Most people can remember The Wizard of Oz, but not everyone can remember The Wiz, which was a staple in my childhood with its musical and choreography genius and beautiful melanated star beings who graced the screen in this 1978 uplift of The Wizard of OZ. This movie comes to my mind right now as I am reminded that I can't "carry nothing that might be a load" if I am to ease on down the yellow brick road to my healing.
Almost two months ago, I went off of all the CLL meds that I was on to pursue a wholistic approach to my healing. Over this time, I have been working on a healthy mostly raw protocol to include recipes and modalities that will aid me. So much has changed in my experience as a a result. I have had to be receptive to where the path turns at each juncture in order to keep pace with my body and its needs. Like each character in The Wiz who wants something, they have to face their deepest fears and realize all they need in order to achieve their desire is within them already.
There are so many things to consider that I had not thought about before, especially since my immune system needs such great support given the burdens that my lymph nodes carry. I had already changed most of my personal hygiene products, but I had not yet considered my clothing detergent. The toxins that are in Tide packets and their softener sheets are more than my kidneys can filter. This reminds me that everything needs to have a second look, even if I'd considered it OK before.
There was a benefit to being on conventional drugs. I could carry on like everyone else as long as I was taking this medicine that made my body feel like it was "normal." That is a great feeling for someone living with a chronic disease. I did not have to behave differently than anyone else, not really, as long as the pill was going in.
But now that the pill is not going in, what I am finding is that I am making all these changes and attending new types of appointments and drinking potent teas and my body is hitting walls, new walls. When before it was the side-effect walls, now there are other things to attend to. I knew this was not going to be easy, but I had not considered that it was going to have such profound impact on EVERYTHING.
The fun IS just beginning!
Over the last two months, my midsection which is usually small and slender has doubled in size. I have become bloated. I did not think I had a problem moving my bowels, but that is what I was being told to do, "Move your bowels." I have regular bowel movements without a problem, at least three a day. How could I poop more? But what I learned is that my gut was full of the past storyline and in need of a sequel. My bowels were holding firm like the mean ol' lion, roaring, clinging to the inside of my intestines, not wanting to let go.
I have begun taking nightly sacred Epsom salt baths to soften the load. I place the salts, crystals, sometimes flowers and even teas into the bathwater. I play soft music or pray. I write in my journal or read a book. Being in the water is healing for me, and I always feel cleansed and more relaxed when I emerge.
I have also taken to using castor oil packs, which are also quite soothing. For these, I heat up some castor oil using the steam from boiling water on a cheese cloth. I also get my water bottle nice and hot. I lay a blanket or towel that I don't mind getting oil on somewhere I can lay flat and when the clothe is hot, but not burning, I lay it across my bare midsection with the water bottle on top. As I lay here, sometimes, I will fall asleep, but on the occasions that I don't, I will listen to my stomach gurgle and know things are easing down.
I have done many purposeful detoxes in my life, but none have been this revealing.
I have been sick twice since I started this mostly raw journey, once with Covid and once with a bacterial infection that has wrecked havoc on my sinuses. My lymph nodes have swollen throughout my body, and I have found myself experiencing
fatigue like never before. My body has been under attack, I would say. The crows of the past have come to haunt the field that they are now being forced to get the hell out of just in time for Halloween, The Day of the Dead, and soon Thanksgiving. I am detoxing from all that was once holding the scarecrow together with needle and thread. The thing is they were once patched up holes, pacified until the next big rip. And "You can't win child/ you can't get out of the game" ( Michael Jackson, The Wiz) especially if you don't stop playing.
So now that I'm out of the game with my brain intact...
I have seen someone for acupuncture, healing touch therapy, myofascial release, been in the inferred sauna and continue to keep up with my yoga practice as best as I can. This sounds like a good time, right? Who wouldn't want to be doing these things? I thought I would be enjoying them all, too. But what I have found is that instead of a mask, each treatment is opening me to a new aspect of my healing, to another level of what is required next, peeling back parts of me that used to be able to hide behind the chemo target therapy and that were easily masking the cure for which I seek. There are witches in this story, and they are not all nice. They don't want "No Bad News" in their sweatshop. So any changes will set them into a frenzy. (Watch the movie if that went too far over your head. You won't regret it.)
After my last treatment of myofascial release, I got a cough, lost my voice and started spewing mucus from my eyes, nose and throat. Lots of blood and blood vessels have been coming out as I blow my nose, and cough. And my eyes became like the color of red berries or like those contacts people buy that look like demons. My throat was raw, and I slept for days. I am still recovering from this. But what has been revealed is that I must go through to get to the other side. I can not get to a brand new day without going through the muck that needs to come out first. Practically, my diet, which is mostly raw now, and at the very least vegetarian certainly, must now become, at least for a time, that of raw fruit.
