Thursday, May 3, 2012


when I showed Mom this photo, she sighed and said,
"All white hair!" 
You’ve heard of DIY home improvement, DIY weddings, and DIY probate: in my New England family we did DIY medical care.

Why pay for a doctor when you can treat compound fractures with Bactine, psoriasis with Ben-Gay, and appendicitis with a warm washcloth and Mom’s music box?

Distrust of all things medical is hard-wired into my psyche.  But I've been trying to be more “open," and when a friend of a friend recently recommended a “body worker” my ears perked up. I have this weird neuro condition on the bottom of my left foot that makes me feel like I’m walking on a red-hot, sharpened pebble; the kind of unknown-cause, unknown-cure thing where the podiatrist advises, “Try different shoes and good luck.”

“She does marvels!” this friend of a friend of mine gushed about the body worker, so I called and turned out she, the body worker, knew all about my particular ailment, and had treated a guy who suffered so extremely from the same condition I had that he’d been on crutches, and the body worker had gotten him up and running.

So I thought, Okay, I’ll give  it a try.

As soon as I got on the table the body worker poked around my right hip and my left ankle for a sec and then she shook her head. “I can always tell the control freaks,” she said. “When’s your birthday?”

“July 19th.

“I knew it!” she crowed. “Cancers take care of everyone else before they take care of themselves.”

“I actually don’t take care of other people OR myself, but whatever.”

lilacs and cross, St. Ann Rehab, Dover, NH
Mom's staying here for a bit as she took a nasty fall last Thursday and ended up in the ER
I'm visiting from LA for a week
Jesus statue outside Mom's window
Medicare pays for the first 21 days, then we co-pay 80%, which would be 144 bucks a day,
in addition to the $3625 per month we pay at the Wentworth Home, her usual pad. And apparently that's cheap!  
The body worker dug her fingers into both sides of my neck, then my scalp, then my right shoulder.

“What about my foot?”  I asked.

“Can’t address one part without addressing the whole body. What’s your rising sign?”

Rising sign?" I can barely keep my regular "sign" straight.

She turned my right knee this way and that, pinched the inside of my left elbow, and stood back, chin in hand, like a painter inspecting a canvas.

“Do you muscle-test?” she asked suddenly.

“Not lately.” .

“Ever been molested?”

“No, but all my friends have been”…

She told a long story about a “medical intuitive” named Carol Myss that involved the visualization of a pirate ship and a woman being stabbed that sounded insane.

“What about my foot?” I asked.

She told me about EFT which involves tapping various parts of your body—the top of your head, under your nose, under your arms—while saying, “Even though I’m homicidally enraged, a loser, and deficient in every way I completely and deeply love myself.”

“What about my foot?” I interjected.

She said, “Your right leg is way heavier than your left.” She said, “You need to cross-correct.” She basically said every single thing about my body was wrong and needed work and was out of alignment and needed to be musculoskeletally re-trained.

As I creaked down off the table, she looked deep into my eyes and said, “This is the start of a journey. Pain sends you on a journey.”

I didn’t even bother asking, “What about my foot?” I forked over 85 bucks and limped around for the rest of the day like I have for months.

Body work, schmoddy work, I thought..

I thought: I wish I had Mom’s music box.

Mom has a new hobby: tearing tissues and napkins into even-sized smaller strips,
which she piles up and uses one by one to dab at her nose.
I donated two Starbucks napkins from my jacket pocket and as you can see, she went right to work
it becomes clearer and clearer to me: the genesis of my love for trash,
bargains, buds, twigs, seed pods, Sacred Heart badges, milagros, the emotionally wounded, and small leather goods...


  1. You've often mentioned that you don't know how to write fiction. You don't NEED to write fiction!

    God bless your dear mother.

  2. Heather, praying your Mom gets better soon.

    "Pain is a new journey."
    Now, that's a statement! Like you I do get tired of the journey,
    the improvement of self-what's to improve? Doesn't God love me the way I am? I am tired of trying to be all in acceptance. Heck, I am human. I am flawed. I can be a royal b***h at times. And, for whatever reason(s) the meetings are not working for me. I feel trapped in and by sobriety. Sorry, for the long post. I hope your Mom heals quickly.

    And, you can cross-connect-whatever body part needs it:)

  3. This is a great post Heather. I love the dialogue, you should write screenplays!

    I went to a herbalist in N California for a long time. We were on totally diff pages spiritually but in some ways I felt like she understood some aspects of faith more deeply than I did bc of her gifts. Anyway, all that to say sometimes I trust the people who are a bit eccentric and off beat more than I do regular doctors, many of whom never delve very deeply into an issue and don'teven begin to think about spiritual matters in connection to bodily illnesses.

    - Theresa

  4. Heather---You take care of us all, every time you put pen to paper. I'll say a prayer for your Mom at the Carmelite convent chapel, right around the corner here in Palma (Majorca).

  5. Hmm, gives me pause to think. As I think the encounter with the body worker did you. Its this distrust of the body that runs right through Christians. In my own case, more imposed than actually there. I, like many, I suspect, sense that some "body workers" are spot on. The body DOES harbour pain of various kinds and "correct alignment", though a wooly phrase, rungs true. I know, from the little yoga that I do, that practices which involve the body DOING things, reach us in a different and often far deeper way than just sitting there. (Or even, "just sitting there, praying").

    We are a WHOLE, and whether our Christian paradigm accomodates this or not, our bodies do matter, MANY aches and pains are self-inflicted through ignorance, and it does take a retraining of the body and mind to get our bodies at ease again. Yoga, I am prety convinced, is probably more than enough for any body, and a little every day would do us all good.

    So I'd love to hear that you DO pursue this part of the journey. Its a good story, but it doesn't end there, I think!

  6. Hi Heather!
    Sorry to hear about your mum's set-back. May she be well again soon. She is so beautiful now. My mother had dementia and, in the end, I could only connect with her in silence on a soul or some other meta level. I cannot put it into words. It was a felt thing.

    I think that the only true piece of information your body worker offers, albeit unwittingly, is about Cross correction with a capital C.

    There is a body correction process called Rolfing, sans the 'horoscopics,' which might be beneficial. Have you heard of it? It was developed by Ida Rolf. All over Google.

    I think we are both magpies in our collecting of bits and pieces. I collect words and sayings and uplifting moments, and I have boxes of notebooks filled with Post-its. I think the things we gather always come in useful and help us in our spiritual journey.

  7. The mind-body connection is indeed mysterious--I am all for this kind of approach over straight Western medicine. I also think there are quacks. But "body work" is certainly the next frontier, or one of them, for me--

    have had many lovely moments with Mom. One was eating lunch with her, or sort of FOR her, yesterday...putting little pieces of fish and red pepper on her spoon ("I don't like that green stuff! (string beans). Don't you want some?"...)

    Very tired. Some of us will take her out this afternoon. Grateful for you all. Thank you, thank you, thank you for the good wishes and prayers. We need them! And we appreciate them...

  8. Heather...hope your Mom is doing better. If you're still in the Seacoast, St. Michael's in Exeter is having a healing Mass on Wednesday night(tomorrow, May 9th) at 7PM. It's my parish. :)


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