Our mothers and doctors have told us for years to listen to our bodies. For most of my life, that meant a chorus of growls, groans, creaks and a throaty rumble that best resembles a cold diesel engine slowly coming to life.
Sometimes our bodies have a lot to say without making a sound. I know that now.
I quickly noticed my energy level had deteriorated to the point where going to the grocery required a 10-minute timeout on the pharmacy bench.
I went shopping for flowers and flower pots last month and I had to do it in three trips. I was too exhausted to do it all in a single day. Worse yet, it took me two more days to find the physical and emotional strength to move the plants from my car to the driveway. I admit, gravity did most of the work. From there, the plants sat another 10 days.
At the same time, I couldn’t stop sweating. I mean the kind of sweats where I had to keep a towel in every room.
Oddly enough, I had my annual bloodwork done at the same time I started to go into my fatigue funk. Other than stepping on my doctor’s scales and it telling me “one at a time, please,” everything was fine. Despite the number of Xs in my pants and shirt sizes, I essentially was a pillar of health.
But my body was telling me something different.
I had an interview on a Friday afternoon, and less than two minutes after my first question, I doubled over in pain. I also felt nauseated. Something was wrong. And for the first time, I started listening to what my body was trying to tell me.
I excused myself from the interview and went home. I tried to outlast the pain but like a sputtering car engine and cracked mirror, this wasn’t going to fix itself.
I eventually broke down and drove myself to the Baptist Clay ER. Shortly after they took my vitals, a doctor said he was concerned my sharp pain had lasted so long under my right ribcage.
A CT scan confirmed his concern – and my worse fears. I not only had stones in my gallbladder but the organ was extremely inflamed and an infection had spread throughout my body cavity.
Suddenly, I was in an ambulance to Baptist South.
A surgeon originally said he wanted to operate on Saturday night, but he decided to wait until Sunday to give the infection and my fever to subside. Because of the inflammation, he also wanted to make sure there were additional specialists in the operating room.
When I woke up, all the surgeon told me was, “It was bad.” It was like my body was saying, “Told you so!” If not for the stones, I may never have realized the seriousness of the infection that was coursing through my body until it was too late. And from what I learned since, that probably would have been sooner than later.
I left with a belly full of staples, a drainage bag dangling from my side and a real disdain for hospital beef and chicken broth.
I can also say, the panda bear haircut on my belly is not a good look.
Two days after I was released, I had enough strength to plant all the flowers that survived two weeks of neglect and cut my grass. I went shopping to replace the dead flowers and buy solar-powered landscaping lights.
Now I’m left with the challenge of finding which foods my body can tolerate. So far, it’s been more misses than hits. The Mayo Clinic suggests not eating beef, pork, fried foods, carbonated drinks, alcohol, caffeine, refined sugar, spicy foods, processed foods like cake, cookies and pastries, fast foods, pizza, butter, ice cream and sausage.
I’m supposed to find solace in knowing I feel better. But I can promise you, next time I’ll pay more attention when my body is trying to tell me something.
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