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Posts on My recent battle with esophageal cancer that I was too weary to keep you updated on..

August 8, 2016

Darkness Into Light

 

It was on July 8th I was laid out on the carving station for esophageal cancer at the Stanford Hospital, positioned between the chicken and the sushi bar.

In the hospital for ten or so days, The Land That Bears Ill has so many chilling breezes. For some reason decided to play Elvis Costello’s “Accidents Will Happen.” Illness tries to extract all your hopes and dreams, rhtyhym and blues, poetry, magic, comedy, music, literature, movies, and whatever quirks made you–like it;s all meaningless, and you’re empty, And these winds swirl and blow you off course with needles, bed changes, You are driven down by unpleasant hallucinations, a dark angry swirl that takes away your appetite for flavor, and you closer your eyes and still see dark images upon other images.

Ah “Oliver’s Army” plays as I write; “And I would rather be anywhere else than here to today” contrasted with an upbeat melody.

And so I was swallowed in the dark swirl. Did I do everything in my life wrong? Did I make the wrong choices?

But I never hit bottom. I submitted to the hallucinations and sharp, dark gray images–sketches of hardened faces draw in WW2 comic books, black-and-white graphic harsh people.They marched in an endless variety marching sharply past me, through me, over me, They’re darkness got deeper and they became more vivid as I closed my eyes.

“Let me get through this with sleep,” I pleased in my hospital bed. Put me out.Give me water.

The doctor ignored me. Dr. July. First month doing a hospital round. He dismissed it as “alcohol withdrawal.” Come on, that’s I know what that is, that’s trying to sneak out without paying. Ka-Zing.

Give me something.There I was, six tubes sticking out of me like a horror show vampire’s gastro pub and a catheter in my penis. Swirling and haunted at three in the morning.I couldn’t forgive the doctor. He’d have to absolve himself (Good luck with that.) .

And here I am on August 8, a haze is departing from me, the Fredness survived, and try to thinj oif a new joke. Still fatigued. I reach for a book. I will march those useless black-and-whites back into the darkness under the bright sun. Still, I am tried, partially haunted. The experience tried to heal and destroy me at the same time. Talk about being abandoned in the middle of a battlefield between two charging opposing armies.

I lay there, and I think of how I was called the Uluru, and how I climbed it and left Mom’s ashes up there and I whispered, come on Uluru give me a helping hand here, and a soft whiskering energy waved from my ankles and stopped short of my chest,

I was reassembling in the light.

Working on a set fro Comedy Day in San Francisco.

Take that responsible darkness.

Gatorade And Eternity

Funny what makes you reflective in the Land of Ill. Gatorade. I stare at the bottle. I have a food tube in my stomach. I get winded halfway climbing the 52 steps to the roadway above Summer. Gatorade. It had just come out. I was a in high school, but it was summer time. I was a damn good tennis player, and so adults would drive to my house, and pick me up, and we would go to public courts and rotate sets from eight am to noon. And There would be the Gatorade–it was new, came in a 32-ounce glass jus, had a pattern of some sort on it. But turn and crack that orange pop and its pneumatic pop and then gulp it down after or between sets. So cancer ahead, no first love, just running and hitting a ball on a hot summer day. And I found this memory made me cry, because here I was so weak in the middle of the summer, and I wasn’t running to the surf, or chasing a ball. or swinging a golf club, or joining friends for a grill and beer.

The turn of that orange cape, the smell of summer, and thirstt granted and gratified.

 

Wearing the belt

afgloves

 

Beaten and weary, but arms up raised and ready to throw a punch for myself and others. So far no cancer and rhe doc says I’m doing great and wished all his patients were recovering like me. All that tie paddling and getting stronger in the water. It was ability to skip ICU. And believe it also facilitated having tubes pulled out earlier. But hey, I’m still weak and struggling to find foods for eat. Plus Laurie’s caregiver has been so invaluable that I definitely would have never done this alone. I will try to get back to all of you as y strength of range increases,I f

PS: I always dress up, you have to look better than the disease you’re fighting

 

Dr July

 

Let me tell you the tale of Dr, July. He is a young man who just graduated from med school and was now working a shift on me. Here I was,, gutted and carved up like a turkey, every type of trauma was hitting all the nerves in my body–brain, digestives or wherever the hell they are. I had no food or water since the operation five days before, I was still recovering from all the anesthesia and drugs pumped into my body, and I had six tubes as well as a catheter extending out of my body and I was hallucinating and in pain and begging for a glass of water or a drug to stop every object in the room from moving and haunting me–the cloks on the wall were turning to look at me, and many other things. And this youg hero dismissed me as alcohol withdrawal, I mentioned that maybe everything I havd been going thorugh was giving me these hallucinations.

I wanted to say to him, “Have you ever had needles in your arms and body for days had no food or water, have you ever watched your father and mother die, have you ever had a first love, have you ever chased a dream, have yo ever taken a chance, have you ever had chemo, have you ever had a best friend die while you were holding him, have you ever, ever, ever.”

He had a lot of going somewhere else before he would grow up into the man who becomes a doctor.

 

The nobleness in others

Here;s how people can be noble in suffering, In the bed next to me, a guy was moaning and groaning and then said, “I wouldn;t wish this pain on anybody.” I must say I’ve said this many times. But when I hear it come from others it shows how unselfish some are, when in their deepest pain they don’t cry out for themselves but for the plea to spare others,

Black Panic

There are moments when you’re will where pains come, and I have to say this experience with esophageal surgery was like walking into a four-way intersection and simultaneously in the middle by vhiucles in all four directions. It’s disorienting, combining all thghe other pains and heartaches from all my previous battles–s a Rueben sandwich. The difference is there;s a dark wave of panic tht swirls around through my heart and soul that is trying to obilerate any compassion for others, or the desire to hear music or read, or be funny. This percolating nihilism of a death. I cringe from its presence, the way one might run up a little futher up the shore not to get wet from web, I never felt this presence before, but make no mistake, its a force that sometimes make people just give up and and consume away. Well, it’s counter by all the people who have loved me, Their hearts are inside me, and their concerns, and support, and they also throb within me, not different than than the way sudden pain travels, but these are a vibrant root-driven force, and strengthen me, and fill me with that gusher of wellness that obliterates the black panic,

 

 

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