And now I’m not myself anymore


If it wasn’t some kind of movie plot and a deranged madman implant a stick or a snake or a robotic, futuristic control device that will have me goose stepping in locked formation, I’m now standing on something like the photo above. I took the bandages and tape off, and I have a serpentine gash puckering the cellulite in my thigh more than the usual pucker. Hard to say what’s in there.

I seem to be recovering OK. I had hopes that I would be one of the patients the surgeon chattered about who veritably waltzed out of the recovery room. But, I can’t fuckingdance, so no surprise that wasn’t me.

I did leave the hospital with all it’s sterile movie set tubes and monitors the second I could. One night of care taking and I was done.

My favorite part of the hospital was the intravenous drip of narcotics that would ooze more pain-killing goodness at the press of a button. I was watching the second hand wind down in 10 minute intervals when the device would reward me with a boost. Life should have such delivery systems on the daily.

But, alas, I discovered all of that sweet, sweet opiate had a price. My stomach felt like shit with saltine crackers and ginger ale being my only joy. And, that shit will bind up your colon like it’s never been blocked before.

More on that scatological burst in a second, but a side note on why I left the hospital with great haste.

Hospitals are for sick people. I think perhaps the best time to stay. would be in full on coma. Anything short of persistent vegetative state, and it is fucking annoying.

There are a thousand cliches and previously tread remarks. But, why the fuck why must it be 24-hour poking? Can’t they schedule the blood-drawing guy and the drug-dispensing and the ice pack change and the nutritionist to hit you up roughly around the same time? And why does anything have to happen pre-dawn?

I would have rather have died in my sleep, I think, then to be woken out of it to have every tube and whatnot checked whenever sleep did come.

Even though the nurse dithered nervously as to whether I was truly ready and whether I could take care of myself and whether I was really, really sure, when the physical therapist gave me the green light on going the bathroom alone, freedom was mine.

So, the bathroom is what gave me freedom, and it is the bathroom that will likely preclude me from developing an unhealthy bond with the bottle of Norco by my side.

Don’t get me wrong. Hydrocodone, she is a good friend at 3 a.m. when there is no pose or state of mind that will bring comfort. She swaddles you in the numbing goodness that tells the nerves that pain is not of you, not today.

Come the morning, though, the wonderful mistress who gave you comfort and relief has walked away with your wallet and your guts. Left behind is a growing pit of constipation that prunes, softeners and laxatives cannot conquer alone. They each must join a pitched battle for days on end.

I’ll take this away from the image of my personal pooing.

I am obsessed about constipation as a constant side effect of using opiates. Basically, for me it’s a different face on everything perceptively cool about drugs, drug culture, creativity and drug-induced muses.

Rock and roll heroes like Janis Joplin and Joey Ramone couldn’t shit. The notion of all of that soul and pouring out of emotion and capturing their respective raw movements in society and considering that price leaves me even more in awe.

I am a simple simple woman. If I am not comfortable in some basic, bestial ways, I cannot think let alone create. My soul is base. I like good plumbing too much to truly ever be a rebel.

Meanwhile, in 2014, we are all one connected by the internet. So, I could Google my obsession.

Through the computer age, I discovered There is a whole world out there of people sharing the good, bad, funny, safe and crazy about the whole pharmacology of drugs. And holy shit, as it were, many are out there sharing forums of my own short-term obsession.

The next wave of futuristic drugs will be gentler on your stomach.

Not writing and writing

I guess it’s summertime and I’m busy going on adventures, like whitewater rafting, walking to the beach and barbecue. And, of course, there is my most recurring adventure, sitting on the couch and getting fat.

I’ve had some ideas for things to write here. I could write about the full on anxiety and trembling I felt whitewater rafting when the full force of my first experience on the Nile came back and I started feeling irrationally and overwhelming phobic. I could write about Dr.Laura and how I learned about her epic fail from a chat with a homeless dude named Larry in Berkeley.

I could write about my experience concocting an evening outing for work that turned into my own little amusing performance art piece in which with a little help from some friends I brought a crowd with some uptight and overeducated folks to a veritable hippie street party. I could write about the mundane, or maybe the way in which I still feel like an abused spouse in the workplace, even as I only get positive reinforcement in this job.

Or, I could do what I’ve been doing and not write.

For over a year, I’ve been naval gazing and hang wringing and other body part manipulating in a pretty unspectacular, boring cave of writer’s block. Someone asked me seriously, genuinely, strongly why do I write, or more why do I feel compelled to write. Further, he told me I didn’t have to write and I certainly didn’t have to validate myself through self-flagellation at a keyboard.

