When I grow up I want to be an old woman
Oh, an o-o-o-o-old, an old, old woman
Then I think I'm gonna find myself an old man
Then I think I'm gonna marry myself that old man
An old, an old, an old, an old, a really old man
We're gonna have a hundred and twenty babies
A hundred and five, ten, fifteen, twenty babies
Uh huh, that's what I said a hundred and twenty babies
We'll raise 'em on tiger's milk and green bananas
Mangoes and coconuts and watermelon
We're gonna give 'em that watermelon when they starts yellin'
Here's what they'll yell...
In the summer we'll sit in a field and watch the sun melt
In the winter we'll sit by a fire and watch the moon freeze
Me my old man and a hundred and twenty babies
Me my old man and a hundred and twenty babies
I said, me my old man and a hundred and twenty babies
Oh, when I grow up I want to be an old woman
When I grow up I want to be an oooooold...
--Michelle Shocked, When I Grow Up
Michelle Shocked is among those artists I like to listen to during ketamine treatments. It's kind of an odd mix, I suppose, though maybe not: Sam Cooke on gospel (he was there when they crucified my lord, y'know) The Stones prancing around on my cerebellum, Jacques Brel to satisfy that inevitable nostalgia for accordion-driven café music, Keith Jarrett's Koln concert, anything from After the Gold Rush Neil
(Hey, hey Cripple Creek ferry
Butting through the overhanging trees
Make way for the Cripple Creek ferry
-- early Bonnie Raitt, like before I understood how old she was, Jennifer Warnes, the bits of Laurie Anderson that crack me up, Marvin Gaye -- all the Marvin Gaye in the world, wanting to undo what was done -- but no more Motown because I shake the gurney in some kooky ketamine spastic dance craze, apparently -- though I bet I could tolerate some Temptations -- I don't so much want to dance to their music as pretend to be them, slick with moves... some Jackson Browne but always Your Bright Baby Blues --
(I'm sitting down by the highway
Down by that highway side
Sometimes there's some Dylan, sometimes there's not, often he's replaced by Nina Simone -- it is necessary to assess my mood, to make those all-important last minute decisions, sitting in the fume-filled parking garage, getting my last swigs of diet root beer, feeling oh-so-glad I quit smoking all those years ago. I'm not concluding anything from it, but I get the same feeling at this hospital for catastrophic brain and spinal cord injuries as I did the times I dragged a long ago roommate to AA meetings. We started going the evening of the day she crashed her orange Vega through the garden wall and smack-dab into my bedroom. Anyway, I am referring to the coffee and cigarettes. The smell of them is everywhere, and because they're molecularly linked somehow, not even the coffee smell smells good. I mean, like, you'd never slip up and use the word "aroma" for it.
My mp3 player selections for the ketamine experience are hardly remarkable... but they are mine, you know? A little something of me to have, in case I get lost and can't find my way back -- to Fred, down at the end of the bed, to Nurse Monique, so sweet and learning not to promise me anything, to my brothers, to my friends, to Dobby and the Rest of the Remnant.
We had our first early morning session this week, on Thursday. You will note that it is now Saturday and that the only blog piece I've published in the interim was something already pieced together. And I am not sure I should be writing this post, even.
I've been in a world of pain. Past caring, really.
Ah, but Friends, I ask you: Might the fact that I somehow managed to delete all of my music during the ride to the hospital -- Might that devastating loss be at the heart of how awful that treatment turned out to be? Might being stuck with just the radio have set me up for days of suffering, for nights of... well, for plain old long-assed nights?
I did give the experience a try -- honestly. I lay there and tried to focus on something besides listening. But I cannot focus on seeing and looking because I cannot... focus. My vision BENDS with these higher doses -- bends as in I-can-see-around-corners-but-not-right-down-the-middle-of-the-visual-field. Also, there is the issue of foreshortening. When I tried to zero in on Fred's legs, which I knew to be stretched out from his nasty plastic chair and propped on my wheelchair seat, they were as badly elongated tooth picks.
