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Operating Table by MikeIsNeat on flickr

“The body never lies.”

Martha Graham (famous dancer/choreographer)

  

 

Practice what you preach…it is essential, no?  It is a bit of a duh, if I do say so myself.  Well I just had a moment of sorts over the last 72 hours—a long harsh moment of reality thrust upon me, necessarily and with excellent timing (in the script of my life this is just where I would put such a revelation).  It was a moment—call it a “duh” or an “aha” or an “epiphany” if you will—that reminded me of the importance, non-optional and crucial nature, of holistic living in my own life. 

 

I talk about it with passion until I’m breathless and I vocalize it to anyone who will listen—a complimentary medicine and holistic approach to life is vital for full mind, body, and soul healing.  And although I work towards my own holistic health in baby steps I am not quite the vibrant enactor as I am the vocalize—I am a bit sluggish, sometimes even a bit resistant for all of the reasons I know that people are. 

 

I am stagnant in my old ways of thinking and living.  I am full of negative learned behaviors cultivated with great art over the years.  I am sluggishly lazy about making the alterations in full that would be necessary for living a truly clean, green , and healthfully mean life.  It is a scary prospect—to so drastically change our life patterns.  Yet at the same time to do so is so logical and such a small concession in the grander scheme of things—taking into account a longer, healthier, and less painful existence on all levels.

 

This week has shown me, that like the diabetic person that has not option of whether to take care of their body and their diet as they must do what is necessary or suffer serious, even life threatening consequences, I too must look at my holistic health from a more serious perspective.  Every move I make, or don’t, every substance, hormone, and edible thing I put in my body affects the state of it. 

 

I have (as much as I have been trying to ignore the severity of it for some time) a very serious and chronic illness which only becomes more pervasive and debilitating with time.  I am in a crucial stage of “change” or “be changed for the worse”.  I am on the precipice of a life and a body that could go either way and I have to treat the care of this bodily casing as if it were a life or death situation—it is at least the life or death of my womb that is at stake (not to mention the surrounding organs that are often ravaged by endometriosis like the bladder, bowel, appendix, among others–two out of the three I already have scar tissue on from fusing of organ to organ , by endometriosis growth, prior to my first surgery). 

 

I can no longer say, “Tomorrow I will live better,” or, “Just one more bagel can’t hurt,” or, “I’m just too tired for yoga today.”  I have to effect a lifestyle commiserate with the seriousness of my health, the necessity for self-care as a priority, and an active holistic approach to healing that I know to be so vital.  I can no longer sit on the sidelines of my body and wait to see what happens.  Proactive is the only way. 

 

It is hard, we all know, to shift so drastically the things that inhabit our daily lives, routines, and ways of being.  I know mine is somewhat of an extreme example of how everything we do, consume, imbibe and how it affects our internal and external health, but in some ways this drastic perspective on living is something we should all work harder to enact—and no one knows better than I how much of a struggle it is to do that. 

 

But I know, too, that my every moment and lifestyle decision affects me holistically so I must live taking my whole self into account.  I know that when I have steak, dairy, soda, and white bread my cramps worsen.  I know that and I ignore it quite often. 

 

My body gives me all the signals I need of how to care for it and thus far I have been very capricious with this precious and delicate physicality that I have.  But I can’t be a sideline player in the game of me versus endometriosis.  I have been reminded and reinvigorated by the knowledge that this illness will get worse—how fast and how much is really up to me, every day, and in the choices I make. 

 

We have much of the control over our living, but so often we don’t enact proactive (w)holistic health because it seems too hard or too much.  Well, I can say from experience that the alternative, what can happen when we don’t care for this precious container for our mind and our soul, is much worse than working hard to live well.

 

I hope that this–my life, my body, my situation–can be a reminder to everyone of how precious this life is and how precious these bodies are we have been given.  We owe it to ourselves to take the best care possible of it before something (and something can happen to anyone) happens that makes us realize it is too late to effect changes and damage has been done.  I, myself, am at my own precipice, facing my own “duh” moment and I have big changes to make to create a life  not just of forethought and promises of change, but a life of making that change—I am the one who loses if I don’t.  Life is not a sidelines game and our bodies are vital in the holistic care of ourselves—body, mind, and soul.

 

Daily yoga, clean eating, and beginning active courses of acupuncture will be my first steps to getting my body to a better place to fight the internal enemy that waits, biding  it’s time to eat away at me, from the inside out.  I can create a defensive line that can really save or at least preserve my internals for a longer time, not to do that would be dangerously capricious.  I no longer want to be dangerously capricious. 

 

This blog, this move, this timing of beginning yoga school soon and actively working towards a more yogic, meditative, healthier lifestyle seems (as I said above) to be almost a scripted path I am on.  What a more perfect time for me to be forced to take seriously the severity and vital nature of this life path I am treading on and the life health I am preaching to others.  “Practice what you preach!” my life is yelling at me from every angle imaginable–or beware the consequences. 

