Are You Kind?

I can’t stop thinking about something that happened to me or rather, for me, the other day. For many reasons it affected me profoundly.

Perhaps, because I’ve been so ill. Perhaps, because for the last two years death and dying has been such an invasive subject. Maybe, because I’m alone without human touch. Or is it because I’ve lost trust, had my heart-broken, struggle to find hope purpose and joy in the “in-between moments” of pain and illness. Is it because I was adopted and abused?      Who knows. It just is. Most likely all of those things.IMG_2662 I love Brené Brown’s quote above for many reasons. It’s very challenging for many people including of course, adoptees, people who have been abused, neglected, are chronically ill, or just trying to move forward. The experience I had, I realize now, was only possible because I allowed myself to be vulnerable.

At this point in my life, nothing is off-limits. I’m an open book. My heart is wide open. My mind accepting, forgiveness comes easily when your time on this earth is unpredictable and could change any moment. The truly important things become obvious.

The definition of Kindness is rather simple.

the quality of being friendly, generous and considerate, affection, warmth gentleness, care

Kindness is synonymous with Love except that Love is a state of being and Kindness is a state of doing. When you can make each human interaction a moment inspired by Love, you are practising Kindness…you are taking the step. Love allows us to see the people on our path as the Buddhas they are, and then Kindness allows us to bless them  with loving acts.IMG_2010

I know what i experienced was far deeper than “just kindness”. It was authentic compassion. Authentic empathy. Authentic gentleness offered by a very kind soul.

So many people say they’re kind, perhaps even truly believe they are. Unfortunately for the receiver, you can feel the disingenuous energy and know it’s feeding their own ego being.

Many adoptees I’ve encountered over the years experience the same feeling when offered authentic kindness morsels. It’s overwhelming often leading to tears. The fact that someone truly cares and is offering you a piece of their heart in their hand can be overwhelming to say the least. How sad that such a deeply ingrained belief can still be present even at my ripe old age. From the time you absorb the negative energy in utero, you have the belief you aren’t worthy of love. Of course you know it’s not true. It’s just so deep that until someone comes along and offers you authentic kindness and you let yourself be vulnerable and open to receiving it, that you realize what you’ve lost.

Of course, I’m speaking for myself here, but I know others have experienced the same.

Here’s the story. As I mentioned, I’ve been dealing with my own mortality and all that it entails. Dying is a lot of work! Paperwork, emotional work, medical work, constant thinking work, saying goodbye work. A great deal of work. It’s especially challenging when you are alone. I’m blessed to have a couple of dearly loved friends, the ones that pulled me through my near death hospitalization. We had dinner one night and laughed until we cried as we discussed my death. Now, those are good friends!

Oh right, the story.

I was in a meeting. A business meeting with a business person I’ve known for many years now. I’m filling him in on some of “the story”. You know, the one that is over. The story of the last few years, condensed of course! I’ve been very tearful since my last admission to hospital last week. Part Mast Cell Madness, part facing reality and the exhaustion of it all. I felt a tear slip out of my eye and roll down my cheek. When I looked up, there he sat. His hands were stretched out to me, palms up. His eyes focused on mine. At first i was confused. What does he want? A “low five”, “patty cakes” “a book”?

What? What?

Then it hit me!

I’m supposed to put my hands in his! OMG! He’s being authentically kind! He’s oozing empathy and compassion. I reached over and gently lowered my hands onto his. He slowly rolled up his fingers wrapping my hands in the warmth of connection. I could feel the energy, the caring. I could feel his gaze. I forced my eyes to move from our hands to his eyes. He looked and said softly, “I’m here for you. Do you hear me? I’m here for you.”

It was authentic and my heart burst open, leaving me flailing in vulnerability and tears. For that moment, I felt the healing energy of..

Compassion, empathy and authentic kindness

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I wonder why more people can’t speak from the heart through actions. Words mean very little unless accompanied by actions.

