Rendered Fat Content


Giovanni Battista Piranesi: The Round Tower,
plate 3 from the second edition of Carceri d’invenzione (Imaginary Prisons)

1750, reworked 1761)

" … each day brings us one day closer …"

Entering her sixth week of cancer treatment, The Muse descended into the worst experiences so far. The week following her final radiation treatment brought by far her body's most extreme reactions. Her neck, which had previously shown some minor evidence of tanning, took to Burnishing in the absence of fresh insults, turning a deep mahogany red and leaving her in intermittent agony. Sleep at times became as difficult as swallowing. Sneezing could prove devastating. Coughing became essentially constant. Food either tasted like nothing or like garbage, and she was hard-pressed to decide which was worse. A few suppers went uneaten, but she could choke down most, if much more slowly and in smaller portions. Oatmeal remained the most reliable meal. She made herself the most marvelous flan, which seemed to mirror the color of her neck and the texture of her throat.

Her sister sent her some THC gummy bears which reliably induce sleep and munchies!
I'd sometimes overtake her in a hall or somewhere, just standing there frozen in an unarticulated scream, aching. She claimed that her throat sometimes felt as though she'd ripped off a scab down there. She'd stand and stare into the near distance, bearing her burden, Burnishing neck glowing in the shadows, as if emitting radiation captured through her previous exposure. Her five weeks of radiation treatment represented less than other cancers demand, and she continues to insist that she's gotten off easier than most. She has not in any way gotten off easy. An extended series of water tortures might have been preferable, for those mostly affect the psychological. Cancer treatment does not neglect to inflict psychological damage, either, but much of its malign influence remains physical. It produces a genuine ordeal for everyone it touches.

There's nothing for any of us to do but bear through it. There are no turnouts to suspend progress, not even a distant thought of turning back for fear of what the piper would demand in return for that privilege. As horrible as the treatment might seem, worse remains a distinct possibility. When the oncologist predicted eleven days ago that The Muse had probably seen the worse she would experience through the whole treatment, her condition degraded almost immediately following. Pills she'd saved for when she'd really need them found their moment. Pills and ointments and numbing mouthwash have each found their time in turn. The humidifiers continue humming. The Muse has finally been convalescing, gingerly sitting upon her throne with a blankee covering her legs and lap. She even consented to receive a single, heartfelt Poor Baby from me. That's how bad it got!

Not that any of these experiences have kept her from preparing for a real Thanksgiving. She insisted upon coming to the supermarket to make sure that I bought the right stuff. She arranged for delivery of her usual Buddha Hand citron so she can make her candied fruit for her stollen again. We left with a car filled with stuff I'm reasonably confident that her Burnishing neck won't swallow, but we're having family over and the leftovers might keep us until Christmas. She'll be damned if some damned cancer will prevent her from resurrecting her grandmother's infamous mashed potato stuffing and giblet dressing, even if no meat department in this valley stocks giblets this year. We stumbled upon the remainders of a recent spatchcocking at one butcher's, who sold us that spine, neck, and innards which will just have to do this year. No pint of gizzards or livers available for any price here. The Muse might just as well have had her gizzard removed, given all the damage that's ensued down there. She's taken to tying up her hair to prevent it from brushing up against and provoking that Burnishing neck. We have much to be thankful for this season, not the least of which must be that each day brings us one day closer to the end of this chapter.

©2022 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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