Life-Savers continued

Life-Savers continued …

The Gastro-Enterologist who sent me for that first counseling also saved my life. I don’t recall his name either. He said he would treat me and end my physical agony only on condition that I go to counseling. Why? Because for someone your age to have this diagnosis tells me you have issues. You resolve those and you will stay well. True words. Thanks Doc.

Whereupon I returned to college with renewed energy and graduated Summa Cum Laude, because I had found my own voice. I was 26.

It would be a while before I would have my life saved again. Happy years as a young mother. Happy early years of my first marriage, way back in rural eastern Oregon. In love with my baby, growing food, canning food, baking bread and writing for the newspaper in town: The Angling Report for example. How cute is that? “Big city girl makes good out west.” Finding my haphazard way to the beginning of my career in Corrections.

The next person I think of who saved my life was Richard, my second and current husband. Safest man on the planet. Not that he isn’t horny. He’s horny. Safe and natural, horny and happy Richard has never had sex more important than my feelings and my happiness. With Richard I took on my healing in earnest. Why? Because I was safe. Thanks Richard. I love you.

to be continued …

Life-Savers Part 2

My younger brother Vinny didn’t buy it. “Bullshit,” he asserted with his usual diplomatic aplomb, “you’re as crazy as the rest of us.” I find it difficult to argue with that. However, the counselor’s words helped me to detach from what truly had been a “crazy house.”

No one got a pass. All were harmed. Some have been more oriented toward healing than others. We all walk our own paths at our own speed. In the end, we will all get there.

My Personal Life-Savers

I’ve been thinking about people who have “saved my life.” Those LIFE-SAVERS! The first one is my Gramma. She watched over me my whole life. No kidding! Even after she passed, which brought me to my knees before God, Goddess, Universe, Creator … You know the other intelligence that seems to answer ours? How helpless do you gotta be to pray like this? “I hope you exist and in case you do, and on the off chance you’re listening, you’re my only hope.”

I don’t know about you but that makes me laugh. It’s worse than blind-folded “pin the tail on the donkey” down here in the atmosphere of planet Earth. I have a vague intuition that if we can laugh at our situation things will work out better than they have any right to. Or, if not then at the very least we will have a better time.

Psychics throughout my life have seen her, in spirit, standing behind my shoulder. Thank you, Gramma. For some time I have wondered if you are still with me.

The next Life-saver was my Mom. She held the possibility that I would walk again, and worked as hard as I did to make it happen. Thanks, Mom. I’m glad you’re still here. Boy am I gonna miss you someday.

Next my Greek professor from Brooklyn College. I dropped his class but his advice was a life-saver. He saw desperate in my eyes and I laid it out for him in two hallways. As we stepped out into the sunlight he stopped and saved my life. He told me emphatically it wasn’t my job to deal with my sister’s MPD. It was my parents job. I was glad to hear it. My sister was living with me at the time and her angry alter ego had scared the stuffing out of me. The threat of violence was palpable when she was in the room.

I high-tailed it home for Thanksgiving and laid it out during dinner. Pop was brilliant that time. He took it on without hesitation and told Barbara she was allowed to be angry. No need for the alter-bitch. Talk about magic. My sister recovered after that. I don’t even remember that professor’s name but he saved my life.

A few years later a counselor saved my life. Leaving my parents house by itself accomplished only the initial stage of my healing: it ended the abuse. The emotional baggage stayed and weighed me down awful. At 23 I had ulcerative colitis. I needed help to get well. My first counselor saw me only for a few months, but at the end he gave me this precious gift: “There’s one thing I want to tell you,” he said. “You are not crazy. You’ve never been crazy and you never will be crazy. But to fit in your family, you have to be crazy.” Thank you, first counselor. You saved my life.

To be continued …

The Kanji Guys

The Kanji Guys made it all worth it. They were so cute showing off new kanjis they had learned. They had wall after wall of offerings in multiple topic areas: it was an encyclopedia of ways people see themselves. Maybe not an encyclopedia , more a compendium. A person’s Kanji is like a personalized license plate. It has to fit just right.

Although speaking of that I was horrified when I heard the Boston Marathon bombers had one that said terrorist, “TRRRST” or what? I’d like to see how it was spelled.

So of course, I HAD to read them all, so I was in the Kangi place a while. I finally asked for one they didn’t have. I looked it up on my phone. That was six months ago and I can’t remember what it was. It was probably Reiki Master.

