Posts Tagged ‘Medicine’

life, with Dog

mrhandsome

We’ll get the unpleasantness out of the way first: the lentil plant croaked.  Otherwise the garden seems to be shaping up splendidly, even in our now 100 degree f. heat.

Yesterday was the Dog’s birthday and another opportunity to see just how much he teaches me all the time.   The other morning we had an Unfortunate Occurrence….I had my back to the Thing in the moment since I was making something to eat, BUT.  I heard the Partner exclaim, No! NO! Oh GOD!!!! NOOOOOOOOO…..Since I wasn’t altogether sure if this was a Tottenham Hotspur malfunction or the Sheriff showing up I didn’t rush to turn around, but when I did?  There was an absolute steaming volcano of dog barf on the rug.

Of course, I am a pro at this now.  Show me your dog barf, pee, or poop! Go ahead! So, whipping out the always useful AARP magazine, I shoveled the stuff up, washed the area, mollified the Partner and babied the Dog.  I realized that since we found ourselves recently calling him the Bottomless Pit Bull, probably a ramp down on the food was in order.  He is a consummate pro at just…..staring….at you……until……you…….crack! and give him food.  He immediately races around whenever I even step into the kitchen, forget what happens when I open the refrigerator.  In short, he was playing me like Paganini.  Then again, the hummingbirds play me.  I just have to feed whoever’s around.  This turned into a really good opportunity to look once again at that still large matched set of emotional baggage and see that really, it is OK! I am not on a parole that will be revoked the minute someone doesn’t get waited on or fed, especially since I’m the one who passed the sentence.  And, especially since we know for sure that the Dog will eat until he explodes.

Traditionally (he’s three now after all. History, Gentle Reader!) he’s gotten a very tee-tiny (organic) turkey (nothing else) slider for his birthday.  This year I didn’t have turkey and he had to be content with what is probably going to be my crowning achievement for the summer: butternut squash popsicle cubes.

dogtreats

Success there, all around.  Even if when I made the first batch somehow the immersion blender tipped over the container and……created an impromptu kitchen sterilization episode.  Anyway, bucked up by receiving all this Dog Teaching, I was somewhat surprised when after inadvertently watching the “news” my head exploded and the poor Dog found himself in the position of having to lick my tears and murmur therethere in my ear.  Now that you’re on the floor with me, aren’t you glad you cleaned all that stuff up? He is nothing if not ultimately practical.

In the end it all goes back to feeling one MUST DO SOMETHING whether it be to offer food or end single use plastic. The absolute self absorbed idiocy that passes for discourse, information, public policy is so disturbing on its face that it’s hard to believe people aren’t rising en masse against it.  My egoic self with all the luggage feels that the world has been destroyed by a bunch of jerks, and casual observation does nothing to dispel that thought.   Then again, that itself is a thought, right? A separating sort of thought, too. And most of the difficulties in life come from separation, from not allowing love in to one’s life and being.  I had the oddest set of realizations that night, after the restorative power of Dog Licks (and Partner applied cold compresses!).  Perennial philosophy, let’s call it, discusses both the necessity of disentangling oneself from the glamorized and/or apocalyptic apparency of things, and to put in practice a radical kind of acceptance of what one encounters.  Not accepting abuse or radioactive stupidity at all, but extending actually the kind of….warrior power? of love.  Let me take that thorn out of your paw before you shoot me, sort of.  Then we each go on our ways, thus fortified.  Anyone can do this.  So I at long last incorporated this information: that we are all holy, so to speak.  The Teachers just all passed this way before we did, yet we are in the end all one and the same. We may be defiling ourselves by our actions (may????grrrrr……) but that can always be stopped because there is always a choice.  So.  Although I am driven close to mad when I see the suffering caused in this world today by stupidity, greed, selfishness and fear, and grasp my own powerlessness to “do” anything about it…..at the same time I am increasingly more sure that there are such things as truth and beauty, and that they will prevail as long as there are those to show them in the tiny spaces that often get overlooked.  Like, you know.  Gardeners and cooks and poets and people who hold the door open for you wherever it may be found.

Plus, I think I finally understand gravity.  And: the bug spray is in beta testing.

Blessings and thanks, as usual and always!

good fun and well worth it

Well, Gentle Reader, when last we put paw to keyboard there wasn’t enough time to tell the story.  I must say my recent experiences have plunged me into an angry despair unlike anything I’ve ever experienced which is saying quite a bit.

Part the first.  So, it turns out I’ve had chronic gallbladder problems which were always diagnosed by my regular doctor as being in my head.  Strange, since that isn’t where the gallbladder is located.

Part the second.  Finally the long suffering Partner takes me to the ER in the only hospital we can use, being poor and all.  After a lot of fun in the waiting room, saying over and over between pukes that no, I have not been to West Africa,  continuously vomiting and mostly missing the opening of the tiny bag they grudgingly gave me, I went in to the treatment area.  My veins were apparently collapsed from dehydration and in their efforts to get a line in me I ended up looking like someone beat the snot out of me, as my ex-Marine postman remarked in horror.  Amazingly a diagnosis was quickly made.  I was told this procedure is essentially outpatient, laparoscopic surgery, no big deal.  This is, of course, true if you have what is referred to as “good insurance”, something I now think of as being in the same category as “good hair” if you know what I mean.  Since I did not have good insurance I instead was put in a bed, no food or water, for 48 hours.  The surgeon’s instructions were that I was to get pain meds every two hours.  The nurses decided that they didn’t really need to bother with being timely with that, with the result that I found myself screaming at one point and being roundly chastised by said nurse.  Lucky for her that by that time I couldn’t speak.  The extra fun part of all this is that I’m allergic to opiates and two days of them put me on Mars.  Plus all the other unknown substances they were pumping into me via IV.

