What’s the worst physical pain you’ve ever felt? I can’t decide between my frozen shoulder a number of years ago and my very angry gallbladder which put me in the hospital last week. The frozen shoulder would cause my knees to buckle. This gallbladder incident was different. The gallbladder pain broke and opened me on a few levels or at least tripped a few circuit breakers.
Learning to Manage Pain with Meditation
Starting as a child at around age 10 I would have intense stomach pain. The doctor thought it was hyper-acidity and stress. Back then they didn’t have CT machines and other marvels of modern medicine so I took my Mylanta and tried not to eat too much pizza.
The pain though was clearly triggered by stress and it could last all night. Curled up in a ball in my bed I eventually learned some techniques to survive the episodes. In my experiments with managing the pain I found meditation and breathing techniques did help. The Mylanta was partially effective. I never really was able to make the pain go away once it showed up. The best I could hope for was staying centered in the moment. Eventually, the hours passed and I could go to sleep.
Accepting I Needed Help
Last week, I began to relive those painful episodes. Triggered by food, I had hours of pain take me right back to childhood. The pain was identical. After about a week of the episodes getting more frequent and being so intense something odd happened.
I kind of broke. Areas of my skin became very sensitive to touch. Emotionally, I was all over the place. Eventually, about 6 PM Saturday evening all I could do was cry on the bed.
Thankfully, I had just seen my doctor about the pain. While my blood work and exam showed nothing obvious wrong he said if the pain is too much I need to go to the emergency room. This was good but tricky advice for me. I asked both he and his assistant multiple times about how to judge pain to make the decision. Over the years I became very self-reliant regarding managing pain. Going to the hospital? I didn’t even know where to begin to know how much pain was worth a trip. Really, I can handle it. Yep.
How Much Pain is Enough?
As it happens, crying on the bed in uncontrollable pain and unable to breathe are good reasons to go to the hospital. Unable to breathe because as we found out later in the evening I was also infected with two viruses. The normal coronavirus and parainfluenza. Yes, I also had the flu in spades!
Oh and before we get to the hospital part I would like to add when I stood up to get ready to go I told my wife, “You know it’s not so bad. I don’t think I need to go.”
Yeah. Not so bad.
I had sections of my skin which were so sensitive they kind of hurt to touch. The dog sat at my feet, looked up at me, and I just started crying. Yeah, this is not me. I don’t know the neurology behind pain and the brain but this felt like there were circuits designed to offload some of the sensation to help with processing.
Luckily, this wasn’t my first hospital rodeo. Last March was my first real ER visit. That time was about my heart. Having learned my lesson my wife was fully informed as to what was going on with me. Anyway, I put on my pajamas. I knew one thing, you might as well be comfortable with easy to remove clothing when going to the hospital. Then we headed out.
Spending the Night in the Emergency Room
We got checked in to the ER pretty quick. For a Saturday the place was practically deserted. I was in the quarantine area for only a few minutes before they called me back. Which was nice but marked the beginning of a long 7 hour stretch while they tried to figure out what was wrong.
Once again I was in level 2 or whatever they call it, like last year. This time with a droplet hazard sign on the door. Why? They weren’t really sure if I had the covid19 virus. Fevers, cough, body aches were kind of qualifying but not quite. So everyone wore masks and I got the various blood tests, a chest x-ray, and CT scan.
The CT scan was the key to finding the problem. Blood work other than the flu tests showed no problems. Lungs looked good on the x-ray. As the ER doctor put it though, I had one very pissed off gallbladder. Bad enough I was told I wasn’t going to be discharged until I had surgery to remove it. Such is the (short) story of the adventure with my gallbladder being removed.
Something Shifted, Pain and Growth
Twenty four hours after I checked into the ER I was in my hospital room recovering. My gallbladder now retired from service. The next afternoon I would be discharged and headed home.
What just happened? I mean beyond the physical side. Something clearly shifted in me emotionally and energetically.
For one, being so exposed in the intense pain insecurities and concerns dropped. People’s opinions of me became quite irrelevant. For most of my life I have been unable to express the inner reality, energetic, and spiritual experiences in my life. Yes, I began doing so more recently. After last weekend, I feel like some kind of guard rail as been removed. I can express these things without worrying about offending anyone. Maybe people will be offended or make fun of me. The pain was so opening responses from other people don’t feel sticky.
Energetically and emotionally the gallbladder holds anger, resentment, and frustration. Looking inwards it’s not hard to see where I have been holding onto those emotions for a long time. Dang I thought I had dealt with all that stuff!
Even though my gallbladder is gone the energy pathways are still present. My guess is this relief I feel emotionally is in part due to removing a store of unprocessed emotions. They will be back. Working through them is important work for me to do.
Love, compassion, and kindness have become more conscious for me. As I process the emotions of my gallbladder energies I would expect to experience an even greater expansion.
Where is all this coming from and where is it leading me? Where is the growth?
One major source of struggle and frustration in my life has been in expressing myself in the world. I am drawn to technical topics, the artistic, and the mystical. Hacking, programming, and exploring tech feel good. Writing, drawing, and dancing feel good. Working with energy, meditating, magick, and trance work feel good.
They were also difficult for me to hold in the same basket. Frustratingly so. Yet, they are all part of who and how I am in this world. So I tried to divide them when I blogged or talked with people. This didn’t work out very well. Living a divided life isn’t healthy for me.
In the last week I have not so coincidentally come across people who are sharing the diversity of who they are in this world. One person I stumbled across is @codecancare on Twitter and HackerOne, a bug bounty web site. He mixes meditation with his bug hunting and shares both on Twitter. For whatever reason seeing his profile and posts really clicked with me.
Context is Everything
In reading about people like @codecancare I realized my context for making choices and acting in this world has been off. I have been attempting to figure out how to share my experiences with people from the point of view of a blogger or programmer or tango instructor. Those are all vehicles for something greater. The something greater is where I can start sharing from in the first place.
If I share my talents and gifts consciously from Love, Compassion, and Kindness there is no need to divide who I am in this world. I am the Consciousness in the space of Love and Compassion. Allow the energy and consciousness guide my choices of expression. Dancing, hacking, energy work, and blogging are powered and guided by the energy. There is no need for division in my life. As much as I have been attempting to unify this division in my life I was given yet another experience to enhance my consciousness.
Why this makes sense to me is I had at one time lived my life primarily from the energetic flow state. I would flow energy all day long as I went about my day. What was missing was unifying my interaction with the world and my energetic flow states. I was still operating from a divided if parallel position.
The pain of my gallbladder breaking down opened me to greater consciousness and growth. Ultimately, the only way I can live is in unity with the consciousness and energy. Do not live with one foot in each world. Do not live with two feet in only one world. The worlds must be allowed to mix and swirl around where I stand.