In my monastery days one of the monks I lived with had a line that always cracked him up. Whenever someone was talking about illness he’d say “Yup, you’re dying. So am I. We all are.”
It was a Buddhist existential joke.
I’ve had chronic gastritis for a few decades. I think the term is Crohn’s disease, although doctors in Indonesia don’t seem to know that word. With Crohn’s you get flare ups which wipe you out, and times when you can function fairly normally. A bad flare up can kill you, but usually just lays you up in bed, or makes it difficult to focus and work.
I’ve been having a long protracted flare up for many months now. It got so bad I thought that I was dying, so I scraped together some money and snaked a camera down my throat.
Yuck. What an ugly mess down there. That’s not what a stomach is supposed to look like.
Unfortunately after the test I was still wacked out on valium and anesthetic drugs and made a poor choice to not immediately take the biopsy to the clinic for evaluation, reasoning that it would not affect the treatment decisions. I had assumed that cancer could be diagnosed visually. So I’ll have to scrape up more funds for another test to rule that out, as apparently cancer isn’t quite that obvious.
That’s all pretty boring, I know. Everybody dies. The less boring stuff is what happens in the meantime. In the meantime I’m having a hard time focusing.
On the worst days I can take tramadol, a poppy juice type drug, but it isn’t strong enough to kill the pain. It’s weaker and therefore less addictive than drugs that actually work. Indonesia is very cautious about opioid narcotics, and only offers stronger options in a hospital emergency care situation, or sometimes for cancer patient pain management. There is a black market, and there may be ways to work within the system to legally get stronger pain medicine, but the fact is that all effective strong pain medicines are opioids, which are dangerously addictive.
I’m an alcoholic who doesn’t drink, so have some familiarity with addiction. I’d rather pass on opioid addiction. Luckily for now on the worst days I can load up on tramadol, and the pain is tolerable.
It puts me into a semi-sleep state. I can’t actually sleep, but I can’t actually stay awake, so I try really hard to meditate. Every few seconds I’ll start to hallucinate; the bathroom door will turn into a cell phone, then I’ll wrangle my attention back to focusing on a chakra or something. Then after the strongest effects of the drug wear off I have to get real sleep. So I can be in bed for 20 hours.
That’s only happened twice this last month, and usually I can avoid tramadol or take just a few. Luckily for me I’m not that fond of the effects. I do take ultra low dose naltrexone at the same time, which is supposed to kill the euphoria, and retain the pain killing, and help to prevent addiction. And on non-tramadol days I take a larger low dose of the opioid-antagonist naltrexone at night, which helps to regrow the opioid receptors. So far so good – I never think about taking it recreationally, and the next day after a big dose have no interest in loading up again.
The worst part isn’t the pain. It’s that I can’t focus. The low energy level isn’t conducive to work, plus there can be brain fog. And during a flare up any food will put me to sleep within 10 minutes. Sometimes for so long that when I wake up I’m hungry again.
After I eat, food sits against a host of ulcers, and some of that food swims directly into my blood stream, which freaks out all the little people who live in there. The immune defense people scramble around trying to kill the food particles, and get a little indiscriminate in their panic, and wind up attacking healthy tissue, so I have generalized inflammation.
This can and does lead to cardiovascular health problems, and brain degradation. I’ve already had a few mini strokes which has left me partially blind in my left eye. I’ve got psoriasis. I feel that my brain organ is falling apart.
So even if it’s not cancer, I’m still dying. I’m really not sure how long I’ll have my brain.
In the meantime my financial situation has taken a turn. I’m eating, even though I find it difficult to work, but there is a constant background anxiety about that.
And the strangest thing is that I have some enemies who seem to really want to hurt me. I owe some money, and they think that I can pay but just don’t, out of stubbornness and greed.
The people persecuting me seem very emotional. Deadly serious angry. They’ve expressed that they’d really like to see harm and ruin come to me.
It’s difficult to believe that the emotion is all about finances.
People sneak a lot of copyrighted material into the youtube. I was watching a documentary about the making of Easy Rider yesterday. It followed on auto-play after the documentary about the making of Animal House. Which followed after the making of the Blues Brothers movie.
