...and they lived happily ever after. Smith & Lady: poets, artists, photographers & adventurers.
Our relationship was forged to the soundtrack of Yoko Ono's magic,
frenetic, love-laden song, "Walking On Thin Ice." ( play song )
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add epsom salts
fill with hot water
take a toke
lay back in hot wake
to soak away ache
and phone rings
“Can you pick me up?”
“My eye hurts.”
Four weeks ago
doctors took her eye part way out
sewed on 21 radioactive pellets
put eye in
locked her down three days
while radiation bombarded tumor
popped eye back out
removed pellet plaque
put eye in again
sewed inner eyelid shut
and sent her home to hard since
her eye blurry from serious salve
pupil dilated due daily drops
eyeball swollen and bruised
burning from bright
tired of trauma
she works more to see less
amid multiple pains
shooting ache stab throb
burn itch pinch
and she is
“Sure, I’ll pick you up”
because pain trumps pleasure
and love binds both
Lady K had a cat scan today to see if her eye cancer had spread. It tends to spread to and from the liver and lungs.
Her liver is clean, and they found a couple small spots in her lungs which they say are probably benign and nothing to worry about, but which they will keep an eye on just in case – and if it is cancer, it’s early enough to stop it before it gets started.
So essentially this is as positive a prognosis as one could hope for, especially since her eye tumor is a rare type of cancer (perhaps 2.5 cases in a million) and is aggressive.
So Friday they are going to partially pop out her eyeball, sew a small curved radioactive bead containing 21 radioactive seeds to the rear left side of her left eye, pop her eyeball back in, sew the conjunctiva closed (the mucous membrane that covers the front of the eye and lines the inside of the eyelids) and keep her isolated in a hospital room for three nights, then remove the radioactive bead Monday morning and send her home.
At some point in the next three weeks, the stitches will dissolve and her eye will open again. She’ll wear an eye patch until then.
Doc says her prognosis for killing the tumor is 95-97%. Since there’s no known cancer elsewhere, her outlook is good, and they’ll keep monitoring her monthly for 6 months then yearly through five years to see if it springs up elsewhere.
It’s lousy to get cancer, but since she has it, this is as good an initial prognosis as possible.
This will make two cancer survivors in our family. We did lose a third family member to intestinal cancer – our cat Mandy.
future hope – Lady’s 7 month-old niece Liberty Lynn Green
Lady cut her hair pixie short yesterday, it had hung below her shoulders.
She did it to break the mental/emotional gloom brought on by discovering two days ago she had eye cancer, and that in 15 days the doctors are going to sew a radioactive pellet to her eyeball for three days to kill the tumor without mushing her mind.
Her online research found a 30-50% mortality rate over 10 years (much of that in the first year), so odds favor us 50-70%.
Her doctor said sewing a radioactive pellet to her eye for three days gets rid of the tumor 94% of the time. The 30-50% mortality rate comes from the cancer having spread to or from the eye, so they’re going to give her a cat scan to see if it’s anywhere else.
My being 27 years older, she’s always worried about outliving me, but now the shoe’s reversed.
She had long hair when we took up in 2005, but when we began traveling for 31 months, she kept cutting it a little shorter each time we got to a new country because long hair and living out of a backpack in foreign lands is a burden, and finally in southern France she cut it pixie short, which has always been my personal favorite of her endless permutations.
Lady K has a medium sized cancerous melanoma in her left eye. In 17 days, they’re going to sew a small radioactive pellet into her eye, keep her in the hospital for 3 days, then remove it. This could solve the problem.
Only two options with this cancer is radiation or removal of eye, and they recommended radiation, which is effective 94% of the time.
Since radiation can also harm the eye’s vision, there’s a 10-15% chance she could lose sight in that eye in the next 2-5 years, which means 85-90% chance she won’t.
They’ll do a biopsy to see how aggressive the cancer is. If it’s type 1 which only moves from eye to liver, they’ll monitor her liver every 6 months for awhile, and if it’s type 2, they’ll monitor her more aggressively.
This will make two cancer survivors in our two-human family. We lost our cat to cancer.
The world cannot pump this many corporate toxins into the air, food chain, and water and not mess up the bio fluxflow.
