Healing does not have to be dramatic or involving a life-threatening illness, sometimes it can be quite routine – even trivial. But maybe if we appreciate healing for the small things, then the large issues may not be such a big mountain to climb.
Over the last three days I developed a sore throat that progressed to sinus blockage and then into the upper part of my chest as a productive cough. It is four years since I had the last infection like this, and I am used to getting one every few years, for some of the reasons I’ll come to. But, one of the things that makes this troublesome for me is that the cough usually becomes a real nuisance and lasts up to a fortnight.
Several years ago I came to understand why this should be so: I had my tonsils removed when I was four years old and any infection I get in my upper passages will then pass to my chest, because I lack the normal defence mechanism that the tonsils serve.
Of course, I had my tonsils removed “for the right reasons”, so I was told. I was getting recurrent colds and was frequently deaf. In addition I had my adenoids removed and remember frequent trips to the hospital to have my upper passages “blown out”. In hindsight, I don’t think I was deaf, I just didn’t listen… but that’s another story.
Back to the present: Last night the congestion became worse and I started to feel awful. Then I started to get rigors; I felt very cold and was shaking, yet my temperature did not rise and I did not get sweats. I retired to bed fully clothed with extra blankets, a hot water bottle and an array of pills – just in case.
The shaking continued and I started to ache. I looked at the panadol, and had this intuitive flash that I should not take any, even though I might feel better. I got worse and the shaking increased, eventually seemingly overwhelming me. Stubborn as I am, I persisted and avoided any medication.
Then, as I felt that “I can’t go on, feeling like this… ”, even though I knew this state would eventually pass. Then, quite suddenly, everything abated. The cough went and my passages were clear. I settled down to a reasonable sleep and have awoken this morning with a residue of a cough, but know I am “through it”.
Many years ago, I read in Ayurvedic medicine – the traditional medical system of the Indian subcontinent – that such colds visited us periodically and did so as a sort of cleansing process, maybe psychically as well as physically. This would explain the fact that I got one every few years, but would not get one in a minor epidemic if it were not my due time for one.
Contrary to popular opinion, such colds are not a sign of immune system weakness, but maybe exactly the opposite. The colds act to bolster the immune system, a sort of “rebooting” I reasoned. I have also been impressed that people with apparently severe immune suystem compromise, as with cancer, often don’t get such routine afflictions.
A further point, particularly in the light of yesterday’s post, “Recovering from Medicines”, is that I chose – intuitively – not to take any panadol. My firm belief is that this may reduce symptoms, but block the body’s natural healing process, and thus maybe keeping it linger on – or maybe give me a “re-run” in a week or two!
This is my reasoning behind not giving children medications like panadol – and certainly not antibiotics – for routine and trivial problems. These, I believe, are the child interacting with the world and developing its immune system. Block this process, and we may make them vulnerable to further and more serious problems.
A further point is a little controversial; that maybe such “viruses” are actually our friends, helping us in the complexity of living and dealing with our health. They are part of the rich interactive network of life, and not necessarily our enemy. They may also help us to be able to negotiate the bigger challenges, or even to bypass them altogether.