Farewell 2022

Another year has rolled past and for me it was at times a painfully slow roll. It reminded me of a class in college almost 25 years ago. The professor was a mild mannered, aging hippy; complete with ponytail tied, not with a rubber band, but a piece of old leather cording. I was a geology major and just as granola as the professor. He was very knowledgeable and the cadence of the class, stratigraphy, was on par with how long it to for the strata we looked at to have morphed from sand to stone.

The classes and field trips were well planned and enjoyed by most. (As I am sure, dear reader, you are aware that there are always a few humans who need to complain no matter what.) Anyway, about two weeks into classes, as we were learning about the law of superposition, our quiet peaceful professor suddenly turned from the chalk board (yes, there were chalkboards in college-that’s how old I am) and began a rant about his ex wife, loudly, emphatically with gesticulations and maybe spittle.

Then just as fast as it began, it was over and he turned back to the chalk board continuing the lesson as if the whole diatribe never happened. Clearly he was a catastrophist! A uniforitarian would never exploded like that!

These outbursts happened randomly in every class I had with this professor. Initially it was shocking- was he crazy? A few screws loose? Overtime we adjusted to it and it became a normal part of his classroom experience.

The effusive eruptions didn’t make him a bad teacher, on the contrary it showed depth, a story- more than meets the eye. He wasn’t just an aging hippy teaching a bunch of ungrateful kids. This man had a life, hopes, fears, dreams. The outbursts were breadcrumbs leading the inquisitive on down the path of human experience just as the eruptions of pain and confusion I encountered this past year, were breadcrumbs leading me deeper into the mystery of my deteriorating health.

Pitchoff & Balancing Rocks. Adirondacks NYS

By following the trail, patterns began to emerge; both with my health and the life of my professor. Allowing a patience to settle over me- I am able to see more clearly into the patterns of detail. By pausing and stepping back, becoming the witness, I can see the forest through the trees, blossoming with awareness.

The shifting moods, subtle yet complex, were easily noticed by anyone paying attention. My professor suffered from bouts of depression and anxiety. The outbursts were his coping mechanisms when not wanting to take meds; a full release of energy- and a prompt return to normal.

Was there a clue here for me? My confusion, tremors and other symptoms had to be breadcrumbs leading me to the path of healing. I only needed the patience to persevere and not play the victim to my heath. With the belief firmly established that healing begins within, I used these random outbursts of bizarre symptoms to discover the patterns.

If the pattern of trees makes a forest then my pattern of symptoms would lead to a diagnosis. So like any good geologist, I got out my field notebook and began sketching out the layers of life that were impacting or being impacted by my symptoms.

It’s amazing that it takes catastrophe to look at the stratigraphy of our lives . Where is the fault? Where have we allowed the pressure to build to the breaking point. Where can we find small moments of release as to not completely shake loose our moorings later?

These insights along the rocky shore of healing has led me towards deeper inner wisdom and a softening of spirit. Patience, it seems, has been born of cleaving layers of sediment crashing through me. What else can you do with tremors, but ride them out, knowing this too shall pass and calm will be restored once again.

And in the calm lies stillness and elucidation; for from the pressure of living comes forth the diamond clarity of truth – all of life is an ebb and flow of pain, joy, suffering and love; leaving traces of each story to become fossilized in memory.

And in the calm, what I discovered classifying my pain and suffering was a pattern of excess and scarcity. It is between these two extremes a balance can be found. Overdoing it, taking on too much leads me down a path of deterioration. Doing too little leads to stagnation and eventually down the same path of deterioration.

However when conditions hover in the sweet spot between the two extremes; this yields a slow yet steady pace, allowing for the unexpected & reveling in its mystique. Set backs are no longer boulders blocking my way, but a chance to meander creatively around my inner space getting a fresh view, creating new neural pathways.

When we can witness our story, layer built upon layer, lessons and meaning emerge from the patterns. We can learn from our past, adjusting our patterns to create a path of fertile soil which holds within it the sediment of our memory, allowing for new growth and experience to ripple through our lives.

Wishing you a peaceful 2023.

Namaste

Winter Solstice Meditation

The Winter Solstice is the return of light. We endure through the darkness to be reborn in light. Journey within to meet the darkness with love and compassion as we take a moment to forgive ourselves and discover our inner light ever present.

 Music by Maura ten Hoopen. Licensed from restfulmind.com

Find Pleasure in the Simple Things

By 𝘴𝘪𝘮𝘱𝘭𝘦, I mean natural. We are inherently surrounded by elegant simplicity. The delicate fold of a new leaf unfurling; the gentle decent of that same leaf, months later, as it is released by the steadfast deciduous of its birth.

We now live in an unnatural world of concrete and plastic; imitation flora decorating the interior landscape of our homes and offices; completely removed form the 𝘮𝘦𝘴𝘴𝘺 parts of actual life such as the slaughter of meat for constant consumption.
Would you eat meat if you had to kill and dress it yourself? I wouldn’t. So I don’t eat meat.

Our modern trappings have so removed from being able to actually take pleasure in simplicity.

Go outside today. Learn the names of the tress in your immediate space, smell a wildflower as it struggles for sunlight through a crack in the concrete jungle.

What wonders can be found just outside your doorstep, waiting to be cherished for the integral part of existence that it quietly is?

Migraines

Happy Now beautiful souls!