If you are familiar with Easy Rider you’ll know it’s one of those entertainment features that introduced many new ways of looking at and conveying the world. Firsts in music and movies and any field engender a sense of awe and respect for the genius of vision, but of course at the time of production are strongly resisted. Which from the vantage of retrospect heightens our respect, for the courage of conviction while at odds with the system.
The theme of Easy Rider was how the hippies and bikers were seen as degenerate outsiders and so were treated with extreme malevolence. The final scene had the heroes (or anti-heroes) shot dead by red-neck strangers as they rode their choppers down a country two lane highway.
The strongest scene in the movie used real towns-folk in a real diner using their own real dialogue talking about the interlopers. Nasty slander slung freely. The girls reactions to the long haired strangers were also genuine; they were highly flirtatious.
In the Animal House documentary they recounted a story of how the crew had joined a frat house party. The frat boys were not at all pleased to have the interlopers there, and tensions were rising. The story ends with all of the crew getting a beating by the frat boys and having to run away from the party, and then being chased for several blocks.
Flash forward and of course the Easy Rider crew and the Animal House crew are now cultural icons; a living part of how we think of our own personal identity.
But to the local men at the time they were simply poachers.
Emotions ran EXTREMELY high.
In the documentary about Easy Rider it was explained that the ending was not hyperbole. Some of the crew felt that some of the real people in that diner would like to and may be capable of the gruesome anonymous road-side murder.
For the Animal House true-tale, the frat boys were ganging up as a group and beating up people that they knew were actors, there to make a movie on their campus, about campus life.
In those situations, you can’t really sit down and diffuse tensions with explanations.
It would be easy to make parallels between my usually non-monogamous self living in Indonesia, and the Easy Rider and Animal House interlopers.
There is also a thing called narcissistic rage.
There is an ancient Buddhist text, written in India or Tibet or somewhere near there, that is written as a biography of the historical yogi Milarepa. It’s full of wonderful miraculous fairy tales, but as all good fairy tales is also high literature and a commentary on the human condition.
Our Buddhist group used to set aside a block of a few days each year to get together and chant the full book. I don’t recall much conversation about it, but I think a lot of us basically took the fairy tales at face value. The guy would sometimes fly. At the very least we believed he did spend a lot of time meditating in solitude in cold places with little food or clothing. That part probably was true, and is a weird type of hero’s journey.
I was reminded of one of the tales recently, thinking of the people who wish ill to me. I consider them to be genuinely dangerous people, and I really have no idea what to do about it.
I’m going to interrupt myself.
Marc Maron interviewed David Spade, and David recounted a story with hints of the scene from Joe Dirt, where he was in the wrong pit at the wrong time, being told “It puts the lotion on it’s skin!” The true story David tells is that he had a personal assistant who one night showed up at his house and tried to kill him. He had to physically fight, and run, and fight, and was eventually able to get enough distance to run into a room that had his shotgun under the bed. Otherwise no David Spade.
I put the “it puts the lotion on it’s skin” story together with the crazed with jealousy friend trying to kill him story together for a reason. It’s too easy to blame the victim.
When that former employee arrived at his house with murderous intent, nothing could have been said to assuage his anger.
Which is the point of this next Milarepa tale. Milarepa meets an old hag on the street, who just starts to abuse him.
After each abusive action she does, he uses plain descriptive language to tell her what she just did.
Instead of leading to introspection or remorse, this seems to enrage the hag even more.
Which is why before telling these tales I introduced the anchor of narcissistic rage.
Sometimes even mentioning that you are being wrongfully persecuted will completely enrage someone.
I’ve seen it first hand with a girl I once dated who had BPD. If you’ve no direct experience with this you’ll find it simply unbelievable, and not part of the human condition. With a cluster B spectrum personality disordered person, if you use plain descriptive non-judgmental language to recount one of their bad actions, and ever so gently suggest not to repeat such an action, they will fucking blow up.
There are situations in which you simply can’t use words to make antagonists back off.
David had a guy in his house trying to murder him.
I’ve got people who, I’m sure, would not only like to see me dead, but would prefer if I suffered first.
This does not make me sleep better at night, and again I’m sure that’s some small source of pleasure for them.
And I think that simply mentioning that fact is very dangerous, because it most likely would simply enrage them.