Inflammation, Journal (excerpt)
January 25, 2016
Once, my doctor used pediatric sized equipment to remove an adenoma from my intestine during a colonoscopy. I have written this sentence multiple times already, first as a joke and then as an explanation and then as an attempt towards an essay. It never led anywhere or explained anything, though I did think it was funny, and this is irritating.
An adenoma is a polyp that grows on the inside of your intestines and develops into colon cancer if left in place. I have written this sentence before also. I’m still in the same place. This place is one bordered by the fact that adenomas do not happen in 22 year olds, outside of rare genetic disorders. Since having had the adenoma I have been able to find no data about the prevalence of adenomas in populations under the age of 40. And it’s easy to be angry about that, to be angry at epidemiologists who must surely be just ignoring your body and others like yours; there must surely be others like yours and there are, in fact, with colon cancer rates predicted to rise by hundreds of percent in younger populations over the coming years. Yet still so little is known about why. As my doctor said “we eat so much bad food these days,” which is not a sentence I’ve written before because as someone who has been a vegetarian for a decade, a non-smoking, low-fat diet having, non-alcoholic person, this is a less than satisfactory explanation. This is irritating.
This is irritating because I cannot get away from the prolonged exposure to knowing nothing.
They call it a scare for a reason and like other forms or situation of fear it has the ability to rapidly move and empty bodies. Since this happened three months ago, my thinking has been different. I write the same sentences over and over. I cannot clamp down on my thoughts; I forget things. The weight of the rest of my body is not enough. I am afraid that, somehow, when I had the colonoscopy and had to empty my gut in preparation I emptied my brain simultaneously.
This is irritating because it is the repetitive movement of making sense towards nothing.
What are the conditions of the physical location that produced this state of being, that produced being a 22 year old with an adenoma? Once I watched myself having a sigmoidoscopy on a large screen monitor. I watched through a camera being moved through a place just below where the adenoma would have been. It was brightly lit and pink and shiny, because it was wet, and even though I know the bright lighting seen was seen precisely because of the equipment being used, that what was seen was seen precisely because of the act of looking, the light was still enough to make it look like a healthy, bright place. Like sunlight. These both are and are not the conditions of this place, because we did not move into where the adenoma was. We did not see that three times a day everyday for two years I have taken a medication that is a mixture of pancreatic enzymes derived from pigs, for example. I researched and wrote extensively about this medication when I first started it, because of a physical, emotional and ethical concern for the pigs. And at that time I was told by multiple pharmaceutical companies that while it was theoretically possible for the medication to transmit viruses from pigs to humans, this had yet to be documented. An adenoma is not a virus, and pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy has been used for over a hundred years. I imagine that if adenomas or other forms of (near) cancerous growths showed up in many people taking these pills, someone would have noticed. But also maybe not. An adenoma is not a virus but it seems to make sense that the kind of unchecked growth in one place of cancer could be a result of irritation in the face of prolonged, daily, exposure to foreign pig cells in places meant to remain human. I wonder what the incidence rate of colon cancer among pigs is? Or maybe it’s just because we eat so much bad food these days. I wonder if colon cancer rates are higher in people whose diet includes large amounts of pork or in people taking pig pancreatic enzymes for years?
Or maybe an adenoma is more like a pimple than a mole (as my doctor described it) and could be squeezed out under pressure. Under pressure, like pressure is the condition of the physical location that is the state of being a 22 year old with an adenoma. And what better way to measure this pressure than with “my body, a barometer.” My body, a barometer of five years of sick pressure and irritation and as a record and documentation of this pressure, the adenoma is an explanation of itself.