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Lakeshore
An author of no particular popularity

Jay Lake
Date: 2010-08-21 09:06
Subject: [personal] Sleeping it off, walking and talking our way into the new day
Security: Public
Tags:books, calendula, cancer, child, endurance, food, health, personal, writing
We stumbled home from the colonoscopy (and lunch at the Lamp) around 1:30 yesterday afternoon. I spent most of the rest of the day in the big chair, alternately sleeping and resting. This after being unconscious for a couple of hours in the morning during the procedure and during recovery. Then I ate a few oranges, and finally wandered to bed to sleep just shy of ten hours.

Oi. Versed, thy name is logeyness.

A nice walk with calendula_witch this morning, after which she went off to yoga and I made myself breakfast tacos. Scrambled the egg with a splash of water, a splash of milk, a big splash of truffle oil, some garlic powder, some onion powder and some chili powder. Mmm mmm mmm. I'll be around the house much of the day, writing and interacting with the_child. I had hopes of finishing off Endurance today, but everything is running so low and slow I suspect I won't be able to put quite enough time into it. Tomorrow, however, ought to be a wrap.

calendula_witch and I had a long talk on our walk about the issue of limits versus limitations. She feels quite strongly that I fight all this too hard. As she put it by way of example, I am always surprised and annoyed at how much I sleep. (Given that I still think of myself as someone who sleeps well and rested on six hours a night, and I spent about 13 or 14 of the last 24 hours unconscious... well, yeah.)

Her position is that if I can accept what's happening to me, I'll have an easier time of it, and so will everyone else around me. My view is that I accept the limitations — I don't fight my need for sleep, for example — but I reject the limits they place on me and who I am. I'm afraid that if I accept too much of this, I won't retain the strength and toughness to fight my way back to where I want and need to be.

A difficult conversation, though not the least bit acrimonious. She is probably right. But I don't know how to give up, and this acceptance she counsels feels like giving up to me. I can't figure if this is a core strength, a character defect, or both.

Meanwhile, the day awaits, as does Endurance.

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Kari Sperring
User: la_marquise_de_
Date: 2010-08-21 16:30 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
The witch is wise.
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User: brownkitty
Date: 2010-08-21 16:59 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I think you're both right.

And I'd offer to trade you Versed reactions, but I suspect you'd hate mine more than yours.
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Mary Dell
User: marydell
Date: 2010-08-21 17:05 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I think calendula_witch is wise.

Did you have to make giant life adjustments when you became a parent? Finding time to write or even read consistently, finding time for friends and just for being truly oneself can be a real trick with a young child. Are there tools you learned then for shuffling priorities and for being forgiving of yourself, that you could draw on now?
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triskelmoon
User: triskelmoon
Date: 2010-08-21 17:08 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Jay, I don't know that there is an easy way to find this path except through your own journey, but I do believe there is a difference between strategic acceptance and defeatist capitulation.

Sending you good thoughts in the meantime.
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Bane
User: endiron
Date: 2010-08-21 17:17 (UTC)
Subject: Spin
I think there is a difference between acceptance of the circumstances and giving up. That being said your comments resonate with me as well. I think perhaps there is a subtext here of, "You are defiant of the situation." This is different than giving up or acceptance. You fight cancer like you're the last man on Earth fighting the alien invasion, and rightly so, it's fucking personal as hell. The difference is, are you a partisan who is going to hide in tunnels and strike at the enemy when it is not looking using its resources against it, or are you someone who is making a last stand in defiance without any intention of saving anything after the fight.

I think there is room here for you to say, "I choose to sleep because it allows me to heal, this is not cancer robbing me of being someone who needs little sleep, this is me taking more sleep than I customarily need to defeat cancer." The limitation is your choice, you are adopting measures to see the long years rather than taking a last, heroic but possibly futile stand. You are not fighting a head to head battle, you are a counter insurgent in this episode.

Just my thoughts,

Bane
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kimberlywade
User: kimberlywade
Date: 2010-08-21 17:26 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I was going to add a comment, but previous commentors have said it all. Just wishing you the best.
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Twilight: Bright Outlook
User: twilight2000
Date: 2010-08-21 17:31 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Bright Outlook
Like Kimberly, I was going to comment - but those before me said it far too well. I'll add Bright Blessings on you - and wish you and yours well.
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shaolingrrl
User: shaolingrrl
Date: 2010-08-21 17:45 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
That is a toughy. Calendula_witch is indeed wise and a helluva boon companion, but perhaps the response of friends who must watch and wince from afar are to accept you for you and support your efforts to figure it out.

You're the one going through this. We can only love you while you do it.
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calendula_witch: Tattoo
User: calendula_witch
Date: 2010-08-21 17:51 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Tattoo
Gee, you have smart friends. :-)

I think for me the most telling part of the conversation was when we tried to get to the bottom of our "disagreement," and you said that if you were to "give in" to this, you would lose something vitally important to yourself--some intrinsic part of yourself, and that that part then might never come back. And I opined that what that said to me was that you don't trust yourself--your strength and energy and determination and drive. That of course it would come back--how could it not?

