Don’t know what you got, until it’s gone
Yurts at Poncha Pass - Colorado Yurt Rentals and Sustainable Building Workshops - Photo of Chris in ground of Earthship

Written by Chris

May 25, 2014

The human body is perhaps one of the most fascinating biological entities that I know of. Our interest in ourselves in the pursuit of medicine and health has led us to the very edge of science. For instance, it takes 21 distinct steps that must occur in order for our blood to clot at the site of a wound and we have a detailed picture of the whole pathway. Understanding the automaticity of the heart or how our body goes into shock in an effort to preserve our vital organs is captivating. To date, I still feel one of the most fascinating courses I have done was that of my EMT-Basic and Intermediate course. I sit on the fringe of this field and find myself wondering, if we are capable of knowing as much about ourselves as we do, imagine the untold discoveries and stories of every other biological creature out there?

This past week, I was reminded of this amazing biology as I found myself living in a state of waking life. On my way home from a nice trip to Denver, I felt a bit of a stomach-ache coming on. I had left Denver around sunset making for a star lit drive back down south. After passing through Colorado Springs, the major traffic fell off from the roads and after reaching the southern end of Pueblo, my single car plunged into the darkness as the seemingly endless flatlands rolled out before me.

I didn’t make it to Vegas until late and going on shift the next morning, I settled into a restless sleep on the couch as my insides turned. Dreams mix and mash, pulling from one end of the spectrum to the next. I woke feeling flushed with sweat, dizzy, and with a horrible pain in my stomach. It has been awhile since I’ve been genuinely ill and finding out later that a friend was also sick, left me to believe it was food poisoning of some sort. As the sun came up, I prepared best I could for work, but felt out-of-body and sluggish checking the truck for equipment, fluids, drugs, and the operations. Paged to our first car accident, I felt lucky that we did not have to extricate anyone, and that there were only minor injuries. My gut increasingly turns, and waves of light-headedness whip through my brain as unknown bacteria invade.

Making my way into bed back at base, I hope that a nap will improve the situation. Again bits and pieces of lucid dreams swirl through my head. I find it interesting how the chaos of a beginning battle between my body and a foreign pathogen has the ability to manifest into an intense and vivid epic battle within the subconscious. My eyes fly open and the room spins. I stumble outside and my insides retch acid and bile, water and tea. My GI track is in no condition to digest, forcing my muscular system to work together into a single effort of rejection, removing everything from the playing field.

At this point, I am clearly not fit for work and seek a replacement. Luck is on my side and I’m able to go home after finding coverage. I have to drive an hour and use whatever strength is left to maintain focus…. home at last. All my energy sucked away, vertigo swirling around my hot feverish head, a pit of tangled copper tubing for intestines; I crawl into bed and the light goes black. My temperature rising is the body’s response to activate more white blood cells to the battle while even moving the foreign bacteria ‘s temperature range into unfavorable conditions. There is purpose behind every one of my body’s actions.

I sleep and after fueling the fight with fluids, vitamins, and electrolytes, find myself up again and on my feet within two days, ready to work. I feel twice as strong and so many more times thankful it was not worse. No one likes being sick and even as my employment is defined by taking care of those who are sick, it is amazing how quickly we forget the feelings, the aches, and the pain. Having a cold and not being able to breathe may describe it best. The feeling of freely sucking in air through one’s nose after not being able to do so may simply be explained as bliss.

When our systems work right, we forget about them as we focus on everything outside of ourselves. But when we are sick, it is all we know. Our bodies like every other biological entity, is a work of mastery and I find myself fortunate to look back this week to be reminded of it. I am also reminded that health does not find everyone and for many, it may be a distant thought in itself. But for whatever level of health is present and finds you at this moment, I hope you cherish it, respect it, and nurture it as best you can.

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