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4 September – 5 September 2000 — BILGI POST-SURGERY — View from the hospital window & my internal landscape — Trying to draw while stoned on painkillers  —-“AiAiAi” “No one ever take your place” – I year after the first time I cancelled something new to go to him WHY? — Crazy love. Come back. — FABULOUS MONSTERS BOTH OF US — My hand — Nizam’s hand — As they wheeled me into surgery , an attendant said something in Turkish. The nurse said, “He says you can draw his picture.” The food here is so good I ate before I drew. —  Nizam sleeping on the daybed in the hospital the day after my surgery. —- He walked 5 miles here in the middle of the night after my surgery He held my hand & kissed me & the pain stopped He went to sleep here & is here still. —— A friend  staring at this drawing said, “It looks like a windswept graveyard.” Yeah.


Day 2 – 6 September 2000 — The view from the front windows of Bilgi Hastanesi. I propped my foot up & drew it right there- The aqueduct all in the soft dawn light. — Surgery went well. — Doesn’t really look like a knee yet- let alone mine. — Nizam alternates between being a rock and a hard place. Just now he is a hard place. — Cengiz came to visit- Nizam said “Who is this boy?” And stomped off in a huff. — Kadriye—— Lovely girls who took a course in nursing. 


7 September 2000 — I am recording that just now, 5:22 PM, I have been experiencing [Shitstorm] Angels’ hands- hard! – for about an hour. Please help me. I don’t want any more pain. Spirit. Spirit. — Dr Nezih! — Nizam’s flowers —7-9-00 / 18:31 Something is coming. Something big.——


Melahat – Oh la la! — Out the window — Ahmet Acar — Young Christopher Maffin, Aged 5—— Robert Maffin’s son. Nice kid.


There is some talk of possible infection A small procedure w/ general anesthetic tonight to put in a drain. — YAĞMUR & ÖZGE, Dr Halim Demiral’s two enchanting daughters. —  I swear the only time to render hair is in the hospital or in jail. 



8 September 2000 Much pain & depression. No visitors. I had to tell everyone to stay away because of Nizam’s jealousy & now he is gone too. But I can change all this — I am just too sad. — [Arrow to previous drawing] The last injection site My veins are VERY small & if It weren’t for loathing needles I’d probably be dead [a reference to the addictive personality which never goes away even after years of abstinence] These nurses are GREAT— SUZAN from Denmark – Great English! The best nurse here — Gülay — Murat Every day with çay —Things to take on an extended hospital visit when one doesn’t not know the language: •Educational reading matter & racy fiction (horror is good, keeps things in perspective) • 2 pairs of panties • Shampoo & creme rinse • Tweezers • A razor • Before check-in get yourself waxed & pedicured. Trust me. • Something to do with your hands • Important phone numbers • Insurance—— I would have been lost without Suzan. She was the only caregiver there with actual nurse’s training. She also went to the ATM for me, she went to bat for me when they wouldn’t give me any painkiller. I hope she is doing well.


9 September 2000 — An excruciatingly painful night from overdoing it yesterday but Nizam came & I had help all night. ELAINE — My Lisa, my Physical Therapist, says if I am good I can walk in 2 days. A lot of screaming, blood all over the bed, I have no veins. — GÜLSÜM They couldn’t find a vein. 12 September Absolute agony Mental & physical. No help, he closed telephone. — I think of all the fulness of my life – I can draw – Olive trees – Best care – Loving friends – Cows outside – Insurance – Why does he give it color? What good is he? — Here come the Shitstorm Angels again —– 


 All of us giggling in my room – Then Nizam — 3 ANGELS IN HELL . — Night staff @Bilgi Many significant bonding experiences while trying to find my viable veins. — CEVRIYE —- HAYRIYE – off to be a teacher — MELEK —- THEY CANNOT GIVE ME PAIN MEDIATION WITHOUT THE DOCTOR. OFTEN THEY CANNOT FIND HIM – I AM GIVEN NOTHING UNTIL I HAVE BEEN SCREAMING FOR HOURS – SOMETIMES HE SAYS IT IS NOT NECECESSARY – SO I SCREAM —To keep from screaming I sing – Mostly spirituals & Blues at the top of my voice – Swing Low Sweet Chariot — It seems that I needed another surgery—— 

