Monday 27 May 2024

Pour the wine and don't you whine

Fill the glass, I say

I am neither a glass half full nor glass half empty person because it has no context. As I have written before, I need to know what is in the glass, whether it is tasty or poisonous, and either way, it must be something I want to drink. For instance, if the glass is filled with good wine, I would suppose my glass would be empty or half empty, because I have downed the wine.

Then, I am reminded of one wine estate we visited in the Cape Winelands of South Africa, none of the wine we were given to taste passed the muster, we poured it away, not into the spittoon, but as an inadvertent libation to the trees behind us, wetting the roots for the occasion of woodland inebriation. Though you can never tell if a tree swaying in the wind is pissed, pissed off, or pissing happy.

Every good thing to see

However, if I have a disposition, it is generally to find opportunity and possibility, this with an element of assessing the risk-reward situation so issues can be anticipated for. What I cannot appreciate to any extent is negativity, a totally pessimistic view pretending to a form of realism that is the better part of horror, terror, and a predilection to the foreboding.

Sometimes, it is just a total lack of facility and with it comes the inability to take any advantage even when it literally slaps them in the face screaming, I am here for the taking. Obviously, one should not make a judgement on singular events. Yet, any singular event can be defining, your spirit finds and gives your mouth the words you speak and the outlook you have.

Add it to your experience

If you train yourself on the hopeless, it is unlikely that any hope would feature in how you review a situation. Rather what you have in store is a big bag of excuses, every doorway opened for you to escape from the prison of your acquaintance with everything bad is shut by one; your comfort in the place and then; an unwillingness to leave the place.

I want to believe I am always in motion living through all sorts of experiences that I have determined would be positive regardless of the circumstance. I make the best of the situation and I am both educated and educating. Places where I would never have imagined I would be have given perspective to the privileges I have enjoyed in life and I am full of gratitude that the experience is fulfilling. 

From stage to stage

On a stage of pain

When I ended up in hospital on Tuesday, the 22nd of September 2009, I was in so much pain, I found no facility to cry, and I was already on some of the strongest painkillers that could be given you without constant medical supervision.

Blog - In hospital to kill the pain (September 2009)

Indeed, the pain of cancer is so totally otherworldly, the fact that anyone can even sleep through the pain is a wonder of human nature probably not fully understood to be appreciated. Pain then comes in many ways, the physical can be visible, but the emotional is less so, you can put on a face and veil how you feel, even that façade can soon shatter.

I find myself accessing the Kübler-Ross model on the Five Stages of Grief which I came upon as I was writhing in unbearable pain when I could not tolerate the morphine as it was one or the other, throwing up food I needed for sustenance or managing the pain enough to have my faculties delivered from a madness that was bordering on delirium.

The five stages of the Kübler-Ross Grief Cycle (ResearchGate)

Blog - Seeing hospital meals again (September 2009)

From stage to stage

For a long time, I was in denial, I was dying even as I was taking each day as it came, I was already aware that the presumably Athlete’s Foot was at least a type of cancer, but I was also bargaining for a miracle cure, my reality was seeking a supernal intervention that I had not convinced myself of. My denial was a reality I was not ready to accept as real.

In almost an instant, I woke up after my fifth night in the hospital with a sense of acceptance, I was speaking to myself in the first person, “Akin, you have cancer, what next?” That was when I began to see beyond the cancer and this was days before my consultant in his prognosis said, if I could not tolerate the treatment that included gruelling chemotherapy, I only had 5 weeks to live.

Blog - Getting off the pain train (September 2009)

In my spirit and in my mind, I was ahead of that kind of medical prognostication, I knew I was coming through, I just did not know what kind of life that future held. It took almost another 6 months for my body to catch up with my acceptance. The battle is always in the mind. I have used the model sometimes consciously but more unconsciously to understand many other aspects of adversity and infirmity that I have encountered and what stage I might be in.

Other words to stage

There might be synonymous feelings  and emotional responses that are not fully expressed in the starkness of Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. I might not have been in shock, but I would have been winded or blind-sided, this is a perspective of the feeling of anger. Where I would not suggest that I am depressed, I might well be sad, lacking in motivation, or even indifferent, it is important not to boil down the emotion to fit a construct.

When I was told my baby sister had chronic kidney disease, that situation was immediately overwhelming for me, I was in grief and mourning, my acceptance of the situation was one of resignation. Sadly, I had no faith or hope for a future, I was preparing myself for the end, it came almost 3 and half years later. She had a life-long illness than medicine only seemed to ameliorate on occasion, other factors playing in adherence and discipline exacerbated matters. Her death was a release, difficult as it was.

Yet, I am not always at the point where I am seeing beyond the situation, acceptance is a process some never get to, just as denial is sometimes a defence mechanism. Why dwell in your reality when there is safety in avoidance? Some truths are difficult to assess; you would rather not be acquainted with it.

