Monday, October 19, 2009

Neural Therapy and Naltrexone -- not for the faint of heart

"Ouch!"  My neural therapy doc really knows where the find the tender spots.  Each time I see him I get about 30 needle pricks, sometimes more.  He finds points on the hands, wrists, inner elbows, sternum, abdomen, pubis, feet, inner calves, neck and scalp, and above all, my gums.

The first time, I didn't have any reaction.  But since then (I'm going into my 5th week of treatments and have had 8 treatments so far), I feel something happen each time.  A few sessions past he injected my tonsils after asking me where I felt sick when I first got ME/CFS.  I could only remember the persistent sore throat; it was the last symptom to disappear as I made my first recovery.  That night I got a sore throat.  When I awakened in the morning it was gone.  Another session caused me to feel dizzy, exactly as I did the first 3-4 days of the virus that changed my life in May 1987.

Last Wednesday, I left his office feeling like my head was spinning.  It was almost like being high on some kind of drug --not that I've had much varied experience in this department, but I did enter college during the hippie years and wore the bell-bottom jeans, peace signs, beads, and long (ironed) hair-- but not as much fun as being high, especially since I had to drive in rush hour traffic.  The next morning, I woke up with a low fever (99.4) and immediately flashed to my first year with the illness, when my fever was constantly mildly elevated.  Hurray! I thought.  A healing crisis.

By late afternoon, I was not celebrating.  My fever had climbed to 100.6.  Every bone and muscle in my back ached.  My hips ached.  My head ached.  In hope of averting a flu (which CFS patients rarely get, and which I haven't had since the early 1980's), I started taking Sambucol elderberry extract lozenges.  My fever dipped the next morning, then climbed the next night and remained elevated at 99.5 the third morning.  I still had no other flu symptoms, nothing respiratory or gastrointestinal.

When my fever broke the third day, I was left with extreme tightness in my neck and occiput (where the back of the head meets the neck).  It was as if my head were held on by steel wires.  I remembered back after my 1994 relapse that I had this pain every day, constantly, for 2 years, unrelieved by massage therapy.

My optimistic interpretation was that all these recurrent symptoms were a perfect demonstration of the theory of homeopathic healing -- that we go backwards through the various stages of illness.  If that turns out to be the case, then in a short while, I shall burst forth like a spring flower, radiating bright yellows and reds with an abundance of energy.

My pessimistic interpretation, which flooded my brain for about 2 hours this afternoon after getting another EDTA push, was that I just contracted another bug that was "going around" and that all this traveling and expenditure of money was a big waste of time.

Fortunately, when the doctor came into the waiting room, he encouraged me.  "Feel this?" he asked, pressing on my spleen.

"Definitely tender," I answered.

"A sign your body is working hard to fight."  In addition to doing a variety of injections with homeopathics, he pulled out a bit of blood and mixed it with the homeopathic liquid in the syringe.  Then he shook it up (which in homeopathic jargon is called percussion), then he injected it into four points around my spleen.  This, he explained, is a way of making a personalized homeopathic, using whatever pathogen or antigen is circulating in my blood stream to further stimulate (and hopefully knock out) the guilty culprit.

Four hours later, at home, I feel GREAT!  My head and neck are still a bit stiff, but my temperature is holding steady at 98.5, and my energy is unusually good for the late hour after a very long day.

My fevers started before the neural therapy, about the time I raised the dose of Naltrexone to 3.0 mg and shifted to taking it at bedtime.  A few days before this bout with fever, I had increased the dose (which I've been doing gradually at about 1/4 mg a week) up to 4.5 mg.  I wondered if that could have pushed my body a bit too quickly into actively fighting some of the multiple infections with which it has been coexisting for many years.  Doc uses his own intuitive form of applied kinesiology, and determined that I'll be better off with a lower dose.  Hopefully, my healing with continue to move forward steadily.

He also put me on a daily regimen of T3, the active thyroid hormone, which he orders from a compounding pharmacy in an extended release formula.  His patients have to take it every 12 hours to keep constant blood levels.  He chose this because my temperature log had my average oral body temperature consistently below 98 degrees, even though my thyroid labs (TSH, T3 and T4) were in the normal range (not at optimal levels, as per my early September post).  The extended release T3 seems to be working!  Even on the natural thyroid extracts (Armour, Natur) that I've taken in the past, I never got my average temperatures about 97.8.  Now they are consistently above 98, and I don't feel wired.

