I decided to use this image for my blog today in honour of Canada’s 150th birthday - July 1st, 2017, and all it represents. Almost 30 years ago, I made (what turned out to be) a life-saving decision to make Canada my home, although I didn't know that at the time. Like so many others, I had dreams and aspirations, and came here in pursuit of higher education and better opportunities, but instead got derailed by health problems, specifically Crohn's Disease. The silver lining is that it happened in this wonderful country with its excellent (and free!) health care system among many, many great things. While life here isn’t always easy, Canada has been very good to me and my family. So, thank you, Canada. Happy Birthday!! Bon Anniversaire!!
Miracle, Necessity, Or Science
Whether you believe that the human body is God's Masterpiece, the result of Evolution, or even the controversial Scientific theory that it's the result of natural occurrences - random chemical processes that occurred bit by bit over billions of years, one thing is irrefutable, and that is, that the human body is a highly complex, incomparable, irreplaceable (so far) wonder machine. It's resilient, adaptable, sustainable, and self-healing; the human body is not the fragile, super-sensitive, easily-breakable thing many believe it to be. Does that mean you should stand in the middle of the highway in rush hour or jump off a twenty story building to prove it? Of course not! (Although there have been reports of people surviving even that!). But no, I wouldn't recommend you try either of those things or anything of that nature. After all, in addition to our amazing anatomies, we humans have been gifted (once again depending on your beliefs) with the unique ability to think, rationalize and use “common sense”. What does all of this have to do with me and my journey, you might be wondering? I'll get to that shortly. Please bear with me, I'm just going to go off on a tangent here for a moment. You may (or may not) have realized that I haven't posted anything on my blog for a while. The reason was that I wasn't feeling very well; I was experiencing some unusual and unfamiliar pains in my sternum area, something I had never felt before, but don't believe was related to my Crohn's, at least l don't think it was. I haven't confirmed one way or another yet as my doctor is on vacation and I really didn't think it warranted a trip to the ER (or maybe I was just in denial). Anyway, all I could think about though was: “what now”? So of course I did what everyone does these days, I googled it. I don’t need to tell you how that went, I succeeded in scaring myself silly. I finally came to my senses and realized I was trying to self-diagnose via the internet which was a profoundly stupid thing to do. But the damage was done, I’d managed to stress myself out. So friends, DON'T DO THIS!! PLEASE! For your own sanity! Anyway, my usual optimism and sense of humor took a vacation together without me, which left me with a great deal of time to ponder my lot in life. Yeah, that's right, I was having a moment times a hundred.
Be Grateful, Very Grateful
In my self-indulgent contemplation, I thought about how very differently my life had turned out to what I thought it would be, all because of my health issues. I'm sure many of you have had similar thoughts for any number of reasons. I also thought, a little enviously I'll admit, about all those people who have fully intact bodies, with no real health problems who go through life oblivious to how fortunate they are. Many have little or no tolerance at all for even the slightest bit of pain or discomfort that may cause a fleeting inconvenience in their lives. Most people take a well-functioning body for granted, even abusing it in so many ways, mostly unintentionally I think. But, as my Kinesiologist son pointed out to me when I was discussing this with him, the actual complexities, biological capabilities and functionalities of the human body are not normally on people's radar unless or until they or a loved one experience some type of health crisis. Only then, what was once taken for granted becomes treasured and revered. My son's mission in life (hence his vocation) is to educate those who are interested in learning and understanding the human body, and the truly unbelievable impact that proper nutrition and exercise have on it. He's gets particularly frustrated over the fact that people are often misinformed of its simplicity; it's far less radical and imposing than most people think. Too often, people get their information and/or take their cues from celebrities and "self-professed" experts on social media, many of whom are doing it primarily for the fame and fortune. But there is science and indisputable evidence that proves that small efforts go a very long way, the key is consistency. But back to me ( yeah,yeah, it's all about me ), as my pains subsided and my optimism returned well-rested and in top form, I realized that, health problems aside, I have a whole lot to be thankful for. Most of you do too, if you’d just have a heart-to-heart with yourself. Okay, end of tangent, let me get back on track.
When I had my post-op follow-up appointment with the surgeon two weeks after my small bowelresection, he told me that everything seemed to be progressing nicely. However, I was reminded that while externally the incision itself would appear all healed up, it would take quite a bit longer, months in fact, for things to fully heal internally. I was assured that once that happened, because I was at that point in time completely disease-free, everything would be back to normal (in remission really) and I would gradually be able to eat pretty much anything I wanted with no consequences. Yay me! But what about the twelve inches of bowel you cut out? Wouldn't that affect my digestive process ? No, he said , don't worry, everything will be just fine! So how about you explain to me how that's possible? I asked. He did, and his explanation plus my own extensive research are the reasons why I was waxing poetic at the beginning about the human body. So, those of you who were daydreaming or passing love notes in biology class, and those who forgot everything you learnt in high school, allow me to revisit, very briefly. The small intestine is approximately twenty feet long. (I really should be using metric since I live in Canada, but my education in the Imperial system is so ingrained! Forgive me, Canada!). It's the part of the digestive system where the majority of nutrients from the foods we eat are absorbed in order to fuel the body and maintain healthy organs, bones etc. The small intestine is so important that we cannot survive without it, and at the present time, it can't be replaced, replicated, or transplanted; it's also not regenerative like the liver, simply put, once it's gone it's gone. You might be thinking, but we have twenty feet, that's a lot, do we really need all of it? The fact that we have that much is not an accident or coincidence. Scientific evidence shows that the design and composition of the human body is a marvel of precision and purpose, meaning, it's designed the way it is for a specific reason and every single thing has a function, even the appendix which until recently was thought to be useless.
In adults, the length of time for food to go from your mouth all the way through the small intestine (not including the large) is about six to eight hours, with three and a half to four hours of that time spent passing through and getting absorbed in the small intestine. So yes, every part of the twenty feet is utilized, digesting from easiest to hardest along the way. So what happens when part is removed? That's when your body shows it's awesome adaptability; the small intestine realizes: Wait! I only have nineteen feet now so I have to pick up the pace a bit and do my job! There is no backup, nothing else can get this job done! And, guess what? It does, it adapts to its new length, realigning the absorption process accordingly! Of course this doesn't happen overnight, it takes a few weeks to get the hang of it but eventually, everything is hunky - dory! Good as new! See! Amazing! And that was just the beginning, there were even more amazing things on the horizon.