The Blood I Need

The Blood I Need

I don't expect things to get dramatically better any time soon. I am told they won't really get worse either. I suppose it means that I should accept them the way they are. The trouble is that, even though they don't appear to be bad enough in the eyes of many, I don't feel that they are good enough to be "acceptable," i.e. something that I might be able to learn how to live with. So where does that leave me?

In a sense, I need blood. I need a real, physical wound, something that any run-of-the-mill physician would recognise and know how to treat. Even bad blood would be better than no blood at all. Because, in this world, no blood means no disease, no disease means no cure, no cure means no patience, no time, no empathy, no help. Blood would be any recognisable disease, not necessarily one involving external or internal bleeding. Multiple sclerosis is blood. Heart failure is blood. The disease I have is bloodless, and it's pretty much as if I had no disease.

My gut feeling is that I do have a disease. You simply don't go overnight from living a "normal life" to barely being able to survive in an endless cycle of misery. Something must have happened. A big first step would be to get everyone to agree on that. And that's where my current trouble with the world starts. There are basically two kinds of people: those who believe me, and those who don't. I was used to having the whole world against me. I was actually quite content, in my misanthropic kind of way. But now, what am I supposed to do? I will not reject those who claim to understand me, even if they don't, because I need all the help I can get. And I cannot despise those who don't understand me, because it drains me and makes me feel even worse. But I cannot start loving the entire human race either. I am not programmed that way. I am at a dead-end.

For lack of "real" blood, I suppose I could try to make do with some type of more figurative blood. I can't give myself a real mental disease, because you can't just catch one of those like you can a virus or some other kind of pathogenic bug. I could try to drive myself crazy, but I've already been pretty much driven crazy by all that's been happening to me lately, and I seem to be still more or less intact brain-wise, as far as I can tell.

Yet the kind of blood I need doesn't appear to come from any external type of source. There are too many obstacles, too many barriers between me and the world that render "things" powerless when it comes to having any significant impact on me. No works of music or literature, no kind of food, no drug, no object can affect me in a lasting fashion.

There is, of course, the exception of pharmaceutical drugs. They do have an impact, and it appears to be lasting. They do not provide actual relief, however. They hide, they dampen, they sometimes delay the symptoms, but they don't eliminate them. And the balance that can be achieved through taking them is far too precarious.

(In another time, I would have found space and energy to rejoice at the thought of having discovered something in the outside world that actually affects me significantly in a lasting fashion. It is not surprising, however, that such a discovery only occurred in a context where it is absolutely impossible for me to enjoy it in any way.)

All this doesn't make those drugs nearly as powerful or reliable as real blood would be. Yet I can't feel anything, either in the world surrounding me or in the world inside me, that has the potential to provide the relief that I believe real blood would provide. I look at those flowers, those trees, this blue sky — and I can't feel anything beyond some neutral kind of temporary "agreement" with nature that, today, in this place and time, we two can coexist with no major interference.

*   *

I wake up in pain. I make love in pain. I get up in pain. I eat in pain. I sit in pain. I write in pain. I walk in pain. I shit in pain. I drink in pain. I think in pain. I listen to music in pain. I type in pain. I translate in pain. I program in pain. I watch TV in pain. I read in pain. I answer the phone in pain. I smile in pain. I empty the garbage in pain. I do the dishes in pain. I argue in pain. I cook in pain. I piss in pain. I drive in pain. I swim in pain. I take a shower in pain. I get the mail in pain. I open the letters in pain. I order a piece of software in pain. I fix someone else's computer in pain. I daydream in pain. I wait in pain. I bathe in the sun in pain. I hold the ladder for C. in pain. I open the door for the cat in pain. I pat the cat on the belly in pain. I talk in pain. I despair in pain. I cry in pain. I stare at nothing in pain. I snack in pain. I try to explain the pain. I give up, in pain. I put away the parasol in pain. I look at the barometer in pain. I check out a few Web sites in pain. I answer a few messages in pain. I lie on the couch in pain. I stare at C. hoping to get an answer to everything, in pain. I'm tired and in pain. I go to bed in pain. I try to read or write a bit more in pain. I take a few more pills with water in pain. I fall asleep in pain. I am fed up with pain.