Part the WTF.  At long last I get wheeled into surgery.  I told the anesthesiologist from hell that I’d never been in the hospital, never had surgery, never took drugs, and also have a heck of a gag reflex.  He made a few sexist remarks which he capped off with “I’ll make you fall in love with me- I’m going to give you that stuff Michael Jackson took!”.  Knowing that it was in his power to kill me with this concoction I imagine I attempted a smile.   That was at about 3:30 p.m. on,I think, Tuesday.

Part the way beyond WTF.  I woke up at 1 am, I guess on Wednesday.  Restrained and catheterized and staring into a bright light with three people in the room looking at me like avenging angels.  When at last they removed the restraints and yanked out the catheter I noticed that both hands looked like chopped liver and I couldn’t move my legs due to the tender mercy with which they’d inserted the catheter. They’d pulled the 20 gauge needles out of one hand and jammed a 40 gauge into the other which felt as though it was in a state of permanent crucifixion.  There was  a large divot missing from my lip which was both numb and painful.  They had also hooked me up to a portable heart monitor (with a special sticky right under my boob which developed an infected scratch therefrom.  Extra fun.) and I was literally entombed in wires and tubes.  “You had to be restrained” they said, looking at me like I was Charles Manson.  WHY, I said.  Then even in my miserable state I realized they weren’t about to fess up to giving me a massive drug overdose so I said I had to call my husband.  This being a Catholic hospital there’s just a lot they don’t get so it was easier.  I wasn’t really aware of what time it was, but he answered on the second ring.  He was crying.  He briefly told me what happened, cried some more, told me he loved me and this had been too awful to talk about but nonetheless he was glad I wasn’t dead and he didn’t have to come and blow the damn place to smithereens. We hung up.

In which the fun continues.  So, OK.  I was relieved to see they had indeed done laparoscopy and not a major gutting and tried to content myself with that.  An endless stream of respiratory therapists and people thrusting potassium on me to drink- my heart stopped during all the fun, apparently, and hourly further blood draws ensued.  The first phlebotomist decided it was just too hard to figure out how to get my blood out so she jabbed a needle on the inside of my wrist- right where you’d slit it if you wanted to sit in a warm bath and kiss it all goodbye.  I said, please use a butterfly.  She said, I never use those.   Another huge glass of potassium in plain water which tastes like drano.  Orange juice makes it palatable but I guess since I was a bad dog having to be restrained and all I didn’t merit that consideration.  And let us not forget that by this time I had had neither food nor water for five days.  The drano concoction was the first liquid I’d had.  So, so great. Delicioso indeed.  There was also a veritable endless stream of people coming in to stare at the Person Who’d Had to Be Restrained, as though I’d developed 86 heads.

The Afternoon of the Morning After.  The Partner appeared, we were both sobbing and whatnot. A bitch from hell Valkyrie Nurse’s Assistant appeared, yanked my blanket off, yanked my hospital gown up, and said- No dwainage.  Gut, in a ruminating sort of way.  Still a bit out of my mind I made it all even better by asking her if the thing next to her non-existent nametag was a charm to avert the evil eye: It definitely looked like one of those blue eyeball things you see all over the…oh, dear.  Middle East.  She reared back and made what came to be a consistent theme of hissing and furtive sign of the cross.  No, she said.  At least she finally, at about 3:oo pm, brought me some WATER.  Thank you, Jesus, I said.  Then the osteopath came in.  That went well too, because I said, Oh, you’re an osteopath.  Not an MD but who cares at this point.  Have you read that text Palpatory Literacy?  Literacy, he said???? I said, it’s a basic text for osteopaths and involves training your hands to “read” musculature for dysfunction.  I do it, I said.  Oh, he said, with a minimal hiss and cross making. NO. I DON’T DO THAT ANYMORE.  He did at least partially cop to the fact that they’d almost killed me with the saline/dilaudid combo, saturating my tissues to the point of serious problem.  Next up was a cheery Hospital Administrator, who told us that one of the Great Things About this Hospital is it’s part of a network, so patients who can’t get what they need at one can be taken to another for treatment.  I wondered why they hadn’t done that with me.  (Further notes of interest on this were at the “post op” visit with the surgeon where I had to remove my own bandages and clean my own wounds. His nurse told me when she’d had the same situation he’d worked her into the schedule on the same day.)  Next up another respiratory therapist who I was, at this point, able to ask as to whether or not what they were fuming into my lungs was a steroid.  I’m allergic to steroids.  He said this wasn’t a steroid of course.  Let’s just say that I haven’t been able to breathe for several days and my lungs are just now uncrunching ten days later.  Apparently I’d aspirated a lot of blood as well, so it was just an overall….disaster.

The last two nurses.  OMG.  Honestly I don’t think you should be a med/surg nurse if you don’t understand what pain is.  In any event, Nurse from Hell Ms. S., the one who told me she wasn’t giving me the pain meds because they didn’t seem to help me and I was crying, turned the wheel over to another Nurse S, whom she told about my having to be restrained and nothing else.  So, FINE.  JUST HISS AND GET IT OVER WITH- YOU’LL FEEL BETTER.  After three blood draws, four vital checks and four respiratory therapies, I fall asleep at 3:45 am.  At 4 am?  New Nurse S comes in, shakes me awake, and says, your guard rail is down! That’s against hospital policy!  You’ll have to sign a release form! Put it up yourself, I said. She of course couldn’t do that, and also said she had to put compression hose back on me.  Well, that didn’t happen because the former compression hose came to a grisly end after the combo of stool softener and IV Lasix hit me like a ton of bricks.  Lasix, you may remember, is that stuff they can’t give to race horses anymore to avoid drug detection.  Anyway, I said I’d sign the release when the sun came up.  Ha ha I am so funny that way.  I’d just closed my eyes when back she came, triumphant, waving a release form around.  I found it! So, fine.  I couldn’t even see it but signed it, whereupon she looked at me and said, wow.  That’s pretty good.  Don’t you use your right hand?  Given that it had the ginormous IV needle in it, not right now but I am left handed I said.  Throwing caution to the wind what with the 86 head reputation I was maintaining, I said to her, if there’s nothing else? GET THE FUCK AWAY FROM ME.

