Bad news day.

[CONTENT NOTE: racist police violence, f-bombs.]

I awoke today, as many did, to news of more widespread protests in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, a black man, by white police, and the murder of Breonna Taylor, a black woman, by white police, and the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, a black man, by white racist thugs, and, and, and, and…

I want to say this here as unequivocally as I can (and have said before): I stand in solidarity with communities of color around the country and around the world, in opposition to state violence and murder, militarized policing, unprecedented mass imprisonment and surveillance, social and economic and environmental injustice, and imperial wars.

“Until we are all free, we are none of us free.”
Emma Lazarus

I also want to cosign Jacob Frey, the Democratic mayor of Minneapolis, who said this:

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I have become a global trendsetter/lifestyle guru/influencer!

[CONTENT NOTE: anti-LBGTQi bigotry and harassment; language most foul.]

You know, I really hate to toot my own horn, people. But it remains a simple fact that I was housebound, taking paranoia-level precautions against infection risk, gorging myself on Netflix, hoarding unconscionable amounts of toilet paper, following the news and shitting myself* long before damn near everyone** on the planet recently decided to live exactly as I do!

You might think that by now, I’d have some timely wisdom to impart to you, hard won over these past few years while I’ve been consigned to countless stretches of involuntary isolation. Maybe I’d be servin’ up some pithy, practical tips-’n-tricks to help you navigate these perilous, life-changing, life-threatening times within the context of a “healthcare system” deliberately designed to generate wealth, in direct opposition to health.

Alas, nope. I got nuthin’. Except:

WELCOME TO MY WORLD, EVERYONE.

Also: good luck with that.__________

*What?! No! I am not going to admit publicly on my blog to literally shitting myself after my (second) ileostomy reversal! I used that phrase only figuratively…yep.

**Oh, I am exquisitely aware that not “everyone” is following my groundbreaking life choices. Just look at these @$$holes popping up today in my morning news scan:

“People filled bars like one in Appleton, Wis., on Wednesday night after the state’s Supreme Court struck down the governor’s stay-at-home restrictions.” (William Glasheen/Post-Crescent/AP)

And by “people,” I think it’s fair to say that The Washington Post editors mean “white dudes” because of course they do. (And because of course they are.)

But there are @$$holes a lot closer to home, too. Take this @$$hole for instance, as seen through my fire escape:

“@$$hole on Hudson Street, 5.13.20”
©Iris Vander Pluym

Now you may have heard that every night at 7pm New Yorkers collectively gather at their windows to make an enormous racket, banging pots and whooping it up, just like when it’s midnight on New Years but waaaaay too cold to leave the apartment. In fact you may have actually heard the noise yourself, because that shit is motherfucking loud. The cacophonous chaos is my beloved city’s daily ritual in appreciation of nurses, doctors, first responders and essential workers of all kinds. No one else here may know what day it is, but we sure as shit know what time it is.

Apparently so does the @$$hole. (And his @$$hole friends, too, who stood on the near corner out of range of my shot). Right on cue at 7 last night, the Maskless Minion of Mindless Misery began waving around his “TRUMP 2020 – KEEP AMERICA GREAT” sign 40 feet from my window.

As the raucous din died down, thence began his spittle-flecked shouting of this message in every direction for all to hear, whilst shoving his sign at the faces of passing people and at the windows of passing vehicles. My neighbors were shouting back things like “Go home!” and “You don’t belong here!” This last, of course, is not only a reference to the infamously liberal borough of Manhattan as a whole, but to the West Village in particular – you know: home of the 1969 Stonewall uprising and the world’s undisputed epicenter of LGBTQi culture and civil rights activism before AIDS decimated the local population and then a monsoon of straight white rich yuppies and super-rich absentee “residents” flooded the neighborhood and drove real estate prices right through the fucking stratosphere.