The blood I need is a life with no pain.

*   *

Sometimes, when I get up, I look in the mirror, and I roar at my own reflection, as a way to shake off the sad reality that I am pretending is exuding from this face, these eyes, this body. Objectively, however, this face, these eyes, this body all look pretty normal — and the roar reverberates around the bathroom like a pointless cry in the desert.

The truth is, all the pain, all the despair, all the exasperation are inside, invisible, and can only be clumsily expressed through gestures and facial expressions that only bear a vague resemblance to the actual feelings that they are trying to convey. So I've pretty much given up on trying to convey anything that way. No one really wants you to share your feelings, so nothing in your body is really designed to convey them in a proper, convincing, accurate fashion. We've worked up highly conventional, structured ways of doing it, which are probably best exemplified by the predictable behaviours of actors and other public figures, but as far as our real feelings are concerned, the world is a pretty lonely place. Indeed, the same can be said of words and any attempt to use them to achieve what body language fails to do. Here again, some people can develop rather good "theatrics" that manage to fool their audience into thinking that they understand what is being "shared." At the end of the day, however, the only elation, the only real "communion of spirits" is the one based on aesthetic exploration. Words and body language might serve an artistic purpose, but what they convey is not a "meaning." Anyone who believes he understands another human being is a fool. At best, two people might have some sense of beauty in common. But I wouldn't call that an "understanding." It's more of an accidental resonance effect. All the rest is a issue of power, social conventions, etc. — and essentially a waste of time. This included.

*   *

I'm so weak and I still feel the urge to create. I sit in front of my computer and it hits me. Those menus, those buttons, those checkboxes, those cursors, those icons are toys and I want to play with them. More than that, I want to play with any toys that hold a potential for creation. I'd like to be a musician, just so that I could play with all those notes, all those sounds, all those structures. I could play with those computer toys, I have the skills and the experience required, and I have done so, in the past, with a lot of pleasure and satisfaction — but I just don't have the time and I simply cannot make it right now. Objectively, I only have words, so I have to make do with them. Still, they too seem to have a lot of potential.

Yet, as soon as I start writing, it's no longer a game. It doesn't bring me the pure pleasure that I imagine pure games would bring, or even that computer programming used to bring me. It seems that I am no longer innocent enough to be able to enjoy pure game play. There are too many thoughts interfering, too many physical limitations, too many symptoms. Adulthood is a disease, I guess. And when you are really sick on top of this underlying disease, everything — including attempts at game play — turns into a real mess. The playfulness of writing is reserved for fools — although some are quite good at making a lot of money from it.

Instead, I turn to blood. I can understand why, for such a long time, so-called physicians would bleed their patients in an attempt to relieve their symptoms. I often feel like bleeding myself, as though I needed to bleed in order to alleviate the pain, the numbness, the mindlessness, the fear. Crying can achieve that, to a certain extent. But I know all too well that there's not that much that comes out in tears. Nothing really permanent anyway.

*   *

It should be clear by now that nothing will ever be the same again. Things might improve, life might become bearable again — instead of this silly game of constantly trying to guess when the next wave is going to hit — but the trauma of the past several months has already proven to be much more than a mere repetition of what happened five years ago.

I don't know whether writing about it, around it, and through it has amplified its impact or simply made it more immediate and obvious. This is something that will take time to determine. What I do know, however, is that the intensity of what I have gone — and still am going — through makes it an obvious focal point for anything that I might find the strength to write in the foreseeable future. If this is a thought that makes you uncomfortable, now is probably the time to give up on me. For my part, I cannot afford to waste any more time trying to justify the ubiquity of this apparent self-centredness.

