Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Obi-Wan is the True Villain

So we all think we know Star Wars so well.   We think that first movie tells us the story that is continued in the rest of the saga, but what if we are wrong.   We already know George Lucas loves to alter his work and change the story on a whim, so what if we never really saw Star Wars (that first one so long, long ago in a theater far, far away) for what it was?    What if those "Rebels" were really terrorists and Luke Skywalker was simply a tool being used and manipulated by a bitter soldier from the losing side?  Think I'm crazy?  Challenge accepted.

First and foremost I must recap the legend of Obi-Wan.  Obi-Wan "Ben" Kenobi is the last of the Jedi Knights; an order of mystic warriors who acted as a sort of Police Force for the government.   A student of Obi-Wan's turned against the Jedi, slaughtered them, and forced Obi-Wan to fight and defeat him and go into hiding.  The end.  Sounds heroic, right?  I agree, but myths often are.  

When we first see Ben as he is now being called, he is a hermit on an obscure desert planet, supposedly in hiding and he comes across a young man who he saves and let's it be known he has been watching this boy and knew this boy's father who he says was killed  in the Jedi slaughter.    He promises to teach this boy all about his father and help him avenge his father's death.  Still good, right?  The only problem is that this is all a lie and I don't mean some of it; I mean all of it.

First things first and should be quite obvious is that Obi-Wan "Ben" Kenobi is not in hiding at all.  For one thing, he is still using the name "Kenobi" and more importantly is still wearing his Jedi uniform.    This is not obvious in the first movie and probably not intended, but as the series continued we learned that Ben's desert attire wasn't just what one wears in the desert as we first assumed, but was the uniform of the Jedi, an order extinct in the universe.  How in hiding are you if you are using your name and still wearing your uniform some 30 years later?   The Jedi slaughter and growth of the Empire wasn't exactly some small and unknown event.  If the remaining Jedi were being hunted, then why is he  using his name and wearing his uniform?   What kind of insane freak still wears the uniform of a defunct army 30 years after the war?   Wouldn't someone say "look, isn't that a Jedi?"

Next we have Princess Leia's mission.  Star War opens with the Rebel ship fleeing a gigantic Star Destroyer (possibly the coolest opening in movie history).   The ship becomes damaged and the Princess sneaks stolen information off the ship and it lands on a random planet.   This planet just happens to be where the guy she was looking for was in hiding AND the son of the bad guy she is fighting happens to live.    The means she uses to get said plans off her ship happens to be the robot made by the bad guy when he was a child.   How many coincidences do you need before pattern emerges?  Her ship doesn't slow down due to damage, it stops because they arrived at their destination.   The robots were brought along because it was known Obi-Wan would recognize the robots of his former pupil.   Basically, more evidence he was never in hiding at all.

After Ben saves Luke, he takes Luke to his home and begins telling Luke the story of his father.   He tells Luke his father was a great pilot and a hero; he paints a picture of a man Luke instantly falls in love with as it fills every dream a fatherless son has of who their dad was.   He then tells Luke that Darth Vader betrayed and murdered his father and hands Luke his father's old sword.   Come on!  He flat out lied and manipulated Luke to find and kill his own father.   Basically, Obi-Wan's final revenge on his former pupil is to have the son kill the father.   What a demented sick old bastard!   Darth Vader isn 't even the "Big Bad" of Star War, but only a lackey of Tarkin.   Killing Vader does nothing to aid the rebellion against the Empire: this is a personal vendetta Kenobi has against Vader with Luke a tool.

It is funny in an ironic way how Lucas altered his story so much that his heroes have become villains and terrorists.

I hope I have some friends left after reading this.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

My Tattoo

It had been haunting me; bouncing about in the back of my head for years, but something I would never do.   I was afraid; both of the pain and disappointing other people, but it was something I wanted.   My friend Miguel said "maybe it is something you are not supposed to get," but I countered "because of my fear it is something I HAVE to get."   He was the only one in on my internal debate and didn't think I would go through with it.  Neither did I actually.

My first design idea was "7/30/13" which is the day I was diagnosed and my world changed.   I would place it on my upper right arm, inside flesh so it would be hidden by a sleeve and remain a tattoo just for me.   Some people I would propose hypothetical tattoo ideas to with that date would say it was a bad idea because it was a bad date.   Everyone assumed it was a negative thing and wondered why I wanted to commemorate that date given my life changed and not for the better from their perspective.  And while I think of that date as a second birthday, I decided not to get it just because I didn't want a lifetime of justifying the idea and trying to prove it was a good day in the long run.   So the tattoo was back on the backburner but the desire was still haunting me.

