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.  



1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful post describing the tools you use to get through the real rough spots. I am finding myself increasingly drawn towards meditative practices as well as shamanism. I've been looking for a shaman out here in CA.

    Thanks for posting this.



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