Cancer Chronicles 4: Pathology & Expression.

So…eventually, the path report makes its way to your door. Mine: Adenocarcinoma, moderately differentiated, with invasive feature and ulceration. Translation: invasive adenocarcinoma. There, that was easy. In my case, nothing I didn’t know already, but don’t get frittered by language. Look it up. If you have questions, write them down. Never be afraid to ask. The more you understand, the better you’ll be able to manage.

If ever there was a time to express yourself, this is that time. (You should be doing that anyway. Don’t wait til’ cancer comes knocking.) This is a good time to treat yourself a little. Doesn’t have to be major. I got a couple things at Big Lots:

© C. Ford.

You would not believe how incredibly obnoxious that pink nail polish is, dialed up to about nth. Everyone in the hospital loved it, kinda cheered us all up. Looks right good on the toes. Of course, for me, yet more art supplies. Got a lovely case of Daler Rowney pencils, which brings me to expression.

© C. Ford.

Draw. Write. Craft. Sing. Get your camera out. Make up new and awful fart jokes. Mortify your teenager by whipping your shirt open and saying “look, you were right, I’m full of shit!” Howl out your window and freak the fuck out of your neighbours. (They deserve it for those fucking fireworks after midnight anyway.) Something. Anything. I can’t quite do a nice bellyflop on my bed and play around with markers yet, but I’m working on it. Did you know you can get paper clips which are shaped like elephants? Make a chain of elephants. The list goes on. And on. Embrace all the moments. Even when you have a good prognosis in front of you, it doesn’t hurt to be aware of the clock. I was taking a whole lot for granted, and this has been quite the smack. And right now, I have a whole lot of rats who deserve a bit better from me, so I’m going to go and make them one hell of a salad. :D

A Diverse Eye Chart.

Click for GIANT size.

Click for GIANT size.

This amazing eye chart was put together by George Mayerle, in 1907.

This fantastic eye chart — measuring 22 by 28 inches with a positive version on one side and negative on the other — is the work of German optometrist and American Optometric Association member George Mayerle, who was working in San Francisco at end of the nineteenth century, just when optometry was beginning to professionalise. The chart was a culmination of his many years of practice and, according to Mayerle, its distinctive international angle served also to reflect the diversity and immigration which lay at the heart of the city in which he worked. At the time it was advertised as “the only chart published that can be used by people of any nationality”. Stephen P. Rice, from the National Library of Medicine (who house this copy presented here), explains just how throughly thought through the different aspects of the chart were as regards the aim to be as inclusive as possible:

Running through the middle of the chart, the seven vertical panels test for acuity of vision with characters in the Roman alphabet (for English, German, and other European readers) and also in Japanese, Chinese, Russian, and Hebrew. A panel in the center replaces the alphabetic characters with symbols for children and adults who were illiterate or who could not read any of the other writing systems offered. Directly above the center panel is a version of the radiant dial that tests for astigmatism. On either side of that are lines that test the muscular strength of the eyes. Finally, across the bottom, boxes test for color vision, a feature intended especially (according to one advertisement) for those working on railroads and steamboats.

You can also see and download this wonderful chart here.  Via The Public Domain.

Cancer Chronicles 3: The Naming.

It’s amazing how one thing can make such a big difference. In my case, stomach muscle. That’s sliced in order to do the colostomy, and it’s sheer agony to force that muscle into action, and there’s no choice about that, either. You can’t just lie flat for the time it takes to heal. Well, I suppose you could, but that’s not me, and I don’t like catheters. Anyroad, while you’re still in hospital, the mass amount of drugs helps to blunt the pain a bit when you have to get into a sitting or standing position. Once you’re home, it’s a symphony of contortion and pain trying to figure out the easiest way to get yourself sitting or standing. The injured and screaming stomach muscle, along with the stoma, feels incredibly heavy, you feel very weighed down. I’m 10 days out now, and the stomach muscle still feels sore, like it would after a heavy workout, but it’s a world of difference, being able to sit up, stand up straight, and be able to get into and out of bed without mass problems. I don’t feel weighted down, either. So. Much. Better.

I’m finding a need to hang on to my sense of humour with everything I have. Still on a lot of fart humour here. Makes me feel very juvenile, but that’s okay. Better than feeling ancient. So, as we’ll be living together quite a while, I figured it was time to name my stoma. Yeah, yeah, it’s silly. I don’t care. I have this very old name book, and I was flipping through, when a meaning caught my eye and made me laugh: helmeted battle maid. I looked down at my stoma, freshly bagged, and thought “that’s perfect!” The name? Grimhild. Seriously perfect. Out of curiosity, I looked Grimhild up – turns out in any incarnation, she wasn’t a nice lady type. That works too, because I am not feeling at all nice towards this part of me gone rogue.

