It’s SCIENCE! (kind of.)

Sunday afternoon, vending FLUX MetalWear at the ‘Costume & Magical Treasure Sale’ hosted by Professor Violet (Scott Levkoff), I was called into the position of caretaker for a friend who had a little bit too much of this, that, and the other, and was feeling the excess in a bad way. After Scott directed this person (who shall remain name & gender-less to protect them from even more embarrassment) to his bathroom, I was called to go keep an eye on them, making sure they were alright while Scott kept an eye on my jewelry. What followed was a few different, purely accidental, science experiments.
Results of experiment #1 – The adjustment of eyes from sunlight to a dark basement: Not as fast as I would have hoped.
Results of experiment #2 – Walking on air with no preparation: Complete failure. Due to experiment #1, I didn’t see that there were two steps that went down, and I missed them both. It’s quite a surprise when you expect solid ground to be there to stop your foot, but instead your whole 180ish pounds just kind of falls forward and doesn’t stop until there is ground, far further down than you had expected. After everything including me stopped moving and falling in this cluttered space (which, by the way, made me completely change the opinion that my apartment was cluttered), I performed a quick mental check: Bones, okay. Wrists, hands, just a little sore, but nothing that would prevent me from working. Outside left upper thigh – Ow, FUCK! I’d hit it on something, but at most I figured it would be yet another epic bruise and some swelling. I can live with that.

I get up and go check on my friend in the bathroom, who now, thankfully, seems to be doing much better. As I’m asking them questions about what they need to have done, I had rubbed my ouchie on my thigh just to see how it was doing, and pulling my hand away, noticed that it was a bit stickier than it should have been, and rubbing my thumb and fingers together, noticed a viscosity that I am far too familiar with. I think – it’s been about two or three minutes since the fall, and already soaked through my tights, skirt lining and outer lace. Right about then I notice something dripping down my leg. Oh, hell.
I can’t dwell on that right now – I’ll find out what the damage is to me after I take care of my friend.
With my right hand I pull my phone out of my left breast pocket of my tails coat to call someone to pick them up, trying to get the number right but because this person would not SHUT UP with their apologies and such it took me three times to finally get the right number. I hand them my phone, they leave a voice mail, and then keeping my left hand mostly hidden I send a text. They’re on the toilet and messages have been sent, For the moment, that’s all that can be done for them. Finally, I look at my left hand.
Crap. That’s not a little bit of blood.
I walk the few steps away from the bathroom to the place where gravity and I had our disagreement, and find what must have been the culprit – the corner of an innocent looking mini-amp, just sitting there as if nothing has happened, the bastard. When I turn back around I notice that I’m bleeding a bit more than I originally thought. Where I stood by the bathroom there’s a literal pool of blood, and full left footprints of my Docs all the way to where I’m standing now, creating another pool. I lift up my skirt and pull down my tights (which would sound kinda sexy in a different scenario) to get a read on what’s happened and make sure that no arteries have been harmed in the making of this science experiment. I need to know if it’s straight to the ICU, or I can dress it at home.

At this point I notice that my entire leg is saturated with my blood, and where the tights are tucked into my boot there is a doughnut of blood that hasn’t leaked out. From past experience, I figure that this is where some of it has congealed. Fun fun fun!
In a strange semi-contortion so I can see the back of my thigh, I realize what has happened: I hit the amp with enough force that it ripped back the epidermis in a triangular shape, like the skin peeling off of an over-ripe peach, exposing the raw muscle below. So this is what it’s like to be flayed! Ya learn something new every day – though honestly, I could have been happy not knowing what it actually felt like. Okay, I don’t need to go to the emergency room – from my time in hospice, I still have a bit of ultra high-tech dressings, absorbent pads, and these weird pads that turn into a type of gelatinous skin – enough to get me by for the time. If I went to the ER, it would take them 5 hours to do what I can do at home, and besides – I need to get back to my dog. Trying to find someone to get my keys, take care of and feed her and get my keys back to me would be a logistical nightmare, and I don’t even know who I could call to ask.
I try to help Scott clean me off the floor, but everywhere I step I leave another foot print and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down. Thankfully almost everything I’m wearing is black, and my boots are good ol’ Doc Marten oxblood. I can pack up without people noticing and get out of there. I don’t like people fussing over me.