I wonder if others take this for granted. I wonder what it would be like to experience this daily. I can’t stay there too long because I’d know all I’ve missed. What I can do, is encourage everyone to connect, to care, to be kind every chance you get. You will never know what a gift you have given to someone. A gift that may have changed the course of their life.

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“We are each of us angels with only one wing.

And we can only fly embracing each other.”

 Luciano De Crescenzo

 

 

 

 

 

Undones, Do You Have Them?

It’s been a tough week in the masto community. We’ve lost two amazing people who struggled with the daily challenges of Mast Cell Disease like I have. Another special friend is in the ICU fighting for her life as I write. That’s how unpredictable this is…life is
I’ve been in that place of almost not coming back. The last few months I’ve dipped my toes in that place several times.
Please..if you know someone that is struggling, reach out, check on them, love them. Your time may be limited.
If you can, please send prayers, healing energy, your thoughts to Jeanne Johnson Griffin and her family.
We need research, we need a cure

The Almost Daughter & More

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Having faced death several times myself and recently experiencing the deaths of two very special people, I find myself preoccupied with loss.

Adoptees tend to do that of course. Our beginnings in utero had already started the prewiring necessary for our survival which was begun with loss of our mother.

Of course, I’d like to be thinking of sunshine and rainbows, but the reality for all of us is that death is inevitable. It could be tonight even.. It will come whether you’re ready or not. That is a certainty and we don’t have many of those in this life.

My life has been filled with loss as most adoptees are. The loss of our mother, our family, our heritage, our genetic markers, our family dynamics. Each future loss such as the recent losses I’ve mentioned open that old wound.

Then of course you add in the numerous losses one…

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Undones, Do You Have Them?

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Having faced death several times myself and recently experiencing the deaths of two very special people, I find myself preoccupied with loss.

Adoptees tend to do that of course. Our beginnings in utero had already started the prewiring necessary for our survival which was begun with loss of our mother.

Of course, I’d like to be thinking of sunshine and rainbows, but the reality for all of us is that death is inevitable. It could be tonight even.. It will come whether you’re ready or not. That is a certainty and we don’t have many of those in this life.

My life has been filled with loss as most adoptees are. The loss of our mother, our family, our heritage, our genetic markers, our family dynamics. Each future loss such as the recent losses I’ve mentioned open that old wound.

Then of course you add in the numerous losses one tends to accumulate over the years and suddenly life appears to hold nothing but darkness, silence, the sound of tears dropping, emptiness, loss of health. Living with an illness that could at any moment take my life brings it all to the frontline.

Being a practicing Buddhist I’m well prepared for the inevitable. I don’t fear death at all and in fact, at times would welcome it. Most people living with Mast Cell Disease can attest to that when you’ve spent days in excruciating pain, vomiting into a pail, fighting the anaphylaxis demons with epinephrine.

That in no way means I want to die. It means I believe one has to prepare for their own death in order to live. A close encounter with death can bring a real awakening, a transformation in our whole approach to life.

The Nature of everything is illusory and ephemeral,

Those with dualistic perception regard suffering as happiness, Like they who lick the honey from a razor’s edge. How pitiful they who cling strongly to concrete reality:

Turn your attention within, my heart friends.

The above is a verse of a poem by contemporary master, Nyoshul Khenpo. It clearly outlines the need to reflect deeply on impermanence. It’s very difficult to turn our attention within and so easy to allow our old habits, our set patterns to rule us! To reflect on this, slowly brings us wisdom. Watch how you repeatedly fall into the same old habits that always bring you suffering. Again, and again, and again. With observance and practice we can slowly emerge and change.

Your Undones…

Your undones are that persistent, niggling, feeling that is sent to you from The Universe, Your Higher Self, how ever you think of what is “out there”. It’s telling you that you have unfinished business. Business that will pester you, stress you and take your energy until you complete it. Mental nags are undones. They remind you that you have broken agreements with yourself and time and time again you’ll notice they rob you of your self respect. Creativity…gone. True joy…gone. Internal peace…gone. You are able to get back all of those things if you complete your undones.

