A note to the reader. This allegory contains excerpts from my personal journals of 1995. All are as they were written only names have been changed. It is an evolution of the discovery of an illness and all its consequences. At the end, there is an epiphany of sorts, acceptance. Six years have passed now and the friends I first called upon for support are no longer a part of my life. Simply put, they were a support system that was there for a time when I taught school. Now there is a new one. Some people, like Kim and Robert I have no recollections of and I wonder why sometimes they are gone from my life. Did I do or say or become something that was unforgivable? My husband and doctors tell me no, so I am left with having to accept that as well and like to think they were there in a time of need and off helping others now. Like Frankenstein's monster, I have in a sense been abandoned by myself aghast at what was created, my former self and my memories have fled, at the mistakes of others.

I keep my journals in stenographer pads. I suppose I began this peculiar way of journaling, when as a writing exercise I would have students write journals, and then read them, making encouragements or comments. Spelling, grammar, punctuation were emphasized in other lessons so the students would feel free to express themselves.

The journal entries are informal, on the left would be by comparison-- me the student-- and the journal entries on the right would be-- me the teacher.
I hope you like it.{Lo}

Forward

"... Hail horrors, hail
Infernal world, and thou profoundest Hell
Receive thy new Possessor: One who brings
A mind not to be changed by Place or Time.
The mind is its own place, and in itself

Can make a Heav'n of Hell, a Hell of Heav'n"
-- John Milton, Paradise Lost


Journal entry January 1, 1995

What fresh hell will this year bring?

You're predicting and overexaggerating Lo.

I miss the happiness.
4 years of bliss
I loved my
job home kids,
husband. Life
would touch
my heart! Wonder
of everyday
Where did it go?

I don't know.

Will I ever have
it again? For how
long?

We can't predict the future.

Will I survive
it one more time?
What does it
mean to be
recovered?
I love my life
I just can't feel it.

You've survived a
lot of hell before,
you will do it again
We will know recovery
when we feel it.
Trust God for the healing
you seek.

There are no answers
for this grief.

Rest.


but I could not tear my thoughts from my employment

The parable of Mary Shelly's Frankenstein is in fact one about sacrificing family for the sake of ambition.

Only by examining what others shrink from-- by viewing degradation and corruption--can he hope to make his great discovery

"My attention was fixed upon the most importable delicacy of human feeling,"he says."I saw how fine the form of man was degraded and wasted; I beheld the corruption of death succeed to the blooming cheek of life." His vow is not to disparage, but rather, "pour a torrent of light on our dark world."

Like Daedalus-- as if art were a drenching sun to open a floodgate of illumination. To do his work Frankenstein must ignore his family and so he turns a deaf ear to their anxious pleas

".....but I could not tear my thoughts away from my employment, loathsome in itself, but which had taken an irresistible holding of my imagination. I wished, as it were, to procastianate all that related to my feelings of affection until the great object, which swallowed up every habit of my nature, should be completed."

How closely it mirrors facing devastating illness.

Easter Day 1995

My mind is not here
w/ myself or family.
It is restless wandering
among the future
of my concerns. The
fears are many,
distorted and
sneak upon me.
as I try to live
A useful life. Time
& circumstance much
to my grief cruelly does
not permit me the chance
to finish my work.
Easter Day I cry in utter
despair of it all.
Easter Day spent at the
movies could not bear
to attend church am
not in a joyful mood
No calls from friends
to wish me Happy
Easter

you could call someone

I called yesterday.


No Eve soothed my sorrows, nor shared my thoughts; I was alone

In Shelly's tale which ends in such famous catastrophe, the artist's situation is not merely part of the problem; it is the problem.

Dr. Frankenstein's project involves anatomical secrets. The work of illness involves historical and psychological secrets. His work requires exhuming bodies, the profoundly ill requires unburying truths and emotions which have been suppressed. The monster shares his sense of loneliness with Victor Frankenstein.

"No Eve soothed my sorrows, nor shared my thoughts; I was alone. I remembered Adam's supplication to his Creator. But where was mine? He had abandoned me: and, in the bitterness of my heart, I cursed him."

In both cases real people become mere material for the creator's end.


April 17, 1995

The doctor's office
called this afternoon
to set up an MRI.
This week the prolactin levels
came back 76 times
higher than normal.
This disease is a thief
and evil in its vilest form!

I have choices to
alienate myself which
will have serious
consequences. So afraid
and ashamed of talking
about the possibility of
having a tumor. Only reason I want
to survive is for sons'
sake. If not for them
would not care.

you're choice!

