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Fistula Surgery @ the Research Institute: Part 2

Read Part 1 first

We arrived at the Garg Fistula Research Institute, attached to Dr Garg’s house, and went in to meet him and his team.

Even though I had sent them emails before, I still ran over my history and everything that they might need to know regarding the fistula surgery and everything related to it. He asked about my Crohn’s history, and because I wasn’t on any medication and didn’t have any symptoms he said that it wouldn’t affect his job.

He gave us so much time and answered all our questions. Already I was getting the feeling that this was a man I could trust, who was passionate about his work, and who really knew what he was talking about. All he treats is fistulas, fissures and piles, and he travels around the world talking to other surgeons about his research.

The following morning I was booked in for an MRI at 8.

Shankar picked Harlan and I up at the hotel. When we reached the MRI clinic it looked like a little shopfront, and we were very glad that we had Shankar with us to speak Hindi to the people at the front-desk. It was quite different to any other MRI I’ve had, but I was relaxed and I’m sure the machine was slightly wider so it felt less cramped in there.

Once the images were ready we took the CD off to the clinic for Dr. Garg to check and give us the verdict. He is concerned that most surgeons and radiologists seem to have a hard time properly reading MRIs in relation to the anal area, and so many times he has people come to him as a ‘last resort’ from top surgeons around the world where fairly simple and obvious things have been missed. I didn’t realise I would be ‘one of those’ people.

He began scrolling through the images on his computer. We could see where the seton was and all the inflammation around that area. He kept scrolling higher through the slides and talked us through, in detail, how there was actually another, previously undiscovered, abscess higher up. He explained to us that there is an internal and external sphincter muscle, with an intersphincteric space where abscesses can often form with a fistula, and mine had horse-shoed around in this area. This meant that my case was complex, and my heart sank.

I had so hoped it would be a simple fix.

Being my first day in India I suddenly wondered if I would have to stay longer than three weeks, healing away from the comfort of home. Long story short, he told us what procedures he was going to carry out on the various areas and said that with the higher complex fistula/abscess it would reduce the success rate slightly to the 80% range , but he was still confident that it wouldn’t take longer than 40 minutes to sort it out in hospital.

The colour and choice is never-ending!

That afternoon I squeezed in some market exploration with all of us, knowing that in the next few days I would be too sore to go around in the car site-seeing. I was quite nervous about the following day – my second day in India, driving to a new town, being operated on in a hospital in India, having to spend the night, and being so far from home with what was happening. I was so relieved and grateful that Harlan was with me and would be able to stay the night in the hospital alongside me.

The next morning Shankar picked us up bright and early and we had an entertaining drive to the Indus International Hospital in Derra Basi. He dropped us, wishing me well, and again, being the only Westerners, we had to use a combination of sign language and help from some very kind people who would call in others who knew some English. Needless to say, we were allowed to skip parts of the forms.

We were led to our room on the 3rd floor, overlooking dry fields, where the cows were grazing, and waited to be called in for surgery. I had begun fasting that morning and Dr Garg also told me that I couldn’t eat for 5 days after the surgery – not having a bowel motion would greatly reduce the pain. That in itself was rather daunting, especially when everyone was so excited to be surrounded by delicious Indian food!

I was in my green gown, net hat on and the nurses came to get me with a roller bed and off we went. It was quite surreal really, waving Harlan goodbye and disappearing with people I couldn’t communicate with into the depths of this hospital. Even though it’s an international hospital it is still very different from what we are used to here in a first world country, but I had been mentally prepared and had a deep sense of underlying trust in the whole process.

In a nutshell, I received a spinal block, which meant that although I couldn’t feel the surgery I felt the pressure and discomfort of being prodded and poked with my legs up in stirrups. Luckily Dr Garg had given me the green light for taking in my head phones (with guided imagery and meditation music on), which really helped. Plus a lovely, young caring anaesthetist who told me a little bit about his life. After the procedure, I was wheeled into recovery and a few minutes later began shivering. At first I let my body go with it, because I believe that body movement after trauma can help shift it through your system faster (like with dogs shaking). However it became stronger and stronger. I tried to consciously stop it every time a nurse came in because I was desperate to get back to the room to see Harlan and I didn’t want anything holding up the process.

Eventually I was taken back to our room where I was overjoyed to see Harlan.

He was very concerned about my shaking and called for our Kashmiri doctor. She checked my vitals and covered me with lots of blankets because I had gotten cold in the theatre. With rescue remedy, lots of blankets, and Harlan by my side, I eventually calmed down and was able to doze. I was not allowed to move for the next 6 hours, and it was a long drawn out, uncomfortable time. I made it of course, and then I also made it through the night on minimal pain killers.

The next morning, I had to walk about 500m – Dr Garg’s orders – and so off we went, me holding onto Harlan’s arm in my faded green gown, limping slowly next to him. We found a way to get out of the building and did laps up and down the ramps in the steamy hot morning air. I wasn’t as sore as I had expected!

Near mid-day Shankar picked us up and took us back to the clinic so that they could look at the wound and begin the dressing change process that was so vital to healing.

