radfrac_archive: (ask me ask me ask me)
Once, when I was talking to my doctor about how hard it is for me to give up sugar -- (I think two weeks has been the longest ever, and some astounding apple cake trumped that) -- he asked, almost apologetically -- his expression saying I know this sounds silly, but might there not be something in it? -- "Have you thought about other ways you could bring sweetness into your life?" You will believe me when I tell you that he wears hoop earrings and is absurdly sensitive and kind, and his wife is a TCM doctor.

I thought about that afterwards, and have thought about it since, and I have not been able to think of a way. Not that there aren't things that give sweetness in their own way -- garden clotted with flowers, making art with thick rag paper -- but not that particular sensory delight, taking something in, being inhabited by its texture and its chemistry. A very hot day in a herb garden, or among roses, when the smell becomes very heavy, is an almost tactile pleasure. That is the closest thing I can think of.

About a month ago, someone In The Program -- a mad collector of delightful things (turquoise glass, old autograph books) -- mentioned on FB that she had a few hundred vials of Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab scents to get rid of. I've always been curious about BPAL, which I think I originally heard about through LJ posts. I was fascinated by the intricate rituals of application and inhalation. I got her to loan me a handful. Then I got her to loan me several dozen so I could invite people over to have a sniffing party.

I am sitting here now typing, and my left wrist smells like (sniff) strawberry sugar*? And my right wrist smells like (sniff) watermelon soap bubbles*? And the crook of my left elbow like a tea in a graveyard*. And it all seems very sweet, in every sense.

{rf}

*Plastic Pink Flamingo
*Lawn Gnome
radfrac_archive: (Harold Ross of the New Yorker)
Oh, and I have high cholesterol.

I already had high cholesterol, but now it`s higher. Not coincidentally, we raised my T dosage several months ago.

Much rhetoric about weight loss and not eating a number of foods I don`t eat anyway, and the upshot is that it now takes just that tiny bit more work to have fun being Me.

That is all.

{rf}
radfrac_archive: (Harold Ross of the New Yorker)
Yesterday, having ventured out to finally mail in the contract for my piece in the anthology, such that I am a legal author and not just a putative one, huzzah and all that, and then having visited Pic-a-Flic for their 7 movies / 7 days deal, and generally feeling rather capable, what with opening various doors myself, etc., I was two stairs from my own door when my right ankle, still weak from its months of reduced nerve stimulation, gave out.

I didn't fall down the stairs. I didn't drop my movies. I just lurched into the right and then the left wall of the stairwell (who puts stucco on an interior wall?) and then I had a good long thoughtful sit-down on the steps.

I iced it all day, since I had nothing better to do. I seem to have full rotational capacity, so I don't think it's broken, but neither is it what anyone would call comfortable.

I would appear to be going to get some more reading done.

{rf}
radfrac_archive: (Ben Butley)
I don't know why I didn't read Life of Pi when everyone else was. It might have been because everyone else was, though I like to think I really did graduate from high school all those years ago. I think I was worried that Martel wasn't going to pull off a difficult thing. There seemed lots of ways it could go wrong.

I think if I had read the book when I was seventeen it could have entered my pantheon of Amazing Books. At twice seventeen, I thought it good -- successful -- which sounds like a dull praise but is a high -- and its images resonant, worth turning over and gnawing at for a few days. It hasn't entered my system, though, as some books do, changing your chemistry forever. I do not seem to have begun believing in god.

In the spirit of fair play I should mention that my critical faculties (such as they are) may still be blunted by physical recovery -- Mark Strand's A Blizzard of One seemed dull and full of unremarkable insights a few days after surgery, but has gained in poetic merit as I have become more alert. An account of my reading may say more about what a recovering brain is like than what any of these books are like.

Have started Gail Tsukiyama's The Samurai's Garden which, as it begins with a convalescence at the seaside, appeals. Various biographies float towards me through the library hold system, kindly navigated by [livejournal.com profile] inlandsea -- or borne on her currents we could say, if we were in the habit of saying things like that -- and, let's be honest, we are.

