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.

I flounder through the journey of life with cancer. There is some rage and a smidge of bitterness. Yet, I have no terror or sorrow. I’ve had no dark emotions like those who stumble through their tribulations. So, you exist. You make it. You beat through another day, return home at night, and crawl into bed.

That’s what I’m supposed to do, right? I started this journey stating I wanted to be a ‘rock.’ I wanted to be that guy who can show the world (and the cancer) that I can handle it. I choose to be the epitome of Bob Seeger’s song ‘Like a Rock.

Like a rock, I was strong as I could be
Like a rock, nothin’ ever got to me
Like a rock, I was something to see
Like a rock

Bullshit! Who the fuck constructs such dreams, and why did I choose to live it? I realize how clinical I’ve become. I can assess with a high level of accuracy what’s likely to occur. I do it with patients all the time. I’ve become distanced, even to myself. My old military commander’s voice echoes, “I believe you’ve made a strategic error.”

Long-COVID destroyed my sense of smell and taste. I’d grow weaker until, on some days, I could barely walk across a room. My heart went from mild left ventricular hypertrophy to moderate left ventricular hypertrophy; the spinal cord cannot function as efficiently without a TENS unit (electrical pain relieving device); and osteoarthritis continues chewing away at spinal disks, arms, knees, and fingers.

“Put it out of your mind,” I repeatedly told myself. “Push this shit out of my mind.” The reality is that one cannot wholly eradicate cancer thoughts from the brain. I’ve found that the harder I try, the more present it becomes. Sometimes, I mentally spit at others who can whine endless hours about the flu, the flu shot, COVID vaccination, or that sore arm from trying to act 20 years old and play basketball all day. I spit because I am a slow-walking body of disease (a dead man walking), and these people dare to endlessly bitch all day about a stuffy nose, runny nose, or no nose. Whatever!

In numerous posts, I’ve discussed the evolution of the soul. Yet, I’ve been entirely self-absorbed in my own life and pain for several months. I’ve chosen not to partake in primary medical treatment and let the cancer or osteoarthritis run its course. (Yes, I know osteoarthritis typically does not kill.) Think of it. I can live out my remaining days on a St. Croix beach. Then, when the pain became unbearable, I would swim toward the sea and let nature take its course. I haven’t.

Outside of two spirits visiting and asking, “Are you ready,” there are no ghosts from my previous life. Some sort through various idyllic moments of pre-cancer versus post-cancer. Not me. There’s just this life.

Everything is going wrong. When one more thing occurs, I mutter, “One more damn thing to deal with,” and get going. “Like a Rock.”

Yeah, like a rock.