Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Disorder Called Childhood

The problem with seeing whether something is "wrong" with a child is that children are all so weird to begin with. We allow a wide range of behaviors that are unusual or excessive or peculiar or just downright irritating because they strike us as being due to growing pains, temporary glitches in the development of mentation, an eccentric mix of hormones and adrenaline and whatever additional chemicals might be bouncing and colliding about in the small body--ever tending, we believe, toward balance and stability.

Terms that become meaningful in maturity--autism, Tourette syndrome, obsessive-compulsive disorder, along with a hundred others--are not so defined in the child, because the child is a walking, talking, bouncing, ricocheting, blabbering, unpredictable quirk at baseline.

We wait for life and experience to mold and make adjustments--like setting the mix of fuel and air in a carburetor. We wait for socialization to smooth the edges and file down the splinters. We add our own two cents, the parental salt of instruction and boundaries.

It is a process. It is the process.

What then when the child grows, enters puberty and adolescence, and brings along his old bag of quirks. They become no longer the elements of a growing process, but complexes now, disorders, suddenly set hard in the psyche, and sometimes quite crippling.

It is then that we think back and see the harm in what seemed harmless, the problem in what seemed merely a natural progression.

I observe my young stepson, 9 years old, and from the standpoint of one who is privileged (which is to say that I have already been on the painful side of watching the quirk become the complex with my own son), and I cannot help but wonder.

I note that he constantly talks, and that when he runs out of words he simply blabbers. I note that he will sometimes repeat phrases over and over, a section of dialog from a cartoon for instance, or just a single word. Sometimes when he seems to be silent, I will glance in the rear view mirror to find that he is sort of whispering to himself.

Is this odd for a child? No. Would it be odd in later years? Yes.

On the other hand, my step son from my second marriage was rather like this as well. I remember worrying then that there might be something wrong. And yet at 21 years of age now, he has become his own flip side--quiet, sedate, a man of few words--in short, perfectly "normal."

I guess we are just left to wait and see. Hope and pray. Listen and advise.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Change of Seasons

I have this recurring dream of finding windows open, usually in my mother's house, and making a point of closing and locking them. No doubt it is significant that my mother passed away 9 years ago. In last night's dream I felt particularly worried about her, and a bit frustrated that she couldn't seem to remember to close her windows.

What does this mean? Any armchair Jungians out there?

Another dream I have on a recurring basis is one wherein my mother is cogent again and able-minded (having died in real life of Alzheimer's disease). This, in the dream, is always disconcerting to me. It seems vaguely silly, even wrong--jarring in the face of the scenario I had been accustomed to.

What are these dreams trying to say to me?

. . . .

Our new exchange student is Hassan, from Saudi Arabia. (Roy and Abdul have gone the way of all exchange students; i.e. to an apartment and back home respectively). Hassan is a prince among men. We love him. For one thing, he can actually speak English rather well, which in turn means that we can actually converse with him! Secondly, he is not just polite, but genuinely friendly. Thirdly, he does not run from, fend off, or otherwise freak out when confronted by our dogs (although he does draw the line at sleeping with them, which is reasonable enough).

. . . .

I feel so free now after having been freed at last from the evil powers of the Oregon DMV. This is not to say that the matter has been concluded--oh, no. I must still file with the circuit court in order to secure the return of their ill-gotten treasure, but at least I have my license back and I need no longer try to hide from police cruisers, informants, snitches, and such like.

. . . .

Now the season is turning. Our patio begins to shiver a bit, and to pull the fallen leaves about its shoulders. The wind has pushed the umbrella post skilly-whompas, and the chairs increasingly reserve themselves for puddles and pine needles. The customers at Starbucks come inside, stand coveting the occupied chairs, caught between lurking in the corners or returning to the chill outside.

One more turn, one more winter of wood smoke and thick sweaters, of wet shoes, coats set to dry on chair backs. One more, the same, again, and still no word from my long lost love, still no breaking of the broken heart, still no relaxing of the past's grim hold. And yet I am happy.