Sermon of the Mote
Fear lurks in the bushes
rustles mind’s maybe
robs eye’s line
Flower pluck song long
when draped in gray
and gauze of gaze
spur is about 1/3 from top of foto, the black protrusion on the right pushing into the white surrounding the lighter gray spinal cord
I’ve been wondering about my dreams. I’m a vivid dreamer, totally detailed with things like pebbles on the ground and dust in the basement and spiderwebs, all in color, frequently surreal.
Like to remember my dreams because they give me an idea of how I’m doing mentally and spiritually.
But when I smoke grass every day, my nightly dreams are dumped from short-term memory as I wake, leaving me clueless, and I’ve had a great run of smoking daily for past five months. But ran out a week ago and decided to wait due to finances, and voila, woke with memory this morn.
In my pre-dawn dream, the Akron Art Museum had an open show, so I snuck in and left a live beehive. One woman got stung and caused a scandal. When Lady and I went down to pick up the hive, the authorities asked me to apologize. Lady said she was sorry, which she would have been in real life because someone got hurt, and in real life I would never have done the hive thing for that very reason, but in the dream I said no, I’m not sorry, it was an excellent art interaction. Then the director asked, “Did Chiplis drive you down?” and I said yes. Dream over.
Mary E. Weems, Lady K. Smith, and myself are writing a poem-a-day for May. Here’s today’s poem incorporating the doctor’s description of my MRI showing a bone/cartilage spur in my neck pressing against and bruising my spinal cord causing a 7-month slight numbness and tingling in the fingertips of both hands. Looks like the doctor’s going to go in, scrape the burr spur off and put two metal rods in to stabilize my degenerating neck bones – a laminectomy and fusion sometime this summer.
I’m going to ask him if he can insert the rods horizontally so they stick out of my neck with bolts on the end Ala Frankenstein’s monster.
Status Report 211
There is severe degenerative disc disease
Exaggerated kyphosis at C4-C5
At C4-5 there is moderate compression
secondary to the kyphosis
and degenerative disc bulge
and ligamentum flavum hypertrophy.
One subtle area of abnormal signal
or mass demonstrated.
There is hypertrophic facet arthropathy
bilaterally left greater than right
contributing to moderate
foraminal narrowing on the left
and mild foraminal narrowing on the right.
At C5-6 hypertrophic facet arthropathy.
This causes minimal degenerative
spondylolisthesis of C5 on C6.
There is no spinal canal encroachment.
There is minimal foraminal
At C6-7, mild degenerative disc bulge
and spurring without neural compression.
Moderate compression of the cord at C4-C5
secondary to focal kyphosis
and degenerative disc disease.
Going to have to do a laminectomy
to scrap the burr spur off
then fuse the neck bones
to two metal rods.
So I say
Doc, can you insert the rods sideways
so they stick out, and add bolt heads
a’la Frankenstein’s monster?
As I say in a previous poem
I am a man of bad bone.
Strange pre-surgery preparations . . . carried two 40-pound bags of birdseed up the stairs . . . bicycled over to West Side Market for ingredients for two large batches of soup . . . three loads laundry . . . finishing up my Holmden Hill Community Garden sign . . . gather and send next month’s batch of poems/fotos/songs to Medusa’s Kitchen . . . all stuff I won’t be allowed or want to do in a couple days when I pain pill surf after surgery.
My spine’s on my mind.
Thursday I’m undergoing a laminectomy and spinal fusion . . . they need to scrap away mutant bone and cartilage that’s pushing against my spinal cord causing slight numbness and tingling in my finger tips, throws my balance a little off, and causes me to drop things.
They’re putting two metal rods in my neck to keep it from degenerating further (and maybe even make it better) . . . this will nicely complement my metal hip and shoulder which have already set off metal detectors in courthouses, airports, and Social Security offices.
I’ll be in a hard plastic neck collar for two weeks, a flexible collar for four weeks, and who knows when I’ll be functional again.
Not looking forward to the operation, nor the recovery, nor the worry both cause Lady, but it is what it is so what you gonna do?
Tired of my body being repaired, but grateful it can be. Now if I can only find a repair shop for my mind, one for my soul.
~ ~ ~
The Simplex Things in Life
From the darkness of my third floor window
I watch the traffic light below
go from green
to two seconds of yellow
to short red
whereupon the side street light waits 2 seconds
to turn 12 second green
before 2 second yellow goes back to long red.
2 seconds later
my 16 second red turns long green again
and again and again
night and day year after year
yellow red green
green yellow red
you can bet on the color
bet on the living
bet on the dead.
