Warning: This post is not for the faint of heart or stomach.
A-man recently asked me, “If emotions can cause your body to make tears, what else can emotions do in your body?”
Good question. In my healing, I spend a lot of time working with the connection between emotions and changes in my body and gained lots of observations. I notice that joy and laughter make my body feel noticeably better and lighter. Stress registers as pain in the tumors before it registers in my psyche, and certain emotional situations cause them to bleed. I’m sure there are more connections to learn.
Leading up to my last chemo session, I had a very emotionally upsetting interaction, lowering my immunity and enabling the start of a cold. Thankful that it wasn’t the flu, I held it at bay for a few days.
Going into chemo with the start of a cold isn’t usually a problem for people (I’m told), but for me, chemo makes my white counts plummet, which means that I can’t fight off anything on my own. I considered skipping this chemo session, but I had already skipped the last one, so we plowed forward, hoping for the best.
The next day, my white cells were gone and the cold took over my body. I was completely congested, lost my voice, and felt like crap.
My first thought was, “This isn’t fair. If I am dealing with chemo, I shouldn’t have to have a cold, too.”
Of course, that isn’t how life works, at least for me. Instead, crap begets more crap, and I can get stuck in that cycle.
I stayed in bed from Tuesday through Sunday while my white cells regenerated. Tiron held down the fort with work, the kids, and keeping me from landing in the ICU.
On Sunday, we had tickets to see Pippin at the ART. The last time I attended a performance there (to see Porgy and Bess), I was so riveted that, even though my colon started growing out of my body, I couldn’t tear myself away. Immediately following that show, I went directly to the MGH Emergency Department and narrowly averted surgery. Fully knowledgeable of the possibility of landing in the ED again, I still didn’t want to miss this show and thankfully, all went well.
On Monday, A-man did his fourth grade poetry reading at his school assembly. This is a rite of passage at his school and my anticipation of this has literally kept me alive for four years. I still had no voice but I wanted him to have someone there who listens to him as only a mother can, and I got to do that. Woo hoo!!!
Later that day, Tiron and I got a bummer phone call. It wasn’t unexpected or health-related and it is ultimately manageable, but still a downer and the timing caused me to reflect on how sometimes, the crap just keeps dropping.
I kept imagining a small creature crawling through the grass. If it crawls through the spot where a dog regularly goes to the bathroom, crap will rain down on it though no fault of its own. If it doesn’t move from that spot, more crap will rain down the next day. And the next.
I had to get out of this cycle.
I firmly believe that we manifest much of what we envision, and made a mental note to envision something new, something big, something on the order of the poetry reading. However, I only made a mental note. I didn’t actually envision anything new.
On Tuesday, while walking somewhere with A-man, a bird pooped on my jacket. After our initial surprised shock, we had a good laugh. It was easy to clean and felt like a clear message that, if I was envisioning myself as that crawling creature getting crapped on then, yes, we manifest what we envision. Definitely needed to envision something new. Still, though, it remained only a mental note.
On Wednesday, I took Julian and his friend, B, sledding. I still had a cold and no voice, but I wanted to get out of the house and spend time with the kids. Sledding is a three-minute drive, both kids are able to carry the sleds and I would just stand and watch. No problem.
Shortly after we arrived, my colostomy bag filled. This was unexpected; it never fills that quickly. Without a convenient bathroom, I mainly hoped that nothing more would pass and things could wait until we got home.
However, time passed, and I got more anxious. B must have sensed this, because she said, ”I’m ready to go.” YES, B!
But J-man wasn’t ready to go. He slid down the hill again and made some snowballs. With no voice, I couldn’t yell after him that it was important to leave now, so I started walking to the car. B walked with me, reminding me gently, “It would be more polite to wait for J-man.” Yes again.
We finally loaded ourselves into the car and were not even out of the parking lot when my colostomy bag blew. It literally blew off my body. I was busy praying that everything would stay contained when J-man said, “Yuck! It smells like Kenobi in here!”
Kenobi is our dog, who I don’t think smells like poop. But I get his point.
“It’s my bag,” I said, focusing on my driving.
“Your bag?” asked B. A perfectly natural question, and J-man covered it.
“My mom poops in a bag.”
I’m SURE that sounded strange. There is no way on earth that would sound normal but I had no extra cycles to normalize it. I willed the cars in front of me to move forward and tried to ignore the definite oozing I felt on my belly, leaving that discussion to the six-year-olds. If there were any more questions, I could cover it later or B’s mom (a doctor) would handle them for her. I didn’t want her to be permanently scarred by this.
Once I got home, the kids played outside and I ran inside screaming in some hoarse, unrecognizable, crazy-woman voice. My clothes were literally covered in shit. I just wanted to get away from it all but of course, I couldn’t. I had to clean it all up.
As I stepped, fully clothed, into the shower, I realized that, while crap might rain down from the sky, the most unpleasant and difficult to deal with is my own. As much as I want to run from it, I am the one responsible for cleaning that up and moving on.
Postscript: A blog differs from a book. As much as we can be absorbed into a book, we ultimately recognize that the characters are not real people. Because of that, you may relate to this absurdity in a different way. While you might feel shock, horror or disgust, it is also okay to laugh. Or maybe I should simply let you know: I find that the best thing I can do is acknowledge the absurdity, laugh, and move on. So please don’t worry about me in that way. And appreciate the wonder of your intact body!