Go figure.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


When we were young
things were different then
how we used to live forever?
Your hair was red
having faded now
but then like a fire engine
and caught the wind
a living thing,
like a gull, or a hawk--
but not just one--
it was always sunrise then--
Remember that day
you ran so fast
and were sure it was because of new shoes?
Oh my love
if I could see you now
just once in the common light of life
I would hold you close
and not let go,
I would not let go again

Friday, September 25, 2009

The End of Reason

For the bureaucrat, the world is a mere object to be manipulated by him.
Karl Marx

I am livid.

This is actually funny, but you would have to know me to get the proper picture. People who know me would have already laughed. People who know me know also that I almost never get angry, and certainly not livid. Either it is not in my character, or it would simply be too much effort, I'm not sure which. If I were any more laid back, as more than one friend has observed, I would be pulse-less, a corpse.

Why am I livid?

Here is my story. I have told it more than once already, and I'm certain that I will tell it many more times during my remaining years. It's catharsis. Moreover, I do believe that it will ring a bell with many a reader, many a one who has found himself in my place, trapped between bureaucracy and common sense, pressed to the point of impotent frustration by authority placed in the hands of the mindless machine. Therefore join me, and let us echo together our pointless cry, muffled as it is beneath bundles of red tape and paperwork:

"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me.
I lift my lamp beside the golden door."

Here's the scoop:

It seems that last March, 2009, I was caught by photo radar exceeding the speed limit in a school zone. Whether I did not see the sign, or did not note my speedometer, or simply blanked out for a moment, does not matter. I make no excuse whatsoever for the infraction, and make no plea other than guilty. The infraction, in fact, is the only proper thing about the story to follow. It is crystal clear, reasonable, pristine (i.e., it is the one thing in all that follows that makes sense).

I was caught candidly, you see, in the purest sense of the word (candid: photographed or filmed without the subject knowing or having the opportunity to prepare or pose).

So candid, however, was this photograph that it remained perfectly so for the next six months--far beyond the point where stealth had served its intended purpose--for after all, no matter how perfectly candid these photos are initially intended to be, the ultimate objective is for them to show up in the offender's mailbox along with a fine to be paid by check or MasterCard.

But I never received the photo and the fine. Never. Ever. Instead, it went to an address at which I had lived some three years ago. The first I knew of the matter, surreptitiously set in motion back in March, was when I received a Notice and Demand for Payment in late September. Still no photo, mind you.

The thing had been through court, adjudicated, the initial fine doubled, and then all had been passed on to the Oregon Department of Revenue for collection.

Two days later I received notice from the DMV that my driver's license had been suspended. I would need to reinstate this to the tune of $75, after, of course, paying the doubled traffic fine of $242.00.

But of course this was silly. It was a situation arrived upon through a series of errors, and so all the thing needed was undoing, like the knots my son used to tie in his shoelaces.

My first call was to the Oregon Department of Revenue, to whom the traffic fine and punitive additions had been assigned by the circuit court, after the court had assessed judgment in my absence (I was still candid, you see), which itself had happened after the original crime had been committed and reported to all concerned except me, which itself had come from . . . well, from the photo radar machine, I guess.

Hello, Cindy. Good morning. My name is Richard Boughton and I have a bit of a tangle here that I'm hoping you can help me with.

This is what I honestly believed at the time of my first call. Now, I am not so callow to have missed the fact that matters such as this are a bit difficult to sort out--no, it's not that simple, I'll admit--yet and still the scenario seemed really pretty manageable, providing that you looked at it from the aspect of inception rather than conclusion, for the conclusion quite clearly was the product of errors arising directly after the inception.

