Canferatu, The Monster at My Door

WARNING: I’m going to bitch a little. Maybe a lot. I admit, I’m in pain of several kinds and with facing #chemotherapy again, and the evacuation of a total of 10 liters of ascites  fluid from my abdomen adding 20lbs to my stomach and causing my body not only discomfort but all kinds of fun side effects including severe constipation. Ascites meanders through the abdominal cavities, which fill up with the remains of a body’s lubrication in the peritoneum, leaving less room for the organs including the intestines. See the container of yellowish fluid above? That’s one of four two-liter bottles removed from my big round belly three weeks ago. Additionally, I had four and a half more liters removed yesterday.

My body had enough room for food for first time in three weeks, long past a bad case of being “hangry” (hungry-angry). My prescious neighbor and dear friend Lisa, made me simple soup of chicken broth and won tons. The hunger with which I ate it rivaled Henry VIII mauling a turkey leg as he’s so often portrayed. I’m feeling like total shit right now, no pun intended. I feel physically and emotionally wrung out. I appreciate your patience and please know I do not mean to condescend: I’m just kick off my big girl shoes and put on my fuzzy slippers and whine.

#Stage4cancer brings to mind a place a B movie might portray, as you’ve probably noted in some of my other pity party posts. In my latest film, my 1960s MST3K worthy vampire hell ride, Canferatu. Canferatu is an inescapable, slow yet fast paced vampiric monster approaching magically everywhere I turn. Chills run down my spine as I hear the ugly abhorrent thing rapping, scraping on my door. I realize it’s only the wind picking up, frightening me as a tree branch runs its claws along the windows of my imagination,

Am I dreaming in color of the darkest places my consciousness has to offer on tonight’s mind menu? No. No horror film, no inadvertent wind blown tree debris, and definitely not a B movie. Reality sets in at some point between, “are you fucking kidding me?” and the desert test of an atom bomb blowing up underground and taking out a life I once knew. A life defined. One with possibilities of working full time, seeing friends, hearing from family, trips and travel, and a whole lotta love. As unsalvageable though your existence may feel at this very moment – if you don’t have stage 4 cancer consider all systems pretty good, if not fantastic!

I feel awful when I can’t feel much empathy for people with controllable, curable diseases who do nothing to seek out readily available medical attention. Even when the hands of help reach out to them to provide everything they require to find a healthy self, they choose to lie down in puddles of self created doom and pity. As I approach the diagnosis’ three year mark at stage four, I become more hardened to their plights. An empath, I know that their pain is very real pain. I know it’s as real as the device you’re reading my post on, yet I see possibility and hope. Depression and anxiety sufferers see darkness visible. As I scratch and scrape to stay alive and keep Canferatu from sucking me dry, my partner has the audacity to pull at my heels and bring me tumbling down with him into the black box he lives in day after day. And night after night without so much as a kiss or a hug anymore.

It all feels so very unfair. I want to make it all just stop because this simply cannot be real. Like Canferatu. What kind of unique inequity caused these circumstances in which I face my end of life head on while he faces his future head down? For three solid years, I represent the root cause of every single one of his problems. These days I’m overly embarrassed to even suggest sexuality as a topic to discuss. Who would embark on a talk to let him know how I don’t want my end of days bereft of human touch?

When my psyche owns up to having grace enough to know when to get off this crazy thing, I will, but I love him enough to have hope and to stay.

There’s days when his light comes on and his blue eyes sparkle and shine like two stars in the sky. Come on you, just wake up and shine with me for a little while and let’s shut this nightmare down. Coupling up begins, but never ends, with sex. Love in all its permutations requires an orchestration of high and low and mid range notes all syncopated in time, day in and day out. However, there’s a time not too far away when the cortisol highway in my body caused by the stress of this heinous cloud raining down on us both will end, as highways all must. I’ll have to leave him sitting here alone. If he refuses to seek help he so desperately needs much longer, I’ll miss him, and I wonder if that heartbreak is enough to cause a whole new cortisol highway to open up, allowing my cancer to take me over and cause a horrible, unintended wreck.

Does cancer extract my heart from my body for study by science and remain in a clear beaker like the one holding the ascites on some dusty shelf behind an outdated computer book from 1999? My loneliness and frustration are at an all time high. Can you tell? No, I have nothing he can gain from and to his mind, all he does is give and I cannot bring anything worthwhile to the relationship anymore, so why don’t I stop fucking up a good thing and just shut up?

