Dear Jim Bakker, Go Fuck Yourself.

Jim Bakker, a fan of the fanatical Jan Porter and her ‘heartbeat’ bill, has somehow come to the conclusion that there were two scientists who would have cured cancer, but they were aborted by evil wenches who had the unthinkable, autonomy. Naturally, Jehovah was the one who decided to “send” these two scientists, rather than doing something straightforward, like simply eliminating all cancers, which would be rather amazing, as it would require our cells to behave differently across our various lifetimes. Or Jehovah could have simply dropped a bit of super-duper brilliance on any of the current scientists researching cancer. Lots of choice there, to say the least.

Jim Bakker claimed that God has sent two scientists to earth who would have found the cure for cancer, but they were both aborted before that ever happened.

Bakker was interviewing extremist Religious Right activist Janet Porter and former Rep. Tom DeLay about their efforts to get Congress to pass Porter’s “Heartbeat Bill,” a radical piece of legislation that Porter brags will outlaw abortion “before the mother even knows she’s pregnant” and will be “the foot in the door” to eventually completely outlawing abortion. Bakker declared that Porter’s bill is “the most important thing going on in the world right now.”

Janet Porter is a dangerous fanatic, whose life desire is to stomp on women, ensure they will never have bodily autonomy, and she has no problem with women dying, she considers that suitable punishment for any women who dares to think her life is her own, and that she has the right to make her own medical decisions in privacy. If we actually had a government, rather than a regime, she might not be so worrying, but considering the regime currently in power, there’s a great deal to dread.

“This program could be an important cog to stop abortion in this country,” he added. “The thing we have done in America, we have killed our babies. We have killed the future of America. I told you the other day about a story, someone said they asked God, ‘Why haven’t we had a cure for cancer?’ And He said back, ‘I gave you two scientists that had the cure and both of them were aborted.’”

Oh FFS, the effing helicopter story. This is the stupid christian’s answer to anything and everything. I have seen and read so many fucking versions of that idiocy over the years, I’d like to cheerfully strangle the idiot who started it. Most christians think that’s just brilliant, which tells you a lot about most christians. As for a “cure for cancer”, there’s no such thing, and it’s not likely there ever will be. That’s because cancer is not one disease, it’s hundreds of diseases. Even within a category of a specific cancer, there are different types of that specific cancer. Cancers are born of cell mutations, and there have to be a number of different mutations before anything turns into cancer. Cell mutations often happen which don’t turn into cancer. Some cancers are easier to treat than others, and have a high remission rate. Research into cancer is constant, and it’s a never-ending race against time. A great deal of progress has been made, and a great many people are able to live their lives out, rather than die an untimely death.

For there to be ‘a cure’ for all cancers, that would qualify as a miracle, because no one treatment is effective against all cancers, that’s why current cancer treatments are targeted. So, Jehovah’s “two scientists” wouldn’t have been able to do shit where cancer is concerned. Once again, the sheer weakness and ineffectiveness of the christian god is what stands out. What’s the fucking point of being a god, if you go to the trouble to imbue a couple of blastocysts with miracle performance, but you couldn’t choose people who not only truly wanted a child, but had the necessary circumstances to have that child, and see that it gets a good education to boot? Or you know, wiggle a godly pinky finger and take care of the cancer business yourself?

To a christian, it doesn’t matter what the fuck happens in any given situation, their nasty, pointless god always gets the credit, especially when credit belongs to the people who make a life and death difference to someone.

As someone struggling with cancer treatment, this fucking attitude is infuriating, to say the least. A great many people over the years have helped to make brilliant leaps in treatment, and if I make it through treatment and come out clean on the other end, any gratitude I may have will belong to them, not the ugly ass god of christians. It is very christian to decide to use something like cancer to try to force the regressive oppression of women though, because cancer is still the big fucking scary, and too many christians are stupid and gullible enough to buy such awful dreck as some sort of skillful reasoning.

RWW has the story.

Off For The Day.

Yeah, it’s that time again. For once, we were scheduled for a decent time, and I took advantage to sleep in, heading out now. If all goes well, we’ll be back very late; if things don’t go well, I’m sure you’ll all hear about it. (I developed a…complication yesterday.)