So I'm putting my pessimism to rest.  Although it's hard NOT to think about people I've met in the office who haven't gotten well and worry that I could be one of them, what good does worrying do?  I might as well enjoy HOPE that I'll have a good experience, an experience uniquely my own, with results like the most fortunate of the doctor's patients.  I might as well imagine myself biking and skiing and traveling around Europe.  At least for now I can enjoy these fantasies, and if my happy mental state helps bring them into manifestation as the New Age gurus insist, so be it.

Sweet dreams to all.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Testimony at HHS, CSF Advisory Committee

I am going to Washington DC to testify at the CFS Advisory Committee division of Health and Human Services.  My mother (who lives in the Maryland suburbs) also agreed to come and testify.  Here are the written testimonies that we submitted and will deliver orally on October 29.

Mom's testimony

It is very painful to have a sick child.  It’s extremely painful to have a child who has been sick for many, many years.  It has been most painful when physicians have told her,  “it is all in your head,” or “we don’t know what to do to help”.

It is very painful to have a daughter who, at the height of her career, acknowledged as an expert in her field, invited to speak at conferences all over Europe (which I sometimes attended), voted a favorite teacher by her students, had to leave her position as a tenured professor because she was unable to execute her duties.

It is most painful that, when she sometimes feels a bit better and we all have hope that she is improving, she relapses back to weakness and exhaustion and we go back to feeling dismayed and hopeless.

This pattern has been going on for twenty-three years. Let me describe the differences I see in my daughter so that you can get a sense of the devastating impact of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

From the time my daughter was a young girl, she was a ball of energy—always moving, always engaged in some important pursuit. She was athletic, at the top of her class, dedicated to excellence, studious, disciplined and able to think and reason critically. When she became ill, her life, and, as a result, mine and my husband’s, changed dramatically. She and her young daughter lived in the University town where she was an associate professor. While fighting a custody battle, being a single parent and working full time, I was aware that she was feeling more and more exhausted. It was extremely painful that after winning the custody battle in court, she had to relinquish custody of her child to her former husband, as she was too ill to take care of her child.

When my daughter received the diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, she drew on her research background immediately. Her extremely high IQ together with her experience doing in depth research about unfamiliar topics served her well. She found doctors who were touted as specialists in CFS. She traveled across the country and to other countries to work with these specialists. All to no avail. However, she did not give up. She began studying the syndrome on her own. This led to her study and subsequent certification as a doctor of naturopathy.

Her perseverance and tenacity also showed up as she explored different modalities to increase the quality of her now compromised life style. She found that yoga helped her feel better during the day. As she practiced yoga, as she tended to do, she became an expert yoga instructor. She hoped to be able to have the energy to teach yoga as it helped her feel so much better. However, after attempting to do so and getting a following quickly, she found that her poor health prevented her from having the consistency necessary to maintain an ongoing class. She now practices yoga regularly for her own well being.

So from being an active person who hiked and biked regularly, visited museums frequently, cooked gourmet meals, wrote and published articles for professional journals, wrote chapters for art history textbooks, taught a full course load at an academically rigorous liberal arts college, and raised a developmentally disabled daughter on her own, she is now an invalid, living an extremely compromised and limited life.

Over the years, I have stayed with her in her home to help out with the bare necessities of life. I am thankful that her partner is a generous and extremely helpful man, quick to take care of many of the chores. She could not have made it on her own as there were days when she could not stand for more than a few minutes let alone go to the grocery store. House chores were out of the question as was any form of exercise other than yoga.

Last year when she had another set back, she came from Ohio to live with me because she was in such a physically weakened condition that she was unable to do even the minimum to care for her self.  When she arrived and for several months following, she used my deceased husband’s wheel chair as she was unable to stand for more than a few minutes without having to lie down for hours to recuperate. She stayed for six months as I tended to her care –putting my own life on hold as I watched her withered weakness gradually transform into a bit more strength.  She found that acupuncture relieved her and helped her feel more comfortable so she went to a practitioner several times a  week.  Fortunately, I was able to help subsidize the cost of her yoga and acupuncture as none of that was covered by insurance.  I am grateful I am able to help but other parents  may not be  in such a position.

I have been and continue to be distraught. It seems unconscionable to me that we are not putting more research dollars into understanding this syndrome. Somewhere, there must be a researcher who can unlock the secrets of this malady.

