Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Our Bodies Can Do More Than We Think

When my children were small, I was a single mother living in southern California in Newport Beach. I developed a hacking cough, but my two little boys, Billy and Bobby, kept me very busy, and there seemed to be no time to stop and rest, or to take care of myself long enough to get well. Finally, I went to a doctor. He listened to my chest, x-rayed me, and ran various tests. When he had had time to asses the results, I went back to hear my diagnosis.

I wasn't expecting anything too serious, but he announced that I had bronchiectiasis. "What on earth is that?" I asked, never having heard of it. "It's a situation where phlegm collects in outpouchings on the bronchial tubes. If not treated, it can become a chronic, wasting disease."

"So what do I do to cure it?" I asked. "You need to have a resection of the bronchial tubes to remove those pouches." He took a sheet of paper and began to draw me a diagram showing where the cuts would be. When he showed it to me, I knew in an instant that I wasn't going to let anyone do that to me unless I were absolutely at death's door, and maybe not even then. I thanked him, said I'd think it over, and beat a hasty retreat.

By a very lucky coincidence, right after my visit with the doctor, I had an unexpected opportunity to go and stay with my Uncle in Winchester, Massachusetts. I packed up everything, put the kids in the car, and away we went across the country--a long trip with two little boys! After several days and no really serious mishaps, we arrived in Winchester. Uncle Easty had a pleasant roomy house, an old Colonial with three stories, plus a basement, and a wonderful porch which wrapped around the front and side of  it.

Suddenly life was much easier. My uncle had a housekeeper, Marion, who had been with him for years, and my cousin Ann was still living at home and attending Radcliffe .I was no longer responsible for every meal, Ann and I did our laundry together, and shared the cooking responsibilities beyond what was done by Marion. My boys had more people to relate to than just me, and I also had more people around me than just the children.

Now I was able to rest for a change, relax, exercise, spend time in the sun, and pay more attention to what I was eating. As I was able to rest and relax, the boys became much happier too. Oddly enough, I spent more time out in the sun in Massachusetts than I had in California. Soon my hacking cough began to get better, and before too many weeks was completely gone.

As with my previous dire diagnosis (of disabling arthritis, which I spoke of in a previous post), I  have often wondered how different my life might have been if I had submitted to that radical surgery, instead of encouraging my body to heal itself. It's so important to follow your own gut instinct and to be skeptical about any cure that involves invasive surgery. The medical world might have laughed at the idea that I could heal myself, but it happened, and rather quickly at that. The body has amazing powers of self-healing.

Since the advent of antibiotics, the recommended treatment is no longer surgery. How glad I am that I didn't do it, and how lucky I was to have had the opportunity to stay in a safe spot where I could concentrate on doing everything I needed to do to improve my general health. so my body could take care of itself!

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