Anyroad, I leave you all in the more than capable hands of Voyager & Charly. Have a good Monday, everyone.

Behind the Iron Curtain part 4 – Healthcare

These are my recollections of a life behind the iron curtain. I do not aim to give perfect and objective evaluation of anything, but to share my personal experiences and memories. It will explain why I just cannot get misty eyed over some ideas on the political left and why I loathe many ideas on the right.


Content warning, graphical description of illness.

 

Ever since childhood my health was not great. I was allergic to almost anything one can be allergic to, I got sunburned in an instant and to add insult to injury I was wearing glasses. Twice I got blind due to allergy – once when mosquitoes bit my face and it has swollen so much that I could not open my eyes, and once when we were outside with school class and the teacher has allowed us to go into a field of rye. Where a piece of awn got stuck under my eye and again caused my lids to swell to the point I could not see. I had to be led out of the forest by my classmates, and we had to keep in shade because light has made my eyes hurt like hell.

That was not the worst of it. At early age I have developed chronic tonsilitis. It could be treated with antibiotics, but it did not work in the long run. The illnesses came more and more often and a pattern has developed – two to maybe three weeks of relatively normal life, then suddenly my neck tonsils got swollen and I vomited pus and congealed blood during the night wishing I die. Then I developed fever and I could barely eat for a week during which I was on the antibiotics. After the antibiotics (penicillin mostly) have done what they could I was weakly for another week and I had to abstain from any physically challenging tasks and I was excused from gym classes.

Thus about two years have passed in this rhythm. My growth was stunted and I was not behind in school only thanks to my high intelligence and a help from our neighbour’s sister, who was a teacher and tutored me one year during my illnesses.

The problem was of course that I should have been sent for tonsilectomy after the second or third bout of antibiotics at the most. The children’s physician for our district insisted on not doing this because it might, in her words, cause asthma later on. So when the antibiotics did not seem to work in the long-term after years of torturing me, she tried to prescribe a “preventional” course of penicillin, where I was taking half a pill each day. Needles to say this did not work at all, quite the opposite. I developed an allergy to penicillin and another antibiotic had to be used from then on.

She also tried to send me for a month on a recuperation vacation stay in the mountains. Something that was intended for children living in smog-covered cities. Needless to say it was useless for a country kid and I was sick during that vacation too.

My parents have only vocational education and they lacked the knowledge to challenge the physician’s authority. They did the right thing – they delegated the problem to the expert. Unfortunately the expert was an idiot. I do not blame my parents in the least, but I refuse to greet the physician on the rare occasion I meet her although she seems to think I should like her. She should have known better.

I had a stroke of luck in that I almost died and when my parents had to call an ambulance, the arriving doctor was the general practitioner for our district. And he was competent so he explained to them that the antibiotics are now doing nothing for me and are only de-facto poisoning me. And that tonsilectomy is the only viable long-term option. After I got tonsilectomy, the last in a long string of tortures, I could not eat properly for a few weeks, and I had to avoid some foods for a few years, but the wounds healed, one tonsil even grew back, and I only had tonsilitis once or twice ever since and never as serious as it once was.

My story highlights both the strengths and the weaknesses of the system.

First strength was accessibility. Each district had a general practitioner, gynaecologist, dentist and children’s physician that rarely were more than two bus-stops or half an hour walking distance away. Hospitals were relatively regularly dispersed, so the travel to one was not too long either. Getting to a doctor was usually not a problem. The same for apothecaries. Whenever I was sick, we could mostly just walk to the doctor and pick the medicaments on the way back.

Second strength was availability. My parents did never need to worry about the costs of any of this. Everything was paid for in taxes, and everybody had available all the care they needed (even the dentist). And they got paid leave to take care for me whenever needed. That does not mean there were no economical decisions made – some rare illnesses might not be treated because the costs were too high for the state to afford. But nobody had to worry about slightly complicated flu bankrupting them, or having their teeth pulled out because they cannot afford the repair.