Even now, when she is as well as she has ever been with this illness inside her, it breaks my heart to experience the following:
  • she needs to rest several times a day,
  • she can only make tentative plans as they may need to be broken,
  • we cannot go to a museum together here in Washington because she gets too exhausted.
  •  if she doesn’t get to her nap on time she may be negatively affected for two days afterward,
  • we can’t go out for dinner if there is too long a wait
  • if she doesn’t eat on time, I can read her weakness on her face.
  • she can’t stand in line at a check out lane if she doesn’t bring along a stool to sit on.

It is unfair and sad that I can run rings around my daughter, energy wise, although there is more than a generation between us and I have a bad back!

My testimony

I was a distinguished art historian, a Fulbright Scholar who received grants from federal agencies such as the NEA and NEH, who served on a granting board of the NEH, and who received numerous awards from private foundations. 

I came down with CFS on May 2, 1987.  In addition to the onset of classic physical symptoms of sore throat, low grade fever, dizziness, and muscle weakness, the cognitive effects of the illness were immediate.  I developed paraphasia -- pointing like an idiot at forks and bowls because the words for common objects wouldn’t come to mind -- and I found it difficult to organize ideas.  The only article I ever had rejected for publication was the one I wrote that first summer!

The neurocognitive effects of the illness continued over the years, worsening at the end of the first decade.  Math had been my top subject in high school, and my math SAT score had been 760 out of 800.  As CFS advanced, I found myself unable to do simple arithmetic.  I also lost skill in visual recognition -- skills that had made it possible for me to ace art history courses and get my doctorate.  When I finally had neurocognitive testing in 2005, at a time when my symptoms had partially abated, I scored down in the 14th percentile for visual recognition and spatial skills.  I had once been the Department Chair and could no longer organize a few files in my home.

For a long time I struggled with depression at the tremendous losses I’d suffered -- loss of career, loss of the ability to lead an active life, loss of competence in many tasks.  Eventually, working with yoga, meditation, and natural forms of medicine, I was able to make peace with my restricted life and find joy in the simple tasks of living.

My healing journey of 22 years is a modern odyssey.  I have travelled to California and New York, Mexico and the Caribbean, exploring protocols of mainstream physicians and protocols of holistic practitioners.  Some protocols helped me make substantial progress towards recovery; others caused me to worsen, often creating a ripple effect that continued to shimmer for several years.  But when I compare myself to many of the non-working afflicted on the internet forums dedicated to ME and CFS, I know that I am one of the lucky ones.  I had the research skills and the brain power to dedicate myself to studying human physiology, homeopathy, herbs, and nutritional supplements.  This knowledge has made it possible for me to control my symptoms (and control is the operative word) so that I no longer suffer with the ups and downs of bad days which torment the lives of my friends.  I’ve also had the financial resources to explore acupuncture and other healing modalities.

Because of my partial success, I’m asking the CFS Advisory Committee, to give more attention to nutritional interventions.  The pharmaceutical companies have plenty of incentives to develop drugs for CFS, given its estimated prevalence between one to four million Americans.  We need YOU to undertake the kind of research that private companies have no incentive to undertake. There is serious and enthusiastic discussion on internet forums about several protocols which have alleviated symptoms in numerous individuals with CFS. Some individuals have improved substantially enough to return to the work force.  Others have reduced suffering, doctor’s visits, complications, and costs.  Here is a brief list:

1.  Vitamin B-12.  People report success taking only the active forms, adenosylcobalamin and methylcobalamin, while avoiding the inactive forms of cyanocobalamin and hydroxocobalamin.  We need more research as to why cerebrospinal fluid shows low B-12 while serum B-12 levels are normal, when MMA is the most accurate way to measure functional need, or whether the new tests of transcobalamin are more accurate.

 2.  NO/ONOO.  People report success taking specific antioxidant supplements designed to scavenge peroxynitrate according to the theory advanced by Dr. Martin Pall.  His theory and protocol need further clinical testing.

 3.  Methylation and reduced glutathione.  Dr.s Van Konynenberg and Nathan did a preliminary study of 60 individuals with CFS whose energy improved substantially after less than a year on their protocol of unusual supplements.  Instead of using synthetic folic acid, they directly employ substances active in the folate cycle such as 5-methyltetrahydrofolate and folinic acids.  They have documented through serum testing the normalization of reduced glutathione, SAMe, SAH, adenosine, and various active folates.  Some study participants recovered sufficiently to return to the work force.