My explanation, which in due time was to be repeated so many times that it has now ended up stuck in my head like an irritating song, went like this:

I. I exceeded the speed limit.
A. As assessed by a photo radar device.
II. A traffic ticket was sent to an old address of mine.
A. I never received the traffic ticket.
III. The fine, applied in March, was not paid.
A. Because I never received the traffic ticket.
B. Because it was sent to the wrong address.
C. Because my records at DMV had not been updated.
IV. The matter went to court.
A. At which I was delinquent.
B. Because I still knew nothing of the matter.
C. And because I had made no answer to the fine, nor appeared in court, nor paid the fine.
D. The fine was doubled.
E. And sent to the Department of Revenue for collection.
V. My driver's license was suspended.

As you can see, this necessitates a fairly large number of words, considering the actual simplicity of the matter, but my responsibility at this point, or so it seemed to me, was to be concise and thorough so that everyone might do his job with integrity and efficiency. Red tape can be sticky, that's for certain, but surely not immune to undoing through care and patience.

Well, perhaps I am callow after all--a dreamer, an idealist, naive, obtuse.

I said, What can I do about this?

And Cindy said I could pay by personal check, Visa, or MasterCard.

But no, don't you see, I never received the ticket. If I had received the ticket, I would have promptly paid it. But I never got the ticket, and now they've doubled the fine, and suspended my license.

Cindy said that she could have the photo radar picture sent to my correct address if I so wished.

If the driver in the picture is not you, she said, you don't have to pay the fine.

But it was me. I had no argument with that. I broke the law. I shot the sheriff. But I did not shoot the deputy.

You'll have to go to the court for that, she said. All we do here is collect what you owe.

But what about my license? My license has been suspended. I didn't do it, I didn't do it!

Clearly things were disintegrating. The fine point of simplicity had exploded into parts and particles, dispersing in all directions, become now a perfect confusion.

Oh, and by the way, you are required by law to provide current information to the DMV. It may be that the ticket was sent to an old address, but the fault there is yours.

Oh Cindy, Cindy, how can you be so cold, so like a machine?

I end up paying the fine, using my debit card. It was all the money I had until next payday.

Folks, don't forget to update your address with the DMV. Otherwise you may find yourself cuffed and carted away.

My next call was to the circuit court. I was told there that the matter was out of their hands. As far as they are concerned the case is closed (though of course I may personally appear and file a pink and a blue form, which will eventually be submitted to a judge, who will eventually make a decision regarding my complaint). In the meantime, they refer me back to the Department of Revenue regarding the matter of the delinquent fine, and to the DMV regarding the suspension of my license.

Allow me to insert at this point as a matter of trivial interest and peripheral applicability, that I suffer from multiple sclerosis. This is an autoimmune disease that attacks the central nervous system, causing, in my case, numbness of the legs, spasticity of gait, and a certain proclivity toward confusion and disorientation in thought process. Increased stress tends to exacerbate all these underlying deficits.

Therefore, I am becoming at this point in my traffic ticket struggles increasingly legless and mindless.

Back to the old corral. My next stop is the DMV. But do I walk the mile to get there--I and my cane--or do I drive, breaking the law once again, compounding my criminality, running the risk of incurring who knows what sort of penalty?

I drive. Twenty miles an hour all the way. Halfway there, a fellow driver rolls down his window to tell me that my left brake light is out. Just then a State Trooper passes on my right. Happily, however, he is pursuing some other felon.

I hide my car under an oak tree down the block, enter the DMV building, take a ticket, get in line. I'm number 77. Right now they are helping number 49.

This gave me a chance to practice my story for a full hour and a half.

I slap my suspension on the counter, in what is hopefully a significant manner. I tap the paper three times for good measure.

There's been a mistake, I begin, a silly mistake. I'm hoping you can help me sort it out.

The clerk brings up my account. He studies his computer screen. He tells me that the fine has not been recorded as paid. He tells me that it must first be recorded at the court, regardless of whether it has been satisfied at the Department of Revenue. He tells me that I may then, and only then, apply for reinstatement of my driver's license, and pay the associated fee of $75.

