Ep 31. Spiritual Health and Illness

31 spiritual health and illness

This episode is my hilarious crack at Podcasting while Laundering.  I thought it was *such* a great idea to podcast in my car while I waited for my laundry to process – aaaaaaand it ended up in a few stops and starts as washer malfunctions and background band saws played their part in the production.

But, I completed the episode!  Hurray!  Brooke, Caitlyn and Stacey all tweeted at me in response to Episode 30, the podcast on the Spiritual Nature of Mental Illness, and David, my Vancouver friend actually came all the way over to Tofino to have a discussion with me in person!  I am feeling the love you guys, thank you so much!

The spiritual nature of physical and mental illness is a topic I’ve been wrestling with for years, and I just adore the sharing I received from you fabulous friends.  Thank you so much and Enjoy!

Past lives, Inner demons and more Crazy Talk!

Karmic Resonance

 

It’s that time again: when I let loose and write about something s *crazy* that even *I* considered holding this one back.

 

This all started two years ago when I began to self-regress in nightly meditation under the guidance of my kind and compassionate spirit friends.

 

Some of the things that came up during that time, I wrote about.  Some of them, I kept to myself.

 

See, our past lives are not always pretty.  We know how messy life on earth can get, and I’ve seen how easy it is to tie your identity and self-worth to a concept like “lightworker”.  Some people only want to look at the light in themselves.

 

My friends, we are not all pure and happy balls of light.  I do believe each one of us has light and shadow aspects of our spirit consciousness and our history.  I also believe that both aspects are a perfect expression of the euphoric, universal, we-are-all-one “god”.

 

I also believe that many of us, including me, have expressed terribly dark facets in past lives, even if, and maybe that’s precisely why, we’re “good people” now.

 

I do truly believe that all action, thought and experience creates an energetic impact, ripples that affect us in future lives and affect our past lives retroactively… because time is bendy like that.

 

These ripples, sometimes caused by us, sometimes initiated by others, create an energetic resonance (karma).

 

In meditation, you might reach a place of expansive consciousness, where this idea is downloaded and makes complete sense, until you go back into your human body and your brain starts to tell you it’s contradictory.  It *is* contradictory from the perspective of an incarnated being with a limited and linear life span.

 

I’ll give you an example from one of my meditations and my personal history.  If you’re having a down day, you might want to come back to this story later.

 

**

 

When I was seven years old, my adult teeth were coming in… except I was getting too many.  I had extra teeth, and this posed a problem.  Not only that, but my adult teeth were far too large for my jaw.  The only solution was to pull the extra teeth.

 

Getting teeth “extracted” is an incredibly unpleasant experience for an adult.  For a kid, it’s awful.  On top of that, our dentist was old-school.  He used *reusable* needles and glass syringes, which make the injection of the local anesthetic really painful.

 

The sickening maraschino cherry on top of this crap sundae is:  the local anesthetic didn’t really work.  So there I was, a seven year old kid, getting two or three teeth pulled at a time, screaming my head off, saying “it hurts!” and no one believed me.

 

I was an obedient child so it took three visits before I stood up for myself and refused to go back to the dentist.  I threatened to fight and to run away.  Finally, my parents took me seriously.

 

They found me a new dentist who used disposable needles, a different, effective anesthetic, and he even used a chocolate flavored topical anesthetic so I wouldn’t feel the needle as much.  He had five birds at his house, and would bring me colourful feathers as a present whenever I came to “visit”.  Eventually, I became this family’s babysitter of their five children, and I survived the subsequent necessary extractions without further trauma.

 

But I carried resentment with me for years.  How could my mother hear her kid screaming in pain and not come to help?  How could she bring her kid back there, and not investigate better options until I was so terrified I refused to cooperate?

 

Of course the rational brain kicks in.  Intellectually, I forgave my mother, but the trauma was still there.

 

One night, in meditation, sliding through the lifetimes looking for old wounds that needed healing, I came upon a life experience with such vivid, visceral certainty in the truth of these memories, that it shocked me to my very core.

 

I dropped into the body of a massive man, hunched at the shoulders from a lifetime of ducking under doorways and stooping to labor with tools too small for my body.  I was wearing filthy, oily leather armor, conscious of the chafing because I was not wearing the proper undergarments.  I was wearing only filthy protective clothing and a rusting metal helmet to hide my face, but no soft fabric because it would get ruined from the mess.  All the blood, and other body fluids.

 

I walked down a stone staircase and watched myself pull the teeth of other living humans, while another man in black robes asked them questions.

 

There I was, doing the bidding of a weak, cruel man, and I was bigger and stronger than anyone in the building.  I could have picked up this prisoner and walked them out of the compound, no one would have stopped me.  Instead I stayed and pulled his teeth, and the teeth of many others.

