At 45, (ok, you got me, I am 46 in 4 weeks) I had been told for the past couple of years I was in ‘peri-menopause’.
For those who aren’t there yet, it is this kind of no-man’s land of not being in actual menopause, but also no longer having a ‘regular’ period (if you ever did have regular periods). I went from periods that would last 3 weeks, to not having one for 6 – 8 weeks, and just never knowing when it would arrive. I no longer knew if I was having PMS, or I was just being a cranky bitch. On top of that, as we trawled through the summer of 2016/17 here in Qld, I thought I may be having hot flushes, but if you live here, you’d be like… “Hey, that was just the ridiculous humidity and climate change.” Turns out this peri-menopause bizzo can go on for like, up to 10 years. Ugh, great.
But then, the irregularity just stopped and there was nothing…nada, not a spot for like, 3 months, and to top it off, my brain was like ‘aaaahhh hello, what’s happening??’ I used to use if for stuff like thinking and making up poems and jokes. But now, it was like I was walking through a hazy fog, but I couldn’t even remember what fog was. Dr Google said “You are experiencing symptoms of menopause….so off to the doctor I went, in hopes of a miraculous answer to my sweaty, foggy non-bleeding situation.”
‘Well’, said the doc, you are still in peri-menopause. ‘We don’t consider it to be ‘actual menopause’ until there has been no bleeding for 12 months.’ Right, so just keep trucking or, you can go on HRT, because if it is early menopause, well, we need to be looking after your bone health, but we can wait until it is ‘officially’ menopause for that. Yikes…ok. Let’s worry about that then, I think.
BUT, (and it is a rather big but…not my actual butt, but well, it is about my butt…ok, I’ll try to stop) while I am at my lovely new docs at the new women’s well-being clinic I have decided to switch to, because I can never get an appointment with the old GP I have been seeing for 10 years, she says “Let’s do a full history and physical”.
Ok, I guess that is a good idea. What a lovely doctor I think to myself….until she starts asking all the questions about my toilet habits. This is one of those areas where I just freeze up and get stuck. And that ‘freeze up and getting stuck’ is a crucial piece of this story.
If you are one of my lovely readers, who is with me because you are a survivor of sexual abuse, please keep reading this….it may save your life.
For as long as I can remember, I have been kind of irregular in that area. From urgency to looseness to difficulty in passing to constipation. My body has never had an easy time processing waste. In about the last 10-15 years, the term Irritable Bowel Syndrome has become fairly well known and bantered around in the medical and health circle, and so I latched onto this idea, as it seemed to explain what I experience. I had spoken to my old GP who agreed that it was pretty much what was happening for me. I would try to see if it was related to particular foods. I found it better to avoid too much dairy…particularly milk and ice-cream, but I haven’t really focused too much time on it, because honestly, I feel like my Irritable Bowel is a part of my body’s betrayal of me.
My body has been responsible for so much pain; it felt like this was an intrinsic part of my life. Just another way that life sucks, that I deserve this shit show (I know I am full of terrible toilet jokes…I can’t seem to stop) and I am being punished for my sexual abuse.
So, anyway, the nice new lady doctor says “I don’t like these descriptions of your bowel, let’s do a test”.
Oh joy…poo test. So I agree to the poo test. When the doc gets the result, she isn’t too happy still.
It isn’t Celiac (yay…I still get bread!!)
It’s not Chrohns or Ulcerative Colitits (Yay…not an icky sounding disease).
But there is something not right. The Doc doesn’t like the look of things, so, she says, “I think you should have a colonoscopy”.
AAAHHH, Oooo, no, no, no.
Something inside of me surges. I have not acknowledged this feeling right up front.
This feeling lurks far far away in shadow land. In the place we don’t go. The place we don’t acknowledge. This is the place of waste, and toxicity and foulness. I have had a fear of this (of what they will find) for a long, long time.