It struck home, and I haven’t gotten full on unstuck. Combine that with the sinking feeling that the books I loved as a little girl are a technology with a cloudy future. Being an author was never an easy row to hoe, now with the state of publishing it seems worse than dirt farming.

This week, or more last week, though, I was reminded by life one of the reasons I do want to write. Not to be all cliched and philosophical at the same time, but sharing stories is kind of what it’s always been about humanity wise.

A good friend, someone who I feel would have been a great friend had I not fled Boston, lost her mom. For the past year or so, she’s been keeping house and cooking meals and taking care of her mother however she needed. She emailed me a few days before when her mom was in a bad state after a stroke and then a series of strokes. The inevitable happened on Thursday.

Now, on the side of the country I left, she’s gone through the busy flurry of wakes and a funeral and having folks back to the house and making food and eating and storing food. No doubt, she’s functioning on autopilot and in the coming months she’ll feel intensely the change in the universe from not having to worry any more about her mother’s fragility and missing the place where her mother used to be.

I have the kernel of the idea about my mother, Pat, and me, and a few shallow chapters on my ‘puter, because story telling keeps us sane and keeps us knowing we aren’t alone. Not only would I get to exercise my demons by writing them down, but just maybe a reader would dig it and breath a little easier.

I can’t do anything to help my friend out but talk on the phone. I told her about my small smoking binge for the months that followed Pat’s funeral. It felt OK when she, having quit years ago, told me she and her brothers had been having a smoke on the stoop. For both of us, I think, there’s something cathartic in knowing someone else did the exact same thing.

The other day, I took a day off of work for no reason and with no plan. Ultimately, I wandered the aisles of Target and Daiso, a Japanese store with housewares and junk. It was relaxing to have absolutely no agenda. I came home with new underpants and various things for the house.

I laughed out loud in one department of a department store. A middle-aged woman and an older woman, crooked from osteoporosis, stood side by side in front of a shelf if empty bins. The older woman was examining a little plastic storage bin, carefully considering the possible purchase. The other woman, who really could only have been her daughter, questioned why she could possibly need it.

“You never can have enough storage, you know.”

The retort was quick and exasperated, “Yes, you can. Especially when you have no where to put it.”

I smiled a friendly head nod, as I passed by them in the aisle.

The dialog and its tone were so familiar, so comfortable. Among friends and strangers, I’m sensitive to all of the daughters and all of the mothers living through the last phase of their relationships. It’s a tough rite of passage, frustrating and rewarding.

On top of losing my mother, there are also a thousand ways in which I remember the Pat I did know and have in my life. I almost wrote on Twitter the other day that I can’t pass doll house furniture without quashing the urge to pick something up for her.

I wish now I could get some of her inspired and surprising creativity.

For example, I know she could help with another thing I could write about–a friend with breast cancer. She’s an unlikely friend, in that we’re not contemporaries (in fact she’s the same age as my uncle) and lives in Washington, DC. Still and all, we are long-distance coworkers who have swapped stories and realized some kinship, including strong-charactered mothers, and sharp, wicked senses of humor that have caused almost as much trouble as laughter.

As the contemporary of my aunt and uncle and from the generation about which Gail Collins writes, she’s straight up first generation feminist and solidly liberal. The pink ribbons, pink everything else and what Barbara Ehrenreich bitches about for its infantilism leaves her flat.

As does the notion that she should be a docile and placid patient, as opposed to the pugnacious fighter in her soul. I pity the poor oncologist or radiologist who doesn’t take the time to explain enough.

I want to send her something, especially post surgery and going into her second chemotherapy treatment, when she’s talking wig shopping and whether to go down to the army base for a $10 head shave from the barber there (apparently that’s a real option). If Pat were here, we could brainstorm. No doubt she’d come up with an off-the-wall scheme or some bizarre conglomeration of bargains and nonsense. Maybe she’d loan her a hat.

At gift-giving moments like this one, I always imagine the crazy, ragtag, assembled over weeks gift basket, which in my memories was colossally large, that Pat put together for a retiring colleague.

She didn’t leave behind blueprints for how to do such projects proud. I need those skills and those plans now, with one friend sick and another grieving.

At the same time, I need to remember all of the fights and frustration, big and small, with Pat or with life, including all of the many indignities she described as holding her back in life. If I remember the thousand things that made her great and the thousand things that made her troubled, i might have a story. I definitely would have a reason to not become complacent,

My life ain’t bad, But, somewhere there is still a gnawing. Maybe the words will escape some day, late to help my friends, but in time for some one else.