Finally after five days they let me out.  The nurse of the last day who’d been ignoring me came in and handed me a scrip for MORE OPIATES.  No, I said, NO.  I don’t take this stuff even if all my neighbors do and I could sell this shit and take a vacation.  I don’t want it.  Well, she said.  You HAVE TO TAKE IT.  I HAVE TO GIVE IT TO YOU.  It’s the LAW.  You don’t have to get it filled if you don’t want to.  We’ve phoned in the stool softener prescription for you too.  I’m sorry, I said, but I’m really confused.  If you smoke marijuana they’ll arrest you and the light of day will be a dim memory.  If you sell heroin, same thing.  But the entire thrust of the medical industry seems to be getting you addicted to these bloody pills.  She clucked and backed out hastily.

In the end.  In the end, this experience connected me with an anger and rage I’d never experienced.  I have pretty much dedicated my life to helping others and doing no harm, and to be veritably mutilated in this manner…well.  It made me think about all the prisoners who are thrown in the SHU, all those who are subject to Rendition, all the people in Africa who are sick and dying, and the incredible, monstrous greed of a system where money is all that matters.  They can pretend they care, pretend they’re doing something, but unless there’s a stream of money in it for them- and often even then- it’s all a big, fat lie.  Whether you live or die is simply the luck of the draw once you get into such clutches.  The good part about it is this anger has liberated me from a great deal of fear.  There really, in fact, is no room for fear in our minds.  Especially now when it is largely an implant geared to keeping people powerless.  It has been really challenging to attempt to reconcile my desire to perform an orchidectomy on the anesthesiologist with dirty garden shears in a busy intersection, and leave him there after kicking in his ribs, with the reality of who I am, which is still someone who apologizes to the moths for swatting them.  I’ve read Buddhist texts, I’ve read Elaine Pagels, I’ve prayed and breathed deeply.  The Partner assures me that just because I have these thoughts doesn’t change who I am.   I’m just trying to figure out how to proceed now, knowing what I know.

Back in the real world. Meanwhile, in just a few days! I’ve gotten overdue on all my bills and found that I can no longer do online banking because my 2008 laptop doesn’t have the “right OS” and thus the browsers suggested cannot be downloaded.   I’ve told the Partner to keep the gardening shears away from me for a while.

available swearwords

Sometimes there just are not nearly enough of those.  Of late, as I wonder if I’ve finally lost my witty sense of humor while realizing I talk like a sailor half the time, as I say, of late I find myself back to the basic meditation regimen of telling myself: breathe in/breathe out.  So far I’m following my own orders.

Still.  In our ongoing health crises I found myself looking for, of all things, an enema bag.  I wish I’d taken pictures of people’s expressions during this quest- you’d have thought I was asking for a sex toy made out of plutonium.  Apparently everyone up here just has their colon removed: End of story.  An entire storefront full of ostomy supplies in our little shopping center but nothing in the, er, preventive aisle.

This quest will continue today, and boy I tell you I can hardly wait.  It may require going into Walmart, which I NEVER do but in an emergency this is how the evil empire triumphs, isn’t it?  They have something you can’t do without at critical junctures.  I’m hoping for a quick run in and out because if I have to ask for an enema bag one more time it may be the end of me.   I may resort to explaining what I want it for, just throw caution to the winds sort of thing.  In my experience this can be fun but it never ends particularly well- it seems to reinforce the other person’s sense that they are right to hiss and make the sign of the cross at me.

That actually did happen, once and bigtime.   An artist I admired, an Italian (which is relevant in terms of historical world view), took one look at me when we were introduced by my friend, his art dealer, and actually shrieked and made a small sign of the cross with his hands.  NO! NO! STREGA! NO TALK! My friend was, of course, completely dumbfounded and I took comfort in that since we’ve known each other all our lives.   At that time, things being what they were, people in the gallery who overheard were asking things like, what? she’s a LIQUEUR???  I, of course, was humming and buffing my nails in an unobtrusive manner, just thinking that sooner or later everyone would stop staring and murmuring about the meaning of the word strega (Witch, primarily, liqueur secondarily).  You can see my trepidation then, can’t you Gentle Reader? at the thought of going into a store here and explaining that I want an enema bag for an ayurvedic treatment protocol?  That will only be more fun than actually administering said treatment.  (An eminently sensible treatment, too.  Herbs and broth can be used this way to help strengthen someone who has been ill for some time.)

Oh, well.  At least I have discovered two excellent soups for such challenging dinner circumstances.  Providing nourishment as well as roughage, these are really every day champs.  Soup the First may be found in Deborah Madison’s VEGETABLE SOUPS, under the name of Sick Person’s Soup.  Originally from RAIN FOREST REMEDIES, this stuff rocks.  Cabbage (half a mid sized one), a carrot and piece of celery, medium onion. a LOT of garlic and several cups of water.  Boil for 20 minutes, then add a LOT of ginger and more diced garlic, lime juice and white miso.  I used peanut butter since I was out of miso.  This was unbelievably delicious, even without any fat or added salt.  Soup the Second is an old Chinese standby: Jook.  (Mark Bittman, HOW TO COOK EVERYTHING VEGETARIAN) This is heavenly and in a rice cooker? The no brainer of one’s dreams.  A half cup of rice (I used Jasmine) and 3 cups of water, salt, some sliced ginger and mushrooms (shitake or button both work), turn the cooker on and in about an hour you’ve got Jook.  You can add a bit more water at the end if it is too dense, and other vegetables of course.  I happened to make small meatballs to top this, but with or without anything it is great.  Soy sauce and sesame oil are good on it too.

