Monday, June 26, 2017
El Collie––Branded by the Spirit––Part 2
The symptoms of my as-yet-undiagnosed illness continued. Worse, my swallowing reflex had somehow short-circuited. When I tried to eat, the muscles that contract in swallowing simply refused to cooperate. I found myself gagging and having to spit out the food. I could only get down liquids, which depended more on the pull of gravity than the cooperation of my throat muscles. A month without cigarettes, and instead of the typical weight gain, I was steadily losing pounds. Concerned about my lack of nourishment, Charles crushed vitamins for me with a mortar and pestle; I daily dissolved this potion in a tablespoon of honey, which I was able to wash down with lots of water. This and watered-down baby food was my sole fare for weeks.
In addition to the swallowing problem, I felt a constriction like a noose around my neck. Stranger yet, I would go through frequent episodes of convulsive, repetitive swallowing when I wasn't eating. These would go on for anywhere from a few minutes to an hour, and were most pronounced at night, jarring me from sleep with a horror that I was on the verge of asphyxiation.
I returned post haste to the doctor. Now my symptoms were attributed to severe nicotine withdrawal, which I could not believe. I felt absolutely terrible. A great heaviness descended upon me, as if hundred pound weights were strapped to all my limbs. My head felt huge and filled with crushed glass and I was in a peculiar altered state; my whole body felt drugged or poisoned.
My two-decade study of healing had taught me some techniques for investigating the mind/body connection. With little other recourse, I tried to work psychologically with my symptoms. I told Charles that I had gotten an image of a squadron of "demons" clutching and swaying from my limbs in a Hieronymus Boschian frenzy. These devilish entities seemed to personify a lifetime's accumulation of negative experience: fear, anger, resentment, trauma, etc. (Much later, I realized how apropos this image had been. The rising Kundalini indeed dislodges this psychological dead weight from the system.)
I began to tailspin into terrible anxiety and near-suicidal depression, though, oddly, these feelings didn't seem to be in reaction to my physical condition. I relapsed back to smoking. Though I felt guilty about it, it helped to emotionally stabilize me. After a week, I sought help from a professional hypnotist who specialized in breaking cigarette addictions. I told him of my previous "withdrawal symptoms." He thought this sounded extreme, but felt he could help me by tailoring my hypnosis session to include messages of well being and vitality. I was instructed to listen to the hour-long tape of my hypnosis session twice daily. I did this religiously for about two weeks.
All the same, my condition continued to deteriorate. I began to have trouble lifting my legs. I called the hypnotist for advice. He had never heard of this debilitating withdrawal symptom in his twenty years of practice, but suggested I continue to exercise vigorously to work the toxins out of my system.
It was becoming increasingly difficult to do any kind of exercise, much less anything vigorous. I was doing the best I could, but my ankles turned to rubber and my feet dragged and flopped sideways when I walked. My arms were becoming increasingly useless, and it was hard to move my fingers. I couldn't pick up small items, and I had no gripping strength. Just trying to hold a spoon was a formidable feat. By this time, both Charles and I were getting frantic. Off to another doctor. Once more I was told that I was simply having nicotine withdrawal symptoms.
I became a bedridden invalid, barely able to use my hands even to dress or feed myself. This time, I was given an emergency appointment with a neurologist. He immediately dismissed the nicotine-withdrawal diagnosis, and scheduled me for a complete diagnostic work-up.
Upon returning home from an enervating day at the hospital, a package was awaiting me in the mail. A month earlier, I had sent my first completed book manuscript to my first publisher. I'd been flabbergasted when they contacted me to say they liked it, it was well written, let's go with this. I was hooked up with one of their editors, who discussed with me ideas for layout and minor revisions.
The package contained my manuscript with a cover letter of apology. When it came down to the wire, it had been a toss-up whether to publish my book or another one on baby massage. The market looked ripe for baby-topics that year, so my book got the ax. I was too sick to care. I stashed the package on a shelf and didn't look at it again for three years.
I now regard the return of the manuscript as a curtain closing on the pre-Kundalini period of my life. Thankfully the book was never published! It was a metaphysical gust of hot air with a few gems of insight plastered in. By the time I looked it over again, my views on everything had changed so radically I disagreed with most of what I'd written.
The one good thing that came out of this was my editor's suggestion that I tone down the exclamation marks. I'd been running several exclamation marks to a paragraph. I think I was being symbolically warned to calm down, take some deep breaths, rest up while I had a chance. Something was bearing down on me that would turn the rest of my life into one long string of exclamation marks.
Under the circumstances, rest did not come easy, and if I had known how much worse things were going to get before they got better, I would have thrown myself off a bridge. Prayer was becoming the order of the day.