Calling in More Support

Tuesday I met with my oncologist who revealed that my recent CT scan shows no change from 6 months ago. Actually, no change from 1 1/2 years ago, when I was first diagnosed. She agreed that I could go another year before the next CT scan, and warned me that kidney cancer is slow growing, something that she always does. In other words, don’t get your hopes up, you are fucking going to die of this thing, and don’t you forget it. Not quite that bad, but that is her essential message. She’s a nice woman and means well. She is limited in her imagination. That happens to some doctors, I’ve found.

Today I decided to enroll in hospice. Hang in there with me. No one, including me, (except maybe my oncologist, come to think of it) thinks that I will be dead in 6 months. However, I need more medical support. Hospice will send a nurse out to my cottage every two weeks, and I can talk about how the cancer is affecting my life, and get access to their extensive experience and resources. Medicare provides this for as long as I want it, given my diagnosis. So even if I live another 5-6 years, I can still be enrolled and not kicked out, as long as I am “not gaming the system”.

Eric really cannot do this for me; we neither know what the hell is going on at this point, or what to do about any of it. And my oncologist can only do surgery, chemo and radiation: the only 3 tools in her tool box. I can’t do any of that, for various reasons, and she agrees with me. So, this is my solution for now.

I am so tired it’s shocking and that hasn’t changed much. This is not the tiredness of being old, or run down. It’s very hard to describe. On some levels, I feel like I’m actually getting better, but the fatigue never shifts. It is crushing me slowly.

When dying is on the table, there is suddenly work to be done. Wills updated, various forms to fill out, powers of attorney and so on. I want to choose a cemetery with Eric, which naturally he doesn’t want to do. I look forward and have no idea how much time I have left. He looks forward and assumes I will be around for at least 5 years. Maybe, but maybe not. So the work is on multiple levels, and seems endless and overwhelming and I am desperate for help.

So, I’m going to try Hospice and see how it goes. They are open to alternative medicine, and support that, work with it all the time. This feels like a huge relief to me, even though it’s also disconcerting, a little scary. Reality check.

Am I still aware of the shimmering grace thing? Yes, I am. Am I grateful every day for small joys? You bet. Do I love all of you? Yes, I do. But I need some help in the medical realm. Even if it’s just for a few months until things even out again.

So, here goes.

PS: Remember “no change” report? I ordered the details from the CT scan, and one whole lesion (out of 5)in my lungs has disappeared. As did the cancer in the lymph nodes 6 months ago. Note to other cancer patients: try to always ask for the detailed reports. This is incredible news, and my doctor didn’t even mention it. I attribute this change in my lungs to the tremendous skill of my Tibetan doctor, Dr. Tenzin. And the Medicine Buddha and Green Tara, and all the prayers coming my way.

Medicine Buddha Improv

Sitting in meditation today with some folks from Rose Villa, I went around my sunstone mala saying to myself the Medicine Buddha mantra on each bead, slowly, still finding my way in the Tibetan language, tasting the lilt of it, the rhythm of it.

When, much to my surprise, I decided to say the mantra for not only myself, but for my niece who is struggling with her cancer again, and then with another bead, another person, sending the Medicine Buddha energy off to them through my heart chakra.

Then, totally to my surprise, I decided to say the mantra for all the beings I love who have died, sending the energy off to them each, one bead per person, one mantra per person, or in a few cases, per dog and cat.

In Die Wise, the book I’m reading by Stephen Jenkinson about  death in the Western Hemisphere, he spends some time talking about the care of our dead, how we don’t have to “lose” them (i.e., “I lost my friend last week…” ) but rather we can continue to care for them after death.  It’s complicated, I’ll post about that later.

So that idea has been percolating along in the back of my mind, and lo! Here comes a new practice, to say the Medicine Buddha mantra for each one of my dead.  My dead.  What a concept.  It brings me to my knees.  Quite literally.

And here’s the thing that caught my attention.  Instead of each mantra for each bead feeling the same internally for each person, each one felt completely different!  The pace was different, the inflection, my memory of the Mantra itself more or less fragile or intact, my ability to focus, my ability to collect and then send the energy through the membrane into the other realm.  And my sense of whether or not that energy was received.

No cannabis involved here, by the way.  I stopped taking the oil for a few days while Eric was out of town, unwilling to be alone and perhaps needed while under the influence, so to speak.

While I’ve never read or heard of such a practice, it seems very powerful to me.  I sincerely hope that I have not overstepped in some way. Perhaps Dr. Tenzin or Christiana will let me know. I am grateful to them both for introducing the mantra to me in their own kind ways.

The Medicine Buddha mantra entices me.  It simply brings me a sense of joy, a fullness in my heart, a sense of plugging in to an ancient thread of enormous healing power.  So these two threads just came together today: care for my dead, our dead, and this mantra.