Getting home, I pull off my boots, skirt and tights, starting in my living/bed room then realizing how stupid that is, going to stand in the tub. The amount of blood is impressive! I wash the wound, spray some wound cleaner on it, then put on an absorbent pad, wrap it tightly in gauze, and wash as much blood as I can out of my clothes. Ten minutes later it finally begins to thin and the water going down the drain is pink instead of a deep crimson.


It’s time for some sleep. I set the alarm for intervals of three hours because I’m still bleeding and a bit concerned about not waking up again – but we’ll just have to see. Making sure I cover everything that matters most, I write an email to a friend I can depend on and set it so it gets sent in 9 hours, saying that if he receives this to call my building manager to be let in and check on me – and if worse comes to worse, find someone to take care of Ruby. I give a few names of people I trust to find a good home for her. I then set a reminder to cancel the email if it isn’t necessary.
I really hope it isn’t. I drink as much coconut water as I can, eat the rest of my spinach and take a bunch of my “Blood Builder” herbal pills, much more than I should under normal circumstances – but these are far from normal. I dig around and try to find things to eat that might help my body, and lacking most anything really helpful, make myself some oatmeal. Need to do what I can to help my body produce at least a little energy…
Over the bandages I put on my sweats, fold a bath towel in quarters, lay down and read until I fall asleep. It’s been quite a day.

Waking up I notice that the left leg of my sweats are saturated, and getting up see that all four layers of the towel have been bled through to the comforter. Standing up I take a read on how I’m feeling: Still doing alright it seems, not light-headed, thinking doesn’t seem to be any worse than usual. My leg isn’t cold, only some pain at the wound. I change into my other pair of sweats and fold up a new towel and lay down again. Still, even with all I’ve been through in past years, I’ve never seen this much blood coming out of a person. At least not one that lived.

The next morning, Monday, the bleeding has slowed but not yet stopped. I stand up – and now, it’s there. I’m lightheaded and a tiny bit nauseous. My brain isn’t getting enough blood. No good. I leave a message for my primary care doc and he gets back to me quickly. He’s been my doctor for about 13 years now, and has seen, more than anyone, what I am capable of. He worries, but he knows that I know my body, am not stupid – and am one hell of a warrior.
So tomorrow after 1pm, I go to urgent care in *my* hospital building, not the main one. Somewhere I feel comfortable, and will likely know a couple of the people – and most importantly, they’ll know me.
I’ll let you know what happens.

Results of accidental blood loss experiment: After three saturated legs of clothing, two saturated quarter-folded towels, pools of blood on the floor and some soaked into my car seat as well as an unknown quantity washed down the bathtub drain, I finally feel light-headed.
WARNING: DO NOT TRY TO DUPLICATE THIS AT HOME.


Deciding to Live

It’s time for everything to change. Again.
I’ve become complacent, undisciplined – and I need to come back.

I’ve read countless books on motivation, habits, procrastination, visualizing, raising energy, and anything that I thought would help. Some were crap, many got me inspired – for a couple days. I could never follow through like I used to. Something inside of me had broken, and I didn’t have the constant challenge to survive to inspire me.

That is, as strange as it sounds, what I think I miss the most. The fear. The adversity. It’s what inspired me to act on the first day I walked down to Fisherman’s Wharf alone, in full statue dress & makeup. It’s what inspired me to create an online magazine when I didn’t even know the first things about creating a website.
But it wasn’t just the adversity that inspired me. It was the love. The love I had for what I was doing, and the love of walking through the fear and feeling like I did something that mattered on the other side.

Lately I’ve been trying to figure out what it was that made me jump into things that I had no idea how to do, and when I realized the answer a few days ago, it was so simple it was absurd.

The one difference, the only thing that will ever create a lasting change in my life, and let me take my jewelry business from more or less a hobby to what I want it to become, the only thing that is different from those things and this is:
I made a decision to do them.
That’s it.