And I know you'll understand that I could only see around the corner (the far left corner, of course) when I trained my eyes straight ahead. It was, in fact, Nurse Monique who occupied that just-around-the-far-left-corner spot. Sometimes she popped up at bedside, asking me probing questions like "What's wrong?" and sometimes she was striding -- she has an officious walk -- toward the supply room behind the nurses' station. I never saw her actually enter the supply room because the supply room extends past the line ending the square of permissible vision. You know it is there, kind of a humongous maw of emptiness, its door a blind rectangle to my visible square.
It would be ideal to just sleep. I can't, though, not even with the pre-infusion 10 mg of valium. I can't because of pain. Funny, huh?!
The dose was a hefty 155 mg and we noticed that they gave me considerably longer than the others to try and regain some equilibrium after it had run in. Normally, everyone gets about 20 minutes, then it's on with the shoes and outer clothing, flush the portacath with saline and heparin, transfer to the wheelchair and weave one's shaky way out. My shaky way out. Part of the wait was also due to the doctor failing to show up to sign my discharge paperwork... Even so, I couldn't have left any sooner than I did, and even then, wanted to spew, weep, and be unconscious, all at the same time.
It only got worse as time went on. We stopped at Home Depot, since we were right there near Tête de Hergé's Lone Alp -- and lone Home Depot store. Fred ran in "just for a minute" and I pretended to read Dorothy Allison's Cavedweller. It was hot, people were streaming by, the sun hurt my eyes. I had to pee and got to, an hour later, when we pulled into The Manor service road and zipped right up to the Emergency Secret Loo nestled in the Orchard Wall. (There was no toilet paper! Arg!)
I've tried taking my pain meds.
I've tried not taking my pain meds.
I've tried opiates, no opiates, biofeedback, crying.
I've made myself get up and work.
I baked a batch of awesome scones, not too sweet.
I promised and failed to deliver on a soup.
I put a kitten under my chin.
I paid bills.
I shooed the kitten away, and felt the urge to hit him.
I abstained from eating.
I ran fevers, had sweats.
I cut my hair.
I stopped saying "I" -- as a verbal and moral exercise.
The only thing that helped, and then only for twenty minutes or so, was darkness. And silence. As if my entire body had a migraine.
Some years back, I remember feeling this way -- physical horror wrapped up in depression and regret. I tossed the remains of my dissertation, and erased the evidence from my hard drives. I burned photographs. I ran the air conditioner at obscene temperatures, applying ice air to my burning dystrophic body.
The ketamine isn't working. It's failed. I came out of this one worse than I went in. Fred says it's too early to say, that I did get some benefit from the fourth infusion but it showed up way late -- as in the day before receiving the fifth one. I cannot say if he is right. (That means that I think he is wrong.)
I'll do the next one as the last one and then keep my appointment with this doctor... who promised me a miracle. No, I am not angry. It's what I wanted to hear and longed to believe.
There is one song that will never make the Ketamine Playlist -- I'd never disrespect it so. But it might be the one and only piece of the Post-Ketamine SongFest -- the only song worth remembering after bathing the brain in toxin, Dylan's I'll Keep It With Mine. This is not the cover I'd choose but it's certainly more than okay:
And so it was in this sorry state that I got up this morning, and then got up again two hours later. I had the urge to DELETE, beginning with videos... before I gave in to it, I made myself do a "Magic Movie" treatment of about 15 meaningless cat clips. This is what the FlipShare do-hickey program came up with, this is what has been preserved.
Buddy has been going through a "leaping" phase. He will suddenly leap in the air, sometimes from a dead standstill, sometimes adding a quarter turn or a twist, always exuding Extreme Joy. Marmy has begun to accept him and now he gives her this really scary, mean hiss-s-s-s when she frightens him, and she never fails to frighten him, just by showing up. He has mounted Dobby several times, and Dobby fairly sighs -- Sammy used to do the same thing. Poor Dobby. Poor Buddy. Sexual confusion is never fun.
I am *this* close to deleting the blog. It is a tough call.