Friday, March 08, 2013

Haunted...

Chemo has gone better so far this round. Still the sleepless night before, mostly from the steroid they have me take. Only an hour's sleep the night before, a bit of a nap before Dottie came home last night, then to bed at 9:30 but unable to go back to sleep at 4:30, so I gave up at 6 and got up and started the next round of meds. Still, as long as I avoid another cold or something, I think this is going to be a better round.

My title on this post has more to do with the images that crowd my mind at times like last night when I can't manage to sleep, or flood it when some story in the news sets me thinking, or any of a myriad of other sources, be it a book, or music. Things I've read, watched...

Reading Vita Sackville-West's "Country Notes in Wartime" made me think of the recordings I have of Murrow standing at the entrance to the subway station in London during "the Blitz" and laying his microphone down to record the bustle of footsteps of people trying to escape the deadly deluge falling from the sky. Another recording where he describes people wrapping their children in blankets to protect them from the burning embers and ash falling from the sky as the buildings around them burn while they are trying to seek shelter.

I also think of a friend I made here, Debbie, and her father, building the Spitfires that helped turn the tide in that "Battle or Britain". Also haunting my mind are the images forever there of the Coventry Cathedral, destroyed along with so many other places during the bombings.

Now I also think of Irene Nemirovsky, writing the book she knows she won't get to finish, but driven to try, though she can feel her life threatened from all quarters...

I think of Veronica Lake slipping a grenade into her blouse and pulling the pin out as she surrenders to the Japanese to buy time for the other nurses to escape in "So Proudly We Hail"; something I saw at about 12, my introduction to her and though I have seen her in so many lighter roles (I Married a Witch, Sullivan's Travels) when I think of her that is the first image that comes to mind.

It's funny the things that stick with us through the years! Robin Andrea's photos and stories of walks and creatures encountered in the wonderful world she shares with Roger come to mind often. Anji's postcards do as well, taking me to a world and times and places I'd love to have seen, and others I'm glad I didn't (WW1 and 2 in France).

The Fairbanks Museum and the St. Johnsbury Athenaeum in Vermont are two favorite haunts, not just because they were founded by Dottie's great-great uncles, but because they one is a window into beauty and passion of art, the other into not just nature, but a slice of life from 150 years ago as well. I've revisited the Natural History Museum at the University of Kansas a few weeks ago, my 10th or so in 40 years, just in time to see a lone scout bee moving slowly as he came back to report that there was no reason to wake the hive in their living beehive with its window access on a 40 degree afternoon.

In my mind I can hear the catch in Billie Holiday's voice on a V-disc recording (WW2 steel discs recorded for the Armed Forces Radio Network) in a live recording in Europe as she's singing and one of her all-time heroes and idols walks out onto stage to join her; Louis Armstrong.I can hear Bix Beiderbecke's cornet trading lines with Bing Crosby in "Mississippi Mud" from a 20's recording with the Paul Whiteman band. So many other bits of music that I can hear when there's nothing actually playing...

I wonder sometimes at all of these, whether they truly serve a purpose; why they stick with me so. As the time to add more of them grows finite, and there are so many more things I'd love to read, to watch or to listen to, is there a reason to try? Is it just a matter of comfort? Would my time be better spent trying to do something else?

So many things I would love to have done I no longer can-no building of hot rods because I can't weld or paint or even lift some of the things I could have before IPF came along to take my lungs. I've given away my bicycle because I don't have the stamina to ride it and somehow trying to wear an O2 bottle didn't seem quite safe, either.

Last summer I almost bought a motorcycle, not long before my decline really started. Perhaps an inkling that time was growing short, I'm not sure. I'm glad now I didn't, because even though I could strap a bottle to it and ride for a bit, killing someone else because I laid it down and knocked the head off the bottle and it launched like a rocket doesn't seem fair to them.

At home my life revolves around an oxygen concentrator that incessantly drones in the kitchen. During the day I'm tied to it with 67 feet of hose; turn it to one number to sit and read or watch TV, up a bit to hold a conversation; even more to cook; all the way up to walk on the treadmill or shower (I have to shower with oxygen because I'm too weak after 15 minutes without it and it does further damage to my lungs if I'm gasping for air) or vacuum or go down to to laundry in the basement. At night change the line to the one that goes to the CPAP machine and mask I have to sleep with now to insure I get to wake up in the morning. Even the foam earplugs I sleep in sometimes don't completely shut out the never ending throb of it running just a few feet away.

If I do get away from it, I have to take bottles with me, allowing for extra time "just in case" and the related hangers and straps and wrenches to change them-I can get away for 14 hours at a time, but I'm breathing air that smells of the metal can it's stored in the whole time. When I come home I have to turn on the 2nd machine in the kitchen to refill them all before I can leave again. I have a light one that weighs about 4 pounds that will get me 2 hours or so, depending on how fast I'm moving, and 2 heavier 10 pound ones that last 5 or 6 hours. They take almost as long to refill as it takes me to empty them.

Were it to come to the great evacuation from the city for some reason, I'm screwed unless I take all of them and a generator to fire them from, then worry about getting gasoline as well. I'm still trying to figure out how I'm going to fish this summer and keep a bottle close enough to use the 4 foot hose that attaches to it...

Anyway, sorry about this being such a depressing post, but it's where my head is at this morning and I guess I needed to get it out there!

May you each have a lovely weekend!

alan

6 comments:

Doris said...

It all does not seem fair - so much to do, see, think about or share. And it is strange the things one does think about in the middle of the night when sleep eludes.

There is no magic wand or one answer fits all. This is your journey and thank you for the privelege of being able to pop my head in and say hello. As I think you know from my writings, I have just seen a dear friend through her last weeks and days. She too had the compressor whirring away incessantly. The only thing I'd say to you from her experience is to, as far as is possible, keep moving. Gentle movement and pace yourself - try to accept it is a challenge and to potter in the kitchen is the equivalent of climbing a mountain and that everyday you are achieving incredible feats.

Keep going, doing, sharing, being. You are alive and that is very special indeed.

Hugs and strength xxx

Anji said...

You didn't mention those pictures you sent me of Normandy, during the war and recently. I still have them on my old computer.

Memories are facinating. I hope that you have time to get through your reading list

Take care
XXXX

Hawaiianmark said...

My deepest aloha to you my friend.

Hawaiianmark said...

Added - not seen as depressing; I see a man whose heart is as huge as his caring for his fellow mankind.

robin andrea said...

One breath, one step, one day at a time. You are on the road to recovery, and giving it your very best shot. The support of family and friends really goes a long way in boosting those endorphins and keeping you well. Sending very best wishes your way.

Thank you for mentioning me in such illustrious, artistic company! Have you checked Dharma Bums lately? I'm absolutely obsessed by photographing iridescent clouds. Want to see something beautiful? Go look!

Kranki said...

Always in my thoughts, dear friend.