I have always been fascinated by the body and all of its amazing functions and intricacies. The body was created to heal itself. The human body is constantly regulating and restoring old cells with new cells that repair the damage that we create in and on the body. Our bones and muscles contain nerve fibers that grow and repair themselves. Even the liver can have as little as 25 percent of it remaining and can regenerate back into a full-size organ. Our skin can heal from cuts and burns. It is amazing when you start to think about it and how beautiful this miraculous process is. If we can get in touch with how amazing our bodies are we would never use words like “Fat” or “Ugly”. We would know, without thinking, how beautiful we are.
I know first hand the incredible ability our body has to heal itself. I have several stories of miraculous healing that occurred in my body, which shouldn’t have happened and I will share one of them here. While reading a book recently called “Learning to Breath” by Alison Wright, her vivid description of her pain due to a near fatal car accident reminded me of something that happened to me. One of the things that stood out in the book was how she kept herself alive by focusing on her breathing.
I should have died 26 years ago when I was afflicted with an extremely painful strangulated bowel. This is something I usually don’t talk about because it happened a long time ago, but it is a powerful illustration of the beauty of the body and how it can restore itself. I was told by the surgeon who did my surgery that 95% of the people who get this die because it is not easily diagnosed. In my research for this blog I found that certain death from strangulated bowel is caused by a delay in treatment of more than 24 hours and gangrene. Many people died after the surgery for the same reasons. My treatment was delayed for 72 hours because my condition was misdiagnosed and by that time gangrene had already taken 2 feet of my intestine. I was essentially dying inside. Mine was caused by a volvulus, which is a bowel obstruction in which a loop of bowel has abnormally twisted on itself.
To give you an idea of the severity of this condition I will describe what happened to me, even though it is no fun to revisit this event. I woke up on a Saturday morning in severe abdominal pain and after a couple of hours decided to take myself to the emergency room. The pain was so extreme that at one point I ended up on the floor curled up in pain. The doctor came in and got upset with me for being on the floor. I had to be held on to the x-ray machine because I couldn’t stand by myself. After the doctor looked at the x-ray she told me I had gas and sent me home. I drove home bent over the wheel clutching my stomach. I didn’t believe her diagnosis and left defeated. I just wanted the pain to go away.
Some years later I was told by a doctor that the pain from a strangulated bowel is comparable to a gunshot wound to the abdomen, so being told I had gas was very disheartening. There was nothing that would take away the pain, which I compare to severe labor pains that were two minutes apart. I would have severe pain followed by a two-minute reprieve and the pain would return for several minutes. This pattern went on for 72 hours. What was happening was, my body was trying to reject the part of my intestine that was dead.
I have never felt pain like this in my life and I hope I never do again. There were times when I just wanted to die so I didn’t have to feel it. I tried hot baths, I tried forcing myself to vomit, nothing helped. On Sunday my husband came home and found me on the bathroom floor and I begged him to call the doctor again. This time I was prescribed a laxative without even being seen. We filled the prescription and I took it and had it worked my intestines would have exploded.
It didn’t work and here is where the bodies incredible power comes in. Early in this process I decided that if it felt so much like labor pains maybe labor breathing would help. Every time I had a pain I breathed through it using labor breathing techniques. To me this was an intervention from a higher power because what happened I can only compare to what happens to monks after long periods of breathing meditation. They don’t have to eat or drink for days because their systems slow way down.
That is what happened to me. All of my digestive and elimination systems shut down or slowed enough that nothing was moving. My body knew exactly what to do to stay alive and somehow let me know that all I had to do was breathe. I believe that when the laxative got to my intestine it just sat there because nothing was moving. I focused only on my breathing and it saved my life. It was a stroke of genius! My body wanted to live, it told me what to do to save my life and I listened.
By the time I got to the doctor’s office on Monday morning I looked like I was 4-5 months pregnant. The doctor took one look at me and called an ambulance. I remember gripping the attending paramedics hand in a vice grip as we flew to the hospital. It was evening before the could do surgery but they did discover that there was a loop of bowel twisted upon itself, blocking my intestine. It couldn’t be seen on the previous x-rays. When they told me they could operate I wanted to cheer! Anything to take the pain away, even if it was sleeping just the ability to sleep for a few hours in surgery. After 8 hours of surgery, two feet of black intestine and two buckets of waste were removed from my body and the two ends stapled back together and I had a long recovery ahead of me. If the doctor would have caught it on Saturday they would have been able to save my intestine.
Imagine that intestine can grow back together with just 2 staples holding it in place. I also learned that parts of the intestine have jobs that can only happen there. Part of the two feet that I lost was were B12 was absorbed so I now have to have shots. I think the body is so amazing in so many ways and how it can overcome something like this to perform almost like it did before.
I woke up in the intensive care unit and asked my than husband for a divorce. He had been there but not there and I had gone through this ordeal by myself, while taking care of my two small children at the same time. This was the beginning of my life long spiritual journey to awaken consciously.
Like Alison in her story, I have thought many times over the years, why I was saved when so many other people have died from this affliction. Sometimes I wonder if I have done what I came to do yet. Have I had an impact on the world that warrants my life being saved? I have come to the conclusion over the years that if I touched one more life since that day, it was worth keeping me around.