Saturday, January 28, 2017

Moving Like a Cat Eating Like a Squirrel

Have you ever found yourself straddling the edge of your bathtub and trying to position your ass right under the tap? Because recent surgery won't allow you to use the shower. It is awkward to say the least, but an interesting way to wash my body. I found that I could go on my hands and knees easily enough as the surgery was only to the left hip area. Leaning into the tub twisting and always with three points of contact I manage to position my armpits under the tap and get my neck and shoulders and upper body clean.  Dripping wet and certainly dripping on to the floor I manage to now come down to my knees on a towel laid out on the floor and lean my upper body into the tub and shampoo my hair.  

As it happens I found that I was moving like a cat. And that is really not such a bad way to be. Cats are, after all, graceful and deliberate in their movement. Sometimes crawling around like a cat is exactly the safest way to be in your bathroom or anywhere else as anyone with balance issues might tell you. 

As a former yoga teacher I thought it would be interesting to apply this to my physiotherapy. Frankly I loved the challenge of re-thinking my whole body and how it moves. 

Because I had also had surgery in the mouth  both right and left mandible I was also limited in what I could eat. Very little it appears as I was effectively without molars. Apple sauce and jello, soup until you get soupped out, you take a chance on solids and find you can indeed chew with your front teeth much like a squirrel. Have you ever watched a squirrel eating a nut? It takes a long long time to chew down that nut. And so it goes.

I was tired of my liquid diet. I wanted something substantial. Not that I expecting you know, like a week after dental surgery to be eating Tortilla chips or anything like that. But a little solid food I craved. 

So I had my first pasta the other day. Chewing each bit like a squirrel with its nut, was sure an interesting exercise in conscious eating. Every little morsel was all the more tasty precisely because I had keep it in my mouth longer. It took so much longer to chew down al dente pasta (and I wouldn't eat any other way!)  And one digests so much better because the first instrument of the digestion system is in fact the mouth. We are supposed to pre-digest our food before we swallow.  

It was so Zen like and thought maybe this is the proper way to eat by the way but most often we modern homo sapiens rush through our food barely taking time to chew at all.  

Now  the cold douche of reality has awakened me with some shocking news. Now more than ever, I know how important teeth are. My goodness, now necessary. Friends take care of your god-given  teeth whatever it takes.  Replacing and repair are often invasive, usually costly and rarely perfect.

I feel great that I can apply my new sense of monk hood/concentration. With limited mobility of one kind I find I have absolute mobility of another.  

I find I like to move consciously and deliberately. To plan your move before you execute it. It feels really great, very zen.

Then the obvious question comes to mind: "Why the heck aren't we always moving like this? Why are we always rushing. Where are we rushing to?"

I know that for me I spend a good part of my income on stress relief of one kind or another that help me maintain some degree of functionality. Of course, I also take care of myself exercising regularly swimming a kilometer four or five times a week. I still use a bicycle and do regular yoga practice and I even climb trees. In fact, praise G-D I am truly grateful for the very nimble state of this sixty three year old body I inhabit.  AmeN

I once had the privilege of watching a sloth in its natural environment in the jungle of Cost Rica and I was not more than three feet away. I watched the creature descend in the most graceful slow and deliberate way. It was coming down to get a drink of water. The zen like nature of the elegant creature as it moved had me nearly breathless as I watched. I was told they are apparently "filthy" animals in fact because they are host to many kinds of vermin and parasites. But this adorable three toed sloth looked as sweet and cuddly as a teddy bear and I had some people who had found injured sloths and were restoring them to health and they do cling like a baby monkey to a human and looked very cuddly indeed. We were so lucky that day in that my companion and had paddled into a remote part of the jungle and just when we stopped our guide pointed out the sloth descending. It was the kind of event that left a permanent impression in my mind.

A most interesting thing that I learned through a very unfortunate event had also to do with a sloth.
While in Costa Rica I had contracted a flesh eating disease called Leishmaniasis Panamanensis.  I was stunned and asked the doctor "How did I get it?" to which he replied  "without a doubt it was a mosquito." This particular disease you see is neither a bacterium or virus but rather a microscopic parasite that the mosquito carries.  But which originates in the nose of the sloth."

The nose of a sloth? I thought he was joking but he wasn't. "This is where this type of mosquito lives. Remember it likes warm moist places." He told me that the mosquito merely carries the parasite and it doesn't affect them but when the bug finds a human host in mutates and become a flesh eater.

Dr. Francisco it seems was an expert on mosquitos. He told me there are so many different kinds and they each have their unique characteristic. For example mosquitos in Canada are very different from the mosquitos in the tropics which is one reason why aren't repelled by our repellants

So I learned all about mosquitos and all about the disease and discovered that there was no treatment available in Costa Rica. Thus began an interesting relationship with Dr. Francisco.

I asked him : "If the local people are just as likely to get this disease then how do they treat it?"  He looked a little apologetic and shrugged saying "well, we usually give them Antimony until their liver is polluted. Then give it a break for a few days and start the process again." Antimony?  Isn't that like a heavy metal, kinda like Mercury?

"Yes", he said "but it's the only thing that will kill it. This little bug when it takes hold is tenacious.  If it travels to any of your vital organs it will kill you.  You need to poison it I'm afraid. The Indians usually just burn it with battery acid or a cigarette."  I gasped.

I wasn't about to poison my body with Antimony. Neither would I consider burning my flesh and leaving a big ugly scar. I couldn't even bear the thought of it. There had to be another way.

Dr. Francisco said there was a medicine developed in India that would treat it but it was illegal in Costa Rica and nearly impossible to obtain. I was in despair and nearly ready to fly back to Canada to get this treatment.   But as it happened I found through the Yoga community there that a certain Yoga teacher had "smuggled" some of the rare medicine from Germany. Her husband had got Leishmaniasis and she saw what he went through and how ridiculous it was that the medicine was banned in Costa Rica she brought along an extra lot. And she offered it to me at cost which meant I could save flying home, spending thousands of dollars. Si I presented the medicine to Dr. Francisco and he was amazed "where did you get this?" he asked.  I told him I had my ways and he was impressed in spite of himself.. He then asked if he could document the treatment as he had been lobbying the government to get this drug into Costa Rica.

So over the next few weeks as I took the healing journey of fighting a parasitic invasion of my body. Luckily it was isolated to one locality and that was the inside wrist of my right arm. And that is how my arm came to be featured in the San Jose Medical Journal. Because Dr. Francisco kept taking pictures of my flesh wound as it transformed and changed over the period of the following two weeks while I subjected my body to chemo therapy. Is made me sick and it was hard on my body. I didn't eat much and lost some weight. But in the end the medicine won and the beast was gone. Today I have only a little scar left where this little bug from the nose of the sloth could have killed me.




  1. Great writing Ann. The most embarrassing thing in my life, having to get dentures, I cared for my teeth. I have an interest in Sloths' and found your blurp great.

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