Okay.

The Country of Illness

*Fearless (David Gilmour, Roger Waters)

The country of Illness
In a town called sick
Squabbling or wordless,
Rounded outwardly thick.

Bellicose brick towers
Bruised smokey blue
Indian summer showers
Over babies bathed anew.

Watery heads doused by the sea
Drowning deep in kitchen sinks
Forks napkins politeness and please
Cheeks red as lipstick all pinched and pink.

A fat bike tire, a bent back bow
Digestion, plagues, and like tissue
Blowing out each open widow
Oh, he whispered: maybe I’ll kiss you.

In Illness, my country
Sick towns allegiance to my space
I swim free as concrete
Cold deep water displace.

(Fearlessly the idiot* dying
Yet with whom that scares me so.
Reap later you enemy spying —
And now too too late to sow.)

Playing the Cat

Scene 1: Enter Stage Right, Cat

This year Cat knocked Mary down.
Mother of Jesus, Carpets, Jews.
Last year, Cat ran off with the Husband—
Taking Joseph’s coat, too.
Not seen since the incident,
Neither man, nor carpet, nor cape.
Cat, exit stage.
Three years now since,
Cat, spuriously,
Dragged down a turkey.
Bigger than his head, feasts Cat,
Dinner of greasy fowl, used and
Orphaned. All shiny fat prickly sinews
Cold kitchen floor decor.
We retired in living color,
Cat waits on sock rugs,
Chasing bugs and saints.

Eyes devour the Lollipop Guild,
Feasting on colorful Witches brews
Enter Wizard. Sleep in straw
The tin cans sending queues
Heads with curlers, spitting nails—
Shake and roar, black as night.
White pictures of spoiled babies.
“My,” gasping grandmother
Hungry, yet we search the air.
Relief, at long last,
A manger all in tact,
Still missing:
Carpentry’s first common
Union worker.
Cat stole him three years past.
In stretches morning, you gripe
“Such an imprint for a wife.”
(I am the knife.)
Cat, please take leave —
Please leave, leave the coffee.
Four years back, for I
Then me. We sighed, “no cat.”
Dreams of dances on tippy toes,
A vision of homes built round,
All trees and ornaments and we’s.
Petting slowly, backhanded
Head to tail.

Cat purrs waltzing,
Jesus asleep now, Joseph
Warmly herd sheep sows, Mary
Wailed and cried still.
Windows shuttered,
Elbows under chins, on sills.
We keep all the straw for a manger.
We each pull out one for luck:
I forgot to count the flock tonight —
Up to number 10 to silence
My weeping, I shivered.
The Egyptian visions,
The escaping slaves —
The sundown desert —
They eyed green knaves.
The riddle the answer the
Four Footed beastly things.
The long tail sweeping
Dust up on wings.

Nestled pyramids, soldiers of sand,
No servants hand, no strangers.
No one died today, no saints
Made. Cat wore the Ankh,
Carried the dog headed staff,
Drawing along the sea crooked to
And fro on the sand, wand dragging
Wagging a tail — Happy in now,
Yet name him Memento.
Cat, built it all alone, he meant
To say, “I made that,” in peace
Aligning November’s
Surrendering sun.
Cat dreams of Cat things:
Play, sleep, sun, warm, eat.

Return to your lines, to track back
Over three years, to four.
In scene two: sorrow and worry,
Cat pictures Mary, Joe, and the baby boy.
Rejoice, back in the trunk
Running for the fifth term monks.
Cat: teeth glitter with hope
Of centurions and scarabs run.
Cat, to you surrendered or given
From your own meaty dinner,
pulled. Drowned asunder
All in a Dead Sea, deep
Asleep, dreaming wonder.

Swaying, overhead wire flying
Cat awake and wicked green
Snipped, he nips at grass.
His game — Cricket.
Slow, moribund, drying spice scent.
Boring holes, hearing voices.
Charming. Then crack —
A bat. Eyes followed us
On western war bliss.
Then rob the sun, beaming
Warm like a kiss.
The Queens pearls go dark.
Yet to remember:
Do not face
Anything larger than you
May forget
To enter: open this moment.
Exit the Cat.