GIBBOUS MOON I think it is the 13th of September – I had almost done with drains & needles – Now I feel trapped in pain & boredom – Still this must all be to a purpose — Lisa my Physical Therapist from Germany – What luck to find her here! — The huge drain — A valuable prize goes to the nurse who can find a viable vein in either arm — Hit a nerve & froze my hand. — Robert Maffin has quit. —— I came out of delirium to realize Maffin stood by the bed. He was saying something like “I can no longer countenance…” as I faded out. Another ally gone.

At 7:30 AM, Nizam walked in, clean & shaved, & brought me 2 telephone contours & a beautiful breakfast. “Eat for energy!” He said & then collapsed on the daybed. He hasn’t slept in 2 days. — That was 12 1/2 hours ago & he hasn’t moved. He can only be what he is. — A night of pain – Missed connections – Horrid realizations – The moon is more important than all of them. 3:30 AM? — I scream so loud with the pain that the cow across the way is falling in love – MOOOOO – I ask for more pain medication. I do not want the cow in the room. I already have a bull. — Pain: Great reducer to binary terms – Pain – No Pain – I give it a color & a shape but it hurts just as much — Gibbous moon sinking about 4:30 AM Blood red——

OUT OF PAPER 15 September 2000 — Absolutely the worst night* *Stay tuned — They gave me morphine, finally. Then more. The pain abated while I gave a stirring rendition of Chapter 5 from the AA Big Book followed by a haunting (just ask the ward) medley of old Blues including Big Mama Thornton, Odetta & Billie Holiday. Then Nizam called & broke forever. Then he came & menaced me. Then he left & I think we are still together. I want OUT of here!! —- 16 September they took this out. —

Final assessment: Dr Halim Demiral- Aces! It was the other surgeon created problems. — My arms look like William Burroughs on his way back from Tangiers. On the other hand (no pun intended) Lisa said “This is the best leg after surgery I ever hold in my hand!!” I may become a foot dominatrix. —

I’m sorry Everyone So sorry 21 Sept — Out soon — No more paper — Thank you, my body, for being so lovely & strong & good to me for so long & so well — All purpose slippery black Frederick’s of Hollywood chemise- slip-dress. Don’t leave home without it. — “I’m sorry, God, Everyone – 17 September 2000 – PAIN – Stupid & cruel, boring, drunken loser – loving you is my misfortune——

EPILOGUE He walked out. I screamed Please don’t go and he just kept walking. The other doctor stood over the bed with a large needle. He said, “Hey you pain?” He stripped off my bandage and stuck the needle into the drain wound. The pain turned white and I bellowed and gibbered while he and Dr Demiral peered at fluid he had drawn. He stripped off his gloves and threw them on the bed next to the upside-down bandage. I stared at my throbbing exposed knee. “Sh-shouldn’t that be covered?” I said. “Oh,” he said, picked up the dirty bandage and pressed it back over the wound, rubbed it hard and left. Dr Demiral grabbed a bottle of antiseptic and poured it into the wound, but it was too late. Later he helped me get to a plane to Istanbul and the American Hospital. 

Nizam went to Istanbul as well. This is a drawing that I did there, from memory.

STANDING IT 18 September 2000 Bilgi Hastanesi From Memory — Last Week: He saw the pain in my eyes – He got up, took two steps and stood right in front of me. He put his hands up on either side of my shoulders. He didn’t touch me. I leaned my forehead into his chest & breathed him. The dizziness and pain receded. He didn’t hold me up; he raised his hands & put them in my hair & played with it. I was able to stand two minutes, and that’s what we have, that’s all we have, and sometimes it’s enough.—–

It’s 21 years later. Processing and uploading these images was emotionally exhausting but felt like the right thing to do. If you’ve read this far, thanks. I did recover, in California, and moved back to Turkey in 2004. Nizam and I parted. There were wonderful things in store in Istanbul. I’m so glad I stuck around to experience them.

At Patara July 2021


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