Right now in your mind I’m sure you can identify several. I know I can. They could be unresolved conflicts, withheld forgiveness, appreciation not mentioned, love not given, goals not met, promises not kept. Your life is probably full of many more not mentioned. They come in every size, shape, and in each and every area of your life. Check your basement. It’s probably full of undones.

Let this sink in…You won’t find peace until these undones are completed. Just remember, life is short and very unpredictable.

Down The Rabbit Hole With ICU-itis

“ICU psychosis is a disorder in which patients in an intensive care unit experience anxiety, auditory and visual hallucinations, paranoia, agitation and disorientation”

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November 22nd 2015 my life changed forever…again.

Exactly one year ago today.

It’s taken a year to sit with  the almost daughter, the experience still so vivid.  I can’t wrap my brain around everything that happened on that day and for weeks and months after. I’ve wanted to write a blog about my experiences. It’s an experience that family and friends are never prepared for and from a patients view terrifying. There are simple things you can do to help alleviate someones terror, someones hallucinations, delusions. I’ll tell you what those things are at the end.

I woke up with one difference that day. Centralized, excruciating, left, lower quadrant pain. Pain so severe that with any movement at all, a scream, dripping with tears would escape. I have a very high pain tolerance and dealing daily with a mast cell disease you are used to pain and feeling quite ill.  My rational brain said go to the hospital, the nurse/patient thinks it will go away.

Being chronically ill with a complicated mast cell illness along with ME and Fibro you tend to forget what normal is, what not being sick is, what acute pain feels like vs the constant deep bone, muscle and joint pain of disease.

By noon I was bleeding heavily rectally, in so much pain I couldn’t get up from the toilet. Within minutes, my friend and the ambulance arrived. They are familiar and know my mast cell protocol by heart.

This was different. We all knew it was bad. No words needed to be spoken.

 I had been feeling worse the past few months.I thought it was my mast cells acting up. I had recently started a continuous Benadryl pump with hopes of keeping my mast cells in check and me out of anaphylaxis and the hospital.

The diagnosis: pelvic abscess, bowel perforation, partially collapsed lung and sepsis.

Very quickly things became a blur. CT’s with contrast, meds, IV’s, surgery the only option. The surgeon informed my daughter and friends there was a good chance I wouldn’t make it through surgery. My systems were severely compromised due to the sepsis and of course, mast cell issues adding to the complexity.

After experiencing respiratory arrest in the OR and with continued problems with my oxygen levels I was sent to ICU. My O2 sats were 82%@7L, systems unstable, survival questionable.

Day after day, hour after hour,

moment by moment,

systems stopping and starting

Days passed.

There were brief moments of awareness, of tears and fears and then quickly I would be put back in the twilight zone. 15 IV bags being controlled by nurses, each system tweaked by moments.

Life and Death in The Rabbit Hole

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Critical Care would continue in the 3 bed step-down unit.  Constant monitoring by machines and nurses. I emerged from the rabbit hole for brief moments. I lay there attempting to reorientate myself. I tried to check out body parts but I couldn’t move. Tubes and bags hissing and whooshing were everywhere sucking out toxins and spitting into collection bags of assorted sizes.

I was very much in the danger zone, no guarantees of tomorrow.

Pale beige curtains surrounded me. I had my own tiny cubicle. Stains from previous tenants moved changing patterns as I watched in horror.

In Critical Care, the lights never go out,  noise never stops,  call bells constantly ring, the retching, the demands for pain meds, the cursing of another patient in The Rabbit Hole. Reality fades in and out like waves..

I hear them. I know….

They’re talking about me!

Stop whispering! Please!!

I know what you are thinking. It’s not true. They’re  going to take pictures of me. Their friend, I know all about him…he’s the guy that has been stealing medication from patients drawers and little old ladies purses while they wait for answers about their loved ones.

