The Reiki Thing

November 30, 2011 at 6:43 pm (Spiritual) (, , , , )

I get this question all the time, so I’d like to address it now and then use this as a reference for when I am asked.

I do not react to Reiki the way most people do. This has not always been the case. I have tried Reiki with several different people, from Reiki I to Master, in different schools of Reiki. So this is not a case of one bad apple not “doing it right”.

Of course, I don’t have definitive proof of why I react differently to Reiki, but I have a very strong (UPG) suspicion about it, that has been echoed by other neoclassical shamans who have similar reactions to Reiki. So it’s also not just a “me” thing; I know of at least three other neoclassical shamans who have adverse reactions to Reiki.

First, let me explain my physical reaction to Reiki. I find that this also applies to any sort of energy work that is “creative” (as opposed to “destructive”, not “unimaginative”) in nature, and I’ll explain that later. When someone applies Reiki to me, I feel:

  • extremely nauseous, sometimes vomiting
  • a sense of being penetrated against my will, even when I ‘allow’ the energy exchange
  • dizzy and disoriented
  • my pain levels increase
  • a strong sense that it is hastening my death (UPG, of course, but it’s how I feel)
  • whatever the Reiki is being used to alleviate (like a headache) usually triples in intensity
  • my energy feels “out of whack” for days afterward; a sense that something is wrong and I must fix it
  • it lowers my already-low immune response

I hope from reading that you’ll understand why I just say I’m “allergic” to Reiki. I have had these reactions observed by other people, especially at pagan events where people unintentionally (and intentionally, sigh) push energy onto me, such as when they hug me, or interact with me when I see I feel ill; usually this is without discussion first. (See this essay about energy work and consent in the pagan community written by another neoclassical shaman who has the same issues with Reiki).

Now as to the question of why. Here we wander into some very personal territory for me, stuff that I am not entirely comfortable talking about, so I ask that you just read this and accept it as being true for me. I am constantly inspecting and re-evaluating these thoughts and feelings, so this may change over time.

Sometime in May of 2011, something irreversibly changed in my energetic composition. At the same time, I was Informed that although I am still a madness shaman, that I will now also take on the sacred role of the Dying Man. The way it was explained to me is that some death shamans get to die and come back to life, and although they carry with them the stench of death, they can still live for many years (decades, even) carrying this connection with them. I am not like that. My death shaman journey is to die; slowly, publicly, over time, in a way that honors the journey towards death as being a sacred transition. This is part of the reason I titled the blog “Dying for a Diagnosis” – not because I really want to know what’s happening, to me, although I do, but that I am pretty damn sure I am going to die before they figure it out.

(I really, really want to point out that making all of this public was NOT MY CHOICE. I was Told, by Baphomet, that I had to make all of this shite public. Everything – the trips to the doctors, the spiritual observations, the good days and the bad days, until I can no longer interact with a computer – and even then, others may do it for me. I really didn’t want to do this. I hate sharing my medical stuff with strangers, and REALLY don’t like sharing my shamanic stuff with strangers. But I signed on the dotted line, and here I fucking am.)

The way this new energetic make-up manifests has been described as “lots of little black worms that are slowly eating away at me”. This is the manifestation of Rot and Decay that I carry with me all of the time. So you can imagine that when “creative” energy is applied to someone covered in these worms, the worms get all the energy, not me. This actually manifested during a particular acupuncture treatment, where I experienced the worms being “fed” a bunch of energy all at once; I was sick for days and it was an incredibly unpleasant experience.  I feel that this explains why I have an adverse reaction to Reiki; as I understand it (and it used to work on me quite a bit, before this remodel) the Reiki feeds the worms, and the worms eat more of me faster than planned. Thus the feeling of impending doom that I get; thus the nausea and the increased pain.

The “up” side of the worms is that they serve a very useful purpose. I can “pick one off” of me and place it on someone else (with their informed consent, of course) and it will eat away at things that are hurting them, like infections, cancer, etc. I wouldn’t call it the “anti-Reiki”, but I do see it as healing-destruction, rather than healing-creation. Part of being the Dying Man is that I can make other things die, too. (So don’t piss me off! 🙂 )

I hate this, because so many of my friends have dedicated themselves to the path of the Healer, and want nothing more than to bombard me with Universal Energy in hopes that it will ease my suffering. It actually makes me feel sad when I have to say no. I know it’s frustrating, like the whole “don’t diagnose me” thing, because people inherently want to help, and Reiki is a great way to be of service from a distance to the people that you love. So don’t get me wrong – I don’t hate Reiki – I have a deep abding respect of it and what it can do for people – just not me.

