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Pushing Through

I don’t think about overcoming cancer. I can’t. Multiple Myeloma is undefeatable. Most days, one can hardly recognize that I fight past overwhelming fatigue and nausea. I do it because I have no choice. I am just an average Information Technology worker trying to make it until 65 when federal healthcare benefits become available. I could work from home, but I chose to push myself. The question therein is, “Why?”

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I spent several hours in the hospital yesterday. It wasn’t business; it was personal. Stomach and colon pain swallowed my life a little after noon. I could barely breathe, sit, lay down, or walk. Sweat rolled down my face and soaked my clothes. The strange part, I drove myself to the hospital. Afterward, I drove back home. I must be crazy.

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Like a Rock

Year three of this bullshit, and I am still alive. I was supposed to die a year back, but nope. I keep thinking of some lowly spiritual angel who dropped a wrench into the bicycle wheel of my life. And, “Bam.” The Unknown Buddhist is stuck on a plateau until the spokes get repaired. Thus, you meander through the days of repetitive medical cycles, poor humanistic skills of physicians, and just a lack of support.

This post is not about the Israeli-Gaza War. Neither is this about the Ukraine-Russia war. While both wars are significant, I focused on other crises. My life got sucked into a tangled in a trove of medical ups and downs, one damn appointment after another, and many that offered no value. At the end of several months, I’ve burned out my insurance HSA and wonder if this is what dying feels like. It’s the loneliness. The patient deals with it alone. And sometimes, the lack of humanity is spiritually painful.

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Whatever that was, it was not an Israeli missile,” I muttered while watching the Gaza hospital explosion news reports.
How do you know?” Mr. Jenkins asked.
Obliviously lost in thought, Mr. Jenkins tugged at my sleeve, “Oh, sorry,” I responded. “How can I help, Mr. Jenkins?
How do you know?
Know what?
Clearing his throat, he repeated, “How do you know the Israelis didn’t fire that missile?
Oh, sorry, sir. I know because the hospital is still standing.

I briefly explained that nearly all missiles Israel’s military uses are precision-guided or laser-guided. The missiles are programmed with coordinates confirmed by two other analysts before launch. If an Israeli rocket hit that hospital, the building would have collapsed. When Hamas fires a missile, they say, “Allah be with you,” and hope it lands somewhere close. When an Israeli rocket launches, the missile is programmed to hit “8004 West Nowhere Street.”

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As of ten minutes ago, the death toll from the ongoing violence between Israel and Hamas has passed 1,800, with over 1,000 killed and 2,700 injured in Israel and at least 830 people killed and 4,250 wounded in Gaza, according to Palestinian and Israeli health services. Worldwide, people witnessed one inhumanity after another. Festival celebrants were gunned down while escaping. Hostages taken. Terrorists removed one family’s daughter and executed her. An unconscious woman at the festival was displayed by armed militants in Gaza as onlookers shouted “Allahu Akbar.” 

Allahu Akbar (God is most great)? Really? If God is so great, where the fuck is He now? Would a god so excellent begat violence upon violence and hatred upon hatred? If God was so great, what was the tactical outcome? Or, as I would ask any terrorist before undertaking any mission (which I never have), “Then what?”

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2:36 AM

Pain is swallowing my body. Walking 250 steps or more brings extreme tightness in the groins both of both legs and lower calves. To that, former WGN radio host Al Lerner would commically retort, ‘a groin is a terrible thing to pull.’ Spasms crept into my right bicep, forearm, through to my fingers, and radiates significant pain when lifting anything above the shoulder. Through it all, I keep reading previous posts on ‘What’s a good life’ and asking myself, “Am I living it?” That exchange is often followed by remembering something from my past, usually negative, and trying to mentally reconcile that person looking back through the mirror.

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Then What Are You?

Ted Cruz had a ‘cow.’ Again. m the Dad of two young daughters,” During a recent appearance on a conservative podcast, Ted, ‘Get out of Texas,’ Cruz,’ waded into the waters of controversy over a “child-like crayon drawing” map that may be or may not be an endorsement of some weird controversial “nine-dash line,” depending on whom you ask. And fuzz face isn’t the only one. The Vietnamese government banned the release of Barbie. The Chinese government and the Philippines killed Barbie as well. But back to Barbie for a moment.

Attacking a film like Barbie isn’t new. In 2021, Cruz accused Big Bird (Sesame Street) of promoting government propaganda. Cruz once claimed Disney would eventually show “Mickey and Pluto going at it” and got so fixated on some anti-racist children’s books that he fueled sales. And, of course, he launched an investigation into Bud Light over a can of beer earlier this year, as in one can of beer. 

To this, Christ said, “What the hell?” and provided commentary.

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Work, exhaustion, movement. Work, exhaustion, movement. If someone asked about my life’s cycle, that would be it: ‘work, exhaustion, movement.’ It’s no epic mystery. And at the end of the day, most cancer patients probably believe few know their cycle or the actual intricacies of living day-to-day or existence. There’s no magic. There’s no spark. No one knows what it’s like to sit in some poorly designed cancer waiting room and have some clinician take away the last remnants of their life.

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Following a Thursday afternoon meeting, an attempt to stand proved futile as my legs refused to cooperate. The simple act of rising from a chair seemed impossible, as every muscle in my lower body had become inexplicably rigid. I sat in the room as everyone signed off Microsoft Teams and pretended to fiddle with my phone.

Living with multiple myeloma presents many challenges that are not immediately visible to the naked eye. Living with Multiple Myeloma means grappling with the uncertainty of how the disease will manifest itself. One of the less-discussed consequences of this condition is the potential impairment of muscle function. These symptoms can significantly impact daily activities and overall quality of life, from sudden weakness and stiffness to decreased range of motion.

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Though not a doctor, I frequently saw myself as if I was looking at someone else until the pain or exhaustion overwhelmed me. The fatigue is persistent, and exhaustion finds me during the day, even after a good night’s sleep. Fatigue can start first thing in the morning upon waking, and sometimes I am so tired that I want to stay in bed.

I never received a lot of affirmation as a kid. I remember myself as the fifth fiddle in a two-fiddle band. Now, even as my body deteriorates, I cling to the role of a healthcare technology professional as a critical source of self-esteem. It’s not an attempt to make up for childhood. Instead, I find the satisfaction of providing quality services worthy, even if such services remain in the background. 

In this sense, patients continually wrestle with mortality, suffering, and pain. I wrestle with a sense of who I am and what I could become. However, like the guy searching for meaning and the one screaming in fear, answers are personal. One’s response isn’t to another. The days of pain that sporadically occurred have combined to plaster my bones relentlessly. Only then, I realize how exhausted I am.

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