Are you still suffering?

I was on my 24th consecutive hour of work; sweaty, hungry, dehydrated, and raggedly exhausted when a patient walked into the urgent consult office where I was posted on call, sat down and said:

‘A long time ago, you fell in love with someone who was not as in love with you, and for that, you suffered a lot.’

I was the clinician, yet without asking a single question he arrived at an accurate diagnosis of my neurosis: perpetual heartbreak.

I felt somewhat violated when he proceeded to tell me that I had one birthmark on my upper thigh and another under my breast, and that I should take off my clothing and show him. He wasn’t spot-on about the birthmarks, but he was correct about the heartbreak. Maybe we all have heartbreak in our pasts, but he really got me when he asked, ‘Are you still suffering?’.

If the imprints on my energetic field from that loss of love are obvious enough for some rando creep to read them like a news headline, I want to change the vibe I’m giving off.

I was still suffering, and in trying to escape my suffering I became a physician, hoping that the overwhelming process of medical training would take my attention away my broken heart- a treatment that provided a temporary distraction at best, but not a cure.

Now with spiritual healing on a level even deeper than heart break and reciprocated love in my life, I am still suffering, but less so.

Doc

My patients come to me and say, ‘Doc, I have pain’

All of life is pain and comfort, my powers are few in the face of this universal truth

We try all manner of pills, topical treatments, injections and various therapies, yet the pain persists

Soul pain lies beyond the reach of western medicine

My patients come to me and say, ‘Doc, I cannot sleep’

All of life is fear and relief, effort and rest, I’ll do my best

I send multiple prescriptions, adjust doses, fill out piles of disability paperwork

I work extremely hard so that my patients don’t have to work at all

Although we share the same afflictions; anxiety with panic attacks, depression, insomnia, PTSD, nightmares

Perhaps my patients are doing more for themselves than I will ever do for myself

They are allowing themselves to be helped, although nothing we’ve tried so far seems to help much

No cure in sight, just a lifetime of refills

I’ve yet to outwardly acknowledge the inner storm that rages below my placid surface

My family conditioned me not to feel my feelings, trained me to exist only in service of others, to live for their benefit

The few times during childhood that I made the mistake of showing that I was human, that I was hurting, I received swift and searing backlash

Perhaps my patients are healing me by showing me what it looks like to be vulnerable, by saying ‘I can’t do this’

Yet I fear that I am keeping them unwell, allowing them to accept the sick role without hope of cure by signing their disability forms, by saying ‘you don’t have to do anything’

How will they ever heal themselves if they don’t have to?

How will they gain meaning from their experiences if their feelings are dulled by the drugs I prescribe, if I enable them to spend their life alone and inside?

I show myself how strong I am by forcing myself to function full-throttle in the world despite my invisible disabilities

How will my patients know how strong they are if their strength is not tested?

Am I secretly as callous as my parents, though I act with compassion?

Should I be more like my patients; take it easy and ask for help, or should my patients be more like me and tow their own weight, accept the normalcy of adverse human experiences, work even though they haven’t slept in days, like I do?

I have PTSD, nightmares, insomnia, panic, crippling anxiety and depression, but I carry on because I have to, or so I believe

Maybe I don’t have to do this anymore

Even though I work like a dog and pay my own way through life, even as the taxes I pay in part to support my patients’ disability benefits bleed me dry, I prefer the freedom to create my own life to dependence on a system that provides too little too late to survivors of child abuse

I want to stop asking my patients what is wrong and start asking them what is strong

We are all warriors

May I be a warrior of peace

May I heal myself in order to light the way for others on their healing journey

Pagers in the Night

Pagers in the night

Buzzing and beeping

Alarms sound through the night

Instead of sleeping

Our nervous system jolts

Like lighting bolts all night

Every so often nurses call me

Relaying vital signs and pain

Each one a stone thrown

Sending ripples through my brain

Countless as pages through the night

I know I’ll be alright, if I live to see the sunrise

Get through another night

Like I’ve done and I will do again

Sleep was just a glance away, a brief and fleeting chance away

Pulled away by pagers in the night

Numbers

Wrapped in a bath towel cocoon

Eyelids pulled heavy as lead

I stew on the numbers in my head- 0, 20, 22,000, 120 million

I’m not one to read the news but it came to my attention-

Pres caught a virus that he could have prevented

Said he felt better than he’d felt in 20 years

that’s the steroid talking- mania is a known side effect, we call it ‘pred head’ in the field. 

