Thursday, October 08, 2015 4:04 PM
Huzzah! I am once again a licensed driver of automobiles. My faithful compendium, Spencer, went out early this morning to top off his gas tank in anticipation of my noon Road Test in Carmel—and he reminded me to bring all my paperwork, which was a good thing. I’m not used to his car, but I’m actually an old hand at driving, so different cars don’t really throw me that badly—and he has a really nice car, too—a Chevy Impala. I forgot to look over my shoulder before pulling out; and I didn’t signal before beginning my parallel parking; but I passed, and that’s the important thing.
More important, to me, was the fact that I was able to use the bathroom this morning for the first time in several days—it’s quite a relief. I’m on my second day of heavy antibiotics for diverticulitis—things are finally becoming bearable. I’m able to think again, relatively speaking—and for what my usual thinking is worth—so I’m going to share some of the hell I’ve gone through recently.
I’m tempted to comment on the Republicans in Congress and the Russians in Syria—but this is a journal entry, so no politics today.
Wednesday, October 07, 2015 7:16 AM
Pain, And More Pain (2015Oct07)
For days I felt pain in my abdomen—then yesterday I couldn’t stand it any longer and Claire drove me to the ER in Mt. Kisco. Turns out I have diverticulitis. That may sound bad, but they were talking about ‘blockages’ and ‘surgery’, so it’s actually good news—plus, they didn’t have to admit me—bonus!
So they put me on a massive antibiotics regimen and liquid diet. It still hurts this morning but at least I’m not wondering if I’m about to die—it’s really quite painful. It reminded me of the ‘good old days’ when I had six months of forty surgical-staples in my abdomen, after my transplant operation.
People who’ve been sick or in pain can be very dull—for instance, I have no plans today other than to lay around and be glad I’m not having surgery (knock wood). Whenever the antibiotics get my inflammation to die down, I plan to spend that day just enjoying the absence of pain (I should be so lucky). With any luck, I may move my bowels someday soon—it’s a friggin carnival, here at the Dunn house.
In the meantime, I’m wondering if having something new to write about is all that great—seeing as how it’s all about dysfunction in my ass—not your traditional crowd-pleaser as literary subjects go. Still, being a shut-in makes you crazy for anything to happen, anything to break the stultifying circularity—and if I only counted the positive incidents, I’d have a long wait for that break.
There was positivity, however—my lovely Bear drove me to the hospital and stayed with me the whole time and drove me home again around midnight, when she had to get up early today, to serve jury-duty in lower Manhattan. It’s times like these that I marvel at how lucky I am to have a wonderful Bear. She’s the greatest. But anyone who has met her knows that.
So much pain over the last week or so—it made it hard for me to think—I have trouble thinking under pressure. I’m posting the improvs, but only as examples of how messed up in the head I was when I played them. I have enough trouble with the piano when I’m feeling myself.
Before I knew about the diverticulitis, I had a bad week—I wrote several posts that I never posted—they were very dark. But since I now know what was going on, I’ll share one of them with you—this was from five days ago:
Friday, October 02, 2015 11:32 AM
After a certain point, you realize that aches and pains have just become a part of your daily life—that each twinge is not a signal that you’re dying, or that you ate poison, or that you need to go to the ER. You reach the conclusion that if you’re not actually sweating in pain, then it doesn’t hurt that bad. And even when it’s sweating-bad, you give it a few minutes—just to make sure it isn’t gas—or a cramp. Pain signals help the body respond to threats and intrusions—but as we age, tiny threats and intrusions become the norm—and the aches and pains stay turned-on pretty much from the time you get out of bed.
Analgesics are wonderful things—by reducing inflammation of tissue, it reduces pain—and it also reduces the amount of damage, since the longer tissue is inflamed, the worse the damage. I occasionally use ice packs, or heating pads, for my back aches or neck aches. The only pain I have trouble dealing with is headaches—to me, it’s like static on the radio—it makes it hard to think, to read—even watching TV is difficult with a headache. So I use aspirin.
