Juneteenth Update: Still Not King of Freedonia

A long time ago a bunch of white landowners across the southern United States decided they would write out their reasons for ditching the “Union” for more economically favorable relationships with the agrarian southern states. These states called themselves the “Confederacy” and were very, very proud of their heritage.

Now, unlike the south, the northern Union states had decided that slavery – a major issue leading to bloody conflict between 1861 and 1865 was settled. The United States said, definitively, NO MORE SLAVES. But up to that point, the Confederacy wrote poetically on the subject of slavery, invoking God and His mandate to own what were considered three-fifths of a white person and less than human. The Confederacy comforted itself with the idea that it was CARING for these shiftless savages and they wouldn’t be able to function on their own. These are ideas freely expressed and recorded before and after the Civil War. While the North is not free of racism, violence, and horrible dealings between races, it was the south that needed slavery to continue in order to meet its business model to deliver cheap goods.

1866 was not long ago. It took until June 19th, 1866 for the news to reach Texas slaves and here we are celebrating the end of legal human trafficking in the United States, even though it was technically illegal long before.

I contemplate this sitting at my desk, dealing with my personal and medical issues, glad to be up and about for a bit today. My reward for those decades – those CENTURIES – of struggle is a day off work. I didn’t earn it. But here I am.

America is a tricky place to live in these days. People are desperate to believe in that precious, John Wayne purity of spirit that fueled “Manifest Destiny” which drove us west to colonize the continent. We were the good guys back then and only grew nobler when we decided to save the world in two global wars. At the same time, we have a generation that sees that history through more critical eyes. Americans conquered this continent. We did it with slave or indentured labor. We did it by slaughtering cultures. We did it on the backs of the poor, the immigrant, and the lost. We became who we are today because we did some bad things for which we must atone. Yes, we stopped the Axis. Yes, we won the Cold War. But we’ve also chosen to fight “isms” by carpet-bombing scary brown people and occupying sovereign nations so long that the latest generation cannot remember a time when America didn’t rule them by force.

This, I believe, is our divide. We have a conservative world that runs on the fury of American elitism that cannot and will not accept that our nation did anything wrong or that other nations and cultures did not deserve. We also have a progressive culture that looks back in astonishment at how we got here and wants to try and put things right by showing the world a more merciful and socially equitable way to live in the future. These opposing views cannot be reconciled. And we are in danger of a great undoing, a clash between ideas that won’t result in a civil war, but in the fall of another Empire.

Sucks, yeah. But here we are. For the moment, though, let’s recognize the day we tried to make it right in one way for one situation and try to make it a template for our future endeavors.

Beware the Cold: Still Not King of Freedonia

So one of the new twists in this second stage of chemotherapy is that the drug is being pumped into me through a portal and runs directly into my heart throughout the rest of my body. swallowing a cup full of glass. These symptoms can manifest and remain for up to five months.

So my first day on these drugs I am preparing to enjoy my breakfast which is a bottle of A protein shake. It was very very cold. Holding it in my hand for less than 10 seconds all of the exposed fingers began to tingle and burn.

Fortunately the experience only lasted a few moments and my fingers are back to normal. But I’m glad I did not chug a bottle.

Back from the Bedroom: Still Not King of Freedonia.

Hey there. Been a while. Sorry, I was in the bathroom. Or bed. Or commuting between. Hi. I’m Jay and here are a few highlights of things that have happened on my cancer journey since my last post.

I ended my combo chemo/radiation treatments on June 3rd. I rang the bell there and went home to begin the healing process.

WOW, the healing process feels a lot like having a literal stick up my ass while six weeks of light dining forces its way through what’s left. I am on a roller coaster of softeners and Imodium — fist on a chemical rectal throttle, if you will.

I did not imagine that toilet time could be so exhausting.

I begin Round 2 of chemo tomorrow. The day I rang the bell in radiology, I went two flights upstairs to receive a portal implant in my chest so I can enjoy the full fruity goodness of a chemical juice box every two weeks into August. That officially ends my “break” from treatment which should have made me feel a lot better, but not so much so far. I am tired, more so than during the active treatments.

Everything tastes horrible. My mouth is dry, so that’s the reason. I have no appetite because it feels like my body wants to punish me every time I eat. I eat and drink as much as I can. I crave food. I want chicken soup, a small cheeseburger, tacos, pretty much anything that rolls up my screen at lunchtime.

As of this writing I’ve eaten part of a veggie burger and some fries. They say hard in my stomach because I’m not used to eating so much. I chewed a lot but my taste buds at the back of my tongue treated it like sandpaper.

I am consuming fluids. unsweetened iced tea was the most refreshing to me even beyond water.

I sleep with the help of my meds. I’ve been upgraded to Oxy to ease the pain in my ass. But I am useless right now to anyone. And my butt still hurts. Hopefully, as my dad used to say, this too shall pass.

Combat Training and the Entire History of War Expose the Lie About Armed Deterrence in Schools

Legal. Demonstrated to legally fire 100 rounds in 60 seconds.

Oh, if only we could go back to the good old days when school shootings were not an everyday thing. We could send our kids to a place of learning and expression that would prepare them for the real world and bring out the best of their potential. Kids would come home and we’d talk about history or science, the spring musical or the quarter-finals in soccer coming up. We’d think about school as this open and magical place that helped us grow up intellectually and socially.