{rf}

book stand

Jun. 6th, 2008 08:25 pm
radfrac_archive: (Ben Butley)
Two weeks since surgery. Took my first walk of any real length today -- to the bank and library. Library a bit abstract as a goal, since I am forbidden to carry more than 5 lbs for six more weeks.

Feel more human today. The last few days felt oddly like setbacks -- lower energy and general tone. Today better, though of course I therefore did too much.

Can finally read for extended periods, thanks to the book stand from [livejournal.com profile] inlandsea.

Have read Anne Enright's The Gathering, which is not a bad book, but I don't know that I'd go giving it an international award (Man Booker 2007). It's lyrical -- almost too lyrical -- too much lyric for the narrative, so that it becomes repetitive. It needs more verse and less chorus. The book is about memory and ambiguity, so I wouldn't expect to be given a definitive picture of any character, but what's missing are memory's luminous moments, its indelible images of these people. The book invokes the paradoxes of recollection and storytelling, but on examination its storytelling is fairly conventional, despite some speculative moments, and its ambiguities are rather straightforward.

That said, it is really quite a good book. It just isn't extraordinary. I'd say, if you want the terror of family and memory, read Fall on Your Knees, and if you want the agony of quotidian human misunderstanding, read On Chesil Beach.

Also The Great Man by Kate Christensen, which is a Mediocre Book. It isn't what it's trying to be, which is a clever book about clever people -- it's a middling book about largely unconvincing people. Points gained for showing people over seventy as passionate and interesting; points lost for dealing very awkwardly with racism. It begins and ends with faux newspaper articles -- an obituary and a book review -- both of which fail to strike the right tone for their genres -- and that is not a bad summation of the book. (2008 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. I'd call this Adequate Airplane Reading.)

I must be feeling better: I'm highly critical.

{rf}
radfrac_archive: (hunnybear)
Heroic [livejournal.com profile] inlandsea! O most valorous! Hear what spoils she has carried home:

1. A bookstand! Huzzah!

2. A Magic Bag(TM) neck pillow thing! Huzzah!

3. A snow-cone machine!!! HUZZAH!

{rf}
radfrac_archive: (Default)
Can you recommend any good, fairly light (physically light, not cognitively unchallenging) biographies of literary or artistic figures of vaguely Edwardian vintage, though I will happily take Moderns as well? Extra points if they're queer and the biographer has noticed.

Pic-a-Flic seems not to have a copy of The Ambassadors.

Restrictions remain -- lifting, turning, lolling incorrectly, etc. It's just a matter of resting up now, really. It's odd to be largely unmarked by something that still restricts me. Just my two short bits of railroad track to mark where it all occurred.

I see the surgeon on July 17th. What shall I wear?

{rf}
radfrac_archive: (Harold Ross of the New Yorker)
Remind me, when I am able, to tell you the story of my Entrapped Uvula.

(Now liberated. Never fear.)

{rf}
radfrac_archive: (bat signifier)
from rf:

Recovery progressing. Mind oddly blank. Carry on.

(I knew he wouldn't be able to leave it at just that...)

Feel free to be amusing.

(the more amusing the better, though you'll have to work hard to be more so than Horatio Hornblower...)

Oh, his poor wife.

(right, the hired hands are going to bed now.)

And now, goodnight.

{rf}/(is)
radfrac_archive: (Harold Ross of the New Yorker)
I believe we cannot really appreciate the facility to urinate independently until it is, however temporarily, suspended.

That is all.

{rf}
radfrac_archive: (bat signifier)
oh, the power! rf gave me his login info before surgery so I could post updates for him. What embarrassing things shall I post in his name??

Luckily for him, I'm all out of ideas (for now). So I'll just say that he came through surgery with flying colours, came out of hospital a day early, and has developed an odd tendency to pirouette and say things like "dash me, those pink hippos are demmed attractive!"