Choices-
meditating, writing, reading.
Nothing is working
Is it the tumor or me?
Who will call me?
Who will comfort me?
I am alone even though
all these people who
who care surround me.
Not doing well at all
should be relieved about
insurance. Job
Wonderful kids, husband
Can't imagine why I
feel this way. Have
to call on strangers to
care for me. I don't care
about me anymore
Came home and called
& talked to everyone
I could think of.

Support systems
are important if
you want to survive.

Gale was so
sorry to hear "let her
know what happens..."

She was concerned

Kim. Called twice
very concerned so
supportive bright
positive.

She's lied to you
& about you a lot
you should be wary.

Jean called me
back as I said
It was urgent. She
said she'd keep me
in her thoughts &
prayers. Brief
and to the point.

As usual unless
it's about her.

Liz said
Number Two Son had
been edgy all week
Told her we were telling
the kids last night.

Mr. Riggs at JRHS
very wonderful would
let Number One Son's
teachers know that
he may seem pre-
occupied

Elise wished me
luck w/ my ordeal

Ivy talked plattitdes
trying to help

Pastor Gary said
he was thinking about
me this morning. Asked
him for prayer--said
they would

You know how
in life they say
when one door
closes another one
opens--well
the hallway is
a bitch.

you make me laugh.


Of this occasion. But I hear the tread Of hatefull steps, I must be viewless now

The instant Frankenstein's creature opens its eyes, its 'author' is aghhast.

"The beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust fill my heart."

Appalled the doctor flees. The monster is unconscious carnate. It is the unconscious with hands and feet.

    Like John Milton's monsters of Comus:

    That to the service of this house belongs,
    Who with his soft Pipe, and smooth-dittied Song,
    Well knows to still the wilde winds when they roar,
    And hush the waving Woods, nor of lesse faith,
    And in this office of his Mountain watch,
    Likeliest, and neerest to the present ayd
    Of this occasion. But I hear the tread
    Of hatefull steps, I must be viewless now. -

    Comus enters.....with him a rout of Monsters, headed like sundry sorts of wilde Beasts, but otherwise like Men and Women

    The monster of Frankenstein stalks his "author".


April 22? whatever

Tests came back
positive for pituitary tumor
Will be see and endocrinologist next
week. Dr. B says
it can be treated
with medicine--
more pills.
Don't really care
right now

Can't believe that
doctor resorted to platitudes
Couldn't think of anything
to say can't wipe away
fears of death, we are
not immortal.

Only hope
to make it
through until Wed.
to go to Tubac
with my students--
Hope Patty
cooperates. I
want it to be
a good thing for
her too. Nothing
else to say


April 23 ?

Went to church today
spoke briefly to Pastor Gary
about my tumor.
He was very concerned--
he would call this week
Went for a walk with Laurie
Tired had a hard time
keeping up
Been sleeping a lot
lately. Don't know
if I should
tell my students.
They surely wonder by
now. I just don't know anymore.....

You can do it!

Hard--Husband doesn't
listen anymore
More pain, too pre-
occupied can't think.
Abandoned by my own
body. Damn Patty
won't return my
calls! I'm tired
of hope being yanked
out from under me
by life. Maybe it
just isn't meant to
be. Maybe I was
stupid to even try.

Never would know
unless you tried.

Have I been
fooling myself
into thinking these
people care?

They're busy with
their lives


Journal April 24, 1995

Do you know
what it is like to be
alone among so many
and unable to speak
my fears. How will
I survive? Everyone
says I SHOULD be
relieved to know my
diagnosis, but they don't
seem to understand
that my dreams are
futher away from me
than ever, at this time
Who would have me
in this condition?


April 28, 1995

Both doctors called
last night very
concerned about how
I was feeling.
Still no feelings
told them I couldn't even
cry over the Oklahoma
Children--
I want my feelings back
I wonder about the extra
prolactin in my
body. Maybe my feelings
will increase after the
brain tumor is taken
care of--I hope
so, it's not a good thing
for me to do.

Lone
Forsaken, unattended
Long--drawn--out
outstretched--to desire--urgently
Obscure

Pastor Gary forgot to
call me like
he said he
would
Feel overwhelmed
by all of the
schoolwork I have
to catch up on.

He's a busy man
Be patient he will
eventually call I'm sure


constant and deep grief fills me with sympathy and compassion

"I begin to love him as a brother; and his constant and deep grief fills me with sympathy and compassion."