While in Captiva, I decided on a new placement for my mythical tattoo; my right wrist.  Still a place where it was just for me, but also a place where I could see it.   The coward in me also felt that if girls could get a tattoo there, so could I.   And I could hide it by my watch if need be.  All I needed now was a design.

My first design stuck with me and a date on my wrist was pretty much decided, but it still didn't sit right thanks to the advise of others.   I still didn't want a lifetime of justifying it to everyone, so I started thinking about what means something to me.  My faith is a guiding force and a defining aspect of how I see myself.   While not religious, I am spiritual and believe in many of the Jewish philosophies found in the texts.    And I have spent the last two years of my life fight for life.   2+2=4 and Jewish faith + life = a Chai.   Decision made, but courage still lacking.   Then I had another operation and ended up in Hell.

While sitting in my hospital room and feeling miserable, a show came on about only survivors of plane crashes and, since NOTHING was on, I watched it.  It was OK for the most part and not half as depressing as I feared it would be and it sealed the deal on my tattoo with something a survivor said.  She said "life had put scars on me and changed my body in way I never wanted, so I found the courage to do it in a way I did."    That was it: I was getting a tattoo, but when?

Months went by and the tattoo stayed on my brain.  I began watching those stupid tattooing shows on TV and reading about them.   My rule was "if a design stayed in my mind for 6 months that I wanted, then I could get it for a lifetime."   I went about 3 1/2 months before I found myself driving to the tattoo shop at lunch one Friday.    Without thinking, I walked in and inquired about getting a tattoo.   The artist on duty was busy, but they said they could call me when he was done if I left my number.  I had a way out and didn't take it.   I left my number and went back to work as lunch was over.   I could still not do it.

My cell phone rang around 1:30 and they were ready.  Again, without thinking I asked my co-workers if I could go run a quick errand and they didn't ask where to, so I went.   I paid before my tattoo was started, so my window of backing out ended quite quickly.   By 2:10 I was back at work with a bandage on my arm that nobody noticed.   Weird huh?

So that is the story of my tattoo done in a quick and probably incomplete fashion.   I might have more to say later.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Officially Worthless in Case of Zombie Apocalypse

Depressing headline, right?  Yes, I'm back and feeling better after my Hell Ride which I will discuss soon, but not today.   Today I am discussing a disappointing aspect of my colostomy bag: I am officially worthless in case of a zombie uprising.   And NO, I have not been training, but who doesn't dream?  

I grew up on dystopian fantasies from zombie movies to Mad Max films to Escape from New York to Metalstorm.   Yes, I admit to seeing Metalstorm.  And I always have that thought in the back of my mind; especially in hardware stores.  "Crowbar?  Yup, would need one of those.  Oh, look at that knife!  That would make me look bad ass!   Bet that sledgehammer would hurt a zombie or two. "  Like I'm the only one: admit it!

Anyway, with this colostomy bag, the apocalypse would really be a pain in the ass.   Sure, not having to stop to take shits would be advantageous, but the constant need of medical supplies would probably be hard to accommodate in the end times.   I could rinse out bags, sure, but the wafers that stick to my skin would eventually be no good and then what?   Duct tape?   Gorilla tape?   Sounds painful.

This kind of sucks.  

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

From Five Days Post-Op

This was dictated into my phone over the course of Monday night and Tuesday afternoon from a hospital room in Tower 3 of an unnamed hospital.

So this is a hospital post on the night before I am to be going home.   I'm a little doped up right now, so it might be interesting.

For the most part my experience has been the stuff nightmares use to scare other nightmares.  Of course it hasn't helped much that my anti-depressants were somehow overlooked in all the chaos my first three days in, so I am sure things in my mind were not lining up with events happening around me.  I do know for a fact the pain medication I was on was causing me to hallucinate rather extensively.   I definitely recall lying in my bed and "Watching" the television and enjoying a really funny cartoon until I actually opened my eyes and saw the History channel was what was actually on.    There were also a few times that people came into my room and spoke to me and when I opened my eyes, the room was empty, but I quit taking that pain killer after 4 days because I was not enjoying it at all.    The drug is quite strong, but the effects are short lived while the negatives are rather long lasting.    The negatives outweighed the pain relief in the end.

