Thursday, October 29, 2009

Dim Sum Driver

Every time Albert has stayed with us, and then leaves, my car ends up smelling like a mixture of reheated Chinese food and cigarette smoke, all mixed together like the end result of some sort of conflagration at a dim sum restaurant. Of course this may be partly because of actual bits of food that have hidden under the seats or in the glove compartment. To go out and sit in the driver's seat for the first time after a week's absence comes with a curious sort of mental and olfactory mnemonic, bringing to life some past experience of being barely conscious, in a drunken haze, slumped in a booth seat at Hung Far Low, prostitutes taking a break nearby, cooks playing poker with a greasy deck of cards, feeling almost yet never quite sick enough to puke.

Ya know?

But I don't mean to complain, just to describe. Albert is tops in my book, a prince among men. Everyone leaves their mark in one way or another. His simply has a Chinese flavor.

Besides that, Smokey absolutely loves Albert--so much so that he longs also to be a truck driver, or at least a faithful copilot. I have no doubt that this particular dog would be faithless to his master in the wink of an eye, preferring the open road and far foreign fields to the same old yard and the same old squirrels and the same old annoying Chihuahua companion.

I don't begrudge him this affection, and in fact admit that he and Albert make a perfect pair. Sometimes we just end up with the wrong partner, victims of an unfair, inequitable turn of fate. It's life, and as such there is nothing to be done but to make the best of ones lot.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Where have they gone--
so many,
so beloved--
gone to keep council
with the lonelier planets--
and all their secrets
kept henceforth silent--
I will not hear so much as a whisper
My heart is the loneliest
planet of all,
colder yet for my distant sun,
for flicker sharp
yet never warm--
a word devoid of once said love

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Rest In Peace

So okay, I went back on the Copaxone. My wife made me. I suppose it's a good thing overall. For all I know, I had a relapse in the last couple months, what with all these various illnesses I've gone through, one after another--the kidney stones, the screwed up back, the weird abdominal pain, followed by the even weirder stinging skin. So much crap going on is bound to shake up the MS and have it bite back one way or another.

As it happened, my wife was paying the bills a few days back, and in doing so, it occurred to her that we were still paying for the Copaxone, even though I had quit the shots some weeks ago. She objected to this, predictably enough.

Well, I explained, I had already called the home infusion pharmacy with the question. What they said was that I needed to look at it this way: Say you bought a bottle of Tylenol, but you did not take all the pills in the bottle. You would still have to pay for the whole bottle, right?

The example did not impress my wife.

"That's BS," she said.

In any case, it was therefore concluded that if we were going to pay for the damn shots, I had better be taking the damn shots.

My wife is thrifty, you see, and cannot abide by waste of any kind. Money don't grow on trees, be those trees here or in Indonesia or anywhere else.

The familiar maxim is reasonable enough, of course. My own father used to say the very same thing. It does occur to me, however, that this is something, as are most things, that could be taken to a deadly extreme. It is for this reason that I will refuse as long as I live to purchase anything in advance toward application at the time of my death--a coffin, for instance, or a burial plot--for it might be decided that such investment of otherwise usable funds ought to be put to more immediate use.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

How About This?

How does this sound to you:

Retire at 55, give your dogs to a friend, hold an everything must go furniture sale, sell your cars back to the dealer, give your house back to the bank, and move to Bali.

Absolutely crazy, or just crazy enough?

How about turning in your cripple card, giving your MS back to the docs and the charts and the MRI machines? And moving to one of the hottest climates in the world.

How about living happily ever after on an island where every US dollar miraculously turns into 10?

Tune in, turn on, drop out.

How about seeing a witch doctor for your next relapse? Surrounded by Muslims. A speck of dandruff on the back of one lonely infidel pig.

How about having nothing in particular to do other than kick back on a chaise lounge by a table under an umbrella, scotch and water on ice, a good book to read, an afternoon dip in the aqua sea.

How will I speak without knowing the language? How will I understand what I hear?

Is this crazy? Or is it just me?

Moving Mountains

My wife is able to move mountains.

Mountain moving itself is more a matter of will than of any sort of miraculous gift, save that the gift be a miraculously resolute will. Though she stands in height at but 5 feet even, and towers therefore over only the smaller things in the world, which are used to being towered over anyway, she nonetheless casts the shadow of a Goliath, stretching from tiny toe to far horizon as if the sunlight were ever inclined to slant in her favor.

