Laughing and crying, you know it's the same release. Joni Mitchell

Laughing and crying, you know it's the same release. Joni Mitchell

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Gift of Visualization

A Healing Image: Secret Harbor Beach on St. Thomas
I've always been a visual person - I remember faces but not names; I have to write down a math problem in order to solve it and my subconscious sends me amazing images whether in waking dreams, sleeping dreams or shamanic journeys. But it wasn't until recently that I found that I could use that strength to help others.

Over Labor Day weekend, my 84-year-old father ended up in the hospital after passing a gal stone that inflamed his pancreas. His doctors suggested surgery to remove his gal bladder to prevent a similar situation in the future. I was visiting friends in Maine at the time and he was in a hospital in KC. Although I could only call him long distance, I wanted to help him as much as I could. I remembered some mind-body techniques that helped me tremendously when I was facing brain surgery several years ago that I learned from a book and CD by Peggy Huddleston called Prepare for Surgery, Heal Faster. Huddleston's main theory is that going into surgery with a relaxed, positive state of mind helps one feel calmer before surgery, strengthen the immune system, use less pain medication and heal faster. My dad believed that it works because he remembered how calm I was before surgery and what a nervous wreck he was worrying about me. He said he would stay positive and try to relax.

Another technique that I borrowed from Huddleston was to ask my friends and family to send me healing thoughts on the morning of my surgery. When I asked my dad if it was okay for me to make the same request on his behalf, he said, "It couldn't hurt!" When I awoke on the morning of my dad's surgery, I tried to send him healing thoughts, but I couldn't get my mind to settle down. I tried to visualize him wrapped in a blanket of healing light, but other thoughts kept intruding. I was getting very frustrated, because this was so important to me.

Suddenly, I heard a voice inside my head say, "You have a gift - now use it!" Instantly, I was transported to the beach on St. Thomas where I went with friends for rest, relaxation and rejuvenation while healing from bi-lateral lung embolisms. I saw my dad and I on the beach together. I felt the healing warmth of the sun and the gentle breeze in my hair. I heard the relaxing sound of the surf and I saw the beautiful turquoise water. I called my dad before his surgery and told him about my vision of the two of us on the beach in St. Thomas. I wished him good luck and said good-bye.

His surgery went very well that afternoon and he recovered quickly. He didn't even need pain meds when he was in the recovery room! He had good color in his face, good spirits and was able to go home the following day. I called him at home to see how he was doing. He tells me, "So, I'm lying on the gurney (going into surgery) and I'm visualizing the two of us on the beach on St. Thomas." I said, "Really?" And he said, "Pardon my French - no shit, I really did!"

I was thrilled that not only did he take my advice to relax and stay positive before surgery, but he used the exact imagery that my subconscious had conjured up. I'm so happy that my gift for visualization could help someone I love.

My advice to all of you, is to buy Huddleston's book and CD, whether you have an upcoming surgery or not. The Relaxation/Healing CD contains a 20 minute guided visualization to help you relax and doesn't specifically mention surgery. Besides my brain surgery, I've used the guided relaxation for insomnia, menopause symptoms, anxiety, and, of course, fibromyalgia. Huddleston claims the CD (which can also be downloaded as an MP3 file) can help to:

  • Reduce anxiety
  • Treat insomnia
  • Stop headaches
  • Prepare for surgery
  • Reduce chronic pain
  • Speed healing
  • Lessen the side effects of chemotherapy
  • Feel calmer during procedures such as biopsy, endoscope, cardiac catheterization or MRI

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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

My Fall Flare-Up

A photo of trees in a forest in New Jersey, Ea...Image via WikipediaI had just gotten my groove back when the cooler weather crept into New England. At first I noticed that I was more tired than usual and my breasts were tender. Then by the time it was so cold that I had to dig out my jeans and put on closed-toe shoes, my flare-up was in full swing. Now my body is so achy that I have to take a hot bath just to get my stiff joints and muscles moving. A one-bath day isn't so bad, but a two-bath day means symptoms have gotten worse. We don't even want to talk about a three-bath day! Sometimes I'm so tired that I need a nap just to get through the second half of the day, which often means covering a late evening meeting for the local paper. My knees are so painful that they actually sting and my breasts are so sore that it hurts to put on a bra or shirt!

However, compared to last fall when I felt like I was thrown into a black pit, this is more like tripping in a pot-hole and spraining my ankle. I'm limping around but my whole life isn't thrown into chaos. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this annual flare-up stays at a tolerable level. Of course, I'll keep my readers informed as the autumn progresses. Sometimes it takes several months for the symptoms to calm down.

I'm sure I'm not the only one whose FM is affected by the seasons, or the change of seasons. Let me know about your experiences. Do you feel better in the summer or does the humidity do you in? Do you do better in winter or does the cold weather make your muscles and joints ache even more? Do tell!

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