The Hospital has been a mixed bag.  South Miami Hospital was phenomenal service with occasional bouts of badness.   This hospital (which I was born in) has been the opposite in every regard.   I think the main problem is that they have gotten way too big while trying to keep the same costs that they had as a small hospital.  The end result is a lot said about patient care being number one (although they did state their goal was "very good care" and not "excellent"), but they lacked the resources to give that care.     For example, they were supposed to check on my every hour during the day and every two at night, but six or seven hours would go by with nobody checking on me.    Seems (according to a technician) that they tend to leave younger patients alone more as they said young patients take offense to offers of bathing or the nagging of getting up to walk.   Let me assure you that I was incapable of doing any of it on my own and would have loved offers of help.       This aspect was made even more ironic by the fact that my neighbor is an 87 year old woman who had to have her grand daughter "remind" her that the nurses were there to help and she needed to stop hitting them.

In the "warts and all" spirit of this blog, it is time for some blunt honesty: I can say without any doubt I had a complete and total mental breakdown on Saturday and I would like to apologize to every single soul I had to deal with or, more to the point, had to deal with me on that day.   Not one person saw me; they saw the effects of withdraw, fear, helplessness, and a lack of anti-depressants.   They saw something I had never seen before: a Brad without any control and lost in fear.   Apparently as I demanded they transfer me to another hospital I said "I never feared cancer killing me, but I honestly wonder if this hospital will!"  I've been embarrassed about it since.   Happily, Sunday they started my antidepressants and all was good mentally again....or was it (Dun, dun, DUUUUUN!!!!!!!)?

I am going home on Tuesday (tomorrow from the perspective of writing this).   Well, not all of me as half my colon is staying behind.   The surgery turned into something out of Gilligan's Island as a three hour tour just extended and extended.   I was told the operation ended up lasting almost six hours with just one hour alone dedicated to nothing but removing of scar tissue from the chemo and radiation.    While my rectum was originally going to be removed and I was to be sealed there, they found just far too much damage to leave enough tissue to seal the area if they had removed the rectum, so instead it is detached from every other part of my body and will just be a souvenir of days long gone.   History Channel and HLN are my constant companions although no amount of high quality hospital dope could get me through either Nancy Grace nor Dr Drew.

End of Monday's babble portion and now the start of Tuesday afternoon's:

I can honestly say that I am a little scared about my future right now.   The colostomy is an entirely different world  from the iliostomy, but it is still a change and if I am going to be honest (and why would I bother writing if I weren't going to be?) I will admit to moments of wondering if I actually can do this for the next 50 to 60 years and if I really want to.   That is a very long time; longer than I have been alive.   I think this is a thought any sane person would have at this moment where we just passed the point of no return, but I also know given what I have already endured that I can endure much worse and come out smiling.  I bet this is something I can go through over and over again; although I am NOT looking to put this theory to the test so slow down Universe!

I am going to miss peeing in bed.   I am not going to miss the room, the TV, or the solitude...and the solitude was my choice.   I told everyone who offered not to come and even told my parents they didn't have to wait until the operation was over before leaving because it would be late.    I told them they don't have to come visit me because all I do is sleep, but they did.   You cannot stop a Jewish mother when her son is in the hospital from doing anything.    You stand a better chance of convincing North that it is South.

See, the thing is that I don't want people I care about to see me the way they would in a hospital bed; as I see people in hospital beds.   Few things are more sacred and private to me.    While I don't show it often, I am still human and some dignity it appears has remained and my vanity doesn't want those in my life sitting around in a room as I have a scar on my stomach, a bag of shit on my chest, tubes in my nose draining my stomach, and IV's hanging off my arms.  It is just not a memory I want people to have of me.    Everyone did ask if my mom was my wife or older sister though.   She was flattered.

I'm tired of transcribing right now.   Will finish this later.   I am out, free, and alive.  Also happy and having a Diet Coke: my soul desire from that hospital hell: they only had Pepsi!  Can they get nothing right?

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Pre-Op Thoughts

I know I have a prohibition against blogging while taking medication, but my surgery is tomorrow so I really have no choice.

