Manifesting our visions

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!

16 thoughts on “Manifesting our visions

  1. I was really moved at this posting. It gave me pause as I remember wanting to leave sledding excursions just because my feet were cold and I had to get everyone fed, not because my colostomy bag was about to burst. Cold feet feel rather lame. ❌⭕

  2. Man you are amazing. Truly amazing. I love your poo stories, and most importantly, your pooperspective. I am sorry that the sledding adventure had to end much sooner than planned. that sucks. But know that you are ALWAYS bringing love and life and energy and hope to others with every word you write. Prayers aplenty for poopless days ahead xo m

  3. Poetry and poop. Awe-inspiring and completely humbling. I have never been literally covered in poop – although I do remember one exciting projectile poop session from the diaper days, but that was in my own home, not my poop, and it wasn’t accompanied by a Kid Talk Track.

    I did laugh about your Graphic Content Warning. I was worried when I started to read. My first thought was — really, sexual content in Marie’s blog?? That doesn’t sound like her but I’m game. Then I thought, oh no — surgery or something very bad has happened and I felt fear. So at the end of your essay I felt a little relieved that you are safe.

    I’m sorry for your crap, chemo and cold. You have turned this yucky stuck place into something I have learned from, which is some kind of magic that you possess and share so generously.

    Poop does wash off, and then you are clean and ready to re-envision yourself again. The poetry reading stays with you forever, and is part of your consciousness and that of your community and family. Which feels very lucky and special to me.

    • Mary, you crack me up and communicating with you on here reminds me of when we first met and I got to hear your take during our book group. I always loved hearing your perspective and I still do!
      I do wonder – is it clear that I am viewing the “difficulty and responsibility for cleaning my own crap” both literally and figuratively?
      Thank you so much for reading and for being involved and for being in my life!

  4. I know that I have stepped into the shower fully dressed on at least 5 occasions. Not only with the ileostomy, but also after the ileostomy was reversed. There were days that my colon decided it was going to let loose, NOW. The fact that you handle it with such grace and humor is inspiring!

    • Wow – thank you! Good to know that I am not alone in these crazy happenings. And, as you said before, laughter is the best medicine! Though I don’t always have it in the moment, I am grateful for when it does come.
      I hope your day is going better and better and better.

  5. Oh Marie, I love you. You make my trials and tribulations seem like child’s play. Thank you for writing.

    Unfortunately, my next blog will most likely be about the return of my “crap.” It’s okay – we’ll fight this one too!!!

    Thank you for just being you – God bless.

    K J

    The happiest people don’t have the best of everything – they just make the best of everything!

    • Divine Ms. K-
      You make me laugh and smile. Thank you! Though, I am not thrilled to read about the return of your crap. I will send cleaning energy your way, so you are not dealing it with alone. We can clean it up together!
      Thank you for being here with me. You are a blessing in my life.

  6. Marie, I LOL’ed at the part when your bag blew off! I’m sorry that it happened, but it reminded me of my Mom when she had the ileostomy bag. I got her an LOA from ManorCare to attend the Grandparents Luncheon with Adam at St. Gabe’s. She was so weak, but she would do anything for him. My anxiety was through the roof that day. I prayed that, as the kids affectionately called it, the “poop bag” didn’t blow. I had the senario playing through my mind…Shit spewing everywhere amongst a bunch of first graders! I could just hear the reminiscing with Adam and all his buddies when they graduated high school…Remember that time when your Gramma’s poop bag exploded? Thank God it didn’t pop that day! I returned her to ManorCare and went home and had a drink.

    • THAT was what I needed after that whole thing! A drink would have been good. (I took the kids to a juggling / facepainting party instead – a drink would have been good there, too haha)
      I can COMPLETELY picture that scene and the stress it would cause. SO glad you didn’t have to live it – just in your mind!

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