Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Immortal Elephant

The Immortal Elephant

The immortal elephant
Will outlast the icecaps;
Israel will persist,
And the history of origami will continue,
But my personal need for electricity will cease.
My daughter, I believe,
Will live beyond me,
My name a signature still active in the lists of time,
But the elephant,
The immortal elephant,
Will not remember
Anything of my close or my departure.
The immortal elephant will forget,
Will no longer remember
The loss of the forgetting of my name.
In time,
My surcease will be an unremembered gravy
Which the porcelain bones of the universe
Shrugged off in discards a billion years ago.
By then,
My tongue will be oblivious to honey,
My teeth will be oblivious to pain.
This termination
May be sooner than I think.
In the realm of the big machines
The humming light
Will take dictation from the waiting future.
Whatever the result tomorrow brings
I know
My calendar has a limit to its years.
My dry ice life will deliquesce and vanish,
Leaving my domain names neglected to expire.
My daughter, if I die before the spring,
Will see me perish while she is only two.
One day, perhaps, to find the moon she asks for,
The literal moon she asks for from the sky,
The literal moon she asks for, all expectation,
The moon that I can see but cannot reach,
Though I would hand it down from heaven if I could.

This Node Within My Brain

Tomorrow, Friday 1 September 2006, I will go to Meijin Hospital here in the city of Yokohama for an MRI scan of my brain.

I will be told the result on the same day, and the result will let my hematologist inform me as to whether the mysterious node detected earlier in my cerebellum is brain cancer back again, meaning death, or just another cerebral mutation caused by the ongoing effects of the radiotherapy which I underwent last year: my personal chernobyl, the fifteen-year casserole of my slow-cooking brain.

My guess is that Doctor Gunma, my hematologist, will say either "radiation damage" or "cause unknown."

If the node is cancer then that fact will be clear because the node will have grown larger since the last MRI. As is usual in medicine, a single test tells you nothing: it is the trend which is informative.
I feel okay, and, in particular, I have not been experiencing any disturbance in my sense of balance. So I think I'm going to get a "so far so good" result.

A while back, my sister wondered about the rationale for doing tests given that, realistically, at this stage there's probably no cure if the cancer does come back.

My own take on this would be that the routine follow-up tests are a good thing because they tell you where you are at. Dying or not dying. If you're not told one way or the other, then you could quite possibly end up imagining that you are dying when in fact you are not.

So I plan to go along with the tests, unless Doctor Gunma plans to do yet another CAT scan, because these things give you a solid belt of radiation, and my feeling is that there is probably no benefit for me in soaking up even more radiation.

By the time you've gone and forgotten exactly how many CAT scans you've had, which is the position that I am in, then you have had too many.

The next medical event in the soap opera of my life will be early next week, and will be yet another visual field test, this one to be done at the eye clinic at Meijin Hospital, where they earlier did laser surgery on my right eye.

When I sit on the train in the bright daylight of morning, the right eye is now good enough for me to be able to register the consolidated ghosts of passengers who are walking past, heading down the train in the direction of whatever is, for them, the optimal exit.

(When I lived in London, I never saw any such habit amongst London commuters, and could not imagine why. But, when I honeymooned in London back in, I think, the year 2000, I realized the tube is much smaller than the Japanese commuter trains which run above ground and underground, and there is simply no easy way to walk from one carriage to another without a struggle.)

In the morning, then, I can see, with my unaided vision, the consolidated ghosts of the passing world.

That is the status of my right eye.

I am pleased with the result of the laser surgery, even though the lasered eye is not good enough for finger counting. Reading? No. Forget it.

My own perception is that the left eye, the one on which I am now reliant on, is stable, and has suffered no further deterioration, even though, earlier this year, it seemed that I was heading irrevocably in the direction of total blindness.

I can still see the elephant in the garden, and, by trial-and-error photography, clicking at the scene in the viewfinder which I am not capable of seeing, I have captured an image of our elephant, and herewith deliver it to the world.

The immortal elephant, which will, without a doubt, outlive me.


Anonymous Steve said...

Good luck with the tests, Hugh.

6:26 AM  

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