While we are dancing on the edge, then, at least we are eating sensibly, if meagerly and intermittently in the Partner’s case.  It’s all a Big Mystery but one thing is for sure, somehow we do keep keeping on even when we don’t really know exactly how or why.  This has, of course, made me think ever more about death, especially since the person who recently died was one of my clients.  It is always difficult to “lose” someone, even though of course they aren’t lost at all, and if we really could control life and death this would be quite a different planet.  This time it appeared to me in a much broader perspective.  Death is inevitable for all of us, and we encounter many things which we can withstand to greater or lesser extents every day we live.  It is always with us, though, and we are always dying every moment we are alive- we change, we discard things, we are born to new experiences.  The physical death really IS a “change of clothes” as the Dalai Lama says.  The thing of it is, what we ought to focus on with each other, and in any healing work or art, is the quality of each moment as we live it up to the point of that change of clothes.  The nature of the time we have is what is crucially important, how we feel about what is happening to us and thus about ourselves.   This is a level each individual can work with, even if it isn’t easy.  I’m thinking that if we have found those points of grace, we might say, in our daily lives, that change of clothes seems “right” when it happens, no matter how it happens.  This may be what dropping the resistance really means, and perhaps that keeping our decks clear energetically is the real point of life in that it leads us to the big, unknown transition (and to all the smaller, daily ones) with as much balance as is possible for us.  There’s a lot to let go of even as we embrace it, and there is a lot of falling down, getting up, falling down again.  That force that makes us look up at the stars and keep going is what intrigues me now.

 

full court press

Good grief, Gentle Reader.   Once again I appear to have murmured something to myself on the order of, well jeesh.  I think I can do this after all. And, of course, I AM doing it but at times I have to wonder if I’ve gotten irrevocably lost in the forest or not and just what, exactly, is it I’m supposed to be doing there.  Not to mention why are there all these deep holes appearing to contain stakes and live tigers?

There’s been another death, more changes in our ever delicately balanced situation, and The Partner is still very sick.  For starters.

We’ll start with the health situation.  Medical care is pretty much a joke for a great many people.  While modern medicine has done great things, one thing it hasn’t seemed to worry about is practitioner diagnostic ability.  And of course, if you don’t have much money you’ve got a whole ‘nother set of problems, access just being the first one.  So we’re all sick as dogs up here, and the one person who DOES go to the doctor is the one who dies, having been misdiagnosed and given the wrong medication.  Admittedly there might not have been a right med., but simple observation and experience would have dictated a different treatment protocol, to me at least.  The rest of us know there isn’t much that can be done for US, since we’ve got a virus and the ERs up here are saying, on television even, not to come in if your fever isn’t over 103 degrees.  Hilariously? This particular bug gives you constant temperature SPIKES but leaves your base temp at below normal.  Ah, well.  So much for a ten hour trip to the emergency room.  Where they’d probably give antibiotics for a virus.

Still.  I firmly believe that healing can happen in any circumstance- if you can step away from the fear that comes up in illness.  Those horrible long nights where someone’s throwing up or writhing around, and thinking WTF.  Is this the end?  Somehow something has to be drawn up from a very deep place, some place where you remember that you aren’t ever really alone, all things are possible, and you are in a story you don’t know the outcome of.  It is about surrender without giving up.  It can also be about finally coming to understand that the world, or your brain, isn’t really trying to kill you.  You don’t have to be afraid- you just have to experience it.  Somehow getting to that point allows something to shift more often than not, and then all those little things like water and soup and hand holding can do their work.  So much is about mind-set.

One does have to deal with pathogens, of course, and that becomes ever more dicey a proposition.  In the past few years I have seen more often than not that drugs don’t work.  Aside from the misdiagnosis/lack of care issue, the germs themselves have mutated into something that feels like an alien robot in your body, and they like the weeds now resist the things that are meant to kill them.  However, it really is possible to get to at least a standoff with germs using phytomedicines and energetic treatments.  Then, from that standoff position, you can continue the quest to find a good doctor while continuing supportive treatments.  Sometimes, though, you just can’t find a good doctor.  Then what?

Keeping your mind open is always a challenge, and especially so with illness and chronic problems.  Chronic problems often have autoimmune components, as well as deeper psychological and spiritual roots.  These are the things that regular doctors aren’t always so great at working with- but they are also the things that you can deal with yourself once you accept the fact that a) you actually CAN and MUST, because b) you are part of creation and have work to do.  This is the discussion I often have with myself, anyway.  Hey you! I’ll say.  Get out of that funk and take care of yourself.

In that vein, then, some pretty amazing things have happened, which give me overall hope.   Our bodies really are energetic systems in which everything is moving and communicating with everything else.  This is key to health, in my opinion the bottom line.  The fact is, of course, that we have no control over anything except possibly our own thinking (if we work at it).  Whether we get well or not is in some ways a piece of the big mystery but that doesn’t mean that we mustn’t try to align ourselves with the highest good as we go along, because that is ultimately what helps us get well.

We’ll see how this latest project is going, next time……

once again, with feeling

The ten thousand things can really trip you up, Gentle Reader.  It often seems to me that calm is an ever more elusive state of being, and I have to wonder at such times what is actually going on.

The instability of daily life sometimes comes at you and suddenly, whammo, there’s anxiety and wondering and you’re not exactly in the present moment any more.  Perhaps it is that in order to move through one’s day, an elegant flexibility is required.  Like repeating a World Series title twice in a row, it can’t always be done.  Sometimes there is no elegance to be found and flexibility is a word you have to look up in the dictionary.  There is help for it, however.

We finally watched “Dallas Buyers Club” over the weekend.  I knew it would be a bit of emotional tough sledding, but it turned into a mammoth snow free ski jump, completely unexpectedly.   I worked in the AIDS clinic at S.F. General in those days, and later on one of my closest friends succumbed to the disease’s awful ravages.  I saw a lot and thought that, perhaps, I had some perspective.  OH, YOU ARE SO FUNNY SOMETIMES.  Somehow, in watching that film, the emotional truth of those days rose up intact in my chest and it hurt like hell.

