Ode to Healing – Part One

John Updike


A scab
is a beautiful thing — a coin
the body has minted, with an invisible motto:
In God We Trust.
Our body loves us,
and, even while the spirit drifts dreaming,
works at mending the damage that we do.
That heedless Ahab the conscientious mind
drives our thin-skinned hull onto the shoals;
a million brilliant microscopic engineers below
shore up the wound with platelets,
lay down the hardening threads of fibrin,
send in the lymphocytes, and supervise
those cheery swabs, the macrophages, in their clean-up.
Break a bone, and fibroblasts
knit together the blastema in days.
Catch a cold, and the fervid armies
swarm to blanket our discomfort in sleep.
For all these centuries of fairy tails poor men
butchered each other in the name of cure,
not knowing an iota of what the mute brute of body knew.

— Continued —

For further reading:
Updike The Jew



A Life In Fragments

Fragment ManI’ve been writing living my life in disconnected fragments.   I’m whiplashed.  Thrown back and forth like Freddy Grey of Baltimore infamy.  No flow:  tried to express things so primitive, so primeval, so…   …   …Neanderthal utterances; grunts and growls, would sound right at home in my screaming painfulness.   There are no words…   … …before there were words, there was the pain.  Nine point three, in my humble estimation,  on the Comparative Pain Richter Scale.  Yes, it rocked me.

Torquemada’s Iron Maiden, if it didn’t kill you, mortally wounded your soul.   You’d make any devil’s bargain; piss yourself, beg and plead, for relief.  And I did.


 Yes, I survived.  Not only I:  many others have survived as well.  I’m proud and humbled to be among them.
Pain at that level is gone.  For now.  More of the same is bound to follow.  I am a hearty, full-bodied man.  But also a vulnerable man.  My names are legion:  colchicine, allopurinol, hydrochlorothiazide, digoxin, benazepril, metoprolol, oxycodone,clonidine, warfarin, fentanyl,  simvastatin, nortriptyline.  Slowly, ever so slowly I turn; turn towards my struggle towards health.  My physical therapist, and The Lord, are my shepherds.  Wit sustains me when muscles weaken.  Melancholy is a guilty treasure.  Prudently mined; it’s a gift that keeps on giving.
Along the trails thru the frontier, lonely outposts were manned to give succor for the weary explorer.  I’m at one of those existential waystations now, waiting for few moments to catch my breath.  A new day is before me, but it’s getting late.  Got to get on my way.
Saddle up, Taxi Dog!  It’s time to ride.

Has It Been Six Weeks?

It seems like six months. Since I’ve written you. And I hate to complain. But its the pain. 4:12 AM. Four increments of sleep from midnight to now. Not acute pain. I’ve HAD acute pain in the past. Sit along the bed in my wheelchair, rocking back and forth, slowly, like praying (‘davening’; like the old Orthodox Jews at Yom Kipoor, lost in a different painful orthodoxy) for relief. Thanks God its not that kind of pain. Not now. Now its the kind of pain that one has to concentrate upon, meditate upon:  counting one’s breaths, twelve at a time: one… … …and two… … …and three… … …and four… … …and five… … …(what was that phone number I was supposed to remember when I woke up in the mor… … …shit!!)… … …one… … …two… … …three… … …four… … …(“Little Boy Blue”, that old Johnny Mathis hit. What was the last line? And now I can’t get it out of my head!! “Going out of my head, over you-oo, night and day, over you-oo” Night and day; was that Cole Porter or Ira Gershwin Porgy and Bess is starting at the Music Center next week can I afford tickets have to check my checking account… … …shit!!)one… … …two… … …three… … …four… … ….

Where was I?

—   —   —

No, not that kind of pain.

But NOW; now I can sleep!!


Maybe I’ll write more in the morning.

Norman Is In Ireland (apologies to R.J.Squirrel)

Falling.  Bottomless.  Tumbling.
painful joints;


to know You.
I is nothing with out U.

Writing this,
like this,
formless, meaningless….



No meaning.

All I know, can know, hope to know, hear, see, feel:
no form. 


Pin-ball wizard!
Damaged hands.
Motion. Memories of motion; e-motion.
Broken/English, back-hand, left-hand, no hand.
No spin; dead ball.

Wish it’d “Go”!
But it won’t.


Medical Status Report:

Its the harness that’s hurting the dog !!

With little commentary, here goes…   …   …

atrial fibrillation; stroke multiple, (2000, 2002, right hemiplegia); bipolar depression; sick sinus syndrome (pacemaker replacement); gout; fall from a motorized wheelchair;  sleep apnea; squamous cell carcinoma, calf pain (recurrent MRSA antibiotic treatment resistance infection, w/scarring, edema, hospitalization); rib pain (under investigation; abdominal pain (rule out gallbladder, pancreas, refer to gastroenterology); chest pain (under investigation); vascular insufficiency; repetitive wrist injury Vicodin/APAP 4 to 6 hrs) w/referral to rheumetology); referral to home health nursing; bi-weekly Coumadin evaluations.


Not to mention the general malaise that’s been plaguing me all this fall and winter.  There’s a newspaper cartoon strip I’ve seen in the Los Angeles area (and in other areas I’m sure) in which a minimalistic dog’s clenched jaws are mouthing the slogan of the day.  Some days the caption is a newsworthy commentary or opinion.  Some days a philosophical tidbit.  What ever it is, the dog’s reaction is always the same, the caption is always the same, the dog’s expression, the same:  Grrrr!!

I am that dog.  Always clenching.  Always grimacing.  Always pained.  ALWAYS!!  Always

And I’m tired.  If I don’t stop grimacing, if I don’t stop fighting; I’ll die.  I’ll die anyway.  Any way the end is the same.  I’m tired of fighting.  I’m scared of NOT fighting.  I’ve been fighting for months…   …   …the months I’ve not been writing for.  That’s why I’ve not been writing.

