Cancer

The Forest inside the Trees

From where I sit, I see the forest inside the trees. There is life in there, I see life, I see love. It rolls, it moves, it tells a story. A green pulsing orb, breathing at me, towards me, into me. There is rot, there is litter, there is debris. Only now the trees look back at me, what do they see? Why have I only noticed just now? Are they replying to my love letters? Do they know I sit, and look inside them to see the forest?

I realize, I am only here for but one minute of their lives, oh how they can savour that one minute though. When they let me in, when they’ve invited me in for tea. When I have my invite of dusty bark, and mossy knots. I will accept with honour and grace, I will be so flattered as to be accepted into their ferny realm. I would give them my time, all my time, all but a mere fraction of their day, I would be theirs, I would give them my time.

What is my worth to them? Is my devotion enough? I am, without a doubt, not the only being to pay respect. I am flesh and bone, barely enough to fertilize one of their saplings. Why me, why now? They are looking at me, as though waiting for an answer? What answer can I give to them but to say yes? But, yes to what? What is the answer they are waiting for? They look upon me still, as though they’ve always been aware of my presence, but choose now to show.

I’ll pretend to know what they mean, much like, as a child, I could communicate with animals, they could read my thoughts, and were merely empathizing with me. The forest, inside the trees, is waiting for me, awaiting my arrival. I don’t need to think about it, they’ve sent the invite, I’d be a fool not to go. I can rest, rest and sleep along the grande cedars, their rotted ancestors covered in moss. I could sleep, and be nourished, in my nursery of greens and browns. I will communicate, I will talk, I will be, I will be one of them.

I will no longer sit and watch the love inside the forest, or watch the life in the trees, I will be there. I will be the forest, I will be the trees. I can be one of them, they see that in me, they know, now, I am one of them. I will go, I will be one of the trees, I will be the forest. I will pull the blanket over myself, I will wish and pine, for one, or two to disappear with me, but I will pull the blankets over myself alone.

A Writer’s life

There is a hashtag, #writerslife, I feel confident enough to use on occasion. Just as everyone is unique, so too, are writers. My #writerslife may differ completely from others. I’m sure Rowling and King have much different lives than York or Payerely, whose lives differ completely from mine. Just as we all have unique experiences, we also have shared experiences. Fears, trepidation’s, as well as times of joy and elation. I use #writerslife, as well as other writers and bloggers hashtags, but I am now living the life, rather than just using the hashtag.

I may be living a writers life, but it’s also a blue collar workers life, a single mans life, and a post Cancer patients life. I think, in this case, a writers life can mean I have to be a writer, but I have to eat, sleep in clean linen, and I have the desire to be covered, cozy and warm, in the cold, wet months so therefore I need to work full time and cram writing into every available minute. And yes, we are prone to run on sentences here at the Rusty Prose. It’s a writers life, in that, in order to be a writer I need to put in the extra effort tantamount to having two jobs.

Another aspect of #writerslife, that I am experiencing, is the self doubt, the subjective view, the thoughts of complete and utter failure. Thoughts of, am I doing the right thing, is this crap, will people ridicule me for this? Don’t worry folks, I’m not being maudlin, these are just fleeting thoughts I’ve had, as I work on ideas; keeps me on my toes in terms of quality, quality of over quantity. I’m not phishing for sympathy, I believe many writers, many of whom are published and accomplished, have had similar thoughts at times.

I am putting words down on paper, into my computer, and onto my blog. I am constantly thinking of my works in progress, though many of them are in one form of limbo or another. I am devoting time on a daily basis to write, I get up earlier and I go to bed later. Right now I am mainly focused on this blog, but have plans to get my other stories up and running, hopefully sooner than later, but I try not to talk about it until I am actually working on them.

Life also has to go on, I have to take breaks, I have to watch my physical health as well as my mental health. I have issues with fatigue as well as insomnia; which, contrary to popular belief, are not related. I may get tired from the insomnia, but the fatigue is something else all together. My non-writerly job takes up a lot of my time and energy, as does my writing, so I try to take it easy when I can, it’s always good to stop and smell the roses, then sit and write a poem about them.

