All cancer treatments have side effects, and my current meds are no exception; I try to think of it as a yin-yang thing. This time round I get to keep my hair, but I have debilitating muscle fatigue, inflammation of the blood vessels. . .and constipation.
You do not often see Writing and Constipation mentioned in the same sentence, but this week, I’ve been suffering blockages at both ends.
“Prunes” you suggest, with a knowing nod.
“Strong coffee” you recommend, with a wry smile.
Orange juice, spinach juice, warm baths, warm water, Epsom Salts, Himalayan Salts; you name them I’ve tried them. Everyone has a constipation solver that works for them, but soaking in warm salts whilst sipping warm spinach juice takes the clean eating trend to extreme lows, and I beg you not to try it. Fibre has become my middle name; stuffed with so much roughage, I have forgotten the taste of smoothage.
I have also forgotten how it feels to write. The title Constipated Writing seemed amusing on Sunday, but has lost its allure by Tuesday when nothing flows and the laptop screen remains stubbornly blank. I forget about ‘flow’ and settle for a word. Alas, a word is still too much, so I type a capital letter followed by a comma and look for hidden meaning, but all I see is the blank paper staring back at me.
In search of ideas, I go for a walk and in a show of solidarity, the cat trots alongside. He has writing inspiration in abundance, and tummy tickles are all he asks in return for sharing. I sit on the grass, he lays on his back in the sunshine and as I tickle, he gradually seeps into endorphin oblivion, with a purr reverberating deep in his throat and a drool of pleasure dribbling down his chin. He tells me nothing, except to never believe a philanthropic cat.
Next stop is Bruce. The wise old horse has the answer to most problems, and while they sometimes take a bit of translating, I’ve learnt that a single ear twitch is worth a thousand words. He is in his field feasting on spring grass, and eyes me with equine insouciance. I perch on the edge of the water trough waiting for his attention, so I can begin the dialogue. I’ve obviously picked the wrong day, because today his dialogue is all about eating, and it takes precedence over anything I might have to say. He makes it abundantly clear he has no wish to engage with a constipated mind, before walking away to continue grazing at the far end of the field.
When I began my blog, I set myself a weekly deadline of Thursday publication. It is now Wednesday and the page remains blank. I’m spending a lot of time doing not much in the bathroom, so I decide to set aside my moral scruples of reading on the toilet, and hoping for writing inspiration, I revisit the classics. It’s not a good idea because the classics are too beautiful to browse, so the next stop is poetry, and favourites ee cummings, Thich Nhat Hahn and Christina Rossetti are prised from the bookshelf. They all have a beautiful rhythm, but still no go. A short, pithy magazine is next. Alas, numbness of thighs and brain (who writes this stuff?) kicks in before inspiration.
While I’m at the bookshelf I come across a copy of ‘Healing Back Pain’ by John Sarno, and remember his theory that physical problems are often protective avoidance of focusing on the real issue. Present life is full of events and decisions way beyond my understanding. Is the inability to release anything physically or creatively a need to keep everything ‘in’ because containment is all I can control? Is constipation less a gut imbalance and more about giving my brain something safer to worry about than what is happening in the real world. Is sharing the truth to a page too painful at this sensitive time?
Now it’s Thursday morning, and I’ve been sitting at the laptop since I woke at 5a.m. These precious early mornings are my writing time, but not today.
When Mark comes down for breakfast, he says “What’s up, you’ve been staring at that screen for days.”
He hands me a cup of tea and waits while I explain everything that’s going on; I’m reluctant to discuss constipation with my husband. By the time I’ve finished the tea he has the whole sorry story.
“Simple” he says. “Write down what you’ve just told me. They’ll all understand because they’re human too, and its okay to be normal. You don’t have to be profound every week, you just have to be you.”
Being honest is one thing, being human is another; or is that just avoidance of being mortal? Either way, so long as things start flowing again, who cares?