Thursday, March 24, 2016

To the Tune of "I Will Survive"

First I was a Republican
Because I was terrified
I kept hoping the GOP would keep the good lord on my side
I spend so many nights
Looking underneath my bed
Not realizing
The boogeymen were only in my head
So I became a Democrat
In hopes that things would change
I voted for people I denied were deranged
I did the things I did to keep the GOP from me
Now I'm regretting all my votes
I have cast for the presidency
Because nothing will change
Regardless of the name
The policies remain despite the failure that they gain
The choices we all face
Should not be considered for a bit
We are forced to choose between a pile a feces and pure sh_t
Oh no, not I
I want to survive
I won't vote for anyone who wants war to only thrive
I would rather be a spoiler or vote from my heart
Than vote for a loser who will tear this place apart

Friday, March 18, 2016

Upon reflection,'s been a lot this year.   In one year I lost one cat, then my colon, got a bag,  then lost my other cat.   And I am realizing I have never actually been alone before and I'm not sure I like it.   I love other people not being around, but I haven't been without a cat for almost 20 years now and the absence screams louder than words.  It makes sense I should be in a funk as the human mind can only push so much aside before it comes flooding back.  Hell, I don't think I've yet processed my cancer experiences because I was so concerned about making sure other people didn't worry about me that I probably lied to myself as well as to them about how I felt.  I've been so busy struggling along that reflection is a luxury I can't afford, but seems to be given to me at night as I try to sleep at no charge.   It gets tiring denying emotion...more than it would be dealing with it.

And this new revelation that I am hiding my emotions from even myself has caused me to second guess everything from these past 2 years since the Chemo ended.  Hell, thanks to Chemo-Brain, I'm not even sure 100% what I am doing.    I've made poor choices these last two years for the most part, but they were choices I had no choice in making.   I had to move out of my parents' house because my cats couldn't live with me there and my friend who was cat sitting was having a baby.  I had to sell my condo because I had massive debts that needed repayment even though I could not afford an apartment.   I had to return to work quicker than I was mentally ready to because I had rent and bills to pay.   I am correcting this which is the only good that comes from Satchel's leaving me: I am moving back in with my parents for a year to help me save up money.

I will be paying rent to stay with them because I can't freeload, but I will be able to save living with them and, more importantly since nobody wants to live with their parents, I am motivated to find a second job so I don't have to spend much time there reminding myself that I have thus far failed in the game of life.

Oh, I'm a good person and I care deeply.  I am honest and trustworthy and everything we strive to be, but I am not very good at career or saving or planning or any of those adult things we must do as we get older.   When I say I failed at life, I mean in terms of possession and achievement and not as a human.  Quite the opposite actually- when it comes to being human, I think I surpass most.

So this is where I am right now- in a holding pattern as I wait for my lease to end so I can move in with my parents and get my life on track.   It is going to be a long couple of months that, thanks to Chemo-brain, should fly by.


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

My Asset is My Greatest Liability

There is a theme running when I speak to people about my mental state post-cancer and it is starting to strike me as true given how many different people who just met me have all said the same thing: my sense of humor is such that, not only do others not know how I feel, but I don't know myself.   My carefully crafted defense mechanism of trying to always find the silly and nonsensical aspects of life has clouded my ability to feel, or how do deal with these feelings when they sneak through.      It is funny because my sense of humor was one of the few aspects I always had confidence in as an asset.

I dismissed this theory when it was first presented to me at group months ago because it made no sense.  Of course I know what I think and how I feel; I'm the one thinking and feeling it!   They have brought it up numerous other times, and it is starting to makes sense to me.   I found I could no longer dismiss it when my doctor who has known me since I was about six made a similar comment one day while visiting him and asking about side effects I was dealing with.   He asked me how they are making me feel and, after a few quick one liners I was left with "I'm not totally sure" and he confirmed at that moment what my group had theorized: my sense of humor isn't protecting others from the truths of my life; it is protecting me.

I will try to be honest and humor-free for a moment in the name of trying to combat this: I do still feel detached from day to day life.   I made my peace with dying yet didn't die which threw a metaphorical monkey wrench in how I saw things going.    You would think cutting ties would be hard, but it surprisingly wasn't for the most part, but finding meaning again...that is the challenge!    I am burdened with nihilism.   I saw people who should have lived not and found myself still alive with nothing to really live for.   The random nature of this disease and how unfairly it chooses its targets altered how I view life in general and cemented ideas  I used to think were only jokes: the meaning of life is to give life meaning, shit happens, it won't mean a thing in 100 years, etc, etc, etc.

There is a bright side to this however which I wouldn't trade for the world: a feeling of clarity.   I have or am working on ending my fixation on the stupid and the pointless for anything other than entertainment purposes and am giving up on trying to change the world- I need to work on myself.    I find myself with a tad bit more hubris than I had before as I notice the stupid things people work themselves up over while ignoring the things they should focus on, but at the same time I am finding it harder to get worked up over things I should be worked up over.   Lack of money?   It will come.   Work?   Going fine.   Love life?  Don't need one.  Friends?  I got ones that understand me and that I love so I don't need or want more.   Career?   There is always another job around when I need one.  Purpose?   To find one.

The Chemo-Brain doesn't help my attitude either as it is hard to embrace something you don't really remember and all life is is memories.   I am learning to use Chemo-Brain to live in the moment rather than live for the memories, and that is a good thing.    I can't tell you how often I would be eager for a concert of movie to end so I could start remembering how great it was and I realize that blocks my enjoyment of the moment.   I need to focus on moments.   And I need to stop making so many damned jokes all the time.

