A Journey from Death- to Life-Centered Healing
Tom Bender © 8 February 2001
Midnight can be a long and dark hour, lying in a hospital bed waiting to see whether the latest antibiotic dripping into my veins will work. Or is the mutant staph bacteria spreading over my head resistant to yet another "wonder drug"? The clock is ticking down, the infection still spreading rapidly, over my head, around my eyes and deeper into my skin. The IV antibiotic was supposed to have kicked in hours ago. Is my number up, the book ready to close, another adventure reaching its final page - and from such a simple thing? There's nothing we can do but wait.
Curiously, the possible lurking of death causes no fear. I used to be afraid of dying. But several years ago I'd touched the spirit world, and know now that death is not a final ending but a joyful return home from school for our eternal selves. Yet I'd still often wondered how I would feel faced with the reality, not the theory, of death. Just months ago I'd told friends I felt I'd accomplished several times over what I'd ever hoped to achieve in life. That didn't mean, as some feared, that I had plans to check out - just that a wonderful new fullness and freedom had come to my life. I'd eaten my vegetables, now it's time to have dessert and play! I'd put my life in the hands of Spirit, and each new turn in the road has been more awesome than the last. If it is now time for a recall, great - there's some new adventure waiting on the other side. If it's time for a new adventure here, even more wonderful. So . . . here I am. No fear, only curiosity. I don't feel I'm "giving up", or anything like that. Only that I will know - Spirit will tell me - if that point comes, where I'm needed and where I'm wanted. I open myself again to Spirit.
Hours pass in the darkness. I get up, turn on the light, drag my IV drip pole over to the mirror. This time, it doesn't look worse - the angry, red, bubbling eruptions don't appear to have spread as much. It feels like a corner has turned, a fork in the road has been passed. Seems like Spirit has chosen to add another chapter to the book here.
Lane calls. She's talked to and emailed family and friends. Their prayers and energy surround me. The Hero's Journey painting class lit a candle for me. As she reads some of the return messages, suddenly I see myself surrounded with everyone's love and energy - a golden onion-dome of light, with a flame rising from the top of it. I can feel the healing energy move through me, joining with the chemicals pumping through my blood.
They keep me in isolation, and on the IV drugs, for a couple more days. What I pick up on most strongly from the hospital is a very tangible atmosphere of fear. The staff will barely touch any patients anymore. I'm not an isolated, freak case. These "WonderBugs" are everywhere, and everyday more virulent. Guy at the lumber yard is going to lose a finger to one. Somebody else just died in Portland from one of the "flesh-eating" bacteria. Yesterday's headlines were - "Killer Disease Strikes Infant". The death toll from HIV-related infections is now in the millions. In the last couple of years, the number of life-threatening cases of bacterial infection seem to be exploding. The nurses told of one bacteria that is now resistant to every drug except one. They need to get approval of a special panel of doctors to use that one, to stave off as long as possible the bacteria's inevitable development of immunity. If a nurse gets infected by that bacteria, the rumor is that they are kicked out of nursing. Fear upon fear, upon fear.
* * *
Pretty scary. Where did this new plague suddenly come from?
The answer is even scarier. We've caused it. We've bred - and continue to breed - ever more virulent and drug-resistant diseases. They come from a simple and basic flaw in the foundations of our medical sciences, our agriculture, our entire culture. When we discovered antibiotics and pesticides, we quickly concluded we could just kill off all the "bad guys". We forgot to read the fine print, however. To succeed, we'd have to kill off every single one of the bacteria or pest on the planet. Odds aren't good on that. Rule is - the weaker, more susceptible bacteria get killed off, the stronger, more virulent and resistant ones survive and multiply, quickly breeding more and more-resistant strains.
But what else can we do to stop this spiral?
One clue lies in the fact that most of these bacteria are found everywhere. Around and inside every one of us. Yet we rarely become ill from them. When we do, it's because our immune systems have become weakened and we lose our resistance. So an alternative is not to try to kill the everywhere-bugs, but to improve our own health and resistance - to allow all life to live in peaceful coexistence and health.
What avenues have we neglected which have caused weakening of our immune systems and might restore their vitality? Healthy food, balanced exercise and eating patterns, less stressful lives, dealing with diseases of the spirit through working and living situations which generate greater self-esteem, having emotionally and spiritually more nurturing relationships and surroundings, and deeper communication with the rest of nature are but a few.
We can eliminate unnecessary use of antibiotics and conditions that lead to their need. One of the largest uses of antibiotics in this country is in cattle feedlots, egg "factories" and other industrialized food production where chickens, pigs, and cattle are kept in inhumane and unhealthy conditions - kept alive only through massive and continuing doses of antibiotics. Breeder-reactors for killer-bacteria. There is nothing other than greed and laziness underlying such practices, and their elimination can only result in healthier food, healthier animals, and healthier people.
A similar case can be made for restriction in the casual use of antibiotics on humans. Many doctors prescribe antibiotics even for virus-caused illness that they can't touch, just because people expect them to provide "something". Following the death of a single college student in Eugene, Oregon recently from bacterial meningococcal disease, the health center gave antibiotics to more than 400 "worried students". No symptoms, no evidence of disease, just a bludgeon to their immune systems and another round of breeding resistant bacteria. Health conditions in developing countries as well as our own are also vital to our own long-term health - a pool of undernourished, overworked, unemployed, unhealthy individuals anywhere on our planet form powerful breeding grounds for human-based diseases. And then there is "anti-bacterial" soap, and what it does for rapid bacterial mutation.
A fourth avenue towards life-centered rather than killing-centered health is the growing focus in alternative health on healing and sustaining health on the dimension of life-force energy (chi or prana). Although a few allotropic practitioners still adamantly deny its existence, work with imbalances on the energetic levels in our bodies before they manifest in terms of material illness is becoming a sophisticated and successful approach to health. "Energy healing" is similarly becoming an important adjunct and/or replacement to traditional healing practices.
Alternative medicine and healing are proving more and more able to treat diseases in less intrusive ways. Use of homeopathics (extremely prevalent in Europe), electronic homeopathics, tonics to maintain and restore balance in our immune, endocrine, and organic systems, and the use of local plant medicines, salves and infusions - alone or in concert with more conventional approaches - are becoming far more sophisticated and successful.
The death-spiral we are in, breeding more and more virulent diseases, can and must, be reversed. Changing our cultural biases from death-based to life-enhancing values brings real benefits to the lives of each of us as well as improved health and dramatic lessening in the creation of monster culture-bred illnesses.
It is time for action, and time for change.
38755 Reed Rd.
Nehalem OR 97131 USA
© Feb. 2001