Here at the Border Fort in Cochise County, Arizona, the recipe for brown rice magic greets a Happy New Year 2017 indeed. In my seventy-three years on the planet to date, I’ve never seen a year I was happier to kiss goodbye than 2016. Especially since it came almighty close to kissing me goodbye instead of the other way around, and the same for my wife.
Wait. I’d best list a bit of a disclaimer here first:
This post is a reflection of my own spiritual understandings and is not intended to speak for any spiritual path, teacher, or religion. On this page I have made occasional use of certain terms (Eckankar, ECK, and Mahanta) that are trademarks of Eckankar. This does not imply any endorsement or sponsorship by Eckankar. I have intended only to make a “fair use” of such terms, recognizing that the rights to their trademark usage belong entirely to Eckankar.
Okay–oh, one other thing: The titled recipe is spelled out toward the end of the page, so feel free to scroll down if that’s your primary interest. (Although since I’m a competent “camp cook” at best and no sort of highfalutin’ chef, it probably shouldn’t be.)
Last spring, I became deeply aware that after more than forty years as a practicing member of Eckankar, the Religion of the Light and Sound of God, I’d had a sharp uptick in spiritual unfoldment when I suddenly wrote a song one morning that began with the line,
I love you, Mahanta, with all that I am….
This was remarkable because I had never before been able to say that, despite following the Mahanta’s guidance as best I could for decades. So I was grateful, and pleased…and little prepared for the challenges the coming months would bring despite being mentally aware of the general principle that higher spiritual awareness goes hand in hand with physical trials and tribulations. This is not limited to members of Eckankar. In the Christian Bible, of course, we have the graphic examples of not only Jesus (sacrificed on the cross), but John the Baptist (beheaded), Job (seemingly endless travails), St. Paul (persecution), and many others.
Not only that, but my new song had lyrics that were really asking for it, including the following:
What happens to my body is really no big thing….
Open mouth, insert jumbo sized work boot. I’ve known for a very long time that the Eck-Vidya, the Ancient Science of Prophecy, sometimes manifests in my own writings. Would I end up seeing hard times hinted at in these lyrics?
Yes. Yes, I would. In a way, I made sure of that in the months to come, practicing the song (titled A Seagoing Clam) every day between April and October of 2016. Not just once per day, either; for several of those months, I sang the Clam song five or more times per day, both with and without guitar. During that same period, I got back into really good physical shape, utilizing an upper body weight workout several times per week. Even my spiritual discipline improved as I “locked in” the ritual of sitting in my desk chair to do a spiritual exercise every night at midnight.
By late summer, my wife had decided she wanted to move from the Border Fort to live primarily in a mother in law apartment in northern Utah with her daughter’s family. She felt her many ailments including dementia were getting too much for me to caretake alone and also that she needed to spend some time with Amy’s five-member household while she still had time left. She’d still doctor here in Arizona, and I’d ferry her back and forth for those sessions plus some “home time” at the Border Fort, but mostly she’d be in Utah. Amy and her husband were all for the idea. In the third week of September, there Pam was, and I had the Border Fort mostly to myself. Pam and I were (and are) in touch by phone every day, and there are often “things I need to do for Pam” from this end, but overall, a major change.
Which gave me the freedom to drive to the Eckankar World Wide September in October of 2016 in Minneapolis, the first major seminar I’d been able to attend in more than a decade. My inner guidance had made it abundantly clear that I needed to be at this one, though, and the series of wife-instigated miracles that had her staying with her daughter allowed me to honor that nudge. The journey was well worth it; when I left Minnesota on Sunday afternoon after taking advantage of the opportunity to tour the Eckankar Spiritual Center (business office, but more than that), I knew I was at the peak of my strength both spiritually and physically.
What I did not yet know, at least at the conscious level, was that I would soon need every ounce of that strength. Very soon.
