A significant part of my healing has been learning to observe my body, and listen to what it's trying to tell me.
Before I was diagnosed, I totally subscribed to the idea that I could motor on through illness, regardless of how bad I felt. There were pills for every ill. At the first whiff of a headache I would take codeine. I took anti-cramping pills for bad periods, and regular spoonfuls of Kaolin and Morphine for tummy ache. As a mum of 2 young children, I believed I was irreplaceable, that I had to drag myself out of bed and get on with my busy day no matter what. This carried on for about 6 years, until (a month before I found the lump in my breast) I got so ill that I was bed-ridden with swine flu. I ended up losing my hearing in my left ear, and now have relentless tinnitus. The irony that I didn't listen and that I ended up deaf is not lost on me.
For a long time I had felt that something was wrong, but I didn't have the tools to read my body, or know how to heal myself. Instead I relied on doctors and medication. I never looked at the underlying message, and I never took responsibility for my health. We're born with a natural wisdom to understand our physiology, but it's been silenced by a constant bombardment of 'wrong' messages from adverts, doctors, vaccinations and fast food. As a result we've become largely disconnected.
Early on in my healing, my nutritional therapist relayed to me the importance of only doing what is Right and what is Needed. She taught me that we must find the delicate balance of cleansing at the correct pace for our bodies. So for example, if I'm having a hectic day, and my kidneys and adrenals are feeling fatigued, a coffee enema and endless cups of green tea are not the best remedy (despite their health-giving properties) because they will put further pressure on those organs. On a day like that, a chamomile enema, and increased water intake would be more sensible. When I first bought my juicer, I started off with carrot and apple juice. Super cleansing green juice came later, when my body was becoming better at using it's rusty elimination routes (ie when my cells were less clogged with bad cholesterol, when they were more able to unload their toxicity into my lymph, and when that in turn could filter out through my liver, and finally my colon). If any one of these elimination routes is blocked, the body will attempt to cleanse through a less efficient organ - usually the lungs or the skin. For me, skin complaints are often a good sign that I have the pace of cleansing wrong.
It's also important to observe how the body reacts to food, to see if what we're putting IN is causing stress. Quinoa is a super food, no doubt, but it doesn't agree with me. We're individuals. Some things suit our biology, and some don't. Don't plug away at a 'diet' which is not working for you. Bashing on regardless can actually do more harm than good. Telltale signs are dark shadows under the eyes, lethargy and cravings caused by blood-sugar spikes.
Watching thought patterns is equally important. For me, going back to a place of 'not good enough' makes me repeat age-old habits, like scratching non-existent itches (literally 'tearing myself apart').
These days I don't get period pains. I supplement daily with magnesium, and that was the deficiency which those cramps were trying to alert me to. Headaches are now thankfully a rare occurrence. If I do get one it's almost always down to stress, and a coffee enema tends to relieve the pain, whilst meditation calms the stress. And tummy aches are a thing of the past since my diet no longer contains processed food, gluten, sugar, caffeine or MSG. These were the substances which were irritating my gut lining and creating an imbalance in my gut flora, leaving me susceptible to infections.
In my experience, observing, becoming aware, and making changes is an imperative part of healing. Listening to the body is a skill which may have been lost, but is easy to re-learn.