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

Rebooted, Maybe Not So Much…

The last time I wrote in this blog, I was talking about not liking to talk about my health issues and what had happened. Since then, I discovered that I have esophageal cancer, likely brought on by episodes of acid reflux much like the one I described. In fact, the episode may have been related to the tumor that’s been growing in there for nobody knows how long. It’s ironic, really that I’m writing about this today, because it was seven years ago yesterday, that I had a heart attack, at age 35 and survived that. Now, I’m in another fight for my life.

I’ve been diagnosed at stage three, and I have a ten centimeter tumor running from my esophagus, to the top part of my stomach. I was told by one of the oncologists working on me, that the bigger tumors are, they tougher they are to shrink with radiation and chemotherapy. As I was looking at the endoscopy image of the damned thing, all I could think about was that it looked like a fucking chestburster from “Aliens” hanging out in there. Might as well be for the end result of not getting it out. On the advice of a good friend, I’m naming it Jar-Jar. Why Jar-Jar? because I hated Jar-Jar in the prequel “Star Wars” movies, and I couldn’t think of anything better than digitally editing him out of every single scene, to improve those movies. So, the sooner Jar-Jar gets removed, the better off I’m going to be.

Some would probably consider it morbid that I’m naming a tumor that’s killing me, robbing me of the ability to eat a decent meal and generally making my existence at present pretty miserable. Part of my coping with all of this has been in equal parts, keeping a sense of humor about my condition and being able to look friends and family in the eye and tell them that I’ll be alright. Science is on my side on the latter part of that statement, at least. In fact, getting through the radiation and the chemo isn’t the worst part, or the surgery that’ll finally remove the tumor, and with it take a portion of my stomach. If I get through all that? My biggest danger time is the recovery. I could go through all of this, and still die from any number of complications. So, I have to keep a sense of humor about this, or I’m going to go crazy.

I suppose I’m also writing this, to sort of document where I am, and where I’m going. These words could be some of my last, if things don’t go right, or if I progress to stage four, before things have a chance to work. If nothing else, I want my friends and family who read this blog to know my thoughts, and that no matter what ends up happening, I’m not just quitting and letting this kill me. Between having too many more stories in my head to tell, and the new “Star Wars” movies coming out, I’ve got a few reasons to hang around, anyway. 😉

I’m going to be starting radiation and chemo soon. I’ll be stuck in a hospital for four hours, so if nothing else, this blog may yet see a bit of random writing that will help me pass the time, and get my brain in proper form again. I still mean to get on the ‘writing once a day’ routine, if I can. Here’s to steam-rollering forward, anyway.

-Tim

It’s All About Perspective

My lesson from NaNoWriMo is: I fucking hate the idea of writing a novel in a month. Before November, a close and important friend urged me to attempt this and I did manage to squeeze out five good chapters before I really felt like the whole grinder to write something good in that short of time pretty much train-wrecked my creative process. It train-wrecked to the point where I didn’t want to write at all, and I didn’t. it probably didn’t help that I had a cadre of personal issues to deal with, but I don’t look at those as reasons. Those are excuses, so I don’t linger on those, nor do I hold them up as a core issue to my fundamental problem; I simply cannot be rushed.

I do feel myself getting back on the rails, but it kind of surprised me just how damaging to the way I create stories the whole concept of NaNoWriMo was. I mean, it made me angry how badly it nuked my willingness to write. It also reminded me that I am simply a person that has to, must do things on his own terms, or he will simply not do them. The whole act of doing it felt like throwing feces on a wall and trying to call it a story. I’m not a fucking monkey; I don’t write on command and I don’t like flinging poo and calling it wordsmithing. I think for me, the creative process is slower, so I can work things out in my mind, walk the story through in my head.

The good news is I have five good chapters of this, what I feel is a fairly unique post-apocalyptic story that is, surprisingly not focused on zombies and does not involve a dystopian future. I am going to start working on this story again, starting tomorrow. Maybe I will post a few lines from it, but as it stands, this is really second draft stuff. I think I will also get back to the thing I was doing, where I’d write other stuff as a diversion from the main thing I was writing. I have a few short stories kicking around in my head that I’m going to write, then look to get published in magazines.

So yeah, I’m back at it.

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