Part of the trick with displacing large mountains from from one locale to another is in not worrying about the mess that may result in the process, for there is, after all, bound to be a big hole in the one spot from which the mountain has been lifted, and then an over abundant pile of rubble where the thing is set down again.

But, you see, the main point in moving a mountain is for the mountain to be moved. One must let nature itself take care of at least some of the ensuing tremors and landslides and other earth altering manifestations. The point is to get the main thing done. Much of the rest has its own way of falling into place. Soon enough the land will give back to itself, and become just as permanent as it had seemed before--changed, different now, but permanent still (until the next 5 foot Goliath comes along).

You sweep up the edges, put some plaster in the cracks, plant some roses, add water, and the rest is already there. Before long, you don't even remember the beginning. This is simply where you live.

Monday, October 19, 2009

What's the Difference, Really?

A close look at the differences between one person and another is apt to show that we have much more in common than we might have thought. I find it to be so again and again in life, and for a multitude of peoples and beliefs. Black and white, man and woman, rich and poor, old and young.

And also for the Arab and the American. What we do not know could fill a book with a thousand blank pages, while what we learn through individual acquaintance, within the dispassionate milieu of day to day life, begins to fill in the blanks with an ink that cannot come from conflict but only from mutual experience, a shared quality of perception that dwells naturally in the soul.

Each of us alike knows the world, knows what it means to live, and so we are known to one another on the level of essence alone, that medium by which we have been made to exist--skin, breath, mind, heart, veins and toes and fingers and souls.

I talk to Hassan about Islam, and find that we are talking about Christianity as well, and Judaism; of Catholics and Shiites, the Sunni and the Protestant; of schisms and wars; of those who are religious, and those who just believe. We speak of Abraham and Lot, of Isaac and Ishmael, of Jacob and Esau and Noah and Jesus, and find that we are not talking about an isolated tradition but a comprehensive history--that which includes all, from Adam and Eve to me and Hassan.

We are not the products of division, but the children of the pristine unity by which life itself has always depended, no matter how far flung and confused by time. Here we are, a world apart, and yet quite the same after all.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Killed Instantly

He/She was killed instantly.

One often finds this phrase used, in newspaper articles, television news, or in simple conversation--a phrase that is punctuated somehow with a sense of deeper implication. It has a certain ring, something that demands a bit more air. Killed instantly.

Why is this significant? Did the deceased have insufficient time to enjoy his demise? Or perhaps it is the survivors who have been short changed by brevity--no time to weep or bring flowers, no time to devote to the passage, and then deposit for later use in fable, in autobiography--all the stuff that constitutes self image.

I should have thought that being killed instantly would be pretty easily preferable to being killed slowly and painfully, with plenty of time to appreciate the process.

Then again, perhaps deep down--I mean really deep down--the truly regretable thing about the instantaneous nature of this sort of departure is that it robs the stricken of one last chance for self-examination, of viewing life for once with an objective eye even as the light of the eye dims, to think of things unthought since the silence of the womb--life, spirit, soul, God.

I find at least the latter possibility appropriately touching.

Rituximab, most often associated with the (generally unsuccessful) treatment of cancer is now being talked about more and more in connection with the treatment of MS (as well as a handful of other innocent diseases). It is, they say, exciting news. The good news about this particular drug is that it is not very likely to kill instantly (although it is certainly possible). The thing about chemotherapy (i.e. the use of toxic chemicals on the vital systems that sustain human life) is that it's a process, as is made apparent in the therapy part of chemotherapy.

These things take time.

I read this in an online description of Rituximab, which may or may not be pertinent:


Hm. Kind of gives a guy pause to think.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

My Skin Hurts

I finally figured things out yesterday. Yes, a word of wisdom came to me from on high, like a dead bird falling on my head, waking me from the slumber of self-diagnosis, snatching me from the labyrinthine avenues or organ systems, the circulatory maze of physiology.

What is MS and what is not?

And the survey says . . .

If the thing is weird, if it defies reason, if it will not choose an organ or a bone or any other malady known to man, then it is definitely MS.