My hands hurt.  My HAND hurts.  The ONE I have to use!!  The one I HAVE.  That one hurts.  From OVERUSE!!  Seven points on the ten point pain scale says its time to stop.  For today.  Because my hand hurts.

Grrr!!  Grrr!!  Grrr!!




A Comic’s ‘Whoa’s

I was going to call this post “My ‘Achilles Heel’ IS My Heel“.  I keep looking for the punch line in a life that is, for all of us, bitter/sweet.  But sometimes there’s real pathos.
I stop myself in mid-gallows-laughter.  Because I like the ‘Taxi Dog’ life I’ve created for myself.  Where everything can be overcome…   …   …some day, some day.  Deep in my heart, I do believe.
Some day.  But not this day. This day, I’m in real pain.  Physical and emotional.  First the physical.
During one of my many operations, I developed a bed-sore, a decubitus ulcer, on my heel, that pains me from time to time.  This is that time!!
Watch me as I rationalize.  It was really painful.  I was being treated at the UCLA Pain Management Center where they know the difference between ‘real’ and ‘imagined’ pain.  I was given Fentanyl [“…a potent synthetic opioid that is primarily used as an analgesic.”] and Oxycontin.  I weaned myself off them.  I Hate Being Dependent!!  And FUCK YOU!!!!, if you try to change my mind.
But this hurts.
I can get this taken care by Medicare‘s itinerant podiatrist in two weeks.  Cool.  Two weeks.
I question myself constantly.  One constant question is this:  Am I being brave?  Or just carrying a “brave cloak”, like Obi-Won Keno-be, with which he clouds men’s minds.  Am I an old desert hermit, or a Jedi Knight? A grouchy old man, or a hero?  A Taxi Dog, happy-go-lucky, happy-to-be- alive aphasic diarist, or a charlatan?
Tonight, I’m just an old, tired shepherd, looking for a place to sleep out of the rain.
And emotional…
My wife’s depression weighs on me.  Funny to tell you this now, when its finally lessening…   …   …slightly.  We grew up together from our teens.  Now, in our late 60’s, I’m feeling more and more free…   …   to express myself, learn, meet people, dance with life.  She also has worked, hard, at being a wife and mother,  mediator, adviser, friend to all, even her enemies.  Now, when she could be free, she binds herself with obligations and responsibilities.  So determined is she in her social role, she refuses to unencumber herself…   …   …a yells at me for encouraging her exploration.
This too will pass.  But for now…   …   …for now?  How many tomorrows are missed in fear of our todays.
And my dear and bestest friend, Fish, at heaven’s door with his new-found lady friend from Switzerland [of all places], is over-analyzing all the “good” in his life…   …   …and souring his opportunity to be loved.  Like him, and my wife, and probably myself, although its always difficult to see one’s “self”; we’re all trying to be the warrior in our lives.  [Maybe , in my wife’s case, its Princess Leah.]
Its Monday, May 14, 2012, 12:16 AM, in my life, and that’s whats in my mind.

I Should Care

Chet and Carol Baker as seen in the 1988 documentary Let's Get Lost

I’m too tired to edit, so you guys will have to take my APHASIA and blow it out your respective asses!

i’m going thru a new little dip in mood.  a  hiccup.   don’t know if yts a dip.  its 5:55 AM and I can’t sleep.  Uh-ho, little taxi, be careful.  my shrink says to me that i have pourous boumdaries…that i “attach very easily”.  notice she doesn’t say “Too Easily” but the implication is there.

“Fish” is yn extreme medical pain.  iyts hard to explain p[ain but once you’ve been there, you know how it is.   percidan, nerve blocks, gathering emotional/phsyical/spiritial/cramping/existialal/hopekessness-inducing, … if you’ve been there tou know.  if you haven’t you can’t imagibe in your wildest nightmares.  pain.  And there is nothing io can do other tham BE THERE for him.  Talk about heplessness.

Amd Tennis Bunnie, http://tenniebunnie.wordpress.com, in another kind of pain, so strong, so angry, so beautiful.  sometimes we make our own hells but more oftern, out hells are produced for us by cercumstances out of our control.

—–     —–     —–

I should care.


And   I   Do!

”]Cover of "Chet Baker - Let's Get Lost [Re...

(Could have been Amy Weibhouse.  There’s all-kinda-pains!)

—–      —–     —–

Even hpyo-manics feel pain, he said to himself,  sarcastically. I’ve been fylying high without drugs myself forever.  But I have to be careful.  There’s only so much running-of-ot-my-mouth I can do before I get overbearingly maudlin.  i;m playing u came out of a dream on pandodra radio so i can cry myself out of this mood.

Where was I?

oh, yeah.  We I can go back to sleep now.  its 7:12 AM.  And I have accomplissed what, exactly???  “Fish” still has to go to work.  With pian.  With percidan…which he hates morally , intellectually, spiritually.

And Tennis Bunnie.  Who ‘will’ defeat her pain with her enmourmus will!  Which, wehther she believes it or not, is also self-destructive.  Where Will she let herself go?  What can I do except watch.

AND WHAT ACOUT ME.  lIKE i’VE SAID before, I can write myself a mean paragraph.  The pen may be mighties than the sword, but my aphasic pen writes  loke THIS in the morning without any make-up.  Bruised and Ugly!

Hepllessness sucks.  for the heplleess helper, and the heplless heplee!

So  fuck all of you.  I’m going back to sleep!

Now pandoda is playing “When Your Lover Has Gone”!  Double Fuck You!!!

7:57 AM