Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Red on White

Since coming to Japan, I've suffered a whole host of health problems. Some have been chronic (like my back pain and arthritis) and a constant drain on my energy levels. Others have been acute and scary.

About two years after coming to Japan, I developed gall stones and had to have surgery. I attributed this both to a biological predisposition (my whole family has had their gall bladders removed) and the stress of working at Japan's worst language school (at least at that time), Nova. My recovery was slow and painful. No one warns you that you're going to come out of surgery feeling like a victim in a bad knife fight but that's pretty much the way it is.

The next frightening experience was when half my face froze up. This was definitely a stress reaction from an ongoing battle not to work in a sweat shop during the summer. The president of the company at that time shared an air conditioning bank with us and he was on top of a vent and we were totally shut off from any air in phone cubicles. He was freezing and we were dying. Anyway, I developed Bell's Palsy and was put on steroids for two months. It was bad enough that half my face was paralyzed but now I was also a snarling beast who couldn't control her emotions for about 2 months. No one warned me that the hormones that were going to thaw my face were going to make me feel like I was going insane.

Finally, I woke up one day with a blob of red on my eye. I'm not talking about bloodshot or tired eyes. I'm talking about what looked like a glob of deep red ink on a white tablecloth. This was very scary but ended up being the smallest problem with the least painful treatment. I went to the eye doctor and was tested and examined and told this sometimes happens. She gave me drops to put in my eye but I don't think that they really did much.

Yesterday morning, when I was saying goodbye to my husband as he headed off for a swim, I saw that he had one of these blotches on his eye as well. If I hadn't already experienced one, I'd have panicked over this but I knew it was one of those things that happens with age that clears up on its own. In his case, it's clearing up very rapidly. Mine was a bit bigger and took longer to dissipate.

When these things happen, I can't help but be reminded of how your body is breaking down as you age. This was reinforced all the more to me by ganglionic cysts on my right hand that I noticed yesterday. These types of things don't tend to happen to you when you're young. I'm not one of those people who gets worked up about my age or seeing birthdays go by. From an emotional and mental viewpoint, I'd rather be older than younger. However, I could do without all the breakdowns.


YETTE said...

i hope this year will be better for you health-wise. take care always!

mitzh said...

I know what you mean.. The Bell's Palsy seems scary, I hope you're doing fine now. I've seen one who had Bell's Palsy and it breaks my heart how it tears her up.

My grandma was here for a vacation when she had the same blob of red in her eye.It was scary to look at. The doctor also gave her eye drops and it clears off in a weeks time.

Anyway, I guess we should listen to our elders when they say "take care of your body while you're still young" they really know what they're saying.

Have a great day and always take care!

Roy said...

Have you ever considered trying some "natural" healing methods like Reiki? I'm a firm believer in nature's ability to heal and try never to take any kind of meds. Except maybe the occasional pain killer or hay fever med.

Shari said...

Thanks to both of you for your good wishes. I didn't provide a time frame but the Bell's Palsy was 10 years ago and the eye thing at least 6 years ago. I was reminded of them because of my husband having the same problem with his eye.

I think stress is the number one cause of health issues and I've had more than my share. It was the main reason I quit my full-time job.

Shari said...

As is often the case, I agree with you Roy though I think there are some things that natural cures aren't going to work with or are too severe to rely on natural methods.

For instance, a bad gall bladder, if left untreated, can kill you. My sister nearly died when hers was left too long (because she didn't have health insurance and couldn't get it taken care of unless it was an emergency).

Additionally, I was told that, if you don't get Bell's Palsty dealt with quickly, you can suffer permanent nerve damage to your face and that's a little too risky to gamble on.

For other things, I avoid the doctor and medication at all costs and try to do what I can to "heal myself" though I've never tried Reiki. For the most part, I think illnesses are caused by lifestyle problems, and mainly by stress or excess.