I had been suffering a sharp pain that seemed to be deep, and quite focal, just under the left side of my ribcage. Yet, before I could really begin to properly enjoy this, it began to bounce like an echo back and forth between abdomen and back--hello, hello, hello, and so on.

Hm, that's kind of like a kidney stone, I think.

Ah, but the thing will not be pinned to any such determination. As if fearing discovery and capture, it flees yet again, leaping dolphin-like from the deep to the surface, exploding there and spreading, from sternum to backbone, from hip joint to nipple. Now it is not a fish, but a fog. It is nowhere in particular, it is everywhere in general.

And it hurts when I touch my skin. It hurts even when my shirt touches my skin. Which, of course, is always.

Stupid? Yes, of course it's stupid. It's MS!

Now MS, as most of my particular fellows will agree, does not like to be lonely, and must therefore bring along a companion. In this case, my case, this time around, it has brought along fatigue. Profound fatigue. You know what I mean. The kind that makes you feel like a puppet without a hand. I continue to work my eight hours, and yet they seem like eight days. I plod along at my desk practically forever, and yet only ten minutes have passed. Something strange has happened to time. It has been stretched like taffy, long enough to circle the house several times. I sit for a moment on the futon with the chihuahua and wake up a half hour later wondering what happened.

This is MS, no more questions, no more mystery. It is the illness without a medicine, the organ without a name, the secret bodily system that has no palpable presence and yet is completely and comprehensively there.

Shall I call the doctor? And then what shall I say? My skin hurts? And it's exhausting me?

Shall I take a pill? What pill? Arsenic? Cyanide?

Well . . .

The good thing, as always, is that this is hilarious. And laughter is the one thing that does not make it hurt. It is, in fact, the only medicine so far known to soothe.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


I guess maybe there comes a point in time where one has to acknowledge that he is fucked up in a general, irredeemable, intractable sort of way and just leave it at that.

In astronomical terms we may compare this particular sort of event horizon in life to that point at which matter--the earth, for instance--falls into a black hole, from whence nothing, not even light can escape. It makes no difference what effort is expended, no difference what means are used, nor by what thrust or twist escape is attempted, there is simply no way out, for the sheer gravity of the hole is nonnegotiable, supreme above all.

Most of us as we grow older yet persist in the strange notion that everything still is just as it has always been. I am still myself, for instance, just as I am and have always been, despite what the latest photograph depicts. How curious that I should appear otherwise. Perhaps the next picture will better capture the true essence. More probably, we simply pose for photos less often, knowing that the resultant image will be yet another unsettling lie, an unkind warping of light and feature. Obviously your camera lens needs to be cleaned, because that, my friend, is not me.

We are used to the idea that maladies are merely temporary things, exacting a period of discomfort, but then passing on their way. We recuperate, maybe go to the doctor, get this or that fixed, take this or that pill, and then live again, like a boxer down for three or four counts, then on his feet again.

But what I'm talking about now is the pain that comes and stays, the broken thing that stays that way, This is the black hole that swallows light, the prognosis in place of the cure.

I remember when my father was suffering with cancer. It was a cancer that started in the gallbladder and spread out from there, like spilled ink, oozing and saturating all, to bladder, to stomach, to intestine. He had in his lifetime suffered as many troubles as most--nor more or less afflicted than the next guy--the flu, a bout of pneumonia, a problem with his spine, a stomach ulcer, a fall from a ladder. I believe that he thought this was no different. One must simply take the necessary steps toward cure and recovery. He would see the doctor, he would undergo a surgery--and if that didn't work, he would see another. And all the while--and a short while it was--we observed the obvious process of death, parading through his body, his face, his eyes, with all of its black flags flying.

How could he not know, I wondered? How could he possibly imagine that one more visit to the clinic would turn the tide?

This is the terrible gravity of finality that beckons from the maw of the black hole in time. This it it, the last word, the last dot. This is the sentence that has come to its end.

And we cannot bear to look.

