Colon cancer diaries III: Silver lining


I previously spoke about my trip to Menorca as perfect with its imperfections. Not all the moments there were good but that story is definitely worth it. Looking back I can draw exactly the same conclusion about my life, and even about myself; despite certain imperfections but also due to those imperfections, these stories shine. In recent times I've been very present to the fact that although the best we can do about such limitations is to overcome them, it is actually these limitations that help our stories and ourselves be extraordinary . As my friend Tim says, we are already extraordinary beings... with the capacity to improve. Our stories are also extraordinary, with room for improvement, which makes them even more extraordinary. Those imperfections bother us so much because we want (and can) improve them. At the same time, treating them as an unavoidable evil that serves the purpose of overcoming them makes them less undesirable.

I report below in the present tense a couple of those "imperfect" episodes that, in principle, being useless, gave the rest of my experiences in Menorca more brightness and more color, not just by odious comparison, but because of my ability to leave them behind.

"I wake up in the middle of the night, the second time in two or three time as I typically do, but I don't worry too much because I know that I will go back to sleep. I adjust my posture because the right side, the one with the scar from the second surgery, the anastomosis, is hurting me more than usual on this hard mattress. It doesn't stop hurting me. It suddenly becomes a very acute pain which ends up waking me up completely. It is much more intense than ever but now in my right kidney... or is it on the front, where the scar is?

I do what I know to do when my abdomen hurts. I get up and go to the bathroom and squat on top of the toilet bowl, in this position that I have recently tried out after my conversations with my friend Elba about pelvic floor exercises. Getting on top of the toilet actually occurred to me after I remembered the anecdote my friend Quique told me about his trip to a place in China, where he saw people doing the same thing. You learn a lot in conversations with friends ... Oh, my God, it hurts as if I were going to die. I have to wake up my sister Elva, maybe we should go to the emergency room ... or can I wait two days for my trip back to Santander, and go to the hospital there?

Which painkillers could I buy in a pharmacy here if this pain persists? Neither Tylenol nor Analgin have worked very well for my intestinal and rectal pain, although probably because I take them when already in pain and, as my surgeon says, it is easier to prevent pain than to eliminate it. And yet this seems it could be something else. Could it be my right kidney? Yesterday I went to bed without being able to urinate but I had done it without a problem hours before. I thought it was again the sphincter losing sensitivity and getting out of control after a lot of bowel movements ... it's hard to guess ... but what if it was something else? I evacuate, hardly anything, but with less pain than usual in scar number one, in the anus and lower intestine. On the other hand, scar number two, on my side, seems to explode when I do it ... I'm bathed in cold sweat and get dizzy ... don't want to pass out ... After emptying my bowels I finally relax a little and ... does it hurt less? ? It's possible? Was it just gases?

The bowel movement after lunch the next day, in the water, goes much better. We find once again our corner of rocks and blue immensity, sky and sea. I hope I'm not getting used to it. And as I formulate this thought, I realize that fish, of all sizes and colors, small green and large silver ones, not uncommon during my bowel movements in the sea, attract perhaps snorkel divers who come swimming close by with their heads stuck in the same waters where I am doing... well... what I'm doing.

Soon other swimmers arrive on the rocks with their gang music, perhaps attracted by the fact that you can see divers from the shore in this corner: people call people. It all soon becomes a kind of a fair with those who jump into the water from the rocks and those who arrive by sea and I evacuate the place as fast as I can, still evacuating also between my legs, my feces having become now unstoppable diarrhea. I appreciate the immensity of the ocean that disinfects everything and I pray that no one notices me or my doing. My sister yells at me that the silverfish are probably sardines.

A moment of happiness takes place at the end of the day in the car back to the hotel when I think of my sister Elva's comment, not the one about sardines: "things would not happen exactly this way if it weren't for your difficulties; We wouldn't find these lost corners if you didn't need a space in the open air to go to the bathroom." I see her point. I also make an effort to try to see myself as my sister sees me, even during those times when she sees me prostrate to relieve myself and turns her head away discreetly. There is so much ... love! Generous, understanding, unconditional, tender love; so much admiration and so much forgiveness. How can she see me like that? With all my sh*t, which she would be the first to acknowledge, and yet she holds this opinion about me being someone extraordinary. Knowing that I am loved like that, by someone who is also extraordinary with her imperfections, touches me deeply".

Foto: Sunset in Pont den Gil, Menorca