Hobbies

I had mentioned, in an earlier post, about writing as a hobby, which I am currently working into my side hustle, and now wanting to pursue other hobbies. I have a passion for model rail, I like the steam engine era and I prefer wood burning over coal. I am nostalgic, I did grow up near a rail line but they were electric diesel, I’m not that old. I know that once my side hustle gains traction, after a lot of hard work, I will be able to start my model railway.

Writing was my main hobby and interest, with model trains running a close second. I have never had a set up, aside from a brief moment when I was a child, and a few years ago, when I got a cheap set for Christmas, which rekindled my passion for model rail. I did set it up and started to look into getting myself an adult set, I looked into modelling and building the benchwork for the layout, I’ve studied various layouts to see which would suit me best. But, as we all know, life gets in the way of life and so I am now train less, for now.

I have the room for a little N scale set up, I have the plans for my benchwork, I have a good idea for a layout, I just don’t have the time or the cash right now. I have spent the past several months making time for writing and I’m still adjusting to that particular change in my life. Much the same as writing, with the model rail, I will take it in slow baby steps, one day at a time, one step at a time. I know I said I have the room for a layout bench, but I need to de-clutter that area to make the room.

So I guess I can make myself a honey-do list and tick each item off when I have a spare minute.

  • Clear the space
  • plan ahead
  • make a materials list for the benchwork
  • price out the lumber & hardware for the benchwork
  • check and recheck the plans
  • select a small and simple layout
  • buy the supplies
  • build the bench
  • plan ahead for a larger expanded layout
  • buy the track, a small engine and some rolling stock
  • explore the modelling aspect of this hobby

There, I think we’ve simplified this for ourselves down here at The Rusty Prose. As I’ve said, I am currently using as much time as possible for my writing side-hustle, but one must have hobbies and interests, and as I work towards turning one hobby into my day job, I am prepping to create time for my new hobby. As a hobby, model rail is interesting because it covers a wide array of skills, there is carpentry, electrical, engineering, artistic design, realistic scale modelling, as well as research and development.

Nostalgia

Have you escaped from your past? I’ve been able to hide from mine, but there is no escape, no statute of limitations. Where are the people you have hurt, where are the people who have hurt you? Have they escaped their past, are they looking for you? What is inescapable? I’ve reunited with people, from my past, who have not at all been able to escape their past. As a matter of fact, though I do get nostalgic, I think I have moved beyond my past, but I know it lurks around behind me, somewhere.

I push myself when I am tired, I gain some ground. I have phobia’s, but as an extroverted introvert I do my best to be intrepid, within my physical means, and, post Cancer, I may not care so much any more about phobia’s. I am wondering if that is what this is all about, Cancer. Cancer changed me to a degree or two, there is no denying that fact. My Chemo treatments left a mark, but we do our best and we march forth, we carry on, as they say. We all tire in our own ways, I push my self, not to exhaustion, but through the tired.

I look at the trees, I long for the days of quiet solitude, days when there were more trees than people, no light or noise pollution, the smell of horses in the air. I only dream of fruitful and prosperous times. I am obviously not adverse to hardship, I just do not want my pipe dreams to be rife with strife. In my current state, I would most likely stare at the trees as I either starve to death, or I keep a large animal from starving to death. Am I nostalgic for Mother Nature?

When I was diagnosed with Cancer, I went home, had a beer, dialed up some music, some of the ‘get together’ party music from my past, the way way back time, and had a good cry. A few beers, some eclectic obscure music, and memories of all my rather enlightened cohorts, nostalgia. Many of whom were dead, married, disappeared, incarcerated, or otherwise. I was already nostalgic, but the spectre of death, ones life flashing before ones eyes, was quite the event. A few more beers were in order.

Looking back on my life, I, at times, had a lot of fun, and, at times, I did did not.

I notice, when people say they’d like to go back to a certain time period, they tend pick some idealistic, or ideal, epoch, but they might not take into consideration that the hard times were usually austere times, not so much fun. I have an ideal time, and maybe a few settings, but I’ll save those for my pipe dreams.

