Pancreatitis

December 13, 2016

 

  “Obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder characterized by intrusive thoughts that produce uneasiness, apprehension, fear or worry (obsessions), repetitive behaviors aimed at reducing the associated anxiety (compulsions), or a combination of such obsessions and compulsions. 
Symptoms of the disorder include excessive washing or cleaning, repeated checking, extreme hoarding, preoccupation with sexual, violent or religious thoughts, relationship-related obsessions, aversion to particular numbers and nervous rituals such as opening and closing a door a certain number of times before entering or leaving a room.
These symptoms are time-consuming, might result in loss of relationships with others, and often cause severe emotional and financial distress.” – Unknown, Wikipedia
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Chuck’s Journal 
10/3/14
A speck of dirt, once stuck to Oren’s T-shirt, flies into the air. But resistance meets it right away, and soon, the wind forces the speck to orbit around a massive ball. The massive ball contains smaller balls of water, dirt balls -- made up of many specks -- and the eyeballs of Wikipedia editors.  
The mass ball, or the Earth-ball as some call it, circles around another massive ball that some call the Sun – which is much hotter than the earth-ball. 
The sun-ball lives with cold-gassy balls, rocky-edged balls, and a little ball called Pluto's ball.
All the balls live in a shoebox that some call a Galaxy, while the earth-ball’s particular shoebox happens to share a name with a candy bar made by the second most successful candy company on the earth-ball. 
Weirdly enough, the second most successful candy company on the earth-ball happens to be called Mars, which also happens to be what some people call the Red-ball next to the earth-ball. Small world, right?
For some reason, Mars calls their candy bar, the Milky Way. Which shares a name with the shoebox that holds Mars (the candy company), Mars (the red-ball), and countless Three Musketeers. A story for another time.
But it's a small, small, astronomically-small world. 
The Milky Way bars are packaged in a factory where a small person works along with a million specks of dirt balls stuck to her T-shirt. 
She used to make Nike sneakers, but that was a long time ago. 
Nike was once an earth-ball-goddess who personified victory. Now she's known for thin synthetic material, and a thing called a “Swoosh.” Sounding similar to what my lesser colleges might call, “a fart.”
It wasn’t till Nike started making shoes that Her powers began to sneak away. Eventually, the people on the earth-ball let her slip out of their thoughts, and her footing was lost to a stellar seller of soles.
Meanwhile, Oren’s body, with lots of balls, is a realm in its own right. It’s what I call my home.
My mythical shoe box. My world.    
I am Oren’s pancreas and he is my God. 
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10/4/14
Every tangent births another world with an umbilical connection to another weirdly specific tangent of something else, and something else, and something else. It’s like how babies have babies -- who eventually have babies too -- and all those babies live in boxes, and they all turn out the same. And that’s just the humans.   
There’s so many babies out there besides humans, and before you can turn around -- everything starts to screw like rabbits. Ad infinitum. Ad absurdum. That's Latin for go screw yourself. Which is the mother tongue of the so-called romantic languages: words born after Italo french kissed, and fertilized a spanish omelette while Johnny English ate a burnt muffin in the corner, and took notes about the intercourse. 
I'm speaking in tongues right now.
But who cares? This is my journal, right? Blah, blah, blah. This fits my taste, and that's all that matters. 
So rabbits are known for their screwing like how New Yorkers are known for their shouts and murmurs. They murmur about screwing because it's too taboo to shout about it on the F train.
Oren rarely got service on the subway, so it’s a miracle that the The New Yorker article loaded. And the device in his hand mated with him to produce an idea for a short story. 
He didn't even notice the insulin I made to keep him alive on the F train. He was too busy thinking. Too busy talking to Brian, again.
I hate Brian because, for a brain, he's a real dumb ass. 
Now I happen to like Bill, Oren's asshole. Nice guy. Married to my cousin -- an entirely different tissue than Brian. But he prefers to call himself an Anus over an asshole, or at least, that's what his title is on LinkedIn. 
Whenever Oren gets lost talking to Brian, I wonder why, when random events collide, people tend to interpret an accident as just a coincidence? Why can't it be a miracle too -- a compound moment of coinciding meanings?
Why do they interpret a coincidence as something different than a miracle? So many things have to go right, or wrong -- or not go right, or not go wrong -- for anything to happen. 
God knows why…
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10/4/14 (continued)  
For Oren to read the article on the New Yorker’s website, Sir Tim Berners-Lee had to invent the World Wide Web for Oren to actually access their website via his wireless network. And the tech for what made wireless communication possible was patented on August 11, 1942 as patent 2,292,387 by the 20th century sex symbol, and brilliant mathematician, Hedy Lamarr. 