I could read thousands of books, watch hundreds of Ted talks, listen to podcasts until my ears bleed, but that is little more than mental masturbation – letting me feel like I’m doing something of value when nothing could be further from the truth. It’s just very clever procrastination.

Because I am afraid, and for some reason, I’m now letting that get in the way of doing what needs to be done. But that’s another something to look at and figure out another time.

I know that as much as I love making jewelry, there will be many times when I don’t. When I can’t find the right words for the “About” page, when I can’t think of what to write for a post on my site blog, and when I’m just not comfortable doing what needs to get done in order for this to grow. Without a solid, unwavering decision to do what it takes, I’ll never get to where I want. Never be who I want to be. Who I AM.

So it’s time for everything to change. Now.
It won’t be easy, not at first. I know that, and I’m expecting it – but eventually, as long as I show up and do the work, it will get easier. I just need to show up, and do the things that I need to, regardless of how uncomfortable I am with it or how afraid. I’ve been here before, and I know that, as long as I do what I need to, day after day, it WILL get easier.

And another thing I know: When I show up, so does the Universe – and doors that I’ve never even imagined will start opening to me.
They always have.

If you read this, please feel free to comment with what you think – and especially, call me out if you ever see me flagging.

Because there aren’t any excuses anymore. I’ll deal with the physical pain when it comes, and I’ll work through the fatigue. The time of floating is past, and it’s time to fly again.

I’ve made my decision.

 

Dying tends to take a lot out of you, I guess.

Early morning, finally a night that ended before the sky started to glow with the morning light. It almost wasn’t by choice – after a week of no more than three hours of sleep a couple times a day, the weariness of my body and mind revolted and actually took over my brain, making me think that 8pm was a fine time to go to sleep for the night. Under the condition that it let me wake up at 4am, we came to a compromise.

It was nice to shut my mind down, I’ll admit. to stop thinking about why I love to make jewelry so much, what my goals are, who my ideal customer is, mu core values and my “why” – all things that I need to consider, as apparently “because I like it” isn’t enough.
Of course, it is a reason, but it’s a safe one, one that doesn’t make you dig deeper inside of yourself for all the smaller reasons that make me “like it” – and without those, without digging down to the core of why I do what I do, and why I am growing more towards a particular style, it would be like Picasso answering a question of why he painted his wacky faces with something like “Well, I thought it looked cool”.

But it’s been a long time since I’ve truly questioned things like that, the strange thoughts swimming around inside of me, and why I am who I am. It’s like the time in the hospice took something away. As if the years after it have been far too placid, and all I needed to do was float along, slowly disappearing with only the memories of who I was left to fade in the minds of others as my own existence, my heart and mind, and my dreams – were slowly consumed by the grey fog of an unchallenged, dispassionate life.

It would have been easy to succumb to if I hadn’t tasted the beauty in the chaos of my life before the hospice, but now I find myself as a bird born into the wild might after it was caught, clipped and caged – every day looking out to the sky, its beautiful colors fading as it longed to again stretch its wings…

This is all over the place, this writing – but it’s necessary. With the words I’ll remember who I was, remember the chaos and passion that is still inside of me but muzzled by my own complacency.

It’s time to create my self again. To give birth to a dancing star.

To ask why, and remember the warrior inside of me.

Moving Forward

Every morning I would wake up excited, the doors to infinite possibilities wide open & inviting me in. Decisions were sometimes made by careful deduction, but more often than not with little more than whim, the flip of a coin, direction of the wind, or the quiet, passionate desperation that endlessly seethes inside of me – the eternal need for the unknown, for adventure. To continually test myself with whatever blessing or adversity the Universe could conjure up to throw at me, and grow. And learn.

Plans to move to Boston fell through so I found myself in Austin volunteering for Katrina refugees in an artist’s forest. A new friend had never been to Burning Man so I promised her a ride from New Orleans, only being able to find a van to buy less than 10 days before we had scheduled to leave. I couldn’t find the magazine I wanted to read so I decided to create it, not having the first idea how I was going to, or even how to build a website – and four months after it launched was producing shows for the first time & winning awards.