When I picked Pam up from her daughter’s, my beloved redhead was deep into a psychotic break. This was not a new thing; she has had to battle mental illness for most of her life. But there were new elements I’d never seen before, and she got worse the farther south we went toward Cochise County. What we did not figure out until later was that she had been hit with a “perfect storm” in a psychic sense, losing several friends and family members to death in a very brief span of time, having to deal with people she’d rather not have seen at all, and–worst of all–getting sucker punched when a former hired hand was stabbed in Cochise County. That man thinks of Pam as his “second Mom” and mentally screamed for her, “Mom! Mom!” when the blade hit his gut. He recovered, but the darkness was embedded in Pam’s psyche and began its deadly work. She did not yet know the attacker had been jailed and became more and more anxious on our journey.
The night on the road was Hell on Earth with my redhead utterly convinced I was driving on the wrong side of the road and a head-on collision was imminent. She saw colors no one else could see and shredded tissue into tiny bits, swabbing one color over another in ceaseless repetition. She wore her jeans inside out. And more.
Bottom line, she knew she “had to go in” to the hospital. Around 5:00 p.m. on October 25, she was admitted at the Canyon Vista ER in Sierra Vista. On October 27, even farther out of balance and her lungs failing (probably due to antipsychotics that should never had been used on her, as she is allergic to all such), she was finally sedated and intubated and rested for the first time in who knows how many days.
A nasty sinusitis showed its first symptoms in me that same day (October 27), eventually firing up enough post nasal drip to involve the right side of my throat, right ear, and right lung. But I kept on keeping on for some time, not ignoring the symptoms but not finding the time to do much about them.
On October 31, Canyon Vista personnel had to give up on Pam. They could not get her breathing tube out because she was still in her psychotic episode and became agitated every time they gave her a “sedation vacation.” They recommended, and I agreed, that she would be Life Flighted to St. Joe’s in Tucson, where they had more skilled staff and fancier technology.
By November 10, the breathing tube was permanently out but it had taken them three tries to get it done; the first two times, her lungs would not pick up the slack and they had to reinsert the tube. Unfortunately, her larynx was temporarily damaged from all that; she could form words but could not make a sound. Even worse, she could not swallow anything–not even a bit of water from sucking on ice chips–without aspirating (going into the lungs instead of the stomach), leading to immediate hacking and gagging. She had a nasal feeding tube, but that couldn’t stay there. She was alert, and we agreed a PEG tube (through the stomach wall) was not an option. That left only one option: Remove the nasal feeding tube and ship her off to a hospice to die of thirst and starvation.
So that’s what we did…except…she asked me (I lip read), “Why am I here?” (In the hospital, just prior to hospice.)
“Because you’re dying,” I replied, having no other answer.
This made her mad. Four and one half days after entering hospice, she was released, able to drink (through a straw), eat, and take her meds orally. Not easily or well, and she had to avoid one side (left lung), but she was outa there! Another four days later, we were on our way back to Utah, having seen her regular doctor and gotten her month’s worth of regular medications refilled. And she is there today, still healing, still struggling with various issues (which she has been doing for the past eighteen years), but making it day by day. I don’t believe she ever once considered dying as an option.
But then there’s me.
By the time I got back from Utah just before Thanksgiving, I thought I might be able to kick my turbo sinusitis. After all, I’d finally (on November 9) gone to a walk-in clinic where the doctor had given me a prescription for antibiotics, and while that medication had not completely wiped out the problem, it had knocked it back enough to get me to Utah and back plus a few days. I used every spiritual technique I knew–and a few I invented on the spot–to combat the infection…which did miraculously manage to keep everything on the right side, keeping my left lung clear, but that was about it. From Thanksgiving forward, I began to go downhill even farther.
