Dad and mom have been trying so hard to spin every detail as a positive. It is an admirable and understandable stance. My folks are deeply conditioned to deny illness. I know all about this having gone through a chronic illness for several years. It was one of those illnesses of grace, where you burn through deep wounds to find the eternal, pristine presence waiting like an old friend.
I went over today to see dad and he jumped in the shower right when I arrived. As he emerged, I saw him carrying a deeper level of humility and intuition about his condition. The plan is that dad must get the daily amount of CC drainage down to 15 cc’s for 3 straight days in order to be considered ‘infection free and fit for double chemo’. So that is the mark. First day 90, second day 50 and today was 40. So it is going down and part of me is hoping it will stay at 20 for a long time and perhaps permanently bypassing the chemo. Wishful thinking, I know, certain to get me into trouble if I really believe in it, that is- expect it to happen.
Now I have been practicing acupuncture since 1997, 17 years and been giving dad treatments for the entire time. Dad has always responded well to acupuncture, whether it be for back pain, rib pain, or emotional pain. Nearly every treatment is a powerful rebalancing for him. Today was no exception. I treated him for the pain over the drain tube surgical site which cut through the intercostal muscles and upper abdominal area on the right side near the site of the, previously removed, gall bladder.
Also the treatment was for constipation with the ascending colon on the right side being blocked by scar tissue, inflammation and fluid build up. To accomplish both of those needs, I needled contralateral along the upper left forearm on the San Jiao or Triple Burner channel on ah shi points, areas where their was sensitivity but not directly on a known acupoint. This mirrors both the rib pain which is on the spleen channel (180 degree polarity). Next, I used the points (Stomach) ST-36 and ST-37-which are powerful points for balancing the Kidney yang (which was low and corresponds with dad always feeling cold) and Pericardium (heart protector) channel. ST-36 is one of the most potent points in acupuncture, while ST-37 is called the influential point of the large intestine. I always start by taking the pulse. The Chinese method of pulse diagnosis is quite different than the Western. The art is very subtle. And in all the years I have treated my father, never had I heard an irregular pulse, where there was a skipped beat. Theoretically, a new occurrence like this could be just an indicator of a high ‘pain pulse’-where the qi becomes erratic because of clenching pain happening at regular intervals, as dad has been enduring. I felt it was important to tell him and my mom, so that they would check with his doctor at the next visit.
“Make sure he uses a stethoscope and checks dad’s heart rhythm.” I said. From an eastern energetic medicine perspective, once the gallbladder is removed, you have created an imbalance in the polar opposite channel, in this case the heart channel. This puts extra pressure on the heart energy channel and the organ system, including the actual physical heart. In cholecystectomy (gall bladder removal surgery), one of side effects is an increased risk of heart issues. This is often not disclosed to patients.
The best part of giving a treatment to dad is touching him. Pulse diagnosis is such a beautiful way to connect with someone. It is a nice, safe touch that allows someone the ability to feel your energy, before you become more intimate with your touch. It has been almost exactly 6 months since dad first started this journey. He has been taking blow after blow and continuing to forge ahead. Mom is relentless on her push to keep him going. She is juicing daily and dad always tries to take at least a few minute walk or ride the exercise bike as well. Of course now, he is not able to do that quite yet. Maybe in a day or two. It is taking everything he has to keep going now. I see the strain in his eyes, feel it in his qi. Today, besides giving the treatment I was able to take out the garbage and recycle, mow the tiny lawn and help move a generator back into place. This is a big concession for my parents and it shows the strain my mom has been under too. She has aged a lot in the last months. You can see how she is holding it together by a kite string. One extra burst of wind (intense event) and mom may well fall apart. It will be good. It is her greatest fear- besides getting dementia.