On April 8, 2011

I have been hard at work on my novel, and I’m afraid, therefore neglectful about posting. I also had a rush editing job which I was obligated to complete as promised on deadline. Anyone know the origin of the word Deadline? It is the line around a prison beyond which a prisoner will be shot. Nice? That’s what we writers do to ourselves.

Worse, since I was not doing this job at home on my comfortable couch, feet up, laptop on lap (Dr. Steve, chiropractor, skip past this part), instead I was seated at a kitchen table on a small upright back-straight chair, feet on floor (my feet hate to be on the floor when I write), back pitched forward at a stress-inducing 67-degree angle. For eight straight 6-7 hour days. Stay with me, I’m giving you these details for a reason:

Somewhere around the 3rd or 4th night, I starting having bouts of diarrhea. When the gig was over and the deadline met, I was hit with a full-blown stomach flu. A magnitude 8 on the Richter scale. Fever, aches, abdominal pain vomiting. Those of you who read my cancer memoir, The Thirteenth Moon, can understand why I put ‘abdominal pains’ in italics. The kidney was where I got hit with cancer; the primary symptom, the one that had me going from doctor to doctor for months was severe, persistent abdominal pain. You see where I am going with this now?
Stomach flu is an inflammation; inflammations cause fever which in my case always cause fever dreams which again in my case always dramatize my deepest fears, my demon. I suspect most people who have come through cancer to a state of full recovery and precious good health, harbor the same grinning Stephen King/Jack Nicholson demon that pounces out from behind every closet door, the shower curtain, the tree outside our bedroom window, and at 4 a.m. in our darkened room, calling out, “I’m baaaack.”

I went to see my wonderful acupuncturist, Irina Tsoy, who was able to relieve the back pain I had inflicted on myself with needles. For my symptoms she gave me Chinese herbs. She had nothing though to banish the demon. For that, I called a naturopath whom I heard was a good diagnostician. Not exactly a White Coat, more a Robin’s Egg Blue coat, I hoped he could assure me what I had was in fact nothing more than a stomach flu — without taking me on an invasive, scary fishing expedition with CT/PET scans. I was looking for a good detective who will come up the answer with good old fashioned legwork. Because, and this is a huge BECAUSE, that demon all of us former cancer patients know so well is only an actor giving a benefit performance – for an audience of one: us.

Don’t let’s give him an encore.


  1. Dear Sandy,
    I am happy to find your blogspot. In the 90’s I read your Book of Elders; it so moved me. I tried to find you. No luck there but I did find Patricia Catches, Pete’s daughter. Along with Dave Yakima Chief, Oglala Elder when I was in Rapid City. Dave introduced me to Arvol Looking Horse and his partner, Paula Horne. That was in 1996 and 1998. What an adventure it has been all these years with many trips to SD and stays there too.Dave passed in 2005 but I am still very close to Arvol, Paula and her children.

    A few months ago I was introduced to a young, Iranian woman doctor/4th year resident psychiatrist who is an adopted daughter of Basil and Charlotte Brave Heart. So I am revisiting Book of Elders and there they all are: Pat, Arvol, Basil and Pete who I never met.
    Your experience with Pete Sr. coming to you is similar to one I had with Kicking Bear, a deceased Oglala from Pine Ridge,who appeared to me in meditation after my brother died a sudden violent death at age 43 in 1987. I was despairing and wondering what happened to my brother’s soul. That is what drew me to South Dakota to find his Kicking Bear’s relatives.

    I would love to talk to you about this and share experiences. I live in CT and am a retired labor relations arbitrator. My friend, the doctor lives in Tuscon right now. We both have left out hearts in South Dakota and hope to be back there some day soon. She was just there with a team from Center for Mind Body Medicine to help teach stress lessening techniques to the people. I am currently taking the trainings too through the Center in Wash DC.,so I can do the work eventually too with her.

    Bravo for being a cancer survivor!!!!! I’m very happy you are still her with us!

    The circle of Spirits are always very awesome to behold as they manifest in our lives and help us to see our purpose.

    How can I reach you by email?

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