I run through my story again (please see the outline above). I am hopeless yet determined, determined because I am livid. I am looking at the phone which is sitting on the desktop, perhaps a quarter inch from the clerk's left elbow. I actually think about asking the question--Could you maybe make a call?

But the clerk gets there first. I suppose I could call the court, he says. That's about all we're left with.

I am astounded. I am thankful, relieved, hopeful again. I am suddenly a little less livid.

But my euphoria is short-lived. No payment has been recorded at the court. It all takes time.

I ask to talk to a manger. He has none. A supervisor? None. The clerk is becoming irritated, rather like myself, and so I leave this line of inquiry, afraid of what I might ultimately discover--that the robotic photo radar machine itself is the boss.

Surprisingly, however, I have somehow inspired the clerk to impart more thorough information about the process (a charity far beyond the requirements of the job description) I am told that the DMV actually has nothing to do with the photo radar machines themselves. No one really knows who does. It is suggested that I might call The City.

The City. Yes, that's simple enough. Just dial 411. City and State? Portland, Oregon. And your listing, sir? Uh . . . the City?

I trudge through once again--mindless, legless, exhausted.

I never received the ticket. I never received any correspondence regarding the ticket. The first I knew of this was six months later when I received a bill from the Department of Revenue.

Well that is because you failed to update your address with DMV, the clerk says. You are required by law to keep your information current.

So here is what is being said. In essence I am to pay a doubling of the initial fine, plus the fee for reinstatement of my license, not because I exceeded the speed limit in the now distant past, but because I failed long ago to update my address with the DMV. The penalty for this, minus the initial fine, which I do indeed owe, is one hundred ninety-six dollars.

That is correct, the clerk says.

I am suddenly reminded of an old Star Trek episode, wherein a zombie-like population blindly follows the orders of Landru, a holographic figure of smoke and mirrors which is actually projected by a computer hidden behind a wall, left there long ago by a civilization now extinct, or otherwise departed to better parts of the cosmos.

Is it me? Am I mad? Confused? Obtuse? Stupid?

How has it happened that we have come to the point in our society where the intent of the law is lost to automation, where an administrative oversight can supersede and replace the very meaning of its original conception?

How is it that we have lost the ability to communicate by means of common reason, one to one as individual human beings, rather than mere victims and paper-pushers.

Minus the machines, the papers, the system, the trance-like stupor of bureaucracy, it's really very simple.

Isn't it?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Not A Perfect Poster Boy

Frequently enough I get visits here from various advertising/public relations agencies in association with post labels concerning the products they are representing--Copaxone, for instance; Avonex, NuVigil, the upcoming oral interferons, so on and so forth.

Sadly, I am afraid they will not be finding much to work with here. Rather, mine are the viewpoints strictly avoided and ignored by these interests. These people, after all, are employed to sell, not to warn, and so naturally prefer their efforts to result in the happy injection or oral imbibing of the drug in question (so good, so painless, so tasty), after which he who has received will straightaway head out for a skydiving adventure or the challenge of mountain climbing.

Why dwell on the negative things? Kidney stones, cancer, weird itchy deformities that swell under the skin, seizure-like shakes and chills? Straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel.

Well, I'm a spoilsport. I have developed over the past three years this strange, apparently unreasonable frame of mind that insists on ascribing some sort of natural wisdom to the insistent objections of my body.

Hello? Yeah you! I'm tryin' to tell you something here, buddy. You know that stuff you just squirted into my leg? Well, it HURTS LIKE THE DEVIL! WTF, man?

Yo, did my eyes betray me, or did that pharmacy insert say something about CANCER?

Well, it probably won't happen to me. That's where we all start. That's where the race begins. It won't happen to me because . . . well, because I'm me, and not the other people it happens to.

And that is perfectly true. Right up until it happens. For, you see, MS was not something that would ever happen to me either . . . until it did.

So we begin again. We begin at MS. We learn that injected interferons cause flu-like symptoms in many users, but that these fade and all but disappear in most users after some time.