It’s true.

I hear them talking.

I whisper when my friends visit. Pointing, desperately gesturing in attempts to have them make sure my purse was safe…zipper side at the back. They don’t understand my desperation but they patiently show me that everything is there and quietly close the drawer exchanging looks of confusion.

A constant stream of doctors, nurses, phlebotomy staff, physio, dietary, more blood work, new bags of nutrition added to the several already hanging. A whirlwind of medical necessities keeping me alive. To them, I speak appropriately. I know my eyes show my terror. No one asks.

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 I can’t tell them about the guy across from me and his friend and the many changing patients beside me. I know they wouldn’t believe me. Each one is part of the rabbit hole. One is chanting Native prayers and putting spells on us with his computer coding which I know nothing about. The other, screams obscenities while he pulls out tubes, blood and feces splattering over the floor oozing under my curtain.

At night, the sounds are deafening, bells ring louder, a tangled tube is pulled out. I call for the nurse to help him.  I can’t yet move myself. My left side is so swollen, hot and painful, from shoulder to hip. My trusty mast cells coming to the rescue in crowds, building the fluids and swelling until it looks like a raw slab of meat plastered on my side. I drift off and awaken to screaming. My voice, screaming for help. The nurse said it was night terrors.

They can only get blood out of my foot. My body hangs on to each drop with vengeance. I don’t remember how many times I was taken down to have CT scans with contrast to monitor the abscess and lung. No easy feat considering the tangled puzzle of tubes and machines. The people in nuclear medicine wore makeup..heavy makeup.Almost like clowns I thought. I think they were making a movie or something. I didn’t dare ask. I was always left right by the nursing station where the other patients in their tiny cubicles could see me. I could hear the whispers between them. They were laughing because my book was on the TV but they didn’t believe I was the author. I didn’t correct them. I couldn’t look at them so I lay quietly, tears rolling down my cheeks, eyes closed. Even then the constant movie that played in my mind didn’t stop.

And no one knew.

So many other stories, all with a few pieces of truth. Helicopters so close I could hear the pilots and nurses talking. I was sure they were getting rid of me. The drones that my roommate would throw over and under my curtain. The look on certain nurses faces when I rang the bell. The chaos in the hall. They had placed tape around an area in front of the door. I couldn’t understand. I slept with my buddhist mala for safety, reciting mantras to keep the constant voices subdued in my head. It didn’t really work.

I tried sending random garbled messages, despite the fact I couldn’t see my phone letters. I had to get someone to help me. I managed one message.

All it said was HELP. No one came.

I could feel the energy drain out of me. The simplest conversation left me feeling spent, drenched in sweat, wanting it all to end. The pain was endless and uncontrollable. It was like being on a bad acid trip back in the 60’s. One that didn’t end.

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I don’t scare easily. Or at least that’s what I thought. Until the Rabbit Hole sucked me in, that is.

I’ve never been so terrified, nor felt so alone as my month-long journey dragged on.

You can experience flashbacks for up to a year and it creates PTSD. Another experience to add to my already full box with that label.

The prayers, the energy and most of all, my two friends pulled me thru. It’s times like this you find out who your true friends are.

I wanted to write about this because it’s not uncommon after someone has been in the ICU for a while. The multi cocktail of medications that keep you alive but living in the Rabbit Hole can often create ICU psychosis. Having been an RN for many years, the last 20 spent in Acute Care Psychiatry I felt I understood my psychotic patients. I didn’t. Now I do. It’s so real, so frightening, so isolating. My heart goes out to those that suffer with psychosis, schizophrenia or anything that creates a Rabbit Hole Experience.

Here are a few simple measures that help someone who is psychotic: Gentle reassurance that they are safe. Gentle touch, holding a hand, words of love and safety. Gently pointing out things that are real such as my “drones” that were sprinkler heads.

Understanding. Compassion. Love. Your presence, your composure and quiet voice.

