Knowing too much?

“You have to know your body!” Probably, one of the most important things you learn early on, but can you know your body too well? I sometimes wonder if you actually can, if you can become too aware of every ache, pain and sensation. For sure, I believe that when it comes to sensations that the answer it 100% yes. Without a doubt, I now notice every single tiny area of me, that isn’t doing what it should be, normally nothing. In the distant past, I probably wouldn’t have noticed my leg getting mildly numb, yes, if it were severe, but that tiny tingling start, never. In fact, I’m sure that my body would have intervened, moved my foot or my leg, just to check if it was just a mild circulation issue, before tell me, that it hadn’t worked. Think about how many times in your life, you have gone to stand up, just to find your leg was totally numb, and you didn’t notice a single thing until, you stood up. My post the other day highlighted that I now notice, from the first seconds. I can feel that small section the size of a 10 pence piece, and every millimeter as it spreads. That’s not normal, or an everyday reaction from an average person. I know, really know, what all of my body feels at any second of the day, and I do it without thought, without looking for it. It appears that I have trained myself to monitor, to keep my body in check without the aid of any fancy monitors.

I’m not really one for buying tools, those flashy looking pieces of kit that until recently, you only found in your doctor’s surgery, or just a few years further back, only in a hospital. These days, it appears if a doctor can own it, so can you. If you felt the need, you could fill your home with a mind-blowing range of equipment, to tell you, your still alive. The only piece of kit I have bought is a pulse and oxygen level monitor, and it has turned out to be exactly what I expected, not a warning light, but a confirmation of what I know. For the first week I owned it, I found myself checking, each change in my body, that I thought might be down to low oxygen levels. Most of the time, I was right, not about the figures, but there would have been a dip, or a rise, enough for me to have noticed. Just to double-check, that I wasn’t about to write a piece of rubbish, I just sat still and thought for a second about both. I made a prediction and put my monitor on my finger. My pulse, which, no I didn’t count, was spot on at 86, my oxygen, well that was 1% out, it was 92 instead of 93. I knew how I felt and I have now also learned, what the monitor will say, I do admit, though, not always as accurately as I did just now, but I’m normally very close. In some ways, that is good, it means I no longer worry about either, they are known to me, but, how many people could do just the same? Only the chronically ill. We’re pushed into knowing, into being our own second by second doctor, because, we need to know when things, are going really wrong. We need to be armed with the facts so that if we need to relate them to our doctors, we know, just what to say. Well, that’s one way of looking at it.

It could easily be argued, that if we are that body aware, we are probably paranoid and looking for things that aren’t there. Finding small things and turning them, into bigger things in our own minds. Worrying over the trivial and becoming self-obsessed. It’s OK, I know all the negatives that could be applied, all the things that people who don’t live this lifestyle, often choose to ladle upon us. It’s OK, I don’t believe that but, there is possibly a tiny speck of truth, in some of it and I don’t think we can escape it. When your not believed for year upon year, you do become paranoid, not about what you feel, but about being believed. I learned to monitor my body so many years ago now, that I can’t actually tell you exactly when it started. Probably back in my twenties, when I was first told they could find nothing wrong with me. I knew they were wrong, and the only way I could prove it, was to keep checking until, I can paint a picture they couldn’t ignore. At first, I focused on what was right, and knowing what right was. That sounds odd, I know, but if you don’t know what normal is, how can you tell if it changes? It actually took quite a long time before, I was sure of the range that normal lived in, but once I thought I knew, then I could really look for and understand what was wrong. When I had what I now know were flares, I was then clear about what was happening to me, the fact the doctors still didn’t believe me, didn’t matter, because I knew. The doctors could believe what they wanted, I knew, and that meant a lot.

Being aware of your own body, to me can only be dangerous if you are obsessive about it, or if you find something, that worries you, and you do nothing about it. I think there will always be times we find something odd, something we haven’t felt before. It is bound to happen to all of us at some point, as bodies are like that, they do odd things. It’s what you do when you find it that matters. I can remember sitting here once for about two hours, totally convinced that I was having a series of mild heart attacks. I was getting intense pain right over my heart, and over into the center of my chest, upwards into my armpit and upper left arm. I sat here, actually unsure if I should even move, or what I should do. The pains kept coming, fading away, then happening again. It’s now a perfectly normal part of my life, but then, it had me scared rigid. Which didn’t help, as the pain then started spreading into my neck, because of stress. It was in fact, the very first time that I had had intercostal spasms. I wasn’t dying, just having my first MS hug. I knew about them, but I didn’t know they could be one-sided, something that my frantic Google searches eventually revealed. I wasn’t only relieved by what I found, but that I hadn’t called 999, which probably should have been the right response. There was something in the back of my mind that stopped me, this window of doubt, that kept saying, “if it were, you’d feel worse”. That said, the sensible thing would have been to pick up the phone, I might have felt stupid, but it would have been the correct decision.

If I were sat here, day in day out, consciously scanning my body, I would say that was wrong, I’d say it was for anyone. The big difference is, that I don’t do it consciously, I don’t remember when I last did. To me, I just live my life and my body screams at me about the tiniest things. I don’t understand why it doesn’t even try to intervene any longer. Why when part of me goes numb, that I don’t just change position, but I don’t. It just shouts for attention instead. In some ways, life would be more peaceful if it did, but I can’t unlearn what I’ve taught myself to do. I see it, as just another one of those things, that we the chronically ill, have to live with. Like everything, it has its good points and bad points, but it’s just what it is, and life will go on despite it. Since I started writing, I have lost my right knee four times, the upper left-hand section of my face, and the entire lower half of my right leg, from spot right to the entire thing, now gone for over an hour. I have had pins and needles in my left foot and left hand. Tingling in my left shoulder and my left foot has been on fire. My lips, have been itchy, then decided to hang on to the effects of my scratching them, for about half an hour after I last touched them. My stomach has been so painful that I have had to stop, stand and press into it until it passed. Spasms in both my diaphragm and lower intercostals, combined with upper intestinal pain. I had tingling traveling around and over the right side of my head and finally, shooting pains firing from the base of my left heel, firing upwards along the path of my shin bone and my ankle has turned to lead. A perfectly normal set of information being relayed to me, in the space of an hour. No matter what I do, I can’t stop hearing my body, I know it too well.

Please read my blog from 2 years ago today – 18/12/2013 – Who needs legs?

I had to head to bed early again last night, a bit upsetting really as for the last couple of weeks I have made it through to 9 pm every night, then last night appeared and I disappeared at 8. I had found myself…….