Melancholy Light

Melancholy Light

Every fall, I am moved by the changing cycle.  I feel it, this soft type of grief. There is a palpable shift from the joy and freedom of summer to the dark and quiet corners of the coming winter.  Beautifully today, I was able to sense this heart/throat squeezing sensation.  This is my body’s way of expressing the discomfort of suppressed grief.  There’s a big part of me that would rather just drink a bit more caffeine, grab a bit of dark chocolate and just rev past this uncomfortable feeling all together.  (I tried both to no avail.) Thankfully, my writing has the magic ability to pull me toward the tough feels rather than away. Writing gives me courage to wander in the darker spaces. Writing helps me to slow down and sit with what’s there and work it outward from the ethereal emotional body into expression.  I know that autumn affects more than just me and writing this for you, helps me be a better friend to us both.  

Today I became super aware of the diminishing light and the increasing darkness.  The new moon put me to sleep in darkness and I woke in utter darkness. And yet, I find myself participating just as intensely in our modern world.   Unending demands and fluorescent lighting help blunt any chance of a natural responses to changing seasons.  What if as the light changes I allow myself to slow down? Less light meaning, way less production and way more resting. What if I were to intentionally lower my overhead, lower the demands I put on myself in respect to the changing light?  What if I were to sync myself with the coming change? These are the questions that came to me. But, not one of them would help me escape the deeper lessons of the darkness this time around.    

Fall is a predictable teacher of decay and death.  We are offered a simple practice run at our own release from this body, Every. Single. Year.  If we choose to look in. I will admit, I’m not terribly excited about my own mortality. And yet, what I have found is that my resistance to this space takes more energy than just freaking looking at it.  Taking the moment to pause, to feel that ache in my heart as I remember that my life in this body is not permanent. I too will will fall, like these leaves. And, yes, I will leave those that I love dearly behind.  Uffffa. Tears. Ugh. Yes. This is the heart of my autumn blues.  

I have spent years trying to figure out what was wrong with me this time of year.  Turning on more lights thinking, “Oh this is seasonal affective disorder.”  When in fact, it is just this light brush with mortality that brings actual, palpable grief.  What I have learned is this: There is nothing to heal, change or subvert. Grief is simply another teacher that I am learning to welcome.  This one needs a bit more space. This teacher needs for me to slow time way down. This teacher requires deep tenderness. And then, together standing authentically and kindly with my grief, I can be present to the beauty of this colorful play of transition before me. 

The Smell of Rain on Dust is one of my favorite reads on grief.  In this gorgeous book Martin Prechtel writes, “Grief is praise for this life.”  The more willing I am to allow myself the tenderness I need for grief, the greater my praise for this life becomes.  So if you see me this time of year, my radiant smile may be on pause, and my hand may be resting on my heart, so that I can truly be with this season of my life.

Anxiety and Clarity

Anxiety and Clarity

thai forest

I am raising a sensitive child.  He’s beautifully aware of so much all at once.  I see myself in him sometimes and it triggers the remembrances of the hardships and pain that being a deeply feeling being in our world can lend the soul.  I was recently listening to a Zen podcast that was gifted to me by a friend on the Buddhist concepts of samvega and pasada. Samvega according to Thanisarro Bhikkhu is this:  the oppressive sense of shock, dismay, and alienation that come with realizing the futility and meaninglessness of life as it’s normally lived; a chastening sense of our own complacency and foolishness in having let ourselves live so blindly; and an anxious sense of urgency in trying to find a way out of the meaningless cycle.  So in other words, when we turn off laptops, pull out our earbuds and put down our phones, and we allow ourselves to become aware of the depth of suffering and pain the world contains, we get appropriately anxious. The beauty of the unrest of samvega is that this discomfort can become the driving force to deeper practice and spiritual investigation.  And eventually if enough of us do this, I think humans may have a chance at survival. “For saṃvega to be an effective drive to practice, it must be accompanied by another emotion called pasada, a “clarity and serene confidence.”  Unexpectedly, we find if we trust and appreciate our anxiety that it can become a rich source of energy for developing our own clarity and confidence.  In my life, this has absolutely been true. Developing this flow between samvega and pasada has taken time and great amounts of mindfulness practices.  I write this piece as a warning because I think there is so much out there attempting to lead us away from our anxiety and fears. Pharmaceuticals, alcohol, meditation retreats, Facebook, shopping, religion, righteousness, (this list goes on forever) all offering us a chance to be free from fear and dismay. There is simply so much in place culturally to numb us to the extraordinary force of our own discomfort.  I am working daily to simply recognize when it is there and to not run. I currently take tiny sips of the news and human suffering. I feel for my planet, her waters and all her children as I can handle in any given moment. It’s pretty intense for me still. And, thankfully, I have my practices to bring me mindfully back to what is in front of me in this very moment. The feeling of the keyboard beneath my fingertips, the support of my chair.  My warm cup of tea next to me. It sounds so simple right? But my ability to pull my mind where I’d like it to look has been much like training a wild horse. Sometimes I get to ride and more often I get to simply observe the beauty of my wildness.

