr. Noble: Are you sure?

Patient: No.

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Retro-Blog 2010, January-August: Some of The Final Days of James Milton Wood Sr. (my Father)

[Editor's note: Much that was excessively technical or otherwise irrelevant has be excised from this series of online posts. And obviously, this was not originally a Blog entry.]

January 4, 2010:

Wondering what is going on with Dad.  No word from my sisters.  Must take a break for kitty searching and check on Dad.

January 10, 2010:

Dad back in the hospital, Jen leaving again for CO on Tuesday. Hopefully both turn out better than last time.

January 19, 2010:

I'm going to attempt an extended break from sharing family and personal drama on Facebook.

August 3, 2010:

Dad is back in the ICU at the horrorshow Willamette Falls Hospital. Stomach bleed and Pneumonia. Most vitals are trending positive, except for lung function, which is pretty bad.  Barely keeping acceptable blood oxygen levels with a positive pressure mask delivery of over %80 oxygen, and hoping they don't have to go for full artificial respiration.

August 4, 2010:

Dad's lung function greatly improved, transitioned from the positive pressure face mask to a simple nose tube.  Should be moved out of ICU any time now.

August 6, 2010:

I hate the night nurse.  First she calls my sister and says Dad won't make it through the night.  Then she gets all pissy about so many people showing up and kicks us all out until morning.  He's still alive, but worse again.

August 9, 2010:

The health-care roller-coaster was extra wild today.  It started with a "family meeting" where the staff tried to talk us into pulling the plug, and ended with my dad waking up, and talking to my sister. The difference: less morphine, more music.  I set him up with an mp3 player with many hours of his favorite country and gospel music, as well as old family recordings.

August 11, 2010:

There is another "family meeting" today. I lack the objectivity to know who is more irrational, myself or my older sister, but a determination on this point does not alter the inevitable conclusion.  I am sufficiently agitated that I must exclude myself from this process.

August 11, 2010:

Score another win for evil.  A medical professional violated her Hippocratic oath and state law by murdering my father at 5:15PM Pacific time today.

August 20, 2010:

Skipped my Dad's funeral. Too much bad blood between me and all other survivors, and selfishly, I really hate funerals.

August 23, 2010:

My father's third wife, Shirley, died today, on his Birthday and one day short of a week since his funeral. Her cancer was only at stage 2, so I'm not sure what happened.