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stoner_witch
27 June 2011 @ 11:07 pm
Still alive and well and living in.

In case anyone was wondering.
 
 
 
stoner_witch
03 January 2011 @ 01:01 pm
1. What did you do in 2010 that you'd never done before?
Have extended stays in a hospital.

2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Spend no money at all to see if I can do it. There are details to this plan that I cannot get into here, but it's a plan.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
There are a lot of pregnancies but no one's been brought into the world.


4. Did anyone close to you die?
Gabrielle Bouliane. I don't think I will ever get over it.


5. What countries did you visit?
Nowhere.


6. What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010?
Gainful employment and better health.

7. What date from 2010 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
January 29th, the day Gabrielle died. The next day I was diagnosed with Colon Cancer.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Living past June. 

9. What was your biggest failure?
Not writing enough. Not letter people know how much I love them while they're alive.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Stage IV Colon Cancer, but I'm doing really well in spite of it.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
6 Qt. Lodge Dutch Oven.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
My wife Carole. She's been a rock through all this madness. I'd not be alive without her.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
David Cohen. I gave him a place to live when he and his wife were evicted from their home in the desert and he did nothing but complain. He finally moved out in January of this year, but we're still pissed at him for beaming out such negative energy and pretty much bumming everyone out. I stopped hanging around the guy because I can't afford his energy around me and he doesn't pay rent for occupation in my head.

14. Where did most of your money go?
My kids.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Getting a letter on Christmas Eve from my oncologist that began with the line, "I have good news for you..." 

16. What song will always remind you of 2010?
"Radiation Vibe" by Fountains of Wayne

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a. happier or sadder? Happier
b. thinner or fatter? Thinner
c. richer or poorer? Poorer

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Spent less time in bed.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Fretted less over things that I have no control over.

20. How will you be spending Christmas?
With my family, as usual.

22. Did you fall in love in 2008?
Just the usual suspects. Carole, Medbh, Nick, Nezzie, Claire...

23. How many one-night stands?
None. That's in the past.

24. What was your favorite TV program?
Deadliest Catch

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
I try not to hate. It's a nasty word.

26. What was the best book you read?
Get Up: A 12-step Guide to Recovery for Misfits, Freaks, and Weirdos by Bucky Sinister
Even if you don't think you need it, read it. It'll hip you to some concepts that will change the way you think about the 12-Step world.


27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Ida Maria

28. What did you want and get?
Better health.

30. What was your favorite film of this year?
I didn't get a chance to see any movies this year. I really enjoyed HBO's Brothers In Arms, though. Highly recommended.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 46 and had a huge birthday party I called "Beatin' the Odds," in recognition that I'm winning my battle with cancer.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Not getting sick.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008?
Paisley print colostomy bags. I refer to it as my fashion accessory. Not everyone gets the joke.

34. What kept you sane?
Carole

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Barack Obama

36. What political issue stirred you the most?
The passing of the Healthcare law.

37. Who did you miss?
Gabrielle Bouliane, more these days than ever.

38. Who was the best new person you met?
Tom Bouliane, Gabrielle's father.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008:
Never underestimate the power of friendship.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
"The way out is the way in... The way out is the way in..."
 Rush

41. Who did you spend the most time on the phone with?
Daisy from Cigna/GreatWest Healthcare

42. What LJ users did you meet for the first time?
No one, this year.
 
 
 
 
 
stoner_witch
23 September 2010 @ 03:13 pm
(Ignore the Yahoo Entertainment notice placed here by FB)...

I've been getting a few emails about my illness and all that.

I will add more to my cancer chronicles soon--it's really the hardest part to write about--but for now please know that I'm doing really well and don't even look sick.

Thanks for asking, though.

Much love to everyone.
 