Music, music in general, always takes me back. I don’t need, or even want a time machine, although that would be a riot unto itself. While physically going back in time has its appeal, I do like our ‘now time,’ our current present tense, with instant access to any music I love, any time I want, I use that as my time machine, music feeds and nourishes my nostalgia.

Humping your Hot Dragon

Okay, here is another gem I found in my files, I hadn’t dated it but it seems like I wrote this only a few months after my final chemotherapy treatment. I was obviously still in pain and reeling from the side effects of the chemo. Once again I have no recollection of writing this, so, without further ado, here it is in it’s raw form. Here at The Rusty prose, we’re unsure where I was going with this, perhaps I’ll revisit this and turn this into something awesome to read.

 

Humping your Hot Dragon

Hot, it was so hot. He picked up the Dragon which immediately set about blowing balls of fire before them. The dragon was so sick but refused to admit so. They had set out early in the morning to avoid the heat, but the birds had warned the sun so the sun had come up earlier that day and was none too happy about the birds waking it up so early. He had been warned about his sick dragon, but as he usually did when people told him about his sick dragon he just laughed it off.

He had, as was his usual, awoken so early as to be the one to waken the neighbourhood. His neighbours had oft complained that while he liked to get up early, the entire neighbourhood did not share his enthusiasm for his hobby of choice. This morning he awoke with an unusual fear; he had been having the oddest dream about trying to line up two or three islands in an archipelago, but they wouldn’t line up and one of them erupted as in a volcanoes creating a fourth island which still wouldn’t line up properly. He stopped trying to interpret his dream, realizing that the gist of his dream seemed to tell him he was frustrated by something.

He was now a recluse, but I suppose by society’s standards he was a pariah, due to the sick dragon. He didn’t even know he had a dragon, some people tried to point it out to him be he was too preoccupied. He tended to be able to only have on single focus, no multi-tasking for this guy.

When confronted by the yoga team, the dragon changed colour and set about inhaling as much air as possible. Dragons at filtering out the oxygen and hydrogen to use for its flame throwers. The battles were epic, some raging for years, entering different time zones as well as different planes of this world.

All too soon he lost track of the time, this particular trek the they had encountered more of the yoga people, who seemed to be on their side. The anti-yoga people had converged on them and now were using the dragon against him. The heat from the dragon was unbearable, so focused to a fine point as though the dragon was enjoying itself. The yoga crowd had jumped on him and were now trying to pull his head so down and forward so as to be standing with his feet on his own head.

This was a problem he thought would never be solved. It was in his nature to do things the wrong way. The heat had cooled off; Mother Nature abated the wars with her cool marine air. The dragon, now cured, healed and cooled was soon gone, leaving the young man to clean up the mess, explain everything to the authorities, as well as go back to his job.

An Ordeal I would not Wish upon my worst Enemy

I have battled Cancer, I’ve endured Chemotherapy and I’ve suffered the indignities of Surgery and yet I have seen first hand just how fortunate I was to be dealing with my particular ordeal. Cancer was a formidable foe to be certain, warranting the battle of a lifetime. Chemotherapy was an out-worldly experience, one that I would never, ever want to go through again in this lifetime; I found the experience to be horrifying, an encounter which exposed me to be the coward that I am. I had Surgery to reconstruct the humerus on my (left) dominant arm after a cancerous tumor ate into the bone resulting in a fracture. Several horrible elements combined for one hell of an ordeal, though I know for certain many others faced even more horrendous situations and they have a faced it with grace, courage and dignity in their own ways.

One year prior to these events, among other things, I had rekindled my passion for writing and had taken up jotting down notes and ideas on a semi-regular basis. I kept it as a hobby, more or less, writing thoughts and ideas, a little more earnest as time went on, making sure I filled any spare time I had with writing. Soon I was writing on a regular basis, albeit for limited time, again mostly thoughts and ideas, and then short story ideas, and some script and stage play ideas. I submitted a short story based on an actual event, then a short stage play, then a fictional short story, none of which were accepted. I felt as though I was getting somewhere with my writing hobby and was looking for creative writing courses when disaster struck, I broke my writing arm and discovered I had Cancer which turned my life upside down for several years.

