1st Granite, 1053:

This morning I woke up to the realization that I have no idea what a scalpel is.

Squinting through a bleary haze of sobriety, pawing at my nightstand for the mug of Dwarven Atomic Grog I keep there, I turned it over frantically — but sluggishly — in my mind. I had just concluded that I must have lost my skills through lack of practice when three dwarves stormed in, shouting.

»You're useless!«
»You never do anything!«
»Sauth resigned!«

Then they dragged me off to be the new overlord, claiming that since I had to do some job and didn't have any skills, I had been automatically chosen.

I always wondered how you become a politician.

As soon as they left my new office — which turned out to be my own room, they had just dragged me in a circle — I snuck off to get properly drunk so I could think clearly, all the while reading the briefing someone had dumped in my room while I was being hauled around. Dang! I'm glad I did! It turns out the rulers of this place get the good stuff, I tell you, diary. Apparently GhettoAardvark built a secret snack chamber in... but I cannot even commit it to paper. The only copy has to stay in the file. Which I burned, I think enough guys are skimming off it on the sly already.

Anyway, this super booze really makes you sharp! I had figured out what the problem was in moments, dear diary. The reason I had lost my skills was that I had no work! And the reason I had no work was... that the hospital was gone! It's as though it had never existed. I tried to look through the file to find an explanation, but I realized I had just burned it. The only remaining parts were a meticulous log by GhettoAardvark and a scrap of paper from Aerobe Lolokfarash saying something about a nonexistent Therapy Alligator. (I looked over the Creature Registry, and it wasn't in there, not in the deceased column either. It seems to have never existed. Kizor Bekomfath keeps his registers scrupulously. Albeit in a repurposed closet on the second floor.)

I soon discovered that these were not the only things missing, however: another absentee was any semblance of a functional economy. All my fellow-citizens were idling about like... like tallfolks, pardon my Elfish, just idly taxing our resources! I asked the first clutch I could lay my hands on why they were refusing to do any work, and they said we were »being besieged by goblins«. Mounting to the surface level, bringing the fort's strongest spyglass with me, I surveyed the canal-riddled landscape — what had these people been doing? — beyond the gates. Far, far away, on the far side of a raised bridge across the river, I saw a tiny cluster of goblins. The maps told me there was no way they could get into the fort even if I ordered everyone out, so I told the sheriff to...

There was no sheriff.

I hastily assigned one, and told him to go to No Alert and blow the all-clear. He told me there was no alert system. I may have become mildly intemperate at this point, and instructed him in no uncertain terms to arrange one with haste. He exited stage left, pursued by a swear.

14th Granite:

I've been spending two weeks drawing up plans for our new installations, including a wood furnace, a hospital and a kennel for training our dogs. I'm baffled and amazed that we have no wood furnace already, since that means no charcoal, and no charcoal means no functioning industry. We also have four butcheries but only one butcher, and no fishery despite lots of raw fish needing to be cleaned. In the inner courtyard, a whole year's harvest of prickle berries is rotting on the vine! There are also gobs of mineral veins sitting totally unmined everywhere; I've ordered Hapax Dorenamug and her team of mattock-waving crazies to start exploiting them immediately. It's a litany of woe.

17th Granite:

Our scouts in the underground inform me of sighting a hideous steam-beast in the southern caves. Supposedly it has deadly spittle, and is named Aditha. I asked the scouts how they knew its name, but they seemed completely nonplussed by this simple question.

That secret booze cache is making more sense every day.

18th Granite:

Now the damn creature has vanished as well. The scouts are terrified of their own shadows, but I won't let this stop my GLORIOUS PLANTS.

13 Slate:

A bunch of migrants arrived! Our scouts aboveground caught sight of them and estimated them to be fortyish in number. Unfortunately, those pesky goblins also caught sight of them, and promptly set off to slaughter them. I'm worried about the potential PR effects of a thing like this.

26 Slate:

Yep, they're all dead. And they don't even seem to have dinged the goblins' weaponry.

4 Felsite:

For lack of other entertainment, the goblins have taken to sitting on our inner curtain wall, which they apparently discovered they could get atop after that little mass-murder jaunt. They can't get down without breaking their necks, but we can't get at them up there either, and even though they're harmless, people are refusing to do any work outside. A bunch of tall vegetarians, the lot of them!

10 Felsite:

After I found out we had crossbows in storage, I ordered OldMiner Ableludist to go fetch one and perforate the goblins. He went to bed instead.