Or it could have been my little slogan, “Got Reiki?” I also like “Reiki be … Reiki do.”

With the Southern California sun in my eyes and the ocean breeze in my hair, who knows what I might have been thinking. As I recall I had just gotten my green card and I was blissed out on Venice Beach. Life was good. The Kanji was disappointing.


It’s no mistake that my email address is “stillwalkn.” When I was five years old doctors told my Mom I’d never walk again. Apart from several months on the polio ward at St. Charles Hospital in Brooklyn Heights, New York I have been walking continuously for 63 years and I’m still walking! Don’t get me wrong. It hasn’t been easy. But whenever it starts looking like I’m going to be in a chair again, I just get more determined than ever not to allow that to happen. I have an aversion to being in a wheelchair again. Go figure.

When I was 20, doctors at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York advised me to accept my limitations, which included not being able to carry a suitcase or walk more than one city block, and the pain, always the pain. I became angry. I didn’t want to accept all of that. I felt the irrepressible need to rebel, and to prove the doctors wrong.

So I talked my boyfriend into a two-week hiking trip. Then I told my doctor. She “washed her hands of me.” Then I told my Chiropractor and he “washed his hands of me,” too. But he said if I was determined to do this insanity I should at least wear a support belt around my hips. I still have it. It’s two inches wide, quite thick, and closes with a clasp consisting of two incredibly sharp metal prongs. I wore it on the hiking trip, and it helped.

The initial ascent up Mt Washington in Vermont’s White Mts. With a 40 lb. pack was hard. i don’t think i could have done it without that elastic belt. But it got easier and the pack got lighter, and when we bounced and bounded out of the woods two weeks later I was in better shape than I’d ever been. Now when a doctor tells me to sit I stand, to rest I walk, to accept I fight. Which is not to say I don’t sit, rest or accept. I do them all and I do them often. But I’ve never ever given up.

But every time I overcome an obstacle another obstacle comes along. It’s the story of my life. The invitations to sit down and give up have paved my way. As I decline the invite again and again, my resiliency gets stronger. I heal faster and better than anyone I’ve ever met.

Doctors routinely misjudge how long it’s been since my last surgery. Recently, a PA at my Surgeon’s office insisted I was there for my 12-week check-up. It had been exactly eight weeks, not 12, but he wanted to argue with me. I finally convinced him to look at my file. “Oh,” he said, “you ARE doing well.” That’s how I roll. Life is short: heal quickly.

I thought there was nothing left to learn about my beleaguered low back. I had my first slipped disc at 13 and a fusion when the scoliosis was so severe three discs ruptured, one, two, three in a row like perverse dominoes. The Monroe Doctrine right here in my back. The fusion made a big improvement over feeling nothing below my waist, but pain right there has been continuous, varying only in degree from mild to incapacitating, more or less on a daily basis since the surgery in 1986.

My Surgeon at the time, Dr. John Bishop at St. Al’s in Boise told me at the time I had “unformed bones” from a birth defect, and he showed me the X-rays, but I didn’t know how those bones were supposed to look so telling me “See? They’re not solid” didn’t mean much and I filed it away in the vague and uncertain section in my memory. I thought no more about it.

None of my subsequent doctors, all of whom have scrutinized my various back pictures, has ever mentioned my birth defect, so I forgot all about it. Until last week when I met Dr. Patrick Soto. My polio doc sent me to him to see about getting some pain-relieving injections back there. We had covered my medical history thoroughly but he kept asking when did I have the laminectomy. I said I’d never had one. But then where are my bones? Oh, wait a minute…missing bones? The birth defect Dr. Bishop told me about?

None other. But now it has a name: “Spina Bifida,” and while a minor case of it is not at all rare, it could certainly have something to do with my unrelenting and quite debilitating back pain. You think?

I’m wondering how you fix something that isn’t there. But such questions must wait their proper time. Meanwhile just don’t ask me to sit down. I don’t know how.

Lateral Release or “Take Your Analgesics, Dummy!”

Had surgery on my right knee this morning. There was no possibility of confusion. Certainty was assured by my surgeon’s preliminary act of omnipotence when he signed my right knee in purple magic marker. I was later given the marker in a plastic ziploc bag, a single-use item in what is becoming a mostly single-use medical system, in an attempt to stem the spread of MRSA, the drug-resistant form of Staph that is terrorizing American hospitals all over the country.

