Sunday, 29 November 2009

Why we need to listen to our bodies

I was lying in bed this morning, thinking....

I was thinking back to the Race Night a few weeks back when I fell and got a couple of good bruises on my ankle and knee. The ankle bruise welled up into a huge lump, which looked very wierd and freaked me out. I immediately went to get some ice and sat with my ankle on a chair being 'soothed' by the ice pack. The swelling subsided fairly quickly and I felt good that I'd prevented my ankle from looking too deformed.

As the days and weeks passed I noticed that the discolouration of the bruise on my ankle disappeared earlier than that of the bruise on my knee. So applying an ice pack helps. As usual, I forgot to take my arnica despite often recommening it for others.

So, back to this morning. I was thinking about how we don't listen to our bodies enough these days and how I'd resolved to rely more on what my body told me and less on the secientific and medical advances we all take for granted. All part of the more holistic approach to life I want to take.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not planning on going back to the times before the Industrial Revolution. I am very grateful for living in todays' times, some of the time. I wouldn't give up my dishwasher, and I miss my car which has been off the road for too long. I am grateful that we have life saving procedures and increasing medical knowledge to improve our quality of life.

But, and it's a big BUT, I believe it needs to be balanced with the knowledge our bodies hold within us. As mammals we should have an innate instinct within us. Something I've learned in my journey as a mother and a doula. For example our hormones, far from being an annoyance once a month, are very important during childbirth. Once the roles of oxytocin, prolactin, beta-endorphin, adrenaline and noradrenaline were understood I realised how well we are designed for life. I share an article written by Dr Sarah Buckley1 about the hormones of labour with women very often. Although not a scientifice person in the least I am enjoying the Human Biology course I am taking and admiring our wonderful bodies even more. They do, indeed, know what to do.

I was even discussing this with my favourite vet yesterday. He treats the human owners as compassionately as he does the animals, very important. So, he was showing me round the building as part of an open day and it was interesting to see all the equipment on site. I remarked that James Herriot would have been envious but then thought that it would be such a shame if the instinct vets have was lost. This vet agreed that it would be, as when training many years ago he had been impressed with a mentor who could diagnose with a good 'feel' of the animal. Nowadays, sometimes it might be that, rather than do a good investigation by sight and touch, vets would forego that for a routine x-ray, hardly handling the animal at all. It's not just humans that might be suffering as a result of over medicalisation but I've not even looked into that side of things yet...

So, if my ankle swelled up after that disastrous attempt at a three-legged race was it because it needed to? Our bodies know how to heal themselves and do so in the most remarkable way. If I 'help' my ankle by preventing or minimising bruising and swelling, am I in fact hindering it? I'm glad that my bruise healed well but wonder if I should have left it to do it's own devices. If it had been badly swollen and painful I might have been forced to take it easier for a few days. Rest would have been a good thing at that moment in time and as it happens, 36 hours after that fall I did indeed end up in my bed for a day with a migraine.

So my body did find a way to get some down-time after all..... :o)


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