May 26, 2010


Living In The Body: The Trade-Offs Of Life

I don't like to be a downer or complainer. And I'm afraid of being a hypochondriac like my mother. So, I don't talk about physical ailments much. But, lately, I've really been struggling physically. I don't know if it's simply part of getting older, going through perimenopause, or just getting used to being in my body, now that I don't constantly dissociate every bodily feeling away. It's probably a combination of things.

There are the on-going struggles. Some of them I find answers and solutions for. Other things, I may never figure out. In my child abuse recovery therapy, I get many body memories. I've gotten rather used to them and they seem to always pass eventually. However, I believe that I probably have some old injuries that I received during childhood torture that never received any medical attention.

There are the little, nagging things. This spring, for instance, my allergies have been driving me crazy! There are the things that I don't really want to have a doctor tell me about, because I don't want some crazy surgery suggested. Like, for instance my mysterious problem I have with swallowing sometimes. I've chalked this up to some kind of allergy reaction/flemmy thing and I simply try to control it with antihistamines and expectorants.

It is What It is

It is What It is by MarjakaThriver(on break) on

Here's the trade-off part: The upside is that I'm much better now at comforting and nurturing my little inner child parts who get scared whenever there is any physical feeling of pain. I don't automatically turn to dissociation and ignore what my body is trying to tell me. I used to have an extremely high tolerance for pain. Take, for example, the fact that I had my son without any drugs or pain medication whatsoever...even though he was flipped and I had back labor! I used to ignore anything my body was trying to tell me.

I take much better care of myself than I used to. I don't work myself until I literally drop any more. I hardly ever drink coffee these days. I don't overindulge in alcohol and I no longer smoke. I get outside and move my body with regular exercise. I'm not on any prescription medications and I take some really great natural supplements.

...On the other hand...

Now that I'm more consistently in my body, there are a lot of things I notice that hurt! Over the last four years, I've fallen during biking and skiing accidents and broke ribs on both sides. I had some skin cancer removed from my face. I've dealt with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome in my right shoulder and arm and avoided surgery (thank goodness).

I've been struggling with this perimenopause over about eight years now. All of my female relatives, including my twin, have had hysterectomies, so I don't know how this is supposed to go. But, I feel embarrassed to say that it has not gone smoothly for me. I've gotten the hot flashes and night sweats somewhat under control, but my periods are now very troublesome. I won't go into the gory details, but I've really had to work on my anemia and I've had a lot of monthly pain and PMS symptoms. I try to deal with it naturally, but I have gotten consultations from two different medical doctors. One just told me to take lots of Ibuprofen and the other ran some blood tests and simply stated that my hormone levels were "within normal limits."

Now, my D.O. says I have tendinitis ("tennis elbow") from the repetitive actions of my hours at the drawing table working on my botanical illustration. The pain and weakness in my right arm would get so bad sometimes, that I would go to pick something up (maybe even something as small as a coffee cup) and I'd almost drop it! I'd have to steady the object quickly with my left hand. I'm taking lots of breaks from the desk and drawing table, and I'm doing stretches and taking a supplement that all seem to be helping somewhat with that.

The nagging pain that I haven't been able to get consistent relief on is in my back, between my shoulder blades. My D.O. and my massage therapist have helped me get only fleeting relief here. After a night where I slept very little-- because of extreme discomfort and bloating feeling...and feeling like the food I had eaten that day (this was Sunday) just didn't seem to be digesting or moving in the right direction--I did a little on-line research. I think I've come to the conclusion that I've got some gall bladder problems. I'm a good candidate for it: my grandfather had his gall bladder removed. My mother is morbidly obese and has diabetes. I'm not sure if she's had her gall bladder out or not, but it wouldn't surprise me.

I'm sure it's no big news to anyone who knows about my abusive and neglected childhood that I was not taught any healthy eating habits. I have a terrible sweet tooth. I can get off smoking, drinking and coffee easier than I can get off of my addiction to sugar, carbs and fattening foods. I have been using them--eating "comfort foods"--way too much ever since I started the therapy marathon for my dissociative disorder back in October.

I was complaining recently to my D.O. that, even with the weather improving and getting out and getting a lot more exercise lately, I haven't lost any weight. (I have about 20 pounds I'd like to get rid of.) He suggested that I go out first thing in the morning, before I've had any calories, and take a brisk walk for an hour. In this way, my body has no other choice but to burn fat for its fuel. Brilliant, right? I thought so and I've started doing this three-to-five times a week. I enjoy it and it feels great, but I haven't lost anything yet. This bloaty feeling continues to bother me and I was floored to see on several sites online that gall bladder symptoms can cause this pain between the shoulder blades! Uh oh!