I was in no state to write, not of mind or body. Six months after the fracture we got smartphones and so that enabled me to start jotting down ideas, all with my right thumb. When, after a fashion, I could prop myself up I was able to write on paper, again with my non-dominant arm. Not an easy feat, to start to write with ones non-dominant arm, try it for a while. I had the added bonus of dealing with the side effects of the Chemotherapy which gave me a temporary cognitive dysfunction to muddle through. Google ‘Chemo brain’ (or maybe I can link it) for a better idea of what that is, or wait a while because I know I’ll have a whole blog post devoted to chemo brain. It took me well over one full year before I was able to even attempt to write with my left arm again, and I am sure my recovery sped up after that.

Though I survived I don’t like that term, ‘Survivor’ or ‘he was a fighter’, somehow, to me, that implies the poor unfortunate souls who succumbed to this horrid disease were not putting in the same effort; we are all different, our Cancers and treatments differ from person to person. Yes, I survived, a victory for me, but it was a Pyrrhic victory

Working Hard to make Writing my Side Hustle

I am working towards this end. Sorry, this is not a ‘how-to’ blog, right now it’s a ‘how I am currently doing it and here are all my mistakes’ blog. I enjoy writing, as a hobby, and an interest, but now that I am ramping up my writing time, word count and projects, I need to pursue my other interests and hobbies. Soon enough, once I become a millionaire from writing daily fragmented thoughts, I will be able to embrace my other hobbies. So, any minute now, I will become an overnight sensation. As much as I’m happy to have a well paying non-writerly job, I would like to make writing my side hustle.

I am creating a habit of writing daily. I have several writing projects on the go, and now I have this wonderful blog. Thanks to this wonderful blog, I have carved out an extra hour per day, every day, to write. I am currently averaging five hundred words per day in about thirty to forty-five minutes. My typing is improving quite well, though I am making some good spelling mistakes as of late. Writing five hundred words daily has changed my day for me and I feel great that I’m devoting more time to this.

I am a long way from doing anything freelance, so for now I need to take it slow, I am happy enough to keep writing this blog. I am working on a short story that I need to finish the first rewrite. I have a number of Nanowrimo’s sitting in first rough that are on my list of things that need my attention sooner than later. I have a number of poems, two of which I’ve posted on here. Never say never, but I am not yet ready to freelance or anything of the sort, and so, for now, I’m happy with hanging out here at The Rusty Prose.

Life keeps us all busy in one form or another, and I have busied myself right up with tackling all these projects, dealing with a full time non-writerly job, and, of course, life itself. I don’t have kids so I don’t know how parents manage to have any time for themselves. Now that I’ve carved out an extra hour out of my day for writing I’d like to look into carving out more time devoted solely on writing. For now, that will have to be weekends, which are already full and they go by so fast.

I battle fatigue, I work full time, as well as making more time for writing, so I do need to watch that I don’t burn myself out. I have to keep the enjoyment factor in play, the always learning factor is always in play, and, of course, keep on top of the quality. I’ll get my short stories dusted off, edit and rewrite them, then sell them for a million dollars each, that will move this side hustle along pretty good I think. I get tired just thinking of how rich I’ll get with my new side hustle.

Climbing the Walls

A Cancerous tumour ate into my Humerus bone causing it to break. This was many years ago, that aspect is well behind me know. I had surgery, there are now two steel plates, several pins, and numerous screws embedded into my Humerus. I underwent a few years of therapy to get my arm back into functionality. I can now make a fist and raise it over my head in triumph.

I spent several months doing yoga. I did the Bikram’s hot yoga. They have several challenges to get people to practice yoga on a daily basis. I took the one hundred day challenge, well, I went one hundred and one days. It’s quite the feat even for a healthy individual. That three months of daily hot yoga practice did wonders for my body, my psyche, and my arm.