Now, in order for those people to do anything -- pancreas are needed -- because without us, everyone would die, and Wikipedia would be nothing.  
How many people even know that pancreases can use the internet, or that we save lives every day?
We keep people from dying, but everyone just thinks we’re only good at making bile and insulin -- or some shit. It’s insulting.   
They should remember that they have a pancreas too, and if they talked to us -- maybe they’d understand what it’s like inside our heads. If someone just asked, we’d be happy to tell them all about how we use the internet inside them.
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10/5/14
Oren’s last fun story was inspired by a Wikipedia article on the exaggerated plumbing giant, Thomas Crapper. The one before that one focused on how his fictionalized great-grandfather on his father’s mother side invented the blender – another tangent born from a portrait he saw of his Great Grandpa, Samuel Gold. A relative image in a midnight blue suit, and a puffy Louis Brandeis hair-style.
When Oren looked at the representation of his Great Grandpa Sam, a chain-reaction took him towards a Wikipedia page he read about the inventor of the blender. That, combined with a relative he never met, made his creativity explode with energy. 
Oren often wondered how the person who invented such a famous appliance fell into obscurity. A legacy lost in thoughts, a character only remembered when imagined. Who thinks about the inventor of the blender when there are bills to pay?
So like a candle formed from poetic wax, Sam Gold and the blender inventor eliminated Oren’s soul. His mind sparked, and the two deceased old men became like two parallel lines. One equal to the other in a story 
He called the story, My Genetic Blender. 
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10/5/14 (continued)
The blender, sometimes called a liquidizer in England, was developed by the Polish-American man, Stephen J. Poplawski. His company had the original name of The Stevens Electric Company -- a weird name because he spelled his name Stephen and not Steven -- and he entered the drink mixer game after he nabbed a prized contract from another brilliantly named company, The Arnold Electric Company. 
I have no idea who the hell “Arnold” is, or how he spelled his name in relation to his company. All I know is that Stephen needed a way to make malted milk shakes, and Arnold no longer needed to do that.   
Stephen, Arnold, all the employees of Arnold and Stevens Electric companies, and all the current users of blenders -- had a poor relationship with their pancreases. 
Stephen designed the liquidizer with the purpose of making Horlicks malted shakes. Horlicks, the company that produced the malted milk, was founded by James and William Horlick of England. 
William, who I think has a much better Wikipedia page than his brother, looked like a human amalgamation of a Scottish and West Highland Terrier. He wrote the original patent for the malted milk shake, and his pancreas once spoke to him. 
“Maybe patent your idea,” Will's pancreas mentioned. This is what would later put William in the annals of Wikipedia, and eventually lead to another patient by Oren’s great-grandfather, Stephen J. Poplawski aka Sam Gold, the inventor of the blender. 
Unfortunately, the pancreas didn't get credit for anything because William assumed the idea came from his educated brain. 
His pancreas, who believed in William with all her body and soul, died in 1936 -- unrecognized for her influence. Just think of where the world would be without pancreases?
The Genetic Blender fails to mention that bit of organic material. I only know about it from a Pancreas counter-history subreddit I used to read.     
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10/6/14
Wikipedia, with its infinite resources, gave Oren food for thought. But all the intellectual gluttony hurt his gut, so he tended to shit out more zeros than infinities.  
He wanted to write a story about everything, and in turn, he wrote about nothing. 
“What about a story about the American union leader Eugene V. Debs,” he thought to his brain. “He gained over a million votes for the American socialist party while he was in prison after the protest of the Pullman train car strike in the summer of 1894 – that’s something interesting to work off.” 
“One of characters,” he continued, “could be an exaggerated version of Eugene V. Debs. And oh! His love interest could be the sister of Kurt Vonnegut’s fictional Eugene V. Debs from the novel, Hocus Pocus.” 
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10/7/14
“What if they don’t understand what I’m getting at,” I overheard Oren tell Brian. “What if it's imperfect or they think it’s not funny and stupid, or even worse they get bored and stop reading? What if I make a typo, or I become a failure and die without a Wikipedia page?”
“There’s just so much to say,” he continued, “and I know if I manage to scoop all the information from my brain onto a piece paper then, like some sort of magical ice cream, I know I’ll get a detailed Wikipedia page written about me by some admiring stranger.” 
He loosely wrestled with these thoughts with slightly worse vocabulary, punctuation, and sentence structure as he talked to his brain – constantly doubting himself as his mind unraveled in its usual obsessive compulsive manner.
