Need to clarify. I’m not the sort who feels empty and suicidal. There’s too much pain in this world to ever give harm to intentionally bring harm to yourself. There’s too much rage on the street to ever cause that sort of hurt to loved ones and even unloved ones.
I’m more the sort who wanders deep in thought on onto a freeway ramp and then oblivious wanders into on coming traffic suddenly coming to and wondering why there are all these car accidents and collisions and thinking, “People just won’t ever learn to drive.”
I know that makes me pretty normal. At least normal for the kind of guy I am.
A lot of this is this damn pain.
This is not how I imagined getting old. I thought I’d be up on that isolated hill with a view of my thousand acres. One road so that trespassers would be easy to spot. I sit in my rocking chair with my dozens of dogs and watch while music blared out of my shack. A shack is all I’d need.
I never figured on the pain. I get weary of it. I get tired of not being the person I used to be. When I was younger I got tired of not quickly becoming the person I dreamed of being. That was just prep work.
So many things I loved doing that I just can’t do anymore. And then there’s all the predictions of what’s going to happen to me. They keep coming true. I’ve been indestructible too long to believe that my being indestructibility is just a lie.
It is not comforting knowing what’s coming for me. What’s coming is pain. When they gave me the last chemo, the one that really worked they warned me I’d probably lose my teeth within 6 or 7 years. I signed off on it. Somewhere hidden in my mind was the decision that it probably wouldn’t happen. It had only happened in 70% of the trials. I liked the odds. I’d sign off on it again.
I mean feeling hollow, fatigued and in a slow burning achey stench that ends only in death. A chemo that won’t make you real sick and has an 80% chance of stopping that and keeping you alive vs a slightly worse than 50/50 chance of losing some teeth and those other side effects don’t sound too bad just so long as I keep looking good.
Yeah. I’d sign off on it again.
And all except the first chemo were trials. My kind of leukemia is the kind most often found in kids and very old men. Trials lead to cures. No downside, right? I mean I’m not scrapping and pleading for my own life I’m offering myself up as a guinea pig to save some kids. I never actually thought that until now but it was probably somewhere in my head. I always insisted on having 48 hours before I made any of these decisions, then I spent that 48 hours barely thinking about it. Always need to make a calm decision.
The only chemo I regret was that first one. It made me sick, bald and made me regret being alive. The only decent part of it were the “survivor” meetings. I didn’t participate but I remember watching and listening to others. I can still recall some of those scenes and encounters with a comforting clarity.
Most of the memories aren’t of the words but of gestures, of a woman being down and broken looking, baldness poorly concealed by a cheap wig, her chest concave from the mastectomy and for a flashing moment recapturing her former grace and power. People fumbling with cigarettes. Hands moving in an attempt to describe something so big that there just aren’t any words and the vision is so intently personal that eventually communication fails and the failure doesn’t bring despair but a sense of backlit reality and cool blue spaces between stars and people, spaces that are terrifying and comforting by turns.
I planned to live the rest of my life totally alone. This didn’t mean to forget people. Even now I still like people, most people. One thing you can’t turn off is love. You can ignore hate and contain anger but love is pervasive and refuses to die no matter how hard everyone tries to kill it. I always care for people.
But I planned to live alone with my puppy and our foster dogs. Dogs don’t think anything of it when you you groan with every moment. Grunting and groaning in front of people distresses me. It makes me feel less than human.
One thing I remember from those “survivor” meetings is phrases, slogans. I like slogans. Most pop songs are just cool sounding slogans strung together.
“Stop ignoring the elephant in the living room.”
“Don’t judge yourself more harshly than you’d judge others.”
Stuff like that.
I still don’t think anyone else can be expected to endure my constant sickness, my grunts and groans. The dead starings and irritability while I try to quell my rebellious body.
My back is still hurting. Its better. Last time I hurt it badly it was far worse. Far worse. Yet I still managed to walk a mile and a half to the bus stop and then back home. Never missed a day of work and I pretty much hated that job. I did it to prove to myself I was still a man. To prove that hiring somebody sick wasn’t a mistake.
I did it by being alone and thinking about nothing else but enduring the pain. Didn’t make me a very good employee but nothing fell behind.
I can’t help the way I feel. Being sick makes me feel like less than human. I can’t help it the same way some people can’t help being afraid of earthquakes or an ocean filled with 20 foot waves.
It embarrasses me and I can’t bring myself to think that anyone could want to be around someone like “that”. The pills, the blood, the constant agony. Its a thing best done alone I think. Right or wrong, its what I think. I don’t need much proof to reinforce the belief either.
The weather is hideous. Hovering around 50 then lightly freezing at night. Plenty of slickness and ice. Nearly fell this morning but managed to stay erect without flailing my arms or wrenching my back some more. Easy enough when you have no idea how you did it.
The sky is flat dead gray. No feature to it. Like a bad backdrop at an equity waiver show.
I’m taking the dogs for a walk now. They always make me feel better. My puppy straight ahead, always on a mission to get there, where there might be. The gentle pup flying around excited and happy. The giant dog just happy and then afraid of anything new we might encounter. Its a show that never gets old to me.
The rain is coming. The dogs will keep me from wandering on any freeway ramps. They’re smarter than me about things like that.
I’ll be back.
If I get the time I think another day of moist heat, exercise and floor sleep will give me back my back by tomorrow. It feels loose, painful but not like my lumbar spine is a high tension elecrical wire bouncing and sparking in a storm. It should keep getting better. Just guessing but it feels that way.
Then there will probably be real trouble!