Ever wonder why some people are free to abuse their bodily temples without consequence? I mean, we all know them: the people who smoke a pack a day, abuse drugs or alcohol, or even deprive their bodies of food or push them to athletic extremes without anything going wrong. Lately I have spent a bit of time pondering this issue. No matter how careful I am, or how much I respect my body, it does not show me the proper respect in return. I have always treated my body with respect (aside from a periodic junk food habit), but since getting sick I have treated it as my temple. I have avoided all consumption of alcohol, caffeine, and even candy (for a little while). I have tried my best to nourish my body, mind, and spirit all while battling a chronic illness. I am envious of people with normal autonomic nervous systems whose bodies can self-regulate, maintain homeostasis, and compensate for the trauma (excessive alcohol use, smoking, etc.) they put their bodies through.
The other day I was fortunate to take a brief walk on a trail near my house overlooking the water. It is a popular place for cyclists, joggers, and dog walkers. I made the walk to the closest bench and sat and watched the sunset while a girl about my age came panting up the hill, looking absolutely dreadful, and weighing all of about 80 pounds. By comparison, I looked way healthier than she did, and yet she was able to push her body to what looked like the brink of near death and claimed that she felt fine. She stopped to rest beside me, wheezing away. I gave her a minute to rest and asked her if she was okay. If I did something like that to my body on a hot day, it would likely result in an ambulance ride to the nearest ER. Although I usually withhold judgement on strangers, after talking to this girl for a few minutes, I realized how selfish she seemed. On what had to be one of the hottest days of the year, she couldn't bear to miss her daily run although everyone had warned her against it. I am not saying anyone "deserves" to be sick, but I had to wonder, just for a second, how this girl's body was holding up. And yet mine was not. For a brief moment, I thought, why me? Why not her? Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't wish dysautonomia on ANYONE; it is a horrible reality to endure. I just can't comprehend how some people are able to withstand so much more than others, and why the slightest change in heart rate or temperature can throw my body into a dangerous tailspin. My boyfriend's simplified explanation of it all is that my body is just fragile, and I need to do my best to listen to and accommodate it. But quite frankly, I am tired of accommodating my body and wish I could push it, not to the extreme, but just a little bit...say on a shopping trip that lasts for more than an hour, without consequence. I guess it is hard because I still remember what it feels like to be normal, and at the moment, I am really missing my former life in a healthy body. But for now, I will continue to treat it as my temple, and maybe with time, my body will begin to show me some respect in return.