In Roger Zelazny’s Hugo award winning story “Home is the Hangman” there is a line that, in one sentence, captures what has been the primary theme of my life for the last seven months as I have been scrabbling my way out of the pit of Crohn’s disease. “Even the most heartening of philosophical vistas is no match for, say, a toothache, if it happens to be your own.”
I don’t know if everyone’s brain works this way; I can imagine raging against discomforting and unavoidable distractions of the senses in a way that drives productivity rather than retarding it. But that isn’t what happens for me. I am subject to Zelazny’s Toothache. Today the weather in San Antonio could not be more pleasant, and I awoke with an energy and eagerness for my various writing projects that usually prefigures a satisfyingly productive day, one of the days where, instead of fighting for every word, the top of my head will unfold like the fronds of an anemone and easily pluck images from the currents of my fictional world. But then, with no warning (and there is never any warning, or any observable pattern), I feel the fist begin to tighten deep in my abdomen and the tendrils of productivity slam back inside my skull. My entire focus shifts to my physical being, and I head home and crawl into bed and take pills and seek out escapism and do anything else to further the one truly important goal: finding a vector of comfort to cling to.
But if I can’t force my focus onto the areas in which I want to be productive, I can at least experiment with being productive about the things on which I’m focused. Which is the point of this particular post. Just keeping my fingers moving on the keyboard as I wait for the storm to pass.
I suspect I will be writing more about Crohn’s in the future–hopefully with a far more retrospective slant. For now, here’s a link to a comic about Crohn’s disease that Tom Humberstone did for 24-hour Comic Day in 2007. His experience is different in some ways to mine, but page 19 is dead-on.