Everybody has a MRSA story and so do I. It’s really my sister’s story, but me and my Reiki mob got into the act so I get to claim it as my own. My sister had breast cancer three times. The third time, the docs woke up, at long last, and decided to remove the offending tissue, her breasts.

The mastectomy was unremarkable and apparently successful, but for reasons beyond my feeble mental powers my sister elected to have a full reconstruction. That’s when things got off on a weird medical side trip. At that time, in the early 2000’s, “full reconstruction” entailed relocating a quantity of muscle tissue from the abdominal area, and using it to build credible breasts on the chest.

This is fine as far as the breasts go, but the impact on the abdomen is another story altogether. Very slimming but leaves the abdomen without sufficient tone to hold the internal organs properly. To replace the pirated muscle tissue, doctors came up with a mesh product that was supposed to provide stability and essentially function like lath in an old-fashioned plaster wall. But it hasn’t panned out as expected.

The mesh has been such a monumental failure in fact, there are law firms dedicated solely to prosecuting damages against the mesh manufacturers and any doctors or hospitals foolish enough to have installed it. In many instances its results have been fatal. Fortunately my sister knows a Reiki Master.

For a few years after her reconstruction, it seemed Barbara was in the hospital no less than quarterly to have fluids drained from her abdomen. This went on and on until finally the doctor said enough was enough. So after draining the accumulated fluids, he admitted her instead of sending her home and did exploratory surgery the following morning to see what in hell was going on. What he found was truly disgusting. The mesh was loaded with infection. So he excised it and to hell with abdominal muscle tone.

So far so good, but the next day a post-procedure X-ray revealed they had overlooked a hunk of the rotten stuff, so they went in again, Now this was the third surgical procedure in as many days and apparently you can’t tempt Fate three times and get away with it. They finally had all the offending mesh out, but now Barbara had a full-blown case of MRSA and off to the Intensive Care Unit she went.

Needless to say, by then she was physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted, not how you want to be feeling when you find yourself at Death’s door. Which is where me and my Reiki mob got into the act.

When the odds are stacked against you, and you’re headed down for the last time, Reiki comes into play. Call it Divine Intervention, Inspired Prayer, Laying On Of Hands, hell call it A Miracle (many do) or call it Magic. We don’t care what you call it. If you really push us into a corner, we’ll probably just call it Love.

I called her. Her voice was thin and gave the impression of someone in the process of disappearing. Tired, worn out, fading…I was scared. So was she. I told her we would send her energy, but she would have to let it in. How she wanted to know?

“Just decide to let it in.” She was uncertain whether I had lost my marbles or was speaking in tongues, both of which seemed more likely to her than a literal translation of this simple statement. She wanted to know how exactly one “lets it in.” I explained all she had to do was decide or intend to let it in. Too easy for most Western minds. But under the circumstances, she said she’d give it a try.

The next morning she was scheduled to have a blood test. “We need to see a drop from 12 to 8,” the doctor explained. “We’ll know in a few hours.” I called when I guessed the results would be in.

“Well, do you feel any different today?” I asked. At first she didn’t know what I was talking about. Was I becoming more inscrutable, or was the infection eating her brain? Then it hit her, “Oh!” she yelled the way people shout “Eureka!” when they suddenly comprehend a problem in mathematical logic. “Oh!, that’s what happened!”

That morning she’d woke up early and full of pep, leaped out of bed and started cleaning her bathroom…yes the one in ICU. Perfectly normal behavior for Barbara, so she thought nothing of it. But the ICU nurse didn’t see it that way.

When she came in and discovered Barbara standing on the commode washing the shower stall walls, she became instantly apoplectic. “What are you doing out of bed?!” she demanded to know. It wasn’t a question. “Cleaning the bathroom” Barbara replied in perfect Capricorn deadpan. “Well get back in bed this minute!” the nurse ordered. “You’re a very sick woman and you’re not supposed to be out of bed!” I love it when people state the obvious with such emphasis. It’s like announcing “The sky is blue!” as if you’re noticing it for the first time. “Back in bed. Now!” the nurse demanded.

In addition her count was down from 12 to 7. Not bad for just deciding to let it in. She was discharged the next day due to unexplained rapid remission.

