A couple of years ago, in a post I don't think I could easily find now, Pavlov's Cat suggested that blogs about illness and trauma were under-recognised as ways of processing the experience of diseases like cancer. Critical commentary seems to be catching up with her, though.
Yesterday I came across (ok, by checking the referral pages to my blog on sitemeter) an article in M/C Journal (a journal of media and culture) 11.6 (2008), special issue:'recover', by Anthony McCosker, called "Blogging Illness: Recovering in Public", in which he discusses a number of blogs: Brainhell; Prostate Cancer Journal; Leroy Sievers' My Cancer; Tom's Road to Recovery; and Humanities Researcher.
I came upon Brainhell's blog just as he was dying, and had heard of Leroy Sievers', but it was all the same quite odd to read about my blog in this context and in this company. Anthony (I knew him a while back) uses these blogs to make an argument for the particular kind of writerly practice blogging represents:
an expressive element of the substance of the illness as it is experienced over time, as it affects the bodies, thoughts, events and relationships of individuals moving toward a state of full recovery or untimely death
He concludes, in part:
Whatever emancipatory benefits may be found in expressing the most intimate of experiences and events of a serious illness online, it is the creative act of the blog as self-expression here, in its visceral, comprehensive, continuous timestamped format that dismantles the sense of privacy in the name of recovery.
But one doesn't have to blog about one's own illness to accomplish the work of re-thinking privacy: see Liz Conor's In One Stroke, which recounts her partner's stroke, while on a camping holiday. It includes these memorable lines:
At the moment it dawned on us that something was not right he half turned to me, rolled his eyes back and sat hard on the floor. He tried to get up, half fell out the door and rested there, assuring me he was fine through the right side of his face, drooling from the left.
I also liked this bit:
It is a big part of Jeremy’s job to give the assembled public the assurance of his own calm competency. This he offered to the riveted campers, smiling half-faced through his oxygen mask.
I love this: that remarkable capacity we have to keep going, to reassure others (especially our children) that we are "fine". Just keeping on going on.