Little Joys—Bodies That Can Heal

One of our kids stayed home sick after we stayed up super late seeing Hamilton last night (It was so good!). With so many viruses floating around lately, I was hoping our immune systems would prevail through yesterday so we could all enjoy the show. We just made it.

My guess is that Elvis was already fighting off a bug of some kind, but not enough sleep and hearty, German food, plus multiple steins of Coke at dinner last night must have made his body finally give in.

It is amazing that our bodies can heal. Think about it. Is there a single object that humans have made that can mend itself when it breaks? No phone screen, computer, light bulb, or battery can just automatically fix itself when it senses something is wrong. Sure, you could install a virus protector (which is essentially an immune system for a computer). So I guess there’s that. But our bodies can actually break, with broken bones and torn nails and burnt skin, and through the mighty power of blood and neurons and time, our bodies can heal themselves.

When our kids have had small scrapes or scratches that make them complain about their pain or feel sad that they’ve been injured, I have often reminded them, but isn’t it amazing that God made our bodies so they can heal?

I’ve never appreciated this more than after recovering from a chronic illness. I say “recovery” with a little hitch in my breath, because generally speaking, once you have POTS, you always have POTS, but sometimes your body will recover to the point of normalcy again. Also, it might take longer to recover from other illnesses with POTS, or other illnesses can trigger a POTS attack and set you back again. 

All of that being said, today, and in the days and weeks preceding this post, I have felt myself again. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t dip down to pick up something I dropped and marvel that I could do that without my head spinning or without losing balance. Instead of the little beaten soldier in charge of vocabulary having to trudge back into the folds of my brain with a flashlight and a limp in order to find the word I know I know, sometimes it just surfaces, there it is, the word I knew I knew and didn’t even have to think so hard to find. Eureka, you found it! I shout with glee to my battered but recovered Captain Thesaurus, who grins with unabashed pride.

Maybe that’s the best part of having journeyed through this long stretch of Covid recovery: doing things again without having to think about them. POTS is a form of dysautonomia. Dysautonomias disrupt all of the automatic functions your body normally does on its own. It was made to breathe, beat, sweat, and heat without your conscious mind doing anything about it. Your autonomic nervous system is the man behind the curtain you normally don’t have to pay any attention to; he just makes Oz go.

When you can’t stoop down, spin around, reach high, or stand up from bed without consciously preparing yourself for whatever might happen next (dizziness, headaches, blackouts, weakness), everything has to be done carefully.

But now, now, everything I do I can do care-freely. I can do all of those things, stoop, spin, reach, stand, and even more, and when it just happens and I don’t even have to think about it, it feels like magic. Wow, I think to myself in wonder, you’re better. You have a body that can and has healed. It’s miraculous in the way every little thing is miraculous if you look close enough.

I say bodies that “can” heal because of course sometimes they don’t, and when they don’t, we’re left to grapple with the finitude of all things, how all things pass away, how even the stuff of miracles eventually dies… even if it rises again. So, even if… even if this body doesn’t heal next time, even if healing isn’t physical, all things are being made new, all things are being regenerated, all atoms and elements are disconnecting and reassembling into the next new thing, and that, too, is miraculous, a whole universe of interconnected miracle.

Photo: Portrait bust sculpture of young woman with hair up by sculptor Billie Bond. Inspired by the ancient Japanese art of Kintsugi – the repair of broken ceramics with gold and a philosophy of making something better than it was before – seeing beauty in imperfection. Ceramic, resin and gold. Life-size.

Published by Sarah M. Wells

Sarah M. Wells is the author of The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Gospels to Help Kids and Parents Love God and Love Others (2022), American Honey: A Field Guide to Resisting Temptation (2021), Between the Heron and the Moss (2020), The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Bible to Help Kids and Parents Engage and Love Scripture (2018), Pruning Burning Bushes (2012), and a chapbook of poems, Acquiesce, winner of the 2008 Starting Gate Award through Finishing Line Press (2009). Sarah's work has been honored with four Pushcart Prize nominations, and her essays have appeared in the notable essays list in the Best American Essays 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, and 2018. Sarah is the recipient of a 2018 Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council. She resides in Ashland, Ohio with her husband and three children.

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