Thursday, February 19, 2009

Back to Organics

My lower back has been sore for a week. That's not particularly unusual; I get that way a few times a year. I ride it out mostly, do some stretches, and maybe visit my chiropractor. I did that today, and it helped quite a bit. What was unusual was that I went there not expecting relief. I did not feel that my sore back was due to some structural issue. In fact, the only reason I went today was because I had my usual appointment. I told him my far-fetched theory about why I thought my back was hurting, and he actually validated it.

Let me back up a little. I buy and eat almost exclusively organic produce. I say almost because when I need to buy large amounts of fruits or vegetables for a party tray, I might buy commercially grown produce to keep from breaking the bank. (Am I saying my friends are not worth organic?) Also, we sometimes will have fresh produce at restaurants, which you can bet is not organic. Still, I would say that of the fresh produce that I eat, 80-90% is organic, and I have been eating this way for maybe three years.

This past December, I had a bout of soreness in my lower back. We had been going to parties and throwing parties, with plenty of crudités (or for those of you who do not speak French, veggie platters). Since I have been avoiding refined sugar this past year, I would gravitate to these platters at a party. I felt quite gratified in my choices as I filled up on fresh fruits and vegetables instead of cheesecake and brownies. But then the next day my back would be sore.

It was worse when we threw a party, because I would continue eating the leftover produce for days following, and my back would hurt all the while. Finally after making the connection, I formed the theory that perhaps the pesticide residue was having an impact on my body since I was not accustomed to consuming commerically-grown produce. I imagined the little pesty molecules taking up residence in my spine and throwing a party of their own.

Well, it always takes me several repetitions of the same lesson to really get it to resonate into habit. To put it more simply, time goes by and I forget. Last Wednesday night, I was at gathering at a friend's home. We were offered ice cream and a huge serving bowl of the most beautiful strawberries that one could imagine. Shiny, rose-red, huge, juicy and sweet. I had maybe five or six big ones because I was not having any ice cream. They were delicious.

I figured they were not organic, as I was listening in on where they were purchased. I thought briefly about the Strawberry Incident last summer, but I did not care; they looked so yummy. (Last summer with my new blender I was making tons of smoothies using strawberries from the freezer that my husband had picked up at a fruit stand in Los Angeles. My scalp had started to itch something awful; in fact, I was having my husband check me for bugs. I thought I was allergic to strawberries until my nutrition doctor told me that strawberries are the most toxic of all commercially-grown produce. He said to eat all the organic strawberries I wanted. I did, and my imaginary bugs went away.)

Well this time, my head was fine, but the day after these delicious strawberries my back was sore. The following day we had a gathering of our own, and I found myself in a regular grocery store. Oh, the lure! A quart of blueberries for $5! Two quarts of strawberries for the same price! And the grapes! They are not even in season yet, but I succumbed and bought all sorts of berries and grapes. As is my habit, I ate tons of fruit at our gathering to stay away from the cookies and brownies. I continued having equal parts of blueberries and cereal for breakfast for the next several days. To eat blueberries to satisfaction--a taste of heaven. By Tuesday, I was an old woman.

Something started to occur to me as I walked about stiffly. Some vague memory of a recent sore back. I had blamed this episode of soreness on too much sitting, but there was something there in the fog. Then I remembered an email I had written my friend in December. Something about pesticides on crudités. I found it, and sure enough, as I recollected what I had been eating this last week, it was Lesson Two in the series. Those pesty molecules were setting up camp again.

When I went to the chiropractor today, the first thing that I said was that my back hurt but I did not expect an adjustment to help. I told him my theory, and he listened with interest. He said that my theory did have validity. He told me that the body can have a (love this Latin) "visceral somatic response." (Etymology moment: viscera means intestines or soft organs in the abdomen; and somatic can refer to the vertebrate nervous system.)

Essentially, an ailment in an internal organ can cause displaced pain in the spinal area. He said that doctors note that people with gallstones can have pain in the middle back area. Other organs translate to whatever area along the spine whose nerves serve that organ. In my case, he felt that the organ that had issues (based on my lower back pain) was my large intestine. That organ would be consistent with the flushing of toxins from my body.

That is not to say that chiropractic could not help. He continued that there can be displaced pain with misalignment or displaced pain without. Sometimes the nerve pain causes the muscles to spasm which results in a misalignment that is secondary to the pain. I think that is what happened in my case, since my back pain went from sore to hurting sometime on Tuesday, and my doctor found L5 to be misaligned. I was greatly relieved after my adjustment.

So my colon is mad at me right now. I like to think that it is by grand design that our internal organs (which do not necessarily have pain receptors for every ailment) can send a message to a part of our body which can shout loudly. Just because we are not always intuitive enough to understand the language that is being spoken does not mean that the design is any less grand. Our bodies were not meant to digest poison and live to tell about it. The fact that any adaptation at all exists to complain says a great deal about the adaptability of the human form.

So the remaining wilting fruit is now tossed. I have instructions to drink plenty of water and some detox tea, and to eat plenty of (organic) greens for awhile. It is a mixed blessing to be sensitive to what others can eat without thought. Sure my back is sore, but I am greatly intrigued by the knowledge that I have gained from this experience. If I ate a king-size Snicker bar at this point in my life, I would probably be bedridden for a few days. But the sensitivity translates to an intuition regarding my body, a discernment about what I choose to eat, and a knowledge gained from experience that I hope to help others by passing on.

Three months later: My back is still sore off and on. Never experienced anything like this. Will post details when resolved. My spirit is still yelling at me, and I am trying hard to translate!

Six months later: Okay, after four months of pain, I went to a friend's party and was dancing. I figured I'd regret it, but it was fun. A friend of mine was dancing next to me, and I thought I'd do an 80's bump with her. Well, she bumped back pretty hard. I limped off the dance floor and the next day could hardly move. But--the next day after that, I was absolutely fine. As of this writing, it's been two months and I remain pain-free. Thank the Lord for outdated dances.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Pamela, I could read your dissertations on any subject and my enthusiasm would not wane. Your word skill is so creative and expressive.

This is an interesting topic and makes much sense.