Saturday, August 5, 2017

Watching the high jumpers

There are women on this planet who can jump over bars that are more than six feet off the ground. That amazes the Complete and Total Loser, and he's been watching them for many minutes at a time on YouTube lately. 
female high jumper blanka vlasic
High jumper Blanka Vlašić.

female high jumper
A female high jumper at the start of her attempt.
He doesn't know why he's drawn to this. It's not because the women are without exception attractive, with their long limbs, flat stomachs, and youth—there are pretty girls all over the internet. Is it their athleticism? If that's it, the men jump far higher. The Loser might like it because of the way they act. When they make the jump, they smile and are happy. (The men smile too, but with pumped fists.) 
blanka vlasic high jumper
Blanka Vlašić is 6' 4".

The Loser may also like it because he knows nothing about the sport. They convert forward motion into height without the in between step of crouching down to spring with the legs. They begin their run to the pole with an odd backward lean, like characters in a cartoon who are about to run, and take jaunty, long strides to the site of their leap.
The Loser, an aging man with prostate cancer who had his knee replaced two months ago and can barely get out of his car now, may just like knowing there are healthy people out there whose bodies obey their brains.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Sudden death

The mother of a friend of the Complete and Total Loser's died on an operating table Monday. It was unexpected. True, she was older—in her 70s—and the operation was on her heart, but it wasn't supposed to be life threatening. She was fine the day before and, her daughter told the Loser, only having the procedure now because if she'd waited longer she'd have to have many tests redone.
operationg room
An operating room.

The Loser texted his friend, the daughter, late in the morning of the operation to ask how things were going and to say he knew how waiting around hospitals was an unpleasant way to spend one's time. She texted back that there had been bleeding and complications and that they were to tell her more in about half an hour. 
That was the last he heard that day until a mutual friend called him that afternoon to say she'd heard the patient died.
The mother, whose name was Linda, was one of the rare parent of a friend whom the Loser had thought of as his friend too, even though he only saw her two or three times a year. The Loser had emailed her the afternoon before the operation saying he hoped all would go as well as he was sure it would and that the two of them should go on a long walk together in the coming fall to celebrate their rehabilitation (the Loser had a knee replaced a month ago). She wrote back: "It's a date!"
The Loser has mixed feelings about dying on an operating room table. The pros are that you're asleep and numb and unaware that you're dying. If you can't die while committing an act of heroism, dying in your sleep is the best way to go. The cons are, of course, that you are dead, and you never got the chance to say goodbye to those you love or take in a sunset knowing it will, not may, be your last. You can't even eat breakfast that day.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

State of affairs

surgical staples incision
Five of the 71 surgical staples that held the Loser's incision closed.
The Complete and Total Loser is nearly a month out from having his knee replaced. The pain is not what others said it would be. He'd describe it as discomfort more than pain. The leg is swollen and tender. The right side of the 71-staple incision is numb and warm to the touch. The left side is sensitive and itches. The Loser washes twice a day and the incision is clean but not scrubbed. Dead skin is piling up. The staples came out two weeks and four days after the operation.
The hospital kept the Loser two days longer than the three minimum he'd have preferred. It made him antsy and irritable. You can't wash properly sitting in bed or a chair. He did what he could with the tub of warm water and washcloths they gave him but to feel clean the Loser needs to have water flow over him. He has that now, in the house, but he's still not stable enough to stand in the shower so he washes sitting on a shower chair, scooping water from a bucket. Better, but not ideal. He's sick to death of it.
He's moving without the crutches. Yesterday, a friend took him shopping (he hasn't been cleared to drive yet) and for the first time since late April he walked in a store and filled a basket himself. It felt good, but a odd not to have someone do his bidding. (No wonder the rich become petty and mean so quickly.)
The new knee isn't really a knee. It wasn't what others would get. Substantial poles anchor it to his diminished femur and the knee is really a hinge. The Loser won't have the mobility others do. Even though the device is made of titanium, which is lighter than steel but heavier than aluminum, it's heavy. He can feel the heaviness when picking his leg up by the pants cuff.
Yesterday was his first day not taking opiods, which did little in the way of pain relief anyway. The Loser had heard they make you constipated and it's true. Despite the stool softener he took twice a day and the psyllium husk he drinks each day, his daily session on the toilet became a once every two or even three day struggle.
Everything about this has been gross and inconvenient, though he is walking more without crutches. It's slow and awkward, but with less pain than before. The pain overall isn't bad but enough to keep him from reading well or watching anything though provoking. He lies on a couch and watches four hours of Match Game '75 and '78 on a channel he gets over the air, as he's too much of a Loser to be able to afford cable.
In September comes the removal of his prostate and—despite of what his urologist tells him—the inevitable permanent impotence and incontinence. 

