Saturday, May 04, 2013

Me and My Brain

My mother died at the end of March, during Holy Week. Since then, I have discovered that, just as no one in my family knows me (and I'm easy to know -- I've left a pretty wide swathe across the Internet), so I don't really know them, either. Alike, we know where people were, and we do not know what time has done, or what they have done during the battle with time.

I knew my brother as a man of slogans, bluster, intimidation, and basic goodness. Hard times had not done good things to that kernel. I have become, since they knew me, maybe lazier.

First, I don't argue with dumb people anymore. Well, I very, very rarely do. I'm far more apt to explain something once and say, "I can see that you're not trying to understand" and then let them go hang. This is a function of security in my opinions. I now know that they're not weak, so I can be more certain that the person disagreeing and wheeling out anecdotal evidence and "This one time" proofs is self-deluding.

Second, I don't have much in the way of hopes. Quite a while ago, I scaled those back to simply no longer being a host for parasites and staying out of the elements. Being free of parasites is important, but it's not easy to achieve these days. You get a cell phone or some cool new service like Netflix, and the next thing you know it hatches out into a parasite that eats your bread before you can.

Third, I expect disaster. I have learned not to expect it, expect it, but I have seen arbitrary firings and layoffs, and I have seen nepotistic promotions and replacements far too often to hope for a meritocracy in any sense where my merits might count -- provided I even had any.

So, about that being lazier, I think I can explain.

Oncet, I'd blame all my bad features on birth defects. Finally, I realized that that was stupid and counter-productive.

Let us suppose that the psychoanalysts of the Tavistock school are correct and children who are hospitalized frequently and for long periods of time are liable to depression. So? Let us suppose that any boy disqualified from sports will have some maladjustments in social skills. So? All of the things that might have been true could be interesting explanations of past phenomena, but they bore no relationship on any present tense. I.e. you know why you felt or were more likely to feel a particular way, so bully for you. Now, though, you make yourself.

After that, I even got free of the physical complaints. I got all better, thanks to medicine. Hooray.

[Essayists always have digressions. This is supposed to look like one.] I always knew that my feet hurt. . . a lot. They hurt much more than anyone else's. They hurt when I was twenty-two, and twenty-five, and thirty, and forty, and forty-five. In other words, they have been constantly painful, every day. I can wear rubber sneakers or hard soled shoes, and my feet hurt. I can get Dr. Scholes's most expensive orthotics, and my feet hurt. I can even get a foot rub from a pretty girl, and my feet hurt.

A neurologist the other month, when talking to me about my spinal arthritis, said, "Oh, that? That's probably neuropathy." I began to protest that I was not some slovenly diabetic, and he explained that all the radioactive tracers and compounds I had gotten in my veins for all those years tended to settle in the extremities and kill nerves. In other words, it was medicine killing nerves in my feet, and thus there was nothing to do for it.

I have also always gotten tired more quickly than other people. I hear the same thing in response to this as I heard about the feet: "Lose some weight." Ok. I have. I'm just as tired. "Lose some more weight." Alright. I have no objection to that, but I rather suspect it won't have the magical properties being touted. In fact, now that I think back, "Dyspnea" is a side effect of every medicine I take and a primary symptom of what I grew up with. Also, the warranty I got on my last surgeries said, "Normal lifespan," not normal life.

I may, eventually, be able to forgive myself for how tired I get. I will never be able to convince anyone else, though, that I'm not getting lazier as the days go by.