I've got an appointment with my D.O. next week and I'll talk to him about my suspicions. I'd like to try to get it under control with diet (and exercise) and avoid surgery if at all possible. In my research, I noticed that a lot of foods that are recommended for a healthy gall bladder and a lot of foods you are supposed to avoid are similar to the colon cleanse and diet I did three years ago when I lost 18 pounds.
I don't think it can hurt, and it certainly might help. At the very least, maybe I'll lose some of that weight and not feel so bloated all the time. If you read this here post and comments from three years ago, you'll see that I enjoyed some of those results then.

I discovered that there are some specific gall bladder cleanses/flushes I can try, too. But, I'm not going to launch into any of those before I talk to a doctor.

For now, I've been shopping for lots of organic items at the health food store and I've got a diet plan. I'm going to cut out all dairy except for low-fat cottage cheese. No more butter and no more ice cream! I'm going to limit bread to only whole-sprouted grain types. No more baked goods like cookies and cinnamon rolls!

I'm going to eat lots of leafy greens and vegetables (avoiding the tooty cabbage family) with organic olive oil, apple cider vinegar and lemon on my salads for dressing. I'm eating fruits like apples, pears and apricots, with yummy berries for a treat. I'm going to severely limit my intake of meat (I never eat much anyway) and emphasize cold-water fish like salmon and trout with lots of Omega 3's. For some reason, several of the sites I looked at suggested eliminating or limiting fowl. I usually eat a lot of chicken, but I'll try this for a while.

I've switched from my black tea in the morning to green tea. I'm drinking lots of fresh-pressed carrot, apple and grape juice, as well as soothing chamomile tea. And, of course, I'm drinking lots of water. I have to admit, over the last several months, I had kinda gotten out of the habit of drinking as much water as I usually try to.

Thankfully, I'm just at the right time of the year to really be successful at this. There are so many choices of fresh fruits and vegetables coming into the stores right now. And we're signed up to receive a box every week from a local, natural grower here in Colorado. Also, I will have my organic herb and vegetable garden plot, as usual, this summer. I'm going to try to emphasize the organic choices even more than I usually do. Something I read said that herbicides and pesticides really wreak havoc on the gall bladder. That just sounds like a good idea to me.

If you've listened to/read all of this so far, I thank you for your compassion and understanding. I really don't mean to be a complainer. Being all negative and judgmental doesn't serve me well. I really am grateful, overall. Other than the IBS that I continue to work to control, I don't suffer with a lot of common ailments and disorders that many of us survivors have to live with. I don't have lupus or fibromyalgia. I get migraines from time to time, but not often. Although I'm struggling with a perimenopause that is not worry-free, I still have all my female organs intact. I'm a little chunky, but I don't have any full-blown eating disorders.

I am counting my blessings. And I hope to have even more to count and report back to you before I leave for our summer vacation at the end of June. In the meantime, I've gotten behind on a lot of things. I hope to finish my final botanical illustration plate in my Colored Pencil II class this week. After that, I'll be taking two months off from my classes. My backyard landscape project has been almost at a standstill, but I'm determined to finish it on my three-year plan--which means this summer. I've got to hurry and get some plants in the ground before it gets too hot.

I will continue to keep the Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse up and running on a monthly basis. But, I am behind on many interview and guest blog requests and things of that nature. I shouldn't keep promising when I think I'll be caught up on those, so I won't right now. I even got a cute award with a meme attached from my dear friend Katie recently, and I had hoped to pass that along. I'm not sure when I'll get to it. I'm just going to try to stick to this diet and exercise routine and get to feeling physically better. That's my first priority. I hope that all of you are well and working your way over to the thriving end of the Survivors-Can-Thrive spectrum. I have the utmost compassion for all of you, to, you know. And I'll try to get around to some of your blogs soon.

