Replenishing the Tools in Your Toolbox

If you are like me, you may be super-high functioning in certain areas (writing, helping people, being a loving and creative mom) and practically disabled in others (keeping your house clean, changing a fuse, asking for what you need).

Growing up in a family that struggled with issues of alcoholism, codependency, divorce, mental illness, middle-class insecurities and owning-class entitlements didn’t give me every tool I needed for life. My parents and stepparents did an awesome job of working with the tools they were given to the best of their abilities, and I have a close, loving, mutually respectful relationship with all four of them.

However, each of them (like pretty much all of us) were given only a partial tool box to start with.

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Phoebe and the Wolf

s5000206.JPGSometimes working with an M.D. (Medical Dog) can be a bit tricky in unanticipated ways. Phoebe is a quiet dog, unusually quiet for a small dog who is only 18 months old.

My friend Beth Rettig who is a massage therapist, had given me all her favorite music to play for clients, and I have been working my way through them, trying them out one at a time.

I put a CD on I hadn’t tried before. It started with a nice waterfall sound, and some tropical birds, then went into a long meditative flute and drum thing. As the client relaxed, I puttered around the office, and Phoebe, the Medical Dog, went into her usual meditative mode, curled up in my chair. Her little black nose tucked under her big fluffy tail, like an arctic fox, dreaming of little arctic mice.

The client relaxing on my acupuncture table was wiggling his big toe in time to the music, but slowly he relaxed and fell sound asleep as the needles did their magic.

In the background of the music, breaking through the drums, came a long slow howl of a wolf. Phoebe leapt into action, barking wildly, apparently thinking that a wolf had crept in during the lull and was hiding under my desk. My client, who has a strong startle reflex, let out a yelp of his own.

I put my hands on him to help him calm down, and apologized, explaining that I had never heard the tape before. Then I had to do the same for Phoebe. Then we all had a good laugh.

I guess I’ll be previewing all the rest of the tapes before I play them.

Introducing Phoebe, M.D.

s5000022.JPGI have a colleague who works with me at my clinic. Her name is Phoebe. She’s pretty small, with soft blond hair and dark eyes. Only about 12 pounds. She is an M.D. –Medical Dog, that is. Sometimes I call her my blond receptionist, but that’s just a joke between us. She knows she’s the only one in the building who is really an M.D. The rest of us are just Licensed practitioners of things like Acupuncture, Naturopathic Medicine, and Psychology.

What makes her an M.D.? Well, the other day my disabled neighbor fell and knocked herself out cold. Phoebe, who was the only one there to help, licked her back to consciousness. Since then we’ve called her a medical dog. When Phoebe was only 9 months old, this same neighbor who is also profoundly deaf was getting out of the shower and didn’t hear that someone was knocking on the front door. Phoebe, who happened to be visiting, took a hold of her bathrobe and led her all the way through the house to the door.

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Didi Pershouse Reading in Chelsea, Vermont, January 10th

I will be giving a reading from my latest manuscript at the Chelsea Public Library on January 10th, at 7 PM. The upcoming book is about my work in homeopathy–which connects patients’ language and gestures with the medicines they need. It is also about my family’s history in radical medicine. My grandfather and great grandfather were both pioneers: one in radiation therapy (working with Marie Curie) and the other in Neurosurgery—discovering the seat of memory by removing part of an epileptic’s brain. I found myself inspired by and also reacting against this legacy—and thus became a pioneer in alternative medicine myself.

There will be plenty of time for discussion and questions.
Hope to see you there.

Eric Frost’s Funeral, Thetford Center, 12-22-07

I just came back from Eric Frost’s funeral. He was 24, killed in a hit-and-run accident in Oregon a few days ago. He was traveling north, on foot, with some possessions, twenty bucks, and a stray dog he had picked up along the way. The dog was thrown, but not killed, and sat guarding Eric’s body until somebody found them. The dog came East for the funeral, and the original owners saw the dog’s picture in the paper, and will be getting her back soon.

Eric’s dad lives near me, (in Thetford Center, Vermont) in a group of hogans (kind of like yurts, but made of wood) next to a beaver pond. Eric grew up there, where he and his sisters each tended their own fire in their own little house. Water is pumped with a hand pump, and the lights are mostly kerosene, solar added only recently. The fridge runs on propane.

We buried Eric after four hours of storytelling about his life and work during an interfaith service at the church on the hill. In a small town like ours you can have a service with 300 people there and know 90% of them. I like that. I also liked that

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