The procedure was as follows:

• the fistula on the outside (where the seton was) was laid open because it only touched a small part of the sphincter
• another little tract was cauterised at the opening (PERFACT procedure) – internally
• on the horse shoe abscess, he performed a TROPIS procedure by creating a cross opening, draining it, and cauterising any openings (internally)
• the ‘dressing procedure’ for my particular case was someone making sure that these wounds heal from the bottom up/inside out and don’t close prematurely, leading to the possibility of another fistula/abscess.

For the next three weeks in India we had to go morning and evening to the clinic to have the dressing changed. The first few days Harlan just watched while they explained what they were doing, and then he had to start practicing.

Dr Garg believes that there are two very important reasons why his simple procedures have such a high success rate:

a) he knows how to properly diagnose exactly what’s going on (reading MRIs) and then has a range of procedures to choose the most suitable from, and
b) he says that aftercare is at least 50% of the successful healing.

Where with other surgeries you are sent home, mostly to fend for yourself with maybe a couple of weekly check-ups, with Dr Garg you see him and his expert team twice a day for the duration of your stay in India.

If I hadn’t had Harlan with me to learn the dressing procedure, or if it had taken him longer to gain confidence, we would have had to extend our trip. Luckily for us all he picked it up quickly and confidently, and within the last week Dr Garg was happy for us to leave on our planned date. He is reluctant to let his patients go unless he is confident that your support person will carry out the dressing changes as he and his team would, for the duration of the healing process.

For the first time I felt that I was really able to trust and hand over the whole process to a true expert.

Harlan, me and Dr Garg – two of the most expert men when it comes to fistulas!

He was always kind, caring and the amount of things that we learnt while there were phenomenal (I could write a booklet just on that). My other options up until then had pretty much been – live with a seton, go onto heavy immune-suppressant drugs, and keep trying a different surgery every year or so.

During the surgery, he took two tissue samples for a PCR tuberculosis (TB) test. He told me that it is routine for him to test for this, because if it goes undetected in the tissue it can cause a recurrence of an abscess or fistula because the TB cells multiply so slowly. About 5 days after the surgery the results came back positive. Since I was born and brought up on a farm in South Africa, where a lot of the workmen and their families had active TB, it wasn’t the biggest surprise.

The treatment for TB is a 6 month course of a combination of anti-biotics.

He told us that it was very lucky that the test had showed up positive, because often it can hide in an area of the body, and unless a PCR test is done on that particular tissue you can show up as negative. The things you never knew you never knew! I went on quite a Google mission after that to see if it might tie in with any of the other health-related issues that I’d experienced in my life!

Just to backtrack, for the last 5 years, since August 2012, I hadn’t been able to sit on my bum properly because of the pain. Whenever I needed to maintain a sitting position I would either sit with my knees bent and calves underneath me or I would sit twisted and sideways so that there was no pressure on the right-hand side of my bum.

The second day after surgery when I came into Dr Garg’s office and went to kneel on the chair he asked me why I wasn’t sitting.

Because it’s too sore and there is a gaping wound that I don’t want to sit on, I replied, wondering how he could even ask such a silly question.

You need to sit, he replied. Go on, try it.

I gingerly lowered myself very slowly onto the seat and allowed a little bit of weight to bear down. It wasn’t as painful as I had expected, but I still held some of my weight off.

Your new assignment, he said to me, is to sit as often as you can. It will give you that sense of normality that you haven’t had, and it will also allow you to feel any areas that may not be healing as they’re supposed to and you can report back.

Being dropped in Delhi for our last night in India. Shankar (middle) made our trip! He was the best driver EVER and became a great friend!

And so I began sitting normally on our drive to and from the clinic. At first I couldn’t believe that with such a huge wound I was able to do this when I hadn’t been able to sit for the last five years. However, it just became easier and easier until, on our last day we drove for 5 hours, from Chandigarh to New Delhi. Half way through the trip it started to get uncomfortable, but I could handle it, whereas before I arrived I couldn’t even have even sat for 10 minutes like that!

These were the small victories.

The big victories were that the wounds, both inside and outside began to noticeably heal before we left, and now, just over 3 months after my surgery, both the internal and external wounds are about 90% healed! Harlan still attends to them twice a day and will do so until everything is 100% healed. We now completely and deeply understand why the aftercare is so vital to wholesome healing after a fistula surgery. The other great victory is that I also have more energy because my body isn’t constantly fighting infection either!

My other offers regarding fistula surgery:

So, just to summarise, the procedure I was offered by the expert here in New Zealand, was to place a seton for about 6 months to a year, to allow inflammation to reduce and then possibly look at the option of an advancement flap. Inflammation would never have fully reduced because of the undetected abscess higher up, and even if it had and 6 months later the lower tract had been healed, I still would have been in a lot of pain from the hidden abscess. When this found another way to exit my body as another fistula, the explanation would probably have been that I was just prone to them and they were ‘unfixable’.

In Australia, even If the VAAFT procedure or the collagen plug had sealed the lower tract, exactly the same thing would have happened. I still would have been in pain, and weeks or months down the line, a new tract would have formed to allow the abscess to drain and I would have believed that I was incurable.

