The Other Sock

The Other Sock

A continuation from That One Sock. Story by G.O. Art by me.

Let me take you back to the moment when my life changed. The trampoline was amazing. We bounced so high a couple of times, I was able to see the neighbor’s yard. I couldn’t believe the luck. I found the weather fascinating and the force with which I flew up, then back down, was gratifying. I figured that with all of the laughter, this would become a common thing. Oh, I knew that there would be others that would come sometimes, but if we did a good job, we may be able to do this often. So the plan was set, we would do our best and work together. One small slip-up and we may never return. We did it! We performed perfectly! Then he took us off. We chatted for a bit. Then we were all scooped up and…and…oh my gosh he dropped me. He didn’t turn around, he just left.

Read the full story at his site: http://garyoversen.hubpages.com/hub/The-Other-Sock

Bring it

You may have noticed the rather obvious lack of regular updates until recently. It’s not for lack of things to say. Rather, I became tired of sharing my complaints. Complaints from others are actually giant pet peeves of mine. I don’t have much patience for what I often perceive as someone being a baby. But look at a bunch of posts I’ve written. Harsh negativity. Whining. Darkness. Pain. A big chunk of this blog is heavy, downer material.

I didn’t want to keep adding to the never-ending noise of negativity already present in everyone else’s lives (whether personally or through media outlets). What good does it do?

I can write about things I love; Things I’m grateful for; Things that inspire. But two things stop me from that:

1. If I starting listing all I’m grateful for, it would never end. No, really. It would also be horribly cheesy, and full of sappy clichés. That’s what “Chicken Soup for the Soul” books are for.

2. It’s a matter of having things to spare, and NOT having things to spare.

I’m drained, mentally and physically. I cherish the things I’m grateful for (it really is an endless list). But I can’t share them with you. I can’t afford to. They are mine and I need to be selfish. I will greedily take their nourishment as my fuel, my ammunition. I even silently edited or unpublished previous posts praising my wife and daughter. It’s an attempt to reclaim the memories and moments as my own. A way of placing the treasures back in my safe, close to my chest.

On the flip side, the negativity, pain, frustration, anger, and constant drain of this body’s imperfection are all things I have in excess. They are overbearing, heavy, and at times, seemingly all-consuming. Of this darkness, I have plenty to spare. In fact, my spirit is begging for a release.

I will tell you one thing I am grateful for, though, which might not make sense: I’m grateful for anger. When enough steam builds, I explode, but into words. There is something to expressing the anger that enlivens me. Anger is often my inspiration. My own reminder that I am alive, and kicking. And powerful. That’s something truly wonderful.

What is the benefit of honest negativity?

One quite awesome side effect of writing about darkness is that by reading it, you (yeah, YOU) become part of my healing. I write it, thereby releasing it, and your act of reading is in a way, an acceptance of bearing part of my load. So, thank you, dear reader, for being a receiver of my upcoming wrath.

Also, by being honest with my anger and frustration, maybe another benefit will emerge. A reminder that I am the result of archaic cancer treatments done to me as a child. Treatments that haven’t really changed in over 20 years. Why the hell not?

Why are so many cancer sites inspirational? Why are we okay with being fed clichés and sappy stories? It doesn’t always end pretty. Hell, it sometimes never ends at all. You can’t wrap it up in bow (if you have, you are blessed by fate). Cancer is a bomb, treated with a nuke. Newsflash: it doesn’t end post-cancer. It’s the shit that keeps on plopping.

It’s NOT okay.

Inspirational stories, heartwarming survivor moments, and sugar-filled words of encouragement have their rightful place. But they also mask a reality. I’m here to remind of the wake of destruction this disease can produce. Over and over again. Relentlessly. How are we okay with the state of cancer treatments? Where’s the damn progress? Why are kids (and anyone) still being treated with bags of toxic poison?

Don’t look away. Don’t assume “it gets better.” Face the monster. Look it straight in it’s death-filled eyes. Ignore it, and it will continue destroying lives. Ignore it, and it will never be defeated. So I offer you myself, my pain, my piece of the Dragon. I am the Boy Who Cried Cancer, except I’m not fucking lying.

I am cancer-free yet no where near healthy. And I am but one of many pediatric cancer survivors stuck with post-treatment illnesses. Maybe your own child knows the hell of cancer. How will she or he grow up? Maybe my anger will ignite yours. And maybe that anger will inspire action.

Or maybe you will simply know that you are not alone.

To those kids who have walked through the wasteland of chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery… To those souls robbed of innocence far too early… To those making sense of a wrecked body post-treatment… You are me. And we are not alone.

I raise my fist to you, and I will scream for you, as long as I can:

FUCK CANCER!