12 Felsite:

OldMiner finally woke up(!), but even though he tromped off and got the crossbow and went to stand in the courtyard, he wouldn't shoot at them; he hadn't picked up any bolts. We have lots of bolts, so I tried to get him to explain why he wasn't using them, but he just stood and sulked, and try as I might I couldn't get him to budge. If I didn't know better I'd've thought he resented the job.

An elven caravan also showed up today. I hoped the elves might go ahead and kill the goblins, but they just stood on the border and sulked too. I wonder if OldMiner is half elf.

20 Felsite:

The goblins have apparently decamped. I ordered the bridges lowered so as to let the elves in for trading.

In other news, some troglodytes have apparently been seen massing in the caves below our fortress. I'm convinced this will never be a problem.

22 Felsite:

Damnation! Some different goblins were lying in ambush! I've decided that I've had enough both of being cooped up under siege like this and of not exercising my medical skills, so I sent our watch patrol, The Crowded Boats, to smack them around.

25 Felsite:

After several days of claiming that they were very sorry but they couldn't obey my orders, the Boats have engaged the enemy. Two or three of our civilians lie dead, and many more are no doubt wounded. I confess to rubbing my hands in glee in anticipation of the much-needed practice.

26 Felsite:

The goblins were quickly put to the rout, but not before scaring away the elven merchants. Oh well. You can't trust treehuggers, I always say. I've often wanted to see if trepanning might fix their obvious psychological deviancy. I think trepanning is the wave of the future.

What's worse is that they left some sort of envoy behind, who keeps demanding to speak to Kizor about a no-logging treaty. I've ordered him to stall for as long as he can, and he seemed happy to comply.

In other news, Aerobe is spewing out a constant torrent of masterful rock sculptures and jewelry. They're cheap for the most part, but we can no doubt pawn off some of the dross of it on the humans later.

10 Hematite:

The troglodytes snuck in and started surreptitiously ripping up Master Engraver Ugoshkol. I ordered the Boats down to aid him, but they all refused, saying they were busy eating, so I fear he is not long for this world.

11 Hematite:

Nope. He wasn't.

28 Hematite:

Finally, a hospital where I can work. Unfortunately, it turned out that all those wounded people weren't content to wait for proper medical care and decided to just fix their problems with naps, leading to several now walking around maimed. One bled to death in his bed in the dormitory. It was a mess.

23 Malachite:

We've run out of booze. It's horrible. I can't even drink from the secret stash anymore, or the others would notice I was drunk and lynch me. Sobriety grates like a sharp flinder of granite inside my head.

26 Malachite:

More migrants. Apparently they're unfazed by the dead bodies strewn about the landscape, and ignorant of the lack of alcohol. Poor bastards. They'll find out soon enough. A heavy rain welcomes them to Copperstrapped.

1 Galena:

Last month of summer. We appear to finally be running at something vaguely approximating efficiency.

11 Galena:

Another heinous monstrosity, Nethgön Vurtibngalák Ulthush, has seen fit to arrive. I asked the scouts who comes up with these tongue twisters and they all became skittish and nervous, as though they were talking to an insane person. I've put them on my mental list of trepanning candidates. The other beast, Aditha, has disappeared again after making itself known awhile back. I'm sure neither of these things are worth worrying about. On the plus side, the booze stocks seem to be growing again!

12 Galena:

Some schmuck I've never seen before named Urist Keskalnökor flipped out completely! He's sequestered himself in GhettoAardvark's smithy, as much as you can sequester yourself in a workshop with no walls in the Artisans' Hall, and is giggling insanely over a cow hide and some iron. We'd best leave him there.

17 Galena:

A human caravan! We will bring forth our shittiest works and trade them for worse beer. Hopefully they also have some gypsum powder, which I need to make plaster casts.

19 Galena:

That metalsmith nut made an iron barrel. I don't want to talk about it. I'm declaring a damnatio memoriæ, outside of this journal anyway.

20 Galena:

The Hu-Men had no gypsum, and not much drink, but some other useful items. We stocked up on crutches, splints and buckets, and Kizor gave the humans a nice profit so they'd want to come back, ten whole dimdums. Later in the day, he cut a deal with that elf not to cut down more than 111 trees in the coming year. I told him to go ahead, since we have several huge deposits of lignite which will serve us just as well once we get some charcoal to start the coking process.

In other news, I had a wood furnace built ages ago and it still hasn't produced the necessary coal. I looked around for someone that I could have blamed, hammered and then plastered, but the hospital was empty. (I like to do all my ruling work from here, the sterile atmosphere and ready supply of knives instills a proper fear in people. I credit this wise managerial strategy with my success in reducing the number of idlers to zero.)

