Tuesday, March 23, 2010

More Tired Less Wired

I had a few wonderful days last week.  My cold lingered, but it wasn’t getting me down.  I was sleeping long hours – usually 9 and sometimes 10 each night.  Walking around with a smile on my face, I took care of things in the house, went to the gym several times, and made my pilgrimage to Columbus for an i.v. and an acupuncture treatment.  I felt brave enough to try some DMPS in my i.v. once again.

It charged me up a little, but not enough to keep me from falling asleep, albeit later than normal.  It was in the wee hours of the morning that I felt its effects:  waking in a panic from a nightmare, drifting off again, waking later from another nightmare, repeating the experience one more time until I roused myself from bed, tired and stressed, wishing I knew this was the impact of mercury moving around and being released from my brain.

Two days later, determined to keep my resolve to do aerobic exercise daily and add 15 to 30 seconds each day, I schlepped over to the gym when I was still tired and pushed through my meager workout.   A few hours later, CRASH!

Cold, tired, and wired, I got through the evening, but in the morning, chest and sinus congestion took over once again!  O the folly of trying to keep resolutions with this illness!  I let myself give into sloth and lethargy and chocolate.  Mmmmmm...

As my mind began its downward spiral, I remembered another resolution I’d made last week: to surrender to the divine unfolding of my healing journey without attaching to the results.

This is the practice of yoga, as I understand it.

My understanding had been bolstered by some reading I was doing last week.  In Secret of the Siddhas by Swami Muktananda, there is an interesting story (#212, p. 55) about Arjuna.  He’s the valient hero of the Bhagavad Gita, the one to whom Lord Krishna (an incarnation of God in human form) reveals all the secrets of yoga.  But in this story, Arjuna is without Krishna. First he travels to find him, only to learn that Krishna had been killed.  Overcome by sorrow, he follows Krishna’s dying command to transport women, children, arms and wealth to another village.  On the way, his caravan is stopped by a young robber, and he is incapable of preventing the robbery.

I wanted to find the source of the story, so I read through the entire Bhavagad Gita (a feat I’d never had the discipline to undertake) but it wasn’t there.  I googled and. with the help of a knowledgeable friend, found the story in the sacred text known as the Bhagavatham, an epic of the life of Krishna.  Part of this detailed account resonated with me:
When Arjuna was stopped, the robber demanded: "Leave me the women, wealth and weapons and be on your way with the hags and children."
Arjuna was shocked and became angry.  He replied, "Let me introduce myself. I am Arjun, son of Pandu, who almost single-handedly defeated the Kaurava army in the Mahabharata war. Now get out of the way and let us proceed."
But the robber replied, "When I was a child, my mother told me about the war and recounted your exploits in it. Since then I have had a burning desire to test my skill against yours. God has given this opportunity to me. Lift your bow and defend yourself."
Arjuna tried to lift his bow, but it felt like lead.  He felt dizzy, and then fainted.  When he recovered consciousness he found that the robber had taken everything of value.  This loss spurred him to remember an event in the past when Krishna told him: "I am your strength Arjuna and your valour has brought fruit because I am by your side. By yourself you are nothing."
Muktananda explained the significance of this story:  
O my friend, Arjuna’s victories had never been due to his victories but to Krishna’s grace. Because of his wrong understanding of the Lord’s true nature, Arjuna lost all his strength and became weak.  Even a single though of Krishna would have been enough to give him strength, but now ordinary tribal boys defeated him.  He did not remember Krishna so he no longer had Krishna’s grace.
Remember that as long as Shri Guru’s grace and compassion are with Muktananda, he is fine.  Otherwise, he is worth only a penny. 
What humility!  How easy Baba makes it seem to give up our pride of being the doer! 

I could relate to Arjuna being weak, dizzy, and forgetful.  I even found it consoling that he forgot!  If Arjuna could, in a moment of crisis, forget everything about the presence of the Divine within, how could I not be gentle with myself when I forget? 

