In this entry I divulge more about my healing journey, as I've promised to do in the past, so folks can understand more about why holistic healing, writing, and the existence of this website are important to me.
Wednesday (5/8/13) confession:
I cried on the acupuncture table today. Not because of sorrow or pain...but because I knew that this was the beginning of being healed...cured...when the past 5 years have been full of so many doctors and specialists telling me that I couldn't be. And a few have told me I was dying or would die.
Today I sat down with my co-healer...a black gay traditional chinese medicine (TCM) student and his supervisor Will Morris (of world reknown) came in to evaluate me...he told me right off that he has done research specifically on lupus patients ...over 500. That he's treated/healed many and went on to tell me the treatment plan. And let me tell you why that brought me to tears on the table...rheumatologists, general practitioners, hematologists...none of them know what the hell they are doing when it comes to lupus patients. We are lab rats and guinea pigs...and the majority of us are female-bodied and of color. They give you toxic drugs that suppress your body's natural processes and cause cancer, diabetes, and death in the long run. You sacrifice your whole life for a few decades of diminished pain.
And today, this very man told me in not so many words...that he knows exactly what he's doing. And on top of that, I realize that I am being healed with herbs from the earth after 3 years on god knows what synthetic crap they've pumped into my body ...5 years of non-stop pain.
So I cried tears of joy on that table and my eyes well up even now...thinking about the way my ancestors and Spirit have led me to a wonderful roommate who happens to go to a TCM school...which happens to have a black gay student who happens to be interested in a lot of other healing modalities...who happens to occasionally be supervised by a world-reknowned TCM teacher who happens to have dealt specifically with the disease I knew I was on the path to die of...like so many sisters.
I shed tears for the unnecessary deaths of so many from this disease that doesn't have to be fatal. This must be...has to be... my initiation...onto the Path. My path as a healer. So that is why I live my life the way that I live it - for those who have tried to understand. I don't have much time to spare...and I live this life knowing that it is a gift that was almost taken from me.
Thursday (5/23/13) confession:
I woke up today thinking it was a new day...but much like any other beginning of a new day. I ate...made my tea...chatted with my housemate and then got this urge to go for a run. At first I didn't listen to my intuition...but then...I thought about how my body was feeling that was allowing me to have this urge. It was practically pain free. I quickly threw on my basketball shorts and undershirt and running shoes, stretched, and went for a run. A run in humid weather...with no pain. I felt this release...and I'll tell you why. I was a damn good mid-distance runner and jumper in high school. I won district and made it to regionals in several events. Some friends, after college, used to joke around and call me "trackstar". But ...that was then.
When this illness (systemic lupus) started to take over my body 5 or so years ago, I slowly lost my ability to do two things that I loved that gave me release: dancing and running. When I saw people on the track or on the road running I'd be overwhelmed with depression for hours or even days because my body used to be healthy. It used to do what I wanted it to do. I used to not feel pain all the time. I used to not have palpitations with the slightest bit of exertion. I used to not have this ongoing angry conversation happening between my muscles and joints and cold and wet weather. I didn't used to have constant fatigue on really bad days.
Pain is so tiring. So, so tiring. And people's comments that I "look"ed fine would really weigh on my spirit. Doctor's comments that the pain was only growing pains were so heavy. Was I imagining all this? Was I a hypochondriac? No, I decided...and that was the beginning of my healing journey. After dealing with dismissal of healthcare practitioners, there were still folks who were close to me that were in denial. Though I have been diagnosed 6 times with systemic lupus, it has taken almost 3 years for my mother to acknowledge that I "might" have it and this has been super harmful for me.
I remember the exact month and year I hit rock bottom- December 2010 (NY). I was stressed out with finals in grad school and I was starting to not be able to walk. My best friend insisted that I finally go to the doctor. It wasn't like I hadn't gone to a bajillion in Austin, TX. In 2009 I had a hematologist/oncologist, a cardiologist, and I don't even remember the names of the other specialists. I was tired of giving all my blood to be told ridiculous things like, for instance, that I might have cancer..!! Or they'd give me iron and I'd have to deal with excruciating pain and the doctors wouldn't listen to me when I'd tell them that something was wrong with the dosage. Later I found out that I had thalassemia...which is a disease that folks from the "Mediterranean region", South Asia, and descendants of people from Latin America usually inherit. But, since the doctors thought I'm "just black" and never bothered to ask of my heritage, all they'd test me for was...guess...that's right! Sickle cell anemia, syphilis, HIV/AIDS...!