Things get better when you get your appetite back, too. This took me quite a time, I didn’t have much appetite at all until a couple of days ago, and eating small amounts throughout the day/evening works best for me, rather than trying to do standard meals. I’ve also learned it’s best to be very fluid when it comes to sleep. This isn’t an option for everyone, especially those who want to get back to work; but I’ve found I often just can’t get to sleep when I want, so whenever I feel like I could nod off, I lay down and sleep for as long as I need. So far, that’s keeping me feeling fair energetic.

Now, I do believe Grimhild is making noises along the lines of ‘feed me’, so breakfast it is.

Cancer Chronicles 2: The Farting.

Cartoon by Mark Ewbie.

One thing you get to contemplate with a colostomy is being turned into a fart factory. I have not yet ventured out and about with my new arrangement; I’m waiting for the stoma swelling to go down one of these days. Even then, it will be interesting. The very first time you fart after having an ostomy is a strange sensation, a wrong sensation. The gas moves in the wrong direction, and it’s a bit of a shock, that first fart. You start to go into the autoclench before you realize that won’t help, and you have no way to clench on farts which are on the upside.

And then there’s the ballooning. If you expel a good amount of gas, your bag balloons up, and you have to bleed it to get the gas out. At least in this, you have a choice as to whether or not you’ll be inflicting your bag o’ farts on the unwitting. I have to say, it would be very mean to do so, but if it’s someone you don’t like, well…

You do adjust very quickly, after the first fart shock; when you feel one coming on, your hand immediately goes over your stoma while you try to look innocent. Right now, I can only envision myself out and about while clutching a pillow to my abdomen, so I think it will be a while before I make that first public appearance anywhere. Long car rides are a horrorshow of discomfort and peak level gas production. It’s recommended that when a long drive is necessary, that you pause and get out to stretch one or two times if you have an ostomy. There’s no particular reason given, but I am now certain this is so you can sneakily bleed the gas out of your bag without asphyxiating your driver. :D

Also, having an ostomy does not turn you into Pepé Le Pew – there’s no stench wafting about your person. As long as your bag is properly sealed, you’re fine. If you’re on the paranoid side about such things though, there are filters and such available. With an ostomy, you’re more in control of your farting, which is kinda nice. You also have the advantage of a weapons grade tool to chase away unwanted visitors, like Jehovah Witnesses. ;)

And today, I’m going to make things so much worse for myself, because I have a craving for refried beans. Well, it’s just me, the dogs, cats, and rats. And now, I can truly relate to He-Gassen. And I encourage everyone to relate their fave fart stories.

Cancer Chronicles 1.

CN: icky medical stuff. If you’re sensitive, don’t read.

Sore. Punctured. Bruised. Discoloured. I’m 7 days out from diagnosis, 6 days out from surgery. My protruding gut is still very swollen, and it feels so damn heavy. It’s difficult to walk with a straight back. My stomach muscles screech in protest over normal movements. Not so normal now. I feel…limited.

Today, I showered, and soaked off all the steri-strips and caked blood. Then it was time for a bag change. The instructions all say to rinse the old bag, then put it in a plastic baggie, seal it, then put that in a second baggie. They come with the stigma and shame included. I rinsed mine out and tossed it in the trash. There is a sense of revulsion; of a loss of control. I expect that will lessen with practice and experience. I don’t even know how to describe what it’s like, gently cleaning off an internal organ.

It hit early this morning – for the first time in my life, I feel old. Frail. I despise feeling this way. Somewhere, under the weight of this, is my usual self, but I don’t feel as though I can shift this density off. I know I need to eat, but I can’t find my appetite. I do have the perfect excuse to over indulge in ice cream though.

Patience is not a virtue I possess; I hate all the waiting. I won’t even see the radiation therapy Doc until 1/15. I just want this done. I want to rip out this part of me gone rogue, stomp it to death and get back to my life. I want my gut back on the inside where it belongs. This is all going to take so damn long.

My hair keeps trailing through my thoughts. How long do I try to keep it? Do I hope it doesn’t start falling out during radiation therapy? Can I manage to keep it until chemo starts? I don’t know, but the thought of losing my hair is bugging me more and more. I know it’s a minor thing; hair grows back. Still, this is what I get stuck on – having to surrender those 39 inches of hair.