Hey, at least he's not hiding in his workshop, madly trying to finish up a pair of flying boots to go with his (internal) body armour. It's so hard to hide scorch marks on a hardwood floor.

So he's home; he's safe; while it will likely be a while before he actually feels like pirouetting again, he is healing well; and his parents (totally lovely folk) are here for a few days to look after him. I don't know if he's up to talking much, but I'm sure he'd love to receive any kind thoughts, emails, calls, or cards from y'all. (I think the knight of hearts is his favourite.)

I'll have to leave the scurrilous gossip and embarrassing tell-alls for another time.

~[livejournal.com profile] inlandsea
radfrac_archive: (Harold Ross of the New Yorker)
It's like a story someone's telling me. I go where I'm told to go, and have blood and electrical readings of my heart taken. I buy what I'm told to buy, soup and juice, antibacterial sponges. It's like a game I'm playing; like theatre or a scavenger hunt. I tell several people a day that I'm having surgery on Friday, just because it comes up. ("So what are your weekend plans?" "Bit of a drive, spot of fusion.")

The physio called. He's fun. He had a hard time letting go of his own diagnosis (Heavily Implied MS). We were both kind of gloomily enjoying my probable doom. Then he sent for the MRI and examined it and did have to admit that my disc was making a leap out into the spinal column in a way we generally don't like to see. Today he told me firmly that I should seriously consider the surgery.

He was so commanding, in fact, that in response to his "You should get this done immediately," I automatically answered, "Yes, sir."

He did not remark on this. I didn't have the heart to tell him it was all scheduled.

I'm curious about this restructuring process. Just now I don't feel afraid, though I notice I am irritable. ("I'm not nervous," I told a friend, "It's just that everyone in the world is inadequate." "We are, you know," he said.)

The long-term is of some concern, but I can't control that. All I can do is observe it.

This state is quite different from the grave, contemplative curiosity I felt when I was thinking a lot about what else could be wrong. This is a little more workaday, a little less beatific. I wish I could have the other again. I liked it. It felt good to discover I wasn't as cowardly as I thought.

{rf}
radfrac_archive: (green grid)
Theory exam Monday.

I wish for the sake of my ambitions that this class had been slightly less of a thrilling challenge and slightly more of a walk in the park (up the merry path to grad school).

Dentist Tuesday.

I'm not in much pain from my neck, but the weakness is strange. I don't really feel different, but even a half-ramble becomes, by the end, a kind of Heave to, left leg lads! up that last hill home.

The odd thing is, the yoga made me feel better. Yet the neurologist was alarmed at the idea of my doing anything assertive with my neck.

Such as, for example, lying in a dentist's chair for 2.5 hours with my head canted back like a pez dispenser.

The story of some teeth )

Weary Wednesday.
Today Thursday.

And like that.

{rf}
radfrac_archive: (hunnybear)
The neurologist called me at work the morning after the MRI, which caused me quite a bit of calm resignation during a quadrille of phone tag -- until she actually reached me to tell me that I have a congenitally narrow spinal channel and a sodded-up disc in the upper stories of my neck. My brain, on the other hand (my brain on the other hand?): normal.

The result being that I still get to meet a neurosurgeon (apparently he is young and feverishly talented) but if there is surgery (and it sounds like there will be) it will be to my neck, not my brain.

I call that as near to a delightful result as anyone has a right to expect.

It's amazing how different, psychologically, metaphysically, a mechanical problem is from a neurological one. It's fascinating to watch it operate in my thoughts. Different paradigms are invoked. Different models of suffering and endurance. Different kinds of hope and planning. I hope, for example, for much further discussion of this. Just now, though, I am going for a walk.

I am not allowed to crane my neck back to look at the gleaming blue sky of a brand new day. But it's a bit dreary up there just now anyway. So instead: gaily forward.

