February Thoughts.

february 13th, 2015


brain Saw neurosurgeon Dr Vasiliy on Monday. He contradicted much of what Dr Chef said in December.

Dr Chef Dr Vasiliy
my shunt is malfunctioning
based on slow refill of CSF in valve
my shunt is working
based on my MRI from September
scan shows signs of early stage slit syndrome no signs of slit syndrome
CAT scan in March will tell us more skip the CAT scan and its very high levels of radiation, get a shunt series of X-rays instead
shunts, especially old ones, can crack and/or disintegrate I can expect my shunt to last the rest of my life, barring infection

Current plan of action:

  1. cancel the March CAT scan and get X-rays instead
  2. see an ENT about ringing in the ears
  3. seek out message boards or online fora of long-term shunt patients. Vlad and I call this “seeking out fellow Morgellons sufferers.” At the very least feel a sense of community.
  4. get some Reiki, on my therapist's suggestion. I'm skeptical it will get me back to full strength but fuck Western medicine, let's try it. I had Reiki once as a teenager and it felt awesome. So at a minimum, I'll do something I like. And at a maximum, I'll feel like my old August 2014 self.

Vasiliy didn't know what might be causing my symptoms, but in his opinion and experience it isn't shunt-related. I'm inclined to believe him. And that means ... this is not now nor ever has been a shunt problem ...

... but then so why do I have pain, like, along my shunt tract and where it exits my skull, Docs? Maybe stress, maybe toxic exposure, maybe drugs, maybe physical trauma they say. I'm like, “or maybe the plastic drilled into my brain and neck 20 years ago? Yah? No, not that? You're sure? Because I read on a message board that ... ”

Maybe I've developed hypochondria (terrible medical problem of its own).

Blizzard | Chicago February 2015

the cab driver I had a cab driver last night who led with a rant about the bike lane added to Broadway on the north side. “There were two lanes for cars, and it used to be fine! And the bicycles were not hurt.” Wasn't sure about that, but the cab driver moved on to What He Would Do If He Were Alderman. “I'd give everyone my cell phone number! Not even when elected, when I was running! And I would say, ‘I am your servant. Call me.’” Being a servant figured big into his alderman fantasy. Also: “and if they did not think I was doing a good job? They could come to my office, spit in my face! Like this! [ptui] Punch me!” It was one of the more bondage-inspired political fantasies I've heard.

I asked him what he'd do about the bed bug problem in Chicago. He hadn't heard about it. I said, “Chicago is the most infested city in the US for three, four years running now? People burn down their buildings, they're so desperate to get rid of them.” Bed bugs and schools were not his aldermanical priorities. Topping the list: plowing the alleys (“I would have my own truck!”); cleaning senior citizens' cars (“Over 60? Call me, I will come.”); delivering meals to people with disabilities.

I asked, “what will you do if you get too many calls?”

He said, “too many calls? Then I would have cameras watching me, all the time. And people could watch their alderman. Their servant! And they would know how hard I was working all the time.”

His wife called. “That was my wife. She wants me to get her a pizza.” He may have muttered something angry about his wife, but I was already chatting happily about how much I love pizza so I caught his tone more than his words. He thanked me at the end of the ride for listening.

youth I've been out every night this week going to poetry events, or going to improv class or shows. Making new young friends. It used to be strange for me to connect as a peer with people younger than my baby brother. Five years younger: that was the old cut-off. Last night I went to a poetry open mic that turned out to be mostly kids from Louder Than a Bomb, which means high school! Half my age. The kids! They're wonderful! They're believers. There's no weariness in their palette. Contemplating my ironic grays in comparison.

improv(e) we're finally doing scene work in improv class. Hardest for me: I'm like playing pretend with a bossy little kid who'll say something, and then say, “now YOU say ...” Also am not a natural listener. The charitable way to frame this is that I'm a writer who wants to “write” the scene. Everyone in the class is wonderful. Not one bad attitude. Everyone is excited, enthusiastic, thoughtful. Everyone goes easy on each other but especially on themselves. I go easier on myself just to fit in. It's awesome.

Erica Dreisbach at the Green Mill | slam poetry

Photo by Marcel Flores

poetry Been keeping to my small still waters of The Green Mill too long. In the last week, feeling woke with the open-hearted beautiful talent in Chicago at Lethal Poetry, The Gala, Urban Sandbox. Mental Graffiti soon. More art (better art). Feeling very far away from the poet I was three years ago. Like: those poems don't read as true anymore. Or they read as a shallower truth. New friend and poetical spirit guide Eka says, “I have that too. But I think I was a shallower person then.”

co-habitation Vlad and I have moved in to the one-bedroom half a block from his apartment and one block from my bed bug-infested old building. We're not quiiiiite living together in the sense that he still has a lease and most of his things at his place down the street, but we are paying rent together and buying furniture together. This is my first time making a season out of furniture shopping. Trying out chairs, talking about what we like in colors and cushion. It's cool. I like it

Vlad | Collage and computer