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dear marj~ i'm glad you wrote this post. i appreciate both the upside you express as well as your willingness and ability to discuss your various body issues. and my goodness i'm sorry you have had so much going on! that sounds like a lot of pain.

but i don't think that you are being negative or complaining. at all really. more than anything, i see you as being honest and observant. you are very matter of fact and proactive talking about all this.

i struggle with worrying about being a downer and being too negative and was just worrying about that today even. so i appreciate the reminder that even when we worry that we might have a negative impact on someone with our words, that oftentimes, the opposite is the case. and someone might find inspiration or comfort from our words, and our bravery in talking about something we may have been reluctant to discuss.

so thank you for your bravery and i wish you all the best with your body and healing and finding your way to hopefully live more comfortably physically.

sending loving wishes your way! :)
Oh, thank you, Katie, for your understanding. I feel better about this post now...and everything that's going on. And thanks for not being mad about the award meme. It did really mean a lot to me. :) *hugs*
Slowly, slowly...sounds as if you're making good progress! Did you know fresh pressed juices can be bloating and hard to digest sometimes, particularly for someone with an hiatus hernia, don't know if you have one.
Sounds as if your diet is much improved and should get you there in the end.The menopause or before can produce lots of funny symnptoms and changes.Don't forget Bach Flower remedies and the Schuessler Tissue Salts are both helpful.I used acupuncture for adjustment in menopause and peri-menopause it helped enormously.Migraines started around then due to hormonal changes and also joint and muscle pains and food problems.Pleased to report all gone now due to good diet, good living and balance in life.Good luck!
Oh marj, of course not! I have nothing but positive feelings about you. :) The award I passed you was in recognition that you do find the good in life. You are under no obligation of any sort. Feel free to accept the appreciation, and just enjoy it!
Dear one I always enjoy and get so much insight from your posts. Your transparency is touching. I certainly can relate to many struggles you go through. Thank you for continuing to step out and be real. Blessings and ((((((Marj))))))
Oooo! Von, thank you for sharing that. It makes me feel very hopeful. I'm glad you were able to achieve balance and good living! :)

Katie: Aaaahhh! Yes. That DOES feel nice. Great idea! Thanks, sweetie! *hugs*

JBR: And I have always appreciated your blog name. It's a healthy reminder to stay real. YOU are a blessing. Thanks for being you! :)
This all sounds very healthy. If it feels confusing to you, it's because it probably is, as all the issues you mention are in play. The reality is that when you are more aware and in your body, you will have the increased symptoms because they are a measure of the inside pain (I think). But, it's also true that other factors are equally relevant, like age.

Whether age or trauma, what you are doing is what I think is the solution. You are caring for yourself in a self-nurturing way and teaching inside that you can do for yourself what you should have received as a child. I think the goal is to find and incorporate more and more self-nurturing. Which means finding out what parts of you are nurtured by.

I don't mean to make this sound overly dramatic. But where you are is really really big and important. It's a really good place, even though it doesn't feel it. I resonate with almost everything you said. I understand about somatic pain in the throat that has no physical explanation.

I don't have answers as to whether these are all things we can heal from. I like to think we can. What you are doing, and I am doing similar things, are exactly right (again, I think).
Goodness! That is quite an update. I too am worried people will perceive me as a hypochondriac so I seldom bring attention to anything that is bothering me.

As far as food goes, I too know how hard it is to use food as fuel and not friend. I used to be 100 lbs overweight until I got a hold of that demon. I now only carry around about 20 lbs of extra fluff.

I had my gall bladder taken out about 4 weeks ago and it has been a bumpy course. Certain foods don't digest easily, certain things make me nauseous and I am definitely having other problems that are not normal for me.

The body is a machine that must be used properly! Take care of yours!
Thanks, Paul. I really appreciate the support.

Lily: Oh, Wow! I didn't realize you just had your gall bladder out. I'm hearing about that surgery more and more...especially with pregnant women. The first time I heard that I was so surprised. Good for you for losing the weight you did. I hope you heal quickly and feel better. *hugs*
This post resonated with me. I wasn't allowed to be sick as a kid and so even now I tend to now know if I'm really sick or not until I can't get off the floor. It sounds like you've had a lot of things go physically wrong. just take gentle care of you.....and know...I'm praying for you
Wow Marj, you're dealing with so many issues and have made such progress. I'm proud of you!

I don't have body memories of my abuse, but once I'm back into therapy I'm sure I'll find out what that's like. I'm almost afraid to do so, I'm so used to ignoring any body pain or discomfort. I had several kids without the use of any kind of drugs, and (as I wrote in my latest blog post) sometimes I'm just impervious to pain.

I think you're on a good path and you must remember this when it seems you're hardly getting anywhere. Some of your physical problems probably are from aging--I hate to say that, but I think it's true.