14 Limestone:

Autumn is here, and with it a functioning coaling operation. This will allow us to supply GhettoAardvark with fuel for the foreseeable future, keeping him happily at work hammering out weapons and armor for our jolly hatchetmen.

24 Limestone:

The scouts tell me that both the giant, hideous creatures we saw have disappeared. I don't know why they sound so nervous, that's good, isn't it? I tried to explain to them that it's irrational to get worried both at the monsters appearing and at them disappearing, but they refused to listen. I'm starting to wonder if our scouts are some sort of mongrels. They look unsound.

1 Sandstone:

More migrants. They even seem useful this time! We now number 58.

14 Timber:

A caravan from home! Some of Aerobe's better stuff will buy us decent booze, not that there's a shortage anymore.

27 Timber:

Right after the caravan, a whole bunch of goblin ambushes appeared! They killed almost our whole guard patrol, including the majority of the war dogs we'd trained. We did get the better of them in the end, though.

1 Moonstone:

The horrific Nethgön is threatening to ascend into our fortress! The men refuse to descend and wall off the passage, because the creature is too near the hole. I try to explain that that's the whole problem, but as usual nobody listens to my superior logic.

6 Moonstone:

Yaaay, it's my birthday! I spent extra long in the Secret Booze Hole to celebrate. Kizor gave me two bags of gypsum plaster that he bought off the caravan from the Mountainhome, and the others walled off that hole. Best presents ever.

20 Moonstone:

I finally got to do some suturing! On a hunter wounded in the goblin battle. He was really good about the whole thing, even when I lost track of the wound and stitched three inches too far up. I think the trick was letting him drink the medical alcohol.

3 Obsidian:

One of our newest immigrants, a furnace operator, drowned in the river when the ice melted, and while our last soldier lies wounded, a giant mole is going berserk somewhere in the fort. As if that wasn't enough, I also found out today that GhettoAardvark lost his left hand at some point, and is faint from the blood loss, yet refuses to rest or come see me. I wonder if the hunter's been talking.

7 Obsidian:

One of the haulers was just killed by that giant mole. We're going to have to deal with it, military or no military. But wait! The sole remaining soldier is free of his convalescence thanks to my expert ministrations! He goes forth to destroy the beast! In recognition of his services to the fortress, I've made him sheriff.

11 Obsidian:

A blind cave ogre has shown up and started to wreck our shit. I've dispatched Sheriff Soldier Man to deal with it, and am preparing the Disgusting Trauma Ward right now.

12 Obsidian:

He actually dealt with it! The ogre fled into my hospital, but he followed it in and hacked all its limbs open. I think that young man might make a fine surgeon one day.

22 Obsidian:

Mere days from my retirement, the cook freaked out! He's announced his temporary withdrawal from society. What kind of artifact do cooks make? I've used my autarchic authority to claim first eating rights.

23 Obsidian:

Apparently cooks make jewelry. Garnet- and tourmaline-based, in this case. We'll see what comes out.

25 Obsidian:

The last war dog succumbed to an infection. People complained, but it's beneath my dignity to treat a dog.
Or an infection. Ew.

28 Obsidian:

It's my last day. To my successor, I leave these notes and some scrawled markings on the map. To some — you know who you are — I leave surgical scars: sorry, guys, I was out of practice. To all of Copperstrapped, I leave what is greater: my magnum opus, UNDERCITY!

Oh, the cook finished his life's work, too. It's a clear tourmaline coffin. Yeesh. What an omen on the ending of my rule.

Clockmaker Amostuzol's recipe for Dwarven Atomic Grog:

1 pint dwarven rum
1 pint dwarven ale
1 pint ground pitchblende

Mix well.

The tale of Outpost Copperstrapped
A Dwarf Fortress Bloodlines Game, told in parts
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Granted, things have been a wee bit discombobulated since we got back from Matinenda almost a week late. Blew up the car there, and that added to the "fiasco" end of the vacation. I think I had an amazing, relaxing vacation, and Kevin's end was mostly tainted by medical and vehicle hullaballoo.

So amongst other things, in the three weeks since I got back, I've scheduled 12, that's twelve doctor's appointments. Yes, I managed to schedule several in two different places at the same time.