 

Then I understood why I had to experience a small part of the pain I’d inflicted as a result of the choices I’d made in a past life.  This was karma, settling itself.  The energetic resonance needed a harmonizing note, and my understanding of it released the last bits of resentment and anger I harbored towards my mother.

 

The last extraction I experienced was when I was nineteen, and I had all four wisdom teeth removed under general anesthetic.   My cheeks blew up into chipmunk size pouches for two weeks afterwards, and my face became discolored with bruises as though I’d sustained a terrible beating.

 

And I have not had one ounce of trouble from my teeth ever since.  Not one cavity, knock on wood.

 

I haven’t gotten to the really crazy part yet.  I think I’ll save that for tomorrow.  (Or the next blog entry, whichever comes first!)

 

Update on Mom

happy pup kate sitka pet psychic

I know y’all are waiting anxiously on the Rafters entry, and I’ve missed my self-imposed deadline for the Biggie post.  The good news is you still have time to go back to the Biggie post and contribute your questions, if you have any.

Here’s what’s been going on:

Seven weeks ago, my mother had an MRI and was told it was fine – no sign of brain tumour regrowth.  Hurray!  There’s that pesky nausea they can’t seem to control, but from a statistical point of view, this is a win!

This week, her MRI indicated… something.  Maybe it’s scar tissue from the radiation, maybe it’s a re-growth.  If it’s a re-growth, they want to sign my mother up for a new trial with something they’re calling a “cyber knife” which is an experimental new technology.

Here’s where I’m coming from: if they can’t control the nausea, and my mother’s quality of life really hasn’t been what they told her it would be once she got through the radiation, why on earth are we considering more ways of prolonging life?

And has anyone actually sat down with my mother to talk about what *she wants*?

Some kind friends from the hospital have referred me to some advance care planning tools, and I’ve sent those along to my sister, and we both agree that it’s time to broach this topic with my parents.  My sister had planned to do this earlier, but then my father’s mother got sick and well… there have been a lot of funerals in my family in the past couple of years.

So this is the tone my upcoming visit to Ontario is taking: let’s do a care plan.  Let’s talk about all the difficult things that we, a good WASPy family, would never feel comfortable discussing.  Let’s somehow engage my mother, who is a master at shutting down conversation, in a difficult discussion about this illness and the possible turns it could take.

With all this on my mind, I just haven’t felt like doing the Rafter or the Biggie entry the past couple of days.  Instead, I just took the day off.

If anyone’s had experience in starting these difficult discussions with their family members, please email me your suggestions on conversation starters.  The best I’ve got right now is straight out of the Simpsons when Homer ate the poison sushi and the doctor handed Marge a brochure that said, So you’re going to die…

Love you all.

The Overdue Cancer Rant      

fcancer kate sitka

Y’all have heard of the #fuckcancer movement / trend, right?  It’s a way to channel the natural anger that comes from people experiencing what seems like a senseless illness.  The generally accepted track post-diagnosis is to go through this very difficult treatment and hopefully win some good time you likely wouldn’t otherwise have.

My sister and I were discussing my mother’s condition a couple of days ago.

As far as brain cancer complications go, my mother has so far avoided a lot of the potential challenges.  No seizures, she can move around her house, take herself to the bathroom, feed herself.  When you think about how much my mother has lost with terrifying swiftness, it’s easy to forget that she’s actually in pretty good shape.  She watches a lot of TV, and she’s feeling too crappy to really carry on a conversation. 

But in the six months since her treatment began, my mother hasn’t really had one good day.

When my mother was given her diagnosis, she’d just had brain surgery, and she was with my father and sister.  The doctor said the words “glioblastoma multiforme” without explaining the implications: drastically shortened life span, continuous treatment.

What my family was told was that treatment was her best chance at getting some “good days”.  That she’d get through radiation and then “feel better”.  That we’d have a chance to “make some memories” as a family. 

I feel like the docs are never really honest about the side effects of cancer treatment.  My family was never offered counseling, no one to sit down with my mother and say, “Hey, so, let’s discuss your options.  What you want.  What to expect.”

My mother faced enormous pressure to get into treatment *immediately* and was even told that if she chose to delay treatment, she may not be able to access any services in the future.  Basically you’ve got your ticket to the cancer ride, are you on board or not?

My mother got on board.  My family’s fears about the side effects were mitigated with assurances that the treatments weren’t nearly as dramatic now as they used to be, that the medications available for controlling side effects are much more effective now.  They use words like “comfortable”. 

At the time, I was confused why my mother choose to do treatment.  I felt like the docs couldn’t *really* promise that she’d get more time, or feel better, or have ANY good days.

Without radiation and chemo, the tumour probably would have recurred by now and killed her.  There is no way to know whether my mother would have had any “good days” if she’s simply healed from the surgery and tried to see how high she could bounce back. 

It just makes you wonder, because the best conversations I had with my mother since her diagnosis were in that two week period between her surgery and the beginning of radiation.   