Last night was monumental; it was a historic moment in my life    Last night was my last traditional bowel movement. Last night was the last time that I sat on a toilet.  Last night was the last time I wiped my arse.  Last night was the last time period.

It is very strange doing something for the last time.   And it is not like when one says "this is the last time I'm going to have a cigarette" he says as he smokes out of nervousness.  This was an honest to G-d no looking back no second chance no changing your mind last time I was going to do something and I knew it going into it.  Countless times in our lives we do numerous things for the last time, but how often do we go into it knowing it?

I've never enjoyed bowel movements.  I'm sure that is actually a stupid statement as nobody enjoys it.  They come at inconvenient times and create odors that can clear the most congested nasal passage.    But then again who doesn't really enjoy a good shit from time to time?   I can be the only one who occasionally feels deep satisfaction with what I have created sometimes, am I?     TMI again?   Sorry...

Without the daily bowel ritual, how will I catch up on my reading?  My news?  Am I supposed to sit there pretending I'm just constipated until I finish that next chapter?  Is it even possible for me to read and retain what I read without a toilet attached to my ass?   Does anyone really read without one attached to their's.   I bet there is one attached to you as you read this.

I also wonder how many hours per year I am now going to save on average.

I wonder how many trees are going to thank me for not using them to clean myself.    I wonder if they will send me a card, or would that be too ironic?  

I wonder how many fish will bless me for not sending them wads of used toilet paper.    I wonder if that blessing will be mitigated by the fact I will still be sending, poo.  No hard feelings.   I think some of you eat it.   Gross, but who am I to judge?

In closing, I want to leave you with some wisdom I found in an issue of the comic series event "Marvel Civil War".  It is something Ironman says to Spider-Man that struck a chord deep within me and I feel relates to us all:
In everyone's life, Peter, there's an 'it'... your wife leaves you, or you get cancer. There's your life before 'it' and your life after 'it.' 9/11 was an 'it' of national magnitude. --Anthony Stark from Amazing Spider-Man Vol 1 Issue 352
One last paraphrase from an unknown source: "IT" does change who you are; "IT" reveals you.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

My Mind's Got a Mind of It's Own

So here is where we are today at T-52 hours: nervous and working against myself mentally.   I know I shouldn't and am fighting back with all I got, but in a battle between my mind and my control of it, the mind has an advantage.  It knows my weakness and fears far better than I do and is introducing me to new ones constantly.   Lucky for me, I am sarcastic enough even to myself that I can counter most.     Here is the latest form of attack and it is good one:

"So Brad..."

"Yes self.  What have you got for me now?"

"A doosey."

"This should be good."

"Oh, it is."

"Hit me."

My mind pauses in sadistic delight and says "you know your 'plight' has been totally internal, right?"

"What do you mean?"

"It has all been inside you; not on the outside.   100% of the people who look at you can't tell there is anything wrong about you; different."

"100% of people have been wrong my entire life; I have always been different."

"Yes, but not physically.   You always could fit in."

"Not really, but please go  on."

"Your problem has been one of internal plumbing.   As of Thursday it will be external and it will be for the rest of your life.   You will have a literal bag of shit hanging from your chest for all to see.    Good bye shirtless days!"

"OK, fair points, but I can counter them."

"You think you can?  I am your mind, Bubba!  I know what you know!"

"Apparently not.   How often do I go shirtless?  Never?   Is there something less than never, because that would fit far better.   And a "literal bag of shit" is far better than the humiliation of a pair of pants full of shit.    A bag is a medical condition only assholes would mock; a grown man with shitty drawers is worthy of mockery from all."

"OK, but it is an operation..."

"I've had way too many operations as of late to fear this one.   And the man doing it is the same man who has had 100% success with me thus far, so there is no worry about it."

"Liquid diet!   For days!"

"That does suck, but the ability to wear boxers again is worth it.   The knowledge of knowing I didn't just shit myself is worth it.   The security of feeling like an adult again is worth it.   The loss of shame is worth it.   The return of some of my dignity is worth it."

I smile to my mind and say with sadistic glee: "I would go through this and more to end what I have endured.   I would go through this and more to feel human again. "

I would not trade one second of my journey for anything.   Cancer has blessed me with as much as it has taken away, maybe more.   Thursday is not the Apocalypse, it is the salvation.

Praise Jeebus.