 4.  Amino acids therapies, particularly intravenous administration of amino acids, has helped those who test low in serum and urinary amino acids despite adequate dietary intake.

 5.  All people with CFS have abnormalities in Kreb’s cycle metabolites. Through studies or increased monitoring of organic acid testing -- available through US laboratories such as Genova, Great Plains, and Metametrix -- we might be able to discover patterns revealing how this illness actually decreases the capacity to make adequate ATP.  That could lead to interventions that increase energy substantially enough to improve quality of life and return many individuals to the work force.

 6.  Dr. Sarah Myhill’s study of mitochondrial dysfunction and the protocol she uses to reverse it deserves further study in the U.S.

 7.  To control costs, we need to stop turning natural nutritional products into drugs just because a pharmaceutical company wants to market it.  This has happened in the past year with BH4 (tetrahydrobiopterin) and a pyridoxine, a natural, active form of Vitamin B6.   Restriction of products that have been available for generations is contrary to the principles of our democracy and free market system.  

 Even if XMVR turns out to be the cause of this devastating illness, we still need to understand how to help long-term sufferers repair and restore their damaged bodies.  My friends and I hope the government will be open to studies on non-toxic products that have the potential to support the immune system.  We call upon the government to look into the development of

  •  peptides that disable viral penetration into the cell, such as the one Dr. Candace Pert of Georgetown University discovered for the AIDS virus
  •  transfer factors and other markers of healthy immune function that could explain why exposed members of the healthy population are able to harbor XMVR without becoming symptomatic.

Finally, it is crucially important to revise the case definition of CFS.  The Canadian definition of M.E. is a more accurate description of our symptoms.  If XMVR doesn’t turns out to be the marker we seek, we need to look at functional markers including organic acids, amino acids,  and methylation markers in order to diagnosis new cases before irreparable oxidative damage occurs from overexertion.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Are metals making us sick?

"We'll prepare the injection while you void," he said and directed me to the rest room.

I closed the door, and was immediately assaulted by the whirr of the vent fan and the smell of Lysol.  I soon heard the splash of urine in the toilet bowl.  That's when it hit me: the icy hand of Fear closed around my neck.  My breath stopped, then started in short staccato stutters.  My fingers stiffened as I tried to grab the paper.  

I will not be afraid, I told myself.  I am not a 4 year old hiding from the pediatrician.  I tore off a few squares of paper and began to fold them.  Maybe Fear is here to help me, I thought.  Maybe my intuition is telling me what I need to know--that this procedure could set me back on my healing journey.

"I'm not going to do it," I announced upon exiting the rest room.

"But we've already prepared the DMPS injection!" the nurse said.

"We'll have to charge you for it," the Doctor said, "because we can't use it for anyone else."

I held firmly to a resolution I'd made to myself a year earlier:  I WILL NEVER AGAIN OVERRIDE MY FEAR TO DO A MEDICAL PROCEDURE.  I picked up my purse and headed for the front door.  I would never see Dr. M again.

The incident that led to my resolution was the kind of medical trauma all-too-frequent among ME/CFS patients.  I'd been visiting the Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center in Patagonia for a week of relaxation, escaping the bleak Ohio winter and enjoying myself by hiking, meditating, and doing yoga outside in the Arizona sun.  I'd chosen Tree of Life because I had recently become gluten free and was trying out a raw food vegan diet to see if it would help heal my worsening psoriasis.  My ME/CFS was in remission at the time; I had more energy that I could ever remember. Except for some embarrassing cognitive deficits, I was 49 going on 29.  After 6 years of being too sick to work, I was about to start a business to help others recover, using my new skills of yoga and energy healing.

My new friends at the center advised me to consult with Dr. Gabriel Cousens.  "People come from all over the world to see him," they said.  "You're already here."

I took their advice and ended up in his office on the last day of my vacation, surprised to find my heart pounding like a jackhammer.  What was I afraid of?  Was I intimidated by this man because he had studied with the Guru of my Guru, had touched my brow in meditation, and claimed the power to give shaktipat diksha (the awakening of spiritual energy)?  Did I imagine he'd see through my happy facade to the deep-seated doubts I harbored about my worthiness and abilities? My conscious mind told me it was all of those things.

Dr Cousens advised, "A raw juice fast will clear up your psoriasis."