Stuck in a stage

I suppose unpredictability is one characteristic feature of our humanity, you cannot predetermine how you would react to an event. Much of your experience might equip you for what is ahead, and help you process the news you hear, but the effect is impossible to chart, it is on review that you might see how you have been affected.

As I filled my weekly pillbox yesterday, it seemed more like a chore than the routine it was, an indifference creeping in that I needed to counter because my stream of consciousness and expectation had been interrupted. I guess on the processing of this new grief, I am still in denial.

Friday 24 May 2024

We stand assured

We stand alone

For the Lord GOD will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed. [Bible Hub: Isaiah 50:7 (KJV)]

Some of the challenges we face in life, we almost always face alone; when we receive the news of a terrible diagnosis presenting a dark realisation of existential mortality, the thoughts that run riot in your head are a Babel of incomprehensibility captured in a moment that seems like an eternity.

For me, I can only say that I have been blessed as I hear the prognosis and seek to appreciate the import of what has been said. Then from within wells up a fight, my face is set like a flint, unflinching in adversity and refusing to be defined by the immediate incapacity.

We stand assured

It makes sobriety feel like a curse, all your faculties are engaged, you are in no doubt that you seek a repetition of the situation, you heard right the first time, you do not need a confirmation. However, you seek a place to reflect, the quietude of a lonely moment before embracing the healing succour of slumber.

Indeed, sleep does stop the mind from wandering into the wilderness like a marauding prophet of doom bedecked in anything but the finery of the acceptable, mad beyond any redeeming quality, except to instil fear.

We are saved from the situation and saved from ourselves. We are strengthened with resolve to face adversity and to emerge with stories and testimonies that blow the mind. The spirit that is the engine of our sustenance continues to drive us forward with the clear reasoning that as long as we live, we will live well, thrive, and do good. In that, we know, we shall not be ashamed.

Wednesday 22 May 2024

Thought Picnic: We will not be deprived of our memories

I beg to differ

Under the guise of misremembering with the advantage of being caught unawares in the heat of the moment or a discussion, you hear things that on reflection you know for a fact were never the situation when what is being referenced is recalled differently.

Oh, that we had the presence of mind to call out those things before they become the new narrative presented as the truth it never was. You do wonder if you are being taken for a fool or if the recollection is working in the assumption that you must have forgotten the reality that you experienced in full living colour.

How it really happened

The capacity of my memory sometimes amazes me, books and records of the senses in motion left apparently gathering dust in the shelves of the mind, at moments of deep thought and reflection get dusted off and leafed through to pages of an instant relived unmistakably as it is real.

It is against that vivid recollection that some seek a revision of the fact to suit a new narrative and press a point of view that is entirely invalid. If one were to look at this charitably, how we are being lied to and taken for dullards is expressed in their talking out of both sides of their mouths.

Our silence buys peace

The lasting effect of that sometimes-inadvertent deception is distrust and anger, for once again, you are discounted in the equation of things as inconsequential and irrelevant. Your restraint or occasion to the unfortunate absence of mind is taken as agreement and acquiescence. It ultimately comes to my writing to redress the false impression, it matters little whether it is read or not.

What we have been witnesses to, remains an aspect of our participation, that no one thought to ask how we were affected by it lends itself to certain cultural norms that appear to infer that time resolves things and children forget things. Nothing could be further from the truth. We compartmentalise and put things away to save ourselves from trauma, it is a self-preservation mechanism more than anything else.

We saw it all even if we did not offer an opinion then. When they think they have pulled the wool over our eyes, we see through it all, that the perfect is as imperfect as it is given to wilful corruption. What we excuse is for the sake of peace and de-escalation of the confrontational, the day we decide to challenge the presumptions, no one can be prepared for the shock of our clear perceptions.

Thought Picnic: That honour rarely comes

We live for others

We grow and yet we do not grow up in the eyes of some usually out of proximity and familiarity or distance and estrangement. We seem to be caught in the amber of time, fossilised in the peat of an eternal past that has never changed. We are seen in the prism of light that no longer reveals or reflects who we are.

For all the journeys and experiences of life we have acquired, it is meaningless as those who never really journeyed with you through the wildernesses and the triumphs are totally unaware of how you have changed and who you have become. Jesus Christ painted that picture clearly; “A prophet is treated with honour everywhere except in his own hometown, among his relatives, and in his own house.” [You Version: Mark 6:4 (The Passion Translation)]

With achievement and recognition garnered from many endeavours, appreciation and praise greeting you as you navigate the fields of toil away from home, you are to them the boy, the kid, the child, the son, stripped of all standing and respect, reviled and contemned with belittlement and contempt, if you crave it, your disillusionment and disappointment will be great with the pall of disconsolation.