But the weakness was that people had their assigned physicians and there was no real choice. There was no “second opinion” really available and people did not even know that such thing exists. So if your physician was an idiot, you were foobared.

But I still think that this is one of the things the regime actually got mostly, even though not completely, right.

The Sleep Paralysis Of Nicolas Bruno.

© Nicolas Bruno, all rights reserved.

© Nicolas Bruno, all rights reserved.

The matters of our psyche and our dreams, in particular, permeate the work of Nicolas Bruno not only as a phenomenon but moreover as the articulation of personal experience. The allusive, surreal and haunting works he creates are embodiments of the state in between waking and sleeping. They are an effect of the artist’s torment; the situation in which he is constrained to embrace the subconscious and its perils while being paralyzed in bed. Although the works of Nicolas Bruno are quite personal and might seem hush, bizarre and even violent, they are explicitly suggestive and are calling the observer to participate in the sense of enrolling their own associations or perhaps dealing with their own anxieties and fears.

 

© Nicolas Bruno, all rights reserved.

© Nicolas Bruno, all rights reserved.

Photography As Therapy.

Nicolas Bruno was born in 1993 in Northport, New York, a small harbor community located on Long Island. He studied at Purchase College and received his BFA in Photography in 2015. His studio is located in Northport, so practically all of the preparations for the shoots are taking place there, as well as postproduction. Since all of his practice is very much devoted to the symbolic of dreams, the artist keeps the dream journal and starts each new series by analyzing previous experiences. As a matter of fact, his creative process begins with in-depth planning, but the very shoot is far more spontaneous and open to experimentation.

 

© Nicolas Bruno, all rights reserved.

© Nicolas Bruno, all rights reserved.

The Sleep Paralysis of Nicolas Bruno.

The foundation of his photographic experimentation lays in Bruno’s struggle with the sleep paralysis, from which he has been suffering for almost ten years. It is a common phenomenon occurring in between wakefulness and sleep, in which the body becomes immobile and it often causes severe hallucinations. This state of inescapability forced Nicolas Bruno of finding some sort of solution and with the advice of a therapist he found it through creative expression. Therefore, he started working on surreal self-portraiture as a therapeutic translation of night tremors in order to cope with these fears and simultaneously share these familiar emotions of anxiety, suspense, uncertainty, and danger.

© Nicolas Bruno, all rights reserved.

© Nicolas Bruno, all rights reserved.

Nicolas Bruno’s works are haunting, evocative, and terribly poignant. They not only express the explicit fears brought to Mr. Bruno in his paralyzing sleep, they also express implicit fears and anxiety of people in general. Each photograph is a masterpiece of unspoken fear, and when viewing, you simply cannot help but to feel, in a very small way, what the night and sleep is like for Mr. Bruno. Sleep Paralysis is not common, and unfortunately, not well understood either. Many people do have an isolated incident of sleep paralysis. I had a period in my teens into my early twenties of sleep paralysis, and it’s terrifying, to say the very least. Nicolas Bruno has come up with a unique way of dealing with it, and I think he deserves a much wider audience for this amazing work.

You can read and see more of Mr. Bruno’s bio here, and his portfolio here. There’s also this all too brief video:

Anatomy Atlas Part 4 – Skull

This is no Jolly Roger, but it looks grim nevertheless. I do not think any other part of human skeleton is more evocative than skulls. And I wonder sometimes whether this is a purely a cultural thing, or whether there is something innate in us that associates skulls with death, danger and general unpleasantness. There might be, because our brains are clearly predisposed to recognizing facial features.

Content warning for description of a very unpleasant medical procedure.

Skull Drawing

©Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

The four dots at the jaw bones – bellow the eye sockets in each maxilla and two on the chin on mandibula –  and two dots above the eye sockets are points where the nervus trigeminus exits the protective shell of the skull to innervate facial muscles. That is why these points are more sensitive to pressure than other parts of the face. Professor Kos told us that an inflammation of this nerve is allegedly the most painful illness there is. The whole face hurts and a feather caressing the cheek may feel like being burned with hot poker. One way to reduce the pain in very severe inflammation cases (I do not remember whether this was an old procedure or one or still in use) was to inject a powerful neurotoxin directly into these points. Extremely painful procedure, but one that provided the needed long relief. He told us the patients would scream and sometimes pass out. And the neurotoxin used? Alcohol.

