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Food Poisoning: A Mind-Body Adventure

By Phyllis Stein
June 05, 2012

I always thought that major GI upset was one of the worst experiences possible. Who knew it could be an adventure?

     Sunday was a pretty good day.  Got things done.  Exercised.  Ate dinner.  Went to bed.  All was well.  Except, the minute I laid down I did not feel quite so well.  I scrambled to figure out why, and it was a relief to realize that I was a little queasy.  Okay, we can handle that.  Maybe some chewable Pepto-Bismol?  Usually works.  Except last night it most definitely did not and I soon realized that I was in for a major GI upset.  I won't torture you with the details, except to say that I was making multiple trips to the bathroom, throwing up what I thought was my perfectly good dinner and otherwise getting rid of whatever my body needed to get rid of ASAP. Also, that it was very easy to throw up, not the terrifying experience that it used to be.   Good, I said to my body, I am so glad you are doing such a good job he, get it all!

     But I was also kind of miserable and alone, too uncomfortable to relax enough to get to sleep (this started at 11 and ended after 2:30), but in another way very calm.  I knew it would end.  I knew I could call 911 if my symptoms got really alarming, and I knew that if I did not get to sleep until late, I could deal with that too.  I also knew that as soon as I could finally relax, I would fall asleep but also, sadly, no matter what the symptoms, there was nothing I was going to be able to swallow to relieve them, so I would have to live with things like the headache. But that is not the point of the story, as you have guessed.

     I tried to read a book on my Kindle, but the book was very emotionally intense and that was too much for my body.  I had relaxing music on, very quiet, which I always do at night . That really helped, but in the end, between sudden orders to go to the bathroom, all I could really do is lay down, propped up as well I could think of, and be.  I decided to try some EFT and although it did actually make me feel a little better, I found that the vibration from even the gentlest tapping was too much.  I wound up kind of touching the points, and that was almost more than I could stand.   Saying the affirmation out loud with the karate chops was too much too, so I just did the karate chops and generally wished to feel better.  The cats were fascinated that I was wandering around the house at that hour of morning and they came to see if there was something in it for them, but their demanding energy was really too much also.  I could not even muster the energy to speak to them in my usual falsetto kitty voice.  It was a big aha! moment for me, the first one, as I suddenly understood people who just wanted to be alone when they were sick because they were so sensitive and how, in my not understanding how this could be, I must have come crashing in, trying to help and driving them insane. 

    But that would not have been worth writing up and this is what was.  As I laid there in the dark, I noticed that when I relaxed a little I felt better and when I got less relaxed I felt worse.  I started to tune into what was going on and was fascinated to realize that I was so raw and so open, that the effect of my thoughts on my physiology was lighting up, as they say, like the proverbial Christmas tree.  When I had relaxing thoughts, I felt better.  The music was really good for me.  When I thought about food, of course, I felt seriously worse.  But there was a set of "unrelaxing" thoughts that I would never have noticed, slightly worried or critical or negative ones, not even about myself, and I was astounded at the immediate effect they had on how my body felt.  I mean I KNOW this in theory, but this was really vivid!   It was how I imagine learning to fly a model airplane would be, getting immediate feedback but not really being all that smooth at it. By the way, I also noticed, sadly, that I had less control over the direction of my thoughts than I would have liked, 75% positive, but also 25% negative.  I was able to shift them quickly, but I was not flying with much control over the rudder (and started to consider the possibility of upping my skills with a meditation practice).  So, even though I was lying in bed in the middle of the night having food poisoning, I was also thinking "This is really cool." 

     Finally, I did another Pepto-Bismol tablet and this time it felt right.  I was not all better, but I did fall asleep as soon as I could relax, and that too was a kind of confirmation.  I had an experience but I really did not suffer.  I felt okay at a very deep level, even though when I tried to do anything like speak out loud, I was clearly not okay.  What a contrast to the misery that it might have been!

   Somewhere in there, I figured out that it was probably the raw vegetable juice from dinner, either the cut beets that I had put in a bag with some unwashed beets and maybe did not clean enough, or something on the kale that I did not wash off.  The next day, I stayed home and worked from home, but mostly I was in awe of the strange and magical adventure that my body gave me that night.




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