The low point came on December 5th. I was lying in bed, half comatose and in pain, sucking occasional cough drops to somewhat sooth the sore throat, when I realized I had no emotions whatsoever. None. I’d never experienced anything like it, but the astral body was apparently wiped out as thoroughly–or even more thoroughly–than my physical body. Which did make some sense. I’d long since realized the start of my illness had been triggered by my taking on some of Pam’s karma so that she could live. Not consciously; I’ve known better than to even think of doing anything like that since March of 1972 (another story). But as Soul, I know I can be sneaky; it’s not above me as Soul to blindside the physical body, emotions, and mind if it needs to be done. All of this time I was fully aware of the inner guidance and protection of the Mahanta working with me every second, but at that moment, I literally did not care whether I lived or died. Nor did I have any prediction of the outcome. After all, death has never bothered me; it’s the muddy slog between here and there that can get ugly.
But still, emotionless or not, I knew to do what could be done. After resting a couple of hours, I got up to eat despite having no appetite. The engine won’t run without fuel. As I was munching a TV dinner rather morosely, I thought, “Wonder what’s in that little box?” I’d been to the Post Office, picked up the mail, but found myself unable to continue with my other errands and headed home to bed.
Aha. The box contained a small bottle of chlorophyll supplement, which also includes copper. I had not expected it to arrive from Amazon until December 7th. Putting 15 drops in a bottle of chilled water, I swigged down a swallow–and immediately declared, “Life itself!” From that very first drink, I could feel energy returning to my body. Not a lot, but when you’re dividing any energy by zero energy, the difference is infinite.
Maybe I wasn’t going to die quite yet.
Over time, I added fulvic acid and aloe vera juice to the supplements I was taking. They helped…but they weren’t enough. Life still looked highly unattractive. So, finally, not wishing to leave any stone unturned that the ECK (Spirit) might have put in my path for a reason, I signed up with Pam’s doctor and she took a look. Different antibiotic, and yeah, let’s get a chest x-ray because we both believed I had pneumonia in that right lung.
In the meantime: Dreams. One in particular caught my attention. Pam and I were visiting our prison-incarcerated friend when we became separated. It was a huge complex; I went looking for Pam and gradually got lost. Ended up on the men’s side (not a good thing) with three males (not really human) pinning me against the wall. They couldn’t get me off my feet, but neither could I manage to hurt them enough to get them to back off. After some time of this, a huge guard came along, asked, “Are you okay, sir?”
“I’m fine. Just frustrated.”
I got an escort, soon saw Pam across a big courtyard area, and ran to meet her, very long and lean, great strides, indescribable energy. Wow.
We’d thought we’d lost each other. She said I’d been gone for “two hours,” and when I wrote the dream down, I knew (having figured this out last spring) that it probably meant my sickness would have a two month duration…because one dream hour equals one physical month, for me. This dream came along on December 13. First sinusitis symptoms hit on October 27. So…I could hope for relief on or around December 27? Sure. Let’s go with that. Makes it a little easier, back up against the wall and all, hanging in there day by day, miserable moment by miserable moment….
The day after the chest x-ray was taken, the doctor’s nurse called me to tell me the results.
“No? Okay, that’s good.” I wasn’t overly surprised; the lung had seemed to be clearing.
“But there’s a mass in the neck.”
“Ah. So y’all figure I might have cancer?”
My casual response threw her. “Uh…lymphoma…”
“Maricela,” I chuckled, “I know lymphoma is a cancer. I’m not an idiot.”
Thankfully, I made her chuckle, too. Guess she’d never before run into a patient who had absolutely zero concern when it came to having cancer or not. But (a) we lost a number of people recently, some of them to a very fast acting brain cancer, so it’s not like it’s an unfamiliar term, and (b) what the hey, it doesn’t really matter if I’m working for Spirit on this plane or another one.