How many covid tests did he take since the outbreak?

How many doctors and dollars were on his team?

What was the cost of the monoclonal antibody that he received, inaccessible to everyone else? 

How many lives didn’t have to die on my watch?

Does he fathom that nobody has the resources that he has?

I’ve cared for countless COVID patients, watched them die before my eyes,  horrified that I’d pass it on to my loved ones, yet I’ve been tested 0 times- cold fact.

22,000 dollars per year- that is how much less female primary care physicians earn compared to our male counterparts, despite spending more time with our patients and more time in the office. We are more likely to be burnt out and depressed, which is an understatement- I feel charred and scarred after only 2 years of working in the US. 

120 million- the annual bonus of a local ‘health insurance’ company CEO

Many tens of millions more go to his direct underlings as a holiday bonus. 

They do not insure our health so much as their own wealth

Each dollar squeezed out of the poor people they claim to serve as they bleed them dry.

Patients are a commodity, raw material off of which others profit 

This imbalance of power is not new

Ancient Egypt- Moses fought Pharaoh to let his people go. 

Antebellum American South- Harriett led 70 slaves to freedom.

Happy scrappy revolutions won against all odds- ask Che

I search for a way out of the broken health care system for my fellow Americans- a path to escape or confront the sociopath CEOs who let people die in the name of more money than they know what to do with- purchasing yet another luxury home at the expense of human lives.

I search for a north star to navigate through this mess. How can I reach an enemy surrounded by impenetrable bureaucracy with no help from democracy- politicians line their own pockets with blood money first. 

I lean into these earthly concerns

Feel the weight of the world on my shoulders

Feel my fighting spirit, ever hopeful

I lean back into the waterfall of grace, the spiritual plane, the place where my soul melts with pure light

The fight is not mine alone, yet I feel alone sometimes, floating in the sea of collective suffering.

I emerge from my bath towel cocoon, one person who cares about other people, who wants to speak for the speechless, who is growing into herself as a person and a physician.

I know that being underserved means being served too late- society keeps dropping the ball then spending it all once health is damaged beyond repair. 

Is there anybody who feels the same out there?

Carnival

Welcome to the carnival

I offer all manner of novelties to delight you
Are your thoughts as wild as a flying trapeze?
I’ve got pills to set your mind at ease
Does your heart feel like it has been trampled by an elephant?
You don’t need to use booze to get bent
I’ll flood your blood with chemical love and adjust the dose to fit like a glove
I’ve perfected my performance to be your ideal physician despite my perpetual exhaustion, hanger and burn out
Ignoring my own pain as I eliminate yours
Neither one of us is listening to the sacred wisdom of our bodies
I suffer long and hard so that you don’t have to feel a thing
In my side-show alley you’ll see that if you want more than an endless stream of candy refills, if you want me to be your shaman instead of your drug dealer, at any time you can feel your feelings instead of suppress them
Take a plunge from the high dive on the wild horse of your unmedicated body
Hear your healing lion’s roar
Let your self-expression soar
Allow yourself to fall into the safety net of the universe
Trust that you belong, that you are a star just as you are
Juggle fire and meet yourself with humor when gravity makes its presence known
Allow yourself to be shot from the cannon of self-doubt, trusting that you will be ok
If healing is a series of flaming hoops
The transformative way out is through
Show yourself what you can do
Dance to uplifting music every day
Cultivate strength and flexibility in body and brain
Remind yourself it is normal to feel insane
In this seemingly crazy world, only you can take the reins
Be the ringleader of your life
It ain’t me, babe
Though I have the hard-won power to prescribe the goodies you crave
To be in control of ourselves we must give up control of everything else
Welcome to the big time
The show can’t go on without you
I applaud you
My eyes are open to witness your marvels and miracles