I am no different than my father, and we are no different than any other man, old or young. The time is never now, and the cause is never lost. We go on. There may come a day, but the day is not now. It will never at the present moment be now, but will ever remain beyond the border of the lens, outside the edge of the print, not yet part of the picture.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

See me now
all declawed
sharp teeth filed smooth
as ivory keys
A lion among kittens
now become
You’d like me best
this way
with marrow sucked
from every bone
and all the blood
and gristle drained
You might have waited
after all
for sickness
to slay the prey
Or might have known
that passion lives
but briefly and for torment’s sake
yet must have tired
and finally set
fierce one last time
where sky meets plain—
Or was there one last chance
to quench
the madness that had captured me
A final leap
from hopeless den
to force and part
your bitter lips
and bare the claw
that wounded hope
one final time to ravish fear
And drag you
warm and moist and limp
beyond all jealous sympathy
back to passion's final clutch
and breathless cry
of victory

Saturday, October 10, 2009

What Is and Is Not

What is MS and what is not? I know, I've asked the question 100 times already, and I presume that I'll ask it 100 more.

Take my recent back troubles, for instance, and the consequent difficulties with walking--caused by a compromised nerve complex, or a thing that is just simply itself, a bad back, a sudden movement positioning a particular disk such that it happens to sit on top of a nerve when I rise? Which was the actual cause?

Consider moreover the totally unreasonable amount of pain I have suffered since. Has the severity of the pain been exaggerated by MS as the already rickety central nervous system seeks to address the problem, or did I just really mess up my back this time around, without any contribution from MS whatsoever?

Why is this keeping me down twice as long as it had ever done before? Is it because the central nervous system has become less able, or is it because I am 10 years older?

And now there comes this strange pain in my abdomen. It is in the right upper quadrant and it is quite localized to one spot, as if a knife had been stuck up under my ribs. It is constant, and it wakes me at night (and yet it is bearable, unlike the pain that accompanies the passage of a kidney stone). I wake to find the pain bouncing rhythmically between my abdomen and my back, as if the devil was playing a game of ping pong with one of his demons.

What can this be?

Looking at my copy of Grey's anatomy, I find a big purple organ called the liver crouching lump-like in this very spot. So is this a liver problem? Then again, I am aware that right upper quadrant pain is often associated with gallbladder disease. So maybe that's it. Then again, maybe this is referred pain from the preexisting back injury.

Or . . . well, maybe it's MS.

How to sort the thing out? How to find the culprit's secret cove?

As I have generally done in the past, I decide once again that it may be more accurate to envision MS not as the causation for most problems and pains, but as an underlying predisposition toward trouble, the fatal crack in the foundation that has weakened every element of the dependent structure. It is, perhaps, that which potentially compromises every other function.

And it is MS which in the end makes its mark of finalization on the death certificate. Whatever the fatal process was, we find almost without fail that MS had its finger in the pie.

Complicated by, is the phrase. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, complicated by multiple sclerosis. Myocardial infarction, congestive heart failure, pneumonia, endstage kidney disease, cirrhosis of the liver, and so on and so forth, name your favorite, but don't forget to add that final punch line--complicated by multiple sclerosis.

If multiple sclerosis is found to complicate even death, is it not perfectly reasonable to presume that it has complicated everything else leading up to death?

Friday, October 9, 2009

Life Insurance, No Platonics Allowed

Surprisingly enough, I was actually surprised when my wife told me that the company to which she applied--for which, in fact, she works part time--would not cover me for life insurance. Yes, because of my preexisting condition, multiple sclerosis.

Why was I surprised? I mean, everyone has heard of this kind of thing before, right? And yet it had somehow remained a rumor, the sort of conspiracy theory that circulates through society in a casual sort of way, the bit of gossip that cannot really be true.

After all, it is those who have a health problem who need insurance most, is it not? It just seems like a no brainer. The very purpose of the thing should have chosen its own most likely clientele. Surely it is not set up so that the person who is perfectly healthy is the same who may get lucky by dying, and therefore collecting for the benefit of his family. What, after all, does the deceased collect other than his own investment, and the investments of others having the same interest? Or did the insurance company put up its own money from the outset? No, of course not.

Here, as it seems, is the perfect example of a society completely untethered from the notion of community. It is a practice of greed, gainful for the few--a premeditated insult to the rationale behind its own existence--the notion of man's responsibility to man, the moral acknowledgement of interdependence.

Plato, in The Republic, imagined a society in which each member was called in his own natural way toward the ultimate logic of coherence and mutual benefit, so that the society itself would thrive, becoming intention in action.

