When Your Body Speaks….Listen!
When your body speaks, listen to it.
I wish I had. Mine was screaming. I heard it but didn’t listen. I woke up one Tuesday morning this past April with a slight discomfort in my lower abdomen. Okay, I thought, it’s prostate again. The doctor told me that’s where I’d feel it. He gave me a prescription for Cipro to keep on hand. I started taking it.
At noon, I went to the fitness class at the gym, a full-body weightlifting class. The abdominal thing was becoming more prominent. On the way from the gym, the car oil light came on so I took it to a garage two blocks from my house in south Richmond. However, I needed to meet with a guy at a recovery center that afternoon so I decided to bike the two miles there and back. I got there alright but was feeling increasingly uncomfortable as we sat and talked. I barely made it home, totally exhausted and increasingly uncomfortable. Then I started gagging. I was vomiting dry heaves.
Was I listening to my body? No.
I plopped down in the den and couldn’t move. Finally, the garage called. The car was ready. I walked ever so slowly the two blocks to the garage. As I was paying I felt another round of heaves coming on. I got outside, heaved and gagged into a trash can, nothing, just heaves.
I was determined to meet with a second guy at the treatment center before taking both of them to an AA meeting and then went to eat at a nearby fast food restaurant. While we were placing the order, I had to run into the bathroom with another round of dry heaves.
Was I listening yet? Yes, but responding inappropriately.
As I drove the guys to the meeting, I told them how bad I felt and that I might leave the meeting and sit in the car. Before the meeting, another round of dry heaves overtook me.
I left the meeting, sat in the car, the seat reclined back and waited for them. I dropped them at the center and drove myself home for a night of fitful sleep. The next day I could hardly move, pain throughout my bloated abdomen. I spent the day lying on the sofa or reclining. I had not eaten anything for two days.
Was I listening? Hearing, yes, but not answering.
That evening, a friend dropped in who needed a ride home to replace car keys he couldn’t find after a fitness event. Reluctantly and begrudgingly, I drove him the five miles to his house and back. Somewhere along the route, I felt a sharp twinge in my abdomen.
Heard my body but still did nothing.
I was miserable all that night. The pain was intense. My abdomen was bloated, pain throughout. I could find no relief and could not sleep. The next morning I called the same friend and asked him to take me to Patient First. Let’s start there, I thought. They did the usual intake procedures but wanted x-rays. I could barely get onto the table.
Finally, the physician came back and said, “We see a blockage. You need to get to an emergency room now.” I took a cab from to the hospital. They were ready for me and took me into an exam cubicle. I was dehydrated so they started a saline drip.
Hours later, I was in line for a CAT scan. They came back and said, “We see a blockage. We need to operate now.” Was it a perforated intestine? That could require a dissection of the intestine, the surgeon said. At 6 p.m., they wheeled me into surgery.
When I awoke around 8:30, they told me the appendix had perforated, lymph nodes were enlarged as they should be, there was debris from the appendix, the bowels were blocked, and “other poisons.”
Then I was wheeled to a room for 8 days of recovery. I had a 6-inch incision down the center of my abdomen to an inch below the navel. The bowels stayed blocked. A steady drip of medicine would eventually work – no details of that experience here!
I went into the emergency room on a Thursday and left the hospital room the following Saturday to recuperate at a friend’s house. My house has stairs, his does not. Slowly the pain behind the incision resided and I could get around better and returned to my house a week later. However, a pain in the lower left abdomen persisted.
This time I heard it.
I went back to the surgeon to discuss this discomfort. He poked and probed, “You have a hernia,” he said, “but we can’t operate for four months after the first surgery. The mesh for the hernia doesn’t play well with the poison from the appendectomy.”
At times, the pain in the left side of the abdomen was excruciating to the point I would nearly black out when I stood up. I couldn’t sleep on that side or stand or walk without bending over. Other times, no discomfort at all.
My body was talking, but sending mixed messages.
One Friday in late June, I had no pains until I was driving home from a business appointment when a pain struck me hard on that left side. I went out with a friend that evening for dinner in Carytown and I could barely walk. But as we sat in the restaurant, the pain went away.
Before bed, I tried to urinate, and the pain felt like a razor blade. The next morning, when I urinated, there was the culprit, a black pit swirling around and down with the toilet water: A kidney stone. No more pain.
My body stopped talking to me.
The silence was welcome.
The moral of this story: When your body speaks, listen to it!