Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Open Letter to the Ineffable Un-Thing (or, Pep-talk to Self vis-à-vis Death, so-called)

Get in the sea already.
Okay, seriously. I'm getting tired of your face. It's not even a face. You have no nose. You give the impression that you have an eye but that is only because I have painted you that way so that I can stare you down. It's an effect of lighting or something, you radiant skeleton, you stereotypical representation of that what is actually a void, a nothing. Not even a space - just nothing in which there is no breath and no sight and no corporeal presence. I have no interest in negotiating with you because your terms suck and I find you boring. Boring. You have hurled an abhorrently boring experience at me and it wears me down, yes. I am made of pits, I wail, I cry, I have hairline cracks in my tooth enamel from the solid jaw clench that has replaced what used to be bruxism but has come to a literal standstill. I am crushing my own teeth, not only at night but in daylight. I do not appreciate rotting teeth. I do not appreciate anything that makes my lipstick look like crap, as it invariably does anyway.

Paraben glamour defect made visible during rising storm of fuck-you.

And seriously, I am tired of anger and sadness and shoulder shrugging, as if chance had anything to do with anything. Shall we dance together beneath the wheels of a bus as readily as we might through the experience of brain rot? Will it be omas of skin or throat resulting from the massive quantities of pesticides I have been exposed to in the last couple of year (((those bugs had to go, dude. I thought perhaps that oblation might have appeased you, but it seems to have strengthened your resolve to tackle me. Or perhaps it added to the acceleration of the bubblegum dustbunny's growth, in which case I call foul again. The choice is this, or this. Nothing or nothing))). The luxury of choosing is something I can only hope for.  

Not interested.

I am tired of writing to you now and I am going to stare gormlessly into the middle distance where you are not. Hang out on my shoulders and cripple me for however long - I can stretch you out with a good downward-facing dog. In the meantime, I refuse to sustain fatal injury from my upcoming treatments against the motherfucker in my brain, so you can forget about swallowing my existence in the near future. I have things to do and people to see, and every time you call I will make excuses as to why I can't come out. Usually I will be washing my hair. See you later later later later later and whatever whatever.


Following a recent consultation with my surgeon, I have decided to let him cut my head open in the new year. Surgery number three. What to say about that? Third time's a charm, of course. Or, three strikes you're out? Ha. Nah.

The surgery will be followed by a course of radiation therapy combined with chemotherapy. I can't say I'm too happy about the detrimental effects that the latter two will have on my general well-being. The doctors lie when they say it's "much safer now": the zapping technology has really progressed, blah blah blah, and they stare at their feet. As for the chemo... well. No guarantees! Yay!

But the cool part is I'll get my very own custom-made mask for the zapping. Photos to come most definitely! And (very notably), the temozolomide is free (unlike in Ontario and the maritime provinces, wtf Canada!). Because for all the things Alberta can be derided for, its health care system is pretty good.

None of these treatments will kill the bubblegum dustbunny. They will burn it good, with just a hope that its return time will be significantly prolonged. 

I'll be in Europe for the holidays, then back to Calgary for the imminent battle.

Friday, 30 October 2015

Well, right. Now, then. We'll see.

So, the bubblegum dustbunny will always grow back and requires constant supervision to ensure its aggressiveness is not increasing by, for example, a sudden burst of spazzy growth, or growth in a direction that is not into the void of the cavity it originally left, or that it isn't throwing an angiogenetic leave-your-keys-in-the-salad-bowl party.

My most recent MR images do show a bit of new growth that is not particularly remarkable and doesn't suggest anything to panic about. However, the growth merits new treatment in the near future, perhaps a combination of strategic attacks this time. Its not certain yet. I've been referred back to my surgeon for his opinion on the matter, so once again my life is in his hands. Just figuratively, for now. They are small, smooth little hands.

It is with a sharp curl of lip that I take and have always taken such news, with a little shrug, a head tilt, a nod, then a series of consecutive nods to indicate that I'm annoyed, helpless, disappointed, but not surprised, not about to faint, and keen to get straight on to a course of action. Hope/less. Nothing to do but wait.  Fuck this shit.

Thursday, 8 October 2015


It is October 2015. Around this time in 2007 I was in the fraught process of reaching my first diagnosis. I've since gotten away with two super cool surgeries. If this mirror breaks it will bring me more luck. And if it doesn't break I don't need luck anyway. Nor do I need hope. It has occurred to me to foster an attitude of hopelessness. As in, hope less, live more. Not much comes of hope but passivity. I have more to say on this, but in the meantime, fun! Pumpkins! Leaves! Indeed.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

The Destroyer's October Arsenal

Boots for kicking, pumpkin for hurling, ribbons for strangling (tumours, of course).
Kill them all, forever and ever.

