Exploring the Mind-Body Connection
Friday, February 19, 2010
Last night I tried to work out why being immobile makes me crave food. It's not watching TV, the same cravings happen if I listen to music or a book on tape.
The issue for me is being in bed, unable to move, and frightened that this time it might be permanent.
When I was 24, I was fishing a drill bit out of an oil well and lost my footing. I crashed to the platform on my back. I was evacuated from Borneo to Jakarta to Singapore and finally New York. Each medical facility passed me on when they looked at the x-rays.
I had broken my neck and shattered part of my lower spine. Before NY, I was told I'd never walk again.
Luckily for my sanity, I was not able to comprehend what anyone said. I heard the words, but could not connect them to my body.
At the NY hospital, the neurosurgical team explained what they could do. It was experimental and I might not survive the op. At the time, that didn't bother me. After all, my life as I knew it would be over if I couldn't move. Risky surgery meant there was a risk of survival.
During the course of 18 months, they took bones from my hips and recreated part of my spine. It was done in stages because I was weak. I was put in this insane bed they kept me frozen the way they wanted by metal tongs that had been put into my bones with a drill.
I couldn't read, write, or feed myself. Once they thought I was well enough to keep solid food down, nurses aides tried to feed me. I had been working in jungles for so long, I couldn't face the American food. It was alien. And, there was nothing I could do about it.
Then we discovered I loved ice cream. That I would eat. I think I had it 3 meals a day for months. Everyone was happy 'cause I was putting on weight.
So now, when my back hurts, I want comfort food.
There is none in the house and when I'm in pain, I can't go out and get it.
Today, I've moved the heating pads into my office so I can pretend to work rather than stay in bed. As I get older, the pain gets worse and the episodes happen more frequently. I can't stop that.
What I can control is how I deal with it.
Being in bed means I'm powerless. So, I just need to avoid the bed when the pain is really bad so I don't call someone to pick up Ben & Jerry's.
I also need to remember that I've had nearly 40 years of walking and being relatively active. That's a gift I never expected.