 

I prefer to listen to what I have been given and make the necessary changes to myself and my lifestyle that have been a long time coming and necessary to have a long time yet to come.  Endometriosis may be the internal enemy but I would rather to be fighting against the enemy, not aiding its troops with my every action.  I know for everyone effecting changes of any kind is a huge undertaking and no easy task–change is hard.  But change will come whether you enact it or something else does.  Proactive living is much more empowering.  I hope to finally be able to say, with no wavering, or equivocating, that I truly, holistically, practice what I preach.  I must, my body tells me so.

 

 Acupuncture heart by Sharon Pazner on flickr

“The body is your temple.  Keep it pure and clean for the soul to reside in.”

B.K.S. Iyengar, Yoga: The Path To Holistic Health

Early pink dogwood flowering heads by Martin LaBar on flickr

Expect the unexpected. 

 

I had an entirely different post planned for today and then I found myself in my new doctor’s office this afternoon and all that changed.  I guess I should have learned this far into the living process that we can never assume, never predict, always just be prepared (like a good boy scout). 

 

It is always difficult to find a specialist for a chronic illness that does not have its own day or pin or charity of note.  So I held my breath as I waited to meet my new endometriosis specialist especially as I was at a particularly frustrated point, having spent the last week in fairly severe pain (or, medically speaking, about a 6 on a pain scale).  I had a constellation of thoughts sparking and shooting through my brain.  I was not sure what my next step was but I was fairly certain decisions would have to be made. 

 

I had my exam, lets pass over the details, and then I met with the doctor in his office to discuss things in a fully clothed state.  I found this doctor to be a refreshing anomaly already.  When dealing with a male doctor dealing with female issues I tend to walk with trepidation, assessing for a complete lack of empathy or bedside manner, but he had a jovial quality and a softness with a side of humor.  I already liked him.  Then I walked into the office for the “serious business” and sat down in the typical dark wood  office chair.  He began talking to me seriously, frankly, and in a way that was both frighteningly and refreshingly honest. 

 

“Endometriosis is worse than cancer, really.  It would be preferable to have cancer.  You treat it and it’s gone.  With endometriosis there is no cure it just continues to grow and all we can do is manage it long enough so that you have the time you need to have children, if you want them.” 

 

The follow-up inference of that statement is, “Before it all disintegrates in a painful sequence of  internal explosions till, like a building with detinators in the foundation, the entire structure collapses into dust”. (My paraphrasing of the inference later discussed at length with the doctor)

 

I sighed, maybe even audibly.  Finally, someone just said it how it was, and understood what it meant to have and live with this condition.  I needed a qualified person to validate my own hypotheses I had been mulling over this week. After not even a year following my first laparoscopy procedure my pain was returning to the same pinnacle point and I knew it was not a sign of internal wellness. 

 

After finding out in my first surgical procedure that the past 15 years of being told “it’s just your normal cycle, you get bad cramps is all,” was completely lazy diagnostics, I got the official stamp of “Endometriosis, Stage IV“.  There are four stages of the illness and four is the most severe and pervasive.  I knew even a year ago that, that was not a prediction of good to come but I had hoped for at least a couple of years between surgeries.  Now, sitting in that office, hearing the realities I knew I needed to know what was going on in there and there might be more decisions beyond just surgical maneuvers that would follow the “knowing”. 

 

 So, here I sit at home with a bit of medicine meant to mollify the pain beginning to make its way into my system system, along with the bread I use so that I don’t vomit from said medication.  I am preparing for my second laparoscopic surgery on Friday and pondering the information confirmed by my new doctor/surgeon.  I knew it would come to this but having the internal conversation that follows “knowing” is really frightening.

 

How badly do I want to physically have children? How soon am I willing to do that to keep it a possibility? And how do I discern both these things with a clear head and not rash sentimentality? 

 

The first question is: How long do I have before my internals liquify to use my inner pieces to procreate?  The follow-up question is: How soon am I willing to begin trying to have children to prevent losing the chance altogether? 

 

People sometimes ask the theoretical question, if you could know the day you might die would you want to know?  Is it better to know a fate or not.  If you can predict your potential for life, or to create life, would you really want to know?  I find the knowing that I have limited time is like a huge weight pressing on my airway, making it impossible to breathe let alone think clearly on the matter.  At least tonight it feels that way, full of bread, medication, and pulsing pain surging through my abdomen, back, and legs. 

 

Babies.  What are my thoughts on babies?  I am definitely of two minds.  They are messy, and poopy, and needy, and wake you up all the time, and need, and want, and must be constantly watched, and even if you do all the best for them there is no guarantee they will be ok.  They are so much responsibility, but conversely, they are so much love.  They smile, and laugh, and play, and love life in a way that could, potentially, remind you of how much there is to love in life. 

