Day 438: Jack Black

When I first started this diary a writer friend pointed out that the focus was mortality. I was offering readers a glimpse of how I confronted my own upcoming death.

Along the way I’ve detoured by poking fun at some institutions that seem to me to have more arrogance than answers. I’ve also recalled a handful of people that, for better or worse, helped me get where I am. But mostly I’ve ignored the thing that inspired this little project in the first place: my finish line.

That changed last night.

Yesterday, after working on the kitchen floor, we went out for a bowl of soup. I finished the meal with an apple. Somehow tiny apple bits gathered halfway down my esophagus. I wanted to swallow or burp or something but it was blocked. My entire esophagus lit up with pain. Tiny burps and swallows and tearing eyes followed for the next half hour.

For most people this would have been a completely forgettable event. But it turns out I have esophageal varices – maybe. Five years ago (see St. Policy) $140,000 worth of tests said I might. Or might not – no one actually knew what the tests meant.

In any case, when the bleeding starts I get black, tarry stools. I haven’t seen them in five years. Last night they returned.

Mortality. Perhaps the finish line is in sight. What to do?

I despise the American medical machine – sucking profit out of misery. Charge for keeping me healthy – not for suffering illness. In any case, I’ve decided to stay home and do my best to be gentle to the offended body parts that are now bleeding into my digestive system.

There’s power in that decision my words don’t capture. Perhaps I might borrow from Ahab:  from hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee. Hospitals. Moneymen. 

Horizontal man

I made my way downstairs this morning about 11:00. I cut two more floor tiles and took a potty break – black as Ahab’s soul. Upon finishing I stood and nearly passed out. Delphine stared. “Your face – it’s white.”

I fought my way back upstairs holding on to every table and chair along the way, reached my bed, and collapsed. I needed to let blood return from my legs to my brain. That was three hours ago. I’m typing this post on my little netbook computer with my head on my pillow.

Writers are supposed to look for tension in their stories – good versus evil, innocence versus malfeasance. Right now the tension in this story flows from ambiguity. If I lie here another hour or six will I be up helping Delphine move the oven back in place or making my way to oblivion? An internal bleed is peaceful – painless, sleepy, calm.

Is it time to say good bye to my sons? Do I tell the memories of girls from my youth who said no thank you they may only have minutes to change their minds? Friends and lovers, lovers and friends. And what about my dearest sweet Delphine?

Ambiguity. I feel a nap coming on. More later. Perhaps.

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