What’s happening with Howard’s butt?
I might as well deal with the icky part at the beginning: On January 15, 2010, I learned that I had been diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma of the rectum. While very very few people might want to have butt cancer at all, it turns out that the kind I have is relatively desirable because it probably does not require surgical removal of my butthole, and the cure rate for a treatment of radiation plus chemotherapy is likely very high. It doesn’t hurt that this disease is extremely rare. Every doctor who treats me will be paying even more attention to me than usual, simply because they have to rely less on experience and more on new learning to stay ahead of what’s happening.
MY first reaction to what I just told you was “Ewww!” That was probably your reaction, too. A lot of psycho-social-sexual-mythological energy flows forth from our organ of shit.
My SECOND reaction: “Yay” to the parts about keeping my butthole — granted, not anyone’s most attractive organ, but nevertheless a part of me I’ve grown attached to over the past 62 1/2 years.
I still need to get a PET scan (Friday) to discover whether the disease has metastasized to other parts of my body, a circumstance that would complicate treatment and shrink my event horizon. I meet with my oncologist tomorrow, and then get a PET scan. I already met with my radiation oncologist and went through a “simulation” with the radiation nurse. She positioned me in the apparatus that will beam me five days a week for five or six weeks and used last week’s CT scan to locate reference points on my abdomen and pelvis. She then tattooed the reference dots.
I had never planned to get a tattoo, but it now looks like circumstances beyond my control have tattooed my t’an tien as well as my love handles. I will have to do serious thinking later in the process about building something around those dots.
Why this blog?
I am blessed with many friends, colleagues, students and fans. I want to make sure that people who care about me can get good information, straight from the horse’s butt. As you know, I think that the Web as a commons is threatened by a deluge of crap. The single best defense against drowning in badinfo is a good internal crap detector. But it is also possible to enrich the commons by putting out info that is NOT crap. There is a satisfaction, a calling, a duty, a service in making good information available. In this case and in many others, it has nothing to do with financial reward. People are motivated to create culture together for a variety of reasons. Money is only one of them.
So this is where you can come to find out about the scurrilous rumors concerning Howard Rheingold’s posterior orifice of elimination. Expect reports, reflections, explanations, but NO butthole-gazing. I will more likely ruminate on the global shit crisis than take long walks on the beach with God.
There is another important reason for engaging Howard here: During a debilitating treatment period, I still need to get work done. A classic tragedy of the commons problem emerges: I would appreciate each of your individual email, phone calls, tweets as heartfelt expressions of good wishes. In the aggregate, it will bloat my mail box, distract me from my work, and reduce my available energy. I will not only report here in howardsbutt.tmblr.comwhen my energy and other committments permit, I will read each and every comment and try to respond to at least a few of them.
I know you are undergoing emotional turmoil as a result of my announcement — I was there myself, a week ago. Please understand that I am in a good state of mind and (otherwise) health and that I am authentically confident. The best thing you can do about how I feel about what’s happening to me is for you to do the work I did to feel authentically confident about a positive outcome.