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My name is aneurin and those of you that have read my daylog entry of April 22, 2005 will know that I have been diagnosed with my own version of the big C and was off to face some fairly radical surgery in the form of a cystectomy and neobladder formation. I would like to thank all of you that took the time and trouble to send me your good wishes and words of encouragement.


Unfortunately me and Sister Morphine did not get on all that well. Apparently diamorphine makes me queasy. I don't remember much except puking my guts out a few times, which wasn't terribly pleasant, and having a strange dream where Everything2 was a real place; all glass and chrome set in rolling green mountains somewhere. (Someplace just west of Rhayader I think.)

On Saturday 7th May I was kicked out of hospital. They'd taken out all of their tubes and shit. I was mobile. I'd had the necessary 'bowel movement' as the medics like to say. So they kicked me home with a bag full of drugs and a wave good bye. Which is okay by me. Hospitals are depressing places full of sick people. They're the last place you want to be when you're ill, which is why they discharge you these days as soon as they can.

I understand that the surgery went as expected. So I've crossed that particular hurdle and my survival chances go up a few notches. I'm still left hobbling around the place like an old man, still in some pain and discomfort as my surgical wounds haven't completely healed yet, but still happy not to be in the place that smells so much of death and pain; happier to be home where the only sounds I hear are the birds singing and the occasional drone of a flymo in the distance.


One of the weirdest things I've found is that that I can't drink coffee anymore, it just tastes like shit. I thought it was just NHS coffee, but no it's the same for the real thing. It's real strange, I used to like mainline the shit and all I can manage now is a little latte, which is like girl's stuff for someone like me who had his own baby Gaggia to churn out that real Class A hit. Still smoking though, but nothing like before. Although I'm gonna have to give that up soon as well. I mean, it's quite likely the reason I'm in this particular hole so it's time to stop digging. Caffeine, nicotine, seems like every one of life's little pleasures are gradually being taken away from me. But what the hell, the alternative might have been no life at all and sometimes you just have to go with what you've got.

Time to get my mind focussed and start producing content again. Time to get back to building the database of my dreams.

Tonight I am going to have to work with this crazy old woman. I am a bit nervous for several reasons. This old woman, Karen is her name, well I guess she likes to flirt with the younger male employees. Now don't get me wrong, it would be no problem if it was just kidding around kinda shit, but it's not. She just makes me feel uncomfortable, because of her age. This woman is dead serious, I guess a couple of the past workers quit because of her. I asked Bill why Corporate doesn't just fire her, and he said that she has been with the company for over thirty years, and that she is a very valuable employee. I figure if she tries to pull some crazy shit tonight that I will simply tell her that I am really not interested, and if that doesn't work I will simply karate chop her.

Wish me luck!

Watching my grandmother deteriorate is agonizing.

She has been under the knife several times throughout her life, having undergone a bilateral mastectomy and various eye operations. The latter few have been less than successful; she had detached her retina after losing her balance and hitting herself in the eye with a broomstick. Glaucoma set in later and her vision declined gradually. On good days she says light manifests itself as a shade of dark gray – but otherwise, she lives her life in darkness.

To say she doesn’t see anything, though, is a lie.

For months she has told us stories of doctors and nurses mysteriously appearing in my grandparents’ apartment. She has lost track of ten years nearly overnight and refuses to believe that she doesn’t live in Montreal anymore. She is adamant about this to the point of accusing my grandfather of lying to her when he tells her the truth.

They have been married for nearly 54 years. He couldn’t lie to her if he tried – and he has tried, if only to keep her from worrying about events of little importance in the grand scheme of things.

The memory lapses first seemed to be a reaction to her medication. Doctors attempted to wean her off of it and put her on something else but things became dramatically worse in too short a time. The fire that burns in our loved ones often dims as they age; it is not an original notion. Everyone experiences this at some point. This, however, is not just lapsing memory or dimming sensibilities. It is taking my grandmother away.

And she was feisty at one point, once upon a time. I know because I was there.

I found a stack of old pictures in the basement a few months ago – some of them date from before I was born – and the first thought to cross my mind was how much weight she’s lost. She’s so frail. She looks as though she’d fall right over if you touched her hand.

She’s on cross-country skis in one picture. In another, she (along with my grandfather and two of their closest friends) is visibly tipsy at the cottage – but the grin is infectious. After her mastectomies she told my grandfather that everything was going to be all right – besides, now she could go to church Halloween parties as a topless dancer.

The pictures are not much comfort once I remind myself that she’s 76 now and hardly ever leaves the chair in her living room. She can no longer differentiate between her dreams and reality and wakes up in the middle of the night asking my grandfather where their son is. He’d asked to sleep in their bed with them, she says, and now he’s gone. He’s 47 and lives several cities away but in these lapses he’s still her little boy.

I think it’s destroying them. It’s destroying me and I don’t even physically see it on a daily basis.

Caregivers always seem invincible when one is young; the idea that she needs so many people to take care of her now and will likely have to be moved to a long-term care facility seems so backwards. It seems to be what’s best, though, and she’s even said she wants to go.

There are issues, of course; my grandfather is hesitant to enter a fully long-term facility because he knows that sort of environment would destroy him. We have to find one that offers long-term care in a retirement-friendly environment. We have to find one close by. These places also don’t, apparently, pay for themselves.

The hardest part so far has been watching my fun-loving grandmother so affected by such unfortunate and painful developments. Sometimes, when her spirits are particularly low, she tells me that she knows things would be better if she were to end things herself. She always adds, “I can say that sort of thing to you. You’re grown-up now.”

It slays me.

She is a deeply religious woman and since her eyesight started to fail years ago, she’s prayed for a miracle that hasn’t come. She woke up every morning for years hoping for full restoration of her sight. It never happened, as the doctors told her it wouldn’t, but that didn’t matter to her. She says she’s past that now and is only praying to accept things as they come.

Whenever I see her she asks - she begs - me to pray for her.

I hate to think about it but I can’t shake the thought that she might not be around on my twentieth birthday from the back of my mind. She is suffering but I don’t want to lose her. I know that the her I know best is probably already gone, but I couldn’t bear it. I couldn’t.

When it finally does happen, I will lose a huge part of myself.

Ring ring! I pick up the phone.

Me: Hello?

Dr. Milstein: Hi Jennifer. I've gone over your file again, and I realized I made a misdiagnosis. You don't have WPW Syndrome. You don't need a radiocatheter ablation.

Me: I don't? Woo-hoo!

Dr. Milstein: We will still have to do a procedure, though.

Me: What kind of procedure?

Dr. Milstein: I'm going to have to perform rhinoplasty on you.

Me: I need a nosejob? For my heart? WHY?!?

Dr. Milstein: It's not any old rhinoplasty. It's cardiac rhinoplasty.

I woke up laughing.

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