For years I have received great strength from my yoga practice.  Yet often, before I realize what I’m doing, I default to the old patterns.  Then as I muddle around, I eventually realize that I can choose a different response.

The day before reading Muktananda’s text on Arjuna, I had been able to step back from the drama of my ever-changing symptoms and become the witness-observer.   I saw that my own thoughts were my greatest torment.  I was judging one symptom as bad and another as good, ignoring Krishna’s advice (in the Bhagavad Gita) that “Delusion arises from the duality of aversion and attraction.”  My dualistic judgments had brought joy and hope on the one hand, anger and sadness on the other.   When I remembered how I had found strength in the spiritual practice of yoga, I resolved to turn my conscious desires toward knowing God.  I would make it a daily practice to surrender to the divine unfolding of my journey without attaching to the results. 

Swami Chidvilasananda {Gurumayi} wrote in Remembrance:. 
Permeating the earth, I sustain all Beings with my strength, said Lord Krishna.  He is telling us He is the strength.  Isn’t that a great discovery? You don’t have to work so hard anymore.  You just have to think of the Lord and you have all the strength you need. It’s true. You can experience it for yourself.

Krishna says to Arjuna (BG 18:65):  Fix your mind on me always, worship me, make every act an offering to me, and in this way, you shall truly come to me. 

I shared my story with friends and colleagues at a meditation center before we chanted and meditated together last week. 

When I noticed the downward spiral of my mind – before I made myself miserable – I remembered my share.  I remembered the words I had spoken (surrender to the divine unfolding of my journey without attaching to the results) and I pulled out of that spiral, back to a centered place of calm watchfulness.
Perhaps I will never give up wanting to get well, but I can give up the suffering that comes from resisting the obstacles and resenting the long journey. 

A few days later, the nightmares transformed into unmemorable dreams.  After two exercise-free days, I slept 10 ½ hours, breaking my previous record.  I am more tired, but less wired.  Whether this is good or bad, I do not know.  It is what it is.  And that is all there is presently.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Toxic emotions and a long lasting cold

I didn't make it to Cancun.  I had so much anxiety after packing my suitcase because the cold that I'd been dealing with since the end of January got much worse.  By the time I arrived at my Mom's house (a 7 hour drive from my house in Ohio), I had terrible sinus pain.  We did everything we could to drain my sinuses, and the next day I went in for acupuncture and Chinese herbs.  But by the end of the day, I was still too sick to travel.  So we had to cancel the trip.  

I spent a week in Maryland and missed 3-4 days of snowfall, so at least I felt a tiny bit closer to the beach vacation I was supposed to be having.  The downside was that I only had clothes for 70 degree weather, and it was a lot colder outside.  Hence, I visited the sauna in my Mom's condo nearly every day.  And, when I felt a bit better, I went shopping and found some great buys at a thrift shop -- the kind of designed labels I don't find in the local thrifts shops in rural Ohio.  I got into shopping and was on my feet nearly 2 hours, which charged my stress hormones up so that I had to do yoga for nearly 2 hours before I could think of eating.  Then I relapsed the next day.  But it was worth it because I had so much fun!

Now back in Ohio for a week and a half, I've had three NT treatments.  The first dealt with my cold.  Doc didn't inject my tonsils as he usually does, and when I asked about it, he said that he thinks the lymph has become stagnant.  He suggested that he'd been pushing a bit too hard and that I couldn't detox fast enough so he was going to slow down.  He did some injections in my cheeks to directly go into the sinuses.  I did an I.V. with some DMPS because I hadn't done any chelation in so long.

The next treatment I still had the cold.  It was moving around, chameleon-like, now a sore throat, now a post-nasal drip, or a head full of snot, changing as fast as the weather changes here in Central Ohio (A saying around here is "If you don't like the weather, wait a half hour.")  He was pretty gentle with me again, but he did do my tonsils, and I got a really painful sore throat the next evening.  But to my great delight, I have not had a sore throat since.  He gave me an HCl shot and another to take home and self-inject on Friday.

