Cancer Update

I haven’t written anything in a while, mostly because there’s only so many ways to say you’re miserable, before you get tired of saying it yourself. Yes, I’m still feeling the after-effects of the chemotherapy, yes I’m still dealing with depression and a host of other changes in my life I’d rather not get into, but the end result is I am dealing with it and simply not sinking into a sea of self loathing. It hasn’t been easy. Some days I feel nothing at all, and have no opinions or thoughts about anything, other days I’m overwhelmed by sadness that I can do nothing to control. It’s a struggle to climb out of that only a person who’s gone through the fight with cancer can possibly understand. But I’m climbing, and there’s light at the end of the tunnel now, however dim.

The surgery to remove the tumor I’ve not so affectionately named Jar-Jar has finally been scheduled for April 1st (the irony of the date has not escaped me). I will be in the hospital approximately ten days to recover, which I’ve been told by the surgeon will probably be a lot of suffering, because what they have to do to get rid of the tumor. In short, they will be cutting out most of my esophagus, then pulling my stomach up to make a new one. This will basically leave me with little to no stomach left. Getting and moving around organs, is going to put me in a lot of pain, that they’ll have me drugged up for, so in that regard, I’ll hopefully miss out on a good deal of agony. There are also risks involved in the recovery, that could make things interesting for me, but I’ll be cured. I’ll finally be rid of this fucking thing.

Celebratory eating will have to wait. I will have three, maybe four weeks where I’m exclusively stuck using the feeding tube they put in me to allow the new esophagus/stomach arrangement to heal, then only water for awhile, then finally mushy solid food. I won’t be able to eat birthday cake this year, but I will at least be able to celebrate being alive one more year, which is a positive thing.

Meanwhile, as a means to combat my depression and my chemo brain, I’ve actually begun writing a novel, based on my game world, Imarel on the suggestion of my friend, Colin. I’ve got a lot of bad writing habits to break, and escaping my ‘short story’ mentality has also been a challenge, but tonight I’ll break 20,000 words, so little by little, progress is being made. Just like fighting this cancer, it’ll be a long road before this novel is anything worth reading, but I feel like, because of my experiences, I’m a little better equipped to see them to fruition. So, something for me to have some optimism about.

-Tim

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Someday This Pain Will Be Useful

The title is a quote from “The Walking Dead” finale this season. I can’t say as I’m in a horrible, physical pain but rather suffer from the pain of having no energy to do anything and the pain of having this uncontrollable apathy towards the things I liked to do, but can’t. This has, for the moment, really killed my power to write, other than what I’ve been putting here, in the blog. I keep hoping, by documenting it that I’ll be able to reflect upon it later for writing inspiration. Like, I’ll be able to give some character profound depth for this quagmire of indifference and have it be genuine.

Writing this all down is I stress once again, not me looking for sympathy, but rather having merely the need to voice it, and hope people understand that it’s not them, it’s me going through this unusual sort of pain that this cancer (or by proxy, the treatment) is giving me. Support from family and friends has been amazing. I’ve heard from relatives I’ve not spoken to in ages, and it was good hearing from them. Friends too have come out of the woodwork and have been great. This is just something that’s unfixable I think, as far as my mood goes. I go from exhausted, to apathetic, to nauseous, to feeling like a spring that’s wound too tightly. It really sucks.

On the up side, I still have all my hair, and after tomorrow I’ll only have two more chemo treatments to go before I’m done. One thing I am absolutely not apathetic about is getting through that. The treatments have made it so I can eat some again, but there again, eating has become more of a chore and a hesitation than something I enjoy doing (though, again on the up side, mom’s Christmas cookies have once again made that not so much the case. I love those). So, two more to go and then I get about four weeks before they want to do surgery. The closer to that I get, the more anxious I become. That will be the longest I’ve been in the hospital since my heart attack, and it’s a fairly complex operation. Still, I’m also hopeful. I’m ready to be done with this and move on.

-Tim

Adventures in Cancer

Today is my first day in chemotherapy, and aside of having a very harsh reaction to the medicine initially, it’s really been mostly me sleeping the day away. What I mean by harsh, is when they hooked me up to the medicine, my face immediately went red and I couldn’t breath. Apparently, this is common. So, the actual process isn’t as bad as I thought it would be, and the nurses and aides have been very nice.