 
Current Mood: indifferentindifferent
 
 
 
stoner_witch
26 July 2010 @ 06:13 pm

Carole put me on her insurance in January, just prior to me receiving my diagnosis. Lucky for me, not so lucky for the insurance company who initially threw up the "pre-existing condition clause" at all my claims, but they've come around after I proved prior coverage from my insurance at Zones. I thought that the pre-existing clause was out the door with the passing of Obama's Healthcare law, but it doesn't actually kick in until 2014. The net result is that the insurance companies are all going to be throwing the pre-existing condition clause and many of the claims until it's outlawed, or so the administrators at the hospital tell me.

When we last spoke of our man (as the late, great Harvey Pekar would put it) I was scared shitless and told I had between 6 months and 2 years to live, on the outside. Well, around 5:45AM on March 24th, I woke up with blinding pain in my abdomen. The pain was so bad that I was literally cross-eyed. Carole had to tell me that, because I was unable to see out my left eye--I was told later that this occurs under certain pain-conditions when the body shuts down extra sensory methods to re-direct resources to fight the offending issue. Weird somatic stuff.

We called 911, the ambulance arriving exactly 3 minutes later. They walked me out to the rig and plugged me full of morphine and after
getting lost trying to find Providence Hospital, dropped me off there where I sat around for a few hours while they poked at me, stuck me in the talking donut (read: CAT scan) and drew massive amounts of blood.

Finally the on-call surgeon came in and told me what was up: The good news was that the chemo was working alright. The bad news was that one of the colonic masses it was shrinking pulled back on the colonic tissue it was attached to causing what's called a perforation; A hole the size of a penny. Bad news, indeed.

This hole was leaking all sorts of shit and digestive fluid into my abdomen and started eating away at my peritoneum, the layer of tissue
that holds all your guts in place. This gave rise to something they call peritonitis, a terrible, life-threatening infection, which is exactly what Gabrielle had just a few weeks prior to her death. The surgeon, a good, stoic cat named Dr. O'Brien said that he'd have to operate. He ended with the words I do not like to hear: "Expect to spend the night."

Gacked to my eyeballs on morphine, I don't remember anything of the four hours or so I waited before the surgery, although Carole tells me that I was lucid and talking to her about everything and that she was there with me to whole time. Carole tells me that I felt worried about making it out alive and what would happen to the kids and Claire and so on...

This was the eve of a very very dark period in this whole experience.

The next thing I remember was coming out of sedation in the recovery room. The dude there told me that I was heading to my hospital room that had a flat panel TV. (So what, I thought, I'm in fucking pain). I can't knock the guy, he was just trying to be positive.

Dr. O'Brien came through and checked a few things on me, I don't know what. I said that I had to go pee, and he said, "You ARE peeing." (These aren't the droids you're looking for...)

The drugs made his voice sound as through it were coming through a long tube.

"No, seriously, I have to use the bathroom," I told him.

"You don't need the bathroom for a while, you have a catheter."

Oh.

The orderly rolled me through the maze of corridors in the hospital and into a hospital room where Carole and my friend from Seattle, Tommi, were eating burritos. They looked up, squealing in a way to see me alive. Carole tells me that my complexion was gray. The orderly rolled the stretcher up next to the hospital bed and told me that I had to move myself over.

I got on all fours on the stretcher and noticed the gash in my stomach and my new fashion accessory; a colostomy bag. Good God, just what I hoped to not ever get...

Noting all this, I said to Carole, "Check me out, I'm hot," trying to make light of the fact that my whole body image had just been put
through the shredder. I felt dizzy and sick and pathetic; helpless, a basket case.

I also noticed that pretty much every orifice, except my asshole, had a tube of some sort coming out of it. A tube went up my nose, through to my stomach and out to a graduated container that had a load of green stuff in it--bile, I imagine. I sported the catheter out my swantz into a bag attached to the side of the bed, while both arms had all sorts of IVs going into them.

I spent a good while just laying in bed in this stupor of agony, not realizing until a nurse pointed out that I could get a dose of dilaudid every ten minutes by pressing this strange clown nose attached to one of the IV towers, of which there were three.