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Prostate Biopsy, a poem

A prostate biopsy won't ruin your penis,
That will come some time later.
But what comes out is ever so heinous
You'll become an orgasm hater.
prostate biopsy
This is as much fun as it looks like it'd be.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Carly & Jack, 2052

Jack: What year was it that Uncle Complete and Total Loser died?
Carly: God, Uncle Complete and Total Loser. I haven't thought about him in ages. Hang on, I'll access.
Jack: No, come on, try to wet brain it. 
Carly: OK. Uh, I think it was in 2016.
Jack: I think it was later than that.
Carly: Yeah?
Jack: Yeah, it was after my freshman year and your junior year. Remember we had to drive him around that summer to appointments?
Carly: Right. I would take him shopping. To supermarkets.
Jack: Supermarkets. Jesus.
Carly: Well that would've been in 2017, so ... I'm gonna verify with implant. Huh. Yeah, it was 2017 that we drove him around and he died in ... 2019. The middle of that November.
Jack: I don't remember going to the funeral.
Carly: There wasn't one, remember? We just had a get together at home and sort of melded it with Thanksgiving.
Jack: Oh yeah. Right. Huh.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017


commuters waiting for a train
Commuters wait for a train.
This is one of the many weeks the Complete and Total Loser simply waits. In this case, he waits to find test results that may (will; you watch) indicate that he has a good enough chance of having prostate cancer that a biopsy will be needed, which will interfere with the pending second try at knee replacement surgery, and the Loser will have to continue being on crutches, his ruined right leg dangling uselessly, probably indefinitely.
It is not fun and the Loser is tempted to do something as corny as make a list of things he's grateful for. Why not? It's not like it could hurt.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

On the counter

the press sees a compact disc for the first time
The press sees a compact disc for the first time.
Right now, on a counter in the kitchen, near the telephone, is a disc with a cat scan of the Complete and Total Loser's chest, taken yesterday. 
This disc knows whether or not the Loser will die of slow suffocation in the near future or not. 
He is tempted, of course, to put it in his computer and look at the results, but he's holding off on that. He is not a medical professional and he is untrained in how to read such things. He will wait until tomorrow, when he meets with his doctor, who will interpret the results.
But the Loser is tempted. 
Would you be?

Friday, May 5, 2017

The binary test

Tomorrow, the Complete and Total Loser will have a chest CT. If it finds something, the Loser will die. If it doesn't, the Loser will still die, but not right away; he'll die when he's supposed to, like everyone else.
There is no treatment for what the test may find. The best the Loser could do, his doctor told him, is to see if anyone is doing trials for it, which is unlikely as it's a rare disease.
Ah, life.
sky cloud trees
It is nearly definite that this is the most beautiful planet anyone you'll ever know will ever see.

Friday, April 28, 2017

How it went

The Complete and Total Loser's recent operation went badly, of course, and now instead of a new right knee he has no right knee at all and it won't be for a few days whether he knows if he'll ever walk on two legs again or not. 
hospital bed
The Loser's hospital bed, as he was departing it.

