I have been on my own for a month between check-ins, and progress is being made. I am a continual shifting picture, a screen image of transmutation. In this last week I introduced heavy probiotics, which should help replace up to a third of the missing colonies in my gut. I also added Rhodiola rosea, a natural root extract, to help regulate the adrenal squeeze I feel as I come down from Prednisone—a process which continues to remind me that I am not done riding the choppy waves.
While discussing the ins-and-outs of probiotic culture with the informed owner of Nature’s Best, I was introduced to the term “healing crisis”, also known as the Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction. The concept was "new" to me, but then again not… It refers to the temporary worsening of symptoms as the body expels toxins during healing. Not to be feared, it’s a sign of deep cleansing, observed by both civilians and scientists. It can affect any body system, and with this potential in mind, I started the 80 billion strain from Renew Life--beginning 2 days before a 5mg reduction in Prednisone. I was aware that I was compounding “crisis” potential, but unwilling to wait any longer for effective healing.
The first sign I noticed from the probiotics, taken just before sleep, was an effervescent feeling, a 2-inch circle at my navel. Over the course of 4-5 hours this turned into a more general belly-wide sensation, keeping sleep somewhat fitful and eventually waking me—but on each night since the beginning, I have fallen into a more solid “second” sleep than I can remember ever having experienced. This sleep feels heavy, earthy and unshaken, somehow less stressful and disturbed.
I appreciate sleep on so many levels. As an artist, I’m fascinated with its rich symbolism and dream states. As an athlete, I witness its profound affect on my performance. As an on-and-off disturbed sleeper, as much as I've sought to control it, it has remained illusive... I have, however, taken the opportunity to mine what I can from it—I’ve kept a dream log for over 6 years, and it led me to produce a book, which ties to this next story about guts and healing, and how I came to be writing and art-ing about this journey.
>> From inside out to outside in <<
When I began this process a year ago, I’d arrived in the physical therapy office with sharp pain in my hip, a significant body spiral, all-over joint pain, chronic inflammation tied to GI issues, and gnarly surgical scar tissue trauma to my lower abdomen. (*If this is your first time reading, you can trace back the story in What I am Learning About Crohn’s, culture, food and healing). Over 6 months, my PT and I used a combination of functional dry needle therapy and systematic re-training to get my body to release stress responses and mis-used strength patterns, rewiring connections that held my posture out of place. This was a time of great pain and great revelation, and as I felt the re-surfacing of body trauma and trigger points as they headed out, I also recovered memories and emotional states that had been frozen into my tissues.
As I sought to heal on multiple levels, I used the tools of my dream log and artistic logic to connect my body and mind, scripting the narrative of my history, acknowledging and releasing dis-functional patterns in relationship with the world. I titled the book Spring FREEZE to reference the well-known pathways of stress response in nature and psychology, flight, flight, or freeze. Unearthed through this perpetual, unfolding "healing crisis", the project allowed me to shed layers of false-self and pain, and to creatively construct through deep layers of transformation, both inner and outer.
In terms of the more recent leg of this journey, notable in a different dimension since the start of probiotics, I am experiencing mental steadiness that I had not known before—a better ability to focus in everything from conversations, to work projects, to my gaze. Having lived with over 10 years of gut disturbance, which at times produced everything from “brain fog” to black-out, this is a level of attention and ease that I never knew I never knew. So as the process continues, I am quite curious to keep recording the changes in sleep, body, and mind by multiple means.
I want to end this post by sharing a Ted Talk from a researcher at the ABC Microbiome Institute in Ireland, one of the lead research facilities in this field. He speaks of how the gut is both physically and bio-chemically connected to the mind, and how the healthy landscape of the microbiome is essential for the immune system, our neurotransmitters, and the ways we think, feel, and behave.
Peace, love, and happy belly's everyone.