Aboard the Victory-Oh

Eliminating the mild opioid painkiller Tramadol (a mild member of the family of drugs of which morphine is the “gold standard”), because I had serious and unprecedented nausea today exacerbated by the jolly 30-min cruise to and from the island…Horatio Nelson was also prone to mal de mer.

The Good Lord Nelson had a swollen gland,
Little of the scripture did he understand
Till a woman led him to the promised land
Aboard the Victory, Victory O.

Lawrence Durrell, the Ballad of the Good Lord Nelson

Foolishly I had the one cup of coffee I’ve allowed myself per day since la Debacle on the ferry into Queen Mary and this triggered nausea such that I’ve never had since childhood. I kept trying to rise above it by thinking of Suffering and Release, and although it produced a somewhat spiritual light-headedness it was hard to take. Unlike bouts of nausea before la Debacle, which I would “cure” with induced vomiting, this would not go away.

I was given several tests (blood pressure ECG etc) in the emergency room and as usual I passed them with flying colors…my blood pressure is always fine no matter the cancer, for my body is a garden. They gave me a prescription which I will not fill since this merry go ’round has to stop now.

The nausea eased when I got to the Lamma side and lay for a bit with the breeze coming from the bay and salt smells. Clearly, Hong Kong is toxic for me.

Smokers I found particularly upsetting for they now monopolize the rare public spaces in Hong Kong…in defiance of the law. There is for example a beautiful public space in Millennium Plaza in Sheung Wan with a fountain…colonized at all times by 20..30 people on illegal smoking breaks.

Drives me nuts. I want to give them Nicorette, in part because I found it made you more “productive”…you could keep working while getting your “fix”. They are in some sense inconsiderate and selfish criminals because their zone is clearly marked no smoking yet I cannot blame them without blaming myself for my own years of creating second-hand and “third hand” smoke (where “third hand” is the gunk and residue on your walls, like that of Oppenheimer and Einstein in old McCosh hall in 1987).

I used to get so “carsick” when I was a kid…actually smoke-sick from my Mom who as a fashionable lady was always lighting up. I hated everything about the car-smoke lifestyle. Today just writing about the insanity (in which I partook) of inhaling rare earths, plutonium, tars and cancer makes me want to throw up, and hope the oil runs out…for despite the fresh sea smells of Lamma and the absence of cars, I had still to deal with passing “Kamikaze” carts which along with miniature emergency vehicles are the only internal combustion engines allowed.

Again, my weekly pattern is an appointment at Queen Mary that’s difficult to get to and/or endure and some sort of problem related to control of the sciatica pain, followed by recovery on Lamma. This week the weather has been beautiful, seriously so, with sun and unusually low humidity…possibly, a “summer monsoon” or air flow from Asia where the air is hotter than the usual “winter monsoon” which brings cool to cold air.

But there are indications that the sciatica MAY be fading out. I have to lower the painkillers to confirm this. Certainly activity reduces the numbness and swelling which seems to be a “necessary but not sufficient condition” for the pain: if there’s no numbness/swelling there’s no pain.

I tried a warm soak with Epsom salts but then realized that warm to hot water probably will worsen the swelling, so the next experiment shall be with ice water.

Thinking about Adorno’s theory of “pseudo-ownership” and addiction.

“Pseudo-ownership” is where people feel that what Adorno called a “hit” tune is their property when they recognize it. Certainly, although I was somewhat alienated from the Beatles’ general “message” (don’t be political, chase a girl) the Beatles clearly had this type of hold over their audience, and Sgt Pepper’s did for me.

But conjoined with drug use this resulted in the cynicism of the 1980s where you couldn’t have an original thought or write a metrical and rhymed poem for your screen-saver without your fading hipster co-workers accusing you of being “on something”…as if the world was defined by the corporation.

The fact is I take pleasure when in pain (trost Im Ungluck) and I pop a pill with an opioid effect, but I do say, to the Puritan who’d discredit me based on this that my response to this Debacle is NOT something in a pill. It started with the horselaugh of Creation in Kowloon against the very idea that I would drink about the diagnosis when I have such a clear shot at survival and quality of life in this day and age, and I wasn’t on drugs when I heard God laughing on that date.

So let’s see the effect of halving the Panadol and eliminating the Tramadol and Stilnox. If I go back to May’s long nights of pain and sleeplessness, well, that will be hard cheese. But somehow, this morning during my workout, I sensed some sort of recovery.

…His heart was softer than a new-laid egg,
Too poor for loving and ashamed to beg,
Till Nelson was taken by the Dancing Leg
Aboard the Victory, Victory O…

“England Expects” was the motto he gave
When he thought of little Emma out on Biscay’s wave,
And he remembered working on her like a galley slave
Aboard the Victory, Victory O.


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