It’s Important to Listen to Your Body, Especially When It’s Screaming

A health scare reminds this columnist to pay attention to her body's signals

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by Candice Galvan |

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The human body is fascinating for many reasons. Our body speaks to us throughout the day, letting us know when we are hungry, tired, full of energy, sick, or in pain. It’s a temple we must nourish, listen to, and treat well. Sometimes our body screams at us to take action to alleviate pain or discomfort, and in these times, it’s especially crucial that we listen.

I have a friend who knew something was wrong with her heart based on her body’s signals. For months, she was in and out of the hospital, pleading with doctors to check her heart. Every time, the doctors would observe her for a while, but eventually clear her to return home. She was exhausted, but never gave up on finding answers.

One evening, while trying to go to sleep, my friend felt that something was terribly wrong. She used all of her strength to crawl to the next room and have her parent call an ambulance. When my friend arrived at the hospital, she learned that 90% of her heart valves were blocked. She had to undergo open-heart surgery to repair her arteries and finally find relief. She later shared a video of herself explaining the situation, advising people to always listen to their body and self-advocate.

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I also had to stop and listen to my body recently, which can be difficult as a wife, mom, caregiver to my daughter Bella, columnist, insurance educator, and neuromyelitis optica (NMO) advocate.

A few weeks ago, I kept waking up with severe pain on my left side. I went to the emergency room for observation, but was eventually released home.

My suffering continued, and after additional hospital visits and an ambulance ride, I was admitted for the pain. This devastated me, as I had so many other things going on that needed my attention. But my body was screaming at me, and there was nothing I could do but listen to it and rest.

After undergoing testing, I was informed that I had a mild case of pancreatitis and kidney stones and an ovarian cyst on my left side. Talk about ouch! I was in the hospital for a week and learned that I need to listen to my body, no matter what.

Thanking my body

While I was hospitalized, I thought about how much I admire Bella, 14, who has learned to listen to her body since she was diagnosed with NMO at 9 years old. The past five years have been full of learning for us. Even though my daughter’s body doesn’t communicate with me directly, I can see signs of when she’s not feeling well or when her symptoms are causing her trouble. I also admire all of those with NMO who have taken the time to teach Bella and me about the importance of listening to your body.

While my hospitalization was very difficult on my family and me, I’m glad to be home where I can continue to recover and be with my loved ones. I’m also grateful to be a caregiver to Bella and to have a family that inspires and motivates me to keep going and power through each day.

I’m also grateful for the body I’ve been blessed with for life. I’m grateful it communicates with me throughout the day, ages with grace, holds me up, and helps me to put one foot in front of the other, even when it’s hard.

Note: Neuromyelitis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Neuromyelitis News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (NMOSD).


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