blog no. 14 / Thoughtcrime / by steve joseph

Today I’d like to celebrate the medical oddity of Rocco, and how he is fast becoming part of my past. (If you haven’t already, please read blog no. 13, below, first.)

As of today, I have five more sessions of radiation of the brain cavity, to kill off any “a-typical” deformed cells. The final session set for December 31, 2014. That same day, I have tickets to fly to Los Angeles for my second “Mount Washington Glass Residency” (see blog no. 10 “ARTIST IN RESIDENCIES: THINKING OUT OF THE BOX... AND INTO THE SWIMMING POOL, below).

I am super psyched to get back to the swing of making new work.

During my (current) 30 sessions of radiation treatment my head is locked down to the radiation table using this lavender colored plastic mask (see photo). I have yet to figure out why that specific color was chosen. The mask was custom made by stretching heated plastic over my head in the hospital. This one mask is now used every visit. It is positioned over my head, and locked down onto the table, so I lay in the exact spot for every session. It is an extremely tight fit, I can hardly open my eyes, except to squint. 

There is no pain, but my mind goes different places before and during these radiation sessions. 

For instance, every day during the first fifteen sessions, I would see images from the torture scene from “Nineteen Eighty-Four”. It is a gruesome film and in this scene a wired cage holding hungry rats is fitted onto the head of the person being tortured. This film scene, along with my real life subway rush hour crush, getting to the upper east side, is not a healthy combination for anyone! 

The other event that flashes in my head is a loss of memory occurrence when flying back from a trip from India. I had picked up some sleeping pills at a local pharmacy that were similar, but not exactly the same as my prescription. I downed two pills on the return flight back to New York. What I didn’t realize was these sedatives were super strong. I didn’t remember disembarking the flight in New York, I didn’t remember filing out forms for missing luggage in the airport, I didn’t remember taking public transportation, or was it a cab home. All I remember is taking the pills on the flight, and then opening my apartment door ten hours later. The hours in between these two events is completely missing. 

Needless to say I am super sensitive to drugs now. A half glass of wine makes me very tipsy. I know, Rocco is gone, the brain is healing. I feel blessed that this is becoming history. I promise not to speak of Rocco in my next blog. I believe the next subject will be on the process of designing and making art work.
My last blog “Rocco the Tumor” resulted in a huge amount of support from friends and complete strangers. Thanks for the messages. Looking back, “Outing” Rocco was a very personal event. Being able to write about it here made it a therapeutically helpful experience.