What a difference some years make...
Today is a big and joyous day for me. It's the anniversary date of my failed open-heart surgery, you know, the Christian Barnard thing where they stop your heart, put you on ventilators and cut your chest open. It's a big operation with a team of more than ten very skilled people, provided as it happens by the most civilised phenomenon this world has ever witnessed, the British National Health Service. If you are for private medicine then you are my enemy and I loathe your selfish inhumanity, full stop. The NHS has been saving me and countless others for decades.
Anyway, exactly twelve months ago I was having a huge tube pulled out of my chest, which felt like drowning in mud. I was in ICU, where I survived for eight days, despite a very alarming prediction that I would not make it. You don't feel that much pain in that condition because you are wrapped in a special sort of airbed thing that moves your limbs and cushions you against feeling. You have all sports of pumping and breathing machines hooked up to your arms, your neck, your mouth (the mask is truly strange). And of course you are proving to yourself that eternal life would be awful in a morphine induced living nightmare of strange impressions where time has stood still
I would have been happy to check out at this stage and I did eventually tear the mask off and start pulling on the tubes to get some freedom to move and hear and see.
All of this was a tremendous stress on Cora, in a new home, in a strange country, no friends closer than a phone call, no care and dependent on a four hour bus journey to leverage any hard news out of the hospital, who were recording my every word to collect evidence in case I sued them for opening my heart up by mistake (I would never sue the NHS and I despise people who do and their lawyers, who should be struck off).
Anyway, one day she made it past the gatekeepers and came striding into the ward, right towards me, her face a mixture of terror, relief and love. I guess I couldn't die after everything she put in for me. And I do love my life with her. We both have quirky humour and she's even quicker than me. We both talk philosophy, psychology, literature, aesthetics in an educated and committed way. We both love the sky, the sea, the richness of living things, good food, a peaceful life, people who are modest in their demeanour and can talk about something other than themselves, their ridiculous dreams and their piffling problems. Cora loves opera and I prefer blues. She's got two great children in their twenties. I've got some good old friends from decades ago. I'm happier now than I've ever been with any of the 28 previous women. That's true, really, but bittersweet: I first married when I was 45 because no one wants to settle down with someone who is likely to die of cancer, can't get a job or a mortgage or insurance and has grief as deep as the ocean to deal with.
Unfortunately my poor first wife died after four long years of unpleasant cancer in 2006 and it was nursing her that brought on my present medical conditions. I kept my word on the "sickness and in health" thing when I should really have put her in a hospice to save my own life as even her priest and her doctor warned me to do. She had brain tumours for the last 18 months, you see, and she turned into a maniac.
Anyway, back to today. I did warn them that nobody in my family had ever had a heart condition but all of them had died of cancer and when they opened my chest they found out that I was right. They have now reached an accurate diagnosis which is that the massive doses of radiation used to treat cancer patients in the 1960s are the sole cause of my lung fibroids and the degeneration of my nervous system, which is rather weird and very painful. The good news for Cora and I is that it's taken since 1967 to get this bad and they are saying that I will deteriorate only very slowly and may live 20 years or more in much the same condition: crippled and breathless but alive because there is no brain damage.
Anyway, despite being the first person on this earth ever to survive multiple secondary tumours in both lungs (in 1971, when it was a death sentence), I'd like you to know several things about me because I feel that there is a tide of ill-informed and rather cruel propaganda building against me, once again. I am not a cry-baby so I won't call it bullying like the bullies do, but it is pernicious and hurtful.
I refer of course to the happiness vigilantes, the optimists and show-off girlies who cannot bear anything that is not gung-ho optimism and cheerfulness to ever sully their perfect fantasy world. This comes in many forms, from those who pretend sympathy to attempt to co-opt you into their world, through those macho business types who are all charming on the outside but sharp and nasty if you cross them. Then we get the patronising ad hominem tripe about how bitter and twisted and sad one must be for not agreeing with their imaginary picture of life, especially from the true space-cadets who are so naïve and have seen so little of life that they think it's a restaurant when you look at the menu and order what you want next.
What none of these people have is any real wisdom or tolerance. They have no idea that they do not know and they need have no idea who you are before they start making up gossip and character assassination about you, calling you a "neghead" or whining about being harassed.
I'm the one who is actually being harassed, by them. First I have to read the illiterate garbage they collect somewhere and then post as if they are creative. Then I have to endure it some more and some more from people who barely speak English. Then I have to read the monstrous grandiosity of silly little girls and girly little blokes who think they are the A Team because they bought a subscription and learned a few coaching clichés.
Believe me, if any of this is you, it is an insult to the intelligence and achievements of the rest of us having to read covert self-aggrandising blogvertorial all day. It's so crude and immodest it sickens me, specially when girls start talking tough and dirty, imitating some appalling notion of manhood. It's immature. It's daft. It's patronising
And I sometimes, stupidly, react. And then they show their true colours and start stalking my blogs, telling me that I'm bitter and twisted and negative. None of them know anything about me nor have ever spoken to me. And you will not find one single person who does know me, with whom I've ever had a sensible conversation (excepting a couple of Last Thursday dementors), to whom I have given free help with their career or their website text, not one single person who thinks I am anything other than perceptive, kindly, light-hearted and extremely positive, especially in promoting the interests of others. Ask Fraser. Ask Martin. Look at my goddam testimonials before you start making up lies about me, please
I have no interests or ambitions of my own, really. I like helping others. My life is as good as it's ever going to be and I engineered 45 years more than my allotted time. I'm not Steve Jobs with grand achievements but I know how he must have felt under a death sentence and I dreamed of being able to befriend him in a useful way that served his soul and acknowledged his suffering, grief and courage - as I have many others facing cancer.
I'm not a fool. I'm not showing off. I don't want to write an inspiring book because every cancer patient is different and there are no easy solutions. I haven't started a charity to big myself up and compensate for the losses. But whereas your life has been what you've had, my life has been almost entirely about keeping my spirits up through tremendous pain, grief, danger and loss
You can't teach me anything about communication or endurance. Without those qualities I would be long dead. You can't teach me anything about making the best of life and keeping going, nothing at all. Of 5 billion people facing what I have faced in the same time scale, 4,999,999,999 would be dead. And I didn't go mad with the grief. And when you say in public that I am twisted in some way I truly want to kill you, So stop it, OK? It's an obscenity. It's a slander. It's online bullying of the very worst kind.
Get over it. I shall never agree with your world vision because I don't share your life. I regard your thoughts and re actions as utterly trivial, as would you if you'd had my life ...except when they aren't, in which case I will know and I will tell you and I will learn from you. Otherwise leave me alone please and stop making up lies.
I'm going to stop posting anything on the blogs that annoy me and you can stop stalking my blogs please. Now that everyone has seen who you really are: the sort of people who kick a survivor they know nothing about with vile innuendo and abuse, the sort of people who will do anything to suppress opposition to their banal notions of reality. To their self promotion and financial opportunities.
(Thomas Power is not like that, BTW. He knows that were all all idiots and con men, himself included. He makes the best of what he finds in life, using his gifts. Those who mock him are barking up the wrong tree because they are mostly no better than he is. I have nothing whatever against an honest con man who knows we are all pretending and laughs about it, in private. It's the fools who think they are better that get my goat.)
Ah, lunch calls. I'll try to feel bitter and twisted but I doubt that I'll manage that. Because the person I share it with is truly different and special, in a league of her own. She doesn't bother with Ecademy much these days, even though she was once Thomas's right-hand woman in her keen days - but I like it and I have persisted over a long period when many optimistic and pushy zealots have come and gone, many leader have risen and fallen - about 640,000 of them in fact.
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