As it happened, Plato never visited America. Can you tell?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Brand New Disease (Come as You Are)

I think I am suffering from RWB. The disease is so new that they haven't named it yet. other than to apply a few random initials (signifying nothing in particular at this point). In fact, so new is my disease that it has yet to develop any identifying symptoms. But they're out there somewhere, believe you me.

Is the disease fatal? Dunno. Is there a cure? Dunno. Will I be able to continue living a full and happy life, to climb mountains, to sky dive, to have grandchildren while I'm apparently yet too young to make it realistically possible? Most likely. Although frankly that doesn't do much for me in the way of consolation.

Yes, I am inconsolable--and I don't know if that is a symptom (the first) of the ailment, or merely a reaction to the same. Where does the illness end and what is merely ill temper begin?

Although it may seem a bit hasty of me, given the lack of knowledge concerning RWB (both general knowledge and any other sort of knowledge there might be), I have determined to start a foundation in my own name, being after all both the first to suffer and the first to speak out. In doing so, I hope not only to collect funds for research and treatment (and other peripheral expenditures, see small print below), but to encourage others, those who silently endure, to come forth, to own their disorder, and to buy a tee-shirt or a hat or both.

How does it feel to be stricken by an unknown source, to struggle with an unnamed bodily system gone bad--to endure, at least in potential, every unspecified pain known to man? To suffer, perchance to die, from God knows what?

Well it don't feel good, I can tell you that much.

MS used to be enough for me, but no more, no more. It is, for one thing, at least one letter short, and we all know that tragedy comes in 3's. Why stop at MS? Does anyone honestly imagine that he will get off that easy? No, the very notion is a delusion. But batten down the hatches, folks, make fast the gates, gird thy loins, for there is much, much more to come (although, on a happy note, this proves eventually no more than is required).

RWB is the cutting edge, bound to be as rampant in our century as consumption was in Frederick Chopin's time. And I'm getting on the wagon now, while there's still room to breathe,

Oh Brave new world. Oh brand new disease. Get yours while supplies last.

the small print: all funds gathered, collected, stolen, or otherwise extorted under the auspices of the RWB foundation for the cure of Christ knows what will be wholly subject to the whim of the founder and utilized in whatever way is seen to be fit by the same, who will remain, in addition, perfectly irresponsible and unimpeachable)

Is It, Or Is It Not?

How does one know whether a problem he is currently experiencing is MS or not MS? Moreover, how does he know whether MS has combined with the problem with the result of making the problem worse, or indeed whether the present problem is making the MS worse?

Shall we see multiple sclerosis as something which consistently invades and infects all other parts and processes of the body--and of the mind too, for that matter--or does it sometimes stand aloof, disinterested in, say, the broken bone, the torn muscle, or what have you?

As recently mentioned here, I happened to hurt my back the other day. All it took was rising suddenly from a chair. The same thing has happened 2 or 3 times in the past, and so I wasn't surprised to find myself groaning with pain on the dining room floor. I remember this happening somewhere in my 20s, and then again at about the age of 40. It's not pleasant, but it goes away in due time.

Nonetheless, I find myself wondering this time around, The pain seems more persistent, more severe, and has begun to radiate to my ribcage and my upper thighs. Was it like this before? Well, had I been blogging back then, I guess I'd know. But on the other hand, I guess there was no such thing as blogging back then.

In short, I begin to connect all things to MS. Was it MS, for instance, that had caused me to fall in the first place? The truth is, it happened so fast that I cannot now remember the mechanics of the thing. Did I fall first, and then feel pain; or did I feel pain first, then fall?

This is why we should all have camera crews to follow us around, kind of like Bear Grylis, only not so entertaining. Actually more like America's Funniest Videos.

Come to think, along those lines, it would likely be beneficial for each of us to have his own MRI scanner. That way we could take a look for any events that may have happened in the brain or spinal cord and therefore be able to say with some certainty whether MS had something to do with our latest mishap or not. Not that we could do anything about it one way or the other--but still, it would cut some corners, and some costs, and would be certainly more convenient than lining up at the hospital. Right? And when not in use, the thing could be easily enough disguised as a couch or a sparring bag.

Just a thought.

But for now I am left to merely wonder whether this problem with my back is the same old slipped disk that I've suffered in the past, or whether I'm feeling the effect of raw nerves newly stripped of their myelin sheath.