So, surgery was followed with a long sleep-about 18 hours, until a couple of nurses came in and told me that I had to sit up, with my legs dangling off the bed. I sat up after great pain and effort and then it was back on my back again.

While sitting there alone in the hospital room--Carole had long gone home to deal with Claire and work--I pulled up my gown to survey the
damage.

I was shaved from just below my nipples down to about a half-inch above my schwantz. Festooned with staples and gooey with puss and dried blood was a gash that went about three inches above my belly-button all the way down to my pubis. On my left side was the dreaded colostomy bag, which was empty. It seems that when they do a lot of knocking around with your GI Track, it stops working for a while. There wasn't anything in the GI Track, anyhow, since I was unable to eat with all the chemo cycles I'd already experienced. Chemo does a number on your appetite, I gotta tell you. I felt a strange squeezing sensation on my calves. I pulled the sheets back to expose these white sleeves with air tubes breathing in and out, squeezing and releasing, squeezing and releasing. The nurse explained that they were call "scuds" and put in place to keep my legs from developing blood clots, which could travel up to my lungs or my heart and kill me, sure as shootin.'

Just laying there, getting all my nutrition through IVs, I started losing weight. Not just a pound or two, but 10, 20, 30 pounds. I topped off on the weight-loss at about 60 pounds; weight that I could afford to lose, anyway--I was a real fat-ass. So, while in the hospital, a little more than three weeks, in total, I lost about 60 pounds. I look great and my blood pressure is in better control now, too. The Cancer Diet, I call it, when people compliment me on my shape.

There are further details I can get in to here but it goes on and on and I don't really want to crowd you with all this grim reportage.

I knew there would a great deal of speculation (we're all such terrific gossips) among the poetry community and other friends and this sort of sets the record somewhat straight. Indeed, a goodly many of my friends didn't even know I was sick. Some folks, I've heard, had already written my off as a dead man walking or dead in fact.

Luckily, this is not the case.

Due to the dilaudid and the oxycodone I was prescribed, there is a lot that I simply do not remember. For examplpe, a murder of poets actually came down from Seattle to throw a party in my hospital room that I hardly remember. I was plowed to the nines on dilaudid at the time. But there are plenty of incriminating photos around to prove I was there.

I do remember taking a hit of the clown-nose dilaudid and Karen Finneyfrock watched as my eyes rolled up into my noggin. “You OK, Marty?” One is mostly OK, when given access to industrial doses of dilaudid.

The details about the party are this: Tommi spoke to her sister of all the shitty things that were happening this year, with me getting sick and everybody losing Darling Gabrielle. Tommie told her sister that she wanted a "do-over" for 2010. Who can blame her. 2010 Version 2.0. So Tommi threw a party and brought the party to my room. Along with the poets. I knew I had a good time. There were lots of folks in my room and the nurse even came in at midnight so that I could call the party she threw at her house at midnight.

After blowing  a party horn into the phone, I went RIGHT back to sleep. Completely knocked out.

It was a good night, all things considered, although I missed Claire, Nickel and Nezzie. I was very lonely going back to sleep that night.

 
 
Current Music: "Which Ever Way The Wind Blows" - Bob Mould
 
 
 
stoner_witch
17 May 2010 @ 09:20 am

When I got back from Austin around the middle of January, Gabrielle was about two weeks away from dying. She died on Friday the 29th. Shitty day and I spent the night in mourning and feeling just shitty about everything. You may not know her but she was a hugely important person in my life. In the end, I got the call from my friend Daemond early in the day and spent the rest of Friday in a daze, wondering how I'd get through life without her.

Already, there were gastric issues with me, not passing shit the way I should, growling guts and lots of what I thought were either gas pains, irritable bowels, ulcers or diverticulitis. I knew something was up. There was a blockage somewhere. Just what was it?

