Celebrate a Difficult Anniversary


Marea del Portillo

This is a thank you blog that marks my second anniversary of living with ABI. I say thank you because the readers who have been reading my blog entries over the past year have been a strong source of support and encouragement.

It has been two years of trying to adjust to living with ABI. It has been two years of learning to compensate for my limitations. At times I will reread comments readers have posted in response to my thoughts. Some of the comments provide words of hope. Some comments are words of thanks for sharing my experiences. Other comments are simply letting me know I have not been forgotten.

In reading the comments I’m being reminded of the help I’ve been able to give others, including caregivers of those with brain injuries. Some readers have found some additional insight into living with brain injury, an injury which is difficult for neuro-typical people to grasp. I find it heartening when people make an effort to increase their understanding. Whenever I’m asked questions about ABI I give it my best effort to bring some insight to the topic.

When it comes to writing my healing has been noticeable. When I first started sharing a year ago I was able to compose a blog once every two weeks. After a few months I was able to share on a weekly basis.

Last fall I decided to expand the diversity of what I was experiencing. For me it was a way of confirming that my world was gradually opening up. My dear readers’ responses to that has brought a new kind of encouragement.

On the second anniversary of my ABI let me give a heartfelt thank you for the warm reader support. I’m happy to report that I have just completed another ‘first’ since my ABI. Each time I complete another ‘first’ marks another step in my recovery. The most recent ‘first’ being a plane flight with all its pre-boarding and customs procedures, allowed me to be plunked down on a Caribbean island for a week.

Getting to a Better Place

Fracture Clinic

I recently visited a health clinic to address a persistent pain. I had vacillated for two weeks trying to decide  my best course of action. I woke up one morning and made the call at 8 am to get a same day appointment. Since the doctor wasn’t taking additional patients that day I was booked with a nurse practitioner.

On walking into the examination room I was asked what the concern was. I explained where I had been feeling pain for over 2 weeks. I told her what preliminary diagnosis I had been given. I further explained the need for some follow up blood work to verify part of my health status.

In all fairness the nurse practitioner asked where I had received the diagnosis. I explained that I had secured the services of an iridologist the day before. I explained how the diagnosis fit with several symptoms that seemed to be part of my health issue.

The discussion that followed clearly indicated that she had minimal if any knowledge about iridology. However, she took it on herself to caution me about the high incidence of medical ‘quackery’ out there. I explained to her that in my dealings with this iridologist over the past number of years I have been very pleased with the accuracy of her observations and the effectiveness of the treatments prescribed. In response to this the nurse practitioner decided to ramp up her statements that this is a very unreliable source of medical information. I was puzzled by her insistence to caution me despite sharing anecdotes concerning the veracity of the information I had received.

Let me digress

In fairness to her concerns there are opposing views about iridology and the reliability of diagnosis and the efficacy of the prescribed treatments.

Iridology (sometimes referred to as iris diagnosis) is based on the bizarre belief that each area of the body is represented by a corresponding area in the iris of the eye (the colored area around the pupil)    

An opposing view is captured in the following statement

Iridology is a quick, accurate and painless system of health analysis through the examination of the colored part of the eye known as the iris.

To continue…

The nurse practitioner asked to examine me rather than rely on the information I had passed on to her. I appreciated her level of diligence to confirm the symptoms that I had reported. On completing the examination she told me there was no evidence. What she did not acknowledge is that she had no baseline with me to determine what the level of swelling I might be experiencing.

In the ensuing discussion, I asked her what would account for the persistent pain. Despite posing the question twice she offered no answer.

In wrapping up the visit she agreed to give a requisition for the blood work as I had shared with her the specific blood tests which the iridologist had requested. The nurse practitioner made it clear to me that she was only giving the requisition for my ‘peace of mind’. Talk about condescension, as if I’m merely a troublesome hypochondriac wasting precious health care resources. Her final comment on the matter was that the blood tests would come back clear.

A few days later, on reviewing the blood test  results the iridologist informed me that only one blood test had been requisitioned. The nurse practitioner had  simply refused to honour my request. Given that the  one blood test came back negative, the iridologist had to assume that the second test would have been positive.

On Reflection

The arrogant posturing during most of the encounter had me reeling. I had come in with what I thought would be helpful information. While I had considered how to share this information in a non-threatening posture, in the end I did not expect the nurse practitioner to put so much emotional energy into discrediting the information I gave her and the source of the information.

What makes this clinic visit even more concerning is that she did absolutely nothing to help address the pain and related symptoms that I had experienced for over two weeks. While she told me, at one point in the visit, that she was not here to debate the pitfalls of alternative medicine, she had in fact made that the main focus during the consultation.

