Making room for healing

Any good midwife knows that there’s a time to intervene, and a time to stand back and let things take their course. It’s hard sometimes, when a patient is frightened or in pain, not to step in with a remedy or a treatment of some sort. It might help, but it might also get in the way of a process that needs to happen.
When you take aspirin to bring down a fever, you feel better. But the purpose of the fever is to wake up your immune system, to deal with infection, and so the aspirin slows the process down. That’s a fairly trivial example, but there are plenty of others. I have a patient who used to bleed from her rectum when she got anxious; and she got anxious a lot. Of course, anti-inflammatory herbs and drugs help to stop the bleeding, but they don’t address the cause of the anxiety. In the end, she had most of her colon removed, and now, in her eighties, she has a stoma to manage.
Anxiety still gets the better of her, but nowadays it makes her dizzy, dries her mouth, makes her run to the loo, stops her sleeping. There are drugs that address all of those symptoms, but what would that achieve? She doesn’t have herbs very often now; we work with managing the fear. She’s learning to look after her inner child, and she is making slow, determined progress. It’s never too late, but it does take huge courage to face up to your demons rather than burying them with medication. And it can be nerve-racking to trust the process; to know when to watch and wait.

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