Nervus trigeminus is near surface once more just behind mandibula, right bellow the ear lobe. This knowledge has helped me twice in self-defence, once when I was held in chokehold but I managed to slide my hand to my attackers head and drill my forefinger into this point and second time when another person was having their arm twisted by a wannabe teenage ninja. The pain is so intense, that anyone will let go of anything they hold and try to get their head dout of the way. If you feel brave you can experiment on yourself. I did. I do not recommend it.

CC Notes: Almost Back To Life.

Sorry for the abrupt disappearance, I was in very bad shape Tuesday and Wednesday. The chemo pump will be coming off shortly, and hopefully, I’ll start recovering from this last round. First and above all, my thanks to Charly and Voyager, who kept Affinity up and running in fine, interesting style. I can’t say thank you enough for that, and all your posts are so popular. Speaking of, I am so behind in answering emails, I have received them, I will answer! I’ve also gotten all the new submissions, and there are a lot, so it might be a few days before you see your stuff up, but I will get there, I promise.

I did manage to avoid another Neulasta, my neutrophil count was over 10 after the first dose of that nastiness, and it’s hoped it can carry me through the final cycles. If not, I can opt to do the more minor injections over three days, rather than the on body. This time, what knocked me on my arse was…heartburn! Yep. It started while still in the infusion center, but it wasn’t horrible. This was my first Tuesday, and never again. Holy shit, it was stuffed full of extremely talkative old folks, along with a nurse coming back out of retirement temporarily, and one who is a major, loud talker. Two of the older gentleman who had been trading work war stories, and complaining about the current crop of people were concluding their talk next to my chair, as the one gent was getting ready to leave. During his final chat, said gent was burping throughout, quite loudly. Then I heard a woman across the hall talking about her horrible bout of heartburn/acid reflux, which she dealt with by taking “old-fashioned pepto bismal.” I should have taken all that as an omen.

Chemo now exhausts me to the point that walking out of the hospital pretty much eats all my energy. I couldn’t even make it into the store to pick up my dex from the pharmacy. Got home, attended to my bag and all that jazz, then fell over into bed. Rick made me some Malt O’ Meal, which went down well enough. It wasn’t until late in the evening that the heartburn from hell hit. There was pain, there was burping. There was vomiting. I spent the night pretty much chained to the lav, leaking out both ends. Antacids weren’t helping, and I was out of the old-fashioned pink stuff. Rick was in town working on Wednesday, and I asked him to get me all the things, which he did. After taking much more than I should have of the generic prilosec and zantac, I was finally able to get some damn sleep. It still hasn’t gone away, I can feel it lurking in my throat, but here’s hoping I can keep a leash on it.

I really do count myself as lucky that I made it through half my cycles without feeling terribly bad. I’m not sure I could have carried on if it was like this from the start. I still remember the day of my first infusion, I was full of energy and appetite after. Seems like half a lifetime ago, and that particular me is nowhere in sight. The fatigue is mind-numbing, and the shake is worse than ever. In the good news department, pain has receded a fair amount. In the bad news department, chemo brain keeps getting worse.

I will be sleeping in each day until I’m fully back to life. Even though I get up early for me, around 9am, but that’s okay, as long as I don’t have to set a clock.

Swedish House-Gymnastics (1913).

These exercises and the photographic illustrations are splendid! Exercises anyone can do, without taking up much time, and can be done conveniently at home.

These wonderful photographs, which make such innovative use of multiple exposure, are from a 1913 German book titled Schwedische Haus-Gymnastik nach dem System P.H. Ling’s by Theodor Bergquist, Director of the Swedish Gymnastic Institute in the Bavarian spa town of Bad Wörishofen. As the title tells us, this style of “Swedish house-gymnastics” demonstrated by Bergquist (and his mysterious female colleague) is based on a system developed by Pehr Henrik Ling (1776–1839), a pioneer in the teaching of physical education in Sweden. Inventor of various physical education apparatus including the box horse, wall bars, and beams, Ling is also credited with establishing calisthenics as a distinct discipline and is considered by some as the father of Swedish massage.

