Living a 'Spirited" life - Spirit-U-ality, MJ's Body - recovers, people's stories, rehabilitation-hope

A Reflection on the Paradox of Healing

BLOG – A Reflection on the paradox of Healing July 2016

The healing matrix may begin the moment our world is threatened in any way. Last August out of the blue, my wheelchair flipped over and I broke my leg, badly. The moment a upset is arriving – is the moment we need to surrender, without becoming victim – and this is where the paradox begins. Our physical capacities will be tested but more-so our mental constitution. We are called to stretch and dig deep into our virtues, the unseen muscles of our personality, the ones beyond our ego.

Ego is mainly concerned with protecting the status quo and being in control. We all know those aspects of ourself – our image and ability to autonomously direct our affairs. Well this may be disrupted without warning or hint, in major or minor ways from a physical, emotional or psychological upset or shift. Certainly these influences may be positive as in the news of becoming pregnant or a job promotion to a new city or negative – a fender bender that leaves you with depression and chronic pain from a concussion, or Cancer diagnosis or stroke.

Nevertheless the influence, the affect of having to surrender and reinvent oneself is consistent. The paradox is having to do dramatic change whilst maintaining a deeper sense of consistency and constancy of ones deeper virtues and connection to the Self from a whole different set of parameters and familiarities. This is a foreign an unfamiliar terrain for many of us, especially in our very forward moving and linear culture.

The idea of being boundless undefined, or even living in the moment is very contrary to the future-goal orientated propulsion of our economic and social society. The idea of being formless and unlimited can be threatening – especially if there’s no understanding or curiosity of the paradox that many of the eastern traditions refer to – of being both the form and the formless. The formless part of our being, the one we need to resource especially in times of personal challenge is the wellspring of our connection to the formless source of life, which when we are attuned to allows all of the healing modalities and attributes to expand. In addition in this formless state we are not attached nor do we have expectations and so our intuition and our guidance flow freely and we are given direction moment to moment.

What is it that exists in challenge or adversity that propels us toward surrendering or letting go into this formless state of being? Since being thrust out of my wheelchair last summer and into a very difficult and altered physical state again I have pondered more and more of the above question. I feel the vulnerability that one encounter’s when capacities, choices and Independence are removed, forces us to have to stretch into our inner sphere in order to find resolve, choice and the state of inner autonomy. One of my teachers Caroline Myss an Intuitive Healer teaches that you were only able to heal in present time with 100% of your power. She will qualify power by saying that the only true power is love. There are exercises in her book Anatomy of the Spirit, using the Chakras to re-claim and or reflect on where you may lose power.

The difficulty of this situation when it involves a medical problem or challenge is that most of the medical system want to take away our choice and power and clearly do not encourage the important attributes of healing that are so needed in situations of stress and upset. In this context it is all the more important to stay true to the things that you know to be valuable and harmonious to one self and to cultivate and encourage more Nonphysical and manual ways to support our very complex and miraculous healing attributes.

Here is a list of the virtual things I stretched into my mental state and the physical things that I helped my body with manually as i heal from a broken leg and concussion. I pray for:
More Capacity
To be in every way Non-victim
To take Very Special Care of Myself
To have Endurance
To do and be Relevant
To encourage Creativity, Enjoyment & Enhancement
To find Reverence
To feel Gratitude
To Make every moment count
To Let Go
To Rest
Eat well

From poet Monza Noff – Autumn

Urge me to drop every leaf I don’t need
Every task or habit I repeat past it’s season
Every sorrow I rehearse
Each unfulfilled hope I recall
Every person or possession to which I cling –
Until my branches are bare,
Until I hold fast to nothing

Tutor me through straining night winds,
In the passion of moan and pant,

The gift of letting go
At the moment of most abundance
In the way of falling apples, figs, maple leaves, pecans.

Show me the way of dying in glorious boldness –

Yellow, gold, orange, rust, red, burgundy.

MJ's Body - recovers

What Can be done with Paralysis?


Yesterday I came home from my afternoon walk with Jolie my lovely black lab, a regular routine for me once my helper has got me set up for the day and gone on her way. I have much more independence now than I did earlier when I first became paralyzed 8 years ago. Initially I had to have someone feed, dress and literally do everything for me, except think and dream perhaps! Now I have most of them helping me little, except in the case of dreams and they help me a lot with mine now – which is to help heal the travesty of paralysis.