Naturally, I must be like most. In fact, I must be more than most (because, again, I am me).

A year later, lying in the bottom of the bathtub, shivering so violently that it seems I and the tub, vibrating so, must at any moment break through the wall and into the bedroom where my wife is sleeping--just like the Kool-Aid Guy--Oh Yeah!--it finally occurs to me in the most persuasive sort of way that perhaps these symptoms will not be fading after all.

On to Copaxone then. On to kidney stones. On to the ER bed in the hospital, writhing in pain I had never before imagined possible--pain straight from the bowels of hell.

You're going to shove what up my what and do what?! Lord have mercy!

And so I quit, happy at last to die a slow, seizure-less, kidney-stone-less, weird-itchy-lumpless, carcinoma-less death by MS.

Sure, I'm a spoilsport--and loving it to the bitter end.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Sign

The sign of the beast, as we learn in Revelations, is a number, 666, which somehow appears on the forehead or the hand. I wonder if you can choose. I think the forehead option would make the bolder statement of the two, but I'm betting that that most women would choose the hand (which, after all, might be covered with a glove--those little white ones like they used to wear in gentler days).

Some people take this quite literally (take my second wife for instance--please). Others, possessing a greater sophistication, and preferring to be in step with the modern age, insist that this sign will be received in the form of a computer chip, implanted under the skin and not visible, barring a botched implantation by the implanter, to any eye but that of the laser. According to this theory, one will need to have this chip in order to buy and sell, and generally move about and function in a society defined by numbers and codes. You can scan this, just like the clerk in the supermarket scans a Snickers Bar, and receive an instant accounting of whether the buyer can afford the candy bar, along with his name and address, phone number, home and cell, whether he has any outstanding traffic tickets, what high school he went to, and such like.

Does it sound a bit fantastic? Well of course it does. But it would be pretty boring for life to go on just as it always has, right? Unbearable, actually. Somethin's gotta give.

I can tell you this--I myself seem to have become the bearer of a certain supernatural sign. The sign is not visible, no neither on my forehead nor on my hand. Not visible to me anyway--and yet apparently visible to many others--and especially those employed in a clerical capacity as automatons--bill collectors, court clerks, photo radar machines.

The sign that I bear says KICK ME.

I can attest that such things are real.

The other day I received in the mail an official, court ordered Demand of Payment for a traffic ticket from March 2009 (this being September of the same year). I had not personally received this ticket, nor any of the correspondence that must have followed--little details like adjudication, a conviction of guilt, a doubling of the fine--because the ticket had been sent to an address I had not lived at since 2006.

Well, a simple matter, yes? A matter requiring a simple telephone call.

But no. I soon found that the conveyance of what seemed on the surface perfectly simple was actually perfectly impossible. Somehow the court clerk on the other end of the line simply could not connect nonpayment of the ticket with not having received the ticket.

I was told that if I had wished to contest the fine, I should have appeared in court to do so.

But I don't want to contest it, I said. I just don't see that I should pay the double fine, because I never received the ticket in the first place.

Well then, she said, if I wished to contest the photo radar picture, I would need to submit a blue form and a pink form.

But no, I was contesting nothing, for, you see, there had been nothing to contest. I knew nothing at all of this until just a day ago.

I was told that the court does its utmost best to contact people at their proper addresses. If I had failed to receive the ticket, I would need to contact the Post Office and fill out one orange and one yellow form.

Okay, but in the meantime, what about this doubling of the fine.

That you can pay either by check, Mastercard, or Visa, she said.


Oh, and by the way, since you failed to pay this fine or respond in court, your driver's licence will have been suspended.

A notification regarding the same had been sent two months ago.

When I hung up the phone, the woman had just begun to describe a green and purple form.

Tobacco Is The Cause

It has lately been found, after long years of exhaustive research, that cigarette smoking is the cause of most evils in the world--sickness, famine, multiple sclerosis, mental retardation, non-amusing situation comedies, the Holocaust, among others.