“I’m never going to be Kurt Vonnegut, or David Foster Wallace. I’m going to die after working in a job I hate, after maybe reading, here and there  a few million Wikipedia pages about people who didn’t have to sit in a freaking cubicle.” 
He continued to obsess, compulsively allowing the obsession to consume him without even a complaint from his incompetent brain, Brian. 
“Oren had a boring job, liked to read and watch tv, and died after getting hit by a bus on his way to work.”
Damn it, Brain. Do your job already.
I know I can do a better job. I know how to help Oren overcome his various anxieties, and help him with his writing. I’ve been reading a lot about cognitive behavior therapy, and been taking notes as I listen in on his therapy sessions with his psychologist. 
“Feel the obsession, hear its sound,” I want to tell him. “And then as you gain awareness of the anxiety, you begin to hear the chaos of the background noise, slowing consuming your focus until everything is unintelligible by the complexity of overlapping sounds. Once you accept chaos -- the original anxiety, obsession, or sound becomes music – without taking the shortcut of turning off the radio through some sort of compulsive behavior.”
It’s learning how to be comfortable with the noise and uncertainty, while finding nonrestrictive coping mechanisms to partially sooth panic. 
But what do I know, I’m just a pancreas? Doug, his liver, likes to call me Chuck, but lately I’ve been so consumed by work, so exhausted and busy, that I barely remember anything. Do I prefer Chuck, Charles, Charlie…? I don't remember.
How could I ever be a brain, and influence Oren on a better path, devoid of his anxiety, when I can barely handle being a stupid pancreas?
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10/8/14
As Oren’s pancreas, I overhear most of the doubt swirling around upstairs through the thinly walled membrane of the body. My job as the king glandular organ of the digestive system and endocrine system can get boring, so I often find myself spacing out, and listening to someone else’s conversation. 
I push, file, and short enzymes around all day, and sometimes I can’t stand my job. I want to give up and quit, but then I remember all the little bits of the body getting expelled from Oren on a daily basis – those poor shits. So I keep working, out of fear of losing my job, because I know that if I quit, Oren, along with every other organ, will die if they can't find a replacement for me. 
We’re weirdly some form of communism in that way – although I don’t really know what constitutes communism beyond working together for the betterment of society. Although I just read Joseph Stalin’s Wikipedia page, and I am thoroughly confused about this whole communism and working together thing, 
I really think Stalin may have missed the point, but then again, I only skimmed the article while I was at work. 
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10/9/14
Most pancreas don’t go to college, so landing this position was actually a really big deal. Brains like freaking Brian, nervous systems like the Swartz family, eyes like Jack and Diane, the bowels, I forget their names, and hearts like Sam R. Lorenzo -- they all went to liberal arts college.
I went to trade school. 
I even get jealous of Oren, and everyone who's so high above me, so lovely when compared to me.  
I, along with my enzyme support staff, have more of a vocational training in digestive and endocrine system quality control and maintenance over what might be called a formal liberal arts education. We’re taught employable skills, and not much more. 
Frankly, I’m thankful for my education, and I know when the management position of pancreas opened up, it helped push me over my drop out co-workers. And now, looking down at my subordinates, and their even more thoughtless lives, I constantly remind myself how lucky I am to be a pancreas. But I envy the Brains like Brian, for what they have been given over me.
Most young kids, growing up in the lower abdomen, surrounded by decomposing bile and shit, dream of becoming a brain, or another famous part of the body like a left testicle or something – much like a young Oren dreams of becoming the next Kurt Vonnegut or something.  
Then, when reality sets in -- out of pure practicality, and a need to survive -- they consider themselves lucky if they’re given the opportunity of becoming a pancreas. It's really better than becoming an indiscriminate enzyme, or something equally as draining -- that’s the equivalent of cleaning a Denny’s bathrooms for the entirety of a very short, and a very exhausting life. 
But that doesn’t stop me from dreaming for something better, dreaming of doing something I love instead of needing to do it to keep Oren alive -- or to keep myself alive.
I always wanted to be writer and would have loved a liberal arts education. I would just write all the time. But this is not the lot of a pancreas. 
If I get distracted, or spend too much time writing some short story, I could miss something, and Oren’s system will break down. That would result in something catastrophic – end of the world type shit. I can’t let that happen, so I limit my writing, pulling out my notebook here and there – when work isn’t too intense or demanding. 
Last week, I got behind schedule creating several important hormones, including insulin, glucagon, somatostatin, and pancreatic polypeptide which circulate in the blood -- and I didn’t have any time to write. 
