Thursday, October 4, 2018

WHAT EVER HAPPENED...? Holistic Treatments

          I received much help from various people whose professions aided me in calming down, behaving more appropriately, and becoming less agitated. That’s not to claim that I’m all better. I have a long way to go as far as appropriate behavior. But I have made headway.

          One person who has been treating me every three-four weeks, and I so enjoy what she’s brought to my life is Debbie Burklund, my reflexologist. She works for no less than one and a half hours each session (and many times longer than that) to help “ground” me. Instead of the stereotypical psychiatrist’s fifty-minute “hour,” I get this reflexologist’s generous ninety-minute “hour.” Debbie listens to whatever is upsetting me, and then she does her thing: not only manipulating my feet but also physically massaging my cranium. Debbie is one of the best listeners I’ve ever met. Also, she detected a liver problem that I had and helped me remember to contact my doctors about. I will be eternally grateful to her for all she’s done for me, including accompanying me to someone else’s court sessions.

According to Lauren Yanks of the Poughkeepsie Journal, “Reflexology is considered an alternative health treatment that links each organ in the body with an area on the foot – and sometimes the hand, face and ears as well. Massaging these specific areas helps to unblock the body's energy and heal the specific corresponding organ.”

Ms. Yanks quotes Debbie Burklund: “Reflexology is so very effective, and I can influence somebody's health so quickly,” she said. “When there's disorder in your body, it forms metabolic waste in the reflexes. My job is to remove waste so your body can heal itself. It also happens to feel really wonderful.” [Yes, it does!]

          Another health field that has helped me enormously is neurofeedback. This helper’s name is Debbie Burdick. She calls herself, “The Brain Lady,” and that is so very accurate. I worked with T.B.L. at a couple of different locations, and even though they were quite a distance to drive to from my home, those appointments were well worth the trips.

          The Brain Lady hooked my head up to what I referred to as her “bells and whistles.” She had to put gunk into my hair so that her electrodes would stick to my head to read my brain waves. I had to stare at computer images, then report different things.

Dr. Norman Doidge has some excellent quotes in his book The Brain's Way of Healing (that I've written about in my recommended books and literature chapter). Here are some of his neurofeedback quotes:
·       “Neurofeedback…trains a person whose brain rhythms are off to control them. So, it is excellent for people with…a noisy brain in general.”
·       “Neurofeedback is a sophisticated form of biofeedback…. It also has been approved for the treatment of…many other conditions, including…brain injuries…. It is a neuroplastic treatment but is not better known because it was pioneered before neuroplasticity was widely understood.” [I attempted to make politicians in NYS aware of it when I spoke to them in the fall of 2015 at a hearing (see appendix).]
·       “A conventional neurofeedback session involves hooking a person up to an EEG, a noninvasive way to detect brain waves, then displaying the waves on a computer screen.”
·       “A quantitative EEG (QEEG) is a test that can indicate if a patient has a 'noisy brain.' This study is often done by advanced neurofeedback practitioners, and must be interpreted by an expert who has actually met with the patient, not simply run the information through a machine.” [I have a “lovely” picture of myself in my pictures section of this book, having one of the QEEGs I had done after my surgery.]

          It’s all mumbo-jumbo to me, but suffice it to say: it worked! I always felt better after time spent with The Brain Lady. Like my other Debbie in this chapter (is there something special about that name?), she helped me deal better with society. During the time I spent with T.B.L., I went to a couple of specialists for QEEGs (“brain mappings”). When the results of these tests were shared with specialists to analyze my condition, these doctors were shocked that I was as high-functioning as I am, given the brain damage I have suffered.

          One specialist asked if I had been arrested or had a drug or alcohol problem after the brain injury. He was told no, though I have to admit that I have at times “talked” to police officers…but luckily, I was able to calm down.

          Another specialist said that from the damage I had, he was surprised that I wasn’t in a nursing home. When he looked at my brain’s image on his computer, he said, “Wow!” I asked him if that was a “good wow” or a “bad wow.” He replied it was a “good wow” and said I must be a fighter. I told him he didn’t know the half of it!

Another therapy that helped me was Craniosacral Therapy. For this I saw Heidi Washburn, and she was excellent at helping me to relax. To and from her Bearsville, NY, appointments, I had to drive through Woodstock, NY. On my way to see her, I felt quite stressed driving through that very busy little village. On my way back, after therapy, I smiled and enjoyed the unconventional sights one only sees when visiting that unique community.

          Heidi Washburn describes her therapy as follows: “Craniosacral Therapy is a gentle hands-on technique that works with the nervous system to help release restrictions that impede a person’s ability to function fully. We focus specifically on the soft tissue, fluids and membranes affecting the sacrum, spinal cord and brain…. Because of the positive effect on the nervous system, Craniosacral Therapy is particularly helpful for diseases and injuries of the brain, as well as PTSD and traumatic brain injury.”

          The only negative aspect of these non-traditional services is that they are not cheap, and they are not covered by insurance. At this writing, I have spent most of my life’s savings on techniques to help me chill out. This is what I reported to those politicians at that hearing in October of 2015. The treatments are worth every penny, but when you’re on disability support, you need money for extra things, and so I tapped and tapped and tapped some more into the savings I had accumulated since my first job in 1977.

