Have you ever had your leg or arm ‘fall asleep’ because you were lying on it and compressing the nerve so much that when you touched it with your fingers it didn’t even feel like it was yours? Then when you moved it, you felt that awful ‘pins and needles’ sensation?
Well, I have. I woke up with both legs completely numb from my waist down. I couldn’t feel them at all. I still had the sense of touch from my waist up, including my hands and fingers. I just couldn’t feel the lower half of my body. How bizarre! And scary!
It took 5 ½ years, but I was finally diagnosed with MS – Multiple Sclerosis. MS is an autoimmune disease that affects the Central Nervous System. People with the same disorder experience it differently depending on where and how much damage occurred in their nervous system. Some people get better, some mostly better and some just continue to decline, slowly or quickly.
Since my husband and I were married, we have always touched feet while we are sleeping. It was what I missed feeling the most! So we started holding hands while sleeping too. It took a full 8 and 1/2 years to regain all sensation down to my little pinky toes! But I wake up every morning now and wiggle them and pray gratitude that I can feel them! We still touch feet and hold hands though!
Human touch may have some healing properties. According to Sharon Jayson in USA TODAY, a study from researchers in Utah finds that a warm touch — the non-sexual, supportive kind — tempers stress and blood pressure, adding to a growing body of research on how emotions affect health.
When your body relaxes endorphins are released from the brain, which helps the muscles to relax. When the muscles relax circulation is improved and the increased blood flow elevates oxygen levels throughout the body. This in turn allows nutrients to be absorbed more efficiently, enzymes are built to aid digestion, hormones are regulated, and toxins are released from the body. This allows healthy cells to regenerate and promotes a sense of well-being which then supports healing and regulates the immune system.
Dr. Dean Ornish commented that awareness is the first step in healing. When we understand the healing power of touching, we can look for ways of increasing our contact with other people while respecting their boundaries. Give someone a pat on the back or a hug when they've done a good job - or even when they haven't. Get a massage or manicure or shampoo. Shake hands when you see a colleague. Hold hands with your beloved - and don't forget to kiss.
Having my nervous system compromised makes me so aware of how exquisitely our bodies operate without us ever thinking about it.
This week try to be aware of your sense of touch. Feel your feet inside your socks and shoes, feel the fabrics you come in contact with – the sheets on your bed, your clothes, even a hand towel in the kitchen. Notice how it feels when you brush your hair or teeth. Feel the sensation of water, the temperature of it and whether it soothes or is prickly depending on the source.
Try to notice every part of your body as it touches something and be grateful that you can feel it!