 

Why must I decide now though?  Part of this decision process makes me uncomfortable as an adoptee in a family that is mostly not genetically related.  There is no reason why my decisions, or my body, needs to prohibit babies just because it inhibits procreation.  And is making a decision with such importance about procreation diminishing to all the other ways to have and love a baby?  I never wanted to be a pained and yearning woman amid fertility treatment where it was biological or nothing, but conversely I feel a pang at the idea that I may never have the option for the biological even if I were to choose the non-genetic version of a family regardless. 

 

So, I have surgery the day after tomorrow and my husband is rushing his return to Florida to be here Saturday morning.  I have to get through one night of post-surgery pain alone.  That I can do.  The rest of it, perhaps, I will also leave up to my post-operative brain to coordinate.  After I find out what the present state of carnage is in my potentially womb-less womb. 

 

Make way for ducklings by shoothead on flickr

“True stability results when presumed order and presumed disorder are balanced. A truly stable system expects the unexpected, is prepared to be disrupted, waits to be transformed.”

Tom Robbins

 

by SmallRaffaela

by SmallRaffaela

flickr photo “hide and seek” by SmallRaffaela

 

 

Good thing I believe that my body is just the fancy (or not so fancy) outer casing for much more valuable goods: my soul, heart, spirit.  If I had higher expectations for my “casing” I might be more inclined to really resent the one I got handed to me from the cosmic assembly line. 

 

Although, in truth, I have some body resentments.  Between chronic rhinitus, psoriasis, and endometriosis (all conditions correlated to immune system dysfunction) I vacilate between fevers, abdominal spasms, and scalp burning and itching; each condition exacerbaterated by the next.  Last week rhinitus was center stage and today endo has come out to play. 

 

Curled over on a bathroom floor doing my lamaze breath to placate my angry belly which writhes and stabs and contorts from the inside out I find myself swimming in my own pool of self pity–and then resenting myself for my thoughts. 

 

I can remember back in November sitting in the office of my reproductive endocrinologist with my husband and having him tell me that during my laprascopic surgery they found “Stage IV” of endometriosis invading my body. In non-medical terms “Stage IV” is pretty much an internal warzone the like of maybe the battle for Troy.  My organs were fused together and my fallopian tube was blocked shut with endometriosis, not to mention a giant cyst wedged between the carnage like a giant grenade.  I imagined something close to a Dali painting going on in between my hips; an abstract distortion of what innards should look like. 

 

He also told me that I would probably have to have the surgery again within two years, I guess something like an ovarian detailing, and that if I wanted to get pregnant, due to the damage to my fallopian tube, I was at risk for tubal pregnancy which can require pregnancy termination due to the dangerousness of the situation.  I left my appointment with photos of my internal carnage, a prescription for birth control to take daily indefinitely, and feeling completely betrayed by my body.

 

Today is one of those days I revisit that same sense of betrayal.  I have, over the years since I hit puberty,  become accustomed to days spent writhing on the bathroom floor, alternating between cursing and praying, and drowning in my own self-pity.  As I become more expert at this particular ailment I come to terms with the pain as a piece of my existence, just an element of my story that will persist at the very least until I remove all the pesky troublesome organs.  I live with it.  But the pity still creeps in from time to time. 

 

I work to live in my body, love what I have, and forgive it its flaws–and just as I do that I know I have to do the same for myself emotionally.  Forgive my moments of pitying weakness and allow myself to feel as I feel, give myself permission to be human.  

 

It is hard to have a cohesive and complimentary relationship with one’s body and one’s mind when they seem to be at odds.  When you feel that your body has betrayed you in such a core way, and as a woman in such an essential and intimate part of your anatomy, in your female center. 

 

But as I stare down at my body and run my fingers across the surgery scars that flank my navel I know that wounds, and aches, and scars, and all, I have to love my body.  Because although it is only the casing for the raw materials that define my “self” it is also a collaborative experiment, this human existence thing.   I have to work with what my body has given me and accept it’s flaws, accept my emotional moments of weakness, and be able to acknowledge my scars without hating them. 

 

I continue to struggle with this tug of war and some days I lie on the bathroom floor breathing deeply and sobbing.  But other days I don’t.  And all of that is also part of the human experiment that is my life; finding the balance and making my way through my own ebbs and flows.  And give myself permission to not be perfect and try to constantly remember not to expect the illusion of perfection that doesn’t exist for anyone anywhere anyway. 

 

“Good for the body is the work of the body, good for the soul is the work of the soul, and good for each is the work of the other.”

Henry David Thoreau

dream on by smallraffaela on flickr

flickr photo “dream on” by SmallRaffaela

 

 

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