I had also thought of going to India for a kshara sutra treatment (before I found the Garg Fistula Research Centre), and had I done that, it would have at first seemed like a success and just like all the other options it wouldn’t have stuck.

Luckily for me I didn’t take the New Zealand option…

Enjoying the relatively cooler temperatures on a day trip up into the foothills of the Himalayas on our last few days.

…and the Australian option didn’t work, otherwise it might have taken me another year to get to India where I was able to find such amazing, expert, wholesome, caring treatment. I will be forever grateful to India, Dr Garg and his decision to keep learning more and more about treating fistulas, his amazing team, and all the growth and stretching I have done to get to the point where I never gave up and was ready to open myself up to fully trusting, even when it sounded like a ‘mad idea’ to others.

So many things led me to this place in my journey – EFT, learning to love myself more deeply and whole-heartedly (and all that encompasses), the incredible love and support from those human angels around me, and learning to surrender, let go and trust.

If you have, or know of anyone with a fistula please share this knowledge with them because it could change their lives! And even if it helps just one person to end the pain and struggle that they are experiencing as a result, that would be AMAZING!

Fistula Treatment @ the Research Institute: Part 1

A factual recount of my trip to India for fistula treatment.

On June the 19th we flew to India to visit the Garg Fistula Research Institute in Chandigarh. I was ready. I had tried a surgeon in Australia for fistula treatment (three operations later), and the pain I had returned with in May, propelled me onto the India path.

In August 2016, for the first time in all my years of googling, I came across the Garg Fistula Research Institute in India.

Their website didn’t blow me away at first glance, but as I read more about the surgeon’s credentials, all the research papers he had written and the awards he had received, I became more excited. I made contact with the clinic via email and shortly after, we began sending each other WhatsApp messages. I asked lots of questions about what the surgery was, how long I’d have to be there, where to stay, climate and more, and they sent back suggestions and also links to various videos and research articles that Dr Garg had written.

They also sent me the name and number of someone in New Zealand who had recently been (with their permission of course), so we organised a time to talk. The man was Indian, living in Auckland, and had been over with his wife after struggling with a fistula for 2 years. He hadn’t tried any surgery yet, and Chandigarh was only a few hours from the town where his parents still lived.

I asked him hundreds of questions…

…both about being in the city and also about the procedure and the surgeon. He couldn’t speak highly enough of the surgeon and his team, and of how much they cared. I felt heartened to hear such an amazing review, but I still felt daunted about going somewhere where my tummy could get upset from the food, and also the 17-hour plane trip when a 2-hour car ride was almost too much.

However, I organised a time to talk to the surgeon on WhatsApp, and got to ask him all the questions about why and how, and also got a feeling about him. He had a lot of time for me on the phone and answered all my questions in depth. I could tell that he really knew his stuff and was passionate about always learning more. At this stage, I hadn’t had any other surgeries. He told me that so often he had people come to him as a last resort. They had tried many different surgeries and often those had made the fistula worse.

I felt excited by the idea that there might be someone out there who could help me with my fistula treatment…

…but I also felt scared about going to India. Harlan wouldn’t be able to come with me because it was the busy time in the honey season. This meant my mum would join me. I would never have gone alone, because you must have a support person to learn the dressing changes that must be carried out once you get home, otherwise you need to stay there for the 2-3 months it takes to heal.

A month or so later my tummy struggled with a ‘flare up’ and it took a while to calm it down. Obviously in that time there was no way I could go anywhere, and surgery wouldn’t have been an option while my gut was inflamed and angry.

During that time, I came across a different fistula treatment option closer to home, in Australia, and began communicating with that surgeon.

Long story short, we discussed my case and decided I would come over at the beginning of January, with the hope of him performing a VAAFT. And so just after New Year, with my tummy back to normal, I went to Brisbane with my mum. During surgery, because there was too much tissue degeneration in the area he was only able to clean out the tract and place a seton. I was in a lot of pain for weeks afterwards, but as the tissue settled, the seton made it easier for a while. Then the inflammation started up again, so I planned my return trip in the hope that the second surgery would be able to bring about a complete closure.

So off I went in April with my mum again. The surgeon decided to use a collagen plug. Within a couple of days after this operation, it became obvious that the fistula treatment had failed, and 5 days later I returned to hospital for more surgery – this time he removed the disintegrating plug and placed another seton.

The pain this time was even worse and I arrived home in NZ three weeks later in more pain than when I had left. Mentally and physically it was a rough time, and even though at first I said I would give it a month of so to settle down, my mind began drifting back to India; my ‘last resort’. I could feel my Inner Wisdom gently speaking to me. The more it went there, the more I felt in myself that I just had to do it, and do it soon. The time was right. If I waited until July, Harlan wouldn’t have been able to come with me, and I knew that I really wanted to have him with me for this part of my healing journey.

I spoke to the surgeon in India again.

