The Flesh is Weak, and the Spirit Isn’t Doing That Well, Either

Kage Baker always said, if she could sit up – she could write. And that she used as the rule of her life, until the last year of it. Then she discovered that even if she couldn’t sit, writing was still within her reach. She wrote on the little keyboard of her Buke until she couldn’t manage it; after that, she simply dictated.

She dictated her work for 4 or 5 months, ultimately. And it worked, too. Pages and pages of notes and scraps, of course, that are stored for eventual incorporation into new stories – but also literal dictation, from her lips to the computer screen via my fingers. The years of brain-storming were useful yet again: she already had the habit of verbal storytelling, and was able to recite line after line with ease.

I can’t do that. Not yet. Bits of lines show up new-forged and complete in my emails and in my conversation – I am an irrepressible improvisor – but then I have to pry them out of the conversational matrix into which they were born, and transpose them into a storyline. And for that, I do need to be able to sit up. The dance between my hands and the keyboard is the impetus I need, the sensation that sets off the creative flood.

I have been a bit unwell the last couple of days, which has interfered seriously with sitting up. I’m getting used to diabetes, which entails fussing more over meals that I like: the days of carefree fasting, or living on bagels and cream cheese, or making a swift lunch off gummy Life Savers … alas, such youthful insanities are past me now. I find it necessary to make sure I eat at regular intervals, and in sensible amounts, and a lot of things that take more effort to prepare than a handful of raisins and digestive biscuits. When I ignore these rules, my body makes it wrath known at once – which is unpleasant, time consuming, and not conducive to creativity.

Then yestreday I had an appointment with my cardiologist. Good news – my heart is working. Bad news  – my veins are too narrow, and my heart doesn’t empty completely. Its down-stroke is defective, I suppose; it fills well, but then the lees of every heart beat stay behind, sloshing round in the chambers of my heart.

There’s a nice metaphor here – my heart does not empty, it clings to what fills it – but under the romantic word play is the fact that it means I am always running short on oxygen. And my blood pressure tends to bottom out; after a life time of high blood pressure caused by eccentric kidneys, the kidneys are finally under control and now my circulatory system is running on perpetual low …  there ain’t no justice.

And I can still catch a stomach bug and get heat sick. Which is what I’ve been doing the last couple of days. I just can’t buy this – if I’m fighting off big problems, the little crap ought to sit this out! I shouldn’t be susceptible to heat and gastroenteritis! But Fate feels differently about it, and so I have been laying about uselessly swooning.

Maybe I can get accustomed to using something like Dragon … recite composition to my computer while I loll about like a gutted rag doll. Then all I’ll have to do is go through afterwards and remove the background noise  … the Corgi singing. The washer playing The Bear Went Over The Mountains when the cycle ends. The cats having velvet slipper fights under my desk (Paff! Paff! Paff!). Harry talking right along with me, word for word and syllable for syllable, in English-cadenced gibberish that lasts just as long as every sentence I speak. It’s enough to make one go sit in a Starbucks and work on a screenplay. Almost.

Though not even Kage ever resorted to that

About Kate

I am Kage Baker's sister. Kage was/is a well-known science fiction writer, who died on January 31, 2010. She told me to keep her work going - I'm doing that. This blog will document the process.
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8 Responses to The Flesh is Weak, and the Spirit Isn’t Doing That Well, Either

  1. kskjold says:

    Grrrr! I don’t like this! Not fair that the little stuff is swooping in and taking advantage. Not happy that your heart has gone all inefficient either! Take care! (which I know you are. Still…)

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    • Kate says:

      Well, I have meds to kick my heart into gear, and others to coax it into beating harder. And the ones that were lowering my blood pressure to comatose levels have been removed from my list, so I am doing better. But, you know – you go into a medical facility, and you stand the chance of catching a bug. It’s almost gone, now.

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  2. I find these stories particularly frightening, and aggravating. And you’re younger than me!

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    • Kate says:

      Am I younger than you? I just turned 60 … I sort of thought we were much of a muchness, as far as age went. Anyway: we’ve all been rode hard and put away wet for years and years now: it’s not surprising we’re beginning to miss on a few cylinders now!

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  3. Mark says:

    Sorry you are having to learn the Diabetic “eat small plates sensibly and regularly” diet…

    …on the other hand, count your blessings… I’ve been doing that (quite imperfectly) for about a decade. Now I’m combining it with my rat-poison (Coumadin, aka warfarin) diet, with requires limiting dark green plant matter (or my blood will go all lumpy) and the diet to prevent kidney stones (drink water copiously, avoid salted tastiness, limit nuts and chocolate) and finding acceptable eats becomes harder still. Especially on those long road trips where the siren call of fast food and diners seems an inevitability.

    And look after your kidneys… You *don’t* want to find out what a *renal* diet looks like.

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    • Kate says:

      Mark – oh, you are so right about the renal diet! Did that for a year or so in College, and hated every moment of it. My kidneys have been behaving much better that last 30 years, and I never want to argue with them again. And the diabetic diet is not too onerous. I am paying a lot more attention to my food than usual, which is weird feeling. Also I always feel full, sue to the small plate/frequent intervals thing. I feel I am actually eating more than I ever did, and that it the hardest thing to which to become accustomed.

      Luckily, my sister Kimberly has been feeding her husband a diabetic diet for 20 years, and has an enormous fund of menus and recipes. So my meals are at least interesting!

      Kathleen kbco.wordpress.com

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  4. Miz Kizzle says:

    Kidneys and hearts and eyes and brains and all our other parts have a way of mutinying, don’t they? Give them generous rations of rum and liberal shore leave and they still take up arms against us. It’s not fair.
    As Eubie Blake said, “If I’d known I was gonna live this long, I would have taken better care of myself.”

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  5. Athene says:

    Re: Diabetic diet. It’s like all things food-related. What you end up missing the most is convenience. But there are worse things than eating a diet that supports your body’s particular idiocyncracies. Although I must confess to an occasional yerning for pizza.

    Re: Heart. I am just grateful, so grateful that I can barely put words to it, that you have finally found a doctor who A) gives a sh*t; B) cares and C) has somehow found a way to earn your respect enough to partner with you for treatment, and whose instructions you might follow.

    Re: Everything else. August heat finally here. THIS weather I recognize as right and proper for the day. While I enjoyed the wacky spring-like temperatures of most of the summer, it creeped me out. So oscillating fans, lots of water and rest, and small proper meals. You will be right soon, and then your writing will be right as well.

    Besos.

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