Time will tell. And that, in itself, is about the only sure thing there is with MS.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Radar Scam Continued

The photo radar saga continues. More lives than a black cat.

Having sent my "excuse" for why I had not paid the ticket I had never received, this was promptly returned along with a note saying that I would need to have the document notarized. The judge could not possibly look it it without a notarization.

I therefore visited the bank yesterday morning and presented my excuse to a notary for his signature. As it turns out, I'm glad this was required, as I learned from the notary that he had seen this sort of thing many times, and that, in his opinion, it is a scam.

Ah, sympathy at last! Commiseration! Validation!

Yes, a legal scam.

Write to your congressman, he said.

And so I did. And to the State Attorney General as well.

They've pushed me too far. This is war!


In other news, it is found that if an asteroid, a meteor, or a comet were found to be in a collision course with the earth at this general point in time, there would be no way to divert total destruction. It is found also that space objects such as these would be inclined to simply absorb the impact of a nuclear weapon and continue on their way unimpressed. So back to the drawing board on that one. Maybe if we notarized the rocket first?

Another Fatal MS Cure

Yet another miracle MS drug is upon us. Don't blink now.

This one is called FTY720 (although they will surely come up with something more catchy before the drug hits the market). It is said that this drug in the experimental stages is reducing MS relapses with an efficacy significantly far beyond the present showings of the old favorites--the interferons and Copaxone.

It is also said, and in the usual spirit of passing mention, that FTY720 has been associated with potentially fatal infections, skin cancer, and (yes, last but not least) a case of haemorrhaging focal encephalitis, which I guess is something like a sudden explosion of the brain and head.

Novartis, the company responsible for the drug (and yes that may be a double entendre), hopes to press for the drug's availability within the shortest time possible.

Well, a few will have to fall for the benefit the many, right? Just so I'm not one of the few.

It's sort of like the My Lai massacre. Anyone remember that? We had to destroy the village to save it. Something along those lines.

Look at it this way--It probably won't happen to you; and even if it does, you probably won't have time to appreciate it.

Monday, October 5, 2009

What a Friend I Have in MS

All ye MS sufferers, please don't fail to appreciate the honorable character of your disease, for there are some diseases, some misfortunes that seem downright stupid in comparison.

Take E. coli poisoning, for instance. I happened to read this morning in the New York Times about a young woman who had been paralyzed by a hamburger. Seriously, it is so. The hamburger she ate one carefree sunny summer's day was tainted by E. coli, which not only made her sick as a dog, but paralyzed her for the rest of her life.

Just imagine trying to convey that to the person who asks after your sad condition. Was it a car wreck? A fall from a cliff? A cancer, a neurological disorder?

No, it was a hamburger.

Not only is it a stupid sounding illness, an embarrassing sounding condition, but it also could have been avoided.

If only I had not eaten that hamburger on that carefree sunny summer's day.

Such a result--paralysis--seems wildly unfair, ridiculously harsh. How much better, how immeasurably more honorable to say that you were struck down by an autoimmune disorder, and to point to the culprit, multiple sclerosis, as if it were a well known fire breathing dragon.

Ours is a disease with a clean reputation. It starts on the inside and needs not first to be consumed. It does not crawl or wiggle or worm. It is mysterious, elusive, ever partially unknown, like the Lone Ranger or the Phantom of the Opera. It can stand with the best of them, and hold its head high. And by it the sufferer is faultless, a victim in the purest sense.

Therefore, honor your disease, and be proud, for the testimony of innocence testifies in our favor.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Space Cadet

Totally spaced out today--a condition which for me is a deviation from baseline spaciness. It's something that just jumps you, like a sudden dog, or a mugger. It is just there, and you find yourself realizing it rather than experiencing its arrival. It is rather like reaching for your wallet only to find you have left it behind.

This morning I left my brain behind and did not know it--which is actually not surprising, for if one leaves his brain behind, then he does not presently have a brain to know with.

There is a sort of process to brainlessness that has a character of its own--something like the laws that govern dark space and black holes. The first I knew of the absence of my brain was when I called the bank on my cell phone. My paycheck should have been deposited last night, and yet I find only $300 in my account. What the hell? What now? Have my wages been garnished by a photo radar machine? Has there been a mix up in the automatic deposit? Did my wife take my card whilst I slept?