In closing, I want to see us as a culture learn to trust our fears and discomfort. For me personally, I am working to not immediately turn away from pain and yet, be gentle with myself when I need to do exactly this. This has been my experience of these beautiful concepts.  This is what I am teaching my child to help him navigate this crazy world with a tender, open heart.

 

Deep tenderness to you.  To our fears. May they serve our highest good.  

Limited.

Limited.

zen-circle

One of the most heartbreaking things I have to do, nearly every day now, is turn families away.  I felt the pull again today to expand beyond my limits. The worst temptation being there is literally no one providing the type of care that I do that I can refer these families to.  For children here where I live, it is either me or the standard of pediatric care. Which let’s face it, is truly awful. If you haven’t woke to this fact, you’re probably not following my blog anyways.  When children cry at the urgent care, I hold true empathy around them.  I tell them honestly, I hate going to the doctor too. And, what I actually mean is, I wouldn’t set foot in our current system of western medicine, unless I’m actively dying or bleeding to death and even then, I may check some other options first.  I am disgusted by the white-coat paternalism of doctor versus patients I continue to witness. I use the word versus purposefully. The utter lack of mindfulness that our consumerist, pharma-driven medicine has become makes my heart ache and yet I trudge on.

So why not grow my private practice?  Expand far enough to make room for everyone?  Hire advanced practitioners to help with the clinical load? It is this simple.  I am limited. The beautiful work of Shanti Zimmerman taught me this absolutely, fundamentally valuable lesson.  I am limited. I am a human being living a physical existence and therefore, I am limited.  There, I said it out loud. And boy howdy, do I feel how this flies in the face of so many of the narratives I have gathered over the years.  From the dangerous western medicine sinkhole of working yourself to death, to the equally dangerous esoteric path to your “unlimited potential.”  Nope. Double Nope. I am here to sing the praises of having the CLARITY of my limitations. What sweet relief it was to hear Shanti’s modern version of this concept.  I love what I do, and what comes first, is my state of being. This is where my limits are dynamically decided. Over and over again, I return to myself to check in with respect and tenderness to how I am.  If growth comes, it comes with respect to limits that can only be set by me with respect to what is happening right in this now.  In the past my limits were the product of someone else’s narrative or equally powerful my transgenerational farmer trauma which quietly taught me I was only valuable if I worked until I collapsed.   

I have experienced such deep healing over the past few years.  I have witnessed my own autoimmune issues finally settling down into a relaxed and grounded nervous system.  This is my priority. I heal from the inside out. This is what Western medicine is truly missing. Healthy physicians.  So yes, it hurts to turn folks away, but understand if you have been turned away, it was the result of my hard-earned healing.  It is what makes me the physician I am.  

May my heartfelt no, make room for your own.  

-Heather Kim, DO

  

Loneliness

Loneliness

Recently, my son and I were out standing in front of our home on the sidewalk and we met a young Mom from our neighborhood walking her dog and with her toddler backpacked along for the adventure.  We started talking and I immediately remembered the loneliness of those moments of motherhood. These three were such a happy scene to behold but the deeper aspects of suffering were right there for me in the mother’s eyes.  This super aware Mom and I actually openly discussed maternal loneliness and I told her to please stop by when she was out walking. If only for a few moments, I made sure she knew I was happy to hold her in an authentic space as she journeyed.

Although my child is now 6 years old and lovely to talk to, I still miss companionship with adult company. My husband is a surgical resident and gone a lot.  When he is here, he is exhausted and my child is better at demanding his scraps of energy and attention than I ever will be. And so again, the loneliness creeps in. It is so much better than it was when my own child was a toddler but still the weight of loneliness is there.

