Thanksgiving always generates a spirit of gratitude. After all, that’s the point. Gratitude for the shelter and food we have that will sustain us through winter. Gratitude for the friends we love who may have (literally) saved our lives. Gratitude for our own lives. And, if we are spiritually inclined, gratitude for chance to take this journey, and for the entire complex web into which we are a tiny, yet important, woven thread.
I just laid Adahlia down for a nap. She still naps these days (most days) — and I’m thankful for that, too. She still often likes to breastfeed before falling asleep. She’s getting towards the end of the life of her transfused blood, and so she doesn’t eat much. She wouldn’t even mashed potatoes last night, or the leftovers this afternoon. We try everything to cajole her to eat, but she just doesn’t eat when she gets low in blood. So even though she’s almost 2.5, and I don’t exactly have a huge milk supply, I’m grateful that we managed to keep my supply alive through those very difficult months, so that she could be a breastmilk baby, and can at least have mama’s milk when she’s not getting much nutrition elsewhere. I’m grateful when she’s lying there in the crook of my arm, after just having fallen asleep, and she nuzzles in close to me. It’s very sweet. It’s very kitten-like. It’s very animal.
I once saw a bumper sticker (in Portland, of course) that said: “What if we are spritual beings having a physical experience?”
We so often think of it the other way around. So many of us try to find that elusive confirmation of meaning of life, of a God, of purpose to existence. So many want to experience a true spiritual experience, to feel the bliss of enlightenment, if only for a day, or hours, or few minutes. Yet, what is so bad about being animal? What if that bumper sticker is exactly the case? And why couldn’t this world be some sort of pilgrimage?
What does it take to be a pilgrim? Well, if you’ve ever played Oregon Trail, healthy gut flora will help, because an awful lot of folks manage to ford the river but still die of dysentery.
But what it really takes it courage. Pluck. Grit. Fearlessness. Audacity.
Call it what you may. Whatever you call it, it takes a lot of courage to try something new. To be a pilgrim. To break away from what the rest of the people are doing and say: “Do what you want. I’m going into this new, and perhaps uncharted, experience.”
What else does it take to be a pilgrim? Creativity.
And a willingness to be wrong.
Adahlia and I are pilgrims on the journey to find a way to resolve her anemia without the use of steroids. And I have no idea if it will work. By all accounts of those who have come before me, who have not necessarily cured red cell aplasia but have resolved and reversed symptoms and signs of MS, cancer, or Lyme disease, a natural medicine cure is a long and arduous road. The body needs re-educated into a new pattern of homeostasis. It needs to rediscover its old state of health. That’s difficult in itself. It takes 2-3 years, or longer, in some cases. And in the case of a child who was born with an unhealthy pattern incapable of sustaining life, it takes even longer. Because that body never knew health. It never experienced health. It needs to figure out what health looks like.
Adahlia went another 5 weeks between transfusions, which is fabulous. Honestly, though I’ve said it before, I don’t know how parents handle going 2-3 weeks between transfusions. Its terrible. It eats you apart from the inside. If that was our routine, I’d be insane by now.
I’m grateful it was five weeks.
Moreover, we had additional good news: For the first time in months, she was retic-ing. She was making her own red blood cells. It was in the low-mid normal range. For the past several transfusions, she had so few baby red blood cells that they were determined to be “not measurable.” So, this is excellent news.
Her iron levels (as measured by Ferretin) have not, however, gone down. They have plateaued at around 800 (currently 750+). The other night, she woke several times with stomach pains. Probably the Exjade medicine (iron chelator).
On Monday, she will be 4 weeks since her last transfusion. The child is pale. She is moody and more violent than usual. This leads me to believe that she may need a transfusion. Yet, she sleeps soundly. And when she is nearing transfusion, she typically wakes often. So perhaps she will go 5 again. Its hard to say.
We went to Portland shortly after our last transfusion to test her homeopathic spagyric and chinese medicine. She still needs probiotics and AFA blue-green algae. She still needs the medicine to counter acid-base imbalance (she tends towards acidity, which is not life-supportive. The body MUST be alkaline to be healthy). And she still needs the medicine to change the terrain of the body that supports deep-seated infection.
However, she no longer needs the medicine to fight infection. And in her chinese herbal formula, she no longer tests positive for the hallmark anti-bacterial, anti-viral herb for infection.
She tested positive (needs) homeopathic spagyrics to support her Spleen. And to support the energy of her Stomach and Large Intestine (digestive, down-bearing energy). In her chinese medicine formula, she now wants herbs to help the Lung. My mentor understands these herbs to have an effect in auto-immune conditions. In other words, first the foreign influence must be removed from the system. Then, the body, which has become pathological from trying to deal with the foreign influence, must be reeducated to stop destructive processes and start constructive processes. In other words, the previously over-burdened, over-taxed, and freaked-out system needs to be calmed down and re-educated on how to function normally.