Nothing could stand in my way. The world opened to whatever I sought or desired, and if it didn’t exist I created it. It felt like nothing could stop me, like this life I had shaped and formed and fashioned would keep storming ahead. I made my dreams so real, so beautiful, that they virtually fulfilled themselves…

…and then there was nothing. I felt like I was lying in the middle of a freeway, unable to move as life rushed by and all I could do was lay there, static in a world of action, decaying, decomposing, trying not to die.

And time passed. What was supposed to be a three month vacation turned into eighteen months of hell. People visited, some, I’m sure, expecting it to be the last time they saw me alive. I was good at reassuring them, I think, letting them believe I was fine, strong, getting better so that they would be more comfortable. I don’t think I ever expressed how terrified & unsure I was most of the time. I wouldn’t even let myself believe that. I couldn’t. Instead I focused on healing & what I would do when I walked out the door. When I could, I read feverishly. Studied quantum science, I taught myself to use my mind to heal my body.

It was easy to get to know the people in the hospice well, as it was only 14 rooms, 14 people at any time. You found out why they were there, created a familiar bond with them. Of the 15 who died in that time, I watched four with the exact same diseases and symptoms as I had give up and die – three of them younger with less severe symptoms. I’ll never know why. Was it the constant pain, or thinking there was nothing to live for? Had they forgotten their dreams?

I don’t know. I would just wake up and their room was empty, sterile, as if they had never been there.
I couldn’t let their deaths affect me. I couldn’t give in to the pain or the constant terror or the stench of my own flesh rotting. Up until the moment I walked into the hospice – those years had been the happiest of my adult life. I wanted them back.
I had to keep fighting.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I walked out of the hospice just a little over six years ago.
All that time I have carried what happened, what I went through, on my shoulders & in my heart – and deep inside of it, I have also carried my sickness. Using it as a crutch, the only thing special about my present is my past – that I’m simply here. Alive, but not living. My life no longer moving forward the way it had been before it all went to shit, and I was left with nothing to hold onto but what I “had” done, instead of what I am doing.

I learned a lot about mind/body healing while in the hospice. I have absolutely no doubt that, as impossible as it was sometimes, if I hadn’t *known* I would live, I would have ended up just like those I watched while there – another sterile, empty room, my body carted out on a gurney behind the curtain of night.

But I still had work to do. Until I let go of that part of my past, I would always consider myself “sick”, and therefore never be able to be *truly* healthy, perfectly healthy – but it had turned into my identity. “The guy who didn’t die” was all I felt I was anymore.

At least until recently.

It feels, now, like I have a future, something to look forward to, and something that I’ve been looking *for* since the moment I walked out. Though it’s not close to enough to satisfy me fully – I still need a vehicle to get the fuck out on the road & just *drive* for days on end and find myself nowhere I’ve been before, I am creating again – I am frequently challenged, always learning, and I love designing & constructing my jewelry. And I have something to look *forward* to. I can let go of who I *was*.

The warrior awakens. There are new battles to win.

And you better fucking believe I will.

 

 

A Warrior Awakened

There was a time that I was called, by many, a warrior.
I have fought for the life I dreamed of and found it, I have fought through what most thought what was the inevitability of death and rose above.

For a long time, I looked for a different word than “fight” – but truly, nothing fits this better.

I will always fight for something better – whether it be myself or others – but it’s usually me, usually the things that have been ingrained in me that I battle.
Eventually, I always win – for now.

A warrior is not your everyday ignorant fighter – there is discipline involved, knowing the good from the bad, knowing the battles that you’re above, knowing the battles you can’t win and walking away.

When the person you battle is yourself, the same rules apply. The same discipline. The same grace.

This is my life right now, looking over my past and yearning for a better future because of it. I fight. I learn. I battle the ghosts and old bones inside of me.

I’m learning again, teaching myself, climbing up to grace.

Eighteen months in  a hospital and all that went with it crushed me…

But I will be that warrior again – and I will bring you with me – if you desire.

