Many of you know, more or less, that I have been pretty ill the last 3,5-4 years. Before it all got started, I was living my best life, I was working in my own practice as a Chinese medical therapist and studying what I love most. Slowly, I got sicker and sicker with low-middle grade intestinal inflammations that lead to a severe case of adrenal fatigue. The only thing that I was able to do the first 6 months, was going from bed to toilet. I will spare you the nasty details. My doctor kept saying I had a foodpoisoning. For 6 months? Yeah, right! Because of the adrenal fatigue and a weavering vitamine B12, which both mean less to no energy at all, my body was not able to solve the inflammations. Eventually, things spiralled out of control in the summer of 2018 with a perforated colon for the second time, an abscess and fistula, resulting in a partial colectomy on October 17, 2018. This is major surgery as it is, but with my past of other abdominal surgeries, endometriosis and adhesions, it was a high risk. I might have woken up with a bag and chances were one to five I would not wake up at all. Since it is now October 2019, I thought it would be a good time to look back on this year and give an update on how things are going now.
When I came to in the hospital after surgery, I felt an instant relief that the permanent inflamed part was taken out of me, although I was in a lot of pain and totally drugged up. With the diseased part gone, my mind clicked open to new possibilities, such as starting this blog. Surgical pain is so different from permanent diseased pain! I will always be so grateful to my surgeon and his team! The first goal I set for myself, was to bring my consiousness back in my body, by taking deep breaths and wiggle my feet. As soon as I was able to get out of bed, I started walking. Learning to stand up straight and taking every step very conciously on the rhythm of my breath. The last day in hospital, I learned how to walk the stairs. When I came home, I made daily walks in my neighbourhood with a walker and a belly band, every day a bit longer. Two weeks after surgery, I was back on the bike at my physical therapist. Love that guy, because he is a great motivator and he still presents me with challenges. Five weeks post-op, I was doing very light core training at home every day, which felt great, also for my mental state. Because yes, there is a very strong connection between core stability and mental stability. Six weeks post-op, I was able and allowed to drive small distances. I had acupuncture sessions to get rid of all the poison that was pumped in me as soon as possible. Slowly I was doing more exercises at the physical therapy and in January of this year I picked up swimming and that felt great too. I have always loved the water. Because of all that happened and how it went down, I was left with a trauma, apart from the surgical trauma. Brainspotting did so much good for me! It enabled me to let go of the built-up anger and it stopped re-living all that happened. Also my Zen-master kept inviting me to meditate. This also put things more in perspective. I had Body Stress Release sessions. Those sessions release old and newer tension in the muscles. When the muscle tension releases, the nervoussystem can communicate better. I also had help from an osteopath. She was the first who I could allow to touch my belly very gently. She worked with the fascia in my belly, releasing it around my incisionsites, thus giving more space, more trust in my belly.
Where food is concerned: I went from no food, to clear liquids, to liquids, to soft foods, to low fiber. It took me serveral months to be able to eat fibery stuff. Food will always have to have my attention, obviously. Thankfully, I found a great orthomolecular dietician. I also have to be aware of my waterintake. Since I am missing part of my large intestine, I am more prone to dehydration. I had to get used to carry a waterbottle with me at all times. I also found a wonderful herbalist, who gave me herbs, which are very helpful, very healing for my tortured intestines too.
In February 2019 I started with a herbal education, although I wasn’t sure I could do it, with the restrictions I had at that time. I instantly fell in love with the herbs. This education brings a lot together for me: my love and amazement for nature, my love for natural healing and my wonderous joy for the healing capacity of the human body-mind.
My energy started to deteriorate again, when my doctor decided to cut back on the vitamine B12 injections. I literally had to beg to give this injection every month. Sigh. Her decision has cost me five precious months and to top it off, I had a low grade intestional inflammation again. My GI specialist told me that I would always have low grade inflammations and that this was my maximum healing. Now, that was a punch in the gut. That is in the piece that is left of it.
In June 2019, I had my first yoga lesson in years and that did the trick. That lesson really clicked and finally gave me back confidence in my body, confidence that I had been lacking for the last four years.
Looking back on this year, it wasn’t all that easy peasy; healing on every level took way more time that I could have ever imagined. Although I had abdominal surgeries before, this one really took a knock trauma-wise. This time medical trauma did not end when the medical part did. Recovery was way harder this time, mentally and emotionally, because I knocked on death-door in contrast to the other times; I was so sick and weak before surgery and I didn’t know if and how I was going to wake up. Around the anniversary of my surgery, I got all kinds of complaints; I litterally froze out of fear. This is what is called an anniversary reaction. But, but, but, on a brighter note: I have so much to be grateful for! So many people who helped me in their own way. So, a big shout out to all of them: THANK YOU! Thank you all so very much!
And now back to my greatest lesson, which is the title of this blog. I came to understand the huge difference between pain and suffering. I had an inexplicable amout of physical pain when my intestines perforated and after surgery. Nothing else existed anymore: pain, just pain and the only thing I could do was cry and scream and that is exactly what I did. Pain, physical or otherwise, is just a messenger, a feedback, that somthing is wrong, that something needs to be done or something needs to change. Pain has a function: to bring you to the here-and-now; to take action. Pain is a catalyst for change and can be a great teacher, if you allow it to, however uncomfortable. And yes, everybody will encounter pain sooner or later. You are not alone. It is perfectly ok to feel what you feel.
Now, suffering is a whole different ballgame. Suffering is making a story, hanging on to that story, is feeling like a willess toy of destiny, is feeling like a victim, not accepting change, not accepting pain, wanting to get rid of it, pushing it away. And all that pushing away is exactly what society asks us to do nowadays with the time-is-money attitude and this is merely causing mor misery.
Every form of pain, is like a crying baby. You are not pushing your crying baby away, right? No, you try to find out waht is going on, what’s wrong, you do what needs to be done, you just sit with it, comfort it, breathe with it and if necessary you bawl your eyes out. You feel the change in every moment. And isn’t that what life is? A series of moments. To be grateful for. To be so grateful for.