As a teenager, I was addicted to aspirin for a while—now, if I use aspirin too much, it just makes the headache worse. For years, I used Tylenol and Advil instead—but then my liver doctor told me that was suicidal, so now I’m back to aspirin—and only one at a time—and not every day. Still, I sometimes get unbearable headaches—and I break down and take two aspirin and two Advil. That works most of the time—but it also guarantees that the headache will come back the next day, a kind of boomerang effect. So I do my best to avoid that vicious cycle.
It’s so different for children—as a child, I didn’t understand what a headache actually was—I almost never got sick, and when I did I’d be so delirious from fever that I hallucinated. Pain is virtually unknown to the young—their bodies work like well-oiled machines, their bones are elastic, and they hardly weigh anything when they fall down. When pain does arrive in a young person’s life, it’s momentous—it can overpower their reason. That’s very different from someone like me, who thinks of pain as a normal part of breathing. It’s another aspect of life that makes it hard for young and old to understand each other.
If you ask a young person if they want to live forever, they’ll say ‘of course’—but if you ask an old person, they’ll have to think it over. Living forever is nothing unless it includes eternal youth—otherwise, you’re just extending your retirement—and what’s the point of that? I don’t want to live a long time—I want to live healthy for as long as I can. In my case, that’s already a moot point. I’ve been living on the edges of health for years now—and it’s nothing but hard work, fighting off the spells of frustration, rage, and despair that inevitably follow when life has no object beyond breathing.
In normal life, the bottom line is always a goal—you’re trying to accomplish something—hopefully, maybe even achieve greatness at something. Without access to a job, a career, a car, or a social group—as in my case—without the ability to work or create or achieve, life becomes a battle against oneself. Even staying alive isn’t my job—it’s my doctors’. My only real job is not to kill myself and waste all their hard work. In the meantime, I suffer from an incurable case of ‘idle hands’.
At the same time, the emptiness of normal lives is revealed to me—nine to five, working for some office manager, getting paid a salary—these thing may allow me to support my family, but what do I get out of it, besides a life of modern slavery? What right do the wealthy owners have to enslave the other 99% in pursuit of manufacturing plastics, selling magazine subscriptions, organizing vacation itineraries, or selling burial insurance? How is it different from Medieval times, when the wealthy owners enslaved everyone to grow food that wasn’t even their own?
Statistics show that democracy doesn’t respond to the majority of people in the country—it responds to the majority of rich people. Statistically, there’s as much chance of the most-wanted legislation being voted on as the least-wanted legislation—among the whole population. Among the wealthy, democracy does what it’s supposed to do—it enacts what they want most and avoids what they most don’t want—but if it only works for the 1%, then it’s not really democracy, is it?
Likewise with ‘progress’. The new I-Phone 6s is a wonder—if you have a thousand bucks up front, and hundreds a month to spare. The new Tesla model S is a wonder—if you have $100,000 to spare. Meanwhile, the rest of us get to work nine to five for the privilege of worrying about bills and driving a junker. And that’s if we’re not starving, or homeless, or sending our kids to schools that don’t teach them to read. The United States, in its origin, began a fight with the rich and powerful—I think, here in 2015, we can all agree that we’ve lost that fight. The poor are always with us—and so are the rich. Anyone see a connection there?
In our war against the rich, we are constantly being diverted with little nothings—molehills built up into mountains for the media to get excited about. They spend all day talking about whether Trump should be president, when it’s so obvious that that asshole belongs in jail, at best. The Koch brothers hold seminars to decide which candidate to pay for, when they should be huddled in their mansions with a torch-lit angry mob outside their windows.
It’s the old problem—you can’t fix a car while you’re driving it down the highway. We can protest Occupy Wall Street all weekend, but we have to leave and go work for those pigs on Monday morning. We can vote for any candidate we like, but the candidates get pre-selected by those pigs. And the most able among us are not working to beat those pigs, but to join them. And people wonder why I’m so depressed all the time. What a crock.
[Afterword: So, that’s how I’ve been feeling lately. Nothing was easy or comfortable. But I’m on the mend now—and I have a drivers license again (motorists beware!) so I’m a happy man. Have a good day, everybody.]