They wedge me in the MRI
surgical shoulder ache in pain
start to roll me into machine as I inquire
“How long will this take?”
My mind cramps,
don’t like being trapped,
don’t like this,
know the panic button in my hand
CAN NOT BE USED
and then Industrial Symphony 35 starts
bleep blap boop
duck duck duck duck duck
baptist baptist baptist baptist
whirl screech scrack scream
groan jerk jerk jerk growl
whappa whappa whip whop
blurp bloop bleep
chick chick click click chick chick crik
ruha ruha rumble rumble row
shudder shake shake shiver
herk quirk murk blurt
scrape jerk jerk jerk scoop
dive dive dive
start again different order
worthy of recording for hard music market
loud loud loud
I trap my trap fear
breath slow, deep
say Buddhist chant
start counting one thousand one
roam levels of hell
until “You doing ok?”
“Ten minutes more.”
rise through purgatory
“Three minutes. You’ve been very good.”
one thousand one one thousand two
hit one thousand one hundred fifty
“Done, be right in.”
But thanks for the symphony
if not the memory,
and may you never ever hear it.
To go through massive flesh pain to get rid of constant pain?
Or avoid new pain by living with forever increasing old pain?
That is the question.
Every time I’d tell the doctors I’d gone through hip replacement surgery, they would darkly hint how much harder a shoulder replacement is, so I figured I was in for a bit of a slog.
Started down pain road during prep when one doc said she’d gone through two shoulder ops, one with a neck nerve block and one without, and the one thing she knew was I did NOT want to be cut open without a block.
So they brought in an ultra-sound machine to help find my phantom neck vein, injected a bunch of uncomfortable stuff in through a needle while saying things I didn’t want to hear like “you don’t want to miss this because that’d mess with his heart.”
When they were done I told them it hadn’t worked because I could still feel, but they said it was too dangerous to do twice and maybe it’d kick in later. Never did. Never worked. Never blocked pain, which was nasty because they assumed when I was coming to in recovery I was pain-free when in fact I hurt so much I thought something had gone seriously wrong and was trying to explain to them through the anesthesia that the block had failed.
Once recovered they gave me percoset or oxy-codone every 4 hours which got rid of most of the pain, followed 2 hours later by a shot of liquid Dilaudid (Elvis’ favorite drug) which zapped all the pain and made me happy for 2 hours.
I was ecstatic I’d woken from the operation because of course had had small thoughts of not making it, so the day before just in case I did the dishes and a couple loads of laundry to tidy up.
Talked myself out of the hospital 24 hours after operation.
Doc said it was particularly difficult session because my arm ball-joint had holes in it, more than half of it worn away, and it and my shoulder socket somehow had wedged together, which doesn’t compute because I don’t see how I could even move my arm from what he showed me.
First nine days were pretty bad. Pain. Trapped in arm sling. Sleeping upright in chair (12 nights so far) because horizontal hurts. Kept getting chills, uncontrolled hypothermic shaking rattling my teeth and skeleton, often while stuck on the toilet with massive constipation from pain pills and body trauma.
Not a lot of fun.
But it turned the corner three days ago, every aspect getting better, except it’s rather like those nested matryoshka or babushka Russian dolls where each doll breaks open to reveal a smaller doll inside — every level of pain reduction after a brief celebration reveals itself to be another vast sea of just slightly smaller pains and discomforts, so you’re happy you feel better except you still feel bad.
Now feeling near human, running out of pain pills while heading for painful rehab in a couple days, but at least the bad bad’s mostly done while the bad’s good is waiting somewhere down the lane.
But I’m tired of this. Four operations in four years is enough.
I’ve been often bit,
but will not again by these
– Smith, 10.12.2014
One nasty note: after 4-5 hours of operation, they called Lady into a special room so the doctor could talk to her. This hadn’t happened before, and when she saw the box of tissues, she assumed something had gone real wrong. The doc just wanted to explain that once they’d gone in, they saw I was too far gone for normal repair so they’d had to turn my replacement ball and socket upside down to make it work. They’d wanted to explain a difficult operation had gone well, while she thought they were trying to tell her I was gone. Not nice.
Thanks to Lady for her loving care, thanks to the docs for their skill, thanks to the pain pills for getting me this far, and thanks to grass for easing the potentially too much bodymind distress over all.