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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.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Thank you for sharing this difficult part of your past. What an amazing journey ~ certainly it shows that we often don't know what propels, drives or makes up another person's persona; we haven't walked in their moccasins.
    3011 days ago
    WOW!! Now, I grew up with a Dad who had damaged his back, and ended up marrying a guy who broke his back at 19.... and while I don't have cronic back pain, I sure have lived with it my whole life...

    You are amazing in what you've accomplished.. Maybe try and change what the ice cream means to you... When you desire it, due to back pain... try thinking about what it would be like to NOT be able to get up. If you were back in the traction bed... having gone thru what you already had..... I wouldn't want ice cream if it meant doing that....

    On a different note... I sure would love to hear more about the drilling... I'm a Chem Eng... and am really intrigued by that kind of job! (wouldn't happen now though.. I have two kids, and a hubby who likes me to be here to take care of him)
    3011 days ago
    Carrie, you amaze me. This chapter of your life helps to explain your drive to remain active.
    3012 days ago
    What an amazing story you have, thanks for sharing it! Now if I could figure out what triggers my eating. Hoping you are feeling better. Praying for you.
    3012 days ago
    Wow, Carrie. Thank you so much for sharing. I'm so glad that you proved them wrong and have been active. You're an amazing woman.

    Have you ever considered something alternative such as hypnosis? Kahren mentioned to me that she heard it was extremely successful in cases of very intelligent women. You so fit that category. I would bet it's something they can work you through. I mean, if it doesn't work you are where you are but if it does you can actually lay in bed and rest when you're not feeling well.

    Just a thought.
    3012 days ago
    Wow. That's a frightening experience, for sure. 18 MONTHS?! Holy Carp.

    Well, you know my number. Can you talk on the phone while immobile?

    Hang in there!
    3012 days ago
    Wow, what a story! And yes, those 40 years are a gift--and hopefully despite the increasing painful episodes you will have many more years of mobility.

    Good for you for making the connection between the desire to eat and that sense of helplessness that being in bed reminds you of. That's a powerful trigger that has been there for a long time, so I imagine it's hard to change but you are doing it!!
    3012 days ago
    That is an amazing story. I am so glad you got those 40 years of activity that you never thought you would have.

    You can do this and resist the ice cream. Just remember it is not really going to help you.
    3012 days ago
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