Strong words, I know. Nevertheless, I believe them with all my heart. In November 2010, I was diagnosed with gallstones after several weeks of painful attacks. The doctors recommended surgery. After much back and forth argument in my own head, and after talking to anyone who would listen, I decided to decline. I figured I could fix myself. I thought that if I treated with chiropractic, acupuncture, and reiki, as well as improved my eating habits, I could get rid of the gallstones naturally. Deep down, I was not convinced this would work. But my fear of surgery was strong enough that I would try anything. And I had hope.
I did go to my chiropractor (who was the only one who could temporarily stop a gallbladder attack). I also tried acupuncture (including herbs), which did not seem to help. Admittedly, I could not afford to get sufficient acupuncture treatments to see if it really would be effective. I also tried reiki. But again, I could only afford to go sporadically. There is just no way to know if these treatments would have worked, had I been able to attend on a frequent basis. During severe episodes, I tried a mixture of 100% organic, not from concentrate apple juice with organic apple cider vinegar. This did quiet the attacks a bit, but it was impossible to tell if they could actually reduce or eliminate gallstones. And was it realistic to rely on this method long-term?
Given my self-taught knowledge of all things nutrition/health, where I really went wrong was in the failure to change my diet. Yes, I attempted to eat less fat (historically shown to increase attacks), and I attempted to eat healthier in general. Honestly, I could have done better – I could have done MUCH better. Perhaps in my heart of hearts, I knew it would not be enough. Looking back, it is easy to think: I should have done a cleanse, I should have done a juice fast, I should have eaten 100% whole foods, etc. etc. I did not do these things. Instead, I would deal with each attack as it came, praying it would disappear forever. This method did work for awhile. I was blessed with long periods of zero-symptom days. Unfortunately, these times became rarer as time went on.
During my Christmas vacation in 2011, I was plagued with frequent attacks. No, that is not really accurate. I suffered with a moderate to severe gallbladder attack with no end in sight. It was difficult to do anything. I managed to do some shopping, but I certainly did not enjoy it. I was not able to spend the quality time with my daughter I had hoped for. I was really unable to do anything but lie in bed and feel sorry for myself. I had a lot of time to think – a lot of time to reconsider my surgery decision. As much as I felt that surgery may be the only logical solution, the idea still terrified me.
Around this time, I participated in an e-course with the lovely Megan Monique (http://www.meganmonique.com/index.html). The theme of this course was essentially about intuition. How important it was to listen to that little voice inside your head. Part of this course involved several calls with Megan and the other participants. During one call, I voiced my gallbladder problem, as well as my ongoing dilemma. I complained that I just didn’t know what to do. I felt like surgery was my only choice, but I was looking for a “sign.” I really didn’t think I would be satisfied unless an angel materialized before me and yelled “have the damn surgery already!” And then gave me a hug.
Well, what would you know, but one of the participants piped up and said she went through the very same thing – she also doubted whether to have the surgery. Ultimately, she did, and it was the best decision she ever made. She was thrilled with the outcome. She went on and on. Megan then said “well, if you wanted a sign, there you go.” She was absolutely right. It really wouldn’t get much clearer than that.
Deep down, I had known for months that my gallbladder was getting worse, that it was poisoning me. I couldn’t shake the feeling that it was toxic, beyond repair. When I really listened, my body told me loud and clear that I needed the surgery. Even though I was afraid, I knew that it would be ok. The conversation on the phone that night solidified my decision.
On January 27, 2012, I woke up at 6:30 am and my husband drove me to the hospital. I knew what to expect. This would be an oupatient, endoscopic procedure. I would be in the hospital for approximately half a day. I was anxious that morning, but calm and confident in my decision – actually, I was also excited (believe it or not). I knew I was taking the first step to getting my health and my body back.
In case you haven’t noticed, I’m a big believer in “signs.” My first sign that I was on the right track was the ABBA music playing in the waiting room that morning. I couldn’t help but smile as “Dancing Queen” played. But the next sign practically gave me chills. A woman waiting for her husband entered the waiting room, and starting talking to the woman who checked me in when I arrived. Right away, they starting talking about how this woman, Maureen, was a Reiki master. I looked at my husband and could not contain my excitement. At my first available opportunity, I said “I’m sorry to bother you, but you’re a Reiki master? I love reiki.” “Yes,” she replied, “would you like me to do some reiki for you before your surgery?” Of course I would!
This lovely woman was my angel. She provided her healing, calming touch while the nurses were hooking up my IV and taking my vital signs. The calm, loving energy emanating from her hands made all the difference in the world. I was waiting for my surgery for almost two hours – for almost two hours I was not sedated at all, yet I was calm. I credit reiki for that. Finally, I was given the happy drugs and wheeled into the operating room.
I woke up slightly confused and coughing heavily due to the effects of the intubation. In my drug-induced state, I was able to ask the nurse if I was ok. She replied that yes, I did just fine. I decided to believe her, since I seemed able to breathe on my own, she seemed very calm, and there was no one else around and no intimidating beeping noises. As soon as I saw my husband, I pumped him for information. It turns out that the surgeon did not go into great detail with him in the waiting room, but he was able to tell me the following: “The surgery went fine, you did very well; but it was a good thing you had the surgery now, because apparently your gallbladder was infected.”
The surgeon later confirmed this to me personally. He said that he had no idea it would be infected. As far as he knew, I just had gallstones. I, however, was not at all surprised. I had known for weeks that something was seriously wrong. I did not know what, exactly, but my body was giving me strong signals that it was time to get this thing out of me. My biggest fear was that a stone would get caught in a duct, or that I would develop pancreatitis. Instead, it was infected. Imagine the worst-case scenario if I did not have the surgery, if I had let this diseased organ fester and grow more toxic. I could have ended up in emergency surgery, I could have developed sepsis, I could have been in the hospital for days or even weeks. And yes, perhaps this is somewhat melodramatic, but not listening to my body could have ultimately resulted in a much more tragic result.
I am now a big believer in intuition. I will never doubt my body again. Even though I had the surgery a mere eleven days ago, I can already feel the difference. I feel better, healthier. My eyes have a little sparkle in them, my skin is rosier. I feel like the poison has left my body. I am eternally grateful for that little voice inside my head that refused to go away, that little voice that, with help from others, finally convinced me to do what I had to do – to conquer my fear and have the surgery.
So where do I go from here? I had told someone a few weeks ago that having this surgery was the first step on my journey back to health. As corny as it sounds, I feel like 2012 is the year I get my health back. Yes, I need to lose weight. But honestly, I feel like I can actually accomplish this now. My gallbladder can no longer hold me back. I will have more energy – I will be able to go to the gym, and go shopping, and cook healthy vegan food. In fact, I do not really have a choice. At least in the first few weeks or months after surgery, I will need to be very careful with what I eat, particularly with fat. My body just cannot process a lot of fat right now. I tend to get nauseated after every meal, even a healthy one. I am being forced to eat healthfully. I consider this a gift.
This is the beginning of the rest of my life. And yes, I got chills as I wrote that.