If you want to learn it yourself, there are multiple versions online if you just google it.

May you be well.  May you be healed.

 

 

The Medicine Buddha shows up

Well, I memorized the Medicine Buddha mantra, after a long effort.  I looked it up online, and figured out what I was actually saying, and then how to say it in Tibetan, using Dr. Tenzin’s song on my cell phone.  Thank God for my voice recording ap.

Even after all that, I’ve only been around my mala once with this mantra.  But here’s the thing: it works.  It really works.  By that I mean that at some point, about half way around the 108 beads of my mala, slogging through the memorization trip, all of a sudden I felt the mantra take on a life of its own.  It began to vibrate throughout my system, kind of like a plane about to take off, but of course very subtle, faint, just discernible to me.

The main word, Bekandze, means essentially healing energy.  It’s repeated three times, indicating the three levels of healing, from a person, to the spiritual realm, to the entire universe.  Buddhists tend to think big.  So, here comes the mantra round again, new bead, and boom!  I could actually feel the healing energy of the Medicine Buddha, coming in to me through my heart center or chakra.  Then flowing out from me into the spiritual realm, and then I pretty much disappeared or became transparent, and the healing energy flowed out into the entire universe.

Now we are talking about me, an often lazy person, a non-striver of sorts, a broken being on many, many levels, so I understand that this was a tiny thimble full of what’s actually possible by someone like the Dalai Lama, for example.  But I felt it, my inner eye could see it, and I trust it.  My experience.  And how is that healing?  Well, my whole being felt clear, because of this mantra.  No cancer cells anywhere.  No toxicity.  No fears.  Just  clear sky like nature of my mind, clearing my body.  For a split second.

The idea is to say an entire mala’s worth of this mantra every day.  I can do about 1/3 of a mala at night, laying in bed, saying it silently so as not to wake my beloveds. (I include our dog in that category.) So I am not there yet, not by a long shot.  But it’s a start.  Thought I’d report.

Christiana came to visit me today, for an interview that she wanted to do.  We talked for over three hours!  Such a patient, kind soul.  She brought me a gift of a rose quartz, which is a healing crystal for kidney disease.  I put it near my chair, and will soak it up over time. She knows a great deal about this type of medicine, and I listen and learn.

In one of my catalogs from Wisdom Publications I discovered a book entitled How to Enjoy Death: Preparing to Meet Life’s Final Challenge without Fear, by Lama Zopa Rinpoche.  What a concept, huh?  Christiana knew of the author, so I will order it at some point.  Curious, frankly, about how anyone could hold such a thought, never mind write an entire book on this subject!  Reminds me of how women in the early 70s were talking about birth as an orgasmic experience.  It seems counter intuitive, but we live in a death phobic culture.

Meanwhile, I am pondering hope.  In one book I’m reading, Die Wise, the author has an entire chapter called something like “The Tyranny of Hope”, and another book that shimmered into my awareness is “Mystical Hope” by an Episcopal priest Cynthia Bourgeauldt.  An amazing little gem.  So what is the role of hope while living with a terminal diagnosis?  An obstacle to dying wise, or a mystical dimension of Life itself?  Or both?

Stay tuned.

Tayata Om Bekandze Bekandze Maha Bekandze Radza Samudgate Soha.

 

 

Tibetan Medicine update

Dr. Tenzin is back in Portland, and I got to see her today.  She encourages me to eat better, especially broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage.  And soursop, a strange fruit I’ve never seen.  My husband Eric looked up on his laptop where to find it in Portland.  I’ll let you know.  Dr. Tenzin says that some folks are finding soursop to be 90 times more effective than chemo!  Worth a try, part of the adventure of this process.

And says “Joy.  Focus on joy.”  In her own very respectful way she indicates that I am worrying too much, thinking too much, and need to relax.  Yup, got that right. Easier said than done, that.

Dr. Tenzin did her Tibetan bowl magic on my body again, this time focusing on clearing my lungs.  When the last vibration had sung itself out, I felt my whole chest cavity open and clear, and my breath deepened. Christiana, who lives in Portland, is learning and I bet she will be extremely good at this, too.  I plan to provide this to myself as often as we can afford it; it’s delicious and effective.  I wish everyone in the world could have this experience at least once!

Dr. Tenzin taught me a Medicine Buddha Healing chant, and even suggested that I record her singing it in Tibetan on my phone.  The idea is to sing it for every bead on my new sunstone mala, 108 times a day.  Memorizing just about anything is hard for me, but I look forward to this practice, and hearing her voice every night, with her profound encouragement: Trust yourself.  Live your life fully every day, find joy.

And I will be sending out the energy of the Medicine Buddha to everyone I know and to all sentient beings, as well.

Because, hey, I am stronger now!