I had an appointment set for February 2nd and thought I could wait it all out until then. Well, January 30th was particularly painful. Calling the on-call nurse for GreatWest (the insurance company), I explained my symptoms and was instructed to go to Providence emergency department (I suppose they don't call it the ER anymore) to get a CAT Scan. Saturday being the day Carole gets some time to fuck off downtown before coming home, she likes to buy a bottle of wine or some bread. I called her at work and asked her to come directly home after work, because I was in such pain and needed to get to the Emergency Room. She came directly home after the call and I spent about four hours at Providence, drinking barium, waiting for it to go through my digestive system, watching Food Network and reading about Portland Food Carts, etc.

Finally, the doctor came through and shut off the TV. He sat down across from me and started crying. Very bad sign. “Do you have any kids,” he asked me. I told him I have four. He said, “Well, you are right, there is a blockage in your lower intestine and it's being caused by colon cancer. You're in deep shit.

It's advanced and spreading. We found it attached to the peritonin, your liver and dipping down into your scrotum. We describe it as stage four, the final stage before it consumes everything. I'm sorry to be the one to tell you this.” He started weeping again.

It took a couple minutes for it to sink in. The doctor told me that he needed to make some calls to get me into treatment immediately and said he hoped that the treatment might extend my life. While he wouldn't make any prognoses, he told me that typically a person with the disease as advanced as mine, I was probably looking at about six months. Deep shit.

So the doctor left me in the room to stew for a while; I was confused and freaked out. I reflected on the terrible coincidence of Gabs dying the day before and me getting diagnosed with what in my mind amounted to a death sentence, with so much left undone. I thought, “I got kids to raise and books to write and money to make! I'm not supposed to get checked out for colon cancer for another five years. How could this happen to me? What did I do to deserve this? Too much red meat? I was a vegetarian for 12 years! Maybe it's been the smoking? Or the drinking?”

Carole and Claire were out there in the hospital somewhere and I wanted immediately to find them. I wanted them around. I needed them. I wandered around the emergency department in my smock with my ass hanging out, feeling perfectly at ease with it—I've been given my two-minute warning and didn't give a fuck about much else than finding Carole and Claire. A nurse or orderly or someone found me and ran me back to my little room in the back with the TV, the bed, the sink and the instruments. Carole and Claire came through, finally with the doctor right behind them.

I told Carole, “We sorted out what's up with me.” She nodded. “It's really bad news, Carole. I have colon cancer. And it's advanced. I'm in deep shit.” Carole started crying harder than I'd ever seen her cry. Then I started crying, too, realizing the horror of it all. Carole's dad had just died not even a year before of Leukemia, while Gabrielle had died the day before. I'm not exaggerating when I tell you that I could almost smell the death in the room. It was like some terrible twilight had descended upon me. I felt like everything was being viewed from the bottom of a well.

The doctor told me that he'd made some appointments for me with a surgeon, and oncologist and that I should keep my appointment with my new General Practitioner, a very quirky/cool doctor out here on the peninsula.

The first week of February was Cancer Week: I saw the GP, saw the Oncologist, saw a gastrointerologist, a CAT Scan specialist and a radiation technician. No one had any good news. Living in a sort of DEATH FOG, I pulled away from everyone except for Carole and Claire. I didn't want to be around anyone else.

On the Second I saw the GP. He was nice, but offered no good news. On the Third, I saw the Oncologist, who I learned was widely known in his field and that I was quite lucky to have him as my doctor—he's done some radically unorthodox things in the treatment of cancer. He even heads up the Oregon Clinic, which is reportedly the best place to go in Oregon if you are found to have the disease.

Thursday had me laying on my side with a bull-dyke squeezing two plastic bottles of barium up my ass for an enema. She told me to let it percolate for a little while before I shat it out. It didn't last long, I gotta tell you. Maybe a minute, if even that. So, having jet-sprayed the toilet in there, I called out that I was ready. Some dude in scrubs came through and rolled me through several halls on a gurney. I got rolled over on my side and a nice lady with a hypo walked up and said, “Sweet Dreams.”