What concerns me is that when a health practitioner fails to keep an open mind and listen to additional information we are all worse off. We lose out when medical professionals seem more intent on protecting their turf than considering new information that might prove to be helpful. In so many other sectors in society we have learned that collaboration helps all parties make better informed decisions.

This rant is not to disparage all western medicine practitioners. A second experience within the same week played itself out in a very different tone. I was in to see my family doctor who wanted to explore a possible health issue having viewed some recent images from my file. In doing his due diligence he went one step further. He asked me whether the iridologist had ‘seen’ anything during my recent visit.

Wow,  what a contrast of attitude within the same clinic. Two things were affirmed in that second consultation visit. One, collaborative efforts makes for better and more reliable decisions. Second, affirming a patient’s efforts at taking an active role in their own health care makes for a healthier patient. Wouldn’t that put each of us in a better place?

When it comes to health care, there is nothing better and more encouraging than a relationship of mutual respect with a family doctor who has not been totally brainwashed into practicing western medicine with procedural rigidity.

Health Care Provider Toolkit

The Offended Toe

I walked into the treatment room for my scheduled reflexology appointment. As I walked in I commented that I had broken my little toe, so if she could be careful when working on my feet.

What she told me next blew me away. How was she able to put together such a complete and accurate picture of my situation? I hadn’t told her anything after my first comment. While I hadn’t made any other comments she did read some additional information.

Her response to my comment was, “So that’s why you have a headache.” I was surprised that she knew. She had deduced from my body language that I had a headache. And so she explained that my broken toe disrupted the flow of my lymphatic system. The disruption in my lymphatic system caused a blockage in my neck which caused a build up of pressure in my skull, giving me a headache. Headache meds would not bring relief. The toe needed to heal in order for my headache to clear.

It’s amazing how the two pieces of information enabled her to accurately complete the picture.

The Other Side

A few days before my reflexology appointment I had gone to the hospital emergency room to determine what was causing my headache. My headache had persisted for over 3 weeks, something totally out of character for me. By the end of my 6 hours of ER procedures I was prescribe some anti-inflammatory meds and told I had minor swelling in my neck, but no explanation. (It wasn’t something that an anti-inflammatory med could have remedied.) A day after taking the meds I had an allergic reaction and discontinued taking them.

When I compare the two visits it’s interesting to see how different things were. The six hours in the ER involved a very expensive infrastructure and a patch to deal with what looked like an inflammation. However, no direct cost to myself thanks to a government funded health care.

My experience with the reflexologist gave me a full understanding of how the different symptoms played into the body system that was affected. Without the use of any sophisticated equipment I came away with a comprehensive picture of what my body was dealing with. To top it off, this additional insight was part of my hour long reflexology treatment session. I pay out of pocket for that, but no additional charge for the helpful insight.

Making Choices

This experience made me realize that I need to determine the nature of my health concern before choosing a medical services that I think will best understand the issue and be able to offer the most effective treatment.

Over the years I have made the choice to get a diagnosis and treatment from a chiropractor, iridologist, reflexologist, dentist, family doctor or surgeon. I make these choices on a case by case basis.

How I broke my toe is a story for another day.

Lingering Shadows

The concierge

Lingering Shadows

The welcome expressed in a stilted manner,

in response to my initial reticence.

Helpfulness issued from your heart,

in response to a word of appreciation.


A specific compliment,

received with a rehearsed reply,

punctuated with a fleeting smile,

giving way a growing sense of ease.


Ensuring the comfort of each guest,

conveyed by intent yet undone by image.

Oblivious to the message broadcast via dress code,

focused on fulfilling anticipated and imagined needs.


Assuming the role of diligent concierge,

lacking the sheen or polish of the trade.

Wearing your intentions on your sleeve,

striving to shake your former life.


Distancing yourself from the realities of a harsher life,

not realizing the extent of the gap.

While engaged in the realm of valid employment,

the shadows of your past a constant companion.

Pen, Pencil or Marker

Chose a writing tool

Pen, Pencil or Marker

Beware the pen,

the rigid tyrant

seizing your thoughts

as they stumble forth

held captive for all time.


Embrace the pencil,

carefree, playful, changing.

Beckoning to try again,

encouraging, renewed growth.

Free to evolve, to blossom.


Behold the felt tip marker,

flowing forth boldly,

a confidence of colour

playful exuberance

brightening the way.


Choose how you will share this new year?

Decide how to record the poetry of each day?


Beware the turmoil that threatens.

Don’t be captured, don’t be cornered.

Take the long view, eyes on the goal.


Embrace the opportunities that avail.

To plant new ideas, to feed, to blossom.


Behold the colours of each new day.

Share it boldly, brighten your path.