I am returning from a long silence. And the proper thing is to say I am sorry and to beg your forgiveness, but I am afraid I cannot. I was gone because like most things, nothing really went as it ought. The surgery did not heal me. The biopsies that followed exposed nothing. The countless blood tests and stool samples exposed the truth, I am a twenty year old woman. And there is nothing amiss.
Well, not quite. I am weak. So very weak it disgusted me. And there are still days writing a simple text exceeds my ability. But we have been busy, the entire month of December my mother and I. We commuted back and forth to the Mayo Clinic weekly for endless tests and a handful of appointments. And each time I stuttered and tried to explain how I got here. How the past 6 months have been an intimate and whirlwind romance with my bathroom and bed. I was already well acquainted with my bed, but the bathroom was a stranger to me. Now, no longer. My stomach turned traitor and that was that.
This is an explanation. One that is long overdue. And the one reason I am heart wrenchingly sorry it took so long was for those that struggle with this on a daily basis. Those with IBS, colitis, etc. I read a blog recently called The Brain Hamster (http://brainhamster.wordpress.com/) and was utterly convicted. Here is a fellow that struggles with physical and mental problems and he talks about them in a clear and concise fashion. And what is left is a writer that is incredibly bright and incisive. He is a stalwart Christian and a post never goes by without referencing his faith. But what stands out most about this is how genuine he is about it. That lifelong struggle we have, the contrasting joy of God and the wasting doubt that everything will come out alright. Because our lives are so rarely simple and hopeful. I have daily glimpses and daily deny it to myself. Because there is something to shameful in being ill.
Now, bear with me here. There is nothing shameful in falling ill. Your body’s decay is not your fault, not a punishment, and if anyone says otherwise I will kick them in the teeth. Just as my friends and family would if I sunk into that lie. But that feeling after giving an unhappy answer in regards to a health question is something akin to shame. Every day when my parents ask me about my bowel movements, and the sadness in their eyes when I say the medicine isn’t helping, I feel something that can be only described as shame. And I don’t know why. There is something about excrement and pain that does not belong in polite society. I understand that, nothing is more disgusting to me than bowel movements. And telling my own to the world (doctors and family I mean) is excruciating. It is like you have failed. And I should be well over this, this idea that I have enough control over my body to fail at all. Cognitively, of course I haven’t failed. I am at the mercy of a cruel virus that wiped out my system and which still affects me though it is long gone. But it still feels shameful to be so.
My unwillingness to speak of it is what I am sorry about. Because there are so many people that have lifelong struggles with their bowels. Why am I so grand that I can hide this flaw? It can come from accutane, from birth, a virus, from anything. And it can be forever despite the fact you have done nothing wrong. I have a close friend and it took a long time for her to tell me about it. Because no one wants to know, and no one wants to say it. It is a taboo in its own right. And it ought not to be. Because there is nothing shameful in being ill. That feeling you have is a lie. Yes, there are ways to speak of it more delicately. But health problems are not some fault you have created. There are a number of things like this in our society, physical and mental problems that are deemed as ill-bred to speak of. Being anxious, depressed, bi-polar, sick with IBS, sick with anything isn’t a reason to hate yourself. People create their own shame. Shame from what they have done, and what they haven’t. I refuse to any longer be ashamed of my health. Of being ashamed when I am over at a friend’s house and I have to nibble at dinner because I can’t eat most of what’s on the plate. Of being ashamed to say how many times during the writing of this post I have excused myself to go to the restroom or for medicine. This will not do. And it will end.
This is the last I will speak of this. I just felt really passionate about saying it once. Because this blog is about truth as much as it is about humor. I may speak of it in jest later, but I will never be crude. If you have questions or your own story to get it off your chest, type it here in the comments. Exposing your heart has a kind of relief to it.
I am getting better. I am healing. A truly wonderful GI specialist from Mayo threw in the towel after 5 months of testing and started focusing on fixing my symptoms. And it’s working. I’m exercising three times a day to try and condition myself. My dad the doctor brought home a great honking exercise machine from his office to strengthen my arms and back. I walk and walk so I can trust my legs again. I have a goal. I am going back to school this fall. I am going to be an archaeologist. This was not the year I expected, but this spring has a lot of hope in it. I am glad to work towards something.
And right now my iTunes library is on shuffle. So Pie’s Glee CD is playing and my cockatiel is shrieking along. It’s hard to take anything seriously with this concert going on : )
So, now that you’re caught up with me, how are you? I’m sorry for the rant. You know they come out sometimes. I hope the holidays were kind to you. I’ve been baking lots of things I can’t eat to make my family fine and fat. They appreciate it, secretly. I’ll write more often now. Life is starting again for me, it was on hold for awhile.
PS for some reason Walgreens and hospitals have started saying “BE WELL” upon exit. Makes me feel a little queer, like they’re reading themissespots…. Anyways, adieu!