But this being New York and all, the neighborhood still stubbornly maintains its gritty grip on queerness, which is precisely why the @$$hole brigade was here in the first place – and not pulling this shit in…oh, say, Brownsville. If this were not plainly obvious already, it became crystal clear once their feckless leader began taunting my neighbors with “SISSY BOYS!!!” and “LOSER SOY BOYS, ALL Y’ALL!!!” and “YEAH I’M NOT LIVING HERE WHERE THE SOY BOYS LIVE, LITTLE GIRL!!! LITTLE GIRLY MEN!!! NEIGHBORHOOD FULL OF GIRLY-GIRLS!!!” (I do apologize to readers, but the man was speaking entirely in all caps and with multiple, non-ironic exclamation points.)

The rhetorical heat had risen, though not nearly to the high voltage I prefer when I fuck with conservatives. That’s when I decided to contribute my $0.02 to the verbal volleys and began shouting “Run him over!” at the passing cars and buses, and whining loudly with bitter disappointment as they missed him. Up until this point during his one-man troll show he seemed to be enjoying the back-and-forth jabbing and jeering, but at that he shut up for a moment, lowered his sign and spun around in my direction. “RUN ME OVER, THAT’S NICE,” he harrumphed. Well if anyone would know about “nice” it would be this dude amirite?

There were many, many witty and original zingers like:

“YOU’RE LOSERS!!! LOSER!!! LOSER!!! LOSER!!! LOSER!!! LOSER!!! YOU’RE AAAAALLLLL LOSERS!!!”

“WINNING!!! ALWAYS WINNING!!!”

“LOSERS KEEP WALKING!!! WINNERS CAN STOP HERE AND SHAKE MY [ungloved] HAND!!!”

He did get awfully quiet when a large black man on a bicycle stopped to engage him. Gosh, I wonder why that is?

“Do something else,” I heard someone say. “We’re getting bored.”

As we all know, conservatives are nothing if not boring, and so I would soon turn my attention back to my current Netflix binge.

Today I learned via my upstairs neighbor that these tools also made an appearance at the liquor store around the corner. That’s right: my liquor store. Not to buy booze though, just to taunt the extremely essential worker running the register with more tedious and unoriginal anti-queer barbs. And one of the @$$holes got himself arrested for spitting on a woman who told him to put on a mask.

Good times.

My first thought was I’m so happy these particular people are doing exactly the right things to catch COVID-19. Obviously our world would be a far better place without them in it. Unfortunately, that’s not how the virus or conservatives work. They cannot help but do their worst damage to the most vulnerable and defenseless among us. Kovid Karrying Konservatives are bound to infect not just each other at their junior fascist circle jerks, but other people upon whom they inflict themselves, many of whom have no choice in the matter.

Have a nice day.

Tuesday Premonitions.

CONTENT NOTE: Graphic image. No, seriously: g-r-a-p-h-i-c. Contains a partial photographic image of an open wound with medical-level detail of a laparoscopic procedure; female frontal nudity.

__________

Hey, so whatcha doing Tuesday? Nothing nearly as fucking strange as I am, I’ll bet. As I mentioned in my last post, September kicks off Surgery Season here in New York City, and we’re about to kickoff on Tuesday with a laparoscopic exploration under anesthesia (“EUA”). At least two surgeons and possibly three will be having themselves a really close-up look-see at the tissues they would need to construct what radiation has destroyed – namely, a functioning colon as well as a sparkling new vagina. I call this aspiration “Plan A.”

My colorectal ladysurgeon is running the show, along with the gynecological oncology d00d, tho I’m not yet sure whether this mysterious”plastics” person I’ve heard so much about will also be in attendance. Regardless, there will no doubt be biopsies and good times galore. Which, ideally, I will sleep right through.

Back before my first surgery, i.e. the initial colon resection plus bonus ileostomy in February of 2018, I found myself working with my therapist, my original colorectal surgeon and his Physician Assistant to help me visualize exactly what would be done to me. I had started with some Google image searches, but what I found didn’t seem to line up with what had been explained to me. Also, most images I found, whether photos or drawings, were of men, and I was having a hard time relating those bodies to my own. I ended up creating this:

…wherein the dotted line represents the outline of an ostomy pouch, the oval is the stoma itself and the rest of the marks are incisions. It turned out not to be entirely accurate due to various issues and considerations during the operation, but for my “trying to get my head around this shit” purposes, it was close enough. As un-ugly as I could possibly conceive of it, anyway. I remember the night before the surgery lying in bed, running my hands over the soft, smooth, unblemished skin of my belly, and deeply grieving that it would never, ever feel like this again.

