IMG_2474POSTCARD #175: Geneva, Switzerland: Expecting things to be more or less exactly on time… or exactly on time with the precision of a Swiss watch. Allowing for as long as it takes to buy an all day ticket to maximise on the duration; time stamped by the machine just before the tram arrives… doors swing open and enter. Everybody programmed to believe they’re doing the right thing at the right moment – seems as if everything is like this; a fascination with the accuracy of the schedule and so many other things pass by… curiously concealed. We are unaware of the actuality, the feeling of being a human being – life itself, vanishing as we speak, an everyday sort of miracle of experience passing by… now it’s gone.

And it’s just this, the ordinary sense of things moving along in a comfortable way; we take it for granted so much it goes unnoticed. It’s this I miss the most – the normality – so often falling into the mind-state of wanting things to be different than what they are. Do I believe the neurologist witchdoctors when they say it’ll be okay in the end? Yes, nightmarish, because there’s this lady doctor with her pins and needles she intends to stick into my head, prickcan you feel zees? Prick… yes/no? (French/German accent) Yaow! Okay, try here: prick, Yaow! Is zat more painful zan zee first one, or not? TRY IT AGAIN! Focused on her needle so much, she forgets the closeness to my ear and it’s like she’s shouting. I jump, keep still please! I hear her breathing with assertiveness, confidence, I’m in her hands… she’s attempting to map out the route of the nerve. Then, after many punctures, and happy with what she has found, she tells me: ok you take a deep breath now and, as I do that, she pushes the long shaft of her needle into the scalp – I hear the point scraping across the bumpy surface of the skull. She depresses the plunger, starts to void the syringe; it takes a long time, the scale of it seems as if seen in close-up, huge like an approaching express train in a tunnel… high-pitched scream.

Things go dead and I don’t feel the many small injections that follow after. It’s done in ten minutes, excess fluid dampening my hair, trickling down my neck and the doc says to let the skin absorb it. So I lie on the left side, let it be like that, wet neck, head on pillow and for a jetlag instant, sleep arrives, crash… light is switched off – alerted suddenly by the blackness, crash, back here again, the world returns. Instead of the headache there’s this anesthetized skull-stuffed-with-cotton-wool feeling, like a loud party going on behind a wall that’s built inside my head and I already have the party hangover but can’t feel it because that’s behind the wall too.

So, nothing to complain about but when I sit in a meditative way, it’s like a loud electronic buzzing sound that masks everything. I feel I can’t get there; I’ve lost it, there’s a missing piece… seek/find; caught in the search mode – how will I know it when it returns? What does it look like, what does it feel like to be okay again? Or maybe it’s like this – right here and now in a darkness, indistinct, unseen…

I am the taste in the water, the light of the sun and the moon, the sound in the ether, the ability in man, the fragrance of the earth, the heat in the fire, the life of all that lives, the strength of the strong, the intelligence of the intelligent, and the original seed of all existences. [Bhagavad Gita]


Photo: a suspended art form above the estuary at Bel-Air Tram Stop, Genève

41 thoughts on “unseen

  1. Wow. I’m surprised they had to use something so, um, primal to map the nerve. When they track the fibres killed off by my peripheral neuropathy they use nerve conduction tests. A small buzz of electricity at one spot and an electrode at another to see how much resistance there is. Maybe it only works for long fibres or maybe the neck and skull are too neurally dense for it. Too much insulating myelin perhaps.

    An apt Gita quote for when you think things should be other than they are. But maybe Monty Python say it better.

    • All things dull and ugly, yes everything’s included. Well yes it was all pins and needles. I made an appointment with the pin lady and she had some free time later in the day, asked me to wait awhile and just did it there and then. It was something else other than the usual direction these things take and can’t find my folder right now, due to moving house here and things are kinda upside down right now. So as soon as I get that I’ll be able to tell exactly what it is/was…

  2. An unpleasant experience at best. I’m so sorry you had to go through it and hope that you are on the mend. No experience with this sort of thing – yes! I applaud your spirit and your descriptive skills. Well done. Would like to includ this – with your permission and credits as appropriate – in the next issue of The BeZine. http://intothebardo.wordpress.com/
    Our mission statement is here:

    By way of permission, I would need you to send me the link with three or four lines of bio to bardogroup@gmail.com

    Thank you!