Dr Garg reminded me of his three main aims with patients:

• Never create any danger to the sphincter muscle
• Minimise chance of recurrence
• Minimal pain after surgery – able to walk and carry on normally within days (big call after my recent experience in Australia)

The clinic also put me in touch with a couple from Northland, New Zealand, who had recently been over. He had been struggling with a fistula for a few years, with a number of painful seton placements, and it turns out it was a simple fistula treatment that Dr Garg approached by laying it open. It was now all healed and he had no more pain. The couple not only explained the technical details, but also gave me the western perspective of the clinic, the hospital and the city. His wife told me that, during consultation, you are not insulated and private as you would expect to be here in NZ, but that the care was the best. She also told me that even though it may not look as professional as we expect here when you go into the clinic/hospital, I should know that the staff were the best and most expert she had ever come across.

After a week or so, and talking with Harlan, we decided to go.

Rowan, Louis, Harlan and me getting ready to fly!

I was now more nervous about the 40 degrees we would be going into (in the peak of summer) than the food giving me Delhi Belly. I felt so much stronger in my body from all the different levels of nourishment I had been giving it, so that didn’t really concern me as much. Two friends also decided that they would come on a winter adventure with us. So we booked tickets and a few weeks later we were on the plane to New Delhi via China.

The flight was only bearable for my bum because there were spare seats that Harlan went to, and I could have two to myself to curl up and sleep most of the way. By this stage I was ready to do anything with the hope that the end of bottom pain might be in sight…

We arrived in New Delhi, slightly delirious from lack of sleep, and had our last 1 ½ hour internal flight up to Chandigarh. I felt so excited being in India and seeing a landscape so different from anything I had ever seen. There were SO many buildings as we taxied down the runway, and so much colour everywhere.

Chandigarh, a small city of only a million people, is reputed to be India’s cleanest city.

We landed around 5:30 in the evening, so the heat was manageable and walked into a rather empty airport. We were the only Westerners in sight, and as we walked out of the doors with our luggage, Dr. Garg’s driver, Shankar, came over with his sign ‘Kali Bell’.

He led us to his small Honda (he had been told that there were only two of us), and we all squeezed in, laughing about the miscommunication. During our time in India we learnt that miscommunication just happens, regularly, but despite that, everything runs in its own way! Luckily, we hadn’t brought much luggage because we knew we could buy what we needed here. Shankar pulled out, tooting as he went and we were on our way to the hotel via the Garg Fistula Research Centre for my first consultation. I could write pages and pages just on our first drive, but since this is more about the medical side of things, I’ll keep it brief.

Basically, road rules aren’t what you expect in the West. We crossed lanes and other cars were expected to slow down to let us in, there were 5 vehicles wide across 2-3 lanes, there were 5 people up on scooters, jam-packed auto-rickshaws mingled in between cars, cars stopping for dogs to cross, and the means of communication was tooting. It was absolutely amazing and I was very glad that we had a driver and weren’t trying to navigate this ourselves.

Part 2 here

India: I am ready

I step off the precipice and fall
for a moment I’m dropping
hurtling towards the hard ground

then I remember I have wings
I open them
they creak
stretch and the blood flows through them
my wings

it’s been a while
let them fly
let me fly
into the big unknown that beckons me
calls to my heart strings

and then there is vastness
openness above me
below me and all around me
I am free to journey

how did I forget my wings?
these beautiful light feathers
for soaring through the air
simply waiting for the words

I am ready.

And so I am. For another exciting chapter on this journey called life. In under two weeks I fly to India. A country that both scares me and intrigues me. A place where the Goddess Kali resides in many places. And I will meet her, even though I may not at first know it. I will feel her presence in the dirt and in the sunsets, in the poverty and in the wealth, in the rivers and in the temples dedicated to her.

I am going to the Fistula Research Centre in a city north of Delhi called Chandigarh. I am going to seek advice and treatment from a world expert in fistulas. There are not many of those around, and to be honest this colorectal surgeon, Dr Pankaj Garg, is the first such person I came across last year after 4 years of trawling the internet at regular intervals. I stumbled across his site about 8 months ago, and back then the idea of going to India with a sore bum and a tummy on the sensitive side scared the living daylights out of me. Australia seemed like a good first option. It did not pan out as expected though, so India came back onto the radar.

It is currently 40 degrees there in the height of summer and in July the monsoons arrive. However, this is the time Harlan can come with me and leave the bees to quietly and cosily winter in their sunny bush sights. Two dear friends are joining us too, and between the four of us there will be adventure.

Where there was fear and trepidation before, there is now excitement, anticipation and a feeling of adventure running through my veins.

You see I realised a few months ago that physical adventuring has been minimal through this healing journey of mine, and that I’m craving it. My soul needs it. It feeds me in ways that nothing else can. When I first got back from Australia I knew that when the pain settled we needed to explore, even if it was in tiny ways, we would do it.

And then one day last month, with the desire of healing my bum, the idea of India was reborn. It started out as a spark with only tiny flashes of light. But it very quickly grew into something more. The flight is 17 hours, which for someone who doesn’t even drive at the moment is very long! It’s hot! Some people experience Delhi Belly….

We all spent the first week almost reluctantly committing. Knowing we desired adventure, and me that and healing. However, as the days have passed, and more links and pictures have been shared between us, there has been a growing excitement and anticipation. What started out as a trip purely for healing my bum, has turned into so much more.

