Speaking of the role of illness in our lives and how it reminds us of our frailty, our impermanence, and offers us an opportunity for self-reflection, I've been struggling for the past week through an episode of a strange, chronic condition I developed a couple of years ago--thus, my lack of visibility in the Collective. I'm down to the basics right now--self-care, teenage-daughter-care, and teaching (and a few meetings and such that can't be avoided). Otherwise, the pain makes me puny and tired. So puny and tired today that I just woke up from a short nap on my office floor (I even put a "do not disturb" sign on the door knob!); when I'm having an episode of my condition, I can't teach for three hours without a bit of rest.
In August of 2007, I was hospitalized with painful "twirly guts," as my former student Darcy calls my ailment. A much more eloquent and playful designation than the official diagnosis: "transient jejunal intussusception without lead-point." Bottom line--part of my small intestine got knocked out of commission, perhaps by a virus, and now it is limp and poorly functioning. When the areas around it are spasming, either normally in the process of digesting food, or abnormally because my system is irritated (like now), the "twirly" section twists and folds back on itself (try this with the arm of your shirt and sweater; then imagine trying to drink, eat, and generally function!). Though this is a rare condition (especially in the absence of underlying pathology), I'm in good company with other creatures: horses and babies are prime candidates for intussusceptions because of the nature of their anatomy. And so, it seems, am I.
The title of this post, by the way, is borrowed/adapted from Stanley Kunitz's poem, The Long Boat.
I hope you are all well and I look forward to future posts. Thanks for holding down the Collective, David!