    In metta,
    Jamie Dedes

    FYI: Here from Stuart France.
    BTW: Love the Tibetan prayer flags header

    • Hi Jamie, I’ll prepare three or four lines of bio now and send the link by email. The Tibetan prayer flags are from a photo taken when we were on the Buddhist pilgrimage, an abundance of it! The illness is new to me, since early September, so I’m getting to know the limits of it and trying all kinds of treatments…

    • The strange thing is, I feel like the pain is not there on the right side anymore, I feel it more on the left side. I’m in the middle of a dialogue with doctors here to see what happens next…

      • Yes, that sounds strange that the pain wanders around. But I don’t know what the normal behavior of a PHN is supposed to look like.
        I just hope that you will find *some* method which brings you relief.
        When I read your musings about self and no-self, I often think that in principle, yes, we know we are consciousness which contains all in it. It contains the body as well as the other person over there and the wall over there. It must be really hard to maintain this awareness when the nerves of this body scream , “You are HERE.”
        Best wishes for your healing,

      • I’m going to discuss the situation with the neurologist here in Delhi in January. The plan is to slow down on the Neurontin medication then stop and see where the pain is exactly. I have some other meds to take during that period. Let’s see what happens then.
        The thing about ‘consciousness’ I think is that it’s such a different kind of thing that we cannot see it right now. This doesn’t mean to say it’s hugely impossible, there are some who say it’s just ‘here’. I can see there’s some flexibility, sometimes drop into a space where it all makes sense.
        What I notice about the pain is that if I’m prepared, and know that it’s coming (like the needle in the scalp) I can somehow remove my ‘self’ from the sensory world for a few seconds and then, knowing that’s possible, am so amazed by the natural ability to do that, the rest is fairly easy…

  3. I have severe arthritis (from decades of lifting multiply handicapped students daily to changing and respite beds). Now that I’m elderly the pain is more frequent and in more places. One can disassociate from the pain (often), which helps a lot. Additionally, if it is not incredibly intense, one, like with an old friend, can accept its negative aspects without so much avoidance.

  4. Wow, T, sounds scary and very unfamiliar which is scary in itself! I hope this awful treatment helps to return your life to a semblance of normal and of comfort. I so appreciate your sharing your experience.

    • I was scared to begin with, now I’ve read quite a lot about it and know the possible severity of it. So knowledge replaces ignorance, there are many quotes about this kind of situation. There are also various treatments and new research is being done on it. It is a fairly unique experience and blogging about it seems like a worthwhile thing. I’d like to find out more, meet fellow sufferers of this illness: Postherpatic Neuralgia

  5. Hope you will become much better very soon. Reading you, I can’t avoid the thought about medical treatments are still too invasive, renouncing to find the causes, instead doing complicated and painful remedies. My favourite doctor was Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy from the series Star Trek, he only had to enlighten you with a kind of laser to cure all your ills, hehe.

    • Yes, ordinary medical treatment is invasive, treats the symptoms not the cure. Very expensive in the West but not in India. Dr McCoy’s laser treatment is what’s needed, but there’s homeopathy and some other less invasive treatments I need to explore. Thank you for your good wishes inaendelea, good to hear from you again…

  6. Needles in the head are just horrible (had a run in with a skin cancer just below my hairline and many injections before they chopped it out!). The nervous system is complex and incredible, we are a mass of inter-connected threads like the phone system! It’s a mystery. I do hope the ‘needle lady’ hit the correct nerve and you’re feeling better.

    • Mysterious and weird I like the analogy of inter-connected threads like the phone system. Well, I’ll probably have to go back and see the needle lady again I think, hoping there’ll one of these threads that pulls it all together…

  7. Love the photograph, beautiful composition and great description of your harrowing experience but hate that you are suffering. I have been on Neurontin and felt suicidal on it and have very frequent migraines so no stranger to pain but yours sounds quite scary. You are still in my Friday AM EST Reiki group and will be whether I blog again or not. Hope you are soon better, dear Tiramit!!

    • So good to hear from you! Thanks for dropping in and the reminder about the Reiki group Friday. The photo was just one of those things, I took three and this one was the last, just before the tram came, an attempt to get everything lined up. Neurontin has a strange effect, there’s a wall around the pain and you can hear/feel it going on behind the wall. Meds that treat the symptoms don’t attempt a cure. Now I have an insight into how things were for you on heavy medication, I hope that’s all a bit more stable and things are going okay for you. Thanks for visiting…

      • So sorry for your current troubles, Tiramit. Now that you are on the Neurontin, do you find it harder to just “be”, to be in Presence and still. I find that groups of meds makes me so noisy in the mind, but that could be my Bipolar. I hope you will soon be better. I missed the post in which you must have explained this. What is wrong with your head that it is paining you so much?

