Colon cancer diaries I: Blockage


Did you ever feel, whenever you were about to tell something, that ideas and events were jamming up in your head, everything becoming a block that is stuck without an order, a structure, a sequence to get out? This is how I feel now and, interestingly, this is also how I have felt for the past two months, mentally and physically (yes, physically in connection with my bowel movements). I wonder if the two are related, and if they are, which one comes first, the chicken or the egg, the physical or the mental part.

I have much to share and I want to organize it for you, reader, who actually help me co-create these stories. I will start with the subject of mental blockage, although it was constipation the one which had the most obvious impact on my life, turning it upside down. This had to do with the removal of my rectum last November and the follow-up surgery last May to reconnect my intestines and close the ostomy which was the result of the first procedure. This physical "blockage", which came after the severe incontinence I suffered for the first month after the second surgery, was extremely painful and made my life miserable, to the extent that I've been saying repeatedly "I've been to Hell, returned and went back again".

My friend Filomena encourages me to share these experiences. Being sad and painful for her too, she says they also bring valuable learning. This way things I learn first-hand can become a kind of collective knowledge in which we all participate, as I heard my sister Elva propose once. I absolutely agree with this idea, which is not really Filo's or Elva's or mine, but precisely a piece of this collective knowledge: someone thought of it and now many of us share it. In addition, sharing is precisely what makes me feel better: I just enjoy telling stories.

I was experiencing a mental blockage at the same time the physical one was going on. I was questioning this disposition of mine "to share almost everything", after having perceived the unease and even negative feedback in some people who read/listen to my stories or, worse, their genuine discomfort if I share bad news. This type of response usually occurs, but not always, in people who value their privacy more than I do. Another friend, whose name I'm sure he prefers I don't mention, told me that "he did not read this blog because he did not want to suffer." I very much appreciate his genuine and legitimate opinion, and I thank him immensely for his honesty and candor, although knowing this brought great sadness when I realized we were not meeting each other in this important part of my life.

I already hear you say, reader by your own decision, "share what you want," right? I certainly do. Sharing is a decision that I continually evaluate, considering my inclination but also the impact that sharing may have on others. Today I decide to give it another try after resolving that I do have more fun by sharing and that, in general, doing it can be more helpful for others than not. Of course there is a space and a right moment to share, and also to receive what others want to share

I know that the effect of what I tell on others is directly related to how I present the information, the perspective or light in which I do it and the mood in which I am when I do it. Trying to simply force out a mental blockage may not lead to anything good, and even perhaps to the opposite phenomenon, a verbal diarrhea, unpleasant for both the teller and the audience. For all these reasons, dear reader, it took me a while to share; for example the fact that about a month ago I found out that there was a relapse of the rectal tumor that had been removed last November and that, in addition, there was the suspicion about others tumors in my liver and one lung.

Some of these details are what I have finally decided to share in the articles below, along with some account of my adventures in the last two months, a period with pain and discomfort that I do not wish to even my worst enemy. It was caused, now we know, by constipation originated by the new tumor. I warn you, as I have done on other occasions (see the article "it's all about sh*t"), that the next posts may not be everyone's cup of tea. I also announce that what you encounter is probably not only sad and tragic but also at times comical and, I hope, inspiring. I have always preferred happy endings. Almost always have I believed that we have the ability to find happy endings for our life stories. I have been training since 2007, the year I discovered compassion meditation, to do exactly that.

Photo: Santander bay, courtesy of my sister Josefina