So please, respect my wishes and do not engage in any energy exchange with me without my express permission. I have found ways to filter and access certain energetic healing, but it has to be done on my terms and with my active (rather than passive) consent. That is, I have to work to accept healing energy, to get it to bypass the worms and get to my body.

In exchange, I won’t kill you. Unless you ask, nicely. 😀


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Nothing Is Ever As Easy As You Think

November 29, 2011 at 4:55 pm (Medical, Tuberculosis (Inactive)) (, , , , , )

A short medical update:

I came home from Thanksgiving Day weekend, having taught at Brimstone, an event up in NJ. I was feeling sort of run down and wonky, and then there were a multitude of situations at the hotel which challenged my  health – like rooms that were either boiling or freezing, including my hotel room.

Top that with my assigned roomie (a lover of mine, so I lucked out, but still assigned) was recovering from bronchitis, and my fate was sealed.

I started the TB med on Monday morning.

So I woke up this morning around 4, both sick as a dog and suffering from the same god damn symptoms as last time I tried the TB meds.

I tried treating the “sick as a dog” part on my own, but it quickly proved to be bigger than home remedies. I got in to see my PCP, and got my ID on the phone.

I’m taking antibiotics for the sick, and the TB meds have been stopped again. Hopefully I can nurse my way back to feeling normal from the interaction this time, rather than going to the ER.

I’d be angry and disappointed, if I didn’t feel so freaking sick.

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Friends in need of help

November 28, 2011 at 2:41 pm (Uncategorized) (, )

you may remember that I have talked about my “medical advocates”: their names are Jamie and Jesse. They have been an unmeasurable help in managing my health care (driving me to doctors appointments, talking to doctors, taking notes, offering suggestions, making appointments, and general medical advice) and I truly believe that without them, I would not be in as good a position as I am.


Right now, Jamie is in the hospital; she is having her own “dying for a diagnosis” moment. Her original complaint was severe migraines; it has turned out that she has leaks in her CNS as well as a possible tumor. What was supposed to be a short hospital stay has become an indefinite one. She was determined to be home by Thanksgiving; they are not sure at this point if she will be home by Christmas.


This has come an incredibly inopportune time for Jamie and Jesse. They were in the middle of moving from one location to another, and their plan was to rely on their own manpower to clean out the old place and bring everything to a new place. At first, it seemed like it was perhaps possible for Jesse to attack this problem on her own; but between time spent with her partner in the hospital trying to calm her and make her feel comfortable, time spent trying to hold down her job, and other demands; the going has been much slower where than they had originally anticipated. There is a soft deadline of December 1; as that is when the old place will lose power. (There has been some discussion of extending that; but that is an expense that they may not be able to absorb)


I am asking my readers who live in the MD/VA/DC area to consider finding a few hours between now and December 1 to assist these people who have been instrumental in my health care. The three things that have been requested are A.) people who can lift heavy things; B.) people who can assist in throwing trash away and general organizing; and C.) people with vehicles that carry heavy things (pickup trucks SUVs etc.) who are willing to transport things from old place to place. They live in northern Maryland, not far from Ramblewood. If you are willing to assist them, drop me an e-mail and I will forward it to them so that you both can arrange good time to meet up.


I am also asking for readers who feel so moved to pray for Jamie and Jesse. Both of them could use a good turn, and not just in the immediate crisis. If you know Jamie personally, and are friends with her on Facebook, dropping her an encouraging comment on a daily basis goes a long way to make her feel as though her community has her back. If you know them (and you would  if you attend Beltane, FSG, Fires of Venus, or any Jeff Mach event), but you do not know how to reach them and wish to send them words of encouragement, you can e-mail messages to me at and I will forward it to them.


Please feel free (and I actually encourage you to) to forward this message to people who may be able to help. If we can get people to help them with their move, I will consider it a debt that I owe, and I’m willing to pay back in barter or trade. This means if you are willing to give them some of your time, I will offer you readings, counseling, ritual planning, or whatever else you can think of that you might want from me. Of course,I will also appreciate those who do it as a goodwill offering from their heart.