      • It’s Postherpetic Neuralgia, click on the link for a description. I think maybe it is harder to just “be” in Presence since starting on Neurontin, except that it has the curious effect of making you more consciously aware of being quite often but in a diffent kind of way. The same awareness can be quite difficult at times if there’s a loud noise going on and on, or if there’s a discussion taking place that’s obviously going nowhere yet the conversationalists insist on proceeding with it. All that is an awareness of being. Quiet moments in meditation are difficult because of the larger whistling sound in the ears in silence, but I can accept that. The main thing is there’s an awareness of the headache itself, still there but I can’t feel it, just know it’s there. Thank you for asking after me, it helps to be able to discuss it…

      • It sounds very painful. Even if you say you can’t feel it. What’s the prognosis? Hang in there and feel free to email. I have taken nearly all those meds they prescribe for P.N. It is interesting what you say about being and the presence on medications. Take care and remember Reiki at 9ish AM EST. Praying for you, too.

      • No change in the situation since it started in September, even though I’ve seen four different doctors. They all say interesting things about it and if you read the info about PN on internet pages, it says the pain can go on for life, others say a few years. I’m inclined to go with it being a few years, because at least the mind/body organism will take that time to accommodate the presence of it. And hopefully there’ll be something out there that’s effective in curing it, rather than treating the symptoms

      • I’ve more or less come to terms with it, my attitude has changed since September. I will go back to Variolinum and homeopathy later. Right now there’s been an urgency and I believe the homeopathic cure takes a longer time, acts more slowly. So that would be an exercise in mindfulness…

  8. I wondered how you found meditating and Neurontin. I, too, am taking Gabapentin– neuropathy in my legs–and like you, find that it invites a “consciousness or awareness of being.” I noticed this in the non-meditative state as well. I have found it is best for me, physically, to take the gabapentin with prednisone first thing in the morning, which is the time I meditate.

    So far, I find meditation is working very well with medication and vice versa. I do not know whether that is my determination to make it so–I often think it is–regardless, I have noticed that what happened in the meditative state seems to “drop in” to the non-meditative state more frequently. What I mean by that is this: during the day, I find myself returning to the sense of being that I experienced in the meditative state. Easier to be than to explain, at least for me. 😉

    Like you, urgency has brought me to the Western sense of medicine. Alternative remedies do take longer but my experience has been that given the time, these remedies really do seem to effect a wellness that Western medicine cannot maintain. Regarding my autoimmune disease, for example, I achieved results that I did not reach with Western medicine. If it were not for the spinal cord issues I am now experiencing– recent surgery and recovery have upset the balance I was maintaining with autoimmune disease–I would not be involved with traditional medicine. In general, my medical doctors are supportive of what I continue to do for autoimmune disease.

    As the others have, I wish you well,Tiramit. I’m so glad you are writing about this. These posts, in particular, are of great interest to me. That said, I always enjoy your observations.

    • Thanks Karen
      Sorry to hear you’re having to cope with invasive surgery which is unavoidable but I’m glad your doctors are supportive of traditional medicine. I think I recognize what you’re saying here. These meds allow a wider contemplative focus which stays with you throughout the day. It has something to do with the wall built around the pain that you become aware of and apply this in different contexts. But there is this urgency about the situation, I’d like to be able to facus more on calmness.
      How to deal with urgency? Be strong enough with it to allow time to pass and taking traditional remedies means to an extent living with the pain. I think the utimate cure must be to do with accepting it on this level.
      I met somebody in India, an ordinary man working in my house, his uncle was a homeopathist and the whole family believd in it. This man had a seriously bad flu-like cough and constant sneezing. Spluttering over everyone and spreading the disease? But he had to work. He was taking these remedies and the whole time he was working with me his condition didn’t change but he believed absolutely in it – never took anyother kind of medicine, and this is how his life had been since he was a child.
      He had this conviction built-in, we seem to think we have to go for the immediate cure. There’s a lesson in psychology you could say, in following the traditional medicine path, even for a short way until you get used to it.
      Hope you find some success Karen
      Best wishes

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.