Next thing I know, Carole, Karen, Denis are all standing over me, talking about making meatloaf for dinner. “I'd like meatloaf for dinner.” Then the surgeon came through and told me to that it was going to be a while before I could eat meatloaf, or anything else for that matter. “Expect to spend the night,” he told me. Of course, I thought “spend the night” meant spend the night. I was in the hospital for about 10 days at this point.

The surgery was a combination of colonoscopy, biopsy, stent-placement (to open up the blockage), the placement of a “power-port” so I could start receiving chemo. There was also a clearing out of detritus that was sort of stuck because of the blockage the cancer created in my sigmoid colon—the descending part that leads to the rectum. I didn't understand at the time, but that was a lot to do in a single surgery, but they did it and it was done.

We were all still wondering exactly what it was I had. We knew it was cancer but there are myriad kinds and they all behave differently. The professionals upon whom we rely are astonishingly unhip, because there are so many kinds of cancer and so many kinds of people and so many kinds of behaviors that are simply impossible to predict. Couple the above with the fact that doctors are big targets for malpractice suits, they go to great lengths to ensure their analyses and prognoses are as correct as they can make them; even if they know fuckall about what exactly is going on.

In my hospital room, there were long hours of just sitting, riding the pain-killers, walking around the halls and reflecting. I determined that I would not go down without either a fight or a good laugh. There had to be something to learn from all this, not to mention some really good jokes. I could write off this experience to denial and maintaining this Panglossian optimism, but in the back of my mind is the idea that I can kick this motherfucker, still unsure of what it is I really have.

My oncologist eventually came through and we talked about what he found in the biopsy.

Sigmoid Adenocarcinoma.

An old man's disease.

This kind of cancer ordinarily attacks old men, say 70 to 80 years old. It's highly irregular that someone my age might contract this particular version of colon cancer, of which there are about 600, that they know of. So, I asked him, “What did I do to get this?” His head tilted a little and he smirked. He told me, “Nothing.”

Horseshit.

I told him, “OK, diggit, I smoke, I drink copiously, I played around with drugs, I've enjoyed sex of all sorts; fucked myself limp! Regardless my vegetarian period, afterward I ate tons of red meat, duck, fish, deer, every critter that won't eat me first. There's got to be something in there that brought this on!”

He looked at me with a little amusement at my openness and said, “It's just shitty luck. More than likely, I would say it's cosmic rays, mutation. Neutrinos.”

He explained to me that cancer is a really antisocial disease and most of the time it gets expressed through the body (lymph nodes, urine, shit, skin boils, pimples) and mostly people ordinarily enjoy a life free of the disease. Sometimes, among the profoundly unlucky, it sets in. That's my situation. I'm just unlucky. In this case, anyway.

 
 
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
Current Music: Decemberists - July, July!
 
 
 
stoner_witch
08 October 2009 @ 02:10 pm
So, LJ tells me it's been 39 weeks since I've done an update.

Why so long? 

I think in part that it has to do with the "little old me" syndrome--who wants to hear from me? Nothing much had been going on or so I thought. Actually there's been a great deal going on and I'm at a loss for words about how to talk about it.

Another way for me to look at my lack of updates boils down to simple laziness. At the end of the day, I get a bad case of the "fuck-its" when I'm having to chase my 2 year old daughter around the house, cook dinner, and then--while I was working--get back into bed to wake up at 4:30AM again for another stress-filled, soul-crushing humiliation called sales. (Actually, I like sales, but that's another post).

So, over the next few days, I will bullet point and comment on some of the things that have been going on with me and fill you guys in.

If you have any outstanding questions, comment here. I could stand to hear from people.

At night I pray for Gabrielle.