I told him I had a history of CFS and adrenal issues, and that I'd been told by another physician never to fast. He reassured me that he'd put hundreds of people with CFS on fasts and that all of them had done well.  Eager to please, I changed my return flight and extended my vacation another 7 days.

Three days after I returned to Ohio, I relapsed.  Postural orthostatic tachycardia emerged as the first and most debilitating symptom, affecting me if I stood for more than 3 or 4 minutes.  It was soon followed by depression, anxiety, insomnia, constipation, hypersensitivity to noises and smells, and finally, a total inability to walk.  Dr. Cousens said my adrenals were failing and advised me to get shiatsu.  Four weeks after climbing a mountain in Patagonia I had to call on neighbors to take my dog around the block.  It was the greatest trauma I had ever experienced in my life.

A year later, when I went to see Dr. M, I was still reeling from the shock.  I had made significant progress in that I was no longer miserable and depressed; I could take the dog for walks and make my own meals.  I just couldn't do anything else.   It would take another 5 years to recover to the point where I had been in 1999; avoiding anything with risk that might set me back was crucial to my steady (albeit fragile) recovery.

Many years later, after completing my naturopathy training, I educated myself about DMPS, the chemical that Dr. M wanted to inject for a metals challenge test.
DMPS (2,3-dimercapto-1-propanesulfonic acid sodium) is a synthetic amino acid chelating agent of toxic heavy metals, which forms a water soluble complex with toxic heavy metals and is believed by many to lead to their removal through the kidneys, liver, gastrointestinal tract. DMPS has been use in West Germany where it has been studied and is available as a commercial drug for the treatment of heavy metal toxicity. Studies in West Germany report safety in animals and humans in the doses given. ... Because DMPS has not been studied in the United States of America, it is considered "experimental" by the FDA.  (From
 I talked to individuals who had been harmed by the DMPS challenge test; others who had been harmed by a few oral tablets.  The compound pulls mercury and other metals out of tissues where it has been sequestered. Ideally they are removed from the body through normal excretion, but what happens too often is that the metals are not tightly bound to DMPS in the kidneys, liver and bowels, and end up creating new tissue injury. One patient who was harmed by the challenge test has started DMPS and collects reports of other patients who have been harmed by DMPS injections.

I am glad I listened to my intuition and respected my fear.  Instead, I started doing hair mineral analysis and did many different compounds for oral chelation.  I'll talk about them in my next blog post.

Eight years later, that is in October 2009, I agreed to do a metal challenge test.  My doctor used Calcium EDTA.  Here are my results:

You can see that I have only one element which falls into the toxic range, and that is Antimony.  The doctor also circled lead and mercury, arguing that he doesn't like to see any amounts of this showing up.

I had antimony show up on hair mineral tests. It was particularly high shortly after my first relapse.  According to Andrew Cutler, antimony frequently affects the heart.  It also lodges in thyroid, adrenals, and kidneys.  It is found in flame retardants, pottery glazes, flourescent lights, and lead-free solder.

Amazingly, I am not fearful about starting i.v. chelation with my current doctor.  Because he works with many ME/CFS patients, he has learned to use very tiny doses.  For example, the recommended dose (Dr. Gary Gordon) for Calcium EDTA pushes is 50 mg per kg of body weight.  I weigh about 50 kg, so I could conceivably receive up to 2500 mg or 2.5 gm of EDTA.  However, my doctor used 1/2 uL, a liquid measure (1/2 of a microliter equivalent to 1/1000 of a milliliter).  I don't know how this translates into mg because I don't know the strength of the liquid.

My first experience with an EDTA push (5 minutes, but I took about 15minutes ) was on Tuesday.  Here's what I experienced:

  • Instant irritability which lasted for about 4 hours
  • I decided to take Chitosan (it absorbs fat soluble toxins) even though EDTA makes a water soluble compound and goes through the kidneys, just to pick up any lipids that were damaged by the metal ions that got lose from the EDTA
  • I had several drinks with supplemental ionic minerals and magnesium citrate
  • I couldn't rest, so I went to the gym and did about 15 minutes of weight lifting followed by a 10 minute sauna.  My mood greatly improved as did my energy.
  • I did a coffee enema and felt great.
  • I took a subcutaneous glutathione shot and didn't feel any effects.
  • I had energy in the evening, and puttered around the house until 11 pm.
  • I read for awhile but didn't get sleepy.
  • I tried to go to sleep anyway, but my mind was going 100 mph.  I took 1/2 triazolam, which usually puts me to sleep right away.
  • I finally got up, had a snack, wrote, and read and got back into bed at 3 am.  I slept until 9:30.
  • I felt okay all day, albeit a bit tired and wired.
Now that I've read a bit more about i.v. chelation (especially about the controversy on the safety of IV EDTA pushes and about any type of IV DMPS), I am a bit worried.  Fortunately I see the doctor tomorrow.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Overcoming discouragement

Just because it's normal to have ups and downs on a healing journey doesn't make it easy!

