Conversations with my body

Jen Hill
8 min readMay 22, 2023

A hospital visit prompted a most important dialogue

Photo by Stephen Andrews on Unsplash

In the wee hours of last Sunday morning, I woke my partner with some urgency. I had woken up at 4 am with a piercing headache (following a whole week of headaches and other flu symptoms) that two little ibuprofen pills could not touch. Having gone to the hospital earlier in the week to investigate a tick bite, the doctor’s advice resounded in my head… if the headache suddenly gets worse, if there is a fever and vomiting, come back immediately, and I told Barbora that we needed to go. We had already ruled out Lyme disease, but it could be tick-borne meningitis.

I struggled to walk. We called a cab. I wept silently until we got there, and throughout the admitting procedures. They installed me immediately in a little room with another female patient, put an IV in my hand, gave me anti-emitics for the nausea and anonymous painkillers for the headache and left me to my misery.

I am no noob when it comes to hospitals. I spent my teenage years plagued by ‘the beast’ (in hindsight, a mostly psychosomatic stomach complaint due to unparallelled stresses at home and at school), and then, in my twenties, I picked up a bacterial stomach infection in Romania that besieged me until my mid-thirties. I was in and out of hospitals enough to know the ropes. I knew that time passes differently in a hospital, and that you are not so much a person anymore as much as a bundle of symptoms that needs to be addressed. I was somewhat prepared for this experience, even if it were to take place in a different country (I’m originally from Canada, but currently live in Brno, the Czech Republic).

I wasn’t prepared for the zombies.

Photo by Daniel Jensen on Unsplash

I had a zombie dream that night in the hospital. I’ve had zombie dreams before. Sometimes I’m a badass, shooting and blasting my way through the zombie hordes. Other times I try to fight and have to run instead. In this dream, I was trying to shoot zombies that just wouldn’t die, I kept running out of ammo and places to hide. What’s worse, the zombies were often people I knew, people from my past.

In the grey daylight afterwards, when I received my breakfast (two rohlik bread rolls with a small tub of fresh zerve cheese and an apple), the meaning of the dream came swiftly to my mind. Long-buried wounds of medical-related trauma were suddenly resurfacing, requiring confrontation. Almost everyone who has ever been a patient can relate to this — feeling disempowered, marginalised, subject to external authority, kept in the dark… We can even be made to feel belittled, blamed, and shamed for our pain. After spending decades of my life subject to medical authority, when I became healthy (which I did on my own, by embracing my true nature and dreams) I rarely went to the doctor. In fact, I spent the first seven years of my Czech life without a GP, partly because of my earlier traumatic experiences (and because I was quite healthy as well).

So the first conversation I had with my body that rainy Monday morning was this mantra: I am safe. I am loved. I am where I’m meant to be. I am safe. I am loved. I am where I’m meant to be.

Does that last statement surprise you? I’ve spent the last few years of my life (since 2020, in fact, when I was introduced to Richard Rudd’s amazing work The Gene Keys) becoming very accepting of whatever experience Life chooses to bring me. It’s a point of view that provides incredible relief and a sense of relaxation, even when the experiences are difficult. I’ve been learning to erase the judgment of these experiences, not naming them ‘good’ or ‘bad’ and simply calling them experiences.

So getting my first lumbar puncture was an experience. Staying in a hospital room with lots of windows and no curtains while suffering a migraine was an experience. Being woken up at midnight to pee in a cup was an experience. Having only one warm meal a day, which was some form of starch, mystery meat, and uho (univerzalni hneda omacka — universal brown sauce), was an experience. It’s liberating not labelling these experiences as good or bad. It helped me reduce the level of trauma that I experienced. It helps me rewrite the story in my mind of what actually happened.

Dr Gabor Mate, a leading physician in the area of trauma (watch The Wisdom of Trauma or read The Myth of Normal to find out more), gives this definition: ‘Trauma is not what happens to you…it is what happens inside you as a result of what happened to you.’

This leads to my next conversation with my body. In order to give my mind peace, and in the hopes of easing my body as well, I decided not to pursue the question ‘why’. How often do we question why things are happening? Why do young people get cancer? Why does someone die, and someone else lives? Why this pain, why this affliction, why this experience at all? What is Life doing??

