Where’s Your Mind at Night: A dive into cancer and insomnia

Terminal illness effects the mind in some not so obvious ways. If you’ve got cancer of any kind certainly you’ve done deep, soul searching, looking for your own priorities and answers to life’s big philosophical questions. Yet even if you’re not terminally ill, there must’ve been times when you thought about some deep stuff, right? I mean thinking is usually what keeps us from sleep. But for those who suffer from many illnesses and not just cancer- take fibromyalgia for instance – the discomfort from pain and aches keeps you from getting comfortable enough to rest your mind and body.

Then there’s a very big mystery of why beyond these two major reasons we with stage 4 incurable can have insomnia. Nights not spent thinking about anything in particular and not physically uncomfortable, but just laying there unable to sleep for no apparent reason. I’ve not seen any science to study this form of insomnia. I have a guess that we really want to not miss any opportunities to live while we’re alive. Does sleep really keep us from those precious hours we could be doing things we can’t do when when are dead? It’s important and restorative for our bodies to heal and our minds to write memories on the big gray hard drive.

Sleep is for the dead, or so I’ve heard it said. And then there’s the little issue of wanting to experience life well rested and in a clear state of mind. Go figure – another paradox.

I’ve spent countless hours in deep meditation. On big questionas about mortality, about the importance of “things” VS. “people”, about letting go of unimportant emotional baggage, and forgiveness of myself, others, the universe and whatever my conception of a spiritual entity is like. I’m not going into that one. It’s been wise to not bring the r-bomb onto the blog (religion is best left with the p-bomb -politics which DO KEEP ME UP most nights because our beloved democracy is coming to a quick end as is my life – with a very screwed up, monstrous, interminable metastatic thing in a house it does not belong inside killing the very body that keeps it alive – it dies with its host).

However, just the simple fact of knowing my disease will kill me someday, that death is not some vague notion of inevitability, my thoughts turn more to dying and what plans I can and cannot make. I assume us stage 4 terminal endurers have these thoughts more often than people who have stage 0 through 3 “curable” cancers. But you tell me in the comments section below since I can only assume what I do not know.

Here’s a list of some things I think about throughout the course of a night:

  1. Should or shouldn’t I purchase the larger, economy size of soap, shampoo and conditioner? Will I survive long enough to use it all especially having really short hair now?

  2. I wonder if should subscribe to magazines or continue buying them off the shelf.

  3. Is it worth it to buy a new bicycle?

  4. Does my will still make sense?

  5. Should I visit the place I want to be naturally buried under a new born redwood tree in the Santa Cruz mountains or will it make me too upset? Shall I just instruct Craig to do what I want rather than choosing the space in advance?

  6. Do I want to reconsider becoming a marble instead? There’s a company that will take your body, burn it without polluting the environment and mix it with glass to create a beautiful paperweight or set of marbles from your remains. Pretty neat. You can be carried in your widower’s jeans’ pockets along with his keys.

  7. If I’m a marble and Craig dies what would happen to marble me? Will I just wind up in some antique shop along with a bunch of other marbles?

  8. Pink Floyd or Led Zeppelin?

  9. Watching a movie or rereading a book seems heretical.

  10. Put the ice cream down or finish this here pint… Oops. Don’t ask for any it’s done.

  11. Did I choose the right adoptive parent and back up parent for my cat-son Simon?

  12. Can I haunt people after I am dead and if I can who should I haunt?

  13. Conversely I’d really want to visit people I love. There’s some serious practical jokes I’d love to play on my OCD husband.

  14. And I’d love to torture his ex wife who spent years trying to break us up and also tells my stepsons I don’t really have cancer I just want to sponge off their dad and I am a gold digger. I wish. I have some lessons she needs to learn in my opinion. And who better than someone she haunted while I was alive!

  15. I’d love to see a few more places and have some experiences yet to do. The northern lights is one. Going back to Paris and France generally and traveling all of the UK. Meeting the people I’ve only been able to interact with on my blog or social media in person to secure my friendships and make them whole. The UK trip will help a lot with that one. There’s a lot more but these stand out.

