The Long Tide

Thursday, February 14, 2013

"Alternative" Medicine?

In current parlay, any healing practice that doesn't emerge from western-medicine, is referred to as, “alternative.” What if we framed our thinking and reference to all healing approaches so they were all considered “alternative?” How might this change a patient’s sense of choice when coping with a difficult health issue?

In early summer of last year a client of mine suffered an excruciating attack of trigeminal neuralgia. She was found on her kitchen floor in tears and brought to the emergency room. She was given anti-seizure medication to get the pain under control, which she reluctantly took. She had already been unable to work for some time and, as a self-employed person, needed to get back to it.

In August an MRI ruled out the possibility of a brain tumor. As a permanent solution for the trigeminal neuralgia her neurologist suggested brain surgery during which a hole would be drilled into her skull through which the trigeminal nerve would be severed. The costs - about $200,000. To my client, this didn't sound like a good idea or financially viable, as she would have to come up with $40,000.

From the beginning of her disease my client sought acupuncture treatments, and in September she added weekly cranio-sacral therapy treatments. By the end of September, she weaned herself off the seizure medication, and by the end of November (and ever since) she has been pain-free. Costs in total (the majority spent on diagnosis by western-medical practitioners) - around $5,000.

This was a fortunate case. But I believe that non-invasive methods of treatment that have no side- or residual effects should be the standard and conservative way to go first. The more aggressive, invasive forms of treatments offered by western medicine always remain an option, and in my opinion should be the alternative. This would reduce the costs of heath care exponentially.

What kind of treatment would you have chosen? I admire my client for her choice, and hope I’d make the same in a similar situation, though it is so counter-cultural.

Saturday, February 2, 2013


January is one of my favorite months. It feels like one of the longest, and I’m glad for that. Devoid of expectation I can relax. The holiday season is over, with its wonderful festivities. There isn’t the desire or demand to connect with family and friends, as much as I love doing that. Spring hasn’t arrived. I’m not called outside to check on camellias and crocuses for their blooms, as much as I get excited doing that. And I’m not aching for the first hike in the foothills as much as that is my very thing to do. January is true winter, time for hibernation. Like my namesakes the bears, I fast for a number of days, living off the fat I accumulated over the holidays.  No food shopping, no cooking, no dishes, no eating: I have much time on my hands. I sleep a lot, nine hours a night if possible. I meditate and hang with Sam. I get to knit and sew. I read books. This year it was Trebbe Johnson’s “The World is a Waiting Lover”. 
What a title! I’m very inspired by it. Going out into the world, and with every step expect to meet the irresistible lover, the one who holds and penetrates me, like no other! One image that she painted in the book that stays with me: The longing of the lizard for the hot rock, and then finding that rock. What might resemble that rock for me, for you? (Maybe you want to read it even though it is already February.)

I wonder what you did in January, and how you liked it.

But now, it is February, Imbolc (pronounced Immolc). As of nightfall on January 31, we are now officially in the Celtic Springtime. Many blessings of abundant green shoot already. I planted the first spring flowers today, and ordered some munch. I’ll have my first yard work party on Monday, and by the end of the month I’ll be off to Anza Borrego State Park in Southern California for a soul-searching time with likeminded people. I can’t wait! The year has begun!

I would love to hear from you.