As I made my way into my apartment with Jolie my noble service dog opening my door, I couldn’t help but notice my neighbor Woody’s door wide open, on a nearly freezing Vancouver day. He will often leave his door open – to air out the cigarette smoke from his apartment, however I’ll usually smell smoke and oddly I didn’t notice it. In any case my hands were freezing from my 40 minute walk and my apartment felt warm and cozy, and I was, as I always am – excited to get out of my chair and onto my daybed and to stretch and relax.

I use a common piece of equipment to get in and out of my wheelchair known as a mechanical lift, it has a sling which I wear around me like a belt and together with a remote I can get up and down. This “sling” has been a godsend, and given me a world of options and independence, something all humans need. It was one of those innovative things I’ve been supported in doing by my ‘dream team’ in this case my occupational therapist. As I settled in, I became more aware of Woody’s voice, he seemed to be calling for someone. Woody has quadriplegia like me, and has had some tough health challenges lately. He relies on 24-hour care, as he is much less mobile than myself for instance, and has a catheter and pressure sore issues.

I listened intently now, to Woody’s calls attempting to distinguish who he was calling. He belongs to a service, which provides 24-hour care, and it seemed he was calling one of them. I wondered after several minutes of listening though, what was going on, as the calls became more and more distressed; and knowing that my neighbor Woody is also like me – a quad but less mobile and confined to a power wheelchair, not able to get up and around nor deal with the situation if he got into trouble very well, I became increasingly concerned. Any number of things can happen for a quad in a power chair, we are a sizable mass with not much control behind a joystick, graphically speaking.

My hands were thawing out from our walk and my body was glad to be out of my chair for my afternoon routine, yet I couldn’t help but notice that the shouting and calls of distress continued, and in fact seemed to be more frequent. I soon got it and realized, I had to get up and go help Woody. Quickly I managed to put myself back into the sling and over to the wheelchair, Jolie by my side balancing my swing and drop. I was feeling urgent as his calls became louder and louder. I got up and out the door and into Woody’s house in minutes, with the help of Jolie.

I came around the corner into Woody’s living room only to be met with a seeming disaster, stuff strewn about the floor with Woody in the middle of the room, his table wrenched up around his neck and his legs under his wheelchair in an skewed position. All of the stuff that had been on his table, spread about the room, the doors and the windows wide open, and Woody sitting there totally in shock -dysreflexic getting sick and obviously very traumatized. After inquiring what was going on he told me that he’d been calling for his helpers for over three hours.

His helper had left Woody to be with his guests and said would come and check on him, as he should do every two hours. Unfortunately for whatever reason and knowing that this is probably a common thing, they hadn’t been back to him for over four hours. His leg bag, which drains his catheter was absolutely overflowing everything in this house was cold, dark and upset; there were no signs of any warmth or welcoming. I set about to help his immediate need but he was too far gone medically with dysreflexia (a paralyzed body’s alert system) and I also could never free him from how his new power chair had wrapped him around his table. So off I went immediately to find his nurses and his aides.

I came upon the staff room and all four of them were sitting in there watching a movie and making popcorn. They seemed to be very nonchalant about the fact that Woody was in trouble and dysreflexic as well as being absolutely freezing cold in his apartment, as I explained the situation. I then said abruptly “You need to come now! You need to come and help Woody.” Again their casualness appalled me as they slowly walked out grabbing their blue gloves they wear everywhere around the complex and followed me to Woody’s place.

I literally had to talk them through how to undo the table off of Woody so that they would avoid hurting his legs while pulling the table out. They seemed to have no concern for the fact that he had legs under there – even though they are paralyzed. Apparently they thought they could just pull this table off even though it was wrapped around his legs, without any thought to the fact these were actual legs that were attached to a person. So I suggested once, then insisted that what we need is to take the table apart to get it off and around him and out-of-the-way. They sighed and moaned and said “Oh why not just push it here?” “No you need to realize that this is a person and although he can’t feel, these legs are still real and attached to a person. So after amateur monkey wrenching we managed to get Woody free and then getting his leg bag emptied and setting him up, so that he was more comfortable.