I may compose a post on this myself, later on.
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Bane
User: endiron
Date: 2010-08-21 18:30 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
CW,

I think you make a really excellent point about trust, but trust is both a rational response to historical precedent as well as a emotional response to our feelings. I have never had a problem being creative in my whole life. The day after my dad died I was back writing. No matter how good or bad my life has been I have been able to find that creative spark. So rationally I know it is part of me. Emotionally, I live in fear of the day it is not there, because it is so important to me.

I will tell you a small anecdote about myself, I am terrified of surgery. It is not the meat and bone barbarism of the act that distresses me, it is anesthesia. I am always afraid I will die on the operating table unable to compose my thoughts before exiting this life, but what is worse is I fear I will wake up someone else. That the waking me will be to who I am now a as a fleeting dream is to a waking child. Its totally irrational, but I get the shakes before I get an IV for surgery every time I have gone under.

I am not sure it is so much a matter of not trusting oneself as an abstracted fear of loss of self, of the unknown, of Death. Referred emotional distress is hard to pin down for the owner as well as the those around them. I always have to spend a great deal of time psyching myself up for surgery for that very reason. Maybe you have to pile on the rational examples while taking a more primal approach to the emotional fear to help mitigate the challenge?

Bane
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calendula_witch: Tattoo
User: calendula_witch
Date: 2010-08-23 21:01 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Tattoo
I do take your point about the emotions...they are down there in the ooze that is ourselves, sending up these powerful signals that we struggle to interpret...And it's not as though I don't have irrational fears myself, about surgery and any number of other things. (Jay is frequently amused to tell the story of how I worried that there would be an earthquake at the moment my surgeon reached down with the scalpel to make the incision, and would therefore cut me badly...) (But of course that was a rational fear--the surgery was in San Francisco!)

But yes. I don't really expect to change Jay's mind with the power of my mighty reason, here. I'm just hoping I can get him to ease up on himself a bit.
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Bane
User: endiron
Date: 2010-08-24 14:13 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I actually support your point here, I just think it is a delicate discussion.

I only know you and Jay online, though Jay and I chat from time to time so it is it not a total vacuum. Jay often speaks about Psychotic Persistence as how you become a writer. I would posit that is probably how Jay deals with most things. Cancer appears to be no different. He is applying that amazing Fresnel lens focus to cancer. When all you have is a hammer, all your problems look like nails.

I think the challenge is how you accept that aspect of his personality while counseling him to show himself kindness and compassion. I am guilty of this as well. When I am hurt or ill I feel betrayed by my body, which should just work, god damn it. It's easy to feel resentment and punish it. Sadly WE ride around in these damn meat mechanisms.


Thank you for allowing me to weigh in on such a personal issue.

Bane
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calendula_witch: Lizard
User: calendula_witch
Date: 2010-08-25 03:45 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Lizard
Oh, you are welcome, and thank YOU. It's an amazing thing, that we can write about these personal things, home alone with our computers in the dark; and the world is out there, listening and caring all kind of unexpectedly (well, you know what I mean).

I think you are so exactly right, about the psychotic persistence thing: it's what I was grasping for but not quite getting, to explain this. Jay solved a particular problem in his life in this particular way--and solved it quite well, amazingly well. Other problems also responded well to this solution--to this hammer. But now cancer? Yeah, much more complicated, actually.

Still figuring it out, here.
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Bob
User: yourbob
Date: 2010-08-21 17:51 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
What everybody said.

And yes, Right now you need to figure out what and where the enemy is. Don't invade Iraq to fight Saddam when the enemy is in your liver.
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cathshaffer
User: cathshaffer
Date: 2010-08-21 21:50 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
It sounds to me like there is more to this than being disappointed that you have to sleep more than six hours to feel rested, and therefore don't have extra time to be productive. Maybe if you can identify *why* you feel this is an important part of your identity, you can unravel it. I mean, to me, I can see being attached to an identity of, say, being a writer, and feeling extreme distress and grief over any life event that would take that away from you. But that is not what we're talking about. Your attachment is to being a writer that only needs 6 hours of sleep per day. Which doesn't compute, so obviously there is more going on there. :-) To everyone that knows you well, I am pretty sure that a Jay who needs 12 hours of sleep per night is virtually indistinguishable from one who needs 6 hours per night. Am I wrong? Do you feel you are being deprived of that which distinguishes you from other writers?
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User: quantuminsanity
Date: 2010-08-22 03:34 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Don't think of it as giving up, think more of yielding the small battles to conserve resources for the big battles.
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Linda Cavanaugh
User: miwseshat
Date: 2010-08-23 06:18 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Perhaps thinking of the whole thing like my husband Ken does (Ken has stage 4 kidney cancer, which we just found out about last May), will help put things in perspective while letting you do what you need.

Visualize yourself as two "selves." One self is Regular Jay - writing guru, parent, lover, etc. The other is Jay with cancer. Part of the job of Regular Jay is to make sure that Jay with cancer does and gets what he needs in order to get better. Which may mean sleeping more, or spending more time at the doctor, or any number of icky things. Jay with cancer can make some pretty serious demands on Regular Jay's time and energy. But, Jay with cancer cannot change who Regular Jay basically is. Regular Jay can get pretty fed up with the other Jay, but being the wiser of the two, knows that if he takes care of Jay with cancer, eventually Jay with cancer will become less demanding, if not go away completely.

(If you are wondering where I came from - I'm a friend of calendula_witch)
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2010-08-23 11:53 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Thank you.
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