As a society we don’t often talk about the Shadow Lands of Motherhood.  All advertising dollars are spent to make sure that culturally no one sees any of it.  It took thousands of deaths for our culture to begin to even have a conversation around postpartum fragility.  And now, it seems that public conversation has simply turned lamely into Pharma “solutions”. What if the threat of isolation doesn’t end in the 4th trimester?   Today I am writing to say that maternal/paternal loneliness is real and there is no pill strong enough to mask it.  Loneliness deserves our attention.  It may sound simple but just realizing that my loneliness deserves my awareness and my tenderness has helped me experience and move through it.    

What I am wondering now is how do we better support each other in the journey?  How do we experience our loneliness so that we emerge stronger and healthier rather than it eating us or further isolating us?  How can we do a better job of forming community around ourselves and others? How do we ask for support when we need it?

I am journeying these questions myself and will write more as I discover.  Today it felt like enough to simply pose the awareness and the questions.

Much tenderness,

Heather Kim, DO    

Measles and Herd Immunity

Measles and Herd Immunity

A large-scale measles epidemic is coming due to the loss of herd immunity.  The media is currently being primed for this. The responsible parties for the coming morbidity and mortality will never be held accountable.  I am risking writing this in attempt to help protect the innocent.

Often with nature, man pushes and then nature shoves.  In our attempt to eradicate measles in a manner where an extremely small group got rich, rather than improving global nutritional strategies, breastfeeding rates and distribution of wealth, we have created the perfect conditions for a dangerous epidemic.  In the face of proper nutrition and within school-age children, measles was a very survivable disease. Age of onset was statistically the most important part of surviving measles. Nutrition status ranked close behind, particularly with regards to Vit A level.

In 2012, the Journal of Infectious Disease quietly published an incredibly important article, Waning Antibody Levels and Avidity: Implications for MMR Vaccine-Induced Protection.This study demonstrated a mechanism and supportive data as to why we are quickly losing our herd immunity to both measles and mumps.   This isn’t propaganda folks. This is the science that will never make the headlines. Partly, because it’s complicated and also, somewhat incriminating if you understand the big picture.  But, yes this should have been screamed from the treetops.  Yet, in these past 7 years, I never heard the call to come together to discuss what the implications of these results would mean for us as providers nor the populations we care for.

I am going to try my best to break this article down into simple English. When there was still native measles around both vaccinated and native-immune older folks could enjoy natural boosters throughout their lives without ever having to suffer the misery of full blown measles twice. For example, our grandparents having had the measles, were naturally boosted by taking care of their Baby Boomer offspring when they had actual disease.    

However with the Baby Boomers, the important change starts.  They did not have the natural booster of taking care of children with the measles.  Luckily for them though, natural disease usually will leave survivors with functional lifetime immunity.  

As I read the article, my concerns grew as I came to group 3.  The members of this group were 9-10 years old and only 4-5 years post vaccine administration and already we see numbers drop below threshold of herd immunity.  These children are the purely vaccinated kids in the time of “measles eradication.” This cohort, beyond the Baby Boomers, is actually quickly becoming the majority of the world’s population.  Here we find the potential epidemic.

Group 3 (n = 50) included children aged 10–11 years born after the elimination of MMR diseases from Finland [15]. The samples were taken from residual sera collected 4–5 years after age for the second dose of MMR in 2005 at the Helsinki and Uusimaa hospital district laboratory.

Somewhat concerning are the results of the most recently vaccinated group 3. Those in the group have lived their lives in an environment that can be considered completely free of natural boosters. As soon as 5 years after the second dose of MMR vaccination, 4% of the individuals were seronegative and 14% low positive for measles. However, the measurable antibodies in this group were of high avidity except for that of 1 individual.

If herd immunity for measles is around 90-95% do you see the potential problem?  And what do these low positive titers mean in the face of actual disease?  What do these same kids’ titers look like at 25?  This is 5 years post their last dose. What does 10, 15 and 20 years look like?

Have you ever heard the statement, vaccination does not equal immunity?  This is the science behind that statement. And, the worst part is the most dangerous effects will be felt by innocent infants under that age of one year who prior to the eradication efforts were normally boosted by maternal antibodies by breastfeeding.  Those babies are at a greater risk because mothers of this current generation have no immediately available high rates of passive antibodies to transfer via the breast milk.  Whereas pre-eradication era, they would have at least had that protection.