Thank you for your indulgence; I know this is only tangentially related to what this blog is about; I hope you see this means a great deal to me that I am willing to reach out to my support system in hopes of strengthening Jamie and Jesse.

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TB meds! Neurologist number five!

November 17, 2011 at 11:57 pm (Medical, Tuberculosis (Inactive)) (, , , , )

A quick update on the medical front:

I saw the (somewhat saner) infectious disease doctor, and I start my TB treatments after I get back from Brimstone. I’m grateful that I can finally start, but I’m also hesitant because these drugs have a reputation of tearing you apart. I have to get regular liver tests, and stay away from things that tax my liver; I’ve also heard they wreak havoc on your G.I. systems. On top of that, they will make my pain drugs work less, if at all. So though I’m happy that I will be TB free in a few months, those few months scare the crap out of me. The good news is but I will see my pain management doctor after I’ve been on the TB meds for a couple of weeks; hopefully, he’ll have some ideas as to better manage my pain once we know exactly how ineffective the narcotics will be. There is a little fear that I will suffer a similar reaction as I did in June (I was hospitalized due to an interaction between fentanyl transdermal patch and the TB meds that caused me to go into immediate withdrawal even though I was wearing a brand-new patch); the ID doc said that  if there is any wackiness I should go to the ER. Let’s hope that’s not what happens.

I also got a surprise phone call from the new neurologist today. I was supposed to see them in mid-December; and was angsting because I have pretty severe nerve pain and December was a long way away. it seems they had a cancellation for Friday (tomorrow as of this writing) which makes me a very happy Del. it also means that there’s a good chance I will get a script for an MRI — those of you who know, know that I have been looking for an MRI to accommodate me for almost a year now; Johns Hopkins just got two new machines that sound like they may fit the bill. If that works out, I may be able to get my pain management doctor to play nice with the neurologist and see if we can’t come up with a better solution for my neuralgia.

so wish me luck tomorrow with neurologist number five. I’ve worked with him before; he is also a sleep study specialist and was the one that prescribed my CPAP. I really enjoyed his candor; Ninja has been seeing him for neurological stuff and really likes him. His office is about 25 minutes away from my house; not quite as bad as going to Johns Hopkins but not as convenient as neurologist number three (who blamed everything on my opiates).


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Rant: How Not To Be Helpful

November 15, 2011 at 12:37 am (Living With Chronic Illness, Medical) (, , , )

So it’s late at night; not the best time for a well thought out blog entry. However, after several comments on my Facebook today from well-meaning people suggesting diagnoses and treatments, I feel like I need to put my feelings out there once and for all.

I understand that I’m medically interesting. Four years of various symptoms and different medical problems that don’t quite add up to one Big Diagnosis puzzles people. They feel compelled to help, but don’t really know or understand how to manifest their feelings in a positive and helpful manner. 98% of the people who read or hear about my medical problems are laymen; that is, they are not medical professionals and do not have any academic standing behind their conjecture. The only way they can relate to what they see here is to compare it to people they know or experiences that they personally have had.

So I get a lot of “my uncle had…” stories. More than I can count. Usually use these manifest when someone reads about one or two different symptoms, so the person gloms onto those symptoms and tries to force a diagnosis. Most of the time these people do not know the whole story, or know what doctors I’ve seen, or what diseases have already been ruled out. (Clue: it’s a big list) At this point, if you are a medical layman and you hear about some of what I’m going through and a diagnosis comes to mind; chances are very high I have already heard it. Chances are pretty good that it has already been explored by the medical professionals in my life.

I’ve listed these before, but I feel like this rant would be incomplete without them. So far, I have seen: four neurologists, a rheumatologist, a pulmonologist, a sleep study specialist, a cardiologist, two primary care physicians, two infectious disease doctors, one pain management specialist, two OB/GYN’s, an endocrinologist, two massage therapists, one chiropractor, one acupuncturist, two shamanic healers,one hematologist/oncologist, one gastroenterologist, a bariatric surgeon, a general surgeon, and probably other doctors that I can’t think of off the top of my head. Let’s call this the most comprehensive list I have made public so far. I post this list not to brag, but to illustrate that I have had quite a bit of  professionals take a whack at what is causing all of my symptoms (or in the case of some of the specialists, some of my symptoms). If they haven’t thought of it, chances are someone with no medical training isn’t going to think of it either.