So I set about figuring out what I'm going to do. And I instantly realize that figuring is presently unavailable. The function has been left back at home with the rest of my brain. I head for Starbucks instead. Usually I can substitute caffeine for the unavailable portions of cognition, or at least to some degree. It's better than nothing.

Next, however, after five or ten minutes, I realize that I have taken a road to Starbucks that is quite entirely the wrong road. Why? Where am I headed? The bank? I don't know.

This throws a switch, like the ones used on railroad tracks, conveying the train left or right. Clattering along the wrong road, I suddenly realize that the bank did not show the deposit of my paycheck because I had called the wrong bank.

Ultimately I end up at Hollywood Video instead of Starbucks. Obviously I have stopped here to return a movie, though a quick search of my person and my car reveals that I have no movie to return.

I start to think about the last movie I saw, and yet discover that I know nothing whatsoever about it, not even the name.

The last movie I watched was last night, about 8 or 9 hours ago.

Caffeine, they say, is good for quite a number of ailments. It is good for heart disease, and for headaches. It has even been found to be good for MS. So here I am at Starbucks, sucking the life from my cappuccino. See now much better I'm thinking now?

Friday, October 2, 2009

Broken Back and Other Trauma, Thanks to Satan, the God of this World

My life of late is a chronology of troubles. First off you have the baseline MS, which causes its own troubles every day. Then I get the kidney stone, then the kidney stone surgery. Then I receive a $250 traffic ticket which I never actually received. The next day I find that my driver's license has been suspended. In the meantime Capital One is suing me for a debt I had not known existed. And now, yesterday, I somehow totally screw up my back just by rising from a chair.

Yes, I was sitting at the dining room table, working on a letter to the circuit court (yet another letter, I mean), and the CD in the stereo, some 6 feet away, was skipping and crackling through Edvard Grieg's piano concerto (for the disk apparently had a scratch). Rising quickly to put a stop to this insult to a great work of musical artistry, I went down just as quickly, like the proverbial sack of potatoes (which I actually physically resemble, if you want to know the truth).

Upon rising, my back just stopped. It simply quit on me. As did my legs. So I'm worming across the floor, propelling myself with my feet, saying "Ow, ow, ow, ow, shit, ow," working my way toward my cane, which is about 500 miles away on the stairway banister. Both of the dogs, comfortable on the sofa, are staring at me. I have disturbed their sleep. My son is upstairs, inextricably tied to his X-Box. He pays even less attention to my trauma than the dogs.

Today I must somehow get my son's SSI money to him. I make it as far as the Wamu and then halfway back to my car when I go down again. Crawling to a sitting position against the wall, I light up a cigarette, just like everyone else, and I call my first ex-wife for help. Then I call my son.

He tells me that the devil is very active these days. He is attacking people right and left, leaving them with wounds and diseases and every kind of trouble in between. He tells me that he passed out the other day in a heavily wooded area in his neighborhood. He does not know how long he laid there. He just remembers somebody finding him--a transient, a derelict, a hobo--you know, one of those sorts of outcasts from decent society. The man helped him, fed him something, saw him back home.

My son, you see, has type 1 diabetes mellitus. Has had it ever since he was 4 years old. He takes several shots of insulin a day, and sometimes this sort of artificial measure does not work out so well--more and more of the time, quite frankly--which, in itself, is attributable to other problems, which I will not go into here. At least at the present time.

Yes, the devil is very active, and focusing particularly on me. And my son. Damn you, Lucifer! Damn you to hell!

Or . . . hm . . . wait a minute now . . . Oh well, never mind.

Now those with MS are those who understand that MS makes every difficulty just a little more difficult, every pain just a little more painful--the way a good friend makes all things funner, only the opposite. Pain in the back, therefore, is not enough. My legs must also go numb, my crotch must also ache, other parts of varying name and nature must fail to respond appropriately to my desires. A body in rebellion. So it is. So it has been for just about as long as I can remember now (the good news is that that is not very long).

Poor old grampa, my young wife says.

Sure. Poor grampa indeed.

Thursday, October 1, 2009


Fire is what you found
my love
and in the most unlikely place--
fire from a cool well,
fire from a sleeping coal--
You came for clay
still damp and lax
You came with hands
to sooth and save--
And yet I burst
to seething flame
and broke the vessel
in the kiln