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The NOURISHED SOUL
16Jan2012

Recovering My Health: A Work In Progress

I got very, very sick when I was 7 years old. It started out as diarrhea and not wanting to eat. I didn’t tell anyone. Shortly thereafter, it progressed to a constant sore tummy. This was no run-of-the-mill sore tummy. This was a twisting, sickening, disturbing kind of sore tummy. About 6 or 7 months after these symptoms appeared, my parents finally took notice. I’d lost a lot of weight and wasn’t eating. It took a lot of doctor’s appointments with a family doctor who simply couldn’t diagnose me and wouldn’t refer me to someone who could. After a great deal of frustration and a now 10 year old who was so frail, she still looked 7, we found a wonderful pediatrician who diagnosed me: Crohn’s Disease.

Crohn’s Disease is an auto-immune disease that affects the body’s digestive system – from the mouth to the anus. It most commonly targets the small bowel, which is where it initially showed up in my body. As with any auto immune disease, the body literally begins attacking itself.

The next 20 years would be experienced as painful, almost never-ending flare-ups of Crohn’s. I would have my first surgery, a bowel resection, at 17 years old. My second surgery would follow during my frosh week in my first year of university. That sucked because it really cut into my drinking time with my new buddies My third surgery would come during the summer just before my last year of university (luckily, I still had the entire year ahead of me to drink to my heart’s delight). My fourth, and biggest (and most dreaded) surgery would follow when I was 26 years old.  This surgery saw the complete removal of my colon.

While I was in the hospital having this major surgery, my ex-boyfriend, who I hadn’t been with in 4 years and hadn’t seen in over 2 years, was planning a visit to me. He had always been a wonderful supportive boyfriend, but I had felt that when I met him at the ripe old age of 21, I simply wasn’t ready for the level of love and seriousness this guy offered. I left him. He never gave up.

2 days after this monumental surgery, Scott came to see me in the hospital. He’d left his home, who he shared with his girlfriend, in Alymer, Quebec, and flew to Toronto to come and visit me in the hospital. The minute he walked into my hospital room, I burst into tears. He walked over to my hospital bed and put his hands on my legs and said, “You’re so skinny, Ann.” We hugged and he asked me about my surgery and stayed with me for quite a long time. He came to visit me again the next day before flying back to Quebec. I remembered watching him walk out of my hospital room when he left. Here was this guy that I had loved so much and liked, maybe more than anyone I had ever met. It occurred to me as he walked out of my hospital room that I still loved him.

Here’s the thing. For me (and I suspect for most others), those times that I am most vulnerable are also, interestingly, the times that I tend to be the most clear. It’s like my ego stepped out of the way because it literally couldn’t get a grip on the current situation I was dealing with. I had no muddied belief systems running the show at that point. I was in completely unchartered territory and I didn’t know where it would lead me. I was in complete surrender mode. Make no mistake. We are never more glaringly clear and open when we’re in surrender mode. And we’re most often in surrender mode when we’re vulnerable. The vulnerability I’m talking about is when even fear steps out of the way. It might still be hanging about in the background but its not dominating you. Have you ever had the experience where you’ve experienced a shock or a major life change and you feel like you’re walking around in a cloud? You can still go about your day and do what you need to do, but you’re sort of suspended.

To make a very long story short, Scott and I were married less than a year and a half later. We now have a sweet baby girl, Ava, who is the other love of our lives.

I really began taking charge of my health after my big surgery. It started to become vividly obvious to me that, while western medicine was decent at managing my disease, it was not going to heal my disease. Western medicine is not set up that way. It is simply not designed to heal. It provides wonderful band aids and, in some acute cases, can indeed be very helpful. But when you’re dealing with a chronic illness of any kind, they’re not the ones you go to when a full-on, whole body healing is sought after. Firstly, western medicine will look at the system that is sick. For me, that was my bowels. There was never any talk of diet or nutrition (even though this IS a digestive disease) and there was certainly no talk of mental/emotional exploration.

My mom introduced to a wonderful woman named Carol. Carol is, quite simply, a wizard with the body, the mind and the spirit. She’s also highly intuitive. Carol has told me what I was thinking at times when I wouldn’t be saying the words. She told me I would have a baby girl, years before I had her. She also told me that I would ultimately write in order to help people heal ☺.

Carol was my first introduction into the wonderful world of energy. She ultimately reminded me how to see, hear, feel and sense energy. I say ‘reminded’ because I was able to “see” intuitively when I was a little girl. As a sensitive child, what I saw was painful at times, hence the Crohn’s.

I quickly saw that I had held onto certain experiences and heartaches as a child that I simply didn’t know how to digest.  Some people are great emoters. My sister is one of them. She’s never been sick a day in her life. I, on the other hand, was not. So I held onto things. Given each of our unique landscapes and karmas, we will each process life experiences in different ways. As a child, I kept everything in. I could be crumbling inside (which I often was) and to an onlooker, I would have looked like a happy, calm child.

As I began to acknowledge some of these old hurts, I literally began to unwind, from the inside out. Layers upon layers of shit came out. I confronted things within myself and with others that I had never had the courage to confront. I cried for years and got good and angry for a while. I let the layers peel away and allowed the next ones to surface, experienced all of what they held, fully, and then let the next ones go. I did this, intensely, for over a decade. I traveled to British Columbia, South Carolina, Arizona and Ireland in order to facilitate my healing; and subsequently learned how to facilitate others’ healing. I went through spiritual cleansings and initiations. I poured my guts out in front of a room full of hundreds of people; on more than one occasion.

I came to understand that my experience with Crohn’s Disease was one of the biggest blessings I could have been given. My journey would have been diametrically different had I not been on a mission to heal myself. And therein lies the key. I healed MYSELF. I had to stop waiting for doctors to do anything for me. I had to stop waiting for anyone to do anything for me. And here’s a hint for anyone going through an illness of any kind. You will not find healing in a pill or a surgery or a bottle of anything. It is a process by which you are willing to unravel yourself. Reveal yourself. Get really bloody honest with yourself.

I still work with myself. I’ll work with myself for as long as I breathe. We’ve been given this wonderful thing called awareness. And it is constantly calling our names. It’s always calling us back home. And no matter how often we turn away from it, it’s door will always be open for us when we decide (if even for a moment) to walk though its halls. This is so much easier than you think. In fact, it’s natural to you. Everything you do in contrast to it is unnatural.

If you’re struggling with something, anything, and you want a way out, you start like this: Sit down and be quiet. Ask yourself, “If I’ve been completely wrong about this situation; if this situation that I’m in was actually meant FOR MY HEALING, than what would that be? What am I meant to learn from this? What am I meant to let go of as a result of this experience?” 

And then be willing to accept that you might have been ill in order to simply let go.

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