The other dangerous aspect of this data is that folks over 20 (the group with the largest waning immunity according to this study) are also at higher risk of complications.  Like with chicken pox, the inflammatory effects of measles in a non-immune older adults pose greater pulmonary risks.  In the CDC PowerPoint linked above do you see (<5 years and > 20… ) starting to see the more of the shape of the problem?  We have only eradicated a portion of the appropriate reservoir rather than the disease itself.

There is a small group of greedy humans that thrive in creating an enormous mess of the planet.  This will be another one for the record books that luckily will only affect us rather than the other critters and the air, water and soil.  My only solution is, if you are over the age of 20, is to have your titers checked and if they are low consider getting boosted. If you medically cannot tolerate vaccines, then the next best bet will be to make sure your Vitamin A/general nutrition status is appropriate.  If you are a hardcore Cheeto and Coke Zero kind of person, you better check your titers. Healthy nutritional status takes daily discipline and farm fresh foods. If you’re over 20, you can’t just pop a fistful of Vit A supplements and expect to survive this.

Non-breastfed, young infants under the age of one will suffer the most casualties. If there weren’t enough reasons to be pro-breastfeeding, here is another one. Even if mom hasn’t had true disease prior, in the face of active measles she will produce at least some antibodies eventually.  There are also cod liver oil/Vit A formulations appropriate for infants, and in the face of a measles epidemic young infants may benefit. If you are the parent of a young infant speak with your pediatrician on dosage.  Vitamin A is fat soluble and toxicity can happen if it’s not given carefully.

If you have the great fortune to live in a developed country and are part of the wealthier social class, and are able to afford to eat a healthy diet this supplement wouldn’t be required.  In researching this article, I found this heartbreaking Vit A study.  It wasn’t from a 3rd world nor a developing country.  It was done here in the States in NYC. If you are a physician caring for the ever-increasing lower socio-economic groups in America, remember the importance of Vit A.  Picky toddlers are another group that may benefit from an easier course of illness if supplemented.

If the public doesn’t wake up, the long-term results of the current vaccination program to eradicate measles will likely result in young infants at higher risk of mortality due to loss of maternal antibodies AND will result in a large population over the age of 20 with waning vaccine immunity at greatest risk of pulmonary complications due to disease outside the appropriate reservoir.  

As an ethical physician, I find informed consent extremely important.  Has the public given informed consent to this? As pediatricians on the front line, have we been given a chance to openly discuss the impacts of the current strategies?

What are the CDC, Pharma and the Feds (thanks to disgusting corruption, we should now be referring to them by the one unified name) doing currently?  The study I quoted came out in 2012… They have had 7 years to bring this to the public’s attention. Very predictably they’re busy blaming anti-vaxxers for the “loss of herd immunity.” This way, when the epidemics begin, the mob will have a scapegoat to burn on the pyres and we will have a nice natural booster.

The literal billions of dollars that have gone into the pockets of a few could have been used to create lasting change and improvement in the condition of health of children on the entire planet and thereby lowered the measles death burden in a lasting and profound way.  We could have developed nutritional and immune supportive regimens for measles with less morbidity and mortality thus maintaining our natural boosters. This would have resulted in true herd immunity and better health conditions for children globally. This could have happened if greed were not the dominant ethos of our current ruling class.

Instead, we find ourselves rallying for 200 year old technology like it’s holy water. Bloodletting is <100 year old technique just to give you a frame of reference. The reality is, the most powerful don’t give a flying F about you or your kids.  They are tapping their fingers together waiting for the epidemic they created so they can sell even more shots and hoards of expensive antiviral drugs to the frightened masses.  And, brilliantly they are currently fanning the flames via the media for the ensuing mob to take care of the anti-vax movement for them once and for all. 

This isn’t conspiracy theory.  This is the truth of greed.

Lets focus on some of the pros rather than the anti and I expect change could happen.  The most self-righteous will mob and listen to no one.

I am pro-science, pro-informed consent and pro-medical choice.  

 

 

All my views are free from financial influences and I have no conflicts of interests to disclose.