Robert Walton tells of his friendship with Dr. Frankenstein

The monster destroys all that he holds dear. Mary Shelly's story contains, in nightmare form all the fears of my illness. The melodrama of it--the thunder crashes, the feverish moonlit rooms--merely reflect the tenor of repressed anxieties. Frankenstein reports that he

"disturbed the profane fingers, the tremendous secrets of the human frame."

as if the hand obeyed its own rapacious morality. The beast seems to be body gone wild, as if how a thing is made is what it does, and the illness a hand communicates to his or her work all sorts of secret messages, whorling, crosshatched, gouged inscriptions, willow trees and angels' heads, that it will turn-- reveal as it travels through time.

There are secrets within secrets of my illness that even I merely suspect.


Journal April 28 ?

The reality of the
tumor looms larger each day
that goes by. I
try to feel something
about it. Not even
scared about it. Might
hit me Wednesday when
I see the endocrinologist.
Maybe I'm
on my way home.


May 6, 1995

Having a bad day.
My family are all
angry at me
Recently diagnosed w/ a
pituitary tumor.
Depression don't know
what's wrong--
How much of tumor
is causing this, how
much me? Tired
can't do anything today

Bromocryptine
Nor Prolac

There is only so
much you can do w/ the
choices in your life.


May 7, 1995

So this Robert says
to ask the doctors
for my money back
Demand to know why
I wasn't tested
for hormonal problems
first. That was cruel
of them to treat me
the way they did.
Like trying to get
me to walk on a
broken leg. What does
all this mean to me?

Wait and see you have
other problems complicating
things. It hasn't been
an easy thing to unravel

Are they being so
nice because they
made a mistake?
How much harm was
caused? Is it truely
over like Robert
said? I think
about death a lot
Wouldn't it be nice
to get out of this
mess?

That's dangerous thinking.

Disappointment of the
week...No call
from Pastor Gary

We're all human
we all make
mistakes.


May 16, 1995

Good day till talked
to Mrs.Hood and Elise
feel like she's shoving
me off a cliff...

Need to find out what
kind of medical leave or
sabbatical they can offer
you

I'm tired all the
time Patty's bitching at
my attitude the
whole year. She made
her choices
I made mine. My priorities
are different! I care
about the students
not the things that
they do and their
parents are important
too! Don't know what
to choose.
Weighing risks

Medical leave in
writing to Elise
COBRA-- How much
will it cost. Can I have
it for myself

I'm tired of all the stress

I'll bet
Take care

I will thanks
bye
by...


May 20, 1995

Dr's office called
yesterday about
my prolactin
levels. I was so
angry
& I don't
know why.

Something happened
in the past to trigger
those angry feelings
confusion over results--
reminds you of confusion
when small--Don't
trust--

Feel sick to my
stomach don't want
to eat. Want to sleep
all day

Try to get excecise
today--only 20 minutes


a world is to me a secret which I desired to divine

"The world was to me a secret which I desired to divine. Curiosity, earnest research to learn the hidden laws of nature, gladness akin to rapture, as they were unfolded to me, are among the earliest sensations I can remember."

Victor Frankenstein expressing his craving to learn.

Like Frankenstein's monster I look not for objective truth but emotional truth. I am looking for the way to live with illness. I feel its dangers most forcefully, when I wake up at 4 AM dreading what had happened during the day and what the repercussions will be.

What I feel at 4 AM I will also feel at 10 AM but with this difference: the day casts a scrim before it so that the hunched form that pursues is diffused, wrapped in a haze. At 4 AM the light shines straight through, showing the stalker in all it's clarity. Better turn around and see who it is. Maybe there's something the gnarled, tenacious form is trying to say.


June 8, 1995

Peak
Struggling w/ the
mysteries of death

Battle all life
comes in different
varieties

Narcissism--we
fear death because of
it

All are narcissistic
spiritual growth out
of narcissism

Psychological
side for survival.
Failure to grow out
of Narcissism can
have destructive
results

Death is the ultimate
narcissitic injury
Become embittered or
grow.

Evaluation Complete

Two ways to deal
with death
1) Put out of mind
2) Recognize the fear
of death early,
grow spiritually
and so give up
the attachement to
self.

Christ said, Whoever
will save his life will
lose it and whosoever
will lose his life
will find it

Narcissism is not easy
to get rid of--
Hard to diminish.
Less fearful of death.
Able to recognize others
leads to sustained
happiness--
To forget oneself and
remember God

I fear I will be nothing
If so how does one
make an outward
expression for relief?

That's just it
Self is an illusion.

those moved by the winds of conscience are still
caught in the threads of power
you will shout all that you know
intensely quiet

Like a fragile spirit
spent, celadon
Slight flutter is all that remains
quivering

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