Monday, June 20, 2005

So Friday I went to the doctor (my primary care) and I hesitate saying this in such a public space lest I ever get in trouble but he's seriously crazy. They should require social skills and empathy as two required classes before and after residency training. Anyway, so far so good. I have a severe vitamin B deficiency which could, in some part, be the cause of my numbness and some of the neuropathy. The neurologist called and discussed my options. I will need to undergo an EMG (nerve test) but initially I will have to get some Vitamin infusions. I guess the levels were so low she was worried about subsequent cardiac problems. So again, one step at a time.

I am waiting on a another set of blood tests so we'll see if there are any diabetic concerns. Right now my blood pressure is at a strange (not dangerous) level and my iron is still low, but time. It needs time.

I saw (one of my) oncologist(s) today and it was sad to go back to the cancer unit, seeing all the people I have become friends with over the course of my stay. People who are becoming less and less themselves and are paler, thinner and less sturdy. I was talking to my friend Gloria and seeing her broke my heart and made me cry. Chemo is bad but radiation is worse. To me at least. I have many arguments with the other patients over which is worse. Many say the drugs are worse because of the subsequent nausea. I won't dish out a lecture about how lucky we all are. Not in these pages. I don't feel like lecturing at all anyway. I feel like hugging my friend and telling her good luck. I walk out into the sun and realize I am crying and wiping away my tears. Gloria was a Chicago policewoman forever. She is now semi-retired. A few moments after retiring she finds out the lump in her throat is actually cancer. I can't tell more of her story. It's not my place. I feel disrespectful. She is thinner and her hair is thinner. I was talking to my close friend today and he is getting ready to jump into a possible treatment as well. I never really lost my head hair. It just thinned out. I lost most of my body hair though and now that I am now in chemo hair has grown back in places it never existed before. I mean, I have chest hair. Irene tells me, finally, it took 31 years for you to become a man.

I wish I knew some Chicago police. Gloria used to work Wrigley field. I'd love for them to come and escort her to the park, get her a box seat. Maybe it would make her day. Maybe it wouldn't. I can write her a card so she knows she isn't all alone.

I was thinking today as I was sitting and waiting for my turn at the oncology unit about writing before I went in and saw my old friends and nurses. Before they all came to say hi like I was a relative they hadn't seen in ages. How is your baby? How is your health? How is that mass inside your brain? I began thinking that writing already exists. It's like footage, miles and miles of footage, maybe it's a documentary, maybe it's a feature film. The footage exists. It's not the writing that we do. It's just editing. Editing down the footage and words into something we like or something we need to comprehend. I like that. I have dreams of lying down and falling asleep on a bed of words like they were stuffed animals. I sink into them and hold them, waiting to fall asleep and begin.

I often find myself in a mad panic search for art (writing, painting, graffiti, etc) but it usually happens that the art I stumble across, in a doctor's office, spray painted on a billboard across the Chicago river, playing on the radio, is the art that resonates with me stronger and longer. I found a wonderful Aleksandr Hemon essay in the New Yorker from 2001 (all new magazines on the table in the doctor's office and one from four years ago) called Door to Door that has as one of it's concluding lines "I am someone else" and a Louise Erdrich story in the same issue that begins, "Here's an odd and paradoxical truth: a man's experience of happiness can later kill him."

And it goes and goes.


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