This time thinking about India, underneath the wildness of the idea, I feel a great sense of peace and calm. I am ready. The time is now.

It will be a pilgrimage. Me journeying to far off holy lands. Since I was named Kali, after the Hindu Goddess, I have always known that I will visit India at some point. I just hadn’t planned for it to be so soon. Lucky I’ve never been a big one for plans and so I can flow with the currents and go where I need to go at the time. I am ready. I am ready to adventure on all levels – physically, spiritually and emotionally.

I have opened my wings and my Inner Wisdom is guiding me.

I am ready.

Stay Strong: Self Love Theme for 2017

Stay Strong

Did you know that you don’t have to stay strong in the macho, suck it up way? Strong doesn’t mean you have to self-sacrifice and suck it up. You don’t need to pretend that everything is OK and just keep going and going like a machine. Did you know that you can actually be strong in a more gentle way in your core. By staying true to yourself and trusting yourself. It’s actually OK to receive what you need, to support yourself with all that you do in the world.

What does Stay Strong look like?

Staying strong is the theme for self love in 2017, created by Christine Arylo in all the beautiful work she does in the world, sharing tangible ways in which we can strengthen our self love. So what exactly does stay strong mean?

S – Speak your truth and stay connected

T – Trust yourself

R – Rest and Replenish

O – Own your power and play your part

N – Nourish your heart and soul’s desires

G – Give and Receive

How to use this to strengthen in self love

You can take these six aspects of staying strong and apply them to your own life. What areas are you already strong in? What areas are you learning to be stronger in? You’ll never have them all perfect. This is a path and a process that you get to choose every moment. 

For every one of us, throughout the year, we are going to have things that come up. Things that wobble that strength in our core; some in small ways and some in big ways. It’s called life. But if we can look at this and see where we’re already strong and keep building on that. And then look at where we are learning to be strong and nourish those parts, we develop a deeper strength in our core. 

I’ve created this video to dive into each aspect a little more.

A practice

We all need a daily practice to stay strong in our core. It doesn’t have to be 30 minutes or an hour. A daily practice can be as little as 3 minutes when you wake up in the morning. It can be looking at the poster you have created, reminding you which aspects need to be fed this month. Or it can be looking at each of the S.T.R.O.N.G aspects and checking in with yourself which one you want to focus on for that day. Remember they all work together, so when you focus on one, the others will be there to support it.

When we commit to nourishing these aspects, we strengthen in self love so that we are better able to deal with things that come our way, in gentle, more loving ways.

Your turn

Close your eyes, take a deep breath (breath is so important in checking in with ourselves) and put your hand on your heart or belly. Which of these aspects is strongest for you at the moment? Which one most needs your attention right now? What is one small act that you can write down right now, which will help you to strengthen that today? Maybe it’s I lie down for 5 minutes when I get home. Or it could be I go to the beach to reconnect. Don’t just jot it down and never look at it again. Put these somewhere where you will see them every day. Check in every day and see what needs your attention now.

My experience

For me, right now, the area that I’m strongest in is Trusting Myself. I feel my health journey has really strengthened this for me. Digging deep and listening to my Inner Wisdom on a daily basis. The area for me that needs the most nourishing is Rest & Replenish. This is often the one that I struggle to honour when I’m feeling more energetic or like I’ve got a bunch of things to get done.

So for me, I have jotted down a few ways in which I can feed this:

I take time to stop and read a book.

Lie down for 5 minutes when my body needs a rest.

Go to the beach for a top up.

What are yours?

This post is inspired by Christine Arylo, and her feminine super power salon on February the 13th, which is 75 minutes of diving deep into this topic. 

 

Listening to my Inner Wisdom

The need for Inner Wisdom

On Monday, the 23rd of January, I had the perfect opportunity to practice tapping into my Inner Wisdom. This is what I’ve been studying since September. Learning tools that I can use with myself and also with others, and now here I was faced with a decision where my Inner Wisdom was key. It was just over a week after my first fistula surgery in Brisbane with Dr Naidu, and my mum (Av) and I had been staying 1 ½ hours north in Noosa with my Aunt and Uncle.

Today we were heading back down to Brisbane to go and see Dr Naidu for a follow up. Av and I had packed up all of our things at Wally and Debbie’s in preparation to fly home in a few days’ time. We didn’t quite know what we were going to do but we planned to leave on Wednesday.

Feeling pretty positive about how things were going we met with Dr Naidu. He looked at my surgery site and he made the call that he wanted to see me for another surgery that Friday. There was too much leaking and he was worried that we needed a bigger seton to help the flow. Unfortunately he was really unwell, so I couldn’t ask all the questions that I wanted to.

Av and I walked out the room in a daze. We headed towards the café, as it was lunchtime and after I rudely shouted at her in front of everyone because she was unsure of her order, we went and sat down at a table.