Friday, April 21, 2017

The woo woo

Die hard skeptics call beliefs in the paranormal and various faith-based healing things and all that stuff "the woo woo." (In fact, many of them wouldn't call themselves skeptics, which implies they haven't made up their minds and could be convinced of things, but simple non-believers.) 
The phrase is a dismissive one and disrespectful to believers, and the Complete and Total Loser is all for it. In his teens and early adult years he was a strong believer in ESP, telekinesis, levitation and the like, and read books on them and kept an open mind. Decades of inquiry, however, turned up nothing and now the Loser is on the side of those who call it "the woo woo."
healthy knees
If these were the Loser's knees, you wouldn't be reading this.

And yet. The Loser, for some reason, has a bad hunch about the outcome of the knee replacement surgery he'll have three days from now. He's attributing that to the general anxiety anyone has before major surgery, but the feeling is there nonetheless. If you're reading this and it's the last entry, or close to it, perhaps some of the woo woo is more than random chance making the supernatural look real.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Shopping, remembering

When no one loves you and you don't really have any good friends, getting ready to be housebound for months is hard. 
Although his surgery is a week away, the Complete and Total Loser has stockpiled prodigious amounts of stuff. Over one hundred and twenty bottles of water, lots of butter, bagels he's halved and frozen, six jars of peanut butter to put on those bagels, two dozen rolls of toilet paper, bath soap, aspirin, microwaveable meals, a variety of meats he's wrapped in foil and frozen, two cases of beer. He has much more to buy. Nuts, pickles, tofu, instant coffee, eggs, chicken sausage, juice. Some of this he's waiting until closer to the date so the food won't expire. Fortunately, the Loser is smart enough to know that most foods last well beyond their assigned expiration dates.
gorilla hoarding food
A gorilla hoarding food.

But no matter how much he buys the Loser knows that he'll miss something essential. Something dumb like salt. Paper towels. Toothpaste. 
Meanwhile, the knee that will be replaced seems to know it and is hurting as much as it can. In a way, this is good. It will keep the Loser from coming up with an excuse to avoid the operation. It's also making him think of a woman he knew over thirty years ago named Marlys. 
Marlys lived in the same house in Minneapolis the Loser lived in after college. The house had been divided into efficiency apartments and was inhabited by five people, all well under thirty except for Marlys, who was in, probably, her late fifties, the age the Loser is now. Life had been neither kind nor unkind to Marlys. It just ignored her completely. She'd never married. She made the Loser uncomfortable because she was clearly one of those people who simply never got it, something he at that age hoped wouldn't apply to him forever.
The Loser could hear her snoring through the thin drywall between their apartments in the otherwise solidly constructed house, which had been built to withstand harsh Minnesota winters. (The sound depressed him; he moved his bed away from the wall.) Of the few conversations they had, the one the Loser remembers now is of Marlys having trouble one day getting a taxi to take her back from the supermarket. "I certainly can't walk that far," she told the Loser, her expression one of stupid wonder that anyone could. It was her knee. The Loser, an unwrinkled 23-year-old, listened politely, concealing mild contempt. That store's just five blocks from her. It's a ten minute walk, if even that. 
With age and decrepitude comes understanding.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Now you know almost everything

The oldest email account the Complete and Total Loser has uses his middle name. An elderly woman who has the same last name as that mistakenly emails the Loser an occasional update on her goings on. The Loser informed her of this some time ago, yet the emails continue.
Dorothy Gale Wizard of Oz
Judy Garland as Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz.

The latest:
My day!
I was writing a very detailed account of my appointment and it suddenly disappeared!  Now I’ll write the nitty-gritty.
 Kevin took me to the Clinic.  After I finished, he came and got me and took me to the Imaging Center to have an Xray done.  While I was doing that he just sat in the parking lot and waited for me then took me to Walmart to pick up my medicine.  The longest part of that experience was standing in the pick up line only then did I find out it was an over-the-counter product which cost $2.00 and they paid the tax because they had pennies there!
 Now back to the Xray.  The girl who got all my information asked if I lived at College Square.  Well, her grandmother lives here. The Tech who did the Xray said I looked very familiar and did I go to Woodland Heights. Of course I said I did so we had a nice little visit.
 When we got back to College Square I decided to go down for
“supper” since I didn’t go down at lunchtime.  During that time Channing came by to tell me that you had called. Then Kathleen came by to tell me you had called, so I returned to my apartment and removed my phone from my purse which was in my closed closet.
 Before taking my shower and getting ready to go to the doctor’s office I knitted a bit.  Did no unravelling!
 Now you know almost everything.  If you have questions please ask.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Getting ready