Continue in what you know

Yet, you must stand, if not to be heard, at least not to be stymied in the expression of who you have become. Be unrelenting in the resolve that has brought you the success you have earned through the sprinkled ingredients of example, training, experience, guidance, or even indifference.

The thought I started with as with many of my blogs has been lost in the flow of this snippet of self-appreciation. When you realise how impactful the little you do is to others, it matters less whether your kith and kin acknowledge you. If they eventually do, it is a bonus. If they never do, do not let your goals be defined by those who only see you in the past and have never moved beyond it.

Sunday 19 May 2024

Men's things - V

The aftereffects of the aftermath

I have put it down to the shock the body has felt to the nicking of bits down there with regards to the transperineal prostate biopsy I had on Tuesday. Nary a discomfort, just sometimes one of the awareness of vulnerability more than anything else.

There has been the occasional tinge of pain in the perineum, and the bloody discolouration in the urine continues, but not as much, it is in the clean-up with tissues that I might notice the obviousness. The quantity that is passed during the night has increased slightly, however, besides that, I feel well, and I have returned to doing the things I enjoy.

Amongst men I have discussed this with, there is a knowing, that no one talks about it, but I introduce it with humour that even the ladies might interject with their experiences of childbirth. It brought to mind again my first biopsy almost 15 years ago. A deep biopsy of the fungating tumours in my left foot, that 5 injections of Lidocaine did little to contain the feelings the nerves conveyed to my brain.

Blog - The looming abyss of a deep biopsy (September 2009)

Please take note for yourself

Even during the apparent start of this experience, an advocate has been won, I want to stand before a group of men to make them aware of a few things.

  1. The need to have regular checkups.
  2. Having an appreciation and knowledge of the results of their bloodwork, so they can ask good questions for useful answers.
  3. Understanding when any result is out of range and immediately discussing this with their medical personnel for a pathway to remediation.
  4. Speaking up for yourself regardless of the preponderance of medical expertise around you.
  5. Pressing for the best outcomes whilst always seeking prompt action on the situation.
  6. Follow through with the advice you get along with the additional tests suggested, remembering at the back of your mind that it is your body first before you are their Guinea pig. Seek a second opinion if you need more clarification or are unconvinced of the recommended pathway.
  7. Do not leave anything to chance, act immediately and get full assurances and information about everything, if there is nothing else to be done, schedule your next screening, else, consider your treatment options and stick with the plan.

Blog - Men's things

Blog - Men's things - II

Blog - Men's things - III

Blog - Men's things - IV

Thursday 16 May 2024

Men's things - IV

Men’s showing

The number of ladies who have accosted me and commended my dressing would suggest our womenfolk do appreciate men being well turned out. The refrain I hear quite often as I heard this afternoon was, “I wish men dressed up more like you.”

My fashion; somewhat formal and neat still matters even as the casual and informal have become the trend. The common, while nice, does not stand out or attract notice, as how I have been greeted with compliments over the years. I blushingly thank them and go on my way.

Men’s issues

After my transperineal prostate biopsy on Tuesday, there are quite some people who would have expected me to stay at home yesterday, if not for the rest of the week. Brian, especially, was annoyed with me, when I called him yesterday morning as I boarded the tram. He put it down to stubbornness, a trait I do not recognise in myself, even after much reflection. [Manchester Urology: Transperineal Template Prostate biopsy]

The pain in the perineal area had subsided by Tuesday night, I have felt no further discomfort since then and there has been no further need for analgesics. However, since yesterday afternoon, I have had blood in my urine, an expected side effect of prostate biopsies that could last up to 10 days. This seems to happen in all cases. [The British Association of Urological Surgeons (BAUS): Transperineal Ultrasound-Guided Biopsies of the Prostate Gland (PDF)]

Then, for up to 6 weeks, one can expect to have blood in the semen, though, it is not supposed to affect one’s partners. The risk of infection with sepsis is lower with the transperineal approach than with the transrectal option. I fortunately do not have any symptoms of the other side effects that occur less frequently with patients.

Men’s things

Having this procedure under local anaesthetic is useful from the fact that your reaction to the nicking activity can prevent damage to the gland and associated organs. Under general anaesthesia, the doctor has no additional guidance beyond the ultrasound probe and their dexterity.

I used a public urinal earlier against my better judgement, a stream of yellow nectar interspersed with splashes of red, then at the end, in the shake out, more red than I could be comfortable with. I waited for the urinal to flush, but it did not clear everything. Someone would have observed my leaving the place and wondered what I had. [Note to self: Use the cubicle, next time.]

How do you throw up your hands and blurt out, "Alright, I had a prostate biopsy 2 days ago and that is one of the side effects?" Then, it might be an activist opportunity to remind menfolk that men’s things need checking up regularly and frequently. Experience can make an unexpected prophet of a cynic.

Blog - Men's things

Blog - Men's things - II

Blog - Men's things - III