Sadly, that doesn’t give me much to write about, so I’m rewinding a little to last night and my incident at Wal-Mart. You see, with esophageal cancer, you slowly lose the ability to eat things easily, or without bringing them back up. I had eaten something a little prior to the trip and it see how it would settle. Needlessly to say, it didn’t. Getting from one end of a super-sized Wal-Mart, to the other with a pending stomach explosion is not a feat I would recommend for anybody, having choked my sickness back down twice before making it to the bathroom.

Luckily, the bathroom was unoccupied. Unluckily the toilet wasn’t. There is something really to say about unclogging your toilets or putting OUT OF ORDER signs in place. Suffice to say, I left the gift of my stomach’s contents on the growing pile of refuse stuck in there, having no other choice. What I found particularly ironic (and believe me, this experience is somehow going to find itself into my writing), the bathroom floor was cleaner than the damned toilet and the parking lot, where I thrice more left the gift of my stomach was, until then seemingly cleaner than both. There’s something really wrong when your parking lot is cleaner than your public restroom.

So, chemo is almost done for today: I’m at 170ish pounds and I’m experimenting with things to eat, to help keep my weight up. The long part of my fight has begun and I’m already feeling the weight of it. Being tired and evidently anemic, according to my doctors, which has never been a problem for me before. I have a month of this to go, and I honestly wonder at what condition I’m going to be at the end of this. Losing hair doesn’t bother me, so much as the consideration of how much energy am I going to have left before this is all done? All I have right now, is that I’m ready for this fight. Hoping that’s all I’ll need, besides the minds and science of these great doctors I’ve the fortune of having.

More next chemo,

-Tim

 

Getting Back to This…

While I haven’t touched my personal blog in over a year, I’m slowly coming back to this, as I finish working on other projects and begin others. Not a lot to say at this point, but in a fairly remote future, I will be posting stories again and other stuff. 😉

Where I am and Where I’m Going

I’ve taken to a more relaxed blogging schedule. As this is a lightly-traveled blog I don’t feel particularly bad about cutting down the time I spend on it to address other projects I have waiting for me. I’ve decided to let this blog sit for a little while to get those other projects off the ground and running.

I’ve had The World of Imarel hanging on my back on and off for 25 years now.  For those familiar with the archaic free form/semi-free form role-playing that takes place on IRC (Internet Relay Chat), it has dwindled down into a small, fractured but resilient community. My own channel, #imarel (yes, it’s hash-tagged, because that’s how channels were designated before the advent of Twitter) is growing in popularity despite the overall decline in people who wish to RP via a textual interface, but the rules, lore and other information isn’t complete. For the first time however, I can honestly say I’m pretty close to being done with it. So, while this blog sits idle for awhile, that will be one of the things I work on. It’s honestly a labor of love and nothing more, a labor of love I need to finally get off my plate.

More importantly I also need to put more time and effort into writing. I feel I’m growing as a writer that I now need to give just putting the words down to the proverbial paper a lot more time than I have been. I’ve been spending a few months doing character studies, writing down story ideas and generally researching how to flesh out my characters better. “Traveler” was a step in that direction.  I will eventually write Story Two for “Traveler” but for now that will sit until I feel I’ve given my writing the focus it deserves. I have the story idea already shaped out for the second series but like I said, I need to start looking at the bigger picture.

Till next time!

TRAVELER — PART VII, An Unexpected Answer

TRAVELER — PART VII

An Unexpected Answer

Mars had declared its independence from the governments of the Earth something like thirty years ago. There had been a concern about history’s first interplanetary war, but it didn’t go down like that. The colonies of Mars were self sufficient and simply wanted their autonomy from their respective governments (in this case, the United States and China) to exist how they wished.

Donna had been working as a US Ambassador to Mars at the time and she had been back and forth between Earth and the Red Planet more times than I’d like to recall. We had just gotten married and it put a strain on things, but we managed. It helped knowing she was doing something important for not only Earth but for Mars as well. When it was finally done, I remember the marathon sex and her unending need to eat real food, instead of that stuff they make with the food replicators.

I think of this now as Earl and I touch down on Mars, because right now we’re looking at the very colony Donna had gone to in order to do her work. The Armstrong Colony was situated in the Valles Marineris and had been the site for many of the negotiations between the US, China and the United Colonies of Mars. They didn’t have much of a military back then, but what they did have was enough to make taking the colonies back by force more expensive than either nation was willing to pay. In the end, it always comes down to money. As we look at the massive anti-starship batteries and the milling of troops coming in and out of the large, domed complex I see a lot has changed in those thirty years.

“Shit,” Earl began, “Look at all that hardware. Those are M-76D hover-tanks!”

