Sunday, January 3, 2010

Chronic Illness and Reiki Healing; or learning to live with my Shark Tooth.

Shark Tooth and the Reiki Master Teacher

I am a Reiki Master Teacher.

I came to Reiki as I come to much in my life, honestly, through trial, and unprepared for the magic that awaited. As with all that sticks to the ribs of this thing I call my life, I am agape at the journey and the vistas. That is why I teach. How would I keep this to myself. I would implode.

Each one will take to Reiki in their own way. Each one inhales and exhales in their own way. Reiki however will work the same regardless. It is the air. Reiki training teaches you to make the most of this air, this energy.

Reiki is the tip of our spirit power, the connection beyond words and beyond thoughts to our oneness with the universe. It is four on the floor for a standard shift ride to the cosmos with out and with in. It is the key to the power of manifesting intention and being in tune with our purpose on this earth. It demands little and gives so much.

The Trial
When I was a child I had issues with mobility. Through my school days I often went to physical therapy and was subjected to many medical tests. Nothing was discovered. Yet I continued to be uncoordinated and the last one asked to join a team during gym class. When I was 12 I recall a kind friend, Irene Barnes--I believe, teaching me how to hold my arms and pump while I ran in order to "run right." When I was graduating high school, I tripped up to the stage and fell in a heap in front of Mr. Kryzanowski as he held my diploma. A remarkable moment in a long line of falling. As I travelled the world it became my reflex to say to friends and fellow voyagers that they go on ahead. I was slow. When I became involved with my first girlfriend in an adult household I often trailed behind her on the streets of the Lower East Side of New York City.

At the age of 35 I found myself in a perfect situation of home and work. I was teaching English as a Second Language for Adults and flourishing. I would walk the six blocks to the school and teach and walk back. I would stop along the way and chat with folks on Avenue A or B and the merchants in various Delis and shops that I had begun to know. Life was generous.

However: There were days I was exhausted and could not walk as well, or work as well as usual. Unthinking others labeled me lazy and claimed I was not working up to potential.

Then I began to sleep in on my days off. I would sleep for more than half the day. My prep work suffered. My relationship suffered. I began to hear the labels of my childhood echo from the mouth of my lover and others.

They said: I was lazy. I shirked my responsibilities. I was not living up to my potential. I became depressed. I lost respect for myself. I began to wonder if in fact I was intrinsically flawed.
I lost rest and gained weight.

Then one day as I headed out to teach my class, my right foot refused to carry me. I had to drag it. It became quite painful. By the end of the class I had popped four aspirins and took a cab home. My lower legs were cramping and my feet looked grey. I slept.

The pain and struggle to walk continued and I sought medical attention. After two years, that included a surgery, physical therapy and six months of relief, the foot relapsed into a mass of unresponsive pain.

During this time a person I knew took me to a workshop on Reiki.

I began to practice basic hands on position. I found that my fatigue was often fully resolved and I felt refreshed after a 20 minute session of giving myself Reiki. I was impressed and decided to pursue it.

In the mean time I went to the emergency room using a cane to take the pressure off my right foot. The doctor on call was a woman who asked me to walk on my toes. "I've never been very good at that," I told her and showed her what I could do. Then she asked me to walk on my heals. I remember laughing loudly at the absurdity of that notion. I thought of that as equivalent to some advanced yoga positions.

Then she did it for me. I was aghast. This was something that apparently everyone could do.

She sent me to a neurologist and he told me after some painful tests that were a flash back to Philadelphia Hospital for Children when I was a pre-teen that I had Charcot Marie Tooth. It was a genetic, progressive, degenerative, neurological disorder caused by an extra link on my 14th chromosome. Progressive here meant it went from bad to worse in a one way streak and my particular course, or any particular case, was impossible to give a clear prognosis. I would need AFOs (Ankle Foot Orthodics or leg braces) now.

"Will I end up in a wheel chair?" I asked. No answer.