Remember we could just walk home in the afternoons, share time with our friends, and maybe even get into a little trouble along the way? Remember we could stare out the big bay windows across campus onto the football field, natural sublight bathing us in Vitamin D throughout the year? Remember our teachers were mentors and educators, there to push us and celebrate our successes?

Continue reading “Combat Training and the Entire History of War Expose the Lie About Armed Deterrence in Schools”

A Jagged Little Update: Still Not King of Freedonia

Swap the chair for a toilet and you have a typical 3AM for me these days. Sorry for the lack of updates.

A hard rain is a-comin’. I mean that literally. Thunderstorms and heavy rains for the next 24 hours.

Over the past 96 hours, I’ve felt like I’ve been laid out on a hotel bathroom floor after forgetting how many glasses of wine I had at the ex-girlfriend’s wedding where I was in the bridal party.

I know these entries have not been consistent, but it is hard to write anything that makes sense when my fingers keep hitting the wrong keys and my thought process swings wild from “ow, my ass” to “what am I neglecting to do today?”

Continue reading “A Jagged Little Update: Still Not King of Freedonia”

Still Not King of Freedonia: The Cumulative Impact

The good news is that everything I’m experiencing is normal.

The bad news is that everything I’m experiencing makes me tired and uncomfortable. I am more than halfway through the radiation/chemo treatments in Phase 1. The cumulative effects are fatigue, cranky butt, stomach cramps, yelling at clouds, yelling at my asshole for being an asshole, and intermittent spells of uncontrollable yodeling.

The most nausea I’ve felt this entire time was waking up this morning to the knowledge that Dr. Oz may have won his primary for US Senate. Ugh. At least I have medication.

The details of my treatment are not the stuff that attracts a mainstream, “PG” rated crowd. Suffice to say this is the life of a toddler with the stomach flu on one side and the life of an old cat whose only passion left is for the elusive sunbeam.

Today was “consult day” with my radiation onco and my nurse. I rolled out the list of things wrong with me and they commiserated before saying, “Yep. That’s part of the deal.” At least Trogdor is having as bad if a worse experience for it. So I walk from the house to the car and back like Bill Bixby at the end of a tragic episode of The Incredible Hulk.

But we move on. Hazard yet forward.

By Their Star-Spangled Ballsacks, I Hate Primary Election Season.

I try to avoid broadcast television. Like most people, though, I need my fix of local news and weather. At election time, though, every break is stuffed with campaign ads that range from the pedantic to the paranoid. And it is primary season where members of one of our two only viable political cartels turn on each other with Biblical intensity. It is impossible to know who a candidate is or what their beliefs are in these ads and few of them have me intrigued to learn more.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com
Continue reading “By Their Star-Spangled Ballsacks, I Hate Primary Election Season.”

Still Not King of Freedonia: Friday the 13th Cancer Edition

After posting yesterday’s update, my body decided it was time to evacuate all hands. I spent most of the day in bed or in the bathroom feeling like a misfiring rocket.

I did not sleep. I couldn’t work from bed. I watched a lot of videos and enjoyed the extra attention granted by our cat, Cleopatra. And my wife knew something was up so she made sure I had water and meds throughout the evening. I spent most of it drifting toward sleep before rolling next door to the bathroom.

This morning, I had my radiation treatment without needing to rush to a men’s room so things seem to be simmering down in Trogdor’s occupied territories. This was a special treatment day as I’m halfway through radiation and pill chemo. Yay. Throw a party. Kiss a random nurse.

No, don’t do that. That’s a felony. Don’t listen to me. I’m a scatterbrained dillweed this morning.

And I am also exhausted. I might be able to sleep a chunk this morning as I looked through my mail and thought I might be reading Latin.

But it is (nearly was by today National Nurses Week). So act accordingly.

Today also marks the anniversary of my first wedding to my wife. We’ve been together since Christ was running our D&D sessions. She’s been my rock, not only through this but the greater part of my life. My greatest gifts have come from being with her.

Wow, that came out almost like a reasonable thought-made-sentence!

But it is time to sleep. I need to call work and let them know, then email some people about things and hope the emails don’t accidentally summon demons with their horrid grammar and word choice.

No treatment or pills on the weekend. So I got that going for me.

Still Not King of Freedonia: I Am Toxic

Something I didn’t mention about my chemotherapy treatment that I think is important.

I am toxic.

I take an oral drug twice a day for my therapy which does what chemotherapy does – hurts my body. It is designed to hurt Trogdor and his corrupt cells more than the good and decent cells, but it does hurt. The drug travels throughout my body where the radiation is laser-focused, so twice a day I poison myself to heal myself.

One side effect of this is that the chemo can be secreted from my body through fluids. Sweat, blood, urine, tears, saliva. Well, you know what body fluids are…unless you’re under the age of 4. It’s not highly-toxic where I have to live in a tent or inside a HazMat suit, but I have to be careful sharing facilities with my family. I have to be sure to clean up after myself in public places. I should rinse dishes and wash my clothes frequently.

So that’s fun.