I deliberately decided not to question the wisdom of the Universe in giving me this experience. I decided not to ask why. This may sound crazy and even irresponsible to some, but for me it is a question of trust. See, I did the same thing with my emotions a few years back (check out my earlier article “What to do when you’re stuck in a funk”) with a great measure of success. I learned not to poke or prod my emotions (especially so-called negative ones) and simply accept them, simultaneously accepting all the wisdom they could provide me. Instead of asking, oh why am I feeling so low?, I would simply say, Jeez feelin’ kinda low today, but that’s okay. It’ll pass, just like clouds.

There, in the hospital, I decided to be okay with the greyness of not knowing the answers. Like the Moon tarot card, which teaches us to relax the need of knowing things, I trusted that the answers would come with time, that the Universe or Life (or whatever you name it) would eventually illuminate this experience for me. I’m all for being my own advocate in the medical setting, speaking up, being accountable, and everything else necessary to achieve results, I simply softened my approach. (More on this ‘dance’ later.)

See, if you enter an experience, any experience, with the mindset that it is needed for you and your growth, it becomes easier to accept the experience and to trust it. This erases the need to ask why — because the answer will always be it’s good for you! You need this! (Just a side note — this mindset is not easily won, because there are some seriously shitty things that happen to us through no fault of our own. I’m a childhood sexual abuse survivor, I know.)

Giving up the ‘why’, relaxing into the experience, accepting it, led me to the third conversation I had with my body during my three day stay at the hospital in Brno.

My body said: Things need to change, Jen.

I replied: I know. And they will. Right now.

My body was referring to my overdrinking and overeating that characterised my life for the last several years (2019 onward). I consumed alcohol on a near-daily basis, often in copious amounts. When COVID came, I comforted myself by eating whatever the hell I wanted. I worked from home and rarely walked even 6000 steps per day. I suddenly developed arthritis in my knees, and my extra weight did not help.

Yet in my shamanic practice, when I would ask my guides for advice on how to deal with my drinking, the answer would always be: trust yourself. The right time will reveal itself. Trust that your body will lead you. My guides were right: worsening hangovers already made me drink less (though still too much), and our move to the cottage meant that I took at least one walk in the forest per day with the dogs.

But now?

Being sick with a flu before going to the hospital, then being in the hospital, meant that I stopped drinking. I’m sure that my headaches in the hospital were in part caused by alcohol withdrawal. Now I’m on antibiotics, and won’t drink for at least another week. It’s like a big cosmic being hit that button on the computer that forces a reboot — I feel I’ve been rebooted.

Having conversations with the body isn’t always a pleasant experience; when you start to listen, you find pockets of aches and pains, old wounds that rise up like zombies, old memories that demand revisiting, and your mind often tries to immediately interpret findings and provide plans of action. I’m already grateful for this experience, for the opportunity it afforded me to reconnect with my body on a deeper level, to honour it and its wisdom by living more in alignment with its needs.

We all know that if we don’t slow down ourselves, and deal with our stressors, Life will slow us down, one way or another.

Forgive me for the length of this article, but one final image sustained me throughout my stay at the hospital (which was largely without books or devices, just me and my bod hanging out together through all the pain and discomfort).

Dancing.

Acceptance of Life’s experiences is hard to learn, because it’s a balancing act. Imagine dancing, if you please. There you are, and Life itself is your dance partner. Some people are aggressive towards Life, wanting to push Life around, steering Life around the dance floor, forcing Life to give them what they want or feel they deserve, often acting out of anger. The other extreme is being extremely passive, like a limp pool noodle in the arms of Life, letting fear override their own dreams and desires. These dancers are the perfect victims or martyrs of Life, perhaps trading their dreams away because of a misguided focus on pleasing everyone around them, or simply too scared to step outside of the comfort zone.

And then there is the sacred middle, the glorious grey, the always-shifting harmonious center between yin and yang, where you step into the dance, co-creating with Life, knowing your strengths, dreaming your dreams, being brave and bold, trusting that Life will take you there, one way or another.

Me and my body, we’re gonna be a better team. We’re gonna converse with each other more often, and trust each other more. We’re gonna be fully present, and dance in the arms of Life itself.

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Jen Hill

Just a girl in Prague, writing about love, teaching, and spirituality. I enjoy shamanism, writing novels, and drinking craft beer.