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Journal

January
12
2019

Christmas

I just discovered that I never posted this journal entry. I don't know how it works on the blog when one posts something from weeks past, but I will post it at than add a note in current time. [I now see that the posting just gets posted. So: what follows was actually written on Christmas day.]

It has been a while since I really felt able to write in a concentrated way, but real progress has been made on the various processes that were causing me to feel so badly the past week or so. In any case, I feel  that I have crossed the "enough energy & focus to write" threshold.
    
Once again, the military metaphor: there is the war against AML swirling around me, but also battles with other foes, some closely connected to the AML, other's not. We cannot effectively take on the main enemy without defeating the other forces. A war on too many fronts. Well for the moment we're making progress on the immediate threats.
     The big advance was on the bowel movement front. The standard treatment is an enema: A big bag of fluid is hung from an IV pole -- I don't know how much, but perhaps a liter. A long tube is  inserted (gently, gently, ever so gently) through the rectum and then as far up into the colon as possible. The liquid drips into colon and after a while, 20-30 minutes, this triggers the needed action. That is standard enema procedure. Works well against standard constipation. My situation is a more complex because the constipation it partially the result of obstruction from the spleen and liver enlargement (I just found out that that liver was considerably enlarged as well). So, the more refined strategy: I lie on a table equipped with a CT-Scan which helps guide the enema tube as deep as possible into the colon to get to the blockage. Not at all painful, or even really uncomfortable. The table itself, mind you, was very uncomfortable -- hard, wooden table with no padding. It was also very high off the ground -- maybe 4 feet -- and couldn't be lowered. The gurney couldn't be raised that high so I couldn't just scooch over from one surface to another. I got off the gurney, walked a few steps to The Table, and then with the assistance of a step, and hoisted myself up. It was hard. For anyone much more feeble than I, it would have been impossible. Once on the table, it was also supremely uncomfortable. I was asked to lie on my side, and the hard surface created a  pressure point on my hip. The staff were nice, but then scene also felt a bit like gnomes doing their bit in a dudgeon. One of them had a very aromatic curry for lunch. Anyway, the The procedure itself went smoothly, without a hitch, then back to the room to wait for a dump, which happened a couple of hours later.
  That was yesterday. Today I think my overall wellness has improved somewhat and things are on track.

Last night on Christmas Eve I happened to tune into the NBC Christmas Even service. The sermon was extraordinary. The preacher was an African American women named Jacqui Lewis. Here is how the sermon was described in the NBC press release:
 

       “At the center of the Christmas story is hope…hope which comes to us in the form of a vulnerable, poor baby. A child, not a king, changes the world. God appears to us as a marginalized, Afro-Semitic, Jewish child from Nazareth in Palestine. A child who grows up to teach us to welcome the stranger. How would our world be different if we loved our neighbors as ourselves?” asks the Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis, senior minister of Middle Collegiate Church.

      This barely captures the power of the sermon. Lewis talked about how the Christmas story was hijacked by imperialism and commodification -- power and greed. How once it became a state religion it was used for domination and exploitation. But, she says, the heart of Christianity is really simple. Strip it down to its core it is "Love. Period. The rest is commentary". Love, period, the rest is commentary. That is really potent o me right now. I see love at really a deep thread in my life, unifying how I teach, how I am a parent, my scholarly work and commitments to Marxism and emancipatory social science. To see this powerfully stated in a broadcast Christmas service moved me greatly. Of course, I can't accept all the God-talk, where good is a consciousness directly eternal all power Being. But when God is more elusive --God is Love rather than the God Of Love -- it is easier to swallow. Still, for me God  detracts from the central message: love. period.

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