brain tumor recovery
By Melissa Hatch"Why don't you give it a name?" my friend suggested. Of course, I thought, this tumor has come to me as a teacher and we'll get along better as partners than as adversaries. From that day on, the tumor in my brain became Maud.
Maud caught my attention through blind spots in my vision. At its worst, the entire right side of my sight was gone. I was passed along from my optometrist to an opthalmologist to a radiologist and finally a neurosurgeon who ordered an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scan. The MRI is a non-invasive procedure that highlights the soft tissue with pictures similar to an x ray.
The results showed the tumor clearly resting on the optictrack deep in the left lobe of my brain. My doctor labeled her an astrocytoma and his only solution was radiation. But I clearly felt that attack only leads to stronger defenses, and this tumor was not something to battle with or wage war against. I had no desire for my brain and body to be under siege.
I chose the different, less traveled path, and my world expanded as I turned the singular focus from my tumor to the broader view of my life. I saw illness not as a punishment or sinister plot against me, but simply as an attention getter. Illness is a voice calling out "Stop, something is out of sync and changes need to be made." I had ignored earlier hints and nudges to take stock of my life, but now my attention was riveted, and I thought it prudent to listen carefully.
Yes, I was scared and confused. With supportive family and friends I cried and screamed, punched pillows, and asked "Why me?" I let my fears run wild with gruesome scenarios. I knew these feelings had to be expressed and released. The flood of energy and calm that followed these "sessions" was magnificently soothing. With these emotions more or less out of the way, Maud's guiding voice became stronger, and I learned to trust it.
The next step was to reclaim my power and take responsibility for my own healing. I had grown up on the coast of Maine, the youngest of a hard working family that placed emphasis on accomplishment and putting others first. To avoid confrontation or conflict, either within the family or workplace, I accommodated as necessary to keep things smooth. The idea of standing up for myself or saying "No" or "I'll do it my way" was an alien concept. Also, our society has cultivated a dependency upon authority figures. We look for someone else to take care of us and to fix us right now so we won't be late for our next appointment. To say "No, I don't want radiation and I want to pursue alternative methods," to my doctor was a difficult but key step. When I hung up the phone, my body was shaking, but a new strength was surging through.
My job was next. Realizing that I was not indispensable, nor responsible for the make or break of the entire organization, I quit a stressful and emotionally draining job. Healing became my full time occupation, and now macrobiotics took the stage.
I had a better than average dietary rearing with awareness of 'healthy' foods with homemade whole grain bread and lots of fresh vegetables from our garden, but the consciousness still revolved around meat and dairy with a hefty sweet tooth to top it off. After leaving my parents' home, I evolved easily toward a vegetarian diet, but the amount of cheese, butter, eggs and yogurt I consumed was astounding. My roommate once remarked that I was a bovine (cow's) delight. I used to tease with a friend that we could cook up anything with butter and love. We had half of the equation right!
I had known of macrobiotics for several years and now the time was ripe. Here was a very tangible arena for me to work in, and I loved it! The idea of letting my body heal itself by getting out of my own way appealed to me immensely. I had always loved to cook, and now the concept of food and healing fascinated me. I had an interview with a macrobiotic counselor and with a direction to go in, I easily spent 75 percent of my time dealing with food planning, preparing, and chewing.
It became easier for me to chew (once my jaw muscles got in shape) when I acknowledged that once I sat down at the table I knew I would be there for the next hour. It became part of my routine and released me from a sense of urgency and impatience that eating was taking so long. I really enjoyed just settling in and chewing.....continues