On being human, or bearing the unbearable

Mythology helps me put my mind outside my ideas of what’s impossible, and thereby live constructively despite CRPS. More on that later, probably, but here’s an hour’s private lesson with the greatest practical mythologist of all time.

Good for playing over & over while you do other things, and let different bits surprise you on each replay.

C.G. Jung In His Own Words – The World Within [FULL DOCUMENTARY]:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=75766BLgqeA&feature=youtube_gdata_player

(With grateful thanks to the L. A. Institute for Carl Jung, for providing this whole film on YouTube.)

It’s always too easy to sneer at a superficial glance at the work of those who’ve gone before. There was a time when I thought Jung was pretty wacked, with his giving mythological caricatures such a powerful place in the mind. How simplistic!

Like all superlative work, it only looks simple from a distance. The closer you get to it, the more mind-glowingly complex, subtle and profound it becomes.

I meant to write “mind-blowingly” there, but, for once, autocorrect may have gotten it right.

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Humanity, in spite of ourselves

Needed to change my flight in order to recover from Irene before coping with a transcontinental dose of high-altitude radiation, cramping & low-grade hypoxia. On the advice of my lovely travel agent at Pacific Harbor Travel, I called JetBlue directly: hi, I’m disabled, I have to change my flight due to Irene.

Unfortunately I missed their Irene fee waiver by one day. Okay, distasteful but I can respect their limit.

Seating was a problem. The staffer was very sweet and very insistent about having no window seats … but on a later flight, there is one on the aisle.

After being straight-faced and literal about my limitations, then hearing her say “aisle seat” with a straight face, I sorta gave up. I confessed, “I would rather be BEATEN with a CATTLE PROD than sit in an aisle seat.”

I didn’t shout, I really didn’t. But I know there was a certain amount of top-spin on the words, because the person in front of me on the bus flinched.

Things changed. I won’t use her words because they were ignorant and would sound too harsh without the audible melting that happened, but she found me exactly the seat I’d have ordered if I had the whole cattlecar to choose from.

I hate bitching about this condition and I don’t like to be so explicit about what it does to me, but sometimes that’s what it takes. So this evening I’ll raise a glass (or mug) to, “Humanity — in spite of ourselves.”

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Coastal contrast & good sweaters

Baltimore is not one of the most beautiful cities, but my excellent friend Laura lives on one of its prettiest streets. After landing here today, I feel stronger already. There is something about the East Coast that hits me just right, while there’s something about the West Coast which — for all its wonders; don’t get me wrong! — is definitely draining.

It’s funny because the oceans make me feel quite the opposite poles of attraction, as a mariner. I find the Atlantic stodgy, sullen, and dull, compared to the lively, lovely, delightful Pacific. The Atlantic won’t play, but it will hand you your butt on a platter; the Pacific will play, anytime, anywhere, but will sometimes forget to sheath its claws and consequently breaks its “toys.”

In either case, obviously, it pays to heed NOAA’s weather data: http://www.weather.gov/. Their predictions are about as good as mine (huff on nails, polish against lapels) though lately they’ve been consistently lowballing SF Bay winds. Not my problem right now …

Note for airline travellers: Jet Blue really does have tons more legroom, but their seats still don’t go back any further; and those squashy silicone earplugs did a pretty good job of handling the screaming baby in the seat right behind me.

I’ve learned that a cashmere sweater right next to the skin is excellent travel wear. It goes from overheated lounges to underheated cabins without a chill, and my whole system is terribly sensitive to temperature changes so this is a joy.

My excellent friend Jeannie gave me a cashmere sweater a couple years ago, just as my autonomia was making chills a real problem, and it opened up a whole new sensory world to me.

I got all my cashmere and merino sweaters after that from the Oakland Goodwill & Salvation Army stores for about 5 bucks each. I got them really big, in men’s sizes, then washed them in the washer — hand washing is an absurdity these days. I shake them out and hang them to dry, which they do quickly (unlike most wool.)

My sweaters have gently condensed to luscious, dense layers of incredible softness that never look wrong. Though my skin is hypersensitive to drafts and temperature, and though I used to find _any_ wool itchy and bothersome, nowadays these sweaters are bliss.

Good wool breathes like an opera singer, while it guards me from those brutal chills, and no matter how tense I get, it never holds my smell.

Yup. Perfect for traveling.

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I have logical and philosophical objections to certain words used to describe me or what I do. I don’t expect anyone to change the way they speak, but I do sweetly invite you to be aware of the way you think about these things that, I hope, affect your own life as little as possible.

Disabled.

Hah! I am extremely able. With both hands behind my back and my head held under water, I am still able. I am able to add 2 and 2, for instance, or quote that wonderful bit from Twelfth Night that starts, “I’d build me a willow cabin at your gate, and wait upon my soul within the house …” Mind you, if you’re holding me underwater, it would be hard to check that, but I can do it, I assure you.