{rf}
radfrac_archive: (And you wonder...)
So the MRI. Not as noisy as I expected. In fact rather musical. In an experimental electronica kind of way.

Cut for the claustrophobic and the lyrical. )

The giraffes came along. [livejournal.com profile] inlandsea drove the whole menagerie out to VGH, and S. took the middle of the day off from painting houses to come sit in the hall with her while the big machine repolarized me.

I did count my breath, and I did try to do some visualization. Mostly I thought about holding still.

Afterwards, [livejournal.com profile] inlandsea drove me to the university, where I retyped my research paper on the library computers and submitted it. Still evaluating the timing of that choice.

It was sort of anticlimactic really. It's very beige.

{rf}
radfrac_archive: (And you wonder...)
Crossing campus to meet S. on Thursday, before the reading, I felt a new sensation consolidate itself.

As though someone had set one hand against the flat of each hip, and one against the basin of each shoulder -- I know that adds to four hands, so either this is two people or one alien insect -- and was pushing back against me steadily as I walked.

I thought: oh, that's right. This is going to be difficult.

Not just conceptually intriguing and spiritually fruitful. Hard.

So of course I went to Hot Yoga with the ex-co-conspirator. Yesterday. Absolutely excellent. Afterwards I felt stronger and more able than in months. (I admit that when I first saw the neon display for Bikram's Hot Yoga I thought it must be an exceptionally boldly-advertised massage parlour or bathhouse.)

It was tricky. Some of the poses, particularly triangle, invoke the tremor in my right leg. Anything where the foot is tensed becomes problematic. It isn't just putting weight on it -- I'm actually more able to lock the right leg than the left.

Other stretches invoked a spasm in my right hand, the fingers curling rapidly towards the palm. It felt fairly similar to the foot tremor, though it wasn't necessarily related to an arm or shoulder stretch so much, I think, as to a powerful stretch elsewhere in the body. It was also of shorter duration. The leg tremor will last as long as the foot remains flexed. As I may have demonstrated to you, I can grip the leg with both hands and not be able to stop the tremor, though it disappears as soon as I relax the foot.

Still, it was tremendously energizing and good for my spirits; it made me feel strong instead of weak.

* * * * * *

Now I must see if I can link Jung's Shadow to anything at all in Lacan. I have a sort of a thesis for the Le Guin paper, but I would like it to be Cleverer.

{rf}

*Catchphrase in the Hot Yoga patter.
radfrac_archive: (And you wonder...)
I have the odd sense of having gotten myself into something.

I keep thinking things like "Now you've done it."

I've gone to these health professionals and presented them with the text of my body. This little poem of symptoms I've composed. Although they're reading things I have no control over, things I couldn't fake if I wanted to, I feel -- not as bad as guilty -- responsible. Like I've been a bit reckless really, having these symptoms, and I should have thought through the consequences first. Larking about like Byron with my limp.

This is not, to clarify, a feeling that I have made this happen with the Power of my Mind. It's more as though I'd gone into a job interview and exaggerated my qualifications for being ill, and now I'm realizing I'm going to have to actually do the job.

I really don't have the right clothes for sickness casual.

I saw the physio again today -- he asked me to come by after I'd seen the neurologist. He's a kind of a sportif busybody really. I'm grateful.

I thanked him for his interest and his pushiness. We had a talk. I told him what the neurologist said ("I don't know.") I told him she was quite excited by the idea that it could be a benign tumour of the spine, or some kind of congenital narrowing of the spinal cord, or some kind of congenital flaw in something I forget the name of. Also that she mentioned MS. Which makes two mentions now.

He seemed underimpressed. He doesn't think it's mechanical or spinal. He thinks it's motor cortex, because of the clonus.

I mean, I concur, but neither of us happens to be the neurologist. If she doesn't know, we don't know.