Lashing out

“Just because you’re struggling doesn’t mean that you can be rude to me in front of other people,” she said to me. “I know,” I replied and burst into tears. She wanted to come around from the other side of the table to comfort me, but I put my hand up. I sat looking out the window of the 5th level, looking down at the buses coming and going below me. I wondered what next? I had no idea. Where I had felt so certain that we were going home, I now felt like a boat without any rudder. I felt a mess and completely lost. “I don’t know where to next,” I said.

Av was out of her depth. I had been the one who organised everything on the trip – accommodation, car, flights, toll and so on – so without my guidance and my knowledge of technology Av felt lost. What could I say to her? At the same time I didn’t want her comfort either. I just wanted it all to be over. I couldn’t face more struggle and more decisions about my bum.

We still somehow managed a giggle at the absurdity of it all, in between tears and me morosely staring out the window.

A plan

Av eventually called Wally and Debbie. Wally laughed when she said that she had no idea what we were going to do next, and they insisted that we come back up to Noosa. I felt relieved. At least we had a plan and at least we were going to be in a beautiful home with beautiful distractions again. Right now I could do with some of those.

So without lunch, only a coffee for Av, we headed straight back onto the motorway and back up towards Noosa. It was a long journey. My mind was buzzing and I didn’t know what to do. I had spent hours uncomfortably sitting in a vehicle already and I just wanted to get out and not have to make any decisions! I knew that I was about to have to practice diving deep into my Inner Wisdom. Diving deep and figuring out what my Inner Wisdom knew was the right thing to do. I had an inkling that more surgery wasn’t for me but I had to do some diving and rolling and tumbling with the ideas to make sure that I felt solid in my decision.

It wasn’t going to matter what anyone thought. In this moment, I knew that I had to feel into my body what was right. What did my gut tell me? It wasn’t a small decision either; staring down the barrel of another general anaesthetic and more pain. This wasn’t going to be taken lightly.

Inner Wisdom practice

I was so thankful for the Inner Wisdom preparation I had been doing for the last few months. As self love students, we have had to create a daily practice of checking in with our Inner Wisdom – what she needs and wants to share with us – so that in the moments when we need her we have developed a relationship with her and find it easier to listen. We need to understand the process in order to be able to share it with others.

Now was the moment.

In the evening, on a visit to the wholefoods store I talked to Av about why I had been so thrown. What was it about our surgeon visit that shocked me the most, because really I had already said I wouldn’t be up for more surgery if the option arose. After talking it through and distilling the ideas, I realised it was that what I had had done was supposedly not enough. Bugger that!

By nightfall I knew what I needed to do. I knew my body needed a rest from more pain and I decided to move into a space of trust that what I had had done was enough and that my body could take it from here. The next day I received an email from the hospital confirming the anaesthetist for Friday, and that made me realise I hadn’t let the surgeon know that I wasn’t going ahead.

A decision is reached…

I composed a text message to him:

Dear Dr Naidu, I have decided that my body is not ready for more surgery yet, and I trust that the seton that is in there will do more than not having anything. We will fly home on Friday and I will keep you updated on progress.

A few minutes later he called.

Usually I would have had stomach flips at going against the decision of a surgeon, or fear that I was doing the wrong thing. But this time, only calm. I felt grounded and very certain in my decision. So when I spoke to him I was clear and he was very respectful that I knew my body best. I finished the telephone conversation feeling empowered and very much knowing that I had followed my truth.

I was walking on air when I left the office. What an amazing feeling!

Here I had direct proof that my daily Inner Wisdom practice was paying off!

Would you like to share an example of following your Inner Wisdom? I would so love to hear xx

Postscript: I am back home now and healing is going well – I am flowing as much as I can in trusting my body and its innate healing abilities. 

International Day of Self Love 2017

Self Love 2017

Hi lovely ones!

Today is the 10th International Day of Self Love (founded by Christine Arylo), and I recorded a quick video about this year’s theme – Staying Strong. Not in the macho way, but strong in the sense of staying true to yourself and feeling that strength in your core.

Self love is a topic very close to my heart, because it has been one of the beacon’s of light on my healing journey. And the more I dive into strengthening self love the easier my journey is becoming and I’m reaching a place of real gentleness with myself which is a treat! In the next few days I will be sharing an example of how strengthening my trust in my Inner Wisdom recently served me in an important decision.

All around the world this month people are holding virtual and in-person get togethers – in over 41 countries. I held one last night with an intimate group, but excitingly Christine Arylo is holding one online – simply go to the link Stay Strong and you too can join in!

What self love promise would you like to make to yourself for 2017?

 

The Desperation to be ‘Fixed’!

The fuel of desperation

Desperation was my driving force, my momentum for the first 2 ½ years on this journey with a fistula. Every possibility, every magic pill, potion and lotion I would dive at it, desperation fuelling my direction, my hope. I searched, tirelessly for natural cures, balms, miracle stories on the internet and the next wonder worker in New Zealand, heck in the world.

It was exhausting. Desperation is an exhausting place to be in. Gentleness and desperation don’t live together too well, and so life was full on in an excruciatingly slow kind of way.

desperation-shores-insanityLife as I knew it had been turned upside down. Ideas had been crushed. Insanity often crept into my peripheral vision, lurking there, waiting for me to let down my guard. Sometimes I couldn’t help myself and I dived head first into the murky mess of it, flailing, sobbing, wishing for another world. Luckily I am a good swimmer and I would eventually get myself out of those currents and beach myself on the shore, exhausted, with nothing left to give.

