While I was cycling in the rain this morning-the first really wet morning in awhile-, I was doing my usual thinking and mulling over what needed to be attended to today and in the week ahead. I reminded myself of my appointment in the hospital in Galway on Monday for what I now call my “wasp” injection.
About 18 months ago I got 2 very serious wasp stings which resulted in me enrolling in a desensitizing programme in University Hospital Galway’s Immunology department. The process consists of an injection of in my case wasp venom ( each participant has a particular allergy -wasps or bees) every week for 3 months and then a maintenance dose once a month for 3 years. I have to say I nearly died when I heard what the commitment would entail. I don’t think I had ever in my life had to pay that much attention to anything to do with my health, as I have been blessed with very good physical health.
So off I went each Thursday morning to Galway, to St Michael’s day ward and started my desensitization adventure. The idea behind the process is to inject increasing doses of wasp venom to teach my body not to react to a wasp sting in an aggressive manner. Then when a high threshold is achieved a maintnance dose is given to fully acclimatise the body to no longer react.
Well needless to say the process was not straightforward for me. As many of my friends and family have often said to me if there are two routes to chose from, a difficult one or an easy one, I am programmed to chose the difficult one 🙁 And so it happened. It took 9 months not 3 months for my body to finally stop reacting to the injections. My body fought tooth and nail to each injection with varying degrees of success. From minor irritations to full blow attacks. I was truly amazed at what I was experiencing. I found myself putting all my meditation and dance practice skills into good use. The most helpful was in being able to witness what was happening rather than getting caught up in the battles and dramas being played out between my body and the wasp! I truly felt as time passed that I was watching a battle each week unfolding and wondered who would win in that round. Many times the strength of my body’s resistance to the change resulted in us having to drop back down to the beginning again and start the process all over from scratch. I did wonder if we would ever get to the stage of a truce between my body and the wasp, as did the doctors and nurses in the department. Yet none of us were prepared to give up and call it a day. Thankfully I had great support from the doctors and nurses who got to know me very well. ( A little aside – I never in my live imagined I would ever be instantly recognisable at the admissions office of a hospital – but I am by all the staff in Galway !!!!!! )
So with amazing patience and curiosity each time we would re-embark on the journey to get my body to make peace or at least learn not to react to each injection. Painstakingly week by week we got there and in June this year finally I achieved the maintenance dose and delight rung out in the day ward 🙂 I am now on the monthly phase and am truly amazed each time at how my body seems to take the injection – the equivalent of 2 wasp stings- in its stride and is causing no grief to me so far.
Reflecting on this while cycling this morning got me thinking of the process itself – of finding a way to teach the body to ignore/not to react to an irritant. I began to think of what a great analogy this would be for teaching us to not react to all the negative/ disabling thoughts that keep trying to invade our minds and brains. I imagined choosing a particular thought pattern and giving it the attention that was given to the “wasp” as in learning all the ways needed to build a strong immune system so that we no longer needed to give it so much of our valuable life force or be so controlled by it. I imagined having the patience, the witnessing skills and the support of others over a sustained period of time to help the reactive habits became less and less.
I decided there and then that the new course I am designing to combine the 5 Rhythms movement Of Gabrielle Roth, Mindfulness Meditaion of Pema Chodron and Interpersonal Neurobiology of Daniel Siegel would be inspired by my wasp desensitization process 🙂 🙂 Having been through the desensitization process myself and coming out the better for it, I sense inside me the excitement of applying it to thought patterns and not just wasps and bees to see if the results can be as hopeful and helpful. I am aiming to start the course in September 2014 and now as a core part of it I will ask participants to choose a particular issue they wish to dedicated their time and resources to and we will mindfully track through dance, meditaion and solid brain information the changes that can occur over a year.
Keep an eye on the website for more details and application forms.
Right now I feel a tremendous sense of gratefulness to two wasps that changed the course of my life quite unbeknownst to either of them and a cycle in the rain……