I need to get my studio cleaned up, because I’ll have to start painting soon, it’s the only emotional outlet I have. Ideas flit in and out, nothing has settled yet. Feeling like broken pieces of coloured glass; there’s no coherence yet, the brighter colours subsumed by a muddied swirl of black, maroon, and purple, with threads of brightly spilled blood throughout.

I won’t be inflicting these chronicles on you all too often, just as the mood and need strike.

ETA: I put my rings back on. I was instructed to remove all jewelry for the colonoscopy, so I did, and then I ended up in hospital for four days. I thought about putting them back on when I got home, but just let them lie. I shouldn’t have done that, because nekkid fingers aren’t me. I think I need some new rings. Yep, I do.  The little things, they aren’t so little.

All The Cures! The Trumpian Cures!

From my personal collection. All are intact. Click for full size. © C. Ford, all rights reserved.

It’s Mark Taylor, self-styled prophet, who is getting rather feverish over re-electing the Tiny Tyrant. Mr. Taylor is acting as though a second term is already a fact, and I suppose in order to convince others, he’s dangling cures to cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.

Mark Taylor appeared on “The Edge” television program on Saturday night, where he said that during his second term in office, President Trump will release the long-secret cures for cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.

Taylor told host Daniel Ott that Trump’s priority during his first term is cleaning out the corruption in the pharmaceutical industry, which already has such cures but has been keeping them secret because “big pharma doesn’t want you well, they want you sick because that is how they make their money.”

Oh, is that what the Tiny Tyrant has been doing all this time, cleaning out the pharmaceutical industry? Odd, haven’t seen or heard anything like that. The most the fucking idiot has achieved is most presidential time on a golf course, ever. What happened to all that “draining the swamp” business? Oh yes, the big tax plan. Problem there is that one will swamp all of us non-millionaire+ types.

There are a number of problems with pharmaceutical companies, always have been, as they are set up to be capitalistic and competitive. Not having any sort of universal healthcare adds greatly to this problem, because there’s no need to put a cap on the greed when you don’t have to concern yourself with the welfare of your citizens. Of course, there are a healthy number of politicians who have their fingers in pharmaceutical pies, so they don’t want to cut down on that greediness either.

Once Trump eliminates the corruption, Taylor said, we’ll “be fixing to see cures for medical conditions begin to come forth … We’ve had cures for this stuff, Daniel, for years, for decades; for cancer, we’ve got cures out there for Alzheimer’s, all kinds of diseases out there, the cures are there.”

“This could be in [Trump’s] second term that a lot of this stuff starts happening,” Taylor said. “You’re going to see this stuff begin to be released.”

Even if we take a trip into fantasy land here, and momentarily pretend this is true, what kind of a flaming douchehat of an asshole would withhold such information? Any decent person would see such information released, immediately. Of course, we are not talking about a decent person. We’re certainly not talking about a smart one. Unfortunately for us, this won’t happen. For those of use who are reality-based, we can keep supporting research in any way we are able; and we all need to fight like hell to make education a priority once more, and to prevent the Tiny Tyrant and the sociopathic GOP from trying to kill off all the contributions of various sciences. The conservachristians hate science, and they fear it. They can’t oppress people as easily when the populace is knowledgeable and various branches of science continually prove them wrong about, oh, everything. If we are fortunate enough to see cures for anything in the near future, it won’t be thanks to fucking idiots such as yourself, or the self-centered greed machines which make up the current regime.

Via RWW.

The Seven Forbidden Words…

Evidence-Based, Science-Based, Vulnerable, Transgender, Diversity, Fetus, Entitlement.

Evidence-Based, Science-Based, Vulnerable, Transgender, Diversity, Fetus, Entitlement.

Unfortunately, this is not at all like George Carlin’s Seven Dirty Words. Instead, the words Science-Based, Evidence-Based, Vulnerable, Transgender, Diversity, Fetus, and Entitlement have been forbidden in use of official CDC documents prepared for next year’s budget. So, we have a good idea of what the amoral regime is looking to ignore completely when it comes to funding. This is not good. Not good at all.

The Trump administration is prohibiting officials at the nation’s top public health agency from using a list of seven words or phrases — including “fetus” and “transgender” — in official documents being prepared for next year’s budget.

Policy analysts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta were told of the list of forbidden words at a meeting Thursday with senior CDC officials who oversee the budget, according to an analyst who took part in the 90-minute briefing. The forbidden words are “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based” and “science-based.”

In some instances, the analysts were given alternative phrases. Instead of “science-based” or ­“evidence-based,” the suggested phrase is “CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes,” the person said. In other cases, no replacement words were immediately offered.

The Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the CDC, “will continue to use the best scientific evidence available to improve the health of all Americans,” HHS spokesman Matt Lloyd told The Washington Post. “HHS also strongly encourages the use of outcome and evidence data in program evaluations and budget decisions.”

The question of how to address such issues as sexual orientation, gender identity and abortion rights — all of which received significant visibility under the Obama administration — has surfaced repeatedly in federal agencies since President Trump took office. Several key departments — including HHS, as well as Justice, Education, and Housing and Urban Development — have changed some federal policies and how they collect government information about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans.

In March, for example, HHS dropped questions about sexual orientation and gender identity in two surveys of elderly people.

HHS has also removed information about LGBT Americans from its website. The department’s Administration for Children and Families, for example, archived a page that outlined federal services that are available for LGBT people and their families, including how they can adopt and receive help if they are the victims of sex trafficking.

The Washington Post has the full story. Yet another stone dropped on top of us, ensuring our slide down into a pit of devastating ignorance.

Sivartha’s Book of Life (1898).

The Social Model.

Odors and Flavors.

The Aurosphere.

Nervous Structure.

Titled The Book of Life: The Spiritual and Physical Constitution of Man, Dr Alesha Sivartha’s enigmatic 1898 work expounds his unique blend of blend of science, sociology, mysticism and religion, a spiritual teaching which apparently attracted the attention of Mark Twain among others. Sivartha was clearly a man bursting at the seams with an abundance of complex and esoteric ideas, and while in written form this might translate into somewhat dense and bamboozling prose, visually it gave birth to a series of superbly intricate and striking diagrams. Obsessed with the magical properties of the number 12, Sivartha, in each of his wonderful “brain maps”, breaks down the grey matter into twelve different sections, as well as turning his gaze to other parts of the body such as hands and the nervous system as a whole.

[…]

As for the author himself, not a lot is known for certain, other than Sivartha appears to be the pen-name for a Kansas doctor named Arthur E. Merton (1834?-1915?), who is listed as the author of an earlier 1876 version of The Book of Life. What little additional information out there seems to stem mainly from a website (which seems to share the same mesmerising sense of horror vacui as its subject!) run by his great-great grandson, which claims Sivartha/Merton to be the illegitimate son of the Indian scholar and activist Raja Ram Mohun Roy Bahadoor and an unknown English Unitarian woman who became romantically embroiled with the Raja during his tour of England.

All the diagrams are fascinating, and there are so many of them! You can see some of them at The Public Domain, and the rest here.

The Relaxed Wife (1957).

Our nostalgia for the 1950s is tested with this strange and unnerving promotional film for the tranquilliser “Atarax”, in which a husband plagued by stress brought on by work and noisy children, is helped by his relaxed wife of the title. With her calming influence he learns not to focus on the problems of others or to worry about the rest of the world – “Let the world take care of its own worries. You’ll help yourself most by concentrating on your own affairs”. Named after ataraxia, the Greek word for relaxation, the tranquilliser is advertised through such rhyming lines as:

Today, medical science recognizes,

that some folks aren’t helped by relaxing exercises.

In cases of difficult tension, and nervous apprehension,

doctors are now prescribing an ataraxic medicine.

It makes those who fear they’re about to quit,

feel like they’re ready to begin,

bidding their darkened spirits goodbye,

for the calming peace of a cloudless sky.
Of all the states throughout this nation,

the happiest by far is the state of relaxation.

There’ll be fewer breakdowns and insomniacs,

when more of us have learned to be relaxed.

We’ll be free to relish the joys of life,

no longer tense over daily worries and strife.”

And it is medication, such as the Pfizer-produced Atarax, which is seen as the key to this panacea of relaxation. Although many think of anti-anxiety medication and anti-depressants as a rather modern way of life, housewives of the 1950s were frequent users of such drugs, the first and most popular being Miltown, named after the New Jersey hamlet in which it was first manufactured in 1955. According to Newsweek, just two years after it was first made available, “Americans had filled 36 million prescriptions for Miltown, more than a billion pills had been manufactured and these so-called ‘peace pills’ accounted for one third of all prescriptions.”

The narration is an eerie blend of Seuss and Stepford Wives. Oh, and Atarax is still going strong.  Via The Public Domain.

The Terror of…SOY!

Via Medium.com

The things which go on while I’m under my rock. Perhaps it’s just me, but none of the men in the above look to be lacking in masculine qualities. This, of course, calls into question as to what those ‘necessary masculine qualities’ might be, and I’m not sure I want to know. The concepts of masculinity and femininity are, for the best part, damn silly, and for the worst part, terribly toxic and harmful. We aren’t extruded bits of plastic labeled Ken and Barbie. We come in a wide variety of everything. Ah well, on with the show.

