Today is the day that I throw down the gauntlet and share what I know to be true about healing of neurological trauma and the reversal of related degenerative disease. Grab a beverage of choice and sit a few minutes for this one. Some of you know a little about my journey, some aspects of my healing I have shared, and much I have resisted for fear of sounding like a loony tune. Not too long ago I would have been burned at the stake had I shared the many fantastical, mystical, spiritual and I believe, absolutely natural occurrences that have punctuated my life…starting at about age 3 or 4.
But first this….my inspiration…..My grandfather (my mother’s father) was a decorated and notable surgeon whose career in Edinburgh was cut short with the onset of WWll. Through many twists and turns he ended up back in his native rural Quebec. Aside from his sense of humour and obvious love for us, what I remember vividly about him is both his intellect and his curiosity. He didn’t buy a snowmobile, he built one! He lived close to a First Nations Reservation and his knowledge of medicine expanded further through the relationships forged there. He was intuitive and used this skill to combine science with deep understanding of human nature to regard his patients in a holistic manner. He understood that disease was not always as a result of direct trauma, but could occur as an accumulation of daily stressors like poor nutrition, physical exhaustion and mental fatigue. It was this initiation of exploring the mind body connection that prompted me to initiate and direct my own healing.
In December of 2007 I was injured in an explosion that ripped apart our newly renovated “dream home”. Like most head injuries, mine was not identified even after numerous complaints to my doctor and trips to the emergency room. After each dismissal and on one occasion when my (now former physician) said that I “was making it all up” that I “just wanted someone to tell me that there was something wrong with me”, I felt dejected and hopeless. Needless to say I left the clinic and never went back. The message became clear though. I needed to be involved in my own health and healing. This I believe is something we all need to remember.
However, in the beginning I can’t say that I was particularly graceful about this. I was not. I wanted someone else to tell me what to do…..to give me medication that could relieve the 25 + migraines I was having each month….to tell me that I was going to be ok and not to be afraid….because I was afraid of what I was experiencing. I was witnessing the degradation of my mind and body. I had literally lost balance in life both metaphorically and practically.
Eventually, I pulled on my big girl pants and got serious. I should point out here that I had been a life-long meditator and yoga practitioner, so this mindset did give me a head start. Within 2 weeks of the accident I engaged in daily chanting rituals. Admittedly, chanting was not a constant in my practice before the accident, but I did find that chanting OM was the only thing I could keep straight, and when vocalized it was an incredible internal massage. My central nervous system was calmed and my internal organs, especially my lungs, were provided a salve that was unavailable by any other means. My head and sinuses were also soothed. I was however, a big mess and for about 5 years I chanted up to 5 hours a day. I know that sounds incredible, but I felt that it was the only thing I could do that would prevent me from indulging (even more than I was) in behaviour that would not facilitate healing……cultivation of anger, resentment, sadness,…sleeping…..
To add some levity, here are a couple of the wondrous moments that revealed themselves to me as I embarked on my own path of healing. They were profound in content and encouraging to me….
Being able to see the energy of plants and trees…. Picture a vision so sensitive that you can see the cells of all living things.
Being able to see and feel people as energy not form.
These moments of wonder became signposts. Knowing that we are energy, not form, encouraged me to work on that level. To go beyond what we see and think to what is possible. Beyond what I perceive to be possible. As Lisa Rankin MD. offered: “How will you initiate relaxation responses in your body to make your body ripe for miracles?”.
Deepak Chopra says that we need “to identify with the quantum mechanical body” in order to remain healthy into advanced years.
My healing was a progression. At a snails pace if you ask me. For years I was embarrassed by the state and quality of my mind. I was also integrating my new level of consciousness to life, and found it hard to be around others. That still holds true. Too much static. I can be hyper sensitive to colour, light, sound, movement….I just want to yell “would everyone please be quiet!!!”…like the world revolves around me;)
First, it was imperative that I give myself permission to heal. I needed to pull back and lick my wounds, it just all seemed rather selfish. However, the more seriously and unapologetically I directed my life towards wellness, the faster and greater were the results. These are some of the steps that I undertook and maintain to this day.
1.Daily meditation/chanting: like brushing your teeth, it is a no brainer for me. When I upped my practice to 2 sittings, miracles occurred….more about that in just a minute…..
2.Daily activity: not gruelling, punishing activity, but nurturing activity. By gruelling I mean, when 10 tonnes of mulch arrive at your house and you think you need to dress the gardens in 2 days (been there, done that)…….By nourishing, I mean walking, climbing, yoga, running. The energy is restorative, not exhaustive. The point is to regenerate and strengthen not punish.
3.Take stock of who I want in my life: sometimes this means letting some friendships go or limiting time with certain people. It also means, nurturing the relationships that bring light and life into a room, not negativity and drama.
4.Eat Well: we all know what makes us feel good and what makes us feel heavy and unwell. Listen to what your body wants.
