Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A Lady Walks into a Doctor's Office

A Lady Walks into a Doctor’s Office

It’s not that I was sick; I wasn’t. I just needed a doctor’s name to put on my new insurance provider’s form as my Physician of Record. Since I had not been inside a doctor’s office for more than a year l had to rummage through my files to find the number of a doctor I had seen seven years before—before my bout with stage IV kidney cancer that was supposed to bring my time on earth to an end. “I don’t want a physical exam,” I explained when I made the appointment. “Or even a check-up. Just a brief consultation.”
Yet, when the doctor came into the examination room and greeted me, he took out his pen and launched into a series of questions concerning my medical history. That completed, he stood and reached into a cabinet and handed me a plastic cup. “The bathroom is down that hall, I’ll meet you right back here.”
            “But – “
            A nurse appeared to show me the way.
            I don’t suppose it would hurt to pee in a cup, nobody’s asking me to sign something.
            I set the cup on the designated shelf and returned to the exam room to get my things when the nurse breezed in and told me to roll up my sleeve, the doctor wanted a blood sample.
            “No, I – “ I started to say, but the nurse was looking at her watch. The needle stood ready in one hand, cotton ball soaked in antiseptic in the other.
Obediently, I rolled up my sleeve. That green rock sitting in the crystal bowl on the table in the waiting room is not decoration, it’s kryptonite.
            “The doctor wants an EKG and chest x-ray, so if you’ll undress and put on that gown, I’ll be right back.” Peering at me over her glasses, she added, “It’ll take two seconds! We’ll have you out of here in no time. “We’re a high-tech, one-stop shopping operation!”
Now the nurse was wheeling in the EKG machine and slapping little round sticky things onto my chest. Next, I was being swept into the x-ray room for a chest x-ray.
            “Call in two days for the lab results,” she said as I was leaving.
            That was two weeks ago.
I have not called for those labs. Since my last cancer treatment eight (!) years ago, I have not had a PET scan, x-ray, MRI, mammogram, colonoscopy, pap smear, ultrasound, or for that matter, a single flu shot. I know my body, I can sense any changes and I know what to do to address them. When I feel my body is out of balance, I take the time to figure out the cause, and, if needed, I will use botanicals, not pharmaceuticals to restore the balance. I have a naturopath, a chiropractor, an acupuncturist, and a variety of energy healers to turn to. Recently, I have added a new healer to my team, a medical empathic with extraordinary psychic abilities from New York, Ron Bard. For me, the White Coats, no matter how skilled and kind and well-intentioned, are my kryptonite.
My naturopath, Marie Anne, a skilled therapist and practitioner, has shown again and again that healing is possible even in people suffering from life-threatening illness that doctors have pronounced incurable. Her belief is that all the hi-tech tests available now are but a snapshot of the body’s systems in process at that moment. “The body is always changing, renewing, discharging toxins, replenishing and healing. A terrifying diagnosis can send the emotional/physical body into shock, creating its own path of illness.”
            I fully accept that conventional medicine has its place; I would not want a psychic or a naturopath to set my broken leg. But to stay healthy, to stay connected to my body and learn to listen to its signals, I prefer the way of the healer.

Friday, April 8, 2011


I have been hard at work on my novel, and I’m afraid, therefore neglectful about posting. I also had a rush editing job which I was obligated to complete as promised on deadline. Anyone know the origin of the word Deadline? It is the line around a prison beyond which a prisoner will be shot. Nice? That’s what we writers do to ourselves.

Worse, since I was not doing this job at home on my comfortable couch, feet up, laptop on lap (Dr. Steve, chiropractor, skip past this part), instead I was seated at a kitchen table on a small upright back-straight chair, feet on floor (my feet hate to be on the floor when I write), back pitched forward at a stress-inducing 67-degree angle. For eight straight 6-7 hour days. Stay with me, I’m giving you these details for a reason:

Somewhere around the 3rd or 4th night, I starting having bouts of diarrhea. When the gig was over and the deadline met, I was hit with a full-blown stomach flu. A magnitude 8 on the Richter scale. Fever, aches, abdominal pain vomiting. Those of you who read my cancer memoir, The Thirteenth Moon, can understand why I put ‘abdominal pains’ in italics. The kidney was where I got hit with cancer; the primary symptom, the one that had me going from doctor to doctor for months was severe, persistent abdominal pain. You see where I am going with this now?
Stomach flu is an inflammation; inflammations cause fever which in my case always cause fever dreams which again in my case always dramatize my deepest fears, my demon. I suspect most people who have come through cancer to a state of full recovery and precious good health, harbor the same grinning Stephen King/Jack Nicholson demon that pounces out from behind every closet door, the shower curtain, the tree outside our bedroom window, and at 4 a.m. in our darkened room, calling out, “I’m baaaack.”