I had a positive response when the Doctor started me on I.V. amino acids.  It stimulated my body.  My heart started working harder -- perhaps too hard for the damaged mitochondria to keep up, because I had chest pain and tightness of breath, which sent me to the E.R. after the first treatment.   The E.R. doctor on call was your typically gruff, discourteous guy, with an apparent dislike of anyone who didn't have a 'real' heart condition.  He grumped at me because I didn't remember the name of the i.v. medicine I'd received. "I'm getting it for myalgic encephalomyelitis," I said.

His face reddened and his brows creased.  "How am I supposed to help you if you have an illness I've never heard of?"

I wanted to tell him it was his job to learn about illnesses, but instead I smiled politely and thanked him for ascertaining that my heart was okay.

"I recommend you stay overnight in the hospital and get a full cardiologist's workup tomorrow with a stress test," he said. I signed a release so I could return to my own comfortable bed and chem-free home.

The next day I got my first neural therapy treatment and another i.v.  The neural therapy isn't fun.  The needle hurts more than acupuncture needles, and the pokes went into tender tissues like gum tissue.  I remembered everything I'd learned about breathing through pain in preparation for childbirth.  I restrained the inclination to tense up, and before long, he was done.

I continued to run a low grade fever during the fist week; then my temperature dropped.  (The doctor has me taking my temperature in the morning when I awaken and again at 4 pm.)  My afternoon temperatures went to numbers like 98.2, 98.4, and 98.6.  Wow!  I haven't had normal for over 15 years!  I was excited and upbeat at the prospect of my cells working in the normal temperature range because it means that enzyme reactions and immune function work more effectively at higher temperatures.  How could I complain about the headaches I was experiencing every day with temperatures approaching normal?

I tried a bike ride on the completely flat, paved bike trail but turned around in less than 1/4 mile.  This little bit of exercise was enough to send my body temperature down to 97.8 for the rest of the day.  The next day I took another I.V. and it went back up.  I was on a roll...... Yeah!

But life throws us curve balls, and mine was a mild cold or virus that came along the next weekend.  David started feeling it first.  The next morning, I had pain in my sinuses and was cold as a popsicle.  My body temperature was lower by 1/2 degree in the morning, and no matter what I did (hot tea, hot bath, sleeping under a down quilt), I couldn't get it up to even 98.  I took an acupuncture treatment and slept for 3 hours on Saturday and took it easy all day Sunday.  I held onto the hope that Monday's I.V. would make me 'normal' again.

It was not to be.  A week of low temperatures, feeling cold, and unbearably fatigued followed.  A second neural therapy treatment didn't turn me around -- although I did feel more energy that evening than I had for the previous 5 days -- but the next day I was back to feeling miserable again.  Every once in a while I'd catch myself thinking terrible thoughts like "I'm beyond help; this treatment isn't going to work for me."  If I let my thoughts run down those bleak paths, I'd imagine fatalistic futures with my money spent, my hopes flattened, and nothing left to do but crawl under the covers in defeat.

Fortunately, a decade and a half of meditation and yoga practice has given me some skills.  And although I'm not perfect at controlling my mind, I've learned to notice when I start hobbling (or racing) down a dark dangerous path.  Whenever I notice, I suddenly have the freedom to make a choice.  I ask myself if these thoughts are making me happy.  I ask myself if these thoughts are true.  The answers "No" and "No," allow me to choose happy thoughts and positive feelings.  

A relaxation practice called yoga nidra has helped me learn to make a shift on command.  In this practice, I move my awareness from one part of the body to another.  Then I shift states, imaging myself cold, then hot, angry, then accepting, agitated, then peaceful, and so on.  I go back and forth between one extreme and other other, feeling each fully, mastering the art of creating whatever internal state I wish to create.