I went back to my apartment to gather hot-water bottles and blankets and brought them back over only to be met with their boss. As I encountered him I said, “Here, here’s some hot water bottles you can use them to him get warm. His boss said: “Don’t worry he’s fine, he’s fine, this is independent living this is what it’s all about he wants to be on his own what’s your big problem lady.” Shocked, angry and absolutely appalled I went back to my apartment feeling once again the frustration of the realities of spinal cord injury and the lack of knowledge and understanding of the real issues that face the people with this very tragic outcome.

The world of paralysis is often a very desolate, lonely and excruciatingly difficult world to deal with physically, mentally and emotionally. Demeaning, isolating, confusing, traumatizing, devastating, discouraging, are some of the adjectives I’ve heard from others. Notwithstanding the psychological, physical and social counterparts that are affected by losing your mobility, it’s really ones’ independence and capacities to fend for one self, and be absolutely autonomous, that is the hardest blow. Being paralyzed isn’t what most people think. Paralysis is not just the loss of feeling, or a loss of movement – or for that matter- the loss of physical function & processes; it’s actually a distorted nervous system within the whole body. And as such there are so many complications and so much within that paradigm that we don’t understand and that we often misconstrue.

As a matter of fact 1 in 20 Canadians are afflicted with paralysis, but according to an extensive survey commissioned by The Rick Hansen Institute, most Canadians, including many in health care have very limited knowledge – if any about the realities of paralysis from a SCI (spinal cord injury).
In a wide-ranging survey conducted by Angus Reid public opinion, Canadians were asked to estimate the annual costs associated with spinal cord injury (SCI), the unemployment rate for Canadians with SCI, and their opinions on continued investment in related healthcare research and best practices. An estimated 86,000 Canadians have an SCI, with more than 4,300 new cases reported each year.

• Despite the widespread lack of knowledge about SCI indicated by this poll, The majority of those polled (87%) vastly underestimated the cost of SCI on our society and healthcare system, guessing the figure to be no greater than $100 million a year (around 3% of the actual figure of $3 Billion)
• Only 7% were able to identify the approximate number of Canadians who develop paralysis each day from stroke and spinal cord injury (estimated at 60 Canadians each day).
• More than half of Canadians (52%) underestimate the impact on employment for those who have spinal cord injuries. Chronic unemployment – estimated at more than 60% for people with SCI — contributes to the overall cost of spinal cord injury.
• Approximately 36% of respondents incorrectly believed that once a spinal cord injury was sustained, its effects were permanent. (While damage to the spinal cord can result in permanent paralysis, there are varying degrees of paralysis and recovery of function following a spinal cord injury.)

Summarizing the findings, Bill Barrable CEO from RHI, acknowledges what he surely encounters while heading up the country’s largest non-profit dedicated to improving the quality of life for those affected by SCI. And he states:

“Several results from the poll are indicative of the general lack of knowledge about SCI in Canada and suggest we still have much work to do when it comes to education, research towards cures and advocacy for people living with paralysis from a spinal cord injury,” Bill Barrable, of the Rick Hansen Institute. “Few traumas are as permanently devastating and expensive to care for as SCI. Spinal cord injury continues to be one of the most expensive initial and ongoing health care costs in the entire medical system, yet most Canadians are largely unaware of SCI’s impact on individuals and society as a whole.” Rick Hansen Website

Canadians still attribute high levels of importance to finding a cure, however that doesn’t account for the services, facilities, and help needed for the 100,000 individuals already afflicted. And the crazy thing is, it can happen to anyone-at any time, usually without warning. This is a condition that is desperately misunderstood, commonly generalized into an archaic old medical model for diagnosis and for the most part assumed static and non-negotiable.

I have experienced and know different, and with regular exercise and therapy this condition responds amazingly, keeping in mind the goal is simply quality of life and some independence. Somewhere along the way it seems the BC Coastal Health and government of the day has lost track of the needs and human rights mandate for persons with disabilities, as GF Strong pares down its service and the Rick Hansen/Blusson Spinal Center remains for the most part, an empty shell.

Woody ended up coming down with the flu, and I haven’t seen him for a few days now. This is not surprising, knowing the effect that type of trauma can have on a compromised system. Woody like many is victim of a incongruent system with relation to best practices and care for SCI individuals. We perhaps can’t change someone’s physical affliction but we can change much of the external conditions, and offer more humane and current choices for care, rehabilitation and recovery – to help these people lead an more enjoyable and productive life.