The Complete and Total Loser is getting ready for a total knee replacement, which will happen the 24th of this month (April, 2017). He is not looking forward to it, even though his knee has hurt for years now. 
woman bather using shower chair
A woman using a shower chair.

The Loser is even trying to find excuses to cancel it, like his sore hip, which will need replacing in a few years. He knows he'll go through with it and put up with the intense pain and probably not be as good at the rehabilitation part of it as he should be because he has no one in his life who loves him and will make him stay motivated. And he also knows that before he's at all recovered and back in shape something else will come up, like prostate cancer, and he'll probably be killed by it before he's even had a chance to enjoy the painful surgery's benefits.
Meanwhile, he has bought a shower chair. It cost $55, a lot for a cheap plastic device, but the Loser knows he'll probably need it again before long.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Constant losing

Life has never been more dull for the Complete and Total Loser than it is now. The Loser has a strong hunch that he has started a post before with that exact sentence, which says much about his life in general.

right knee x-ray
An X-ray of the Loser's right knee.
The only thing of note is that at the end of April he will have knee-replacement surgery on his right knee. He doesn't look forward to the intense pain that will follow that, or the disability status, or the clouded thinking the pain and drugs to alleviate will cause, but it is necessary. The joints last from ten to fifteen years, he's been told. That seems like a short time: The car the Loser drives is nearly twenty years old and most of its original parts work fine. The Loser doesn't, however, see himself living to be over seventy, so he's fine with that estimate.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Sally died

The Complete and Total Loser reads the death notices in his local paper every day. Today, he learned that a woman who was a year behind him in college died. Her name was Sally.
The Loser was stunned. 
He went to her house in 1976 because her parents were holding an event for area high school seniors to learn more about the college, which is in Ohio, far from the Loser's suburban Philadelphia town. Sally's father went to the college and Sally would have been there but the Loser doesn't recall meeting her at that time.
He met her when he was a sophomore and she a freshman. The college was (and is still) a small one and kids from the same regions tended to find one another quickly even if they'd never met in high school. Sally was pretty, funny, smart and talented. She sang in the school's female a Capella group.

The Loser went to an all-boys school, Sally to an all-girls one. A clear memory the Loser has is of talking to Sally about his senior year prom (only seniors at these small private school had proms), which he did not attend because being a loser, he knew no girls, and never went to social events in high school. Sally told him she'd gone with a classmate of the Loser's named Frank.
Frank and the Loser had been childhood friends, largely because they lived in easy walking distance from one another. The boys were very different, though, and Frank and the Loser were merely acquaintances from third grade on. 
Sally said she found Frank terribly dull and didn't enjoy the evening.
"Then why did you go with him?" the Loser said.
Sally looked puzzled by the question. 
"He asked me," she said. "I'd have gone with you if you'd asked me."
The Loser was taken aback. He imagined himself at the prom, with Sally. He couldn't dance, but he'd sit around and talk with her, they'd make jokes, tell her how nice she looked. He'd introduce her to teachers and feel almost like a normal boy. 
She moved back and settled in the area after college. The Loser lived elsewhere for the next nine years. After he'd returned, he'd heard from a mutual friend that Sally hadn't married even though she'd wanted to very much. She kept her looks; the Loser saw her on television once as she was participating in a fund drive. She knew how to talk to men and had boyfriends in college who were invariably handsome, nice young men the Loser thought well of.
Although he never felt well enough about himself to get in touch with her, somehow the Loser always thought he'd see Sally again and perhaps even become friends.
It's too late now.