  • Primary care doc (She's the lucky dame who gets to coordinate the care of all the other docs.
  • Hand therapy for lymphedema
  • Neurosurgeon, to check on the progress of the brain tumor
  • Port flush at the infusion center, although a fantastic conversation with the head infusion nurse. She has an amazingly clear head.
  • Occupational therapy
  • Oncologist
  • MRI
  • CT scan
  • Neurologist, to try to address the side effects of the tumor edema
  • Back to primary care doc
  • Ultrasound to check on DVTs
  • And do I remember the other one? No.
I had an MRI back on July 7. July 8 I few to Buffalo, NY, and rolled off the plan with a raging migraine. Dear Sumati picked me up, and I started at the low end of the list. First, let's go to Tim Horton's and get me some caffeine.

This did not fix the headache.

I am not a regular sufferer from migraines, I've had about two or three in my lifetime, one after a bike wreck, and one after helping to refinish a hardwood floor. But I get all the classic stuff - auras, little swimmy dots in my field of vision... and nausea. Instead of getting back in the car, I went and lay on the grass outside of Tim Horton's.

Now remember, gentle reader, that we are right nest to the Buffalo airport. Behind me is some monstrous 6 lane roadway. Not the nicest picnic setting.

After a whole, we decided that I was probably not going to get back in the car that day, and Sumati went to see if we could crash at a nearby hotel. They had a room, and apparently wanted to get me off their lawn, so I went and lay in the dark, and S went to the bar and let strange men buy her drinks.

The headache did not go away.

So I talked to the doctor's office in California. My doc was on vacation. The acting doc said I needed to go in. I replied that I might have some difficulty with that, since the doctor's office is in Sacramento, and I was in Buffalo. So would you please release information to me over the phone? Eventually, reluctantly, they did.

The brain tumor was starting to flare up from the gamma knife surgery. My entire left parietal lobe was afloat in edema, and putting a week bit of pressure on my poor brains.

Extra strength Tylenol is Gods Best Medicine, and thank goodness I really had brought the bathroom sink..or rather the medicine cabinet. I had a steroid with me, and started, under their advice, taking it.

The headache did not go away.

It went away enough that S and I managed to get over the border and up to Guelph.

The headache went on for five days, and at one point I thought I might have to give up the trip, and fly back to Sacramento for treatment. Once I got up to the recommended dose of the steroid, the headaches decreased. I still got one before a thunderstorm, when I dove into the water, if I bent over, but it became manageable.


Sooo. We didn't know if this was flare up from the gamma knife, or new tumor growth. All indicators were that it was flare up, but without another MRI, no guarantees. And I couldn't have one for at least two months. So I didn't worry about it, and just treated the headache and the physical side effects of both the edema, and the steroid. Hello clutziness, goodbye sleep. And coherent thought.

Returning to Sac, all the things I hadn't been thinking about came crowding back in. What if it IS new tumor growth? BLECK. So the first thing on the list was another MRI. And these guys handed me the CD with the pics on it, so I got to see the thing before I talked to a doc about it.

No wonder my head hurt.

Yesterday I finally got to see the pictures from July, and yes, they were worse. The clumsiness and stumbling have decreased since then, and I can type a bit better, although not as well as usual. Next week is a CT scan to see what the lymph nodes are up to. If they are just sitting around, I get to ignore them for a while longer. If they are enlarged, I will go back on paclit6axel NAB, as long as that keeps working. Them Gemzar, then probably Xyloda. I could repeat Adriamycin, but I'm not sure I want to risk the other toxicities that are associated with it, the biggest one being heart damage.

All the other stuff is peripheral to treatment rather than cancer itself. K and I were far more worried about the MRI than the CT scan. Chemo seems pretty routine, but I'd far prefer NOT to have any new growies in my brain pan, thanks anyhow.

So I'll update as we know more. This is cancer as a chronic disease.

I received a CD from my guitar teacher with the albums "The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society" and "Lola Vs. The Powerman and The Money-go-round Part 1". When I got home that night I listened to it four times over. I was completely enthralled by the wonderful music. I listened to the albums with a discerning ear, picking out the themes and admiring the vicious satire The Kinks could manage to put into their songs.

I must have listened to it well over 100 times and my favourite song off of it is "last of the steam powered trains". "Contenders" though not on the Village Green Preservation Society album is also a wonderful song. It has that completely beautiful melody in the beginning, then slams into that loud intense up in your face riff that is so contradictory to the beginning, but it just fits so well I couldn't see the song going any other way. , lyrically and musically brilliant both albums are and nearly nothing makes me feel better than to put that CD on crank up the volume and just rock out. And in the immortal words of Mr. Ray Davies "Don't wanna be a constructor of highways sleeping on sidewalks I gotta go my way."

(It was considered GTKY so I put it here)

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