Written by Alison Bell.
This past week I have learnt a great deal about trusting the body's innate ability to heal itself.
Last Tuesday night was a particularly warm night in Sydney, and as I worked towards closing the kitchen for the day I blacked out and woke to find myself on the floor. I was not dazed nor injured and simply picked myself up and continued on my merry way cleaning the kitchen.
Upon the short drive home I started to feel a bit funny in the tummy and by the time I got home I felt remarkably unwell. I was dehydrated, nauseated and had developed a fever. I figured it must be heat exhaustion. That was until several hours later I had an intense sharp pain in my lower right abdomen.
Now I am not one for Dr Google, but as the night progressed I thought this was starting to feel remarkably like appendicitis so did some research. As time progressed my pain was easing slightly so I decided to wait it out until the morning, hoping some sleep would help.
With the new sun came new sensations and relief from the sharp abdominal pain. The fever was gone and the pain was down to a dull ache. What bothered me most was my lack of appetite. Anyone that knows me can attest to the fact that if I am not eating, then something is seriously wrong!!!
I uhmmmed and ahhhhed for a few hours before finally taking myself down to the local Medical Centre to see a random GP. What a shock I got. It has been quite some time since I have put myself into mainstream medicine, and about 5 minutes into the consult I realised why. I know the doctor was being precautionary but wow, they can certainly make things dramatic.
I walked out overwhelmed and amazed that I was even alive. His diagnosis ranged from neurological disorder to a seizure to epilepsy to a burst cyst on the ovary to appendicitis to him eventually saying he didn't really know but I need to take myself to a hospital immediately for scans and likely an operation.
I wasn't quite happy with how this felt and decided to follow my gut instincts, calling my usual integrative doctor. This amazing lady has a 6 month wait list so I wasn't overly hopeful, but made the call as I was driving myself to the hospital. I needed someone to put my mind at rest from the pure fear and panic the previous doctor had instilled in me, and to hear from the person who had my full medical history and have been treating me for several autoimmune diseases over the past 12 months.
There is one thing I have learned over the past few years, and that is to ALWAYS ask questions until you feel comfortable with what is happening. To not be overwhelmed and pressured into procedures or medications. To query and research until you can make an educated decision and do what feels right for you. It is your body after all.
My last minute decision to call my regular integrative doctor was to be something I am forever grateful for. Given the details of the severity of my case, and that I was on my way to the hospital, the doctor saw me immediately between patients and confirmed it was definitely sub acute appendicitis. I was then given the option, if I was willing, to try some natural healing, under close supervision, before rushing to go under the knife. This was not a condition to be taken lightly, but it was a condition that has had some success with natural remedies.
SO WHAT NOW
Armed with knowledge on what to expect and what danger signs to look out for, and a bag full of natural medicines and herbs, I headed back home for bed rest. With fear and stress now removed from my emotional load, which by the way are key players in contributing to poor health, I could now focus on the healing process.
To accompany the herbs and supplements, I was prescribed a diet of nothing but bone broth for two days. Oh if you could have seen the grin that took my face at those words. Our aim was, with the combination of herbs and broth, to reduce all inflammation in the gut and give the appendix a clear environment in which to recover.
And thus began my battle, not only with my appendix, but with almost every person that knew me. As you may well know, appendicitis is normally treated with surgery and antibiotics. It is not something to play Russian Roulette with and can be a very dangerous situation if the appendix does indeed burst. So family and friends were asking why on earth I wasn't already in hospital? Why was I choosing to try and beat this naturally? After all, there are plenty of healthy people walking around without their appendix, and they seem none the worse for it. Surely surgery would be a safer and quicker option to health? Or is it....
BUT ISN'T THE APPENDIX USELESS?
It has always been referred to as the "useless organ". But it's hard to believe any part of our anatomy was created as redundant. We learn more and more each day about the wondrous ability our body has to do everything it does, to pump our heart, to moisten our eyes, to develop new cells, to grow and heal. And science is once again catching up as more evidence is found to prove the worth of the humble appendix.
According to Professor Gabrielle Belz of Melbourne’s Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, the removal of the appendix is the most common surgery in Australia. But it appears that little organ attached to the large intestine (the colon) may have the important function of producing good intestinal bacteria and protect our microbiome helping keep disease in check.
"The appendix is one of the guardians of the internal environment of the body from the hostile external environment" according to A.Zahid of Allama Iqbal Medical College. This sounds like something I need given my bioscreen showed a great deal of work was required on my gut bacteria!
According to an article in the M.J. Anderson Bulletin for May-June of 1979, Dr. Birger Jansson reported that patients who had their appendix removed are at twice the risk of having colon cancer. As well, research published in May this year found that; “female subjects who undergo an appendectomy have a higher risk of rheumatoid arthritis. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25970542 ).
HOW DID I FARE?
Well it's been a week and I've had remarkable improvement. There have been daily bloods for observation of white blood cell count and I've returned to near normal results. I've got some energy back and nearly all the symptoms have gone but for a very mild ache. While this recovery may have taken about the same time as surgery, I'm quite thrilled the long term recovery from anaesthetic and antibiotics has thus far been avoided.
The body can do some amazing self healing if given half the chance. There is always a time and a place for hospital, and I have been lucky enough to avoid that in this case by listening very closely to my body and what it is telling me, along with the help of a most exceptional doctor.
Note: If you experience any symptoms of appendicitis, do consult your doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment of this condition.
Nature Immunology journal, 1 December 2015 in Volume 16, Issue No. 12
Zahid A. J Coll Physicisians Surg Pak, 2004 Apr. The vermiform appendix: not a useless organ. Department of Anatomy, Allama Iqbal Medical College