Friday, August 11, 2023

Nasty Pain

Thursday was a day of pain, but it was milder than Wednesday. And thank God! With locomotion requiring a cane, I have only one hand with which to carry stuff, so ‘work’ is slow and cautious. Early in the morning I fetched some crap from the attic storage space to add to the load going to the dump in Nanaimo. 

Then I went back to bed to rest a while. Pain is tiring! 

Nelson, of Gabriola Disposal, came by just after noon and took everything away. For $60, it was a total bargain. And while I waited for him, I cleaned up the shed. Now, everything is in good shape at Pinecone Park. The shed, the gardens, the studio and the house are all in great shape, all ready for Steve’s visit and great for me too. I will be doing nothing for a while.

Serious heat is coming, according to the weather forecast. It’s going to be very hot when Steve is here. He’ll love that; me, not so much. Another reason I love Pinecone Park is that every room has ceiling fans, and you can sleep with the doors wide open without any anxiety. (The doors have screens to keep Fred and Ethel home and safe.)

I always thought that the phrase, ‘death by a thousand cuts,’ was a brilliantly beautiful and cynical description of life. I thought it was an allegory, but it ain’t. 

The Chinese word, ‘lingchi,’ is translated as ‘the slow process,’ ‘the lingering death,’ or ‘slow slicing.’, Also known as death by a thousand cuts, it was a form of torture and execution used in China from roughly 900 CE up until the early 1900s. I wish I didn’t know the origin of the phrase.

I was thinking about the thousand cuts because of the return of poor mobility and pain. Constant pain is a challenging burden, both emotionally and physically. I can’t imagine feeling as I do and living in a city with everyone jostling you and transit vehicles packed to the gills. I’ve hired the gardener, that’s a major concern addressed. And Dave, next door, has proposed sharing the costs of a splitter. He has a gazillion pieces of bucked logs to split, and I am splitting wood all through the Winter. I reckon we’ll help each other, too.

This change in mobility is a big cut. My AIDS diagnosis was frightening. I can conjure the image of the moment I knew easily. I was sick and I was dying. Now, I take a pill every day, and the pills are free. It’s barely in my head. FND, the seizures, the speech, and the hyper-sensitivity, was a deep cut. And so is sciatica, it seems, as it cripples me.

I don’t speak when I look in the mirror, and I can’t see my body. I just see my face, a face I’ve looked at every day of my post puberty life. I don’t notice any changes. Everything seems fine.

I went into the attic to see if there was stuff there that I should toss. I wanted to get rid of it with all the stuff that Gabe Disposal was picking up. And I found a box of photographs. My first instinct was to throw them out. There was a video of my play that toured Canada, North Shore Live. I tossed it. I found a box of my books. I’m going to see if the Arts Council wants them. I kept the published version of the game I invented though. Don’t know why, either.

What is hard to deal with, for me, are the photographs. There is not a photograph on earth of me with the Tyrells. They didn’t take photographs. We didn’t do things together to warrant a camera. All we did was live our happy lives day to day. I never felt I needed a camera. My memories could fulfill me. 

That all changed when Steve came into my life and didn’t change with cell phones because I’ve not used one. I still use a camera. I have to. I’m a board member of Old School. I have photographs of trips and my life with Steve, but not many. Steve wanted all our photos, and I was happy to give them to him. I seem to have kept a few.

I may have written about this here before. I can’t remember. But I had this emotional explosion once over a box of photographs. A friend had died and left his entire estate to a charity. The charity conscripted us, Allan’s friends, to be volunteers sorting, pricing, and displaying his stuff in his apartment, and helping with sales.

I had to leave to do something, and then I came back. When I came back, it was ready for customers. The pricing was on everything. The first thing I noticed was the TV, then his good suit, all the big-ticket items. They were prominently displayed. Then I went into the kitchen and on the floor were several shoe boxes of his kitchen equipment. Each box was priced at five dollars. I was horrified.

Allan was blind. I’ve had two close friends, both blind, tell me that blind people love food. Taste is a thrilling sensation. It’s a subject they liked to discuss. Almost everything in those boxes cost 4-6 times the price on the box. It made me sad, very sad. I felt it insulted Allan and all of his friends who’d worked that day. I went to the back door, out of the kitchen and onto the porch. I wanted to cry, in private. There were stairs down to the lane behind the house, so I went down.

At the bottom of the stairs were garbage cans. They were overflowing with stuff, and on the top of them were all Allan’s photographs. All the stories of his life that he loved. I sat down and sobbed. Everything was backwards, the TV, that Allan couldn’t see, was the big-ticket item, and his life was thrown in the garbage. It hurt.

I think it was called an echocardiogram at the time. Like death by a thousand cuts, it is torture. You know when you go to the dentist, and you get an x-ray? They put a lead blanket on your crotch when they do it. For this echocardiogram, they covered me with one of those blankets to protect me from the liquid that they were putting into my vein. Is this not conflictive activity?

Then I was laid on a metal beam that was not very wide—maybe five inches or six. But there was an extra-wide bit for my bum. My wrists were tethered together and to the beam’ behind my head and my ankles as well, and I had to lie like that for 45 minutes. It was horrid for a while until my arms went numb. But …

When I got off, I saw my heart on the screen. It was an image that was 360° and they could flip it vertically or horizontally and examine my heart up close. I was utterly stupefied and giddy to be seeing it at the same time. The technician showed me 3 scars on my heart. They were bright yellow in the illustration; they were easy to see. Each one was created by a MI—a myocardial infarction. A heart attack.

When I got diagnosed with AIDS, I added a red scar to the illustration that lives in my mind of my heart. I added another one when I got the PTSD/FND diagnosis. Sciatica may leave a scar. Time will tell. I already know that it’s a dep cut.

Like me, Allan had no family. He’d been disowned by his family for being gay. Ever since, I have had an “everything is temporary” attitude to life.

I got no sleep at all last night. I was awake due to pain the entire night. I took marijuana pills, a pain pill and lorazepam and still could not sleep. I moved from bed to chair and back to bed again. Nothing worked, and so I feel beaten today.

I’m off to physio this morning, in Nanaimo where I’ll also get some supplies and get a Sushi lunch.Yum!!

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