Still reading Pema Chodron, one thing recently struck me- the thing that happens when you meditate and suddenly become aware of the pain we all feel, the suffering we all endure.  That moment of connecting to and experiencing directly what others feel makes you weep at times. So, watching that film, I realized the pain I felt was really the pain of others.  I also realized how incredibly fortunate I’ve been in having my heart opened to love, the giving and receiving of it.  Even with the losses and hardness of it all, being able to experience love and walk with another living being through it all- that is really the core experience for us as human beings.  Spirit doesn’t urge us to love and refrain from harming only a select group.  We must love all.  And, for extra fun, we get to park our egos at the door.

Anyway, I thought of my friend so long ago, and realized that in fact even with all the horrors of those days, the good is what I remember, and that goodness of heart and greatness of spirit of my friend is what endures and will never be destroyed.

Then? We saw a documentary about the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon.  Another instance of feeling another’s torment, and this time my sense of it was a bit different.  This particular pain is something that as a world we must not be tolerating- this pain isn’t about empathy, it is about the necessity of change.  It is time to put our feet down and say, OK, enough of this unrestrained cancerous political and economic strangulation.   I suppose this is the other place all my roads lead to- the place where I feel we simply must pull ourselves together RIGHT NOW.  There isn’t time to continue behaving like spoiled brats.  There really should not, can not, be acceptance of people having such degraded states forced upon them from without that they, basically, lose their minds.   This happens everywhere in a lot of different ways. There also, really, should not be rivers that can’t flow because they’re dammed up, and animals that can’t live because their space is gone, and people who starve because the food supply has been tinkered with to a vanishing point.  Why is it so hard for us to feel the spaciousness in our hearts and let that guide our behavior?  When I look at the level of military materiel US police departments are getting- and the amount of money all that stuff represents?  I just wonder what kind of madness is possessing these people.  Children are going hungry, and you, Mr. Small Town Uptight Policeman, need a tank to drive that’d feed everybody in your town if sold for cash.  Why is that?  Perhaps it is because that one special ingredient, love, is missing.  The subject/object relationship is skewed almost beyond redemption it would appear.  I propose their immediate reunification- now, for a plan.  I’m sure there’s one floating around- my kingdom for a butterfly net!

that old black hole

One of my favorite songs, that is, by Dr. Dog.  “looks like that old black hole/no matter how i try/ i set out every day/never to arrive”.  Or something like that.  A wonderful song, in any event.

But really.  There are SO MANY black holes in daily life now it really gets to be quite the endeavor to navigate.  The nature of reality seems to be such these days that people really cannot take it in; it’s too painful at times.   I guess I’m grateful for all the humiliations I endured as a young person, because now I really don’t care too much what people I don’t respect think of me.  Many of my friends are waking up to the fact that the rewards they went after are simply not there, and they are surrounded by people they don’t respect who have some measure of power over them.    One of the key lessons in life, it turns out, is knowing when to leave.

The other thing that took most of the air out of my cranium, temporarily, was this week’s doctor visit.  An annual physical, yes, with a doctor I’ve seen for years. ( I’m not going to go into the horrors of the mechanics paying for such a thing: let’s just say that really? The Affordable Care Act is a quadruple win for the insurance companies.  If you’re poor? You have absolutely no choice whatsoever about the care you get, and let’s just say it can be summed up in a six letter word that starts with “c” and ends with “y”.  It is, after all, against the law not to have health insurance.  Which, if you’re poor, you cannot afford.  The alternatives are the equivalent of nothing. )Anyway, her office has become completely computerized, all the records are in a cloud now, and the really great thing? Is you get to sit on a chair with a paper towel on it by the door to the exam room with that fetching gown they give you on, with a person sitting next to you TYPING IN EVERYTHING you and the doctor say to each other.  Then, you get to get back up on the table having redeposited your clothes on the aforesaid chair, and the three of you get to enjoy your rectal exam.  It’s great, let me tell you.

So, when the doctor asked me if I had anything I wanted to discuss with her, I said, yes, but with YOU.  Not the rest of the world.  Then she asked me if anything was bothering me and I heard myself emit a rather short, barking laugh.  Oh, I said, I wish I’d known you’d ask me that.  I’d’ve brought a SCROLL.  She seemed rather shocked at my state of glowing good health, considering the challenges of my daily life now.  Irritated as well that I refused vaccinations for things I don’t need them for, like flu and shingles.  A high point was when I responded to the query about whether or not I have heart palpitations.  Of course, I said.  I’m out of my mind with stress most of the time BUT THAT’S WHY I MEDITATE.   And no, I don’t need an ortho consult for my hip pain.  THAT’S WHY I DO YOGA.  Anyway I found it all rather unsettling because, I suppose, it was a search light focused on how far out of the world I used to live in I am now.  Which I am happy about, yes, but.  It’s as though once you exit that regulated world of job and commute and all the rest of it (get up in the dark, shit, shave, force feed, as the poet Bukowski- I think- wrote) people cannot even look at you.  You don’t exist to them in the same way and there’s even a bit of withdrawing, as though they might catch whatever it is that you’ve got:  that thing that allows you to live outside their known world. My teacher always said one should be their own testimony.  I’m finding that a rather interesting prospect, because  my intact condition- my testimony, really- seems to be unbelievable to people like, say, my doctor.  My impression is thus that the work I do is not taken seriously.  At all.  Like studying and applying thousands of years of observation and practice counts for nothing, and herbs and proper food are irrelevant.

Oh, well.  I had other things to attend to, which I did.  On the way home (since I had to go down to the bay area for this appointment and thus drive back home later), I saw a rabbit peeking out of a hedgerow, and a flock of geese resting in a field.  The sky looked like an opal.  The hills are cracked and burnt  but the irrigated rice fields reflected a deep blue sky setting off an ethereal green.  Magic exists, and we must carry on and we must help each other.  That is, anyway, what I decided, yet again.  I got home after some digressions, the Partner dashed out to cover me with kisses,  and had some lovely vegetable stew I’d made the night before ready for dinner.  It smelled wonderful, the stars were out, and that is really about as good as it gets if you’re honest.  Peace be with us all.

