Saturday, May 23, 2015

Body Language

My body has a language: it sings in numbers and I am grateful to say that I can hear its song.

But first things first: I have been amiss in posting. Things fell apart and the center could not hold.

This anarchy has also been of my body's making. The humors flowed sluggishly; red stitched itself through the eyes; the eyelids proved unable to stay lifted long enough to let the eyes see; the balloon feet staggered, unbalanced; the heart raced to keep up and then slowed down, tired. All I wanted to do was to sink within and let my body have its way. My kidneys have failed, causing panic to shoot through an organic system that had taken its balance and well-being for granted. Undefined anxieties exploded and my mild distaste of needles loomed into a major phobia.

However, today, I am glad to report that the storm has been contained. My kidney disease has brought me many gifts and this entry goes out in acknowledgement of these gifts.

When I was younger, people teased me that I was not of this "modern" world, that I operated from some golden, pre-lapsarian past because of a predilection of seeing the world through romanticized glasses. I have never agreed with this; I am born in exactly the absolute correct age and I never had any pink prisms to filter the world's realities. This age suits me and I owe it my very life. Thanks to this wondrous age, even though my major organs have failed, I am aware of a feeling of undeniable well-being. I can enjoy my job, sustain a conversation, and savor a demi-tasse of coffee. Of late, I have even found the wherewithal to use earrings when I go out for dinner with family and friends.
Yes, these outings exhaust me once they are over; yes, I have muscle cramps that go on for days; yes, I have forgotten what it is like to sleep through the night; yes, my social life is seriously compromised. Even so, all this is nothing when I remember my body's desperate attempt to reach me to help it. I also remember my total inability to help.

Then, this age, this millenium came to my body's rescue and taught me to understand its language. I started dialysis, a miraculous process that helps my confused body to maintain balance, to come to terms with its condition. Patient experts taught me how to listen and talk with the flesh I inhabit.

I have always known that my body has an intelligence all its own, an intelligence that I have no understanding of, that I have been unable to access. But now, I have learned to balance my diet (the strictest kind) with the medications I have to take; I have learned to understand the relationship between daily weight, blood pressure, and the kind of dialysis solution (or dialysate) I use that night. I await my blood results with alacrity because that is how  my body speaks now. Last month, I celebrated my independence from Epogen shots and blood infusions to maintain my red blood cell count; my body actually beat anemia! A couple of weeks ago, my nephrologist congratulated me on controlling my phosphorous after months of trying to achieve the correct balance between including enough protein in my diet while avoiding phosphorous. It took almost a year of trials and failures to achieve the correct potassium numbers.

Every morning, when I take my blood pressure, record my weight, and finish my treatment, I am grateful for the ability to do so. Every evening, when I again take my blood pressure, record my weight, and begin my treatment, I am grateful for having lived the day. Yes, I do wish my life were easier, but more often than that, I am glad, so, so glad that it is as easy as it is!

The Geeta insists on the importance of making friends with oneself. The truth of this issue has been brought to me. I understand now that I need a lot of people and a lot of things, but all pale in comparison to how much I need to get along with my body. I am humbled by the incredible adaptability of my body, its admirable insistence on being my best friend, its stubborn loyalty in its refusal to abandon me, its ever-youthful willingness to accommodate new ways of replacing parts of itself, and at the risk of intense narcissism, I am so, so proud of being allowed to inhabit this wonderful machine that celebrates the spirit of being human with every breath it draws for me, with me.

I have learned to love my body with a completely different sort of appreciation and for that alone, if for nothing else, I wish to live forever with this body. There can be no gift greater than an aware life lived in a body that won't quit.



  1. Eloquent, as always. This one seems to have potential to be published elsewhere. And when you need a subject for a memoir or a book of essays to write, this blog post points the way.

    1. You think so? I will definitely keep that then. Thank you!