That’s my MRSA story. For the record, Barbara was in a hospital on Long Island. New York. I live in Washington State, and the Reiki Masters were from such far-flung places as Ankara, Turkey; London, England; Sydney, Australia; Bangkok, Thailand; India; Germany, and the list goes on. I believe about a baker’s dozen of us participated. Don’t be alarmed, though, we only work for the highest good of all concerned. A great thing about Reiki is that it can’t hurt you. If it hurts you, it wasn’t Reiki.

So this morning, Richard and I got up at 5:30 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time so the Doc and I could meet at Valley Hospital. It’s always a pleasure to see him, but today was very special. Today, he cleaned up my knee cap joint and did a lateral release of the Patella, which shifted the movement over to the remaining bit of cartilage and away from the area without. I hope I hope this relieves my knee pain and alleviates the need for a knee replacement, which should be avoided at all costs. We shall see.

Before the surgery, while I was conscious and after the surgery, while I was conscious I was very clearly aware of my fellow Reiki Masters around the country and around the world generously flooding my physical, emotional and spiritual space with beautiful clear Chi, Qi, Universal Life Force, Christ Light or whatever you like to call Love, which is Light, which is Source and which is capable of healing anything you or I can come up with to be afflicted by.

Earlier this week, I made an appointment for accupuncture on Sunday, two days from now. When he heard I was having surgery today, the reception person asked if I really thought I would be able to get there so soon after surgery. “Oh no problem” I said. “I have no doubt.” My Reiki friends will see to that.

In 2005, I had my left Achilles tendon lengthened, a post-polio fix. Tendons are slow healers, so they put my lower leg in a plaster cast designed to last six weeks. My friends sent Reiki. I was painfree, so of course I was up and about in the house, unaware that my level of activity was shall we say excessive under the circumstances? The next day I was back in the doctor’s office getting a new cast because I had broken the thing in three places and it was falling off.

Last Spring, I had a tendon reconnection in my right shoulder. When I went in for my 8 week checkup, the doc looked me over and began his standard discussion for 12 week rechecks. “So,” he began, “you’re at 12 weeks now and you’ll be wanting to begin to increase your level of activity…” I interrupted. “Eight weeks. I’m at 8 weeks” I said. “No” he corrected, “you’re at 12 weeks.” “No Doc” I countered. “Look at my file. I’m at 8 weeks.” “What??” He looked at my file. “Wow, you are doing really well.”

I could go on. Another time.

So, back to today. The anesthetic lasted exactly six hours, wore off practically all at once at precisely 3:00, and I am painfully aware of the physical insult as I write this. It didn’t take me long to decide to take my analgesics! Whew! This is some pretty sharp pain, even though I am certain it is much less than it would be without Reiki.

I prepared for a long tenure on the living room couch, creating for myself a comfy nest with many books and possibles, computer, iPad, chargers, Bose remote for iPod, etc. intending to enjoy my time with the ice pack on my elevated knee joint as much as womanly possible.

The whole day has been fun. The nurses and doctors were all in good moods … I know because I checked with each and every one of them. My surgeon stopped by to sign my knee and asked how I was doing today. “Fine” I replied, “but more to the point how are you doing today?” Well it was one jovial exchange after another, and then I went to sleep and missed all the nasty, bloody business of a lateral Patella release.

It’s all so neat and tidy for the patient. I awoke to find my leg wrapped in a clean ace bandage, had some coffee and toast, got dressed and rode the wheelchair express to the front door where Richard picked me up and took me home. Then he went and picked up my three prescriptions, two for pain, the “pain twins” and one for inflammation, the “poison pill.”

By the time he got home with the medications, the anesthetic had worn off and I was disabused of any notion that I could get through this without narcotics. As soon as he got here, I took the meds as directed on the labels. Then I settled down to read the patient information. This is where they scare you out of taking the stuff. Fact is, I’ve had the “pain twins” before so no surprises there, but the third medication was a new one. The doc had called it “super Motrin.”

The label information reads like a list of all the worst ways to die from modern medication. Bleeding ulcers, heart attack, aneurysm, bloody stools, vomit that looks like coffee grounds, blood in your urine, confusion, dizziness, disorientation, hallucinations (well that doesn’t sound too bad), red/swollen/blistered/peeling skin, seizures, severe headache, vision or speech changes, difficulty breathing, swelling of the face … essentially it’s fatal in three major body systems and annoying in all the others. But if it doesn’t kill you outright or damage you permanently, and if you take it no longer than five days and don’t mix it with anything else, maybe it will reduce your inflammatory reaction to having the membrane that controls accumulation of fluids in your joints frankly severed … aka lateral Patella release.

