I’m writing this a year after I started vomiting bile. I say bile, but through what followed I never asked a medic to confirm that’s what it was, nor had I ever seen the wretched stuff before, either in life or in picture. But for whatever reason, during those two days, to me it was unmistakably green bile. I went to A&E twice. The first time I waited five hours to be seen, as there was a strike - I live in strike prone France. After the most perfunctory of examinations, the doctor pronounced that as I hadn’t got a temperature there was nothing to worry about. I was summarily slung out onto the streets at 2 a.m.
Half a night and half a day of crippling abdominal pain later, continuing to vomit bile all the while, back I went to A&E. No strike, so a more thorough examination this time, during the course of which the doctor asked me to move a leg, as I lay stretched out on the trolley. “Je ne peux pas” (I can’t) I said. “Pourquoi” (why) he asked? “Par ce que j’ai le SEP” (because I’ve got MS) I answered. ”C’est quoi (what’s that?) he responded. Oh dear I sighed to myself, what have I got myself into and this a private hospital!
I was dosed up with morphine and shunted off into a room and only because my wife harangued the medical staff so stridently, was then transferred to intensives care. After a battery of tests and scans I was diagnosed with acute hyponatremia, gallstones and pancreatitis. The latter in all probability brought on by a gallstone escaping the gallbladder and infecting the pancreas. Somewhere along the way, during my six weeks in intensive care, I bagged septicaemia as well. I left hospital unable to stand and just about able to feed myself. I spent the next five months at home, in a hospital bed, with thrice daily visits from an auxiliary nurse to wash, dress and change me.
I was advised to have my gallbladder removed, in order to avoid any possible repetition of the pancreatitis. So when I was mobile enough, I went to see a surgeon. I queried the necessity of having it taken out, saying that I’d never had any problem of stones of any hue in all my 66 years. The surgeon calmly informed me that 50% of people die when they get pancreatitis caused by a gallstone. That percentage is for 'fit' people, not the likes of me with pretty advanced MS, not to mention the battery of other woes which had befallen me a few months earlier and from which I was still convalescing.
The surgeon’s remarks gave me pause for thought, not really about whether to have the operation, that was all but a done deal, rather, how it was that a person who is outwardly in pretty poor shape. Despite following OMS assiduously for nigh on six years, my mobility had declined to the point where I could walk just 5 metres, but only with the aid of two sticks and a foot lifter. Then there’s the incontinence, fatigue, spasticity etc. etc. all of which have continued to get worse. But apart from MS complications, I never get sick and enjoy excellent mental health, resilience and well-being.
Did OMS save my life? Of course, medically, it’s completely unprovable, I know that, but my firmly held belief is that OMS allowed me to beat the odds and survive. What’s more, it could only have been the hours of meditation which preserved my sanity and spirits during the many endless, sleepless nights in hospital.
So, if like me, and getting on for half my OMS retreat group, the program hasn’t halted your physical decline, despite following it assiduously for more than five years, DON’T GIVE UP, it’ll still be doing you a power of good.