Having been proactive about my chest pains on this past Xmas Day by going to the ER at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital and enduring the 5 hours of tests, I know a little something about coaching for Health. The chest pains were on a two to three on a scale of 1 to 10 and I was packed and ready to drive to Redondo Beach to spend the weekend with my sister. The fact that I made my health decision the priority and drove to the urgent care clinic and then the ER speaks well of my sense of values and personal responsibility. Health has to be our NUMBER ONE priority.
Of course, I did not think this was a heart problem. It felt like an esophageal constriction of some kind. But the hospital has to rule out any concerns about the heart, when it comes to chest pains. The conclusion was that I had some gastro-intestinal complications.
I still made it to Redondo Beach and spent time with my sister (another smart decision) because then the GI symptoms flared up and I really needed some special attention. We needed to look at the quality (bland), quantity (light) and frequency of meals. The other major decision was to not return to work until I was stable.
The next step was a follow up with my primary physician as soon as he was available. I remembered to give him the fullest history including concerns about the occasional constrictions in my esophageal area. He decided to order the gold standard in tests: an endoscopy and an ultra-sound of my abdominal area, both tests in the New Year.
He was actually very surprised that I had lost the weight he had asked me to lose.
I think a collaborative relationship with our MD is essential to our treatment. I was honest, open and willing to following his recommendations during my annual physical and clearly an MD likes to know that his/her patient is taking appropriate and timely therapeutic action.
Yes. I decided to use my PTO (personal time off) to focus on my heath and treatment.
I have been reading, resting, watching cable, calling friends, blogging and social networking - all necessary for my healing and self-care. Not to mention being creative with my diet!! And giving my body the rest it craves as well as the exercise it needs!
Of course, as a depth psychologist, I can hardly leave at it that because I know this all has a deeper meaning. In consulting Caroline Myss's "Why People Don't Heal and How They Can" it is clear that these gastro-intestinal symptoms are related to the Third Chakra:
"Within the Hebrew Tradition, the third energy center contains two forces intensely vital to our spirits - Hod, representing integrity and majesty; and Nezah, symbolic of the capacity to endure. In the Hindu tradition, this energy is presented as Manipura, meaning the "city of the shining jewel," and in the Christian tradition, it relates to the sacrament of Confirmation. All of these descriptions refer to the same essential spiritual powers: self-esteem, self-respect, and integrity.
Respect for ourselves is necessary to healing. A lack of self-respect, or a dishonorable character, is itself an illness. when we lack the fundamental spiritual qualities of endurance, integrity, honor and self-esteem, healing the physical body becomes a double challenge.
You can easily sense when you are entering the shadow side of the third chakra: it manifests as shame, inadequacy, self-consciousness, and fear of others. Negative feelings drain the energy you need to heal. Reflection on what undermines your endurance and integrity, on where your energy leaks occur. Integrity is not solely the manner in which you conduct yourself with others. Think of it as the manner in which you conduct yourself with yourself. Can you make a commitment to yourself and keep it with integrity? Can you promise yourself to change your personal behavioral patterns (a discipline associated with the third chakra) and then keep that promise?
To build endurance, can you commit to a shift of lifestyle and withstand the discomfort of walking that new path? Can you look at yourself and feel proud of your own honor code.
While all the chakras play a vital role in your healing, the third chakra contains the energy of endurance - the power to endure the journey. The commitment to yourself to go the distance can be considered the backbone of your healing challenge.
Your commitment to yourself gives you the capacity to endure what may seem psychologically, emotionally and physically beyond your limits. As a matter of spiritual honor and self-respect, your commitment to heal reflects your regard for the sanctity of your own life. Maintaining this commitment - day by day and hour by hour, actively and passively, in your dreams and in your thoughts - generates an intensity of self-esteem and self-awareness. " (1997, pp. 199-200).
Happy New Year!