A question of immunity

I’ve been thinking about immune systems lately.  In truth, we are always on the front lines of an engagement between organisms within and without us.  Our immune systems are like the body’s scrapbook- they keep a little something from each encounter so they can remember each one.    We are full of the very things that can kills us, actually.  Thus, sometimes, when the balance of the immune system is off, something from the past can rise up and have a devastating effect; something from outside may also come in, meet up with what’s inside, and wreak havoc.  It seems to me that the successful balance of it creates a situation in which one is able to rise above the insult to the system, so to speak, where it is not able to exert further influence.  This doesn’t necessarily mean it is totally vanquished, just that it is no longer active in us.  I’ve been thinking about chronic illness in this context, about people who rise above DREAD DIAGNOSES and keep on living.  They’ve managed to raise their level, keep that scrapbook current, and get past potential derailment.  It has got to have something to do with the individual exploring their inner sorting mechanism and getting it straight again.  Always acknowledging,  of course, that we are temporary creatures in a field of time alot bigger than we are.  All we can do is try our best, since we can’t really know the outcome, and certainly not dictate it.

There’s also, of course, a psychic, psychological immune system too.  This one? Seems to be quite dictated by one’s initial entry on this particular stage.  Brain chemistry  (which in large part comes as part of the original genetic package), as well as how the early life goes (is it smooth? or is it hell?) have an enormous impact on how an individual can survive the mental slings and arrows of daily life.  So many physical issues can stem from an imbalance here, and they are often misinterpreted.  Nonetheless, that psychological immunity is where we can rise above our circumstances, our memories, our history, and leave the obstacles and blows behind as learning experiences, keep the joys as reminders and maintain a balance as we live our lives, sinking neither into despair nor rising into overblown emotional states.

Anyway.  There are, of course, lots of things we can do to help ourselves both physically and mentally.  It helps to be aware of our overall immune status, I think, to know how we really feel and what our physical and emotional and mental ranges are.  It helps to understand that this whole matter of immunity and interaction that goes on in us unseen and constant is largely the same stuff that goes on between us all as human beings.  We take some people and ideas in and they do us good.  Others poison us.  Just like germs, Gentle Reader.   Given that the body actually emits electromagnetic energy for a large area around it, it isn’t hard to understand how this interpersonal immune stuff might work.

The issue, of course at least to me, is that for the most part we are so unconscious.  We don’t realize the sources of our likes and dislikes, don’t really understand what our metabolic heritages mean, don’t even really get how critical the food we eat, the water we drink, and the air we breathe all are in how we respond and live.  We’ve lost in a way a sense of pattern, our part in it, and what various pieces of it mean.   It really is all energy, and it really is all moving.  Therefore, it seems to me that if we feel stuck (which we do, oh boy do we) that is in US and not outside us.  The movement, the dance, has slowed, and when that happens we experience discord and disharmony in whatever arena you like.  We become ill, we quarrel with people, we’re unhappy.   These situations are all opportunities to learn, and grow- and to experience some discomfort in the process.  So I’m just wondering how it is we accept the dictates of the outer world, when it tells us we have X and are going to die, or that such and such person is (fill in derogatory term of choice).  Really, it seems as though it would so much more productive to just stop and look for a minute.  See what’s really going on (which is why lab tests are so important medically- concrete information, and why education is crucial, allowing you to make up your mind after learning about things) and see what changes in habits might effect a change that would move us to the good, instead of keeping us in fear.    Such an approach has the additional plus of helping us grasp the inevitable truth of our own deaths in their many appearances and guises and levels of finality.

As hard as it is, at times, to get along with each other and stay in good physical condition, I still believe, more strongly than ever, that knowledge is power.  And you don’t get knowledge from going to the same places that keep you stuck.  You get knowledge through exploration, experience, willingness.  Those, it seems to me, are crucial ingredients for a good immune function, wherever it may be found.

Brain: Friend or foe?

So much of everything has to do with our brain chemistry: How we see the world, how we feel, how we cope.  When the brain chemistry is off, things do not flow, to put it mildly.

The other constant thing of course is change.  So we start to see how basically life can be a lot like racing over rolling logs in a river.  Sometimes you can do it, sometimes not.  The nature of the river and the logs starts to be important too.

The fact that things change also means that whatever is going on, it will shift into something else, guaranteed.  So while good times pass, so do terrible ones.  That’s a comfort on some level. although even the nature of change seems to be shifting, and everything is going ever faster and faster, centrifuging all of us who knows where.

It seems so much as though we are living, indeed, at a time when the world is coming to an end- at least the world as we used to know it- and things become ever more polarized and fragmented.  A common thread of late is people noticing that no matter what the situation, now one absolutely must be totally on top of every aspect, know everything about the topic in question, and do this whether nor not it is your business. Whether or not this produces a successful result is probably calibrated at this point by how much of a mess gets made in the final analysis. (As in, do you get the product you needed?  How many times do you have to go back and revisit the same thing?)  Also?  This is remarkably similar to hypervigilance, which ultimately drains the brain, throws the neurochemicals into disarray- in essence, shorts you out.

It all seems, Gentle Reader, like something the average bear’s brain is not constructed to handle.  Mine, for example.  Take last night.  (PLEASE.)  I had gone grocery shopping in a state of moderate agitation following Our Week of the Bad Breaker Switches (and concomittantly, no power, no water, sturm & drang and generalized disarray and debility) , picked up a loaf of bread assuming it was what I usually buy since it was in the usual spot.  Of course, it wasn’t, and the thing of it was that it contained poppy seeds, to which the Partner is deathly allergic.  So that was fun, jumping into high healing gear because my attention wavered when it shouldn’t’ve and had a problematic result.  Bear with me for a minute, here:  I had been thinking about how, perhaps, healing involves a raising of the interior energy bar, so to speak, so that you rise above the disharmony and stay there.  It doesn’t mean that the original issue/illness/project/whatnot goes away necessarily- it just means it is not being stimulated. I thought about this after reading several apocryphal stories of individuals who, having been diagnosed with things like cancer or serious heart disease, decided that they were going to get well and did so, only to sink back down and in some cases die after hearing a negative comment from a physician or other person with influence of some sort.  Their altitude shifted with their attitude, it would seem.  Perhaps we can get a sense of how this works by noticing when some old “thing” in us gets reactivated out of the blue and suddenly we’re back in time wondering how we got there.

