6 reasons why I’m thankful for my body this Thanksgiving
1. It’s been through hell in 2015 – Well, my kind of hell, which is different from your kind of hell and different from the hell it went through in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012. 2013 was better, and 2014 was pretty good until the end. If you can’t tell, every year has its own ups and downs, but we (my body and I) made it through another year.
This year we dealt with the aftermath of an allergic reaction to the flu shot and then Bikram yoga at the end of 2014. We’ve dealt with the onset of POTS related to Autonomic Dysfunction (AKA – Dysautonomia) gone more wrong than before, the onset of strange systemic allergic-like reactions to almost everything, CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) and Fibromyalgia flares caused by said weird allergic-like reactions, and we’ve been lucky to have had multiple strep infections. We’ve been adjusting to working nearly 12-16hrs a day, every day since January. Working so much, mostly all computer work, also means we’ve had to deal with sitting much more than normal. If you don’t already know, my body and sitting too long do not get along.
We’ve also sat through multiple long car rides. Long car rides cause horrendous, unbearably painful muscle spasms, inflammation and chronic pain flares, especially in my legs — the kind that flare leg pain so bad, that it makes me want to saw my legs off. (Thanks tethered cord!) Without fail, a chronic pain flare caused by sitting in the car for a long drive, takes at least a week or more calm down – each.and.every.time.
In fact, after our last long drive home from Florida in August, my husband stated that we (my body and I) will be flying from now on, even if he has to drive with the kids solo. I’m guessing that dealing with me, my body, and the chronic pain flare, both during the long drive, as well as post-drive, must be pretty bad, especially if my husband is willing to drive solo from now on. He’s even willing to drive all the way down to Florida with three kids and his father-in-law (my dad), more than he’s willing to drive with me (and my body) ever again. Mind you, all three of our kids also deal with some of the same discomfort that I have, yet he’s still willing to drive solo.
Score 1 for us! (“Us” being my body and me)
We’ve also been in constant fight or flight mode, due to stress (both good and not-so-good), that does not seem to ever stop. Our stress has included being betrayed by a few people we were close to, and trying to stick to healthy ways to handle these breaches in trust. Dealing with all of the emotions that come along with such stress, can be its own stressor as well. Stress, emotions and my body do not get along either.
Our hell from 2015 has also included unexpected and traumatic financial strain, the stress of starting two new businesses, and relaunching a third.
What was the biggest strain on my body in 2015, other than sitting way too much?
Changes and inconsistencies with my normal workout and physical therapy routines. Deconditioning and disuse syndrome at it’s finest.
Add all of the above to the normal chaos of having three kids, two pups, a husband and household to keep up with — #BodyHellSurvivor2015.
Did I say sitting more?
2. It’s resilient – See above. We’ve been down “The EDS Spiral“ and back 6x before. This year makes seven, but we will be ok. Muscle has memory and our bodies strive for homeostasis (AKA – it’s own recipe for stability) – whatever that is at a given time. The perfect recipe for stability (or homeostasis) seems to constantly change. Instead of fighting against it, I’ve learned that this is just part of the roller coasting of living with EDS. See numer 3.
3. It’s intuitive – My body is constantly working to reach homeostasis, or go back to it. Just when I seem to figure out how to get there, I get a clear sign that I need to readjust and find my new normal – my body’s new homeostasis.
It always tells me what’s up, and gives me clear signs pointing towards what I need to do, in order to return back to stability –whatever stability may look like on any given day, or a given moment.
I’ve learned to listen the right way and not by self-loathing, or by doing things that further propel the spiral downward.
Respecting my body’s natural intuition, means learning to ebb and flow along with the various signs it gives me. It also means not immediately assuming the worse and accuse it failing me, if the signs received are fatigue, more pain, or new issues that we’ve never dealt with.
I also have to be willing to take a good look in the mirror and admit when I haven’t been listening very well.
4. It’s strong, like really strong – My body has dealt with a ton of stress and trauma, both in my control and out of my control. It’s also remained as strong as possible, despite being mistreated by a number of misinformed people and healthcare providers. However, I have to say, most of the time I’ve been the one doing the mistreating. See numbers 1, 2 and 3 above.
How can you tell the difference?
Ask yourself, “Would I be a healthy person if I didn’t have a chronic illness(es)?“
Or, “Would I be eating healthy, getting adequate amounts of sleep and exercise, as well as finding healthy ways to minimize and manage stress, if I didn’t have ________ condition(s)?”
If the answer is no, then you probaby have some things to think about, just as I mentioned in number 3 above.
Only I know the answers to the questions above, because it doesn’t matter what other people do or what they think, I know my body best. And only I know if I am really doing all that I can to be as healthy as possible, with or without Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and the whole shebang.
I call this “fighting form.”
5. It’s forgiving – See above. Muscles have great memory. Skin and other organs respond very well to the smallest improvements, even to things like a bit more sleep, or taking a walk around the block. Additionally, spending time with friends, laughing, or engaging in an activity that I used to love (i.e. photography or reading a book for pleasure), are great ways to see and feel just how forgiving my body really is.
Sometimes all it takes is forcing myself to get out of the house, taking a mental break from work, or focusing on something other than managing my whole shebang of issues, as well as trying to help other people manage theirs, that can make a world of difference.
A simple walk on the treadmill for 30 minutes (which I’m doing while writing this), or anything else that gets my blood moving (laugher and sex both count), serve as the best reminders for me.
Even though managing our health must be our full-time jobs, most of the time, it’s the easy, simple and arguably boring things, that can help us regain focus and feel better – even the tiniest bit.
Our bodies are so forgiving, that the simplest things can help make us feel instantly better.
6. It’s mine forever – Like it or not, my body is the only one that I will have in this lifetime. If I ever have anything tragic happen, where I would be considered for a body part transplant, or even a full body transplant (first one is expected to be done in about 2 years), I’m sure that I will be more than grateful for my new body and new chance at life. However, I can also assure you, that I will be immensely regretful if I had not respected, or appreciated the body that I was born with when I did have it — defects, chronic pain, horrendous fatigue, daily allergic-like reactions and all.
Take care of your body. Focus on the good and not the bad. Appreciate the things your body can do, and try not to dwell on the things that it cannot do — even when it feels like it’s failing you, or like it’s falling apart.
One thing is for sure, the things we say to ourselves and believe internally, can be felt throughout our bodies. This phenomenon is called the mind/body connection, and it is a proven medical and scientific fact. A healthy mind/body connection affects our overall health, wellness, and stability (homeostasis) of our entire physical being.