‘They’ said “Acceptance is the biggest healer. If you can accept your fistula, accept life as it is, life is going to be a hell of a lot easier.

God I knew they were right. I knew if I could just accept my lot that struggle would reduce and I might find some peace in my monkey mind. But it’s easier said than done I’m afraid. I tried. You can’t accuse me of not trying. I tapped on it for days, for weeks. I mean even the basic tenant of tapping is to ‘deeply and completely love and accept myself (just how I am)’.

I don’t know what came first. A lessening of pain and struggle or the work of wonderful healers, an accumulation of tools in my toolbox and the amazing journey I began with my counsellor in Canada. Or maybe it was the perfect synergy. Does it really matter? Either way, under a year ago desperation’s fuel light came on. I didn’t realise. You know how when you’re on a mission to get somewhere in the car and it takes you ages to actually realise there’s an orange fuel tank glaring at you? That’s what happened to me. On some level I sensed a change, but it was subtle and unexpected. Plus, don’t we get used to the status quo so quickly?

On empty!

Desperation began to stutter and choke. I wondered what all the fuss was about and then one day I suddenly realised I felt a gentleness in the periphery. I would read something about an amazing cream and not start pulling my credit card out, ready to have it sent on the next courier. People would tell me about healers or links or books and I wouldn’t pounce on them for more.

It was a novel change. Unexpectedly, instead of feeling this desperation to be fixed, I felt a hunger for change and growth. The soul searching I did with Debra made we want to find more of the inner peace that was beginning to take form.

change-directionsMy relationship with myself grew to a whole new level. Of course I still wanted a healed bum. Of course I didn’t want to have to spend the rest of my life sitting on my haunches hurting my very patient knees. I didn’t want to have to wear a panty-liner every. single. day. of. my. life. But the majority of the time I had changed direction on my journey. I was seeking peace, I was catching moments, right here and now.

There were still the bad days. Days where I would find myself on the carpet (because that doesn’t require pressure on your bottom) rocking myself from side to side begging. Begging the angels, begging the Universe, begging Mother Earth to just get this over and done with already. How f%@#ing long was it going to go on for?

A gentleness

The great thing is, these times passed quicker and also more gently than before. I didn’t wallow in the feeling, desperately trying to feel positive, desperately looking for solutions. Instead it was easier for me to just be with my emotions. Watch them like a wave and know that they too would pass.

The reason I write all of this, if you’re still with me, is that I have a semi ‘ultimatum’. The surgeon has proposed a draining seton on the 30th of June if I don’t feel a heck of a lot better. You see, just before I went to see him, with the idea of taking myself and this seton to explore kshar sutras in India or Austria, I decided to try my body with Ayurveda. finding-gentlenessNot out of desperation but curiosity. And it’s actually really loving it so far. I’m only three weeks in, but hey who knows where it may take me.

So, 95% of the time I feel really calm about it all, I trust that my body will do exactly as it has to, and I will be very clear of what direction to take closer to the time. My body and I are pretty in sync these days, so our communication is great.

A sip of fuel…

However, I think this ultimatum must have put a cup of fuel in desperation’s tank, because I feel the odd lurch and cough from it at the moment. “Oh my gosh, I’ve got to heal before the 30th of June.” “Oh my gosh, I don’t even know if I want to go the seton/kshara sutra route yet.” “What else can I do to speed my healing even more right now?” “Who can I call on? What can I take?

Thank goodness these are very fleeting and far apart. I have time. I have choices. And deep down inside my inner wise woman knows the answer. So instead of falling into a desperate flailing mess trying to find those answers, I relax back into that gentleness and remind myself that I don’t need fixing. That I don’t need answers now. That what my mind body and spirit need most right now is calm. Peacefulness, gentleness and that deep deep love that every human craves.

All these expectations

Expectations and the pressure…

This morning I heard about a young woman, 36, who took her life last week. She’s well known in her field, and by society’s accounts was doing very well for herself.

However, underneath the surface there was obviously a different story running for her that didn’t feel acceptable in our society. Thinking about it makes me want to shout out to all the others left behind:

“It doesn’t have to be like that! You don’t have to be perfect! You don’t have to be famous! You can be average. You can work a ‘lowly’ job and not earn enough to own your own home, and that’s OK. You can have skeletons in the closet and still be lovable.”

Or…

“You can be famous and you can be a millionaire. You can have the most prestigious job and the flashest house in town.”

What’s the difference?

The difference between whether you’re a tramp and content, or a millionaire and content, is your expectations. What expectations do you have of yourself? Are they always higher than you can reach? Do you always expect more from yourself than you can ever give? When you do something well do you stop and congratulate yourself on a job well done before you move to the next project, or do you immediately start looking at what next and what you’re not doing well enough? Are you enough in your eyes? Are you worthy in your eyes?

expectations-find-good-in-the-dayI believe you have to be at peace with yourself. Not all the time, of course. We’re human and that brings with it ups and downs. But in general are you peaceful with your way in the world?