YUP, I said it! JUST FRUIT.
This may sound horrible, but not being able to speak is worse. What I learned through this phase of detox is that everything that goes in must be vetted. It must be clean, straightforward and of a high vibration. It must be easy. I must eat to live, not live to eat, and keep believing in the process and my body's innate ability to heal. This is not business as pill usual. I have no space for toxins, whatsoever, not food, people, environments, nothing.
Soon herbs, more herbs, will go in as well. I am working on what are the best herbs to support my system and will speak with some naturopaths in the near future when my voice is fully recovered in order to do so.
There have been some good days. It has not all been full of struggle. But once you've been sick for 13 years, you do hit a point where you want nothing more than relief. You want freedom, and not only for yourself, but for your caregivers as well. I want to be able to support my son, but he is the stronger of us two right now, and I must lean.
After a doctor's appointment the other day, when he texted me to see if I was OK, I had to text back and say that I could not get out of the car. It was not that I couldn't physically get out of the car. I was emotionally drained and couldn't see how to take another step. He didn't text back. He just came downstairs and got me. I am so grateful for his presence.
If you are reading this because you, too, want to move away from conventional medicine, the one thing that you need to have is a consistent, loving support system. It is one thing for people to check in on you periodically or to say that they would be there if you need something, but it is a different thing all together for someone to be in the trenches, day in and day out, with you. Anyone can offer words of support or say that they love you, but when the oiling can is in that person's hand, and you can feel the oil trickle down onto your joints to
provide you sustenance, there is no question that you are being supported.
We do not grow in isolation. What we give we will definitely get, and we must choose a side.
Facing Some of My Fears
Recently I asked some people for some support getting to a funeral that I felt pulled to be at, to support the family and even sing in the service. It has not always been easy for me to ask for help. I like to pride myself on being able to take care of my own needs, but I needed the support, and these people had at one time or another asked me how they might help me. So I asked. To be there, it would mean traveling back to my hometown, Windsor, Connecticut. I was ready to fly when my father said, "I'll go with you." I was grateful for this because honestly, the responses that I received from the people I was prompted to ask for help made me feel unsupported, to say the least. What great information to have!!
Fortunately, their responses came at the same time as the response I needed to hear from one of my yoga teachers. The same day that I'd asked them for help, I'd mustered enough courage to also ask this teacher to offer me a scholarship so that I could continue to take his classes online without having to pay each month's membership at least for a time. He did not hesitate. His answer came back without pause: "Certainly, Courtney. You are family." And yet, people who I thought loved me had a different response to my ask for help, which is why most often in the past, I didn't ask. However, more important than an old paradigm of not asking that has kept me trapped is to know who is on your team. As you ease on down the road, you will need others to support you, and it's best to know who those people are.
In Yoga, when on the mat and uncertain about a pose or transition, you can ask for help or you can strain a muscle or tendon, for example. To ask for help is powerful, preemptive and intelligent. It is not wise practice to know that someone might be able to help you, but you choose to go alone in ignorance. If only we'd taken the time to ask, maybe certain untimely things could be avoided. We can pretend not to need something that others may have, but then there is no way we will know if they could be of support to us. We may find ourselves skipping alone when we could have had someone else skipping with us.
When in The Bhagavad Gita, one of the most revered Hindu texts, the protagonist, Arjuna must make a decision about the approaching war between his family and teacher, he asks Krishna: "How can this be? Is it really my duty to fight this battle, therefore choosing the side that will win?" Though not as straightforward the question or answer in the text, it is all clear in the end. We all must choose a side. We either fight for or we fight against. But either way, we will be choosing a side. We can speak about it, or we can be about it.
In the end of The Wiz, when they make it to the place where the Wiz should be waiting to grant their wishes, they see the facade. He can not grant them wishes. He is just a man with a mic. It was and always will be about their belief. What we believe in and about matters. I can't tell you how many times my prayer of late has been, "Oh, Lord, please help me." I don't know. It's been a lot. Every time I ask, the peril does not float away, but it feels great to know that I am not alone in the fight. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13). I believe that.
The fun has just begun. The path is full on ahead. As layers are peeled away from what once appeared to be supportive, what is left is what really sustains. Nothing can stay if it is not of upmost quality. There is no longer room for toxic ploys where once I was able to pretend along to stay in the game. I do not have the time or energy. Only that which is righteous can stay. There is no cure in the conventional Wiz pill, parading as if it is the cure, or support that bows out under the simplicity of an ask. I, too, have made a choice. I believe that home is in my heart where Spirit lives and moves and breathes. I believe that as I click my heels, I will remember to keep moving forward towards that open space, towards complete wholeness and alignment with Spirit's will for my best, most full life.