Into the Light


It is all very strange, and probably would be vastly improved by a lovely box of chocolates but I haven’t any.

On December 30, I laid it out: twice a week there would be acupuncture, massage, psychotherapy and physical therapy, with chiropractic once a week and homeopathy on whatever schedule it chose. There would be major medical immunology, neurology, endocrinology, psychiatry and primary care. Additionally, the apartment needed to be cleaned, the rug shampooed and my furniture moved back in, and I needed home health aides to provide showers, cooking, grocery shopping and routine cleaning.

So, eighteen days down the line, how are we doing?

I couldn’t get on the acupuncturist’s schedule until this week. He is my oldest friend and when he first saw me two days ago, he repeatedly rubbed his hands and said, “Ah, Anne Woodlen, Anne Woodlen” and smiled a lot. He asked me my story, listened quietly as I told him my journey into the heart of the darkest of American medicine, then he started sticking needles in me. Needles for diabetes and kidney damage and depression and whatever.

There are two massage therapists: one does Swedish massage and the other does cranio-sacral and lymph and whatever. The Swedish massage fellow comes every Saturday; the other massage therapist was injured in a car crash and I have only been able to receive her treatment once.

The psychotherapist has had health issues, holidays, and I’ve canceled her once, so we’ve only met once or twice, but we still have—as we have had throughout the Year of the Beast—a phone connection that keeps us together.

Physical therapy started today, and it did not start with treadmills and exercises: it started with hands-on craniosacral therapy: “Craniosacral therapy (CST), or cranial-sacral therapy, is a form of bodywork or alternative therapy focused primarily on the concept of “primary respiration” and regulating the flow of cerebrospinal fluid by using therapeutic touch to manipulate the synarthrodial joints of the cranium. To do this, a practitioner will apply light touches to a patient’s skull, face, spine and pelvis. Craniosacral therapy was developed by John Upledger, D.O. in the 1970s . . . CST has been characterized as pseudoscience and its practice called quackery,” according to Wikipedia.

According to the massage therapist, who also does craniosacral therapy, someone—I think Dr. Upledger—was asked how he knew this worked. What surveys could he point to; what controlled research studies were there? He is said to have replied, “What studies? My patient is better. Her cancer is gone. She is healthy. What more do you want?”

The chiropractor has returned, bringing lights with him. I don’t understand a thing about light therapy. If you google it, the first thing you come up with is light boxes for seasonal affective disorder. Well, yes, I’ve been doing that for a decade. Human beings, like all other living things, need sunlight to grow. Syracuse, N.Y., does not have sunlight in the winter so every morning between 6:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m., I use a full-spectrum lightbox for half an hour.

You have to google “light therapy for pain” in order to get “Light therapy for pain relief is a gentle, non-invasive, drug-free, and chemical-free alternative that has been shown to reduce and in some cases even eliminate aches and pains. Red and infrared LED (light emitting diodes) lights deliver powerful therapeutic benefits to living tissue. There is evidence that they speed up the healing process, reduce inflammation, and ease pain.”

All Wikipedia has to say about the medical use of light emitting diodes (LEDs) is “When a light-emitting diode is switched on, electrons are able to recombine with holes within the device, releasing energy in the form of photons. This effect is called electroluminescence . . . LEDs can be programmed to tweak your circadian rhythms throughout the day. This can help people who have trouble falling asleep or wake up groggy.” In other words, all Wikipedia knows about LEDs for health is seasonal affective disorder.

In fact, LED light therapy consists of black foam pads that have teeny tiny little red, green and blue lights embedded in them. The pads can be put wherever you need them, but for me the chiropractor puts pads against my back and neck, on my chest, under my feet and over my eyes then he throws the switch and we talk for twenty minutes while the lights do their thing.

Then he switches from light mode to chiropractic mode and runs his hand up and down and around my back, then uses an electric (I think?) gizmo that applies the pressure for chiropractic adjustment. He uses the gizmo because he hurt his wrist in a car accident a while back and is accommodating his current limitations. He cannot crack my neck because it’s still too messed up.

The homeopathic provider has been to see me twice. Yesterday’s blog https://annecwoodlen.wordpress.com/2014/01/16/allergies-diarrhea-and-adhd/ established unequivocally that homeopathy is an effective mode of treatment, nevertheless, Wikipedia reports “Homeopathy i/ˌhoʊmiˈɒpəθi/ (also spelled homoeopathy or homœopathy; from the Greek hómoios- ὅμοιος- “like-” + páthos πάθος “suffering”) is a system of alternative medicine created in 1796 by Samuel Hahnemann, based on his doctrine of like cures like, according to which a substance that causes the symptoms of a disease in healthy people will cure similar symptoms in sick people. . .

“The scientific community regards homeopathy as nonsense, quackery or a sham . . . The postulated mechanisms of action of homeopathic remedies are not only scientifically implausible but precluded by the laws of physics.” So there and take that, you 37% of folks who didn’t die of cholera in the 1800’s because you went to homeopathic hospitals instead of traditional hospitals. And we won’t even talk about how I regard “the scientific community.”

About annecwoodlen

I am a tenth generation American, descended from a family that has been working a farm that was deeded to us by William Penn. The country has changed around us but we have held true. I stand in my grandmother’s kitchen, look down the valley to her brother’s farm and see my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Hannah standing on the porch. She is holding the baby, surrounded by four other children, and saying goodbye to her husband and oldest son who are going off to fight in the Revolutionary War. The war is twenty miles away and her husband will die fighting. We are not the Daughters of the American Revolution; we were its mothers. My father, Milton C. Woodlen, got his doctorate from Temple University in the 1940’s when—in his words—“a doctorate still meant something.” He became an education professor at West Chester State Teachers College, where my mother, Elizabeth Hope Copeland, had graduated. My mother raised four girls and one boy, of which I am the middle child. My parents are deceased and my siblings are estranged. My fiancé, Robert H. Dobrow, was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps. In 1974, his plane crashed, his parachute did not open, and we buried him in a cemetery on Long Island. I could say a great deal about him, or nothing; there is no middle ground. I have loved other men; Bob was my soul mate. The single greatest determinate of who I am and what my life has been is that I inherited my father’s gene for bipolar disorder, type II. Associated with all bipolar disorders is executive dysfunction, a learning disability that interferes with the ability to sort and organize. Despite an I.Q. of 139, I failed twelve subjects and got expelled from high school and prep school. I attended Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College and got an associate’s degree after twenty-five years. I am nothing if not tenacious. Gifted with intelligence, constrained by disability, and compromised by depression, my employment was limited to entry level jobs. Being female in the 1960’s meant that I did office work—billing at the university library, calling out telegrams at Western Union, and filing papers at a law firm. During one decade, I worked at about a hundred different places as a temporary secretary. I worked for hospitals, banks, manufacturers and others, including the county government. I quit the District Attorney’s Office to manage a gas station; it was more honest work. After Bob’s death, I started taking antidepressants. Following doctor’s orders, I took them every day for twenty-six years. During that time, I attempted%2
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