It would all be a beautiful, but unconvincing theory if it weren’t that it has been working for me. My left kidney is rarely in any pain, and a year ago, the pain was almost ever-present and very distracting. I also had my creatinine levels checked a couple weeks ago, a measure of overall kidney function, and was very pleased to learn that it was back down to my pre-pregnancy levels of 0.7 instead of 1.1. I had little hope of such turnaround.
The herbs that Adahlia is starting to test positive for were herbs that I started to take about 9 months to a year ago. According to the theory, it makes sense that I would heal faster than her, because my body was healthy at one point and is returning to health. She was formed in utero in state of ill-health.
This is also interesting to me, because I understand chinese medicine physiology. While I cannot explain everything to you in this post, I can explain a little. If you’re still reading, you will probably find this interesting:
In Chinese medicine, every organ is more than an organ, and even more than an energy. They represent functions in the body that are functions that can be found anywhere in nature, and even in government. The Heart, for example, is the Emperor, and its sole purpose is to receive the heavenly mandate (spiritual direction, or destiny) for your life and send it out (like a pulse) to all the cells. The Lung is the Prime Minister. It is responsible for keeping the body functioning in alignment with the Heart and its puropse, and it does this by distributing Qi (or Chi). It is symbolized by the Mountain, and so the Qi is distributed like dew or raindrops from the mountain. The Kidneys are like deep, black pools. They are dependent upon the dew from the Mountain to sustain their depth. They grasp the Qi from the Lungs as it falls, and recirculate it. This is why health is maintained through deep breathing into your low belly, your dantian, your Gate of Life, your reservoir of energy. If the kidneys cannot grasp the qi, if the Qi does not refill the reservoir, you cannot maintain health, and you will (sooner rather than later), fall into some sort of chronic disease, or not be able to recover from an acute disease, and you will die.
This is the importance of deep breathing.
Interestingly, for most auto-immune disease, the patient needs the bulk of the treatment to be through the Lung. It is seen time and again. Because what you have is a system that has become over-burdened. Pathological. And no longer functioning as the Heart is directing. The Lung is too weak to keep the rest of the Organs filled with Qi and doing their jobs. So it all breaks down. No cells are listening to the only true Leader (Emperor/Heart) because the Lung can’t properly disseminate orders and keep the Qi flowing in its proper path. Organs such as the Spleen, responsible for Transformation of blood and other substances, can’t function. The Stomach and Large Intestine don’t have the energy to pull energy downwards. Invaders can take hold, because there is no integrity to the system anymore on any level. The system tries to respond but ends up attacking itself. You have revolution. You have anarchy. You have a system in collapse, and eventually, death.
At this point, I would like to remind readers that Adahlia has signs of Kidney deficiency — not from the biomedical perspective, but according to chinese diagnosis. But it is hard — very hard — to successfully treat the kidneys, according to any medical perspective. They are, quite simply vital, and very deep, when it comes to health. There’s nothing superficial about kidney health, and anytime you endanger their health (through an untreated UTI infection, for example), doctors will move very quickly to save them.
What we are doing with the Chinese herbs are approaching the kidneys through the Lungs. We are helping the Lungs to distribute the Qi more effectively. At the same time, through other herbs, we are encouraging the energy and Qi to stay down, to root down into the kidneys. They are a bit too weak to grasp the Qi, and so we also include herbs to help strengthen them. But the majority of the emphasis in her formula is on descending, on Lung function. It was the same way for my herbal formula — in fact, it is still is a primary component of it.
Now, if you’ve read all that, hopefully you’re thinking: Whoa! That’s pretty cool!!
It is pretty cool.
Chinese medicine is a fantastically beautiful, challenging, cohesive and – what’s most important – true way of perceiving the functioning of the body. This is not to say that the biomedical model is wrong. It is not wrong. They are BOTH right. They are simply looking at things in different ways, and I can try to explain that sometime. The point is that if you work with both of them, you can achieve wonderful results, while causing minimal harm.
It just takes a lot longer to treat with natural medicine than it does with steroids. And like with any medicine, there are no guarantees. So its very hard to stick with, because change happens so slow, and it can be tempting to become frustrated and even give up.
It is possible to successfully treat MS and cancer with natural and Chinese medicine. Is it possible to treat red cell aplasia diagnosed as DBA? I don’t know. We are pilgrims. No one has tried this before. We shall see.
This week, I will see how Adahlia is doing by taking her to get a finger prick test to check her hemaglobin. In my own health journey, I was able to meet with my new Denver VA urologist and he agreed that they needed to repeat the nuclear medicine scan of my right kidney, to check its function. Back in July, in was only functioning at 10% — which warrants removal of the kidney according to many specialists. This specialist explained that there are two schools of thought when it comes to kidney function, and some specialists will agree that any function is better than no function, and will agree to try to save it even if its only at 10%. But he said he will definitely try to save it if its at least 20%. There is hope, because my overall kidney function seems to be better.
On Thanksgiving, we can always find something to be thankful for. My challenge to you, dear friends, is to be a pilgrim. The world needs more of us.
Fear not. Follow your hearts.