Happy 2022!

Hahaha I’m just kidding. We all know 2022 is going to suck at least as much as 2021 and 2020 did.

Nevertheless, my sincere hope is that you will be more fierce and courageous than ever in your anger and activism toward injustice. wherever you may encounter it, and also that you will find joy and laughter – somehow, somewhere – every single day. Otherwise, the terrorists win white supremacist capitalist patriarchy wins.

On a personal note, I still find myself on the long, slow journey to healing from cancer and its barbaric treatments.

There has been much progress, as well as many setbacks on the road to recovery. The latest is that I require eye surgery, due to explosive retinopathy that has left me intermittently blind in one eye and with constantly impaired vision in the both. As a diabetic I am prone to retinopathy, but my blood sugars are too well-controlled to be causing it, especially at my age. No, this is almost certainly a direct result of 40 “dry dives” of the hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) prescribed to treat extensive radiation damage.

PROTIP: When your cancer surgeon or oncologist says you’ve had an “exuberant” response to radiation treatment, go look that word up in a medical dictionary or google scholar. It does NOT have a happy definition in the medical context.

One of HBOT’s effects is to generate new stem cells, which can lead to capillary growth in badly damaged tissue. However, it’s not a localized treatment: your whole body is necessarily exposed to it. In my eyes, stem cell/capillary growth was extensive – why, one might even say exuberant? – and invaded the retinas in places where they shouldn’t be. Many painful laser treatments have been employed to cut them back like overgrown hedges. But now, a healthy one has managed to grow behind my retina, causing partial detachment. It’s got to go, but because it’s behind the retina, my ophthalmologist cannot simply laser blast it in his office through my dilated pupil: it has to be cut back and cauterized from the back.

None of that scares me. In fact, it hardly raises my pulse at all. I have literally lost count of the surgeries and other invasive medical procedures I have had since my diagnosis in August of 2017, the vast majority of which have been far more extensive (and brutal) than this one. The eye surgery is performed under twilight anesthesia (Versed) and takes about 45 minutes. Hell, I could do that in my sleep. (Wait, what? Fuck it, you know what I mean.) However, the recovery is whole different story: three weeks of near-total inactivity, no lifting of anything, and spending as much time as possible (including sleeping) prone, with face and head down on a massage-table/chair thingy.

Does that sound like a happy new year to you? Jeezus fuck.

I also have serious concerns about exposure to omicron in the doctor’s office and the surgical center environment, so I am putting it off until I hear some good news on that front. But I also want to get it over with a.s.a.p., because it is difficult for me to work, which includes blogging, when I cannot see very well at all. It turns out, I really like seeing!

Tl;dr: Hyperbaric oxygen therapy saved my bladder function, which is no small thing, but it seriously fucked up my eyes. Also, happy new year, goddammit.


  1. blf says

    Please take care, the best of luck, but also… be sensible. Maybe consult a squirrel — and then do the opposite of what it bites?

    I also have serious concerns about exposure to omicron in the doctor’s office […;], so I am putting it off until I hear some good news on that front. But I also want to get it over with a.s.a.p. […]

    Similar concerns here, albeit mostly about getting the fecking booster. I live in a Mediterranean seaside-village in S.France, which had an easily-accessible vaccination centre until end-October when it closed due to then lack-of-demand. However, there is now a considerable demand for boosters (thanks, Omicron), but close-to-no places at all in the village offering vaccinations. I myself managed to secure an appointment in mid-January(!), booking in early- / mid-December, at a local(-ish) clinic whose precise location is somewhat uncertain (Generalissimo Google™ Maps claims the address doesn’t exist, the miniature map at the booking site puts it in the middle of (the correct) road, and it doesn’t seem to have a website or contact telephone (all contact to be made via the booking app)). Geesh!

    The clinic seems to be in a medical desert (i.e., lots of possibly desperate (ill) clients). And I’ve noticed open slots there are taken very very quickly (looking for a more recent date myself). And I worry about the clinic becoming understaffed due to Covid-19 (Omicron), burnout, etc. Plus also I’m concerned “about exposure to omicron [at the clinic]”, and even just finding the place, etc. Grrrr… I’d send in the squirrels, but they’d do more harm than good — probably burning the entire village down in the process.

    Oh, and happy new orbit. May the squirrels drop dead around you.

  2. Jazzlet says

    Well fuck cancer and the damage it’s treatment too often causes.

    You might be better going ahead with treatment as soon as omicron is the prevalent variant round your way, it seems to be pretty mild for most people. Obviously anecdotal, but my over 70 SiL and BiL thought they had mild colds, only checked because they saw a news piece saying omicron was often presenting as a cold, and yes they did have COVID-19. Not even sneezing – SiL is a famous sneezer – just a lot of nostril exudate. If you are lying face down anyway you could just have a bucket to catch it all …
    /sorry if too gross.