Oy vey. Pass the pain pills would ya?

Identity Crisis

I’m not really an activist, but activism is part of my path. My game isn’t about winning against anyone. My game is bigger than that. It’s aim is for everyone to win.

I’m ordained as a minister, but what I am is a healer. A wounded healer at that.

I stand apart. I’ve been on the other side. I look at people and their actions, opinions, dramas and the world at large, and see it from the outside. Sociologists strive for objective observation skills. So do writers, scientists and all fall short because they are on the inside pretending to be on the outside looking in. Their pretense limits their success.

For me it has been an awakening to shed the illusion of separateness. Solidity and emptiness left right behind separateness. Death is no illusion for the physical dimension, but the spirit is as old as the universe itself.

When you wake up, you begin to see his badly we have managed thus far, despite dramatic success in fightig disease and lengthening life and in eliminating hunger, providing a level of comfort undreamed of by the kings of previous generations.

But alas, only for the lucky few. We live long enough now to outperform our ancestors.  We have more time. We have more ease. We have a responsibility to be more wise.

What I Learned From My Dad

My Dad died recently and I’ve been contemplating his life and my relationship with him. In particular thinking about what I learned from being his kid. Dads are important role models for kids and mine was no exception.  Like most kids, I started life looking up to him and memorizing his every word and deed.

But quickly I learned to be very careful around my Dad. He was a dangerous man, especially if you were a little person. He yelled and he hit and most of the time was in a foul mood. At two, I hid under my bed when I heard him arriving home from work. This is probably my earliest memory. My brother and sister and I were always in trouble. We didn’t have to do anything. We were in trouble because we were alive. Our being alive was my father’s biggest complaint in life. All his troubles were due to this central fact. It was his view that we should not be alive and sometimes he seemed determined to correct this problem.

There are many stories I could tell to illustrate, but that’s not the topic of this blog. I mention it so that it will make sense when I say that my Dad was my role model for how NOT to live, how NOT to treat others.

He was a master of selfishness. “Take with both hands,” he advised us and “always get even.” “Don’t give anybody anything.” And one of my favorites, “It’s as easy to love a rich man as a poor one.” He was a fount of wisdom, my Dad.

It is fortunate for me that I didn’t believe him. I always knew he was dead wrong. Apparently this showed on my face, which he interpreted as “You think you’re smarter than me.” Naturally these words were a prelude to blows.

At the time, I denied it. But in retrospect, the truth is I did come to think I was smarter than him, though that didn’t seem like much. He was an angry, self-centered sex addict who beat his children and wife and was given to frquent fits of rage.

My father hated me, a fact he made abundantly clear in both word and deed. He also loved me, an emotion he expressed indirectly through inappropriate discussion of his sex life and sexual overtures, up to and including showing me pornography and telling me he wanted to rape me. Well, you get the general idea.

He harmed me in myriad ways physically,  emotionally and spiritually. Somehow he didn’t break me, though it was his declared intention, but I spent many years recovering from the bruises from his relentless blows.

As a young emancipated adult, I once predicted he would die all alone. And that’s pretty much how it went. Although my stepmom lasted almost to the end. But a year before he died, even she had to leave, like the rest of us, in self-defense.

He’d been on house arrest for several years due to sexually offending his female neighbors, all of them. She had to stay home and make sure he didn’t go out or talk to anyone.

A few years ago, I called on his birthday and asked what special thing he had planned to celebrate.  He said my stepmom was going to give him a blow job.

First she left him with a caregiver and didn’t check on him for ten months. When she did, he was filthy and so was the house. She called all of us, but none of us wanted to take on the job of caring for him, so she put him in a nursing home. He lasted three days before he’d sexually offended, and assaulted several other residents and they called the police to have him removed. Back and forth from the psych ward to the nursing home a few times. Then he had a seizure and died.

Problem solved.

Looking back, one thing that always amazed me was his stubborn insistence right to the end that he was right. Women wanted to be touched; all people are preoccupied with sex; you can tell children are sexually aroused because their crotches are warm; all brown-skinned women are prostitutes,  etc. He insisted we were lying when we said no to that kind of attention. He, alone among the throng of humanity who complained about his behavior and treatment of them, was being honest.

He had no friends.

So what did I learn from my father? Something about the folly of being right.

Roseanne Lasater is” stillwalkn”