Tuesday, October 19, 2004

An engaging question in my email this week: "Which of the five senses do you think is most important? What's been one recent memorable experience you had with each of your senses?"

I was thinking that this particular community of bloggers is particularly in touch with their senses, and might enjoy the challenge to respond to this as well. I'd be glad to post any offerings you can make on this subject, (you can comment or email me) and in the meantime, here is the way I answered a question which I keep thinking of different answers for.

I'm inclined to buy into the somewhat "pop psychology" theory Gary Zukav speaks of in The Seat of the Soul. We humans tend to get caught up in the physical inputs from our environment and depend on our senses of sight, hearing, touch, taste, smell to the extent that we discount or dismiss the other ways we "know" of things in our world. Zukav's term for the expanded ability to sense things that aren't measured physically by our five senses is to be multisensory, but I think a more familiar term for this might be intuition.

I've had occasion to consider the loss of some of my five senses: my children's father is losing his sight to a genetic disease, one of my best friends lost her sense of smell almost entirely for several years following a virus, and another one of my best friends has lost much of the feeling in one of his hands after an accident that damaged the nerves. I'm so sensory oriented, that the possibility that any of these could happen to me is something I can't really imagine dealing with. When my friend's sense of smell disappeared, so did her ability to taste a wide array of foods, and this would surely send me into a huge fit of depression. So far R's sight has degraded slowly, but the reality is that someday in the not distant future, mountain vistas will be lost to him. To lose the subtlety of the angle of light through the trees in fall, or the smile on a babies face, those things too seem devastating. My friend struggles with making his hand work with tools in the way he has in the past, but more worrisome, he is not immediately aware of the warning signals that his hand is again in danger, because sensations such as heat and cold don't transmit the way they should. The intonations in a person's voice express so much; and I am a bird watcher, relying on sound to locate and identify my quarry; and I love music very deeply... So I don't see how I could choose to give up one or another in a devil's trade, any loss seems intolerable. For now, (and maybe this is a form of avoidance) I think I'd rather share a memorable example of how vital the inner senses can be, the huge difference it made in my life.

Those of you who read my archaelogy of childhood entry on elck's site might remember that my mother had a rather odd pregnancy, after 10 years of trying to conceive a second child, it appeared hopeless, and when in fact she did become pregnant, many of the normal "clues" did not manifest and so the doctors thought the fast growing object in her uterus was a tumor and operated. My sister had a difficult time conceiving also. When my (then) husband and I decided to have kids, we settled for a long wait, assuming it could be difficult. Well it wasn't the least bit difficult getting pregnant, and for the first seven months I had a completely uneventful and pleasant pregnancy. Something odd happened during our pregnancy classes though... more odd because I have a notoriously strong stomach for medical stuff, and have been known to eat dinner while watching brain surgery on TV. The films about the delivery were pretty graphic, but that was fine. Then they discussed complications, and the way the doctors dealt with them, and when they talked about turning a baby in the uterus when a baby is breech (for you technical types, an ECV), I became physically ill and had to leave the class. But you know, at the time it just seemed like one of those mood things, maybe I hadn't eaten enough that day, I was fine once we got home, so we dismissed it.

Then as time progressed, it became apparent that my daughter was in a breech position past the point of when she should have dropped down, and then came the discussions about doing an ultrasound to take a look at things, and then about a month before her due date, the conversation about our options. The doctor said that turning the child in a first time pregnancy had somewhat smaller chances of success because the uterus is not as stretched out, but that there was very little reason he could see why we shouldn't give it a try in order to avoid the c-section, which has its own set of risks and a longer recovery. During this entire conversation, and in the reading I had done on my own, I noticed that my entire body seemed to stress and my mind reject the possibility. It honestly terrified me, which is awfully strange for a procedure that was not supposed to hurt and supposed to have very minor risks. My OB-Gyn asked me what I thought and I felt safe telling him this. His answer was "Then we won't do it. I trust a woman to know what's right for her body, and you seem to feel strongly this is not right." He went right into planning the c-section and moved on without any attempt at all to talk me into the ECV. I was so relieved.

Shortcut to the delivery room about a month later. This same woman who couldn't handle the idea of someone pressing on my stomach kept asking for the doctors to let me watch the whole operation. They weren't able to, but I was fully awake and intently listening to the clinks of the tools and the doctors walking me through each step, as they agreed to explain exactly what they were doing out loud for me. My doctor reaches in and I feel the tug as my daugher is delivered from my body, then she is brought over where I can see her face, but meanwhile, the doctors are talking excitedly and I know something is up. She is fine! They say, but I am apparently a pretty deformed gal and they want to videotape my insides now for a medical video. They appropriate the video camera from a somewhat skeptical new Dad, and start to lift out the uterus and fallopian tubes explaining to the future audience that they are looking at a "unicornuate uterus, with a rudimentary horn, and non functioning ovary on one side" which I guess means half my reproductive system is withered in laymen's terms, apparently only 1-2% of women present this way. If you look up this term on google, you see the words "rupture" show up rather often. So good naturedly in the middle of all this, the doc teases me that I can only get pregnant every other month, but at my first followup visit he tells me quite seriously that we are lucky that she fit in the room she had, and that turning her when we had considered it would certainly have ruptured the uterus and we might have lost her, not to mention messing me up pretty good. We talked about how strongly I had felt about not doing it, and he said that over the years, he has learned to always take the mother's intuition seriously, because even if its inexplicable from a scientific perspective, the mother tends to be right. He noted that what particularly clued him in to follow my lead, was that all along I had been totally rational about the pregnancy, treating the whole thing analytically and intellectually, until it came to this one thing, where I reacted totally irrationally based on my feelings rather than on the data we were looking at.

I've had some other really unexplicable experiences of the world that seemed to go beyond the traditional five senses, but to know that trusting my intuition in that moment possibly saved my daughter's life, that is the miracle of the thing Zukav is talking about, aligning our whole selves to listen, to let our soul's voice be heard.

Do you think you've perceived things that go beyond the physical sense of the world? Do you have a way of talking about how you perceived it? Is there any one of the traditional five senses that you find more important to you? Is there one moment that describes the significance?

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?