"It's simply amazing," one researcher commented, "that this could have been so simple all along, and we just didn't see it. I saw a guy light up the other day, and the next thing that happened was full body paralysis."

Lung cancer is now passe, and may be, in fact, the one thing that cigarette smoking does not cause.

"We're looking at everything from autism to xenophobia, from the traffic accident to the Asian flu, and always the cigarette comes up guilty."

Exactly how tobacco has become the most powerful disease since original sin is not yet fully understood, even while billions of dollars continue to be applied to the eventual solution.

"It used to be that we thought masturbation was responsible for most physical and social ills, but no more. That was the dark ages--this is now."

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

My Little Corner of the World

I had the strangest experience this morning, which of course will be difficult to describe, as are all things concerning the crap MS dishes up.

I had gone out as usual to drive my son to school--generally an automatic sort of thing, you know? Not something one really thinks about, but just does.

And yet as soon as I turned onto Prescott street (3 blocks or so from our front door), everything suddenly looked wrong, out of place. It was a weird sort of spatial rearrangement, like everything was tilted, or had been shifted during the night, so that the streets seemed to be pointed more to the North than to the East, where they used to be. Everything seemed jarred loose from the familiar pattern, cross streets too acute in angle, buildings and houses displaced. It was a little bit like being on LSD, minus the feeling of euphoria.

Things looked so wrong in fact, that I was not sure I was going the right way. I found myself concentrating, watching for familiar landmarks, having to convince my mind that this was the proper route.

This disorientation persisted all the way to school and all the way back home. My mind continued to entertain two opposing perceptions--first that everything looked wrong, and secondly that I knew it was right.

I cannot help but feel, even as the confusion of perception fades, that this has been merely a peek at the world to come, a world where disorientation arises more and more frequently and the confidence of awareness looses ground. And it is a terrifying scenario, against which I ultimately have no defense.

It may be that my recent trauma with kidney stones and surgery has caused a relapse in MS. I note also a new aching in my legs--the same sensation that has long been present in my calves, but now having jumped to the backs of my thighs as well. It is an aching and a spasticity, as if the muscles had been tied in tight knots that cannot be undone.

So what do I do? Go back to Copaxone and add more kidney stones to my miseries as well? It doesn't seem like much of an answer to me.

Maybe there is no answer. Probably, rather. We are inclined to believe that every malady has a cure, that there is something we can do about this. All it takes is a call to the doctor, or more exercise, or a better diet, or 8 cups of water a day. We believe it to be so, even as we know it is not so. We believe it, because the alternative is unacceptable.

The Daily Drift

I went to Starbucks this morning, as I do most every morning, to sip a cappuccino and scribble down some thoughts (in as far as one can scribble on a laptop--it becomes more a figure of speech). The things that were needful for me to bring along were as follows:

1. My laptop.
2. My cigarettes.
3. Whatever book I happen to be reading.
4. My personal grande-sized cup.
5, My cell phone.

Now, despite standing around in the doorway making sure I was equipped, and despite coming back from the front gate to get my cup, I nonetheless lacked the following items upon arriving at Starbucks:

1. The cord for my laptop (the battery for which is quite useless).
2. Whatever book I happened to be reading.

In addition, there was a hospital bill I needed to call about, tucked into whatever book I happened to be reading, and so of course this too failed to make the trip.

Therefore, I was left with essentially nothing to do at Starbucks other than drink my coffee. (Imagine that).

I swear to God, no matter how often this happens, it continues to surprise and amaze me every time. How can it be that such a simple list proves so challenging? It is a theme with me, and there are variations on the theme, but the tune of the piece is always the same. One day it is the laptop itself that does not make it, another day it's the cup or the book. It's like a CD that always skips, but skips in different places, quite randomly.

This is my brain, a damaged CD, playing whatever music it will, but rarely the whole cut start to finish.

How is it that a creature of habit such I, can yet find himself so un-moored from what is habitual?

