Tuesday, May 14, 2013
The Bowel Cancer Testing Kit I Got For My Birthday
I got a bowel cancer testing kit for my birthday.
As we all do, here in Scotland, once we reach a certain age.
There is something heroic about the Bowel Screening Centre. They are tackling, head on,at least 3 firmly held taboos:
- our reluctance to contemplate the certainty of death
- our terror at the possibility of having cancer
- and our intense reluctance to contemplate our shit.
Bowel cancer exploits the fact that it has plenty of room to expand in. I am aware of this, and the need to catch it early, because that was why my sister in law Angela and my father in law Alec both suffered and died.
We were with Alec when he died. We saw it.
This happened in 1983 and cancer surgeons were in the habit of lying to their patients then.
Alec’s surgeon cut him open, saw there was nothing to be done, and sewed him back up again. But he told Alec the operation had been a success.
Somehow we all got sucked into maintaining that lie; and that caused us all the most intense suffering.
As for Alec, he had a deep faith in the inscrutable wisdom of his LORD and so he quietly allowed his life to slip away.
And all these memories distract me from understanding the instructions.
Essentially you cover your hand with toilet paper and use it to catch your shit.
It’s a strange sensation, feeling the gentle but irresistible push of it, and then the warmth and weight in your hand.
They give you little cardboard sticks to collect two samples a day, each from a different part of the same shit.
It’s really not as disgusting as I may be making it sound. Perhaps I’ve been eating virtuously and well.
And here I am on day 2 of the 3, and it feels a bit like an eccentric meditation exercise. One that is somehow connected to the other, very powerful, exercise of looking at my work. My other emanations.
“By your fruits you shall know them”, the dear man said. Which seems to mean that it is not what someone says they believe but what they actually do.
Just as Jesus also said that it is what comes out of us that defiles us. Our treachery, our malice, and our rage.
I wonder what would happen if we could see the consequences of each moment we live and each act we do.
See our emanations as clearly as I can see the shit in my hand.
Perhaps one day we’ll be able to. Perhaps that’s what we call heaven.
Perhaps that’s what we call hell.
Meanwhile I am very frequently washing my hands.
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