I decided to shift gears a bit to talk about migraines. I have been suffering from a migraine episode for the last six months…yes, one migraine for six months.

Being in a “pain/dis-ease” experience for this long allows me a chance to more deeply understand the flow of the migraine/treatment episode and how it effects the various aspects of my life. Honestly, this will benefit myself potentially more than you. I have been able to be consciously aware of unusual symptoms and warning signs to allow a chance to mitigate the pain before it gets to be too much. I am practicing “Mindful Migraines.”

Before I jump into to what’s being going on, literally in my head, let’s take a closer look at migraines in general.

Approximately 37 million Americans suffer from migraines. It is not “just a headache.” Migraines of which there are multiple types; are a debilitating phenomenon which have multiple symptoms affecting multiple systems of the body.

Types of Migraines include: Chronic Migraine, migraine with and without aura, Vestibular Migraine, Abdominal Migraine, Hemiplegic Migraine, and Menstrual Migraine.

Migraines cause inflammation of membranes covering the brain which can actually cause your hair to hurt. The inflammatory response usually affects only one side of the head, causing throbbing intense pain typically occurring at the temples, forehead, behind the eye and continuing down the jaw into the neck.

Vision, due to sensitivity to light, can be limited or blurry. Blindness, typically in one eye, also can occur. Some sufferers experience vertigo and dizziness since migraines can impact the area of the brain responsible for balance. Additional symptoms include sensitivity to sound, nausea and vomiting, seeing auras, sinus congestion and watery eyes.

Sounds fun, right? I have suffered from migraines for over 30 years. I have been hospitalized because of migraines over 15 times. I started getting them in my early teens. I saw countless doctors and was a guinea pig for medications. By the time I was in college, I was getting 4-5 migraines a week. Yes, a week. 4-5 days of horrible pain, vomiting etc… I was put on daily preventative meds to try to get them under control to no avail. The side effects of the preventative’s were awful. It seemed every few months the medications were being changed since they didn’t seem to work.

The pain meds worked wonderfully but they had side effects as well. Unfortunately, if I wasn’t able to take my pain medication fast enough, I would vomit from the pain. This is typically why I wound up in the hospital- I became too dehydrated from the vomiting associated with the migraine. My parents would have to take me to the ER where I would get IV fluids and more pain meds for the migraine and anti nausea medication as well. I was given Demerol most of the time in the hospital for the pain. I hate Demerol. It gets rid of the pain most of the time but it makes me sick so I vomit more. Vicious circle to be in! Once released from the hospital, I would have a day of dealing with the side effects of all of the drugs I was given. 

At its worst, I was taking 4-5 pills for the pain a week. Sometimes they worked, sometimes-hospital. The medication I was taking 4-5 times a week was apparently more than I should have been taking. The side effects include: tiredness, muscle pain and fatigue, headache, neck and throat tightness, nausea, sweating etc… 

Anyway, it took a ton of personal research, multiple trips to a variety of specialists, and a deep desire for change in order to develop a better quality of life. Luckily, I have not needed hospitalization for the migraines more than once or twice in the last 15 years.

Which brings us to today, one migraine for the last six months. Let’s start with how this began back in April of 2022.

I started experiencing nerve pain and neuropathy off and on. After about 2 weeks the additional symptoms began such as partial blindness in one eye, facial paralysis on one side, speech and cognitive impairment, loss of time, muscle weakness and spasms. During this I had had a migraine come and go.

Initially my doctors/ ER doctors thought it was MS or Parkinson’s. Thank goodness it was neither. Turns out I had a reactivation of the Epstein-Barr Virus (the virus that causes mono). EBV can cause numerous complications when it keeps becoming active. I have had a reactivation twice in 3 years with a recovery time of 10-12 months.

My doctors now believe the EBV caused an uptick in my migraines as well as developing Hashimoto disease.

I went from having Migraine with Aura and Occular Migraine to additionally having Vestibular and Hemiplegic migraine all at the same time- for 6 months.

I am currently experiencing pain, numbness, tingling, dizziness, blindness/blurred vision, nausea, sound and light sensitivity, and cognitive issues daily as it is believed I am in an intense migraine cycle.

Last week I received a Tordol injection to attempt to break the cycle. I should know in about two weeks if it worked.

So today (and most days) I relax. Lots of water and fresh greens to help detox my system. Minimal auditory and visual stimulation. ( it’s taken me 2 days to write this.) By practicing mindfulness I can learn the clues given by my body as to the onset of the migraine episode. I choose to use the term “episode” or “experience” rather than saying “migraine attack.” Using the word attack can fire up the flight or fight response potentially triggering anxiety over the coming migraine. By seeing it as only an episode or experience, we give ourselves over to the knowledge that it is short lived, will be over soon and we will be OK.

“This too shall pass.” ~Persian saying

Mindfulness and a consistent Reiki practice allows me a deeper connection with my body’s cycles. I am more aware of the triggers and more prepared to endure the episodes. Reiki lets me tune in more completely to the erratic energy shifts that occur during a migraine. I am able to dial back the pain and return to my breath. I am convinced this is one of the main reasons I have not required hospitalization more than once or twice in almost 15 years. I am so grateful for what the gift of Reiki has brought to my life.

Rest, my dear.

To all beings suffering from any pain, my thoughts and prayers are with you. May you be blessed and may you find healing.

Namaste

For more information about Migraines, please visit https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/migraine-headache/symptoms-causes/syc-20360201