My sister and I were wondering if treatment beyond surgery was a mistake…  because now, the docs are out of ideas. 

My mother is nauseous all of the time.  It’s a severe quality of life issue.  They’ve taken her completely off meds, they’ve switched meds around, even tried antidepressants.  She’s still sick.  You know what they said at her last appointment?

“Maybe the radiation has caused brain damage which is causing the nausea.”  ie, the nausea is untreatable. 

Her last MRI was great – no tumour re-growth.  Hurray!  But you know what?  Without re-growth of that tumour, her oncologists won’t refer her to palliative care.  Only under a palliative care model would my mother’s comfort be considered the highest priority.

Did I mention she was never offered palliative care as one of her choices?  My sister, who is a HUGE palliative care advocate, is particularly pissed about this.

I’m confused about it, because I thought the treatment *was* a palliative regime designed to maximize her good days.  No, it was actually designed to just maximize her days.  I can’t help but wonder if she’s contributing to some statistic attached to her treatment center, if they have a vested interest in giving patients more days, since the patients have no means of rating for posterity what sort of days they’re having, how they’re feeling, whether they’d felt the days were worth the cost.

It makes you wonder what the motivation is behind pushing a senior woman through chemotherapy to maybe prolong her life by 6 – 18 months.  Why not lay palliative care on the table right away?  Why not offer counseling and some time to decide?  Why is the only factor prolonging life?

Some people get angry at the disease.  My sister and I, we’re pretty pissed at the medical system.  I once again, suggested pot.  My mother would absolutely qualify for a prescription.  It *might* take the edge off her nausea and maybe even make her a little hungry.  Maybe she could eat, feel satiated and actually have a good nap?  Maybe.

It’s about the only thing the docs haven’t tried.  Apparently, her current oncologist isn’t really pro-pot and won’t write a prescription.  My sister’s working on getting a referral to another oncologist who is a bit more open.  More holistic. 

It pisses me off that a doc can say, “Well, I’m out of ideas but I’m not going to refer you to palliative care, nor will I write you a prescription for a substance that seems to help a lot of other people.  You can continue to retch into a bowl.”

Fuck that oncologist.  And while I’m at it, #fuckcancer

 

 

 

 

 

Dandelion Healin’

20140617-070440.jpg

I’m feeling a lot better. I thought I’d share the element that helped me finally turn the corner after two weeks of throat infection: Dandelion

I love Dandelions, and while I’ve been aware of their medicinal properties for a while, I was unaware of their awesome nutritional properties: 20 – 30% protein, more potassium and vitamin C than an orange and banana combined, tons of trace vitamins and minerals we don’t get in grocery store foods.

It’s prime dandelion season, and my body was looking at these dandelion leaves all over my back yard and just wanting to munch on them. I’ve never craved dandelion before, so I looked it up in two books: Susan Weed’s “Wise Woman Healing” and “Edible plants of Coastal BC”

I learned that before the days of lawns, dandelions were so prized for their energizing, nutritional and healing properties that many First Nations people travelled extensively to collect them in season and ate them by the haystack.

Susan Weed’s book particularly mentioned that dandelion leaf juice or infusion is excellent for moving lymph, support my swollen glands could use.

So I went into my back yard which is really bush with a gravel moat around the house. The garden is generally free of weeds because I pull the weeds from the beds once a year and ask them to grow only in the gravel. Generally speaking, the weeds have more options than the cultivated plants.

The gravel is occupied mostly by dandelions and buttercups, because I love their cheerful yellow presence in the yard. This weekend, I was so grateful that neither I nor the herbalist who formerly occupied my house, had ever used roundup or chemical herbicides to attack the weeds.

Twice this weekend, I gathered dandelion greens, washed them and juiced them with lime. Then I put the juice in a blender with a banana, ice and water.

It’s quite yummy. I wish I had some mint in my yard, that would have made the smoothie perfection.

20140617-071845.jpg

Sweetie and I both drank this smoothie and enjoyed the balance if the sweet banana, the tart lime and the hint of astringent from the dandelion. We both noticed the immediate affect of our sinuses, which tingled and began to pleasantly drain. Yesterday, I had more energy than I’ve had in a month.

Dandelion is a wonder herb, it’s everywhere and it’s free. Gather it away from roadsides (lead!) and away from areas where herbicides may be used (lawns!). Children’s playgrounds are good bets.

If you don’t have a juicer you can use a blender, or just stash them in a canning jar, pour boiling water over them and put the lid on the jar for four hours to make an infusion.

I’m so enamoured with this plant I’m going to harvest as much as I can and dry the leaves for use this winter. I’ll gather roots in the fall, too.

There are a lot of good lessons to take away from my experience. One is the forehead-smacking obvious one: you don’t have to buy something from a store to heal your body.

This is a lesson I’ve learned repeatedly since I was a kid – whatever mild thing ails me, there’s usually something in my backyard to take care of it.