Oh well, perhaps it will become a blessing over time. A drifting ship must end up somewhere. I just hope it's on a white beach in Tahiti.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Is It Vascular?

Most of you out there who are really interested in multiple sclerosis (i.e. those who have it) will have heard by now about the new theory that MS is not an autoimmune disease at all, but a vascular problem.

In short, it is found in research data that 70 percent of people with MS will display spontaneous reflux constantly present in the internal jugular veins and/or vertebral veins, and 50 percent will demonstrate reflux propagated upward to the deep cerebral veins.

Put simply, this means that your blood is flowing in the wrong direction, Dude.

In the control group for this experiment (those not having MS), the percentage in both cases regarding the above parameters was zero.

This misguided flow of blood causes a number of problems; and specifically, in the case of MS, the wrong-way blood flow causes an insult to the blood-brain barrier, sending hungry little cells across into the gray matter and spinal cord, which soon proceed to eat myelin.

It's kind of like that zombie movie where the zombies were stuck on one side of a wide river, unable to reach the surviving normal people on the other--until, that is, they discovered they could simply walk across the river on the bottom (since they were dead anyway, right, and therefore could not drown and die again).

Did they hate the people on the far shore? No, they were just hungry--and so is the process that fuels multiple sclerosis.

The good news here is that this vascular defect actually appears amenable to effective treatment (unlike the various injected poisons now used for the autoimmune model). So start dialing up your doctors, folks, and make sure your insurance is in good shape. The business is about to boom.

Or . . .

Or is this just another wacky idea, the medical science version of snake oil and miracle herbs? They come and they go, don't they. And the longer you've been around, the better you know that.

Still and all, I'm game. I can't say that the surgery for this sounds pleasant, but I figure it can't be as bad as kidney stones.

And on a final note, I feel suddenly gladdened about my recent decision to stop the injected drugs, because for all I know at this point, I've been injecting this stuff all along for no damn good reason at all! I wonder how much damage this particular cure has caused already.

Well, I suppose I'll find out somewhere down the road--hopefully later rather than sooner.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

In This Life, It Never Ends

I'll tell ya, folks--once they got ya down, they just keep on poundin', no mercy.

A year or so ago I had to assign all my old debts to an agency called Credit Solutions, because with the expense of MS diagnostics and treatments, I simply had no money to continue monthly payments. Herein the old credits cards are, of course, closed, and new interest supposedly does not continue to accrue.

Nonetheless, I have today received a summons to appear in court by one of these old creditors. They are suing for the amount owed plus interest.

They don't seem to like the idea of the credit solutions route.

This is disheartening, frightening, and stressful for me. The idea of appearing before a court as a deadbeat is not appealing. Where will the money come from? Am I supposed to stop all treatments, discontinue visits to the neurologist, forgo any further MRIs? Sadly, even were I to take those steps, there would still be no money, as we are still paying on the MS bills so far incurred.

Add on top of this the hospital cost for my recent surgery for kidney stones. I don't know yet what the insurance will pay, but the straight, unadjusted bill so far is $13,000.

It may as well be 13 million.

These are the financial, the morale effects that come with MS--those that lurk like storm clouds on the periphery of the day to day struggle--just living with the disease. These are the locks on the chains, the electric fences, the surplus in reality that says No, you are NOT going to be okay after all. Because of MS, you will be hunted not only by symptoms and relapses, but by poverty and legal action.

Life is hard, right? Life's a bitch, and then you die. We've heard it over and over, and yet somehow, deep down, will not believe.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

From Physics to Fornication

I seem to have developed a lively interest in physics lately. This is actually rather odd, because I don't really understand the first thing about the science, and my reading of the books I have so far purchased has done amazingly little in the way of rectifying my ignorance.

I suppose the two major barriers to my comprehension are math and the counter intuitive nature of the science. Well, add in a third--logic--just for good measure. It seems that very often the compelling implications of quantum physics deteriorate before my eyes into mathematical equations--creatures which numb my mental efforts just as surely as the bite of a rattlesnake paralyzes.

