Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Answers to Questions

Thank you for waiting with me for the scan results. Thank you for your prayers and thoughts and hope. 

I go into Dana Farber for my blood draw later today, at 1:15. I have an appointment with my doctor (where I will get the scan results) at 2:15 and then chemo is scheduled for 3:15, assuming all run on time.

I'll send a quick note tomorrow with the scan results for anyone who might be interested, but wanted to send this note out prior to chemo to ask, yet again, for your prayers for an easy and effective chemo session! Thank you.

In general, I feel that when I pose a question, it is answered in one way or another. Often I have to wait a bit, but the answer comes. For example, before each boy was born, I had these intensely real dreams, the kind that stay with you for a long time. I wondered what they were all about, but it wasn't until after each child was born that I realized that those dreams practically announced their arrivals. 

Lately, when I pose a question, the answer comes so quickly that it almost feels like I am having a direct conversation with the universe. For example, on Saturday night, we tried to get a dinner reservation for 10 people. No place could fit us in, and our first choice place hadn't called back, so we settled on the Cheesecake Factory. I didn't think about it for hours, then suddenly wondered what I could eat that night. Using Tiron's iPhone to look up the menu, I clicked on the Cheesecake Factory website just as his phone rang: It was our first-choice restaurant calling to say they could fit us in.

Or, the other day, during my walk around Fresh Pond, I thought, "I wonder if the owl is here today?" Almost as if I said it out loud, the man passing me replied, "The owl is here, sleeping in that hole."

I sometimes question why I continue with different alternative treatments. You probably know that I try just about any alternative treatment that friends suggest, and if I haven't tried it, it just means that I haven't worked my way down my list yet. It took me about two years to get around to trying Tom Tam's sessions. Several folks recommended these to me, and I finally started going in, I think, January. Maybe December. 

Anyway, I knew very little about it before I went. The process is called Tong Ren and the person who leads it, here, is Tom Tam. 

This is what it looks like: You walk into a room that has rows of chairs, all facing forward, and take a seat. The sessions I've attended have approximately 70 people of all ages, shapes and sizes. 

In front of the room, Tom Tam and about 10 other practitioners stand facing the group. Tom Tam and the other practitioners each hold a silver hammer in one hand and a plastic doll in the other. The doll has lines and dots that I assume correspond to meridians and acupressure or acupuncture points. 

One by one, Tom Tam asks each person why they are there. The wide range of issues raises my awareness of the many ways we can be afflicted: Allergies, sinus problems, back problems, cancer that has spread hither and yon, autoimmune disorders, ALS, MS….the list goes on. 

After each person names their symptoms or disease, he calls out a few points and the leaders (and some of the attendees who brought their own dolls and hammers) start pounding at these points on their dolls. For a few moments, you hear nothing but the soft taps of hammer on plastic, and then he moves on to ask the next person.

As I listen and support each person, I like to believe that no problem or illness is bigger than any other. If something is making you miserable, it is making you miserable. There is no real way to compare misery. 

I have to admit, though, that when someone said they were suffering from an occasional runny nose, I thought, "WHAT? Why would you come here for that?" Of course, at that moment in the doll-pounding, my chronically clogged sinuses suddenly cleared. Wild. Okay. Got it.

After a few months of attending these sessions, I sat listening to the tong ren gang pounding away and silently wondered why I continue to do this. 

Tom asked the next person, more doll-pounding, then asked the next.

Soon he came to Frank. Frank appeared to be a few years older than I am, and a bit rough in a street-smart kind of way. When he spoke, I heard his Boston accent, as well as his heart.

"Eight years ago, I was diagnosed with stage four cancer in my throat. I spent nine months in the hospital. I was on a feeding tube and lost over 60 pounds. I was told not to expect to live very long, but they would do surgery and take out what they could. As a last resort, I came here. I sat here watching this man pound on a little doll, and wondered what the (heck) I was doing in this room. It felt crazy. But I kept coming back. And when it was time for my surgery, the doctors opened me up but couldn't find a trace of my cancer."

He was there for maintenance, though self-centered me thinks that he was there to answer my question. It certainly felt that way that night.

I hope you find answers to your questions, whether those questions feel big or small. It is still nice to have answers and support, and I truly appreciate yours.

On another note, the Boston Globe did a really nice write-up on my father-in-law in Sunday's paper. If you would like to read it, here is the link:


Thank you again for hanging in there with me!

Love love love,

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