Do you?

someone else’s liver

 

There are times, very few, when I think that it would be nice to live by a quiet freeway. Not quiet for the amount of traffic, but no impatient bleats of car horns or sirens – only the whisper of the tires on the asphalt, the quiet hum of an engine already at speed. The sounds of the cars & trucks going by, of people going somewhere – I could make up stories of their travels, or even close my eyes and join them.
Going somewhere. Anywhere. Back where I belong, on the road.
I think that would be nice… but that has nothing to do with yesterday’s consultation with the surgeon…

Everyone wants to out a new liver inside of me. It seems as if I’ve used this one up, and now all I’m doing is squeezing the last little bits of use out of it, like a tube of toothpaste that you forget to replace so work desperately to get the last bits out of the old one that you know are in there. I’ve squeezed the use out of this one.

I’ve been against it for years, knowing that, if given the time, herbs & mental focus, I could make the liver I came with as good as new – or at least somewhere close. Close enough. I’ve known I could reverse the cirrhosis and make it work like it once did, instead of the way it’s not working now – being so scarred and clogged that it has trouble filtering my blood anymore, and instead of the toxins getting flushed out, they’re being pushed in – into my abdomen, into my legs, into any extra space they can find or make.

It’s a constant battle to keep them moving out of me with herbs, but I have been – for years. I’ve proven that I can, at the very least, maintain – but I’m a determined pain in the ass, and I want to do more. I don’t just want to put bondo & a coat of & paint on it – I want to pull all the dents, polish them smooth, make it as good as it once was using the parts I came with…

And I wonder if I’m being so goddamn stubborn that I’m cutting my own throat.

The thing is that a liver transplant wouldn’t be any kind of savior – it would simply replace some challenges with others, and I would *still* have the hernia and my guts sticking out of my navel.

As I was writing this I took a small detour to look up the pro’s & cons of a liver transplant, and found myself on the blog of a woman whose husband was cured of stage 4 liver disease with critical cirrhosis. (Note to self: I need to remember to get my MELD score-the number that says how screwed or unscrewed your liver is  –  forgot to write it down yesterday, but I think it was 24…)
With a regimen of specific herbs & the addition of some “Detox Water” machine, he was able to completely reverse his cirrhosis.

 

It gets increasingly difficult to keep moving in the direction that you know, deep in your heart, is the right decision – especially when there are those people who don’t know any better, and who keep pushing you towards an “easier” way out. The surgeon I saw yesterday – a seemingly kind and genuinely caring person, made it clear that my liver had taken leave of its responsibilities, and without a transplant I would die long before this “young and seemingly very vital” person needed to.

He made that clear many times.

But there is one thing that he knows absolutely nothing about – and that is my will to live. He knows nothing about the strength and courage the warrior inside of me can pull out of my ass when I need to.

Sure – a liver transplant would be easier and a hell of a lot cheaper – but it would also guarantee that the rest of my entire life would be controlled by it. I would forever need to take medication so my body didn’t reject it, and though some things would be better in what I could physically do compared to now (not that hard to achieve) – there would always be limitations.

When I was in the hospice, dying, I *KNEW* that with the herbs I needed and a lot of work, I could live. I knew the power of mind over body… hell, mind over *anything*, and what could be accomplished & created with my noggin’ if I used it well.

And I still do.

Fuck the easy, half-assed way out. It’s just a different way of being locked in, caged and chained to a lfetime depending on Western medicine.

Somehow, some way – I’m going to do this myself.

Again.

I hope that if enough Western Dr’s see what’s possible with their OWN eyes, then maybe – just maybe – their minds will begin to change as well.
If enough people with liver disease see it, it just might change the world.

Besides – I’m pretty sure someone else needs a new liver more than I do.

I can’t do it myself though. The only reason I lived through what I did was because of the generosity of the people who believed in me, and who supported me financially, allowing me to be able to get the herbs I needed.
If you want to help support what a few Doctors & nurses have *already* called a “miracle”, and be a part of creating a new one – I need your help.

My paypal account is ksea@culturefluxmagazine.com, and you can also support me (& get more information) at the GoFundMe page a friend set up at this link: https://www.gofundme.com/fightingkflux
I orefer Paypal though – GoFundMe takes out nearly 10% and takes up to fve days to show up in my account. Paypal is instant with no fees.

Thank you – and keep watching me kick ass!