It's like Man, this was just starting to get really interesting, and then the whole then collapsed into algebra!

My father was a high school algebra teacher. I was a high school algebra moron. No matter how I tried--and no matter how he tried--I just never could make heads nor tails of the thing. Many a night I yet vividly remember wherein I sat with him at the dining room table, hot lights blaring, textbook equations blurring, going over and over and over the mechanics of this inconceivable math, even as the TV in the other room whispered of more interesting pursuits, of what I, locked in the prison of numerical calculations, was missing.

My father was not the best teacher in the world. For one thing he did not much like high school aged kids. For another, he was missing the TV shows too. Perhaps he expected more of his own offspring (for, in later years, I happen to know this is how it goes with fathers). Sometimes, out of frustration, out of boredom, trapped within the exchange of self-loathing and vague thoughts of patricide, tears would begin to escape from my eyes--hot, tense, irrepressible tears, which I nonetheless hid (or hoped to hide).

Now, the image that enters my mind at this point, intruding in the most insistent manner--which I figure must somehow be inextricably connected to the subject at hand--is this:

When I was a young man I happened to enter the restroom in a public park. It was raining outside, and cold, and there was no one else in the park, or so it seemed. However, upon entering the restroom I came upon three men, somewhat older than I, engaged in a somewhat complicated homosexual act.

The first man, facing toward me, was standing, and his pants were around his ankles. The second man was bent over, facing the first man, and had the first man's penis in his mouth. The third man was standing behind the second man, and was having anal intercourse with him.

Upon the instant that I entered the restroom, all three men stopped--just froze stock-still--so that the event became, upon my observation, a single motionless frame--like when you press the pause button on your VCR. They were all connected, three yet one, like elephants trunk to tail.

What kind of physics is this? What kind of equation? How would one express it in abstract terms, in a numerical scheme?

Stupid, is it not? How in the world does this image arise, straight out of the maddening mix of math and science?

See Dad, I'm just as dumb as ever. In this I have not failed, from the past time to the present.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Biocentric Universe

Can we talk about something else now? The kidney stone is a very small subject indeed, and hardly worthy of the attention it has demanded--although I suppose it is ultimately not stature alone that commands close observance but the degree of effect that has been exerted. A mouse that roared kind of phenomenon.

Take the diminutive electron, for instance--a thing that cannot even be seen with the naked eye and yet stores in itself and its interactions the very motion of life. Electrons, as it seems, come in pairs, rather like twins, and these pairs of electrons interact in a sort of ying and yang style (not only twins, therefore, but husband and wife). It is found, through the odd, nearly incomprehensible science of physics, that if electron A does one thing, electron B must do the exact other.

Moreover, each individual electron makes choices regarding the determination of its own course. For example, if electron A, traveling as is its habit at greater than the speed of light, comes upon a tw0-way mirror, it will either pass through the mirror or deflect off the mirror, according to its pleasure. Whatever choice electron A makes, electron B will make the opposite choice. If A passes through the mirror, B bounces off. All outcomes are thus satisfied.

At the same time, however, as long as it is unobserved, the individual electron will remain noncommittal, preferring to make no choice at all. Or rather, it makes all available choices as long as it remains unobserved, and then upon observation, straightaway makes up its mind and trades in the vague for the specific. Anything and everything therefore that happens or exists requires someone to observe it.

Why is this important? It is important because what it seems to imply is that nothing in the universe actually exists without having been observed to do so. The very existence of the creation becomes thereby absolutely dependent upon the creature, namely man.

This is where the science of physics stops. Man is either utterly superfluous or comprehensively significant. It depends on which branch strikes one as strongest.

And yet I think of this as well . . . It is said in scripture that Christ is he by whom all things cohere and continue. And he is before all things, and by him all things consist (Col 1:17). And so maybe there is an observer after all, one who observes for all, who is holy and eternal (and so far unaccounted for by science).

It's something to think about.