“Yeah, US military hardware, but how did they get those? Any of this stuff?”

“Dunno. But this doesn’t look like a colony anymore than my mother-in-law looks like a woman. Suppose we have a look around and see what’s goin’ on here?”

“Probably a good idea. Let’s go.”

My first inclination was that they were on high alert because the Earth was basically obliterated. Without the Earth, Mars’ own orbit would be effected, though it’s impossible to say how. Could it be the result of an alien invader? We’ve not exactly scored well diplomatically with the Alpha Centarians or the Skull Nebula Confederacy but neither has been war-like. Not like this. Even as advanced as the Skull Nebula Confederacy is, they were more interested in hustling us their old technology for mining rights on the Moon than blowing us up. The implications of what could have happened were staggering.

Earl and I floated past the myriad of soldiers and military equipment towards the colony proper. It was a huge, domed complex that was built around a giant terra-forming tower. Because the fusion reactor within it gave off so much heat, a thermal dome was built around it to help create a habitable environment for humans while the atmosphere composition was being changed. It would likely be another fifty or so years before people will be able to live outside these domes, but the change will be a leap for Mankind.

It was amusing to me that Earl and I could simply cross the threshold and move about the busy colony complex without being detected, detained or questioned. We drifted through bustling crowds and the botanical garden stations that made up the majority of the colony dome’s interior, until we came to the center pavilion. What I saw there struck me dumbfounded.

“T-That’s Donna.” I managed to stammer. “Why is she kneeling before that Alpha Centurian?”

 

 End of Story One

TRAVELER — PART VI, To Mars!

 TRAVELER — PART VI

To Mars!

I’ve traveled a few times through space via solar sail but to travel through space as a ghost, as living energy was an experience that I couldn’t possibly been prepared for. The solar sail takes a month to make the voyage and you have all the creature comforts of a cruise ship but it’s sterile. You really don’t have a concept of traveling because its so comfortable, so smooth. But as a ghost I’m naked to the space around me. Distant stars streak by and I can move as fast as I want to. I can see Earl next to me and we like a pair of translucent comets streaking across the great expanse of space with no limits to how fast we can go and where we can go.

I don’t know if I still exist because of the unresolved issues with Donna or if I’m simply going to always be this way, but since nobody throws a manual at your head and says, ‘This is how to be a spirit!’ I’m sort of learning it as I go. Earl, between fart jokes, stories of his sexual escapades and his lamenting that he’ll never see the Tennessee Titans play football again, has actually been some help with the week or so he has on me in ghost time. Also assuring (and terrifying) is that a spirit seems to be able to survive the destruction of a planet. It makes sense though, being incorporeal. I suppose I always assumed the destruction of a place a ghost haunts would mean the release of the ghost. Maybe there is still some truth to that, but not in Earl’s case.

I’m distracted from my random thoughts as Mars rushes up on us. As we crest over Deimos, the Red Planet rises to greet us. While not nearly as populated as the Earth was, the small Terra-forming colonies and scientific laboratories the United States and China have peppered the surface with have given it a sense of newness. Like life can go on despite the horror that I’ve witnessed not terribly long ago.

“Always thought Mars looked like a big, round sky turd. Like a Space Rabbit took a dump and hopped off to Jupiter.” I could always count on Earl to offer deep though-breaking commentary.

“That’s really…I really don’t know what to say to that Earl.” I muttered

He was giving me that satisfied smile, like he said something profound and stumped me. I begin to wonder if my new spectral powers include the ability to steal that stupid hat of his and hit him with it every time he gives me that look.

“Well, we’re here. Now what?” he asks.

“They must have had some sort of news on it.” I explained. We’re going to have to just start looking until we find out what people there know. It’s weak, but it’s a start, right?”

“Hey, maybe while you’re doin’ that I can go possess a woman and have me some alone time!”

“Earl will you shut up? I—wait a second. Yo know how to possess people?

“Sure. It’s not that hard. You just have to be real smooth about it.”

“You’re going to have to show me that trick later. Might come in handy.”

“Man you have no idea! Woo!”

“Let’s go back to, shut up Earl.”

I could almost feel him flipping me off as I flew ahead of him and allowed myself to plummet through the thin atmosphere. There was a certain rush knowing that I could free-fall like this and be in no danger of dying, since I’m already dead. It’s strange how we always think of death as something horrible and initially it is. But if it weren’t for the grievous circumstances of my death and that of eight billion others, I might actually enjoy being dead.