It is healing to get brought back to knowing what you know. ~Lisa Friedlander
Something had to change. The quality of my physical health was moving in the wrong direction. It was now nine months after my return home from the medical ordeal that began when on vacation in Kauai. Recovery was nowhere in sight. Physically, I was still very sick — in pain with my insides feeling raw and on fire. My energy was totally and utterly depleted; it took every ounce I had to barely meet my basic daily needs. New and unexplained symptoms were continuing to emerge. And for the first time in my life, I was concerned about weighing too little, as I watched my weight continue to drop, regardless of what or how much I ate. I was doing what I knew to do to honor my body’s wisdom, but my body was screaming that it was in trouble. I was at a loss. Could I recover? If so, how?
Even more disconcerting was that the medical professionals [who I assumed would aid me in the recovery process] repeatedly met my voiced concerns with nothing more than: ‘you have to remember you almost died twice; everyone’s body heals differently.’ Hearing this one too many times, I finally concluded that while the doctors in Hawaii knew how to stop the war inside of me (by surgically removing a gangrene appendix), these doctors “at home” had no idea how to and/or did not care to [it matters not which] clean up the toxic waste dump left inside me due to the peritonitis. The glaring truth was: I was the one [not the medical professionals] hearing my body screaming for help. And ultimately, I was the one responsible for my physical well-being.
This taught me a valuable, lifelong Body 101 Lesson: If a doctor is unable to hear and honor what I am hearing my body say, this doctor is not for me, no matter how many credentials are behind his/her name. I understood that to ignore this lesson was to endanger my health. So, I was committed to finding the medical support I needed, even though it seemed daunting to do so. With little trust in the medical field, I was very skeptical that any other doctor would provide me with the treatment I needed. How was I going to find what seemed to be a ‘rare needle in a haystack of thorns?’
Thankfully, challenges such as these were not all that I encountered on the Mysterious Journey into the Land of the Body [as I came to call the entire medical ordeal]. On the contrary, starting in Kauai and continuing through the following five years [before I regained physical health], I encountered many Divine saving graces that encouraged me and kept me Soul Alive in the midst of what would have been otherwise a life-taking nightmare.
One such saving grace just happened to emerge shortly after I faced the reality that I needed to find a new source of medical support. It came when a colleague and mentor, Elizabeth (who was witnessing the ongoing devastation of my body over the months), said: ‘You have to go see Dr. Li.’ The timing could not have been more perfect; I made the appointment. Before I walked into her office, little did I know what I was about to encounter. Within minutes, I was experiencing a very different approach to medical care. For starters, I felt seen and heard; the truth of my experience mattered. She made it known that I should not expect a quick-fix, saying: “‘your body is in the body shop and it will be a long, step-by-step process before it will be ‘up and running again.’ Also, she informed me that in order for her to best support my recovery, she needed me to pay close attention to my body in between appointments. Clearly, she expected me to be an active participant in the recovery process.
When I left Dr. Li’s office, I knew the healing journey had begun, but it was far from over. However, now I had made a right turn. Change was in the works. I had a medical professional who I trusted — a body coach who encouraged me to both listen deeply to my body’s truth and honor it. Dr. Li’s approach proved to be the saving grace that my body needed to open the door to the long way home to recovery.
Next month: More about this phase of the healing journey.
If you’d like to continue exploring this topic further, please take a look at my reference materials:
Suggested Soul Practice:
Truth or Consequences
Soul Ease in the Midst of Dis-Ease
Beginning Again: Benedictine Wisdom for Living with Illness, by Mary C. Earle