Thursday, February 25, 2010

How Is Your Appendix?

ERImage by via Flickr
Do you still have your appendix? If yes, you lucky dog, you.

Mine is missing. It was taken out in 2000 after it ruptured. I am a stubborn soul and my right side hurt for several days until I was finally bedridden on a Saturday. I screamed anytime I had to get up but laying down felt okay so I informed my husband that I would wait until Monday to see a doctor. Even back then I was suspicious that I was not getting the best medical care possible and I was no fan of doctors, mostly because I had been seeing an endocrinologist for several years who assured me I had no thyroid condition and it was all in my head. He was wrong on two counts as it was not in my head, it was in my neck, and I most certainly did have a thyroid condition.

Luckily for me, my husband is a wise man and he literally forced me into the car to go to the ER. Whattya know, my appendix had burst. Had my stubbornness prevailed, I would probably not be here now because when the appendix ruptures, you are likely to get some ugly gangrene spreading inside you.

As I was being wheeled down to the operating room, the ER doctor came out to meet me and I started grilling him on his experience. He was not happy about my giving him the third degree, but I didn't want any body part that was remotely necessary to be removed unless it positively had to go. The surgeon said that it was the most common procedure performed and he had done it hundreds of times. He also informed me that nobody needs their appendix. I thought that was an odd statement -- why did I have one if I didn't need it? It seemed like all of my other internal body parts served a very real purpose.

My husband added, "Honey, let's not piss off the man wielding the scalpel right now." Okay, okay, I said, let's get this thing out already. So it was removed and it had ruptured but thanks to my husband, it was caught before gangrene had set in.

For years afterward, I would try to find any information regarding the appendix because I wanted to know why we all had one if it was obsolete. I felt it must serve some purpose. I never found an answer, until now.

I picked up a fantastic book at Sprouts titled "Gut Solutions -- Natural Solutions to Your Digestive Problems" by Dr. Leonard Smith and Brenda Watson, N.D. They have an entire chapter devoted to the appendix. They write "In the past, medicine has not been able to assign a particular function to the appendix. Today, however, it is becoming more apparent that the appendix and surrounding lymphatic tissue probably serve an important role in immunity."

IMMUNITY. I have several autoimmune conditions: hypothyroidism, weak adrenals and the loss of female hormones. The only medicines I take are for hormone replacement. I am low in very important hormones because I ate foods for all of my 44 years that were toxins for me. Could the loss of my appendix have helped my autoimmune conditions take root? Why did it burst in the first place?

Here is what the authors of "Gut Solutions" have to say: "Obstruction of the appendix can occur due to solid pieces of stool or as a result of the stool becoming hard like stone."

I remember talking poop in college with a girlfriend and I was shocked to learn that she had bowl movements EVERY DAY. This was news to me as I went once a week. Where did all that poop go? Apparently some of it was turning to stone in my appendix.

Now that I have become self-educated on digestive issues as a sheer necessity to staying alive and thriving, I can see that I have had lifelong gut issues . . . but no one put them together until I was 44 years old.

I hope each of you will take stock of your gut. Ask yourself a lot of questions and keep asking until you find the answers. Pay attention to how you feel after you eat anything. If you have ANY autoimmune condition, look closely at what you are eating and consider blaming your diet for helping your condition along.

Most important of all -- listen to your gut.

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