Those who know me probably are wondering about this sense of humor I am speaking of as they haven't seen it for the most part.  I come across as somber, serious, and humorless.   This is because I have learned my sense of humor and other people usually tend to not mix very well, so the longer you know me the less of my humor you will see.   When I first meet you and, if I don't think I will see you often in the future, you will see more of it than someone who has known me for 20 years.  My group who sees me 2 hours a week gets a lot of it because of the subject matter we deal with.   I guess I am not confident enough in my sense of humor to share it, but confident enough in it to use it has a shield from feeling.

The thing is not that I don't care, but I think I am afraid to care too much so I dismiss things with a quick joke.   I mock myself, my situation, and my pain to keep myself from dwelling on it.   It is my way of saying "it is no big deal so get over it already" and my group says that is wrong.   If I don't accept other people telling me to get over it already, why do I accept it from myself?   Why do I accept the mockery from myself when I would kill anyone who said what I think to me?

I obviously still have a lot of work to do and the events of the last two years obviously still weigh very heavily on my mind even though I try my best to minimize it through a constantly running internal comedic monologue.   Maybe I need to just sit and force myself to cry for a week straight; sit Shiva for who I was, and then move on.   Maybe I was too eager to return to a life that I can never return too and need to really work on embracing this new reality.


Monday, March 14, 2016

Today's Thought: While I Still Have It

So the Chemo-Brain is thick with me today.   I just got home from work and can't recall working.   I can't recall yesterday.   I know I went to my parent's house and we went to some kite event, but I can't remember conversation and I can't remember if we fought, but I feel like we did.    I also feel like I did something wrong at work today, but I can't recall it.   I think this feeling of guilt is the worst part of Chemo-Brain with me because I tend to default to feeling guilty for something usually.   I do remember asking one of my co-workers if they were mad at me today and I think she said no, but I can't shake this feeling of guilt.    I should back up....

July 30, 2013 is the date I was diagnosed with stage 3 rectal cancer that was starting to, but had not yet achieved, spreading.    My radiation and chemo were extreme it seems to combat this.   The treatment ended 6/??/14.   The extremity of my chemo is something my doctor reminds me of at every visit when I ask about this or that being weird with my body.  

Chemo-Brain is a condition long assumed to be imaginary that has since been shown to be real; it is, for lack of a better way to explain it, a fog that envelops your mind and keeps reality at bay.   My memory is unreliable right now because of this fog.   I can't remember things I do sometimes and usually can't recall the details of conversations the next day.   Sometimes I lose track of a conversation mid-sentence.   If distracted in the middle of doing something, I won't remember doing anything.   Things that feel like yesterday were last week and things that feel like last year were yesterday.   I find it easier to watch shows that don't require me to follow a plot, so I tend to find myself re-watching things I know very well instead of diving into new shows. Ink Master has been fun to watch over and over again because I can't remember who wins episodes I have already seen until just before they reveal the winner.   I guess it is more my recall than my memory that has been effected.    I wonder if this is a sample of what Alzheimer's is like.    It effects my mood as well.   I get cranky when I'm in this fog it seems.   I know this because I am cranky today because of the fog and it feels familiar.   I feel like I am lost and screwing things up and I can't help it.

This feeling doesn't last longer than a day or two at a stretch though, so don't start worrying about me or anything.    It used to be worse, so I think I am getting better.    I read it can last 5 years and this has only been 2, so there's that.  I practice remembering things to help too.    My nightly quiz as I lie in bed is to backtrack everything I watched on TV or what games I played; start with the last thing I saw and see how far I can go.   I think this will help me relearn how to remember.

I think the main reason I am writing this today is to ask for patience from my friends and family.   I may seem short, angry, bothered, distracted, or tetchy.    I am not I promise you, but if I seem that way, I am probably in a fog at that moment and I beg you to not take anything I say or do personally.   I am sorry truly.  I am working on getting a handle on this.

Monday, March 07, 2016

Open Letter to the Parties

Thank you.   No really, thank you.   Democracy is the ultimate in a faith-based system and you are working really hard and being very effective in showing this faith is not based on any reality.    We have suspected this for many years if not for the entire history of this nation, but between threats of brokered conventions and Super-Delegates to protect the party from activists, you have shown the will of the people only matter to you when it matches your own will.   You have shown that, when push comes to shove, you will protect the party over doing what is the will of the people.  Thanks to you, the government, as Lincoln put it was supposed to be for the people, of the people, and by the people is now clearly for the rich, by the partisans, and of the partisans.

I don't support most of what Trump says, but what he has done is priceless and I am happy he is running.    Sanders doesn't get the press so the rigged game in the DNC is far more hidden right now, but Trump's insurrection is front page news.   Everyday Republicans read about how their candidate of choice is not the party's choice and that there is a strong chance their voices will be collectively ignored.    The same thing is happening on the Left in case you are missing it.    Clinton can lose a state and still get more delegates than the winner of that state, but it doesn't work the other way around.    

I see a very different political landscape in the 2020 election and I really don't see either party surviving this election cycle now that the man behind the curtain is in full view and we now know the wizard has no power.   I see the millions of Trump and Sanders supporters, who don't agree on action but do on cause, will work harder than before to try and create a real party of the people,  by the people, and for the people.

I have often said the Left and the Right are no more two different parties than my Left and my Right hands are two different people: no, they are simply the left and right side of the same body and we the People need an actual second party that provides us with more than illusion and placebos.

So I thank the DNC and the RNC for this election cycle and the circus you are creating.   Sanders and Trump are reactions to the way things have gone for far too long and, if you are not careful, you will only continue to confirm their suspicions and then, G-d willing, you will dissolve like the Whigs and be relegated to a dark period of American history.