So that got me wondering, of course, how that actually WORKS, how it gets harnessed, what it means.  The brain is a pretty powerful thing, but it seems as though we really don’t know how to operate it.  How far away from grace one can seem when even though one has indeed decided to be perfectly well, perfectly happy, open minded and compassionate, things just continue to go so intensely and consistently sideways.  I know many people who are sure that things are all unfolding as they should, according to Plan.  I suppose I share that view in a way; the overarching movement is toward the light.  I’ve seen it happen, in fact, but at times like these? My fingers are digging into the cliff, and although there are indeed tigers below, I haven’t seen any strawberries yet.  The movement toward health for any and all of us and for this earth we live on- we are in dangerous times it seems to me.  We have a world economy that is completely in the hands of people who care only for money and power.  The recent article in the Rolling Stone, excerpted on Common Dreams, laid out the math- there are roughly 500 and some pounds of carbon crap that can be shot into the environment before it is, really and truly, game over.  Game over for the Earth.  This is something you would think people would be paying attention to in a serious and dedicated manner.  And indeed they appear to be doing just that.  The biggest oil companies (apparently our friend Exxon-Mobil and Lukoil in Russia) are racing madly to extract enough fossil material to extrude over 2000 pounds out there.  In the next few years.   Sixteen, to be exact.  A two degree centigrade temperature increase?  Game over, people. And even without the quadruple quantity in the sky?  That looks to be imminent, also.  Not to mention the consequences of all the OTHER pollution going on.  Which causes all kinds of illness and misery and makes people have to go to the doctor- if they can.

And then? There are the doctors.  Health care in this country is run by insurance companies and I find myself terrified by the fact that if you don’t have insurance, you get no care.  Period.  If you have insurance, you get what the insurance company says you can get.  Physicians are practically wearing blinders in terms of diagnosis and thinking about possibilities in illness and care, which essentially means that in this arena as in so many others, you are at the mercy of how well the person you are interacting with knows what they are doing, how well they can think.   Along with being completely circumscribed by the amount of money you’ve got.  So it’s all kind of life and death.  I am not happy, let’s just say.

According to what I’ve read in “thisishowyoublog” sorts of articles, this post is waaaaaay too long for anyone to read.  Along with everything else, many bloggers hope to make something viable from their blogs, express themselves and maybe…reach a wider audience.  As well as stay economically viable while attempting to do something creative.  But I am detecting a note of despair in spots, a shrillness in others.   I go back and forth wondering if there’s a point to it or not.  The floor seems to be shifting under us all, and it’s a real question whether or not the entire ROOM is tilting.  Are we on the ceiling yet?

 

Downdrafts

I was watching two turkey vultures swoop around the sky this morning.  One rode the air current, rising  and moving effortlessly through the air going straight up.  The other was riding another set of currents, gently allowing the wind to move it around in widening gyres, spiralling up close to vulture the first.  It was a huge dance in the one blindingly blue spot in the sky, with both birds periodically wafting in front of various creamy and storm colored clouds.  You could see the joy and the fun, right there up in the air.

The seas of life have continued to be stormy here in general.  It has made me think a lot, of course, about all the people in the world who are having rough times, and about how we all manage to get through it one way or another.  But at the dark moments when another bottom gets bounced off and help seems nonexistent,  we all, I think, do wonder why are we here? what do we really have to offer?  are we going to get through this? are we going to die? In short:  What in the world is going to happen to us?

It requires looking inside oneself, of course.  That thing we avoid, always looking outside for the answers, for solutions, for ends to the troubles and discomforts.  It takes a minute to make friends with that inner terrain, to accept what’s there and realize that on some level we do control whether or not we keep ourselves imprisoned.  Notwithstanding the fact that it is extraordinarily difficult to keep this kind of consciousness when one is hungry or homeless, or falling down the ladder of society to a place that seems full of nothing but shame.  It’s also hard to watch things people do, the unconscious cruelty, lack of compassion, lack even of really any sort of thought.  Still.  Again what is required is being quiet, letting things appear and speak.  We can see that since we are in a world that must after all be navigated, that’s full of so many different levels of energy and movement, that seems at the same time so ordered and so out of control, the only way to keep moving is to hold to that still place where the truth of things expresses itself.  We have to be willing to accept that truth, which turns out to be more difficult than one might expect.  Because that truth can be quite different from what we were “told” as we grew up, about ourselves and about everything.  We see what we expect to see, basically.  So we may have to let go of all those stories about how far from perfection we are, that we allow to limit our efforts, that we become comfortable with.   We also have to let go of all the stories we got told about what others are like.   Eventually we have to learn to look at things, see them for what they actually are in the moment, and act accordingly.  It can be very freeing. This of course can also get dicey when you realize that, for example, your trusted priest or sports coach or Senator or family member has some deep psychological problems which they distribute freely and widely among those under their field of control real or imaginary.  We are all human beings, and unless we all do what we know we should do, such as keep our communities in balance, our children educated, ourselves open to learning, we can find ourselves in things that are much messier than need be.  It takes some doing to stand up for oneself, not least because it takes a minute to find that self.