 
 
Current Location: United States, Portland
Current Music: Scott Walker - The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore
 
 
 
stoner_witch
04 January 2009 @ 05:45 pm
1. What did you do in 2008 that you'd never done before?
Performed a wedding as Reverend Martin Kruse

2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I'm really not one for resolutions.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Karen and Denis brought the handsome and smartly dressed Julian Raphael into the world.



4. Did anyone close to you die?
Nope. Although I heard this summer that an old buddy from LA killed himself.


5. What countries did you visit?
Nowhere.


6. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked
in 2008?
A better president.

7. What date from 2008 will remain etched upon your
memory, and why? November 2nd.


8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Made a little more money this year than last.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Getting Nickel to his homework.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I made out pretty well, this year.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
New fawcett for the kitchen.


12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
President Obama

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
George W Bush

14. Where did most of your money go?
My kids.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited
about?
Nothing immediately leaps to mind.

16. What song will always remind you of 2005?


17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a. happier or sadder? Happier
b. thinner or fatter? A little Thinner
c. richer or poorer? A little richer

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Saved money.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Fretted less over things that I have no control over.

20. How will you be spending Christmas?
I spent Christmas packed under layers upon layers of snow.

22. Did you fall in love in 2008?
Just the usual suspects. Carole, Medbh, Nick, Nezzie, Claire...

23. How many one-night stands?
None.

24. What was your favorite TV program?


25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this
time last year?
I try not to hate. It's a nasty word.

26. What was the best book you read?
Get Up: A 12-step Guide to Recovery for Misfits, Freaks, and Weirdos by Bucky Sinister
Even if you don't think you need it, read it. It'll hip you to some concepts that will change the way you think about the 12-Step world.


27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
The record I bought this year was Kings of Leon's Only by Night, which sounds a lot like the Pixies... Interesting.

28. What did you want and get?
Better sales at work.

30. What was your favorite film of this year?
The summer block buster Iron Man.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were
you?
I turned 44 and hung out with Carole and Jesse on one of the last nights of Encanto.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
George W Bush meeting an untimely demise.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008?
WTF?

34. What kept you sane?
Carole

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Barack Obama

36. What political issue stirred you the most?
The Election.

37. Who did you miss?
Gabrielle Bouliane

38. Who was the best new person you met?
Denis Theriault, my brother in law.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008:
Never underestimate the power of friendship.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
"I get up
 I get down..." 
Yes, Close to the Edge


41. Who did you spend the most time on the phone
with?
Melissa from work.

42. What LJ users did you meet for the first time?
No one, this year.

 
 
Current Location: 97203
Current Mood: ecstaticecstatic
Current Music: Yes - "Close to the Edge"
 
 
 
stoner_witch
13 December 2008 @ 12:26 pm

The Life Experience Test

Overall, you have partaken in 127 out of 169 possible life experiences.
Your average life experience score is therefore 75%.


The average score is 51%, making your experiences more than 98% of the people who have taken this test.
The average for your age group (36-55) is 56%.

Broken down by category:
Art: 11/17 (65%)
Career & Work: 11/13 (85%)
Civics & Technology: 7/7 (100%)
Crime & Disarray: 7/11 (64%)
Education: 13/18 (72%)
Fashion: 7/10 (70%)
Fitness, Health and Sports: 3/7 (43%)
Life in General: 10/14 (71%)
Relationships: 12/14 (86%)
Religion & Politics: 2/4 (50%)
Social: 19/22 (86%)
Travel: 13/20 (65%)
Vices: 12/12 (100%)
 
Take the test and see how YOU compare
 
 
Current Location: 97203
Current Music: "Super Mario Bros. Theme" - Mr. Bungle
 
 
 
stoner_witch
13 November 2008 @ 07:51 pm
 
 
 
stoner_witch
26 October 2008 @ 05:55 pm

Joshua Tree_0105
Originally uploaded by MKUltraFamily