Only a small piece of it all…

I understand now how people in my position are pushed to become thieves.
Believe me, I’ve considered it – but almost never seriously.
Almost.
But it comes down to this: Money is such a minuscule piece of the whole.
Yesterday I deposited my disability check of $434.70 – what I am supposed to somehow survive on for the entire month after rent is paid. (The service takes out rent & hands me a check for the balance.) The next few days are usually the best- the “adulting” I feel in being able to pay bills, get food & treats for Ruby, order herbs I’m almost out of, do laundry – and look at all the amazing events happening, fantasizing about actually going out and seeing people.
And sometimes, I get to go to a cafe. I stand in line, look up at the board for something that sounds good but isn’t stupid expensive ($4.50 is my limit – until now an unconscious one) – and as I wait for the coffee to be made look for a small table, just for me & my laptop. Preferably somewhere in a corner, where I can look at people, not be noticed, and in sacred anonymity, write. 

The money goes quickly. I’m always behind in my PG&E bill, always short on herbs. I do my best to make sure I have the most important ones. I know exactly what happens when I run out and have the blood stains on my sheets & clothes to remind me.

This is why I ask for help. How I am able to tear down all that I have believed myself to be, push the weight of pride and the determination to do it myself aside, and find a shaking voice that is able to speak up.
I can’t describe how amazed and grateful I am that you’ve stuck with me for this long. You have not only helped me stay healthy physically, but *mentally* as well.

But this is where I have no choice but to ask for help again. I’ve been doing well and getting noticeably BETTER over the months with your support, and I simply can *not* get well without it. After bills & a small order of dog food & herbs, I now have .59 cents to last me for the ENTIRE month. PLEASE, help if you can – in any way.
Paypal – ksea@culturefluxmagazine.com.
</short version>

<longer version>
We CAN win this. I can not do it without you.
Paypal addy is ksea@culturefluxmagazine.com
It’s a terrifying & sickening vulnerability, as every time I ask for you to help prevent me from going back into the hospital again, you always have the option to say “no” – or to rip my heart to pieces, ignoring these words completely.
Looking out through my eyes, it’s hard not to see the absence of financial support the same as taking away emotional support as well – as since I almost never see any of you, and the only times you say anything to me are in the messages in Paypal or GoFundMe. It usually is all I ever see that shows you still care.
I know how pitiful that sounds and I hate it.

Your support extends FAR beyond only financial gifts, and each time it lessens the weight of this daily struggle. It lightens *my* spirit.
Paypal addy – ksea@cultureflumagaxine.com
~ ~ ~ ~ ~

After picking up the check & depositing it in my bank, I took Rubes to Civic Center so she could run around & we could play in the *gorgeous* sunny day (as much as my bruised back let me), then we went to Walgreen’s so I could pick up Epsom salts for my back & more Band-Aid’s. When I don’t have the proper herbs, my legs itch like hell & I scratch the paper-thin flesh off in parts. The band-aid’s help prevent infection a little…

Then home to pay as many bills as possible, order a couple weeks of the most important herbs (as well as dog food) – and that left me with just a little under $100 for the month for nutritious food for me, herbs to help itching (less important but still needed) and the always essential coconut water. Normal water doesn’t hydrate or process, making legs & abdomen bloat & swell.

Today Chuck was kind enough to pick me up at the hospital & we made stops to pick up liver & fruit at the cheap Mission groceria – but at that stop I checked my account balance.
Expecting to have around $60-$70 still, my heart sank when I saw that my total balance was $5.70, and $6 cash in pocket.

I had no choice to put all the good fruit back & keep only the liver, so I would have enough to get wet food for Rubes & a few liters of coconut water at Trader Joe’s to last 4 days – if I don’t drink as much as I should.

Okay – Im fighting to keep my eyes open, and losing. I’m frustrated, & going to sleep. PLEASE help in any way you can. This isn’t a frivolous request, & what you do when you support this fight is nothing less than help keep me out of the hospitals – and quite simply, keep the spirit of this warrior fighting to stay alive.

You guys are incredible. Please keep believing in me.

Love love love,
~ Casey

PS – PLEASE don’t hesitate to share, like, and keep bumping this around so it can be seen.
Thank you!