But today I delegated some of my work, easing up my schedule a bit so I could write a little something about Oren’s mental pain. 
I’m really interested in cognitive science, and I really want to help him describe the frustrations he goes through on a regular basis because of his mental condition. I promised myself years ago that I’d never go a day without the escape of writing – finding a cathartic way to drain my thoughts out of my body and onto the page. I know what it's like to feel inadequate, so I never want him to feel that pain. 
Also, the way I see it, if I’m not writing, then I’m not a writer – I’m just a pancreas. I'm stuck, immobilized in Oren’s lower abdomen, occasionally thinking up ways to improve Oren -- without actually acting on them.   
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10/10/14
“I just want to write something good,” I overheard Oren think as I take my lunch break with Doug. 
“Did you hear that, Doug?” I asked my only friend in the body. 
Doug shook his head, or I guess it’s more that his entire body kind of shook -- since it’s really difficult for a liver, looking like a slippery lima bean filled with gooey slime, to emote in any way. Poor Doug.  
Oren was thinking about how to make a story out of that New Yorker article written by Henry Alford – an American humorist and journalist who has contributed to Vanity Fair and The New York Times for a handful of years. A pancreas has never written for either of those publications, since they’re too busy secreting pancreatic juice containing digestive enzymes to write anything that might interest a sophisticated audience. 
Because they’re a blue-collared pancreas, and not a fancy brain.
I could do a better job than that incompetent brain. Oren never receives anything constructive. It's all noise over signal. 
His obsessive need for perfection, sometimes gives him an intense panic attack, making Sam R. Lorenzo work well into the night trying to comfort him in some way.
As a writer, I know I can help Oren. I know I can do a better job than that malcontent, Brian. I’m more creative. I can help him be logical, realize his unlimited potential, and I can stop his constant doubting of everything. 
 I should be in control.   
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A Part of Oren’s Story
Henry Alford [and his pancreas], were born on February 13, 1962. He writes for the New Yorker.
Another Henry Alford, born October 7th, 1810 was also a writer, choosing poetry and Christian stuff over writing for the New Yorker – as a person from the 19th century tended to do since the New Yorker wasn’t conceived until a century year later. Also, the people of this Henry Alford time would freak out if they came into contact with the other Henry’s 21st century New York City – filled with the internet, electricity, penicillin, and Donald Trump's hair.
The inscription on the dead Henry’s tombstone, at least according to Wikipedia, was chosen by the man himself to be the Latin words, Diversorum Viatoris Hierosolyma Proficiscentis. They mean, again according to Wikipedia, "The lodging place of a traveler on his way to Jerusalem." 
Henry Alford died in England on January 12, 1871. He never made it to Jerusalem.
At 21 years old, Oren has lived 1/21 of his years in the city of Jerusalem. He doesn’t have a Wikipedia page, detailing his written works, his time working for a Conde Nast subsidiary like the New Yorker, or his gravestone inscriptions yearning for Jerusalem. 
No, Oren was just born on January 13th, 1994 at 2am with obsessive compulsive disorder, and he probably will never finish this story… 
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10/11/14
I’m don’t have much time today since there’s too much going on. I woke up this morning, and I knew that I couldn't keep pretending. 
I’m going to kill Brian, and take his place. I’m going to help Oren, and finally give him the brain he deserves. I’m going to help him work efficiently for once – even if that means taking a risk by quitting my job.
I’m worried about the future. But I can’t take it anymore. I can’t take my job. I can’t take just writing a little bit every day. I want to actually do something for once in my life. 
But I’m stressed, and emotional right now…. and finding the words to express my inner feelings seems impossible.
So here I go. I hope that tomorrow I will explain my adventure, and maybe someone will write a Wikipedia page about this one day. 
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The New Yorker: 8/29/2005. “Not A Word” By Henry Alford
“Turn to page 1,850 of the 1975 edition of the New Columbia Encyclopedia and you’ll find an entry for Lillian Virginia Mountweazel, a fountain designer turned photographer who was celebrated for a collection of photographs of rural American mailboxes titled “Flags Up!” 
Mountweazel, the encyclopedia indicates, was born in Bangs, Ohio, in 1942, only to die “at 31 in an explosion while on assignment for Combustibles magazine.” 
If Mountweazel is not a household name, even in fountain-designing or mailbox-photography circles that is because she never existed. 
‘It was an old tradition in encyclopedias to put in a fake entry to protect your copyright,’ Richard Steins, who was one of the volume’s editors, said the other day. ‘If someone copied Lillian, then we’d know they’d stolen from us.’”
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A body, for a Pancreas, on his way to Jerusalem.
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