*   *

With every attack that comes (and eventually goes), another layer of protective ignorance is scraped off the walls of my consciousness, and the bleeding spreads. The blood I need is first and foremost to make up for this increasing vulnerability. It was once thought that the self-healing properties of organic tissue extended to the mind that didn't control it. The absurdity of this overgeneralisation only seems to become apparent to those who dare to think about it. There is absolutely no reason that my consciousness, in all its unnatural persistence, should share the properties of natural elements that have never relied on its existence to thrive.

The mind is just as self-destructive as it is designed to endure the awareness of its own existence. Those opposing characteristics must have developed simultaneously. Psychosocial conditioning may make us oblivious to many internal threats, but it does not, it cannot affect the very design of the psyche, which preceded by far any of its social uses. The idea that I have a mind and the unbearableness of this realisation are inseparable. This hardly makes for a self-healing entity.

It should therefore come as no surprise that I need a constant supply of blood to maintain the unstable balance of a mind under a barrage of its own threats. I suppose I could try to shut down entire divisions of whatever is left of the useful part of my brain, but I am afraid I am not equipped to perform such a neutralisation on my own. We are, after all, talking about a situation of constant emergency.

*   *

Maybe the blood I need is not compatible. Maybe it's not the right type for me. My system's response is not an outright rejection, but a feeling of unease that gradually evolves into pain. Maybe the blood I need gives me pain. Maybe I'm not really designed to digest the food I eat. Maybe I'm not really adapted to the air I breathe. I do not suffocate, I do not starve, but I am not well — and maybe I will never be.

Maybe certain individuals were just not designed to survive. I see a young wombat straying away from its mother's hiding place and never coming back. I see a kitten born with the umbilical cord tied around its gangrened leg. I see people catching viruses and dying. Maybe we are just the leftovers, the ones not fit to thrive and multiply. We've only survived thus far thanks to a combination of kind intervention and technological progress. But are they doing us a favour by helping us to artificially survive instead of living the "natural" life that we were simply not designed to live? Maybe all this pain is just a manifestation of a square being forced to fit into a round hole. Somehow, they don't know, they can't understand that it won't.

If that's the case, then the blood I need might not be of this world. I might need something that would alter my very nature, my very design. There's nothing, however, that absolutely proves that such a "remedy" does not exist — or that it does, for that matter.

In other words, wondering whether I'm designed to survive and wondering whether anything that would remedy my faulty design exists (in this world or another) is the same thing. And so is wondering whether I need blood. I only say so because it gives me something to write about — some way to express that it's not really an accurate representation of what I really feel. Wondering whether an accurate representation of what I really feel is at all possible is the same thing. Wondering whether all real issues are the same thing is the same thing.

The blood I need is a way out. And quick.

*   *

Roller-coaster ride is far from over. In fact it feels as if it's just begun. Just as intense anyway, even more, possibly due to some sort of cumulative effect in which memories of past crises make the present one even more unbearable. All this under an indifferent sky and behind walls of utter incomprehension. Tonight I can only sit down and write reasonably well and quietly because of those ugly pills that seem to be the only — temporary, precarious, potentially dangerous — solution. A totally artificial situation. In which I can only pretend that I am my own "normal" self.

Chemicals, herbs, extracts — they all are foreign substances, aggressors whose fight distracts my body from self-destructing — but just as much as it distracts it from healing properly. The blood I need is a remedy in its purest sense, something that effectively reverses whatever process is destructing me — and has absolutely no other effect. I suppose this means that it can only be my very own blood. I am my own remedy as much as I am my own disease. How to make one of the two prevail. Through chemicals? Through plant extracts? Through thinking? Through not thinking? Anything is possible. But it all seems to depend on outside help. Or perhaps I have it in myself to also be the instrument by which the remedy part of myself will prevail. Which would turn out to be the real remedy — implying that the real disease is… Never mind. This is all totally artificial. I am not myself. I haven't been myself for five years. I don't even know if I am still able to picture — let alone describe — what I think I was. All this is based on vaguer and vaguer memories from a more and more distant past. I am not talking about some sort of "golden age" here. Only a reasonably peaceful, physically bearable kind of existence — in which my main sources of distress were external.