I am _handicapped_. Like a runty little horse that has to have 10 pounds of lead stuffed into its saddle before it gets into that race. Like a golfer who’s in a game judged by a dyslexic with a nonfunctional calculator. I have exactly the same tasks to accomplish as anyone else in the race or on the course, but I have some additional burdens that make it quite a bit harder to succeed.

Recovery.

Why should I want to recover? Of all the covers that have been ripped off, I can’t say I think all that many need to go back on. I love all this fresh air. I love the lack of artifice. I love the inward freedom of having so much stuffing removed. I don’t need recovering. Appropriate padding, yes; portable cushions, by all means. But upholstery is just one big refuge for metaphorical dust mites and dander.

I aim to _heal._ Healing from any profound physical or mental insult (and CRPS is certainly both!) does not mean going back to what or who or how I was before, it means finding a new way forward. There is no way back, and if there were, I have no reason (given how things played out) to think that returning there would be good for my health! No, it’s forward for me: man the lifeboats, or woman them of course, but I’ll head for new horizons rather than wade back through the hideous swamp I sometimes think I’m climbing out of.

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I have logical and philosophical objections to certain words used to describe me or what I do. I don’t expect anyone to change the way they speak, but I do sweetly invite you to be aware of the way you think about these things that, I hope, affect your own life as little as possible.

Disabled.

Hah! I am extremely able. With both hands behind my back and my head held under water, I am still able. I am able to add 2 and 2, for instance, or quote that wonderful bit from Twelfth Night that starts, “I’d build me a willow cabin at your gate, and wait upon my soul within the house …” Mind you, if you’re holding me underwater, it would be hard to check that, but I can do it, I assure you.

I am _handicapped_. Like a runty little horse that has to have 10 pounds of lead stuffed into its saddle before it gets into that race. Like a golfer who’s in a game judged by a dyslexic with a nonfunctional calculator. I have exactly the same tasks to accomplish as anyone else in the race or on the course, but I have some additional burdens that make it quite a bit harder to succeed.

Recovery.

Why should I want to recover? Of all the covers that have been ripped off, I can’t say I think all that many need to go back on. I love all this fresh air. I love the lack of artifice. I love the inward freedom of having so much stuffing removed. I don’t need recovering. Appropriate padding, yes; portable cushions, by all means. But upholstery is just one big refuge for metaphorical dust mites and dander.

I aim to _heal._ Healing from any profound physical or mental insult (and CRPS is certainly both!) does not mean going back to what or who or how I was before, it means finding a new way forward. There is no way back, and if there were, I have no reason (given how things played out) to think that returning there would be good for my health! No, it’s forward for me: man the lifeboats, or woman them of course, but I’ll head for new horizons rather than wade back through the hideous swamp I sometimes think I’m climbing out of.

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Re-Cognition: an exercise in thinking with feeling

Dear Reader, I lost my mind.

It was unfortunate. I had sussed out how best to use the one I had, and whether it was a rather good brain or I had learned to use it rather well, it worked out. I was pleased. In fact, I was smug.

Then the neurogenic pain came. It used up neurotransmitters which I felt I had a better use for. It rewired key parts of my brain, and it did not wire them to code. It tore out the railroad tracks and 8-lane superhighways I had built with care over many years. It erased whole neighborhoods, like PG&E’s latest gas disaster — but without the warning.

It was interesting, but not in a good way. It was rather a bore to be losing the mechanisms of assessment and analysis just when they would have been most useful.

[transition]

d

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Re-Cognition: an exercise in thinking with feeling

Dear Reader, I lost my mind.

It was unfortunate. I had sussed out how best to use the one I had, and whether it was a rather good brain or I had learned to use it rather well, it worked out. I was pleased. In fact, I was smug.

[diagram of old brain style?]

Then the neurogenic pain came. It used up neurotransmitters which I felt I had a better use for. It rewired key parts of my brain, and it did not wire them to code. It cut the shuttle service to numeric functions. It tore out the railroad tracks and 8-lane superhighways I had built with care over many years. It erased whole neighborhoods, like PG&E’s latest gas disaster — but without the warning.

It was interesting, but not in a good way. It was rather a bore to be losing the mechanisms of assessment and analysis just when they would have been most useful.

[transition]

discovered a few things, either that were new or were becoming apparent because they weren’t overshadowed by some other cognitive faculty:
– 3-d space.
– not just lateral thinking, but 4-d net-thinking.
– couldn’t build fresh trees, but could populate the shit out of mature trees I already had.

combined with shocks to the system, letting go of sticky muck I didn’t know I had, plenty of reading on the subject (more than any of my caregivers ever did, I’m sure of it), and what The Shrinkrapper refers to as “A Gift”.

LSAT cards, Neuroscience flash cards, ok … but the only research that held my attn was pubmed on rsd. Not an appy one.

Jeff and his articles. context, interesting topics, know him well enough to comment and sometimes get replies.

Acknowledged that help. That freed something up, because now it seems do-able and desirable to study for a couple hours each day. His articles will be part of it, I hope, for a long time to come, but also I can start work on remedial courses to rebuild a knowledge network in my new brain.

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