          To diverge a bit, that first job was when I was sixteen. I worked at Four Brothers Pizza Inn, in Rhinebeck, NY. I also worked at a restaurant named “The Fox Hollow Inn.” Then I worked at the Greig Farm in Red Hook. Mr. and Mrs. Greig were very sweet to me. I picked berries, worked the check-out line, and served as their granddaughters’ nanny sometimes. I even lived in their house with them one summer. To this day, I put syrup on my strawberries and blueberries, eating them just as Mr. Greig taught me to, so many years ago.

          The money from these jobs as well as my earnings from being a teacher are unfortunately long gone now, but I knew I had to do something to get grounded if I were to make anything of myself after the life-changing brain injury I suffered.

          I want to wrap up this chapter with two excellent quotes from my FAVORITE brain expert, Dr. Marian Diamond:

          “Never learn bitterness, because you are the only one who suffers.”

          “What plasticity reveals is that we are the masters of our own minds. That each one of us, as individuals, has the potential to change our brains, to become the person we want to be. What we do, day to day, minute to minute, grows and builds our brain. What a gift, and what a responsibility as we literally create our personal masterpiece – our mature brain.”

          Thank you to everyone in this chapter who has helped me feel better.

          [And, I have to add that a generous woman named Ann Capozzoli taught me, and a group of other people, meditation practices, at the Kingston Library. Then, she even came to my house, for free, to help me learn how to calm myself down when I became unusually agitated, at the beginning of my recovery. Thank you, Ann!]

For the coming year, I (Douglas Winslow Cooper] will be 
excerpting, weekly, material from this almost-final version of the fine book by Janet Johnson Schliff, M.S. Ed., which she wrote over a three-year period with some coaching and editing help from me, through my business, Write Your Book with Me.

Her memoir is now available in paperback and ebook formats from Outskirts Press  and

What Ever Happened to My White Picket Fence? My Brain Injury from My Massive Brain Tumor



Janet Johnson Schliff was on WKNY  Radio 1490 at 9:10 a.m. on Thursday, March 1, Kingston, NY.

Janet spoke at 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 3 at Barnes & Noble in Kingston, NY. I [DWC] attended, along with about 40 other people. Congratulations to Janet on a fine talk!

Janet Johnson Schliff spoke at the Starr Library in Rhinebeck, NY, at 7 p.m. on March 6. 

She spoke at the Golden Notebook Bookstore in Woodstock, NY, at 2 p.m. on March 17. 

She spoke at the Morton Library in Rhinecliff, NY, at 6:30 p.m. on March 28. 

She spoke at RCAL in Kingston, NY, at 4 p.m. on April 3. I was able to attend. They gave her an impromptu book-launch party.

On 4/4/18 Janet spoke at the Parkinson's Support Group at the Starr Library at Rhinebeck at 2:30 p.m.

On 4/27/18 Janet spoke at the Stone Ridge Library at 5:30 p.m.

On 5/4/18 Janet spoke at the Hurley Library at 6 p.m.

On 5/9/18 Janet spoke at the Kingston Library at 6 p.m.

On 5/14/18 Janet spoke at the Staatsburg Library at 7 p.m.

On 5/31/18 Janet spoke at the Clinton Community Library at 6:30 p.m.

On 6/9/18 Janet spoke at the Tannersville Mountain Top Library at noon.

On 6/11/18 Janet spoke at the Gardiner Library at 7 p.m.

On 6/20/18 Janet spoke at the Marbletown Community Center at 6 p.m.

On 7/13/18 Janet spoke at the Esopus Library at 7 p.m.

On 7/20/18 Janet spoke at the Pine Plains Library at 6 p.m.

On 7/23/18 Janet spoke at the Ulster Library at 5:30 p.m.

On 8/11/18 Janet spoke at the Northern Dutchess Bible Church in Red Hook at 1:00 p.m.

On 9/06/18 Janet spoke at the Inquiring Minds Bookstore in New Paltz at 7 p.m.

On 9/15/18 Janet spoke at the Adriance Library in Poughkeepsie (93 Market St.) at 2:30 p.m.

On 9/21/18 Janet was interviewed on the radio at station WRIP-FM (97.9) at 8 a.m.

On 9/22/18 Janet again spoke at the Tannersville Mountain Top Library, at noon.

On 9/28/18 Janet spoke at the Enchanted Cafe in Red Hook at 7 p.m.

On 10/04/18 Janet spoke at the Hyde Park Library at 7 p.m.

On 10/14/18 Janet will be participating in an Author Weekend at the Barnes & Noble in Poughkeepsie from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

On 10/22/18 Janet will be speaking at the Tivoli Library in Tivoli at 5:30 p.m.

On 11/07/18 Janet will be speaking at the Germantown Library in Germantown at 6:00 p.m.

More signings will be coming up. A fine feature about Janet by John DeSantos [845 LIFE] appeared in the Middletown Times Herald-Record on Monday, March 12, as part of Brain Injury Awareness Month. An article about her book was just published in the May 2018 Living Rhinebeck Magazine. An article about her book appeared in the May 14 Daily Freeman of Kingston, NY. and another in the Family Life section of the Poughkeepsie Journal on June 8th. The Millerton News published an article on Thursday, August 2, about her talk at the Pine Plains Library. 

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