Chronic illness is my longest relationship. It has taught me well. I have learned me and life from my Charcot Marie Tooth which I now nick-named Shark Tooth. Shark tooth was with me even before I knew to call it. It will be with me as long as I am on the planet, and then I don't know. There is no reason for that extra chromosome. There is no point in assigning value to it, other than it is and its best we got to know each other as intimately as we have.

AGAPE, the wonder of it all.

While I don't wish a chronic illness of any kind on anyone, it has been a blessing to have such a situation in my life that allows me to come to understand my own limits and limitlessness.

The medical establishment does too many tests. I knew this going in and still could not curb their appetite for their process.
They wanted to do an ENG. I asked them if that was definitive in advising me if indeed it was Charcot Marie Tooth that afflicted me. They hemmed and hawed and while I could never pin them down in a court of law as having said it gave out the impression that this test was necessary.

What it was was painful. It was also non conclusive.

Afterwards they decided to draw some blood and send it to a lab. That was not painful and was conclusive. Yes indeed I had this degenerative autodominant genetic condition. I had never suffered from polio. So, it was not post polio that was rearing its head. (That was the family myth. I had somehow contracted a mild case of polio in my early days in India.) (Good 'ol mythology.)

Now that I had a name for it I was in a treatment plan. The treatment consisted of (at various moments) physical therapy, drugs, and support devices such as canes and AFOs--Ankle Foot Orthodics or braces.

I wore the braces for three years. My sense was it might be doing as much harm as it was help.

I did the drugs as I could. Some made me wired. Some made me foggy. The last one made me fly off the handle on the drop of a dime, very moody and pugnacious.

All along I did reiki. I gave reiki and received reiki. I built a practice in Oswego NY called Reiki Centrale. By that time I was completely off medication and out of my braces.

I had discovered an amazing person on Charcot-Marie-Tooth dot org or com named Nancy who was a deep well of information on supplements and exercise.

I went to my doctors for regular check ups. When I would say that I felt stronger or better they were compelled to tell me that this feeling was not in line with the disease. Once nerve cells die, they don't come back.

I learned not to bother them with my thoughts. They were not prepared to hear me talk about near death and deep sleep versus death. They were not ready to hear about the effects of energy work.

I started calling CMT my Shark Tooth soon after the braces became an occasional aid for long walks. I began to visualize S.T. swimming in my nerve paths and giving it more room by accessing my energetic body to those nerve paths.

I learned about the nerve paths. So different than what I had imagined at the onset. More like the skeletal system than the cardio vascular.

I stopped judging Shark. I stopped demanding Shark leave. I made my truce with our co-existence. I found a way to flourish with this creature in my midst.

All the while Reiki flowed. Reiki Centrale closed when I moved back to NYC from Oswego. Like those nerve cells that were pronounced dead though I keep the possibility of resurrection with me always.

I would be lucky if Shark Tooth was my only life lesson. Its not, but it is the one that allows me to see clearly who I am and how I want to live and where my spirit can take me. Reiki has had an amazing effect on my relationship with Shark Tooth. Maybe we are not friends as such, we are definitely mutually admiring contemporaries in this life.

Shark Tooth taught me the valuable lesson that all is not as it seems. What is solid may not only be so. No truth is set in stone. Consciousness is primordial.

Reiki, more than any other element in my personal medicine bag, has fueled my recovery, or rather my journey.

Reiki Ho.


Bryce Morris said...

Nice piece on the Shark and reiki, Poonam. Don't know exactly how I got here, but I'm glad I did. B

poonam srivastava said...

Briyce Morris. I do not know if you will read this. it's 6 years after your comment!
I love that you fell on that tale.
I'm revisiting it now with a thought to expand upon it.
I am still practicing Reiki both on myself and others.
I do hope you are well.
Love and Light.
And thanks for your remark.
ps i have an updated version of hte story i frankly like a little less than this one on my web site

poonam srivastava said...

Bryce Morris,

Sorry I misspelled.