After the one hundred day challenge I hit the pool and gym with a personal trainer. We worked together to get my entire body back into shape and to get used to moving around doing different types of exercises. The yoga was fantastic, it also got me moving, worked on my endurance etc, but it’s good to change things up for your mind and body to adapt to new situations. Working with a personal trainer was also beneficial to my over all rehabilitation programme. All the while I was also going through physiotherapy.

During my ordeal, while I was dreaming of being able to become left handed again, to regain the use of my left arm, and to get back to normal I had considered adding rock climbing to my then future rehabilitation programme. I had a bigger, extended vision of my rehab than the people in my life at that time and was told to take it one thing at a time; obviously we do need to take these things slow and one step at a time, but I like to plan ahead. As I was planning and scheming, a local high school opened a climbing gym. It was fate yelling at me loud and clear.

So, a few years later after Chemo, no more Cancer, all healed up, yoga’d and all rehabed, and with my strength and energy building up I took up wall climbing. I love it, it’s fantastic. I’ve been at it for a couple years, I only do it part time as it really takes up a lot of my strength and energy. Yes, it does add strength and energy, but I need to keep it low and slow to give my body time to adapt. There are teen clubs in there, and, in watching them, I’ve gained so much knowledge and have improved greatly. I have a fantastic climbing partner but he’s only available at certain times; he has kids and a life.

Once again we are quite pleased with ourselves here at The Rusty Prose. On day my arm almost falls off, the next thing I know I’m laid up for a long period of time, and now I’m pulling myself up a wall with said arm. Oh, by the way, did I mention my crippling Acrophobia? that’s right fans, I also suffer, and I do suffer, from fear of heights. it’s all about mind over matter. My body doesn’t seem to mind that I’m climbing a wall with an arm that had previously come loose, and my brain doesn’t seem to mind that I willfully clamber twenty feet up into the air. Twenty feet may not seem like much to you, but it’s plenty enough for me. I’ve faced my fears and my so called disability and have conquered them.

I didn’t actually conquer my fear of heights, it’s still there, I’ve found a way to work with it and around it. Believe me, there are moments up on the wall when I freeze up, or, at the very least, question my sanity. I’m not disabled, but my arm sits funny and I don’t have 100% mobility, but my strength is returning. I don’t consider it a disability, especially once I get to the climbing gym. I can’t have a bad day at the climbing gym, the fact that I’m using that arm to pull myself up a wall is quite the victory for me.

On Pain.

This post is mostly about having to endure different types of pain, I will get into the specifics at a later date as I need to go through all my notes and files. I have bits and pieces scattered here and there, we really could use a good assistant or two over here at The Rusty Prose. So, for now, you get fragments of pain.

I suppose I could have told this story from the beginning, but I can think of these posts as Prefaces and the like. Besides, it’s my blog and I’ll transgress if I want to. A little anticipation never hurt anyone, and today we’re talking about the pain, man. Soon enough we will get to the beginning.

During my Cancer ordeal the pain was intense, incredible and excruciating on so many levels; as a result I tend to feel and experience pain on a much different plane now. The pain was all encompassing, only to be surpassed, or exacerbated by the horrors of Chemotherapy. There was the tumour which slowly ate into my Humerus bone until it shattered one fine morning. Next we add in all the various tests, needles, and biopsies; the muscle cramping and neuropathy were there for the comic relief.

On the gorgeous and hot morning of July 19 2011 As I was getting ready for my dentist appointment to finish the second phase of a root canal when my left (dominant) arm went into a muscle spasm and broke seemingly on it’s own. YOUCH!!! And WTF!?!

My arm had been sore and aching for several weeks prior, but I had been much busier than usual and thought I was over exerting myself and had strained my triceps and biceps muscle. It’s called a ‘Pathological Fracture’ when a bone breaks for no known cause but shows to have a hidden medical reason; the cancer caused a tumour to eat into my bone, the bone fractured into the tumour and through the remaining weakened bone.