So now there’s this fuckin’ EUA on Tuesday. And I’ve had one before, performed by the very same colorectal ladysurgeon back in March when she gave me an(other) ileostomy. I already know what the recovery is like, and it isn’t terrible: it’s like the deep soreness from a couple hard punches to the gut, that gradually fades over a week or so.

Why, then, am I having so. much. anxiety. over this? Lard knows I’ve been through worse – a lot worse. And there is much worse to come, for sure.

Well, I have a theory. I think it’s because I’m terrified of what they will find, or more precisely, of what they will not find. That the radiation damage has kept right on blooming for all these months, and now there is not enough healthy tissue left to re-do a colon resection. That the blood supply to critical areas has deteriorated to the point where successful healing will be practically impossible. That Plan A gets scrapped. There is no Plan B, at least not one discussed in any detail, because Plan A is the only one with any potential for a good outcome. And it has been impressed upon me, many times, that we only have one shot at fixing this.

So I took to drawing again. Only this time I wasn’t trying to create anything approximating medical accuracy, although it would turn out to embody exactly that, at least in part. I made what envisioning this procedure feels like to me – if that even makes any fucking sense. And once again, I made it as un-ugly as I can possibly conceive of it.

Before you proceed, I just want to remind you again of the content note at the top of this post. I mean, this stuff is triggering to me, which is why I’m doing it in the first place: to help me process it in a healthy way.

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CONFESSIONS OF A DEADBEAT BLOGGER.

[CONTENT NOTE: disgusting bodily functions and fluids are discussed and drawn (poorly).]

To my beloved Many Tens of Loyal Readers:

As you may know, in August 2018, our colleague Caine lost her battle with colon cancer. I was and still am devastated to lose my longtime (Pharyngula/SciBlogs-era) friend, FTB comrade-in-arms and sister trauma survivor.

What you probably didn’t know is that Caine and I shared something else in common: the exact same colon cancer diagnosis. She had that bomb dropped on her just a few months after I did. Unlike Caine, however, I am reticent – or chickenshit? take your pick – about exposing much of my personal life online. As much as I admire it, I do not possess even a fraction of the courage Caine did to write so openly about her life and her illness.

By December 2017, after my first four cycles of chemo and 28 doses of radiation, I was still blogging regularly. But cancer treatments had begun to take more (and more important) pieces of my life and myself away from me. Where writing used to “flow” for me, I was now finding myself blinking back at a blinking cursor. Ideas became jumbled, everyday words escaped me, my focus and concentration kept slipping. Writing coherently about anything of substance was (and still is) an often tedious and frustrating process for me. I naturally drifted away from blogging, and from social media too.

When Caine first wrote about her cancer, I reached out to her immediately and shared with her what was going on with me. We stayed tightly connected (privately). When we lost her, I lost my source of so much comfort and strength from the only person in my life who truly understood what I was going through. (I hope that I gave her some strength and comfort, too. I know I made her laugh at least once or twice.)

As the 1-year anniversary of her death is upon us, I find I would like to start blogging again. Not so much “in Caine’s honor,” but more like…in her footsteps? I mean that I would like to be more open about my health and my life. And yes, this is waaaaay out of my comfort zone.

To be honest, these new blogging endeavors of mine may turn out to be a total bust: nothing more than a bunch of cutting-&-pasting items of interest I find on the ‘net, maybe calling attention to worthy candidates, causes and clicktivism, perhaps keeping readers informed of nefarious squirrel activities. Or, you know, I might fizzle out completely (again). Like many things about my future, I don’t really know. I do know that I miss being a part of this community, and I would like to contribute again to the extent I am able.

So I then I got to thinking: what better way to tell the story of the past two years of my life than…a webcomic! Yes! Having never done one before, indeed having rarely even read one unless PZ or someone posts one? PERFECT.

Enjoy?

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