Bouncy Ball

Resilient sphere of color

I throw you down but you only bounce back higher

Dancing down the stream
You get caught on rocks and fallen leaves
I free you and follow you down the babbling brook
Your journey is again halted by forest debris
I dislodge you with a stick and you bound onward
Carried effortlessly by the water
I was told that all rivers flow to the ocean
I am determined to travel there with you, to see this through
Then I learn that water sometimes moves underground
Branch still in hand, we are both stuck on land
I didn’t account for this
Years later, I am an adult in a high-pressure profession
Just now pausing after years of running
As if I’ve been chasing a ball down a stream
Bouncing from one goal to the next
I am bewildered by the restless movement which only distanced me from my heart’s desires
In exchange for passing tests, I received more tests
No one ever asked me if I want to be tested
I value serenity and peace, meditation in nature
I was already where I wanted to be
When I was a girl with a rubber ball
Bring me back to that forest stream
I will stand in it
Let the cool water wash over my feet
Bouncy ball by my side
In stillness and simple satisfaction
We will stay

Enlightened AF

You can never get to the end of it, you said about The Divine

Your words drew kaleidoscopic visions in my mind
I used to feel oppressed by poverty
Now I know I was only oppressed by the false beliefs within me
All the riches were always inside me
To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders
Beyond the collapsing walls, the sky is open
I am still tormented by the torrent of my thoughts
Then I think, ‘I don’t belong in anyone else’s head, nor do they belong in mine’
I try to let go of unhelpful thought-patterns
Such as my deep disappointment when I deem myself as less than perfect in every way, which happens multiple times each day
I may not be able to unthink a thought, but I can balance a negative with a positive, I can let the cloud float away without latching on all day
Today I was transported back to the time when I’d jerk off men for pennies on the dime
Now in the context of a trained medical professional providing a form of physical therapy to another doctor
Standing next to the massage table, I felt as if I hadn’t come far even after all the struggle and sacrifice to get out of poverty, to give my kids a better life
I remind myself that I have enough and I am enough
In my humble, imperfect way
I am enlightened AF sometimes

Death Certificate

Another day, another death by COVID.

My COVID patient who died today was relatively healthy and young.
While filling out his death certificate, I paused over the ’cause of death’ section:
 
My patient had multi-organ failure with a subsequent cardiac arrhythmia incompatible with life and viral pneumonia causing respiratory failure, however the failure that lead up to his COVID infection was systemic at a societal level.
 
My patient was a prisoner, infected by COVID-19 because he was denied the ability to socially distance, robbed of the right the protect himself.
 
I didn’t know him, but as I studied his body during his final hours I imagined what his life had been like, and wanted to include on his death certificate:
 
Cause of death:
Complications resulting from loss of human rights due to imprisonment
Secondary to the prison-industrial complex
Secondary to class warfare
Secondary to poverty
Secondary to racism
 
I didn’t know him, but I shared pieces of his struggle:
Adverse childhood experiences, trauma on trauma on trauma
 
His premature death is another stone in my pocket
My path is liberation
Wherever his soul is now, I hope he feels liberated too
Liberated from the brown skin which lead to his incarceration which inevitably did him in.

In Case I Die Early

In case I die early

From the virus which I will be in close contact with for the foreseeable future
Rest assured that I lived a full life
I was intermittently enlightened, and there is no higher bliss than that
It took nearly my whole life, but I finally found love
I enjoyed exquisite physical pleasures and the connection of sacred partnership
My mind was often filled with colorful visions and my heart overflowed with music
I wrote wild poetry which I shared only with you, and a great many other things too
If you want to remember my life, take a deep breath and know that you are loved by the universe, that you are love itself
If you want to see me, look up at the sky and trees
If you want to hear my voice, listen to the river and the birds singing
If you want to feel me, place your hand over your heart, and know that we are not far apart
If I don’t die early, I’ll keep creating my visions to promote vibrant healing
But in case I die soon, I wanted you to know that I go peacefully, though I long to see my family and turn my dreams into reality to share them with you
Take care of yourselves, and each other
Take care of Mother Earth
You are supported by spirit with every breath