  16. Can I rent an RV and drive around the US and see my old friends one more time before I die. I don’t have the money and I don’t know if I’ll have the time. I wish they’d be able to come see me. But if I’m not worth their time and money…well should I make an effort? I’ve spent a lot of time filling and u packing a lot of emotional baggage on this one in particular.

  17. Should I get a walk in bathtub? Will that make me an official senior citizen?

  18. Do I continue to keep trying some new somewhat tangential hobbies to my current hobbies? Will I have the time to be good at anything else other than what I’m already good at? Like gardening and growing food for us – there’s a lot to learn and who’d tend fo it when I am dead?

Whats on your list of things that keep you up at night? Can you relate to my list and my thoughts with regards to why we don’t sleep beyond the two big ones – mental and physical pain?

I’m pretty upset with a few people, several companies especially AT&T, and excited about a few activities and people who will visit in the next few months. And nervous about my upcoming radiation treatments on my vertebrae.

That’s just today’s mind antics so on that notes I’m going to go ground myself on the soil outside then go take a nice long bath. Fuck all the chores today. And fuck you cancer.

Losing My Words

Renting this space, a greedy silence hangs a picture’s worth of words

Everyone could see that

Thousands thousands

swallowed whole by memory’s avarice.

Wishing wells charge a nickel for spitting change at our feet.

Copper coins disguising restless dreams for your thoughtlessness.

Ascending into the ravenous night

It’s darker still craving the whispering of sleep

Chattering then erased by the hands of desert heat

and devouring each frame by the sun’s first light.

Expensive gifts in extending hands

the size of a Harem’s ego. I can hear someone in the receiver

who’s listening in and plagiarizing quotes.

Hiding far away in a bustling bazaar

Where running and tripping into stalls and onto vendors

indicate a thief tried and given a sentence.

Reading between the lines

I only want what’s mine.

Leaping over puddles of words, dreaming I’m

a pink dancer whirling above

A hundred piece band playing

paragraphs behind that bow tied man, accenting notes and striking up chords.

In a pit they pluck, strike, beat, bow, blow, then

Towards the audience men stand and bend like commas

At the waist, ladies genuflect.

Holding onto their middle class accents audience exclaiming brilliance – encore.

Long and short vowels cover their heads like hats.

Musical words left behind all the birds

As they fly over a zoo of prepositions.

Phrases dangled from around the neck

Of a depressed lexicographer.

His tears streaking down his white powdered

Face. Why so sad wordsmith? He looked up

And sighed. Oh my dear what’s happened to my canon?

To our language? It’s all but died – tears streaming into a run-on life’s sentence.

Sitting atop the bridge of his nose helping him ny gathering any

Remaining portmanteaus.

Trying to rescue each noun and verb from

The grated gateway to the sewers below, too late to save them

From washing away- forgetting all the prepositions.

I haven’t a clue which path to take, from where, in or on whom, towards what end?

Explaining forever – masked, patiently you listened

superiorly, knowingly. Yet if I knew the definitions of ”milk”

And ”salt” is that all I’d add to the conversation?

Then three letters, frozen into a word, not steaming out of the kettle nor washing me clean of any guilt.

Still and quietly hanging inside the blackest cave I can recall stalagmites and stalactites and which hang and which protrude.

If I misunderstood you correctly, earthly teeth can be very dangerous,

Yet losing my directives for heavens sake, my pronouns – I got it all wrong.

For she, he, them

Or we and us, yet neither him nor her,

Could spend days waiting for anyone

not to remember.

Image from cafe press – please support the artist here https://www.cafepress.com/+funny_cancer_chemo_brain_blue_mini_button,1603297489

It’s Another Thing Now

I am willing to stand in gentle rain at sunset
But not to stand in a storm of sorrow and regret.

It was one thing to own all the mornings yet to come,

Before I knew the darkness would yield to the sun.

It is another thing now.

I am willing to see the sparkle in my loves blue eyes

But not to shield those dark with fear of life’s demise.

With honest hearts I will share the depths of my pain,

But with doubting minds I’ve no time left to explain.

It is another thing now.

My time is limited and the day’s run late,

And I’m too busy finding moments of joy to follow hardened dates.

There’s no time to waste on those who demand plans written in pen —
It was one thing when I had a calendar without end.

It is another thing now.