Friday, 2 October 2015


Yesterday has been repeating itself since it was invented in 1582. 

I have consulted Wikipedia, that handy repository of inconsistent facts and lists, regarding a small selection of historical events that have taken place on the 1st of October. It's an interesting day. Many disastrous things happened, like Disneyworld and Fascism and Ford. The first Soviet five-year plan was implemented, Nazis stormed Warsaw, Franco became head. A new British tabloid screamed as it entered atmosphere, Mao implemented a new China, and God was like, "Hey USA, I love you so much I'm going to put my name on your promissory notes." Finally, in 1880 Edison opened his first electric lamp factory because it was high time somebody started to make a profit from an invisible and infinite resource, i.e. electricity. 

(I'm more of a Tesla girl myself, dreaming crazy wireless glitter clouds and lasers and all manner of ostensible impossibilities - probably because they are possible. Here's a Tesla thought:

The economic transmission of power without wires is of all-surpassing importance to man.  By its means he will gain complete mastery of the air, the sea and the desert.  It will enable him to dispense with the necessity of mining, pumping, transporting and burning fuel, and so do away with innumerable causes of sinful waste.  By its means, he will obtain at any place and in any desired amount, the energy of remote waterfalls—to drive his machinery, to construct his canals, tunnels and highways, to manufacture the materials of his want, his clothing and food, to heat and light his home—year in, year out, ever and ever, by day and by night.  It will make the living glorious sun his obedient, toiling slave.  It will bring peace and harmony on earth. 

- "The Transmission of Electrical Energy without Wires as a Means for Furthering Peace" (1905)

Needless to say, peace is bad for business. Free stuff just doesn't make money, and unequal access to resources for living is essential to the practice of Capitalismus. Poor Nikola).

Anyway. Back to the first day of the Xth month, and the reason Edison's electric lamps caught my attention (aside from the fact that the list was chronological and I saw that factoid first). Something else transpired on the same day almost a century later, something that demanded the use of electricity, free or not: the very first brain scan using x-ray computed tomography (the mighty CT scan) was performed in London in 1971. CT voice: Hello heaving ball of storming electrical pulses that controls the central nervous system! I am the preliminary device used for discovering lesions that corrupt thy functions, often leading to the mighty MRI machine that confirms the true nature of the lesion(s)

Surely this event is just one more reason that October is observed as The Month of Awareness of Grey Matter Perversions. I've written many posts on this blog about the various brain months in different countries (but especially Canada's October, because it's a good month overall). Basically ever year I babble about them because 1) I get lazy engaging with updates in the tumour world, and 2) I don't otherwise have too much to say about my bubblegum dustbunny since my last surgery. Thankfully it's just hanging around, being lethargic, and that suits me just fine. I like to forget it's there.

My next MRI scan is coming up soon and I'm performing many spooky Halloween rituals to ensure that it shows a continued lack of change. I must report that when I am inside the machine my noggin becomes the power centre of that whirling plastic and metal universe shaped like a donut. Everybody pretends it doesn't happen, but really my head begins to spin like crazy and becomes like Tesla's Egg of Columbus (see a demo here. The soundtrack is exceptionally special). So, wish me luck.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Knowing of the Unknowns

** I wrote this post near the start of 2015 but never published it. So. Here it is:

I carry an oral syringe of midazolam in my bag everywhere I go. It's an emergency benzodiazepine, a fast-acting sedative for squirting along the gums and inner cheeks. I have never had to use it thus far (touch wood), but I keep it with me as a psychological and emotional sedative, a personal talisman to ward off the fear of potential postictal violence, should I have a tonic-clonic seizure in a public place. Or even at home: there was a particular episode during which reportedly I was demonic in absolutely every single sense of that word. I had the super strength and the howling and the blather hissing). However, the chances of the drug actually being administered by anyone except my partner are rather slim, and I may never have to shove it in my face at all. It's simply the presence of it by my side that puts me at relative ease. In fact, I suspect it was prescribed chiefly for that purpose, to stop the neurotic, agoraphobic tension and mania I was developing. After all, it's low dosage, intended for epileptic children who have chronic seizures, and its effect on me would most likely be just a bit of euphoria and drowsiness. In other words, probably very nice. A less sympathetic GP would have refused or not even bothered to prescribe such a thing, especially to someone who does not suffer daily or even regular hardcore seizures.

