I was recently reminded of how clearly our bodies speak to us when something is off. I tend to get frightened when a new crop of pain catches my attention. I have what’s probably pretty common to a lot of people who have had cancer…fear-based avoidance.
I’ll go as long as I can to ignore what my body is giving voice to. Sometimes, I’m lucky and the symptoms go away or I remember what I did that may have triggered the ache. Other times, I can only go so long before I have to call the doctor or healer of choice.
This time it was a simple urinary tract infection (UTI). I know the language that UTI’s speak through my body. Still, I waited a few days to see if it might vanish, but it didn’t. At times like that, I’m glad to go on antibiotics.
This made me think about how fortunate we are to be born into a vehicle that sends perceivable signals to our brain. But we’re not terribly fluent at responding unless we can do it with food, sex, warmth, drugs, alcohol or another numbing agent. We love quick fixes. The mythic magic bullet. We believe in them. Look at the billion dollar pharmaceutical industry. It’s the easy-fix industry (and I was gladly supporting it after experiencing the pain of my UTI).
These days, we’re savvy enough to know the downside of medicating our symptoms. There’s no way around it: we’re a nation of addicts. I heard a news story today that there’s a whole population of people in America who are so addicted to opiate-based pain killers that they can’t kick them without terrible withdrawals and medical help. There’s also a new profession that’s been created from this demographic: nurses and other medical professionals who attend to newborn babies who are also addicted because their mothers are users. The newborns are presenting new problems that people don’t know how to treat, yet. Fetal alcohol syndrome now has a twin sister.
The idea of a magic bullet is seductive. After experiencing chronic and intense pain, I became impatient, irritated and resentful—not only toward life itself—but also toward my own body. I did everything I knew to do—including taking prescription meds—and still lived with debilitating and restrictive pain. I had an insider’s view of what it could be like to become a pain-killing addict. My body was speaking to me and I was listening, but no matter what I did, it didn’t seem to hear me. Throwing more drugs at the problem was tempting.
Eventually, tired of my own saga, I tried to quit resisting the pain and just accept it. I decided not to judge myself for it. I wanted to allow the slower pace and quiet times it was forcing, without thinking less of myself and my life. Bit by bit, a bigger picture came into view: my body is the most articulate communicator in my world, and it gives voice to both biological and emotional upsets. It’s wise to look at both the physical and non-physical world to interpret what our bodies are shouting from every cell that occupies us.
No one else could have told me I had a UTI. My body did. And what of the cancer? It was the loudest wake-up call I’ve ever had. A call to step up to living more from my heart, attend to my old grievances, forgive myself and others, eat well, let go, be present.
I don’t always listen, but I have come to respect my body as one of my truest friends. I know that it is intelligent beyond my understanding–especially in the way of communication and healing. I accept that I have a 500-horse power spirit in the body of a 53 year old chassis that’s taken a few hits. But I love this vehicle, and I’m going to do my best to keep ‘er clean and running. And not to avoid her when she’s relaying a message.
What a blessed partnership this is. Even though sometimes it’s a pain.