When I went in on Monday this week, he started pushing again.  I can just feel by the number of painful points he finds to inject.  Yet thetreatment seems to have done something to knock out the cold.  I felt it dissipate in the evening while I was sitting in bed reading.  I suddenly felt full of energy, my head and sinuses clear.  Somehow I managed to fall asleep, but I didn't stay asleep.

So at 4:30 a.m., I found myself anxious that I wasn't sleeping and concerned I was going to get that damned cold again. So far, I just have mild congestion.  But the anxiety spread to just about everything relating to this healing journey.

Doc wants me to start Human Growth Hormone.  Someone on the New Day forum (Phoenix Rising site) told me she, and several former Cheney patients she knows, crashed on HGH.  That information filtered through my subconscious during the night, I am sure, for I found myself fearful and full of distrust throughout the wee hours of the morning.

My mind kept focusing on muscle testing in his office yesterday. He  pulled out a briefcase of testing vials to see what would help me get well from this cold, and he came up with a vial of Standard Process Wheat Germ Oil.  Aaagh@!  He muscle tested me for it and 'showed' me that it made me stronger.  Yet I am gluten sensitive.  I've even done the genetic testing to show I have two DQ alleles which cause my immune system to make antibodies to gluten.  Back in 1999 I got very sick on Standard Process products, before I learned that I needed to be gluten free. Now a tiny bit of gluten contamination leaves me bloated and gives me loose stool.  I started thinking, how can I believe anything he tests for?  How can I put my trust in a physician again after what they've put me through?  (Major relapses due to a physician recommended raw juice fast, others from medications)

My mind shot back to October when he started me on T3 and I crashed badly.  It seemed as if my adrenals would never recover.  Then my liver got bad (high enzymes, nausea) and I wrote about how this was caused by the DMPS chelation.  I started to wonder if I was totally deluded working with this doctor and 'thinking' I was going to get better just because he has helped others.  Didn't every doctor who tried to help but hurt me verbally reassure me that s/he had helped countless others with CFS?

When the mind starts running down this path, there is sure trouble.  I got myself to the point where I was irritable and confused.  I yelled a string of curse words at the automated telephone answering service for my insurance company, slammed the phone down, and finally had the good sense to go sit on my meditation cushion.

An hour later I was calmer in mind and body.  I dealt with my distrust -- not by trying to convince myself to trust -- but by reminding myself that my Higher Power is ultimately in charge.  My doctor is human, and will make mistakes.  I take in his advice as guidance, not as dogma, and filter every recommendation through my own experience and my own inner wisdom.  I feel much calmer tonight. 

It has been especially hard to have the NT shake up all the stability in my life, for before starting this protocol I was nearly symptom free. I just had a very limited life, with no exercise and no standing in the evening. Now I can wash the dinner dishes (yippee! LOL) but I can't make plans with friends and find time for creative writing because I am always having some new symptom or other to deal with and never know when I am going to have to take a 2 or 3 hour nap in the middle of the day. Sometimes I think the trade-off wasn't worth it, and at those times, I'm also skeptical that I won't make a full recovery. When I look at Mike, or when I have good hours, I'm willing to forge ahead and resolve to cultivate a positive mental attitude. 

Mental attitude has been the greatest challenge during this treatment protocol for me. I haven't had to deal with much negative thinking since I recovered from depression and PTSD in 1996-7. Now it's as if I'm plunged back into that awful mindset and I wonder if the NT is actually triggering the release of those old emotions.

Still, I've decided I will try the HGH.  It looks as if I'm getting a dose smaller than the average starting dose, which makes me more comfortable although it still concerns me that many other CFS patients 'crashed.'  But I trust Doc's clinical experience.  He did say in the past that there is a time to start HGH. He said: "If I'd given it to Mike before he was ready, it wouldn't have helped."  First he has to shift the body into a rebuilding mode (an anabolic state) so that HGH supports a process that is already ongoing.  It's nice to know that he thinks I'm getting to that phase of recovery.