Midazolam, I have discovered, is also used in capital punishment in the United States. It is administered as part of the cocktails of horror injected into the bodies of people who the State has decided are not worthy of life, and its use (or more accurately, malicious misuse) as part of those injections has come into question recently.* It is supposed to sedate, to help take away the pain of the poisons to come, an agent presumably in accord with the constitutional guarantee that such punishment will not cause unnecessary suffering before actual death - not that anybody actually respects the constitution when its decrees are not in their interest. It seems obvious to me that if death by lethal injection is not instant, then for the prisoner it is very possibly a trip that will hardly stay euphoric, a trip into a massive time warp in which one flies through a near-eternity of mental and physical hell as the body is gradually burned from the inside. And obviously, that's the whole point of the punishment, that suffering, because death alone is too easy. While we can't really know the details of the particular suffering that is not visible from an external vantage point, the sadists approving the administration of lethal injections surely know at least a little about how much it hurts and what kinds of internal pains and terrors it unleashes, just as the perpetrators of "intensive interrogation" know how the whirls and whorls of ye olde truth serums can produce a wealth of information. Torture is torture, yeah? Midazolam, like other benzos, is not necessarily going to make a person lose consciousness, but it's gonna throw one into a lucid state where who-knows-what will surface in psychological and physiological experience of the/their world, and at what intensity. Perhaps it even amplifies certain sensations? I don't know, although I've got some idea of it because I take another drug in the same family on a daily basis, just at a very low dosage and in pill form. All drugs do everything at once: they are their own side effects as much as their assumed function.

The excruciating pain of Charles Warner, the latest* in a string of State executions of "unexpected", length, those oops-that-took-a-while incidents, began with administration of midazolam as the first drug in the mix. Who knows how long he was still conscious during the State's supposedly most humane form of punitive erasure from this planet. The resulting cluster of media reports immediately caught my attention because of, well, the strangeness of employing the same emergency sedative I carry as the one used in some processes of capital punishment. Strange, I think, because for me the drug's function would be, at its extreme, to save my life, whereas for a prisoner being killed by the State, it's function also save that person's life. Save their life just long enough that they experience maximum anguish. Midazolam is not necessarily a pain killer, it doesn't make one oblivious to everything (i.e., imminent and/or current pain). Even overdosing is uncommon. Maybe there's a "mehhh so what" moment before the paralytic and heart-stoppers are administered, that little bit of euphoria and drowsiness produced by sedatives. But then.....then there's a very lively death for a calculated and "civilised" average (yes, they call it that) of seven to ten minutes or so before the body and brain shut down. Or, oops, eighteen. Or, oops again, forty-three, or ninety, or one-hundred and seventeen. I'm certain there are documents out there that chart the durations of American prisoners' ontological cessations, but obviously positivist methodologies don't take subjective experiences into consideration. Because, for the prisoner undergoing lethal injection, how much longer is the period of dying than even a single minute, whether or not they "show physical signs of distress" to those in the witness gallery? A universe can occur in the space of a minute. And while nobody knows exactly how long it takes to die until they die anyway (and then there's no way to report back), enough knowledge exists about the detrimental effects and affects of the particular drugs being used for the purpose of a painful death. Maybe that's one reason why death by firing squad (presumably the fastest, one would think) is now only somewhat available in Utah and Oklahoma, and even then only under special circumstances.

For those who are interested, here are some super-glam photos of execution chambers, complete with a really hip bit of aesthetic babble. Here the author describes them in terms reminiscent of a vacuous art curator describing an exhibition for an arts grant application, albeit not without some truth:

Those reflections may come in the ghostly, eerie images of America's death chambers, collected from some of the 32 states where the death penalty is still legal. These rooms are empty more often than occupied. Built within prison walls, they are spare and cold and clinical. But what remains carries its own weight — a single gurney, a mirror, a clock hanging alone on a cinder block wall.

The majority of the photographs are highly stylized and come from Lucinda Devlin's The Omega Suites, which depict the architecture of the death penalty. The objects - and spaces - do carry a weight, an antimatter so dense that one can look at them and judge them more easily in terms of framing and colour than by the events in which those objects were involved; the events, for most people, can only be imagined, and only momentarily at that, especially when there are no bodies present. The weight these objects and spaces carry is themselves. They carry the invisible weight of capital punishment's political architecture just by being objects created for that purpose; they carry the weight of being aestheticized objects, and the weight the viewer's imagination projects on them. It's the invisible strings between the politic in the objects and their presence in well-framed photographs that creep me out, for fascism slithers there and not just in the act of capital punishment. And yet the images are essential to look at (as are audio recordings such as these). 

So yeah. The hospitals at the core of the correctional facilities, the galleries in which arts happen, the skillfully made objects so fortunately empty of actual flesh in the photos. A making and unmaking of the world, spaces in which life and creation are preserved for the sake of life and creation and preservation - all of which contain and are pain, sickness, horror, nightmare, destruction.....

And yeah. Midazolam. And the grinning face of Hegel.

** And and yeah. Here's a pretty cool article at Mother Jones that I found just now while giving this months-old post a quick glance over before posting. I'm glad I'm not the only one who sees how fucked up the uses of this stuff is. You can't make this shit up. **

*i.e. at the time of writing this post.