5.Be Quiet: turn off the radio in the car, turn off the t.v, refrain from giving your opinion (mama is a work in progress;))
6.Be select of what I ingest in body and mind: beyond food, this means, what I watch, what I see, what I do, what I hear….what music to listen too? What tv programs are life-worthy? Being mindful of all of the food I put into my body.
7.Enjoy and participate in Nature. Have a pet.
8.Reflect: on anything. Think deeply. Be curious.
9.Develop your own sense of spirit.
10.Be creative: dance, sing, write letters, read poetry out loud….whatever brings you joy.
11.Clear the clutter: both in home and life.
13.Be kind to yourself and others. When kind to yourself, being kind to others naturally follows.
14.Forgive yourself and others: this frees up an incredible amount of energy that can be directed towards vibrancy of mind and body.
15.SLEEP: this is our body’s number one way to restore
What prompted this long winded diatribe, was a post that my sister-in-law Anne Marie shared on FB (later noted) about the advancements of Alzheimers research. I was immediately interested, as I have felt and experienced not only a significant healing of my own, but of a reversal of neurological impairments concerning memory. Without listing all of the tests and noted impairments, suffice it to say that only a couple of years ago, my memory was at a 2% working memory. This meant I could not follow an instruction past the first sentence. Or, I couldn’t remember the room I was just in (my own), or even what I did that day. I didn’t know what was in my closets, drawers or behind doors. I could guess, but my brain could only come up with vagaries. Like I have sweaters in my closet…what colour or how many I couldn’t tell you. My closet system then became open. I couldn’t remember how many shots I had taken in golf, even when prompted…looking over my shoulder at the last hole played was as if I was looking at it for the first time….
There was a lovely side affect, and that was I didn’t know what I didn’t know and it didn’t bother me. I understood to a small extent that I was in a fog, but it was what I knew. I remember at one assessment, thinking that the clinician was trying to trick me as she continuously asked for more or better responses… to what, I didn’t know. During one assessment, I was asked to draw the time using a round clock and arms…you know, what we learned as kids….I couldn’t do it. I didn’t know why I was asked to do it, but Patrick then informed me that it is used commonly in assessing brain injuries, and I had failed. Oh well….whatever….
Fast forward, to April of last year. The fog lifted. I can tell you that it felt immediate and glorious. Cue the trumpets! It felt miraculous. My brain no longer felt sticky or clogged. It felt light. For the first time in 7 years, it felt like neurons were firing and working together. I was in Florida at the time. I went to bed not knowing everything I had done that day, and the next day I awoke to a new version of myself. I approached the kitchen, and (gasp)! I knew exactly where the coffee cups were….and what they looked like hiding behind those sneaky doors!
I knew where I was in the world and I knew what was around me. You can imagine how comforting this became. I felt grounded for the first time in 7 years. I delighted in the knowledge of where I could find the cutlery and what my cutlery looked like. I am overjoyed that I can remember what I did in my day, and just recently have been able to go back more than one!
At both 2 yrs and 5 yrs post -explosion doctors all across the board had given me a very poor prognosis, my assessments had not improved. Early onset Dementia. Upon Patricks advice I did not read any of the reports that we received. I chose instead to facilitate my own healing and at least support what health was available to me. As I said earlier, what I didn’t know, I didn’t know.
I stubbornly believed in the body’s ability to regenerate and thrive.
The amazing study that Anne Marie posted on FB for me is science supporting what many people already know. In the report, it shows a reversing of the signs of Alzheimers using ultrasound therapy. It is an interesting and hopeful read. What I believe, and know to be true (back to the notion of empirical knowledge vs.scientific) is that we can initiate this type of healing on our own. In my own experience this occurred through a combination of factors, most notably meditation and chanting (either listening or verbalizing). Meditation, Tibetan singing bowls, chanting/ gregorian chanting and music therapy are not only calming but are known to strengthen neuronal health. It is primal and we all have access to this reservoir.
Calming the central nervous system, calming the mind and body, creates an optimal environment for the body to express its own wisdom to in fact heal. We create the space in which healing occurs. You can’t paddle a canoe in a gale force wind, nor can our bodies navigate their own intrinsic healing modalities when constantly on fire.
For my grandfather, empirical wisdom was very much a part of medicine at that time. It was a time of scientific advancements along side, intuition, listening and sharing of stories and treatments. As technology has progressed, people tend to (as I did) look outside of themselves for answers. Machines, tests and advice. Once I decided to support my healing through positive and healthy activities, then the shift in the depth and quality of my life seemed to follow suit…oh and a little Botox never hurt;) #fewermigraines.
My healing is as a result of all of what I described above and more. I do know that you have to create the environment for healing and you do have to do the work. That’s when the miracles occur.
Healing is available to everyone. Magical moments in life are in every day activities.
Wishing you many blessings, lightness of being, peace of mind, and love.
Oh and one more thing….even if people don’t get you, it is up to you to get you. xob