Thursday, January 11, 2018

Guantanamo: What's the underlying condition?

Statue of Liberty - January 11, 2018
V @nat_riverascott

Since practically the day I started this blog, I have tried to contribute to reversing the injustices represented by the US detention center at Guantanamo Bay.

I have organized and participated in many events educating about and protesting against Guantanamo. (See website for The Response film and blog posts on Guantanamo and work with the Chicago Coalition to Shut Down Guantanamo.)

I am coming to realize that what Guantanamo says about the US goes very deep.

What's the underlying condition?

In the past year, I've dealt with a cancer diagnosis, and it's changed the way I look at things.

In June I went to the emergency room with a breathing problem that had been getting worse and worse for over a month. An X-ray quickly showed that I had a "pleural effusion" -- fluid accumulated in the lining of my lung. My left lung, itself, was like a deflated balloon, bunched up in the upper corner of the lung cavity, unable to expand because of the way the cavity wall was pressing up from below with all the fluid.

The quick fix was to drain the fluid. The doctor inserted a needle between the ribs in my back and drained away 3 liters of milky white stuff.

Voila! I could breathe again!

(Problem solved, right?)

And then they started taking more scans . . . .

Within a day, the ER doc dropped by to tell me: "It looks like you have lymphoma. It's a kind of cancer. It's treatable . . . but you've got to get on it."

It turned out the lymphoma I had, though low grade, had generated a troublesome mass in my abdomen. I had heavy-duty chemotherapy for the next few months. Things seem to be getting better, and I'm now on a course of lower-impact drugs.

Looking the other way

Now that I'm past the immediate shock of the cancer diagnosis, I have time to think. One of the things I wonder about is, "What if my cancer hadn't exhibited that lung problem? Maybe I would still be in the dark about the underlying condition . . . . "

I should mention that one of the things that was special about my case is that I had avoided all contact with a doctor for the past decade or so. Because, you know, I'm healthy!

In other words, I was not terribly interested in knowing what might be going on inside me.

Picking up on this detail, my doctors were perceptive enough to understand that they needed to start my treatment immediately, and not let me have a chance to slip out the door with the promise to deal with my condition "soon."

An unpleasant truth about US society

In the case of my cancer, I think my body helped with the process: it figured out a way to send me a message, one that I couldn't ignore.

For those willing to listen, Guantanamo is sending us a message. There is an underlying condition in this country, one that we are trying very hard to ignore.

It is up to each of us to search our hearts to see if we can figure out what it is that we really think is going on in this country.

For my part, I plan to dig deep . . . with a special eye for that which I feel afraid to admit.  I suspect that the underlying condition is going to turn out to be pretty scary.

To be continued . . . .

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