God bless as you continue searching for truth, dealing with your issues and gifting yourself with the grace you need to heal at your own pace.
Thank you for telling about all your struggle.
Never think of you as being negative or complaining.
We simply have to tell them and you are bold enough to expose them.
I'm having my struggles but I simply cannot write about it.
I want to see your botanical drawings!
Funny because I was thinking about publishing at my other blog something subtle, simple but that makes us have a tiny little moment of serenity and I thought about leaves...
Love you,
Marj, in my eyes you arent complaining at all. Trauma aafects body as we know and the lists of ailments I have since a few year ago - well, writing those down would give me tennis ellbow! You are REAL; OBSERVANT and pre-menopausal (sigh, can relate here too). I got my gall bladder out in an emergency surgery few years ago and it was a fast and smooth road!
I never have observed you as negative or downer, rather the opposite way! I wondered if you are actually never having down days!!!
In my humble opinion you aree in a healthy place and do what you can. Thanks for being so open, thanks for sharing, thanks for who you are.
I wont be around so often over the next 3 months as I am going on a pilgrimage.
Sarah: I used to be that way, too. Thanks for those prayers!

Beauty: gifting myself with grace. wow! I like that. Thanks! :)

Hey, Ana! So nice to "see" you. I will try to see if I can get a photo of one of my drawings to load here on the blog. Thanks for your kinds words. *hugs*

Paula: Thank you for your sweet support. A pilgrimage huh? I hope we get to hear about it. Best wishes!
Dear Marj, passing by to check on you, leaving some love and the link to my first post about the pilgrimage:
Meditating with my feet

Hugs across the pond
Hi Marj, I hope you're feeling better. I have a question...I had the site for the collaging...and now can't find it. Would you have the url? thanks Sarah
Finally I have someone that understands my struggle!!! In more ways than one ;-)

I have a horrible sweet tooth Marj. Like your childhood, my parents did not teach us any sort of healthy eating habbits. I cant believe I used to eat a Hostess Cup Cake for breakfast with a mountain Dew! Horrible. And now as an adult, chocolate is challange. With as much as I work out in a week you would think I would look like Deme Moore! But that damn chocolate... So I have to settle for looking like Janean Garofalo ;-) I also have the crazy back pain between the shoulders that will not let up. I've done PT, drug therapy, everything, but little to no relief. My theory is that it is related to my PTSD... What are your thoughts on that theory?

Marj, you have been doing so much good work on yourself. I know it can't be easy with the perimenopause. Hormones are the devil! They can truly make you feel crazy sometimes. Kudos to you for staying active during this time, it might not always feel like it but i'm sure it helps.

I'm glad you allowed yourself to share what you did. It helps to understand where you're at with things and what you're facing. I think every physical thing you mentioned is worth talking about. It sounds tough, and why go though tough things alone when you have people who love and care for you and want to be able to support you through it? (Thats something I'm currently learning ;-) So try not to minimize it girly.

Marj, you are a pretty awesome person. Amazing really... I find your resiliency and spirit beautiful and inspiring. I am so so sorry that life has thrown some of the things it has at you, but I am so happy that you have perservered because you're changing lives as you go.

Stay strong my friend and know that you are cared for and thought about often!
Paula: Thanks for checking back. Meditating with your feet! Reminds me of some walking meditation that I've done and loved. I'll go check out your post.

Sarah: That's Polyvore dot com. I came by your blog and left the url in a comment. Happy collaging! :)

Jade: Thank you for such a loving, thoughtful comment. I'm not sure what I think about the back pain being related to PTSD specifically. But, I do believe in a very strong mind-body-spirit connection. The body does, indeed, bear the burden. Have you heard of that book by that title: "The Body Bears The Burden?" I think the author is Scaer. Interesting stuff. Take care, my friend. *hugs*
is thinking of what to say
I'm glad you're taking steps to take care of yourself. I know for years I neglected by body because I saw it as betraying me.

I also stopped by to say good-bye. I've posted about it on my blog and you've been a part of my online life so I wanted to take leave here as well. Know that you will be in my heart and prayers.
Thanks for sharing with us. Hugs and prayers.
Take your time, JIP. No comment is even necessary. I'm just happy you stopped by. So nice to "see" you!

Oh, April! I went and left a comment at your final post. I hope you know how much we have all appreciated your writing and how much you will be missed. Thanks for letting me know what you're doing. Have a wonderful life, my friend!

Thank YOU for commenting, Colleen. And I always appreciate those hugs and prayers. And same to you! :)
Was in the neighborhood and thought I would drop by to give you a (((((Marj)))))
JBR: That's so thoughtful of you! Right backatcha, sweetie! (((((((JBR))))))) :)
Just wanted to drop some love on your page, and check in to see how your summer is going? Any new... green...yet red in the middle, roundish fruits added to your art work yet ;-) hehe

Hope you are doing well my friend.
Thanks for those hugs and checking in with me, Jade. Things are quite mixed at the moment. Isn't that just the way life is? How are you, dear?
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