I think I could choose a series to do each day from these, without over exertion, and it might really help to be a bit more flexible these days. You can see much more at The Public Domain Review.

Cancer Chronicles 16: I Just Don’t Care.

hg

Herein is a litany of complaint. If you could do with less whine in your life, skip this one.

Friable. That’s me. I have reached the I just don’t fucking care point.  I feel so beaten down, and each beating is worse than the last, and like any beaten animal, I just wait with dulled eyes for the next blow to land. Part of this is the chemo, but it’s the pegfilgrastim (aka neulasta) which last strawed me. I had been told about bone pain, and possibly flu like symptoms with the neulasta. I did get random bone pain, but that wasn’t really bothersome. What happened in my case was all my back muscles seized up and went into full cramp. Then they stayed that way. Still that way. Imagine your whole back being one big charley horse. I talked about some of this in this thread, it’s hard to describe, but it makes moving seriously painful. The motor problems from the oxali haven’t gone away, and the neulasta seems to have done some amplifying, along with giving me a very bad shake. All of which are not good when it comes to drawing and painting. I can’t even turn a brush anymore, a life long habitual movement. On top of everything, the butt pain has come back, and I doubt that’s any kind of good sign.

The chemo brain is worse, too. My startle response is through the roof, because I’m not making the connection from sound to recognition. Usually, you hear a sound, auto-recognise it, and consign it to background or investigation. Everything I hear now has me jumping out of my skin. I’ve been saying all the wrong things to people,  ended up being thoughtless and stupid, and while I never meant that in any way, intent isn’t magic, and I got responses I fully deserved.  My ability to parse social cues, never what you’d call brilliant, is almost completely gone. Every time I fuck things up, I spend days on end crying and basically falling the fuck apart, and when I try to apologize, I manage to make it all worse. I figure it’s perhaps best to not say much these days. At least that way I won’t upset anyone.

Then there are all the little weird things. On Friday, I stepped out on my back deck to take a photo, and was sitting on a step. I shifted, and found myself screaming because it felt like I’d been stung by a wasp, even while a tiny, still functional part of my brain recognised there’s still snow all over, so no wasps. I checked my foot, it was fine, it had made fleeting contact with a piece of fucking ice. Ice, and I’m outside, screaming. It’s all so damned absurd.

And the fatigue. I can’t even characterise it. What’s levels past bone deep? I sleep, it’s never enough. Constantly, thoroughly chilled these days, even walking into another room in my house. I can’t stay long, and have to get back in front of a space heater. And it won’t stop snowing here. Sometimes, a person can get the feeling that Fate is having a good time fucking them around. My hair has gotten very thin indeed, and I’m losing a fair amount of it. That’s not helping.

On Tuesday, I get round 5 of chemo and pegfilgrastim on Thursday. Usually, the week before the next cycle is a good one, because you’ve mostly recovered from the chemo; not happening this time. I feel like shit, and back we are to I just don’t fucking care. I don’t care what anyone wants to do, just fucking do it so I can get the fuck out of this.

I do realize that none of this is remotely encouraging to anyone who is going into treatment, but my experience so far is just that, mine. Everyone is different, and there’s no way to tell what side effects might hit you the hardest, or what agents for that matter. The pegfilgrastim is a much meaner agent in me than the 5-fluorouracil or oxaliplatin. It’s quite likely it’s the other way around for a lot of people in treatment. Treatment is Sisyphean in nature, you shove that effing boulder up and up, and there’s someone at the top to send you tumbling down again, until the day you get to the top, and you get to stay. It’s that day you have to focus on. After tomorrow, three more cycles, then I get to move on to radiation. This is going to be one long year.

Cancer Chronicles 15: The Takeover.

The chemo pump.