So I moved myself into happy feelings.  I reminded myself that everything happens for the best.   I recalled how many changes in life I initially resisted, only to discover they brought greater blessings than I could ever have imagined at the outset.  I drew upon my faith in God to allow this journey to unfold for the highest good of my soul.

When I saw the doctor a few days later, I mentioned I'd been feeling discouraged.  He said, "It takes six to eight weeks for your body to turn around."  I had had i.v. treatment for a mere 15 days, and had only one neural therapy treatment.

The doctor also told me that I have a good healing reserve.  From my reading in homeopathy and naturopathy, I think of this 'reserve' as akin to vital energy.  It's a force that guides our healing journey, somewhat like what the Indians call prana and the Orientals call chi or qi.  This force exists in the physical body, in the energy field of the body, and interconnect through the subtle layers layers of mind and spirit.  It's not something measurable with instruments, but it's something that many people sense.  Indeed, most of us sense the vitality of children, or of unusually gifted individuals.  Similarly, in the presence of individuals with unusually low vitality, we often find ourselves feeling tired, drained, or depressed.

I smiled with pleasure.  I've been cultivating this force through my spiritual practices ever since I learned that such was possible.  My healing journey took me to classes where I learned Reiki, pranic healing, and other practices to open to the flow of Universal or Divine energy.  Hatha yoga moves the flow of prana through the tissues of my body, not only getting me to breath more deeply and relax muscles, but allowing this force to flow into nooks and crannies that aren't used in every day activities.  I spend some time practicing meditation.  And usually, for a few minutes, I manage to quiet my mind.  During meditation I remind myself that Divine Energy exists within me, that I am like a ray of light to the great sun, infinitesimally small in comparison, but made of the same stuff.  This helps me to feel expansive.  Feeling expansive enhances the life force, because it opens us to the divine energy of the Creator, the giver and taker of Life, the Master Healer of all healers.

So much for cosmology and religion...  My good fortune continued when I spoke to a friend who is a wonderful shaman.  She had recently returned from a month long journey to Peru where she goes to study with traditional Peruvian shamans, and offered me a shamanic healing.

I chose a beautiful purple stone, shaped almost like a heart and blew into it.  I lay down and closed my eyes.  She tested my seven chakras and determined that my heart chakra needed support, so I placed the stone over my heart center.   Then she began rattling.  She shook the rattle, moving here and there, while I listened and relaxed.  Soon I found myself in a most peaceful state.  I was neither awake nor asleep, no longer aware of my body or my breath, hearing only the rattle.  The rattling intensified, becoming louder and faster.  I heard a pop, like a gun shot in the distance, and then saw the image of a wolf's head.  At first the wolf's greenish yellow eyes glowed in the dark.  Then, I saw it in profile as a dark silhouette howling at the moon.

The shaman touched my shoulder to bring me back into the present.  As I became aware of my surroundings, I felt a great sadness.  Soon, a new understanding came upon me:  I saw all the huge disappointments of my life and all the little heartbreaks as individual links in a long chain.  The chain was keeping me shackled. I realized that all of that sadness was behind my illness, that the illness itself and the losses I had suffered because of it were all part of the same chain.

The shaman suggested I read about wolves in a book on animal lore.  I happen to own Medicine Cards by Jamie Sams & David Carson and just pulled the book off my shelf.  The picture of Wolf shows a profile of wolf howling at the moon, almost exactly as I saw it in my vision yesterday.

The feathers in the illustration look exactly like the 3 turkey feathers that David placed on the counter the evening before.  Is it mere coincidence or is there some greater meaning here?  The book says about wolf:

 Wolf is the pathfinder, the forerunner of new ideas who returns to the clan to teach and share medicine.... The senses of Wolf are very keen, and the Moon is its power ally.  The Moon is the symbol for psychic energy, or the unconscious that hold the secrets of knowledge and wisdom.  Baying at the Moon may be an indication of Wolf's desire to connect with new ideas which are just below the surface of consciousness.... As you feel Wolf coming alive within you, you may wish to share your knowledge by writing or lecturing on information that will help others better understand their uniqueness or path in life.  ...  Wolf would not come to you unless you requested the appearance of the tribe's greatest teacher.
What better confirmation that a great change is taking place!  What better confirmation of my love of teaching!  What better confirmation of my search for truth, to understand and release the chains that keep me limited!

With that, I take leave to go howl at the almost full moon.