It's strange, I mean, it's strange in that it's so ordinary. You go to a movie with a bloke who tells you that you walk funny. You're maybe slightly annoyed because you were halfheartedly trying to get a leg over him and he keeps talking about his intestines and your limp, and it's the wrong movie playing anyway, and six weeks later you're looking down the barrel of an MRI thinking -- Now you've done it.

Falling from one pin to another, like pachinko in slow motion.

{rf}

([livejournal.com profile] lemon_pickle - like Paula from "Home Movies" when she gets the job with the monkey.)
radfrac_archive: (Harold Ross of the New Yorker)
One other thing.

I made the doctor's appointment weeks ago, as a person with a medium-sized list of unrelated ailments and a faint reflexive paranoia. Then I saw the physio, and turned into someone with an alarming systemic deficit and a tense physiotherapist.

The physio was supposed to call the clinic and tell my doctor what he'd noticed, but they didn't connect, so all my doctor knew was that he'd called. It was all on me. I had my list of symptoms, both those that the physio had told me about, and those I'd noticed myself.

Then, sort of by accident, something interesting happened. Instead of listing off my symptoms, I started to tell my doctor a story.

It was shorter and less gothic than the version I posted here, but had the same rough outlines. I went to the physio, I showed him where my tricep wasn't, he did some tests, he mentioned some results, he seemed to be concerned.

Instead of presenting my doctor with a worried layperson holding a list of self-diagnosed symptoms which might or might not be illusory, I told him about a worried medical professional diagnosing a patient. I imported someone else's perceived authority and objectivity into my interview.

He's a good doctor, and a good listener. I still wonder if attributing the concern and the diagnosis to another medical professional made the information easier to take seriously.

I don't think I did it on purpose, but I think it's kind of cool.

{rf}
radfrac_archive: (Default)
Let us briefly collapse back to three Thursdays ago, as though we could root through the ruins of history after all, as though the storm of Progress had suddenly let up for a moment, leaving us stumbling and winded.

I happened to have inadvertently made a doctor's appointment for the day after physio, which worked out well in terms of shortening the panic window.

I made the appointment back when I made the first physio appointment, but it takes some time to see my doctor, or any doctor, except for that guy at the drop-in clinic who distributes antibiotics like confetti. I'm sure he probably would have given me an antibiotic for my foot drop.

There was some confusion during which the office called me back asking wouldn't I rather have a nurse do my "well person exam"* -- to which I replied that I hadn't realized I had made such an appointment, but I was game if she was.

I did see my doctor. He did much the same pushing and pulling as the physio had. He presented with much less concern. He did agree that I should see a neurologist.

"I'm just going to do this," he said, writing URGENT 2-4 WEEKS on the sheet, "So that you get in at all."

Then since I was being so terribly efficient, I went down the block and spent a very pleasant 45 minutes being fussed over by the optician who looks just like John Cusack.

"These ones make you look like Wolverine." he said. So I bought them.

Then I took myself out to lunch at The Superior, where I ordered the charcuterie.

See, now, I masquerade as a sophisticate, but in fact I am a hick from Prince George. Okay?

I was expecting the rustic bread, the house-ground mustard, the pate, the chutney.

The miniature coffee mug full of snow-white fat, not so much. I thought, you know... meat. In slices. Or something. Not fat in a cup. Nor did there seem to be any fat-cup-specific utensil.

I had one of those moments, you know, where you're looking at something in front of you that you have no idea how to negotiate gracefully. And I thought, "Well, son, you're a hick and you have a cup of fat. Dig in."

And damn. Pure pork fat is good. Eventually there was some meat, in little flinders, underneath, but by then I was wishing it really was a whole cup of fat.

Like all the days on which these appointments have occurred, it was beautiful. The cherry trees were starred all over with their first blooms. The sky was a deep philosophical blue. I wandered about, full of affection for the richness of the world. Impossible to feel anything but grateful.

Okay. Start the wind generators up again. Phoop. Backwards into the future.

{rf}

* VICTORY!!!!!!!

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