 

The Ease of Intuition

The Ease of Intuition

Jackrabbit with backlit ears - Big Bend National Park, Texas

To create more ease in my life, I have been exploring the instinctive portion of my gut that says, no, this is not safe.  Imagine a rabbit that gets the whiff of a dog on the breeze.  They don’t stop to think, “I see his name tag says Chewbarka, how bad of a guy can he be?”  Nor do they pour themselves a tiny rabbit glass of wine, waiting for the threatening feeling in their fur to relax.  Rather, its ears up, sniffer raised, dog scent =’s run. There isn’t deep pondering going on. There is adrenaline and it is circuited straight into the rabbit’s powerful legs to create movement away from the source of the rabbit’s dis ease.

Rabbits currently have more permission than most humans give themselves to respond to noxious stimuli.  The no that I sense from my gut, roots from a deep instinctual experience.  It is truly no different, nor less dangerous to ignore this sensation than ignoring a pack of dogs is to a fluffy bunny. When we allow ourselves to move away cleanly from an instinctively sensed not safe situation, there is an immediate sense of relief and relaxation as the adrenaline begins to be metabolized.  

Here’s where it gets tricky for humans.  We have noisy minds dictating to us from our trauma and so did our people.  Our own messy story over time compiles with that of the generations before us.  Unresolved trauma obscures the clarity of our instinctual circuits. It mucks up our ability to hold inner boundaries.  Trauma leaves us unattended in places and conversations where our guts are screaming, get the heck out here now!  The adrenaline is released and yet, we decide to stand frozen.  In milliseconds, we have decided that this “foe” can neither be killed nor can we get away.  Without the movement away, there is no relief and the adrenaline stays in the circuits.  This is the birthplace of chronic stress and literally most chronic dis ease.  The hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis (the HPA) is how trauma manages to feed neurochemically into our daily lives.

To understand why this happens, imagine your deep gut instinct says not safe but an abuser or situation holds power over you.  Freeze (disassociation) becomes our only option for survival.  If this happens enough times in our lives, this freeze replaces our more native stress pattern of move away.  We stay frozen in horrific situations because we have lost the connection between our guts and our strong rabbit legs.  The only way to heal this connection is to find a trusted tribe to hold us as we return and process these scary places in life where we lost our power and connection to our intuitive instincts. Alone, this is nearly impossible.  We are humans and to thrive we need a tribe.

Rape froze a large chunk of my being.  I couldn’t get away and so I froze solid, for 15 years.  The chronic stress of freezing comes with a high price. The organ systems and cells that live in the areas of the freeze do not get the vitality that they deserve. Circulation to these areas literally changes as nerve impulses to these areas change. Eventually, the physical realm begins to cry out through physical symptoms. So much of what becomes chronic illness in adulthood is directly based in trauma and the freeze phenomenon that remain to be taken to resolution.  Beautifully, it was Gabrielle Roth’s version of dancing that brought the energy back to my legs and my lower body.  And with that returning awareness (defrosting) came deep grief, anger and personal struggle.  To be truly intuitive requires great bravery to face our deepest cuts and a solid therapist/coach/shaman to journey with us.  

The only way to develop the ease of an intuitive life is to courageously go back to where we lost it.  The first and hardest steps are to admit that there is deep healing needed and allow trusted others to hold us.  Over the past few years, my intuitive instincts have become wildly in tune. Conscious dance, yoga, boundary work, coaching and unconditional Love have been my keys.  Yours are unique to you. I can’t tell you what they are. I can only tell you that they are worth seeking.

The gorgeous mother and healer that I am is inseparable from my personal healing journey.  Today, I sense the wisdom of my gut with clarity. And finally, I have my powerful rabbit legs back with the absolute permission to use them to move away from anything that does not serve my soul.  It is this permission, my precious tribe, and the Love that has brought me into the greatest ease I have ever known. I am deeply grateful to you.

May this New Year continue to bring clarity and ease into each of our lives.    

-Heather

 

 

Healing resources

https://ondhealingandcoaching.com/  the best coach in the world. Ever. Tara.

https://www.being-shanti.com/  for deeper information on the “how to” of boundaries

http://www.evabunker.com/about/ for anyone that has a dream to bring to life

https://dancingfirelizards.com/about/ to dance awareness into being, movement is key

https://www.amazon.com/Sweat-Your-Prayers-Movement-Spiritual/dp/0874779596 best book ever on conscious dance