I don’t know if you know this, but one of the prime aims of this blog is to record the happenings in my life, and the associated thoughts and reactions. That means putting down the good, the bad and the ugly. I want leave something behind. I want people to know that I lived and I had a mind.
During the week I posted a couple of pieces to Facebook. One was written at about 1.30am when I couldn’t sleep, and has typical aspects of that. It remains true, nonetheless:
I can’t sleep for thinking, which is most nights now. I try to figure things out, as I always have, though it feels more personal now. I dwell on the things I can’t do. I can walk, though not far. I take stairs one at a time, and not two as I did so blithely before. No social life really, because there’s little pleasure in it – too tired, too sore, can’t eat, can’t drink. At least I can hear now. I watch others and hear their stories of things I was once part of. I miss women, flirting. Being tender. With a damaged mouth and lips that are numb I wonder if I can still kiss as before. I feel separate from life around me and stuck on pause. There is force in me still, but no might or power.
All I have left is my mind, or so it feels. It ranges far, never stopping. It was always active, but there is a difference now. There was a lazy intent before. A smug indifference. There was always time and I was always capable. Now it becomes concentrated and forced back upon itself and the words, as you see, must tumble out. Thought is my only real activity, and my mind the only part of me unconfined by the physical limitations imposed upon me. It’s just as nimble as it ever was, but now it searches for justification. If this is what I have, then it must mean something – or so I conjecture.
Endure, I’ve told myself along the way. Be strong. Though they seem the same, they are different. Endure is simple. Take the pain and keep going. Keeping turning up. Overcome. I’ve practice at that and it’s easier than it sounds. As for being strong – what I mean really is, be defiant.
There are times it gets to me – the pain, the fatigue, the uncertainty, the sheer unending-ness of it all. How it makes me feel small now and how I have to force things – even speech – just to seem normal. But then something triggers in me. I get angry. I’m not about to let some grubby little shit like cancer get the better of me. And I won’t be small. Sure, it’s hard, but who said it would be easy? I shake my head. Get over yourself. Suck it up. And so, I become defiant.
These are necessary attributes and I’m lucky they come easy to me. My dad always said I had a chip on my shoulder, and it’s damned useful sometimes.
I can handle that, but there’s another battle. My ego makes demons and it’s my ego that knocks them down. The battle is in my head. The battle of my body is fought by surgeons and medical science and maybe a little bit of fortitude. But it’s the mind battles that animate me, drawing me back and urging me forward.
I remember once figuring that the choice in life was to act, or be be acted upon. It was easier to do as the invisible forces direct, move as convention dictated, but that wasn’t for me, I thought. I wanted my thoughts to be my own and damn whatever anyone told me. I wanted to step my own way, be my own man and have, as they say, agency in my life. Easier said than done, but safe to say I’ve been a stubborn pain in the arse most of my life. I have acted.
That is more difficult now and perhaps that’s why thoughts of it become more vivid to me now. The battle is in my mind, but often I feel myself wanting to take a more active part. There are times I imagine my hand on the throat of cancer squeezing the life out of it, never mind the do-gooders whispering in my ear that “violence is not the answer”. To hell with that – and I imagine giving the corpse of cancer a good kick for good measure. To act when no action is possible is forlorn desire.
All that is fantasy. And really, I’ve got the cancer beat – it’s the side effects I have to contend with now. There’s another surgery to come, and I knew that – but it’s more than I thought; not as easy as I had presumed. There may be more. The doctor this morning used the word ‘saga’. The thought wearies me, but I feel no extra fear. The road’s just a little longer than I hoped. And there’s no point in worrying about what I can’t control. I’ll leave that for the doctors.
I know that when it’s over I’ll have lost something I can’t recover. Physically, I won’t be as strong as before, or able, or even as virile perhaps. The macho, strident part of my ego (and yes, it exists and makes a lot of noise) struggles with that as if an existential threat – which it may well be to that part of my ego. But the smarter me knows I have to adjust to it – and I can probably learn to kiss again, and won’t it be fun?
There are still stories to be told. Adventures to be had. Victories to be won. I might lose a little, but I might gain something too. The wheel keeps on turning.
There’s a comment I made that should also be recorded as it contains details of my latest diagnosis, previously alluded to (and which I don’t want to speak of otherwise):
I wonder sometimes if I say too much, if people think, there he goes again, blathering away and feeling sorry for himself. It’s just that it’s never settled. This thing in me is always on the move and my thoughts follow it.
Imagine a hose with water gushing through it and it writhing like a snake from the force of it spraying water everywhere and that’s how I feel. Until the water stops the thoughts will come.
So, the latest is that what I thought would be the last surgery might be the first of a series. They fear that my bone has become unhealthy but won’t know for certain until they go in. If so, I’ll need more reconstructive surgery. Experience tells me that’s not much fun as they must take bone from one part of the body – my hip last time – to place it in another. They also speak of hyperbaric chambers.
I doubt that it’s as bad as all that. I have high hopes that this surgery will do it but then, I’m an optimist. If it were another part of my body it would be easier, but these are the cards I’m dealt.
Whatever happens, I have no choice but to deal with it. I’ll come out of it. For now, let’s hope there’s nothing to it, which must be at least a 50/50 shot.
A couple of days later I posted something else as I felt as if some had misconstrued me. I’d had people contacting me directly to check if I was okay. Well, I’m not perfect, but in terms of mentality, I’m impatient but determined. I’m better than I was a few months ago. This is what I wrote:
I just want to reassure everyone that, notwithstanding the situation, I’m pretty good. Don’t read too much into my ramblings. I remain capable and resolute.
What you’re seeing now has been true of me my whole life. I’m one of those thought-addled people who overthink everything. I’m the type who needs to unpick and understand all I experience, never more so than now (and there’s a lot of it). For once, the curtain has been swept aside and you’re seeing it. Surprise!🙀
A lot of people have bad things happen to them. Mine is on the lesser end of the scale, different only because it’s personal. Forgive my wordiness.
In truth, I take it as a personal challenge. It will end and the reward will be good health and, perhaps, a kind of wisdom. (So much of what I’m experiencing is objectively fascinating and worthy of analysis, but I’ll spare you 😏).
Hang in there. 😎