This year has been challenging. Physically and emotionally. My Mast Cells are still not settled creating a physical nightmare. Some days, the tears flow freely and thoughts wander to places I’d rather not go. I now have a piece of my bowel on the outside of my body. My world is dictated by my medical issues and mast cells.

I’ve spent a year in The Rabbit Hole. I’m so tired, so sick. My life has been reduced to living in a bubble and hospitalizations.

I’m trying to find my way back.

Can you lend a hand?

Who Stole My Life?

It’s over a year later and this post applies even more now. Having a bowel perforation, sepsis and collapsed lung nearly killed me. I sometimes wonder why I’m still here fighting. I’m halfway thru writing a blog about my time in ICU and step-down. I am still processing my ICU-itis and the fear i was wrapped in, unknown to anyone. I have a clear picture of what my patients used to go thru now and it’s not pretty. Bare with me…I’m slowly and shakily pressing the keys again.

 

The Almost Daughter & More

Imagination is the first step toward action. You have to be able to hope before you move forward. Otherwise, you are always acting out of fear.

— Gloria Steinem

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I’ve been missing.  Maybe you noticed. Maybe you didn’t. I did.  I really noticed. I missed my writing, my friends, my life. I’ve been in and out of the hospital. Yes, the Mast Cells have been dictating my life…again, still.

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Not long ago I was in India walking the streets of Dharamsala. I remember the energy of chanting with the Monks at Sherab Ling Monastery questioning if perhaps I was finally home, and if I should stay.You could touch the energy it was so powerful. It felt so right. I remember the smells, the people, the traffic and chaos. I remember this last part of my life.

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Way before that…I had a life. I remember running miles on concrete floors as an…

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Who Do You Trust?

I’ve been quite ill the past year. I’m going to try and start blogging again. I have half a post in draft describing my experience post ICU. I thought I’d repost a few blogs to remind myself and others of why I blog. Namasté

The Almost Daughter & More

“I’m not upset that you lied to me,

I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.”

–Friedrich Nietzsche

Do you honestly love yourself?

Maya Angelou believes that unless you love yourself, you really can’t be trusted.  She quotes an African Saying which is:

“Be careful when a naked person offers you a shirt.”

Because of relinquishment, trust is difficult for adoptees.  I know everyone experiences trust issues over their lifetime and most are able to repair the damage.  With adoptees, that first betrayal never leaves.  On top of that you have no genetic markers, no history.  In my childhood I wasn’t able to trust my adoptive parents, and running away experiencing life on the streets as I describe in Finding Heart Horse certainly didn’t foster trust.

When trust is destroyed at such an early age in adoption, it takes effort and practice to regain. Whether it’s in…

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Adoption—Can you die from a broken heart?

In a perfect world, which is not the adoptees world…
People would try to understand and have compassion for ” broken hearts”

Adoption Detective | A True Story by Judith Land

“The intense emotional pain and stress resulting from unrequited love, disassociation, severance, rejection, adoption, divorce and the death of a loved one have always been associated with broken hearts. World literature, songs, and poems in every language are filled with proclamations about the distressingly painful effects of separation. Legends and fictional tales speak of characters that have died after suffering a devastating loss—a concept that dates back over 3,000 years to describe the physical pain and feelings associated with relationship loss.” Judith Land, Adoptee

Judith Land | Adoption Detective | Broken Heart Syndrome Adoptees diagnosed with broken heart syndrome can benefit from the support of friends and family members, draw comfort from their faith, obtain understanding and sympathy from support groups, and profit from the advice of therapists and health professionals.

Psychologists believe that primal separation fears are a survival instinct that encourages humans to form close family relationships—the reason why we experience emotional pain when those connections are…

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Things Are Happening!!