If you have expectations that are always out of alignment with your reality you are draining away your life force and your will to be vibrantly here in this world. Now. In this moment that we are gifted.

Please, lower your expectations of yourself. Be gentle with yourself. You are a being of this world and you deserve love and you deserve kindness. Start now by giving yourself some love in whatever way you can, in whatever way makes you feel acknowledged by you. Expect love from yourself first and foremost, and make that a priority in your life.

For some inspiration to make the most of this moment, enjoy this 5 minute clip A Good Day – by a Benedict Monk.

I had a dream: losing and finding dreams

“I’ve had this dream for so many years,” my mum was saying to me in anguish, “and now at 72 I’ve lost it. And it’s too late. It’s gone. It’s dead. I know it’s not a death, but it’s the death of a dream.”

I had been listening to her and offering different ways of looking at the situation, and different ways of self talk that could help her intense and utter remorse. But for some reason when she mentioned her age in relation to the dream I felt my chest tighten and that uncontrollable sob fill my upper body.

“It doesn’t matter at what age you lose a dream,” I sobbed. “I’m only 32 and I lost my dream 3 years ago. The dream to be young and carefree and beautiful in this world while you still can. Adventuring and spontaneity.”

Then I realised what I was saying. “I know it’s buying into society’s ideas that youth and beauty is fleeting, and to make the most of it, so I know I need to work on all that, but still I lost that dream.”

I stopped and thought about that for a while. “But my point is, it doesn’t matter at what age you lose a dream. A dream is a dream.”

I have worked a lot on remorse around the changes in health that happened in September 2012, so it was interesting to see there was still sadness there. Not surprising really. I very quickly went into observer mode which for me was nice, I didn’t feel like the wallowy tears and sadness around the situation. Especially considering we were talking about my mum.

Before I left I went into my old room and took out my photo albums from the top cupboard to bring home. I flicked through a few briefly, the ones from high school, noticing what I looked like, yet how I believed I looked back then.

The interesting thing is, as I started my drive home I felt a little sensitive. I could feel a slight rawness, yet openness of tears not too far away in my throat. Something had changed. I realised, while looking at the evening light playing with the fresh, vibrant green leaves of spring, and thinking of how lovely I looked as a teenager, that maybe through this health journey I had found a dream I didn’t know I could find.

How long would it have taken me to love myself the way I do now if I hadn’t ‘lost’ the dream of health and youthfulness 3 years ago? This ‘loss’ catapulted me into a place where I worked hard, especially on maintaining sanity. Hours a day of training for something I didn’t know. Every day working my way a little closer to a place within myself where I felt more comfortable…in my own skin…with who I was as a person…with my way in the world. More comfortable with the difference between my journey and my place in other people’s journeys.

And as this realisation gently landed on me on the drive home I felt a wave of intense gripping fizz in my chest, of gratitude. A deep gratitude that makes you breathe deeply and just stop with all the thoughts, just for a moment and realise where you are in this world. Yes I have a sore bum, and yes it does still restrict certain things, and clearly there are still a few tears around that ‘lost’ dream. But oh my, I see myself and the world around me in such a different light now. I can actually feel love for myself and I can see my beauty. Not in a conceited way. In an overflowing loving way that you feel for those close to you.

So yes, a dream was lost, but another one was found that I didn’t even know I was looking for and I can never compare what things may have been like if I hadn’t ‘lost’ that dream.

 

 

Ever still wonder what you want to be when you ‘grow up’?

Do you ever still wonder what you want to be when you grow up?

I love what I’m doing right now, but sometimes I wonder what it is I’m meant to be doing in this world…when I. Grow. Up. In those moments, I remind myself that now is where it’s happening…not when I grow up 😉

I was listening to a mentor of mine speak the other day about struggling to find her place in the world when she was in her early twenties. She wanted to do something unique. She wanted to help others. She wanted to do many amazing things. But didn’t know where to start. Sound familiar?

She was given the following advice. You might like to try this for some streamlined inspiration:

  1. Write an exhaustive list of ALL the things you want to do with your life.
  2. Then start crossing off all the things you’re doing/want to do…
    1. because you think they’ll make you money
    2. because someone told you you should
    3. that will benefit someone else
    4. that don’t feel realistic or true to you
  3. Narrow what’s left down to what makes you feel sparkly and happy inside 🙂
  4. Thank the other ideas, and release them out to the universe, knowing that at any time you can choose to have them back on your list.

Even if what you’re doing right now isn’t on that passionately inspiring list, turn your perspective around so that at least parts of it fill with you with joy. Do what you do. Live in the moment like a carefree kid and notice things…then even if you’re a professional dishwasher you will notice beauty and wonder! You will notice how the water sparkles on a wineglass and creates mini crystals. You will look in wonder at the streaming glaze patterns on a ceramic mug.

Who wants to grow up anyway? Don’t kids have the most fun and understand living in the moment?

when-you-grow-up-recovering-wholeness

Happy, fun, carefree vibes your way!

Love, Kali x