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Jay Lake
Date: 2010-04-22 05:57
Subject: [cancer|personal] Wind, the sucking thereof
Security: Public
Tags:calendula, cancer, family, health, personal, shellyrae, stories, writing
Well, I have now successfully failed to write for almost a week. I wrote last Tuesday, wrapping "The Stars Do Not Lie" in first draft. I gave myself two days off to reset my brain into novel mode. Friday I worked on Endurance. Then my mom went into the hospital with chest pains. And my car got broken into. And I experienced a new low in lower GI control issues. Not to mention the usual daily travails of being on chemotherapy.

Guess what? When enough things go wrong, even I stop writing. Part of this is that I carry my stress in two places — lower GI (sound familiar) and through fatigue. Being very upset in a non-angry way often makes me sleepy. I believe this is a relic of my decade or so of clinical depression, as it's essentially a retreat. In effect, stress makes me poop more and sleep more.

Give that my ground state these days is a level of fatigue comparable to a couple of sleepless nights in a row for someone in ordinary health, anything that adds to that sinks me to a degree of minimal focus and energy that'a very difficult to function at. All the motivation and psychotic persistence in the world doesn't help if I can't get it together enough to begin to write.

My writing fu has never been this defeated by circumstance, not in the ten years I've been working as a pro. I hesitate to call it writer's block, in the sense that I'm not feeling the least bit blocked creatively. But the result is the same.

Just last night over dinner, I was telling calendula_witch that I wanted a week where nothing bad or stupid happens to me and the people around me. Then I got lillypond's phone call that tillyjane was back in the hospital. As it happens, today (April 22) is my mom's birthday, and we were going to have a family party for her at Papa Haydn's. Now I guess it's Twinkies in the hospital ward. Second time we've had to cancel her party, too.

I know this isn't about me. This is about my mother and her health. Just like Mother-of-the-Child's recent hospitalization was about her health. (And that's generated almost $30,000 worth of billing, roughly 10% of which has been assigned to my responsibility. Because, you know, my cash flow was getting too fat this year what with the cancer and all.) Just like shelly_rae's foot injury was about her health. But I'm getting really tired of sitting in my own little crap hole watching crap rain down on the people who love and care about me.

Had a meltdown over this last night. calendula_witch took care of me, as a partner does. I am keenly aware of how much my calamitous life is stressing her, stressing shelly_rae, stressing the_child, stressing everybody. Even, and especially me.

I write about this, as usual, to open a window inside the world of cancer. A lot of people never talk about it. And while chemo and its discontents are difficult and time-consuming, the lesson of late is another one: life goes on. People get in trouble, get back out of trouble. It's not like my chemotherapy was some kind of get-out-of-jail-free card that enabled everyone around me to have six months of easy going, to spare me the stress of their misfortunes.

So me being upset and unhappy and crying for my mom cycling in and out of the cardiac ward is just as much a part of the cancer journey as the drug cocktails or the extreme fatigue or any of the other symptoms I discuss. This is a journey of the heart every bit as much as it is a journey of the body.

No one gets off this bus, except the hard way.

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User: martyn44
Date: 2010-04-22 13:12 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
All I can do is wish you strength and remind you to do what you can and disregard the rest. Which I do.
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User: rovanda
Date: 2010-04-22 14:19 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Thank you for opening this window. I don't know if having people hope that things get better for you and your loved ones helps, but you can add me as one more.
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User: joycemocha
Date: 2010-04-22 15:07 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I think the brain hits too much, too intensely, and fiction just can't happen. I can't write right now, either (okay, so I'm just a tiniest fledgling pro in comparison, but normally it just spills out). This flu has just knocked my creative brain silly. I can write posts, I could write perfectly good nonfiction--but fiction? Uh-uh. Brain no go there.

The combination of illness plus six months of a toxic supervisor has knocked me for a whammy. It was eye-opening when I could start reading and understanding more than simple political pieces at night once Toxic Boss was gone.

Be patient with yourself, Jay. This is a lot of stress all at once, and you just don't have the reserves. Hugs to you, to calendula_witch, best wishes for your mom, your family, and all of your loved ones.

Summer is coming. It will bring positive changes, and life, and strength. I look at my former colleague who survived chemo and radiation, and she's back, more vital and lively than ever.

Summer is coming. You will survive, and endure, and enjoy the sunlight.
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Ken Scholes
User: kenscholes
Date: 2010-04-22 15:16 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I'd say, pal, that it's more than the cancer journey...it's the Life Journey.

Along the way, we're surprised by both joys and sorrows, times of grace and times of struggle. Some of these graces are loving partners and friends that show up in the nick of time. Some of our struggles and sorrows are sick or dying loved ones. Some are brand new little people showing up to surprise us. Some are cancer and chemotherapy. Some are gifts from friends far away, spoons and tropes. Not that I'm telling you anything you don't already know, that you haven't told me yourself in the midst of my own wacky, peril-and-grace fraught journey. I'm just offering a reminder to a fellow I love a good deal.

You're heroic in your persistence to write in the face of it all. You're even more heroic in your persistence towards transparency and grace in the way you live your life. You're strong as strong can be, pal, and you'll weather it all.

The dust will settle. The words will make their way back into your fingertips. Hang in there.
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shelly_rae: Spoons
User: shelly_rae
Date: 2010-04-22 16:10 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Really sweets. My foot is fine--it's just a small setback. I'll be on my new bike today and I feel good.

And surprisingly you, Calamity Jay, do not stress me out. You share your heart and love so generously how could I possibly feel overwhelmed? Oh sometimes I'm frustrated because I cannot do enough or I'm too far away to help but my optimism is my freakish superpower. You are not a source of my stress.

You my dear, are a delight no matter how faded, chemo-brained, or just fagged out you get. You may not be writing this week but you've accomplished more than many healthy people. You're enormous heart keeps caring, loving and helping.

I hope the cardiologists figure something out for your mom. But she has her sister and your sister to help look out for her.

Only five more infusions to go.

Your heart is huge, true kind, loving and oh, the places you will go.
love and puppies,
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User: dinogrl
Date: 2010-04-23 03:57 (UTC)
Subject: Very Elequently Said.
This, Jay.
We love you. Please don't lose hope. Sending love to you and your mom too.
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frabjouslinz: Me Street
User: frabjouslinz
Date: 2010-04-22 16:58 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Me Street
This kind of stuff is hard even when one is healthy. I can imagine that it's that much harder when you're ill and fatigued and pushed to your limits already. You handle it all as well as anyone ever does, and I admire you for it. Thinking of you, and your mom, and hoping for the best for all.
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Amy Sisson
User: amysisson
Date: 2010-04-22 17:26 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I'm so sorry, Jay. I think you and yours have really hit your collective quota. Sending you vibes for that week where nothing stupid or bad happens. Hope it gets to you as soon as possible!
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Twilight: Bright Outlook
User: twilight2000
Date: 2010-04-23 01:17 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Bright Outlook
Bright Blessings, Jay - the writing will come back - sometimes (for us normals) the brain just refuses to create the space for fiction - but it always comes back.

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Kari Sperring
User: la_marquise_de_
Date: 2010-04-23 11:34 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Much love.
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User: jetse
Date: 2010-04-24 18:18 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
What Ken and Joyce and the others said: keep fighting the good fight. Sometimes bad news comes in droves, but also sometimes good news comes in droves.

And to chime in with Ken: I hugely admire your openness during this immensely difficult part of your life. I'm not sure if I could be so open and upfront about my troubles when that kind of shit hit my fan.

Good vibes to you and your family and your loved ones. Again: if there's anything I can do, let me know.
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