My heart, stomach and bowel sink. Life and reality and truth land.
Yes…I know I have to do this. But I so do not want to.
The referral is made to a Gastroenterologist.
A few weeks pass and I have successfully avoided making an appointment.
Until I am sitting on the floor of my office one day. It is one of the places where I sometimes like to sit and cry or meditate. This time I am meditating. I was having a ‘check in’ with my body and I feel a huge sob welling up inside of me and the voice of my guidance crashes loud and clear into my mind…”Megan, this is it, it is time NOW!”
Ok, thank you guides, message received. I am looking at my calendar trying to figure a date for the procedure and the phone rings. It is the hospital. They have my referral, and since I haven’t rung to make an appointment, they are checking to see if they should just throw it away.
“No”, I say, “I was just about to call and make the appointment”. Wow…what a coincidence (of course, there is no such thing as coincidence).
Today, as I write this blog, it is the day after my colonoscopy. Yes, I survived. Yes, the prep was horrid, but the procedure itself was fine. You are sedated, so there is nothing to freak out about there.
But…. here is what the lovely butt doctor said.
‘You have 4 large sessile serrated adenomas in your mid-ascending colon that have to be removed by a specialist. You have ‘Serrated Polyposis Syndrome.’ These are the kinds of things that have the potential and probability to become cancerous and your body is prone to making to making them. It was lucky that you came in when you did, because we can get them out now, before they get worse. And, sorry but you will need yearly colonoscopies, because you are in the high risk category‘
And, because I asked the question about whether my history of Depression, PTSD Anxiety and Panic Attacks could have contributed, he also confirmed:
‘The scientific research absolutely backs up the fact that there is a link between stress and trauma and being diagnosed with Irritable Bowel and Bowel Cancer, so yes, if you have experienced childhood abuse, it will have played a role in the development of it. There is a link between the gut, the bowel and the brain that we are just beginning to understand it better.’
Whoa! Ok….but the good news is that we got there in time!
I don’t have cancer…just a high risk factor that will have to be continually monitored.
But, instead, I went to a new doctor about my menopause, and she took the time listen and to understand all about me.
I, finally, listened to my body, and my body spoke to me.
I listened when the universe sent me that coincidence (synchronicity) and I took action…even though I didn’t want to and I was (shit) scared! And I saved myself some nasty repercussions.
All because I went into early menopause, so I went to the doctor.
Oh, and just to add another synchronicity to the story. I found out all of the above on Wednesday 21 June…which just happens to be Bowel Cancer Awareness Day! (Is that synchronicity or irony?)
Of course, being me, I now want to know what the ‘spiritual’ message of colon cancer is. So off to Dr Google it and this is what is says. In Chinese medicine, the colon and lungs are connected. The lungs are what we bring into ourselves and the colon is what we release. (Some years ago I had pneumonia…and have always suffered with bronchitis, upper respiratory tract issues. Oh, another co-incidence).
On a page from Spirit Voyage, Titled “Kundaini Yoga and the Colon: Healing Resentment”…it says:
From an emotional viewpoint, the colon has to do with having trouble letting go. These issues aren’t typically current life events, but usually stem from the past. It is human nature to hold on to events because there is a belief that by never forgetting, we will not let it happen again. It is be helpful to learn from the past, but there is a point in which what we hold onto will hold us back from moving on. Resentment is an example of holding onto the past and the emotion can literally jam up the entire body.
And the big important sentence:
(it) has to do with secrets that we bury from ourselves. It is like hiding something in the deepest darkest corner we can find in the body so that we cannot even find it.”
Furthermore, on a page called Cancer Awakens, in relation to mental and emotional triggers for colo-rectal cancer, comes this info:
‘As a part of the large intestine, the colon is symbolised as the realm of the dead, for in it is contained all the materials that cannot be brought back to life. The large intestine is also symbolised as our unconscious or our ‘shadow side’, the home of those things that we are afraid to bring into the open.