I highly resent the idea that if I am not open to random suggestions for medical laymen, that somehow I am not taking my health care seriously. I believe I have the right to draw boundaries around random Internet interactions (and even in person interactions) when it comes to discussing my health situation. I understand that by making a lot of my health journey public, and by titling my blog Dying for a Diagnosis, that one might infer that I would welcome such comments. The truth is, I’m literally sick of them. It only serves to further frustrate me and complicate the medical process.

I have an actual team of medical advocates, most of which have some medical training, who go to doctors appointments with me; they take notes, ask questions on my behalf, keep track of information from Dr. to Dr., and help facilitate intra-Dr. communications. They are allowed to suggest diagnoses. This is because they know the whole story, have heard what other doctors have said, know what diagnoses have already been suggested (and discarded), and understand that even though they’re on my side, I’m so sick and tired of suggestions that there is a very specific way to bring one up that doesn’t immediately trigger my gag reflex.

I want to be clear: I understand that these suggestions, from a place of love and concern for my general health. I understand that they spring from a feeling of wanting to help and not knowing what to do. I have a post that I’m still composing in my mind, called Strengths and Weaknesses, that will help clarify how people who feel compelled to help can do so in a way that is conducive toward making me happy and making my life a better place to be. I’m a little busy with some teaching stuff right now, but I promise that post is on its way.

I know that the Facebook thing is beyond repair, but I want to remind readers of my blog that comments that suggest diagnoses will be summarily deleted; and if you bug me about it, I will ban you from commenting on my journal. I think what I have learned from today’s situation, is that I am no longer going to post medical updates to Facebook.

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Five Fallacies That Medical Television Shows Use All the Time That Have Never Happened To Me

November 14, 2011 at 11:51 am (Medical) (, )

x-posted from Facebook; this started out as a rant in my head and wouldn’t let me rest until I posted it somewhere. After putting it on Facebook, I decided that it needed to live here, too.

5. Doctors share touching personal stories that somehow serve to both humanize the doctor, and give the patient insight into whatever it is they’re going through. I can barely get doctors to answer all of my questions, they’re so keen on making things short and keeping their emotional distance. My doctors have never shared details about their personal lives with me, even when I’ve asked direct questions about it.

4. Doctors become emotionally invested in their patient’s outcome, and that makes them work harder to solve difficult-to-diagnose cases. I find doctors are the first ones to throw their hands in the air and tell the patient, “I can’t find anything wrong.” If you’re lucky, they might refer you to a specialist who may or may not be able to figure something out, but even the specialists are quick to write you off. I find that doctors *hate* difficult-to-diagnose patients, and tend to label them with emotional problems faster than your head can spin.

3. Doctors see random family members in the hospital halls, and attempt to find out what’s wrong or discuss the case with them in any way. I find doctors in hospitals to be *on a mission*, and that mission usually involves ignoring most patients, much less their friends and family. My medical advocates and spouse have had to explain their relationship to me several times to the same doctors just to get them to respond to my needs, much less strike them up in general conversation about how *they’re* handling all of this.

2. Doctors treat pain until that pain is resolved. There is a ceiling to what doctors will give certain patients, when it comes to narcotics. I’m sure if I were a cancer patient (or had some other diagnosed termnal illness) my experience might be different, but when I ask for more or different pain killers I’m immediately labeled “drug seeking”. When I explain that I have a tolerance to narcotics because of my long term therapeutic use, they still give me minute doses of weak drugs at first. “Managed pain” is not the same thing as “pain free”, and many times my doctors are content if my pain is below an 8.

1. Everyone who goes into a hospital gets a definitive diagnosis and full treatment before they’re released. I’ve been to the hospital several times in the past few years for “observation” after some symptom has gotten out of hand – including scary things like elevated white blood cell counts, intense pain, and inability to keep food down – and after 2-3 days I am sent home with no answers and no follow up. Frequently, I am left to my own devices to seek an answer to whatever brought me to the ER; and since I don’t have a medical degree, I end up drifting from specialist to specialist before I give up.

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Laying down the gauntlet

November 9, 2011 at 4:57 pm (Spiritual) (, , , , )

Most of the time when someone needs something, they hear the phrase “ask and ye shall receive”. I feel this is a very selfish way of looking at the world. and yet many pagans I know have this attitude towards their Gods. Whether it’s a spell, or a ritual, or a prayer; we act as though our Gods are a cosmic Santa Claus just waiting to hear what we need/want and judging us either naughty or nice. Then we have this false justification as to why we receive or do not receive that which we ask for — either we were naughty, either through some Judeo-Christian concept of sin or through our own guilt ridden associations with not enough devotional work; or we were nice and got what we asked for.