I went to see my wonderful acupuncturist, Irina Tsoy, who was able to relieve the back pain I had inflicted on myself with needles. For my symptoms she gave me Chinese herbs. She had nothing though to banish the demon. For that, I called a naturopath whom I heard was a good diagnostician. Not exactly a White Coat, more a Robin’s Egg Blue coat, I hoped he could assure me what I had was in fact nothing more than a stomach flu -- without taking me on an invasive, scary fishing expedition with CT/PET scans. I was looking for a good detective who will come up the answer with good old fashioned legwork. Because, and this is a huge BECAUSE, that demon all of us former cancer patients know so well is only an actor giving a benefit performance – for an audience of one: us.

Don’t let’s give him an encore.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Game Changers: Uncovering the Causes, Cures and Myths of Cancer

Today is the third anniversary of when I was not supposed to be here. I wasn’t supposed to see the rosy reflection of the sunrise on the Griffin Observatory from the window of my apartment, or hear the pre-dawn rumblings of traffic just beginning to build. The back-up beep of the garbage truck, the hiss of the first bus. I wasn’t supposed to be sitting here as I do every morning sipping tea and writing the sun up. Not according to the dour oncologist who without looking directly at me mumbled words like “incurable” and “Stage IV.”(“Is there a Stage V?” I asked. “No,” he said.) According to him on this day my sons and stepdaughters were supposed to be calling each other on the phone murmuring things like ‘You know what day this is?’

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Installment 1: The Thirteenth Moon

It is dawn. Three days into the New Year of 2006, I am standing at the window of my tenth-floor apartment staring out at the morning moon which is full. On the other side of the building the sun is just beginning to rise. I can see its bright orange reflection on the windows of the buildings across from me. There is a strange, otherworldly quality about this pale morning moon. I can still make out the rabbit (I have never understood why people persist in seeing a man in the moon when it should be clear to anyone that it’s a rabbit up there – ears pointing to the right, cottontail bottom at the lower right). I ponder this rather than think about the phone call that came late yesterday afternoon, twelve hours before, from my doctor.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Installment 2

Lunch at Carol’s is always wonderful; she’s a magnet. Dagmo-la Sakya, a Tibetan princess, is in town to give her Green Tara teachings and initiations. The first Tibetan family to settle in the U.S. after the Chinese invasion, she and her husband, H.H. Dagchen Rimpoche, founded a monastery in Seattle. I met them both when I was writing The Book of Tibetan Elders; since then she’s written her own book, Princess in the Land of Snows.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Installment 3

Back in Brazil, I was warned to expect a rough patch of road ahead by a man I met at the Spiritist Center--a healing and educational hub outside of Rio, where I was doing research for the novel. But at the time I did not understand the meaning of what he said. Bebeto, my augurer, is himself a healer as well as a documentary filmmaker who volunteers as a translator for the other healers at the Center whenever he can.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Chapter one, Continued

I’m back. I have been preparing for Dan Nelson’s visit to L.A. Professor and theoretical physicist-turned private researcher from Helena, Montana, Dan will be conducting a four-day seminar in which he will demonstrate his revolutionary techniques of the future that I believe could forever change the face of self-healing. Introductory talks will be held Thursday & Friday evening Dec. 3rd & 4th - 7pm to 9pm, followed by a weekend workshop all day Saturday Dec. 5th and Sunday Dec. 6th. For details and to RSVP contact me at sandy@sanjohns.com. I have been researching and writing about healers and healing for more than 10 years; Dan Nelson’s work is the most unique -- and radical -- I have yet to come across. I will be reporting on the seminar.

Now, back to the 4th installment of Chapter One of The Thirteenth Moon. I’ll try to keep to my schedule of weekly posts.