Thursday, August 20th, 2015
6:30 PM to 7:30 PM

Claire will be at the Nanaimo North Branch Vancouver Island Regional Library at 6250 Hammond Bay Rd, Nanaimo, BC from 6:30 to 7:30 pm. “Finding Heart Horse” and “The Wall of Secrets” are books of hope and a portion of the proceeds goes to Covenant House, Vancouver, where sanctuary is offered to more than 1,500 street-involved youth every year.

When Claire Hitchon began writing, she was simply trying to deal with the trauma and anguish of an adoption experience that had gone horribly wrong and which seemed to have marked her for life. Somehow the writing process took her much further. The writing was meant for personal transformative healing, Hitchon says. But now, having resulted in two published books, her words are helping others who share some of her experiences with an adoption system that does not look after a child’s needs. “There is always, always hope,” she says.

The first book, “Finding Heart Horse: A Memoir of Survival” won first prize in the Hay House non-fiction contest in 2013 and the sequel, “The Wall of Secrets: Memoir of the Almost Daughter” was recently published by Balboa Press.

In “The Wall of Secrets,” Hitchon reveals her years of abuse and neglect, the adoptive mother who treated her as an emotional punching bag and her self-destructive years on the streets of Toronto when drugs and broken relationships helped keep her painful past at bay . . . for a time.

By disassociating from all the evil in her past, she somehow carried on and this story also reveals Hitchon’s resilience and core strength as she gets herself free of drugs, earns an education, raises a daughter on her own and discovers fulfilment working as a registered nurse.

And through it all, she speaks of the yearning to belong, to fit somewhere, for the sense of family she has never known, a search that proves gut wrenching, complicated and painful. And as she writes through all of this, forcing herself to examine her most painful experiences, reliving all the shame, hurt and despair, she works toward wholeness, health and acceptance. And in the process, she offers hope and encouragement that if you have the courage to face the past and all its demons, work through the pain, a better future can lie ahead.

“With these books, I hope to challenge belief systems and give hope that lives can and do change,” Hitchon says. Writing “The Wall of Secrets” Hitchon says, in dealing with her own painful past, she allowed herself to move beyond her story, to rid herself of the feelings that were poisoning her. She was even able to nurse her abusive adoptive mother, caring for the dying woman who had treated her so badly for such a long time. To do so, Hitchon, at first, had to simply treat her as she would any other ill person needing a nurse’s care. But, ultimately, Hitchon says she has been able to find for her adoptive mother the forgiveness and compassion in keeping with her Buddhist faith.

Now living on Vancouver Island, Canada surrounded by the natural beauty of mountains, forests and ocean that she loves, fighting a daily battle with a rare mast cell disease, Hitchon continues to write and advocate for adoptees and youth.

Written by Kimberly Plumley for http://www.harbourliving.ca

 

nuns selling babies: adoption scandal growing worldwide

The world needs to recognize the depth of this corruption and the endless pain and trauma it creates for generations. Great read by Lara.

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Adoptees Sold by Nuns WorldWide

March 28th, 2012 | (see link and photos: http://dna-footprints.com/adoptees-sold-nuns-worldwide/)

Nun’s Habits in Spain
It started with a whisper in Spain. A Catholic nun was charged for the first time with abducting a baby from an unwed mother which was sold to a childless couple. Sister Maria Gomez Valbuena told the mother that the baby had died at first, later admitting that it had been adopted. There had been whispers before in Quebec in the 1930-1970s with thousands of French Canadian babies being taken from their single mothers who were coerced into signing releases, often while still under the effects of anesthetics or immediately after childbirth. Many young girls were told that their baby had died but that they couldn’t see the body. When it happened in Quebec, over half a century ago, the power of the church swept the atrocity under the carpet. In this…

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My Adoptivemother and My Birth Mother

A controversial topic in the adoption world. Language, names, history. I didn’t have a name. I have been underfire many times for the use of the word “birthmother”.
Karen says it well.
There was a woman who gave birth to me yet never named me. I had a woman who was to care for me, yet hated the sight of me.
I’m an adoptee who never had a mother, was never mothered. I’m one of the many motherless daughters.