Besides, I’m up to something again with my “prophecy writing” thing. Some of you have been following the writings posted by my friend Gordon Malchek, but why did Gordon and I decide the time to start putting his story out there was late November of 2016? We’ve kicked the idea around off and on for years, yet his first post hit the Internet roughly three weeks before Maricela called me to tell me about a “mass in the neck.” And I immediately got it: Gordon MALCHEK. His last name could easily be seen as shorthand for “MALIGNANCY CHECK.” I’ve had these swollen lymph nodes for four years now. My wife’s natural concern about such things has always wanted me to do the AMA thing and check them out. Now I will, at least if a simple up-down result can be obtained by a simple biopsy or some such. Worried about possible negative outcome? Not in the least; I’m not about to sign up for, say, 8 months of chemo and barfing in the toilet anyway.
But I did set another appointment with the doctor for January 5. Why not? It’s a new year this fine 2017, right?
In the meantime, I was wrong about calculating relief for December 27…by two days. On December 29, I started on my fifth different antibiotic. It’s working beautifully; for the first time today, on January first, I feel somewhat like the “usual me.” As our regular readers can tell from the fact that I’m writing again, eh?
And finally, to the magic brown rice recipe. This became necessary when I stepped on the scale, discovering a total weight loss since Day One of my symptoms of right at twenty full pounds. Twenty pounds might sound like a good deal if you’re looking to lose weight in the first place, but I wasn’t. Standing 5′ 11″ and weighing 163 pounds in October, I’ve always been built long and rangy–but this morning’s weigh-in at 143 pounds? Definitely not a good thing, at least long term. That’s just one pound heavier than I was after a severe illness on the rodeo circuit in the summer of 1963, and I was nineteen years old then.
And it’s not like I haven’t been eating. The calories just haven’t added up…enough. So yesterday, when the scale showed 144 pounds, I knew I had to go shopping for a few ingredients. This afternoon, I put them together, providing a couple of sizeable refrigerator/freezer storage containers worth of “stuff that’s easy to munch on,” to wit:
1. In a good-sized pot or pan, ring one pound of brown rice and 48 ounces of water plus a hefty pinch of salt to a boil. (I measure rice and water by volume rather than weight: Two volumes of water to one of rice.) Boil gently for 45 minutes.
2. Five minutes before the rice is done cooking, add one pound of frozen peas and five ounces of leftover sirloin steak from the Outback Steakhouse to the pot. Steak is cut into small bite sized portions before adding to mix. (That’s what I had on hand for steak. Any precooked steak-type meat would work.)
3. Add a splash of A-1 steak sauce and a double splash of soy sauce.
4. Add twenty ounces of Bush’s Best Country Style Baked Beans. (The can comes with 28 ounces, but I’d consumed some yesterday; these were the leftovers.) This version of baked beans comes with “thick rich sauce with bacon & extra brown sugar” and happens to be my favorite.
5. Mix well with large plastic spoon.
6. Taste-test for temperature. If peas are thawed and the mixture is warm, it’s ready to eat. My favorite munching time, however, is after everything has cooled and had some time in the refrigerator to chill and settle. The brown sugar makes the overall flavor rather sweet, which is fine with me.
In closing, all I can say is, once again, Happy New Year, 2017–and am I ever glad to see you!
UPDATE as of JANUARY 5, 2017
No testing for possible cancer; the employee who called me about a “mass in the neck” got it wrong! The doctor was in shock when I told her about that call; she advised me in no uncertain terms that there was nothing in the x-ray to indicate any such possibility. Yes, quite a few of the lymph lodes in my neck remain swollen, but they’ve been that way for years. What consequences does the employee faces for misinterpreting and misinforming on such a serious subject. That we do not yet know. Bottom line, though, it’s a good thing it was me she misinformed. Some folks, as I understand it, get a might perturbed at hearing about a possible death sentence….
UPDATE as of JANUARY 7, 2017
I’m back to 100% or very close to it. Underweight a bit, holding in the 150 pound range (after having dropped to 145 pounds at one point), but 150 is fine for the moment. Anything above that doesn’t make me any stronger anyway; it just slows me down. I’m speedy right now! And my appetite is good again, so we’re going to call this “health report” a wrap.