The school nurse actually listened to me and ran a ton of tests and referred me out to brown doctors who gave me the diagnosis of systemic lupus and thalassemia. If I'd waited around for racist and oblivious doctors in Austin to diagnose me I probably wouldn't have figured any of that out until I was close to kidney failure...like so many others of my sisters (and some brothers).
I was bed ridden A LOT in the winter and the beginning of the spring of 2011. I had a homeopath and an herbalist that worked in tandem to co-heal me emotionally, spiritually and physically and some of those days were the best I've ever felt. But those days would be interspersed with days where my body felt like a cage. I'd wake up wondering if I would be able to move that day. Every morning was a surprise. That's when I began my philosophactivist blog.
Writing has always been a release for me and since I couldn't dance or run as much as I wanted to anymore, I began to write...and write...and write about my own pain. And then I got sick of writing about my pain and the origin of my pain and started to write about the quintessential origin of my community's pain which is psychological, spiritual, emotional, and physical: Oppression.
But...I also realized that my activist work in NY was oppressing me emotionally and physically because I was burning out and not taking care of myself, even though I was really sick. And those NYC subways are no joke...they are not limited-ability or disability friendly! People would shove me to the side and grumble when I was having bad days and could barely walk. I was moving too slow for them, of course.
I remember my 76 year old rheumatologist telling me that I had to stop my "civic duties" and that it was too much for my body. I remember looking him in his eye and saying that it was basically the only thing that made me feel better. It was the only thing that made me forget the pain. I might have even said that it was all I had to live for at that point. Ohhhh sweet delusion! My body put an end to that. I could barely go to class let alone go organize.
For more on my experiences with western medicine and healing
see my blog entry "Discovering our ability to Heal Ourselves after Invisibility, Voicelessness or Confrontation with the Medical Establishment (and in our Lives, in general) here.
All this, folks, to give background on why today is so spectacular. After going to acupuncture yesterday and getting a new formula, I feel like running again. I thank the ancestors for bringing such knowledgeable traditional Chinese medicine practitioners in my life after years and years of ignorant , racist, sexist, transphobic/homophobic specialists and practitioners. I get emotional every time I think of how blessed I am to still be here breathing after constant silencing, brushes with death, numerous hospital visits, and inner turmoil. I would say I shouldn't be here...but that's a boldfaced lie. I should. And so should all the beautiful brown womyn who have passed on from this world from this illness unjustly.
Today I ran for me...for them...for my ancestors...for people I haven't met yet or possibly will never meet. I ran with presence. Insight. I did walking meditation in between some sprints. I appreciated this morning for all it revealed to me.
Yesterday's blog where I wrote about oppression and Austin was part of the release. I know it was. It had to be. It's not a coincidence. I let go of something deep when I put that out there. Those weren't just my words...they were an amalgamation of a number of the conversations had within my community and I just put it out there. I'm here in this life as "the messenger", "the bridge", and even "the crossroads" (as one of my close friends and I talk about). I spent my childhood and part of my adolescence holding back pain...holding back my Truth...and as I've gained Voice and more autonomy in this world full of policing and sheeple I know that I can never close my eyes, turn my head, or shut my mouth again.
So, I encourage you to find what it is that brings you joy and release and do it...often! Surround yourself with people who lift you up and that you trust and who don't add toxicity when you are trying to heal. Take care of yourself aaaaand each other (ok, ok I'm just messin' with ya'll...that's Jerry Springer).
Thank you for reading!
The flower above is the honeysuckle. I had the urge to make honeysuckle essence. Well, have for some time. But today it became abundantly clear that it was time. The honeysuckle allows you to "live in the present rather than the past. They say that "it's usually for folks who are unable and unwilling to accept the changes of [his/her/hir] present life, and who expect nothing good to come from the future". Bach remedies also say it's good for "those who have lost a partner, but refuse to part with their belongings or move on to another relationship, even after years have passed. And for those whom the past was better than the present and want desperately to hang on to it. Those who cannot learn from the experiences of the past nor can they integrate those experiences into the present. And those who have regrets about the past and cannot let them go and who replay their missed opportunities and mistakes."
For me, it represents inner joy and peace, courage, strength and connection with our highest self. (Which all comes with releasing the past). Sweet release. It also represents healing together as a community, for me ...as it always grows with hundreds of other blossoms. And I understand that old folklore says it attracts wealth. Today a bee and I slightly battled over its blossoms. I took only a few and left him the bounty.
Reknowned herbalist Paul Bergner talks Systemic Lupus
Reknowned Chinese medicine practitioner Will Morris on Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)