Wednesday, May 16, 2007

About Illness

Apologies are in order for a slowdown lately on the blogging trail, I've had a bit of a health setback this past week that got me frankly wigged out for a few days. It must be said, I wig out real easy. But I'm on the mend again.

One of the things I resort to when I am wigging out (mostly over bodily symptoms), is to channel stuff from my old diaries. However it works, this seems to maximize my cosmic connection and usually offers scintillating revelations. Something I ran into this week that got my attention was the following question:

What do you hold strong opinions about that you know nothing about? (This has to be a Rorschach in disguise.)

In my case, the answer is obvious: it is my health. The strong opinion I hold about my health, for better or worse, is that I know more about my health than anybody else, medical personnel included. Going against the medical paradigm in our society is one of the hardest things you can do.

On that note, I will share with you some of my recent diary revelations:

Falling sick is like being captured and sold into slavery.
Our minds can heal us and they can slay us.
The loss of a sense of safety can be more devastating and frightening than the event itself.

The freeze response to a traumatic threat produces a biochemical blast throught the system. Once launched, this red alert response is hard to turn off.
Hypervigilance of symptoms takes up enormous cognitive space.

Learn not to jump into that chain reaction.
Say "lilacs" instead of checking out symptoms. Become stronger than your saboteur. There are times when you just have to stand in your own truth.

Ivan Illich says that diagnoses (by catscans, sonograms, etc.) always intensify stress, define incapacity, focuses on uncertainty, and makes one dependent on future medical findings. All of it requires submission to the authority of specialized personnel. How a thing is named shapes how it is perceived, and labels ratify control. They may even acquire "prophetic" powers.

Virgil and I discussed all this at some length during my crisis. And we both came down on the side of Teddy Roosevelt. Diagnosed with chronic asthma in his early twenties, Roosevelt was told by doctors that he had a bad heart and should not climb stairs.

Instead he climbed the Matterhorn.

He could never admit to frailty in himself and did not want the public to know of his illnesses. It didn't fit his self-image.


EZ PZ said...

I, unfortunately, have spent exponentially increasing amounts of time contemplating this subject since somewhere around 1990. At this point I am left with many opinions but few insights, I’m still in search of my Virgil. The one thing that I can say with some conviction is that it is a lot more fun to contemplate lilacs then white cell counts. As much as possible fill your day with things that bring you joy – it’s more fun and you pretty much end up at the same place. Live, love and laugh.

colleen said...

I have recently been accused of wanting to be my own doctor. The truth is I don't even want a doctor. Sometimes needing one is something I too have to brace myself for. When I feel my worst I whisper to myself "Oh, thank you for this healing," just to confuse the program in play.