(From the 1976 film, Network)

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that one sock

That One Sock

Here is the second drawing of my recent collaboration with my brother-in-law.

A short story about a certain sock, longing for more. An excerpt below:

That One Sock

By Gary Oversen

It all started the day that the vacuum-sealed package was opened. I was one of the first socks pulled out. My owner raised us all up and thanked his mom for the thoughtful gift. I was proud that I would now be able to finally get out and possibly see a little of the world. Luckily, I am a tube sock. The ankle and “no-shows” have become all the trend, but I was happy to be a tube. The fact that I had an opportunity to have an older owner who may take me on some long vacations to exotic locations. Or possibly someone younger who would go out and play on a regular basis. All I knew was that when I was opened, I was going to be put to good use.

Read the rest at his blog: That One Sock

I’m all about that bass, no treble

Months ago I visited the doctor to investigate a weird little symptom that came up. A small section of hair had fallen out on the left side of my head. It wasn’t much, about the size of a coin. Complete hair everywhere else but that one spot. No biggie. I hid it easily with my other hair. Turned out after some blood work that I had/have hypothyroidism, which means my thyroid gland is under producing its hormones (thyroid hormones control metabolism/how food converts to energy in different parts of the body). One of its symptoms can sometimes show up as hair loss.

My hair is all grown back now, and I have been taking meds to hopefully raise my thyroid levels to a normal range. Hypothyroidism can cause fatigue, and I felt that long before I was diagnosed. This is still fairly new and so the medication will need some time to work it’s magic on my system. I’ll eventually retest my thyroid levels and go from there.

A bit before the hair/thyroid thing, something else surfaced. I woke up one day, like usual, only my left ear was plugged up. It felt just like an altitude pressure change. I could hear out of it, but all high pitches were muffled or silent. My right ear was perfect. I tried the usual tricks to “pop” my left ear back into crystal clear mode: yawning, chewing gum, yawning more, even the thing you’re not supposed to do-pinching my nose and blowing. Nothing. I eventually went for a complete ear exam and hearing test.

Turns out I have “asymmetric sensorineural hearing loss” in my left ear. That means it can’t be cured with surgery since it is a brain/nerve pathway issue, not an ear canal problem. Permanent, in other words. I was hoping I just needed a canal cleaning, but nope. The sharp, crispy high sounds never returned on that side. Lil Lefty had heard his last tinny cymbal crash.

No treble anymore.

Good news is the hearing loss is mild. I can still hear most things, just not in the higher register. And my right side is still golden.

I had an MRI brain scan to rule out the worst possibility: cancer. I knew that my childhood diagnosis was astrocytoma, which is usually a brain tumor. Waiting for the results was, uh, stressful. But the scan came back all good. No growths, no lesions. Brain looked nice. Phew. Great. Ahhh. Wait, so why did my left ear lose some clarity?

The doctor(s) are calling both diagnoses idiopathic, i.e., they don’t know the causes. Grrr. Could it be related to past chemo/radiation treatments, perhaps? Maybe. Could malnutrition affect thyroid hormone production(I AM still very underweight)? Maybe. All of the above? Maybe. Is not knowing becoming increasingly frustrating? YES. Do these new symptoms make me feel any younger? NO.

Still, I’m doing alright. Mostly. Kinda. But I’m saving the complaints for after the holidays. This is just an update of the latest medical news.

Tonight ends another wonderfully rough and tumble year. High highs and low lows. Tomorrow will bring more of the same. No matter what though, beauty makes it all worth it. And there’s plenty of that. You only need to open your eyes.

Tonight I will toast to life! Have a good one.

the moon

And the moon, it followed me home

Hey now. Hope your winter holiday season is going well. Here’s a little change of pace for you. An experiment, if you will. A little while ago, my brother-in-law began a blog of his own. A place to begin expressing his own creative outlets. He asked if I could help him with illustrations for some of his work. So I started doodling. Here is the first of…hm, I don’t know. Here’s drawing one (up there), inspired by my bro’s poem (down here):

And the moon, it followed me home

by Gary Oversen

I fell asleep on the way, coming home from the game.

I gazed up to see I wasn’t alone.

For this time, I would say, that my mind was to blame.

And the moon, it followed me home.

I was sure I could bare, the thought that it might scare.

But I’d hoped it wouldn’t take that tone.

It just winks and it glows, but there’s something it knows.

And the moon, it followed me home.

I just can’t shake its path; Will I feel it’s great wrath?

It seems to be there wherever I roam.

Keep in mind, I was nine. Now I understand why.

And the moon, it followed me home.

I survived, that whole time. With that white ball up high.

I started to comfort in all it’s great glow.

For as long as it’s alive, thank God, then so am I.

And the moon, it followed me home.

Check out his blog for more of his work. Happy New Year, kiddos!