A familiar sight, I’m attached to the chemo pump again. Chemo brain is in full force, so if this post is disjointed, that would be why. I’m also having some motor problems with my right hand, so there may be may typos. (Motor problems thanks to the oxaliplatin). Just how much cancer changes and takes over you life has been a thread in these chronicles from the start, and sometimes that sense lowers, and you don’t feel it as much, and other times, it feels like it’s bashing over the head, pile-driving you into the ground. Yesterday was one of those days, left me frustrated, annoyed as fuck, and completely out of control of my own life.

Because it’s cancer, and presumably, you don’t want to die yet, you end up at the mercy of, and under the thumb of medical and insurance. Last week, I agreed to Neulasta injections so I would not be pushed back on chemo anymore. For whatever reason, my oncologist left out some rather vital information about this fucking process, and he will be hearing about that in two weeks. Not living in town, I was not about to come back into town on Fridays to have my pump detached, I do that myself. Now I find out that the Neulasta cannot be administered until the chemo pump is detached. Neulasta comes in the form of patch with a  sub-q needled, timed to deliver medication 26 hours after the chemo pump is detached. It’s a peel and stick:

So, I should be able to do this at home too, right? Wrong. Because it costs $6,000 a shot, the insurance companies have a rider that it must be administered at a clinic or hospital. Here’s one big FUCK YOU to fucking insurance companies, you all fucking suck. What in the fuck do they think I’d do with the damn thing? Sell it to a black market? Feed it to my dog? Flush it down the toilet? Well, one thing is for certain, you can’t trust a patient with it, oh no.

So, this week, that means our schedules get all manner of fucked up, have to go back in this Friday for less than 5 minutes worth of ‘treatment’, and for that, we get to waste time, pay for fuel, and have to register for the less than 5 fucking minutes, which means handing over another $25.00 copay. We’re being $25.00 dollared to death. Naturally, we tried to change the schedule so we could work things out so at least Rick wouldn’t be burning up more vacation days and losing work time. Could we schedule for Monday? No, because people don’t seem to think working on Mondays is cool. We can’t switch to Mondays until Cycle 6. Maybe.  Anyway you look at it, we’re getting screwed over with the sharp end of the stick.

I could feel the thin thread fraying and getting ready to snap. You lose control over your life from the moment you hear ‘Cancer’. That’s it, you’re sucked into Cancerland, and there’s nothing you can do, and pretty much all of it sucks fucking dirt. There’s no good place to discharge all the anger and frustration, either. It just ends up randomly leaking out all over the place. I really have to get that throwing wall set up. I could smash a whole store full of glass right now.

It’s also a major annoyance to see how much rural people get screwed over. Sanford keeps expanding, they’ve about eaten up a good portion of downtown Bismarck, but will they expend any fucking money on satellite clinics? No. You live rural, you get one big fuck you from hospitals. They don’t give one shit about how far you have travel, or how often. Oh yes, you can apply for an apartment in Bismarck, but this assumes people have no lives whatsoever in ruralistan. Around 50% of the people I’ve met in chemo live way out from Bismarck, anywhere from 1 to 6 hours out. Even when Sanford does bother to try and set up elsewhere, like the hospital they’ve started in Dickinson, they don’t have an oncologist, and they most likely simply won’t do oncology there, people will be referred to Bismarck. And while a hospital is needed out Dickinson way, I’d rather see satellite clinics, which could at least deal with things like Neulasta, so people wouldn’t have to travel so damn far for five fucking minutes. It’s yet another reminder that above anything, hospitals are a business, and no matter how they represent they are all about patients, they aren’t. At least not the rural ones.

Even with all the noises that would be made about how they can’t do satellite clinics because blah blah bureaucratic bullshit, why not an outreach program, to train local physicians so they could do the 5 minute crap, like detach pumps and stick a fucking patch on your arm? I’d be delighted if I could get this shit done in New Salem or Glen Ullin.

I suppose I’ll get back to painting, if I can manage to hold a brush.

ETA: oh gods, that fucking Oxali. I went  out to put seed and suet out for the birds studio side. It’s not even terrible cold out, 35F or so,  and my fingers are numb, as are my lips, and the cold hit my throat so hard, it almost seized up and went straight into my chest, making even shallow breathing hurt like hell.