SO.  This latest trip down the rabbit hole has involved, not surprisingly, quite a bit of healing work, and quite a bit of examination of what that is, what it does, how it works, and also, the fact that there are limits against which we bump as human beings.  People CAN be healed, but not always cured- and it is how one moves on with these additional factors and knowledges that really speaks to the truth of the human condition.  In my opinion.  We have gotten very far away from the elemental contact that initiates healing (true listening, for example), and the expectation that a doctor is going to “fix” you is almost at the opposite end of the spectrum these days from what really can help.  You can’t heal unless you can accept the truth of where you truly are.  We all think we have so much time; in a way we do.  In another way, we don’t.  To my mind, what that means is each interaction becomes terribly important.  We have time to do what we need to do- but we do need to do it.  Even when that thing we must do is so painful, requires acceptance of disagreeable facts and events, if we can do that without resistance to the difficulty and pain, without clinging to it like a floating spar in a stormy ocean, we have the beginnings of real hope.  Hope and faith are important things- as long as they are practiced in the spirit of truth- that hope and faith are like the air we breathe.  Hope is not, however, thinking that material things are going to be the answer or that we even KNOW what that answer might be.  Faith is not expressing a fanatical belief in a “God” who essentially enacts everyone’s deepest fears of being unworthy and requiring punishment, and who exists singularly and to the detriment of any other proposed deity.  Hope and faith are about knowing that the deep energies of life itself are there to support us in making our journey here- not always perhaps in the way we think we’d like, but as it happens quite often, for our benefit.  We cannot expect, necessarily, comfort in our travails- but if we can stay open and curious the travails can turn into something that becomes, over time, our real life and path to healing.

 

Mr. Rabbit gets a workout

I have a supporting phalanx of (stuffed) animals, bears mostly, a couple of frogs, a bat, an elephant, and, naturally, RABBITS.  Mr. Rabbit, who does night patrol, has been getting the daylights squeezed out of his paws of late given the unbridled wild and wooly nature of unfolding events.  As it turns out, he gives wise counsel and we’ve made it safely to shore through some Scylla and Charibdis-like moments/hours/eternities.  I give Mr. Rabbit much of the credit for this:  In those darkest hours before dawn where he probably wondered why his paws were in something like a death grip, every darn night, calm still prevailed ultimately.  More or less.

Which led us to some astonishing revelations and learning of new things.  In that irritating way of blogs, where people say, I really can’t write about this…I really can’t write about this, largely because the particulars involve others.  But I can write about this:  The nature of time and our existence became so much clearer over the aforementioned period I feel like I popped into a new Universe.

When I started doing the work I do, I was over the moon skeptical about many things I heard from people about the nature of time, the nature of reincarnation, the nature of how our pasts and presents intertwine, along with the nature of how intuition works.  Along with a few other things.  Plowing through Alice Bailey a paragraph a month has been helpful, because one thing she says (or the Tibetan says, in the crystal clear inscrutable way that is the hallmark of her tomes) is that people who do healing work, be they alternative or mainstream, really have to be tuned up themselves and aligned or else harm can actually be caused.  This is, I think, because it isn’t the egoic, personal you who does the work- it’s the You that is part of the All that does it.  It’s a direct flow of energy that gets tapped into and guides what gets done.  When you are teaching what you need to know, nobody is really being helped, because you aren’t dipping into the vast ocean of knowledge and awareness but rather approaching the whole thing in a very western way of control, domination, personal power; this doesn’t stop alot of people from doing it, of course.  Healing work and service is, if it is what you are and thus what you do, not easy. Then again it isn’t hard, either.   You see all kinds of things, all kinds of pain and suffering, all kinds of obstinacy and brilliance, love and bravery, while running alongside doing what, essentially, the Universe, tells you to do.

It has been a long period of learning, in short.  The learning involves not just learning as we think of it, as in what plant does what and where do you put your hand when someone’s body is in a particular condition.  It involves letting go of what you “think” and your “opinions” and the instilled concepts of Right/Wrong as they are understood culturally.  Since that right and wrong are usually about the balance of power and maintenance of control and domination.  It involves letting go and taking instruction all the time.

The recent paw squeezing events revealed, among other things, that there is, beyond a shadow of a doubt, a sequence of re-creation, reincarnation, and weaving time.  We do indeed live many times and in many ways.  There are lives in our pasts that reach into our lives in the present.  That stardust that becomes US, that holds the work of our souls or whatever word you might like to use, continues spiraling through time, shifting shape.  There is, really, no doubt in my mind about all this now.  Which to me is pretty amazing.

This has also given me an additional slant on diagnosis.  Older cultures had the concept of “soul sickness”; we have lost that to some extent.  Soul sickness is not the same as mental illness, either, and there is some frequency in that confusion.  Soul sickness involves pieces of time that have become improperly lodged in the wrong place, parts of our stardust (if you will) that got left where they shouldn’t when that particular iteration ended.  It is a real phenomenon, Gentle Reader.  And even though I myself used to think, oh, yeah, SURE! I now know that this is real, and something that has to be considered in any healing work.  It’s a complex constellation of things to look at when considering what might be going on with a person.  What time frame is this really from?  What caused the propensity for this situation? What is the meaning of it developmentally and emotionally?  In addition to the more generalized, necessary, investigation of diet, habits, personal history, and all of that.  A person can be mentally ill with a causation in the soul sickness area, but also not.  Mental illness can be very specific to this particular body, because of chemistry, life history, things like that.  The two things, mental and soul illness, (as physical and soul illness as well) can not be mixed up with each other and treated successfully because the approaches to each are quite different.  So essentially, you can never, ever, assume.  And you can also never, ever, deny that the always moving river of time is having an impact from way back on where we are in this moment. It’s a question of degree. These impacts are very real, and while attention must be paid on the physical level, the treatment also must take place on a deeper and wider scale.  You really, really have to pay attention and listen.  If you do listen, the answers will reveal themselves right about the time you can understand them.

So, there’s more but that’s the rough outline for now.  And? There is a brand spanking new absolutely heavenly little silver gray donkey in the neighborhood now.   Also we saw thousands of geese going north over the weekend and it was breathtaking.  As though a giant hand were pointing and saying, see? This is what it is all about.  Chill out and do the right thing!