For  me, there is a great deal of discernment that I go through before I involve the Gods  in my needs and wants. Heck, I go through a great deal of discernment before I involve other people. The first thing that I do is I dig deep. If I really need something, and that need is strong enough, I do everything within my power to fill that need by myself. It sounds a lot easier than it is — some days this looks like me debating whether or not I can make it up a flight of stairs to prepare myself a meal or if my need for food is weak enough that I can live until Ninja gets home to get it for me. (One day we will live in a house where the kitchen and the master bedroom or on the same floor!)

When I decide to involve other people, I am keenly aware that a debt is being created. Even if the other person swears up, down, and sideways that they are doing something out of the kindness of their heart and they do not recognize the debt; my Norse philosophies says “a gift for a gift”. Hospitality, one of the nine Noble virtues, is incredibly important to me and the way that I move throughout the world. Maybe this is because I have found that a single “thank you” can be enough of a gift  to make up for volunteering for hours for an event, and yet so often that single act of kindness is overlooked.

Maybe you can see where this is going. When I turned to my Gods and ask them for something, boy howdy am I aware that I am incurring a Debt. And unlike human beings, “thank you” is not enough to repay a debt to the Gods; that is just an acknowledgment that what you have asked for has come to pass. More often than not, I will find myself years later asked to take on a new client,or do some strange task, or something I can’t even imagine that pushes my boundaries in ways I am not ready to have been pushed. When I look up to the sky and wonder why my Gods would want such a thing from me, I am gently reminded of my debt. Unlike with humans, usually this repayment is not something I can negotiate. I don’t know how much of this is tied up in me being a shaman or if it happens to just anyone who asks favors of the Gods. (I’d like to hear from you if this happens to you as well.)

But when all other avenues have been exhausted, I do turn to my Gods. When it comes to needs that I had to do the Work that they want me to do, I see it more like laying down the gauntlet and less like asking for a favor. Maybe this is flavored by the Gods that I work with; Norse deities like followers with spunk. I see this need as an obstacle rather than a desire; I think this outlook also changes the way I approach my request.

This is an awful long way to explain that I am now using Dragon to write this post. My hands are in such pain that interaction over the Internet was becoming an impossibility. When I typed my entry yesterday I cried afterward. (And that was only 277 words!) I prayed to Baphomet and told Him that if he wanted me to continue this blog he would find a way to make Dragon work for me. I guess I got His attention — I had several offers of real help that ended with Ninja being able to install the copy I had been given onto my machine. And as a backup, He also sent me someone who is willing to buy me a copy as a gift.

I guess this means that Baphomet wants me to write this blog after all. I had reached the place where I had dug deep and could only produce 277 words; there was no way that I could produce blog entries on a regular basis I asking people to come over and take dictation; so He was my only hope.

But now, I Have a Debt. I don’t know what it is, but I know it won’t be pleasant.



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Don’t take anything for granted.

November 8, 2011 at 6:34 pm (Chronic Pain, Medical) (, , , )

I can’t type much today. Over the last two weeks, I have been having increasing nerve pain along my shoulders that has reached into my head and caused killer headaches, and also down my arms and made my hands feel like hot pokers have been shoved into my fingers. That’s how I feel today.

I’m still living up to my obligations, teaching and traveling and fulfilling my Purpose. But just when I thought I had some inkling of a handle on what my body was going through, now this Thing That Eats Me wants my hands. The things I need to move energy, to push needles, to write, to hold people, to get my wheelchair around. I’m not going down without a fight, but boy did I take my hands for granted.

Someone did send me an old copy of Dragon, but it wouldn’t install on my machine. I may not be very active here until I get an updated version and figure out how to use it. I usually want people to leave me alone (for the most part), but the pain I’m experiencing is pretty severe (and I have no idea how chronic internet masturbators do the one-handed typing thing for long) and both my focus and my ability to type is at risk.

But I miss this – screw you, Baphomet – and the stats that I checked every day I can’t bear to look at now. So I would love it if you would comment on this entry, telling me something about this blog, or something I’ve done, that has made your life better, or wider, or more whole. Or even just to say hi.

Edited to add: Duh. Turned on comments now.

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