My own blood is tainted. Something, somewhere, is letting an undetected poison seep into it. I cannot trust my own blood. Yet it appears to be all that I have. Am I self-sufficient or self-destructive? It all boils down to this, doesn't it? I don't have the answer. No one can give me the answer. All they can do is delay the inevitable — the day when it will all be revealed.

Even after all the hardship of 1995, I still thought I had established that I was self-sufficient more than I was self-destructive. But I was fooled by a drug. It wasn't a revelation. A revelation is what I should expect now.

*   *

Meantime, things continue to happen. Pains continue to come and not want to go. Tears continue to be held back until breakdown. Farts continue to stink. This pill continues to give me diarrhoea, and that pill continues to attempt to control it, and that other one continues to attempt to do what the first one was supposed to do in the first place. There's nothing much to defend this first one, really. Except that it's there, it's been there, in my blood, for some time now — and I can't just remove it like that. I need a whole strategy. Because I cannot trust what my blood will do from one pill to the next. (I already know what it does when I try to go from one pill to none at all. Won't be trying that again in a long time.) So I am stuck. Yet things continue to happen. So something needs to be done. While waiting for the revelation.

Get well
Feeling good
Get well
Feeling good
Get swell
Feeling better
Get swelling
Feeling wetter
Get swollen
Falling wetter
Got swollen
Falling sweatier
Hot, swollen
Fallen, soaked
Rotten, swollen
Frozen, stunned

I love you, but I can't trust tomorrow any more.

*   *

Three more irreversible days leading towards the next phase of whatever this life has become, three more painful stares at holes in my thoughts that should not be there, three more failed attempts at pretending that nothing ever happened, three more people to convince that nothing is wrong, that everything is wrong, that faith has escaped, that abnormality is becoming a genetic trait, a classified description of nothing that might even make the school books one of these days.

How fair is it when things get better because of a drug that you rightfully do not want to take because it is the very best example of a treatment that merely postpones whatever future challenges are awaiting you? You will never be stronger nor readier to meet these challenges, so what is the delay buying you this time?

The threat is intact and no amount of artificial blood is going to erase it from my veins. The fear is ready to jump out. The pain is ready to resume its relentless assault. The thin film of illusion that covers the holes in my thoughts will be blown away by the slightest misstep, the gentlest breeze of real air flowing around the real space of my real suspended being.

My pulse is still too strong. It has no reason to be so. Or maybe it has. There is only so much poison mixed with my blood that my heart can ignore and let through. Never denied that my body was initially designed to fight intruders and survive. Just denying that my brain's design is anywhere near matching that level of functional simplicity. Blood is just a word. Thoughts, instincts, reflexes, responses are language-free. Perception is always too late to prevent psychological damage. What is perception when it comes to internal organs anyway? I need to cut myself in order to confirm that the blood I said is needed to restore my silence is there in sufficient quantity and has an appropriate degree of purity. Curiously, no physician seems to be willing to endorse such an operation. My silence has no value. I could ramble on for years and keep on sharing my little episodes of joy and suffering. But I am going to get them to pay me to shut up.

*   *


I found my voice
Then lost it again
I dared to think that I could talk
And then I choked
But not enough to kill me
Just so that I could feel
That I had lost something for good
In spite of the appearance of a full recovery

My voice
The ability to talk
By me
So as to feel
That nothing good
Is in recovery

My finger pinched
Between two heavy logs
A symmetry lost in the fall
Blood surge under the skin
Blood thirst, a heady spin
Shared with an ice-cold face over the fire

Chasing pictures
Stopping words
Asking the light that captures
What it has heard
Letting the answers grow pure
To the absurd

My voice in vain
Weak and soaked
With the real
Trying to feel
Hope in adultery

It’s eating me
And I rebuild
Over the scars
To be re-eaten
With the scars
Having to re-heal

There is only so much scar tissue that you can add

*   *

[To Be Continued]

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