Saturday, June 2, 2012

Hermetic Box

These days, we are all taught that our bodies are temples that should be kept in pristine condition. That usually means keeping anything bad away from your body while only putting in things that are good. This thought process has progressed to the point of OCD and hypochondria, in some, as we try to keep our bodies sterile and shut-off from the rest of the world. The more I read and the more I experience, though, the more I ask myself: Are we slowly killing ourselves? Who defines what is good and bad and just how reliable is there information?

Did I mention I am quite obsessive-compulsive?

It has been very difficult for me to question this dogma that has been ingrained into me from such a young age. I have always questioned new and old alike in my mind, but when it came to keeping my body "pristine" the question is where it stopped. I had to keep all of the germs out of and off my body. I would shower two or three times a day with harsh soaps. All foods had to pasteurized and properly cooked. Any food that was 1% questionable was thrown away. Massive amounts of deodorants and perfumes always encompassed by body and god forbid my feet ever touched anything but my socks or the shower floor. My body was a hermetic box that was completely cut off from the rest of the world. I had attained the separation of world from body and was happy to keep it that way.

My world was turned upside down when my Crohn's kicked in. Needles going into my body. "Things" coming out of my body. No longer in control. I had to change. The only option was to break myself of my compulsions. The only way to do that was to research and replace innuendo and propaganda with information from many different sources. I was very slow at this since I really didn't want to change the way I lived my life. When my intestines gave out and I had my resectioning/appendectomy I knew that I had to make a change.

The appendix is a funny thing. Many professionals say that it is a vestigial organ -- something that is of no use to the human body. When the appendix bursts, it lets out large amounts of bacteria into a usually sterile environment in the body. Mine had not burst, but it was situated in the center of an area of intestine that had to be removed. I was lucky to get a bonus appendectomy according to doctors and nurses. I was still feeling betrayal at the medical community at this time; I had done everything they had said and I was still going through massive amounts of pain and surgery. This spark of betrayal made me wonder, "Is the appendix really vestigial?" As I looked more into functionality and the like, I started to come across terms that I had never heard before: probiotic and intestinal flora. My research on the appendix had come to a dead end and so I moved on to looking at the other terms that had come up.

My research took me from the appendix as a hotbed of bacteria and vestigial organ to the bacteria that live in (intestinal flora), on and around our bodies and putting bacteria into our guts (probiotics). Queue the unease I felt at the thought of actually adding bacteria to my body. As I read more and more about what our native bacteria do in our body, I became less and less apprehensive while also starting to see why I might be experiencing certain vitamin or mineral deficiencies or having excessive amounts of diarrhea. What put a lynch pin into how I was thinking was an article that I read about the appendix. The appendix was a hotbed of bacteria, but here we had the novel idea that the appendix produced good bacteri. With those of us that are constantly on antibiotics or have had some form of appendectomy, a picture had formed in my mind. The appendix was our body's digestive backup -- an emergency digestive reset.

I came to the realization that my body could no longer be an entity apart from the rest of the world. I had to find a way to reactivate my digestive tract as my backup disk had been destroyed. A couple of years later I am still learning what I can do to reactivate my body's natural mechanisms and keep them in top working order. I see my body as part of a larger process in this world where all of my needs come from some part of the world around me and that every byproduct that comes from me needs to find a way back into the cycle. What comes in must go out. What goes out must come in.

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