Zen medicine – part 2

During a mindfulness retreat at the end of 2000, I caught a stomach flu and began to develop grave symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s colitis). I could not sleep more than two hours at night because I woke up throughout the night to pain in my side, telling me it was time to go to the bathroom. I ate only small amounts of the blandest of foods and I was running to the bathroom all day and all night. I managed to get back to my aunt’s house in Connecticut and the symptoms continued to worsen.

My step-mother called me and told me that she and my Dad wanted to help me get to Indianapolis, where they lived, so I could be under the care of their friend, a gastroenterologist. So she set up a flight within just two days.

I had hoped for a good night’s sleep the night before I traveled but it did not happen. I slept only about two hours and started yet another day feeling exhausted. I knew it would be a particularly long day. The whole trip would last ten hours from door to door. But I knew I would only survive if I focused on my sense of peacefulness. I could carry nothing but that peacefulness. I also knew that I would have to rely on the kindness of strangers to get through the day. More

Water – source of life

Blog Action Day 2010 is today!!

I remember thirst well. It is hard to forget something that gripped me for weeks of my life. During three hospitalizations for severe Crohn’s colitis flares, the doctors gave me orders not to drink or eat anything for several weeks. They were worried that even a small bit of food or water could cause my severely inflamed colon to burst, which would have been life-threatening. Nurses had hooked me up to bags filled with intravenous fluids to help me avoid dehydration. But these fluids never quenched my thirst. My disease was severe and I always felt dehydrated during those hospitalizations. If I was lucky, the doctors had also allowed me to receive parenteral nutrition, which was a nutrient mix delivered to my body intravenously. Usually, the doctors allowed me to receive parenteral nutrition after one week of not eating anything. The only water I was allowed to drink was a tiny sip with my medicines. More

Trying out Zen medicine

In December 1997, I was a graduate student in a doctoral community psychology program at Georgia State University. After the end of my first semester I became quite ill and I was bedridden during the whole winter break of three weeks. I was going to the bathroom upwards of 15 times a day and seeing blood in my stools. I had fevers every day. That was when the doctors first diagnosed me with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). At the time, they said that I had ulcerative colitis, but this diagnosis was later changed to Crohn’s colitis.

Corticosteroid medicines, which suppress the immune system, and “Asacol,” a medicine for IBD, helped me to achieve remission temporarily. But the corticosteroids had a down side; they made me feel restless. I felt wired 24/7 from these medicines. My mind was often racing and it was particularly difficult for me to fall asleep and stay asleep. More

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