Popular figures among the alt-right and users of right-wing internet forum boards such as 4chan frequently used the term “soy boy” to attack their liberal critics, using the term to label their targets as politically or physically weak. Alt-right YouTube pundit James Allsup claims to have invented the term “soy boy,” which experienced brief mainstream exposure through right-wing pundits such as Mike Cernovich.

The weakness, it is argued, comes from increased estrogen levels experienced when consuming soy products and the alleged resulting feminine behavior.

Oh for pity’s sake. Soy has to be one of the most studied and investigated plants on the planet, considering its versatility and utility. There are no studies which show that soy consumption “effiminizes” the poor menfolk. For most people, soy is quite beneficial, and no, it has no impact on those precious testosterone numbers, dudes. Your testosterone is safe with soy.

In a video uploaded to his YouTube account yesterday, Paul Joseph Watson, Infowars editor, attempted to explain how the consumption of soy products is to blame for decreased testosterone levels and lower sperm counts in men, resulting in depression and feminine behavior.

“Men with high estrogen take on feminine traits. They find it harder to handle stress. They become less assertive. They become low energy. Their voices get higher. Their genitals shrink. They lose muscle tone,” Watson said.

Goodness me. You’d think there would be panic in the streets! Media would be wall to wall coverage of the great penis shrink of 2017. Talk shows would have sobbing men behind screens, talking about the horrible degredation of testicle loss and puberty voices. Interestingly enough, there have been a high number of men lately who have not handled stress well at all. These are ‘masculine’ men, too. The ones who have histories of abusive, assertive, nay, aggressive behaviour. They tend to take out their problems with a gun, which ends up with many dead people, including themselves. I think I’ll stick with the men who aren’t terrified of soy.

Later in the video, Watson attempted to correlate increased sales of soy products in the United States to unrelated articles that detail a “substantial drop” in men’s testosterone levels in the United States and “otherwise healthy and lean” young men developing enlarged breasts—or as Watson describes them, “bitch tits.”

Bitch tits. Gosh, that must be one of those necessary masculine qualities, denigrating anything deemed female. I think we can all live without that one. One of these days, you manly menly dudely types are going to have to deal with the fact that yes, men have breasts. By the way, you should be doing regular checks for lumps, just like you do for those precious testicles, because men get breast cancer too. They come in many different shapes and sizes. A lot depends on diet, true, and whether or not you work out. If you’re eating a trash diet, you’re probably gonna have hairy man teats. Have you all taken a good look at your idol Trump when he’s in his golf clothes? Yeah. He could probably do with laying off the McD’s. Going back to the image above, none of those men look like they are sporting a healthy rack.

In his pseudo-scientific explanation, Watson even claimed that soy found in infant baby formula is making children liberal “from birth.”

“Rather than people with already pre-existing left-wing beliefs being attracted to vegan-style tofu soy diets, we’re actually creating an army of soy boys from birth,” Watson said. “What a terrifying thought.”

:Cough: Excu…hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha *gasp* hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha *thud*

Okay. I’m a bleeding heart liberal, a compleat lefty. I did not grow up on soy products, because they weren’t a big thing way back when. I don’t eat much soy now. That has not affected my leftiness in the least. I’m pretty sure you can’t get leftiness in bottle. That would be rather big news. Why do I get the idea you idiots think this is just like the “commies are behind flouridation” business?

Watson warned that “soy is the silent killer” of masculine behavior and that the world is “losing an entire generation of young men to soy.”

At the end of the video, Watson issued a warning to his male viewers: “Men, if you don’t want to develop a bunch of retarded beliefs about how inviting in millions of rapey migrants is a good idea, about how anyone to the right of Michael Moore is literally Hitler, about how fantastic communism is, or about how being a white male is shameful and wrong, while literally growing tits and seeing your penis shrink at the same time, when it comes to soy just say no.”

Hahahahahahaha. My my. I look forward to the intense, saturated, “Just Say No…to Soy!” campaign. The War on Soy. Maybe that could put an end to the idiocy of the war on drugs. Okay, probably not. You fellas don’t need to be concerned with ‘rapey’ immigrants. You should be concerned with all the homegrown rapey men, y’know, the ones who tend to put all kinds of emphasis on being masculine.

Such privilege, that you literally have nothing more to do than to sit around and make up such shit. I wish I had that kind of free time. The whole mess, including video, is available at RWW.