Then I lay prone for five weeks while I waited for the proper diagnosis. They knew it was Cancer, it just took a long while for them to pinpoint the actual type. NHL; non Hodgkins Lymphoma. They wouldn’t operate until they could be certain they didn’t have to amputate, or that I was going to be around long enough to warrant the procedure. I lay prone on the couch for five weeks in agony.

The reconstructive surgery took away some of the pain, then it brought along some new one’s. I had steel plates, pins and screws into my bones and the tumour in the bone. Yeah, that was a whole new level of pain my good friends. Nothing else mattered at that point. Then I had to lay prone for another five weeks in agony while we waited for the screws to set, and for the chemo to kick in. Then came the cramping and neuropathy, which feels like when your arm or leg fall asleep except this is all over your body and comes on much more gorilla like.

For my second Chemotherapy session, the nurses could not get the needle into my vein, so they went and got a nurse from somewhere else and pulled the curtain around us. They explained they have a procedure to get the needle into my vein but it’s quite painful. She looked me in the eye and said, ready? Though it wasn’t so much a question as a command. Then as quick as she could, she slammed it into the outside of my thumb down to my wrist. Sorry, not into the joint but along the wrist below the thumb, apparently there’s also a nerve which runs along that part of the vein. Freaking ouch!

Next came the PICC line, basically it’s like a catheter but they run it through your veins. Mine went all the way to my heart, I don’t know if they all do, but mine sure did and I could feel it knocking onto my heart on occasion. That is an odd pain sensation, but it’s also eerie.

Then I got myself a frozen shoulder, more pain, more cramping, then a nice long needle inserted into my ball socket. Ouch

The bulk of the intense pain was during the initial seven months of my ordeal. Then came two years of rehabilitation. Physiotherapy therapy. Two years of rehabilitation of my arm and frozen shoulder. It took me almost two full years before I was able to make a fist or raise may hand over my head, took longer before I was able to make a fist and raise that over my head without grimacing in pain.

All the deep tissue work to reanimate my atrophied muscle was an excruciatingly painful experience that we at the rusty prose would not wish upon anyone.

I view and feel pain much different now.

I was not made to devour my fellow man.

I was not put upon this earth to devour my fellow man. It is not in my nature to bend these men to my will.

I am not here to throw them to the ground. These men were not placed here for me to pay for my sins.

We cannot be among others in this state. We do not do these things for our own enjoyment.

All that I can see, in nature, in the trees, I am welcomed into the fold that is the cold ground and the sopping moss.

One only has to look into their favorite mirror to see what is familiar, what is known and what defines oneself.

What are our choices when our mirror reflects an altered vision of ourselves? When we build ourselves, we use our body, our mind, our chemistry, and our biology.

Who do we become when we’ve had our chemistry, our biology, or our specter altered?

What is our recourse when our bodies betray us?

I did invite death in for tea, she refused me. She surveyed my garden but would not enter my parlour.

Death is not a sadist, she is an empath and we love her in her shrouds of deep longing.

We do not deserve her love, we will pine and yearn, but we are not for her.

She will live in my garden, courting mother nature.

These yearnings for solitude will empower the soul. These longings will drive you far.

What your soul has seen, what it is seeing at this moment, your moment, would only serve to drive men mad.

I am a man, I need to be a man. Do we continue to connect the then with the now? When we lose touch with nature what is it we are striving for, what is pushing us forward?

I see us, in nature, and I see us in nature. We reflect our nature back at ourselves, and we enjoy it to be there, to comfort us.

We cannot walk among the trees, breathe of them, see them, and not be part of them. We have lost when they are no longer our friends.

These men, and I am a man, these men, who will not commune with nature, have lost.

I do not wish for the light, I wish for darkness. I am allowed darkness, I am allowed to sleep, allowed to wake, allowed to live for an eternity.

I am no longer my worst enemy, as it is, that is who I am now. We are not looking for that light.

I will leave myself here, where I am, where others would like to lead. We have lost our reference point, I would prefer not one man follows where I may be set to lead.

These things may last, and they will last for many.

I would not know how to die. I know I have a place, in the forest, a place I can see from my chair.

They are not dead out there, they are not waiting for me.

I continue and I will continue on.