Those who have colon cancer may be prone to suppressing and containing within themselves, their negative emotions and parts of their personality that they do not like. Often, these suppressed parts may be unconscious.
Relatedly, Louise Hay also associates the colon with the past, and problems of the colon stemming from an unwillingness to let go of the past.
Then there is also the Second Chakra Connection;
The colon and rectum are located above the base of the spine, in the region of the second chakra. The health of this chakra is influenced by how we exercise power and control in issues of money, sex and intimate relationships.
So, the point I want to share about my brush with potential cancer is the notion of how
The suppression of our sexual abuse and not freeing ourselves from our resentment and our trauma is literally making us sick. Not only will addressing it release the secret and the burden from an emotional and mental health perspective, but it may just save your life.
For years and years I held onto the secret of it. I was 33 when I finally took the step to speak up and I decided to write my book about it when I was 42. But for those first 30 years, I held onto a HUGE damaging scary secret. I was angry, hurt, confused and resentful. I grieve the loss of an innocent childhood, the difficulties I have experienced with intimacy, the difficulty of letting go of the pain I experienced, the sense of betrayal which led to many trust issues. It is a long list of emotional pain to say the least. These emotions have been stuck, frozen inside of me, and I have struggled to ‘let them go”. So, the worst of it has decided to take up physical residence in the place where I release the foulness, toxicity and waste.
Ok… I see the connection.
I am convinced that my determination to overcome my sexual abuse has created the circumstances that led to me discovering the damage inside my body before it killed me (or at the very least made me incredibly ill). I whole-heartedly believe that my spiritual practice and dedication to meditation, combined with the act of releasing of my voice, through speaking up, speaking out, then writing my book and starting this blog have deepened my understanding of the interconnectedness of mind/body/spirit/soul which has created so much healing in my life. This is another chapter in the progress of the change and power to heal and protect ourselves that is possible.
That is the power of the voice, the power in the story and the gift of our intuition.
For all of that…I am very very grateful.
I have written 3 follow up blogs to this original post. To follow this series you can read all about that AMAZING synchronicity that occurred around this healing episode and how I use my energy work, meditation and oils in my spiritual journey to deal with healing the traumas that go along with spiritual journey:
Post 2 is Meditating with the Monster
Post 3 is The House of Pain is Gone
Here are some links to articles about childhood abuse,IBS and Cancer:
Annals of Internal Medicine: Sexual and Physical Abuse in Women with Functional or Organic Gastrointestinal Disorders
Conclusions: We found that a history of sexual and physical abuse is a frequent, yet hidden, experience in women seen in referral-based gastroenterology practice and is particularly common in those with functional gastrointestinal disorders. A history of abuse, regardless of diagnosis, is associated with greater risk for symptom reporting and lifetime surgeries.
According to Dr. Larry Bergstrom, MD, Director of the Integrative Medicine Program at the Mayo Clinic Scottsdale Arizona the emotional stress of being a victim of sexual abuse may lead to physical illness such as fibromyalgia, chronic pain, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and even cancer.
The Bottom Line – Abuse can affect physical health
Healing your past can help you overcome stomach problems, headaches and other unexplained ailments. Sexual abuse—be it recent or years ago—is often linked to mental health problems such as depression and anxiety in the estimated one in four women and one in six men who were sexually assaulted before the age of 18. Now: A growing body of evidence links a history of molestation and/or rape to a wide variety of physical ailments. Problem: Sexual abuse survivors—and their doctors—often don’t realize that their medical problems may stem from the abuse. What’s more, many people who were sexually abused are reluctant to mention it to their doctors because they feel shame and anxiety about what happened to them.
The childhood sexual abuse (CSA) survivor population is substantial and survivors have been identified as part of the population who were under-screened or never-screened for breast, cervical and colon cancer.
And for info about bowel cancer: https://www.bowelcanceraustralia.org/
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