Thursday, June 21, 2012

I did not miss our most beautiful Spring

I wish I could have commemorated
it better; the season was very fine
in the Piedmont this year, and this
is less usual than legend would have
it. For the past 105 days, if you
have seen this page, you may know
that I've been under prescription
narcotic medication, every day with
no interruption, and I have been all
but completely unambulatory without
incurring great inconvenience. But
in the 'day room' by a side door to
this farm house, where I've concen-
trated an existence that I share with
my English dog, I am surrounded by
a couple of hundred square feet of
eastern, southern and western facing
windows, and have been able to sur-
vey changes in woods and pastures,
and a stream and an expansive pond
without complication by any other
structures. So if I have been com-
pressed, mentally and physically,
I have been blessed by the loyalest
society and the least pressing of
all circumstances with which to ob-
serve, and still to imbibe this
most refreshing of all natural ex-

I have not been satisfied by the
blog's sharing of these advan-
tages, not to make too much of
them; but I have been able to
frame one or two postings of
greater clarity on a couple of
dilemmas which I had always
thought might never be expres-

Yet a debt I anxiously feel
toward myself, and by extension
to the readers of this page, has
been very regrettably unpayable.
I refer to the photographic en-
gagement with this world which
I enjoy and admire so much in 
the contributions of others,
and gives such pleasure to me
to pursue. It is, I think, the
pleasure of the making of pic-
tures which rebukes, to some
extent, my complaint of "let-
ting down the side," when there
is no more than one side, if
you will. (Here is Ivan's cam-
era, and sometimes Valéry's,
in place of my own; how I do
owe them, too).

An adjustment of 20 degrees F
in our mid-afternoon temperatures
in the last couple of days, has
signalled a new season as if we
might not have heard. Such is the 
presumption of that season, where
we are, that it is seldom willing
to suggest a chilling of our wine
without harangue; if Spring is a
fresh-faced Lieutenant then Summer 
is a drill Sergeant here. It may
be that the oppressions of narcot-
ics have been a timely training
for the capsule of refrigeration 
in which we conduct our exis-
tence here, for more than a
season's fair share of the cal-
endar. I awoke this morning, with
such enhanced respect for these
oppressions that I cannot hesi-
tate to report of them to sustain,
for this entry, the page's re-
nown for poor taste.

I believe I have now caught a
rather panoramic glimpse of the
psychosis of narcotic captivity,
and it came to me very hard this
morning as I drew my first waking
breaths, in daylight, which is
already suspiciously late for me.
I will tell you, bluntly, I am
frightened, I am scared, I feel
saddled by an enormous, suffocat-
ing weight. I can attribute this
novel orientation to nothing in
my experience but this sustained
regime of narcotic consumption.
Very great pain and confusion
have been replaced by terror,
not the heir one bargained for,
of going to sleep, itself.

I have known, I do not have
my body. I have written about
learning that I do not have
my mind. But I did not know
until this day, I do not have
my own breath. This, I must
admit, is enough to give
Summer a run for its money
in aggression, and cast a
pall against complaint with
my imagery of healthy people.
Who knew, we could be offend-
ed by fear we couldn't anatom-
ise, couldn't limn in blithe

I awoke with unprecedented short-
ness of breath, and it shortened,
of course, as one groped to ac-
count for it. I submitted to a
feeling of envelopment in an iron-
fisted grip, which I did then as-
cribe to my narcotics - dilaudid,
oxycodone in a couple of variations,
gabupentin, scads of tylenol, not to
mention the intravenous delights in
hospital which opened the space for
them. I had a physical sense of be-
ing subject to a formidable dictator-
ship, a squashing of hope, and a
feeling of smothering in my pillows
came over me as I lifted up, in new
pain at my incision. My body was the
Summer drill sergeant, demanding I
obey with drugs. A panic of drowning,
a sense of asphyxiation never known
to me before, lifted me angrily to
the pharmaceutically laden table 
across the room, abjuring my own 
dog's affectionate greetings.

I can lodge this report at this 
date on the calendar because I am
grateful to have seen the threat to
which I am exposed: a somewhat ill-
balanced regime of post-operative
treatments, I can redesign with my
surgeons when I meet with them on 
Monday. And I will. It is unseem-
ly of one to complain of a modest
tilt off-center, in a standard of
care which I still regard as in-
formed and diligent. I would rath-
er complain of Summer, and I'm not 
about to minimise it.


  1. but perhaps THEY do something to the writing- pgt

    1. This mirrors a suggestion I've made here.