Thursday, March 24, 2011

Guided Imagery

Cliffs of insanity
 A few weeks ago I attended the Amyloidosis support group held in Walnut Creek, CA. Early in the meeting I presented an update from Dr Gertz's recent article on treatment for AL Amyloidosis. It was a wonderful review article on the diagnosis, prognosis (via cardiac classifications of 1,2 and 3) and chemotherapy options and their respective results. I highly recommend a review of this article if you have AL amyloidosis and haven't read it.Gertz Abstract
Later in the meeting a woman specializing in guided imagery taught us techniques in self relaxation (This has never been a major issue for me, I was always a generally lazy boy, but driven by lofty goals.) As she described the process, it became apparent that I had been doing this for years. When I needed to psych myself up for a particularly difficult new surgery, I would replay the entire case in my mind while lying in bed. I anticipated problems and pre-resolved them. Another form of guided image, although I didn't call it that, was to go to my 'happy place' while in a painful situation such as dental work or a bone marrow biopsy.
This is a real place in Northern Yosemite. At 13 I was hiking from Stanislaus national Forrest through Northern Yosemite to Touolemme Meadows. On our third day we arrive at the most beautiful spot on earth. I was seated on plush thick grass, dry and slightly warmed from the overhead sun filtering through the pine trees surrounding us, To my immediate left was babbling brook hidden from view between banks made of 12 inch tuft of green grass. The water trickled into the crystal clear blue-silver water expanse before. Golden trout a plenty were jumping to catch the dinner at dusk. A symphony played surrounding us; the light wind through the trees, the ruffling of the grass as we shifted, babbling to the right answered by the snap of the waves in the wind and the trout splashing with there hors Du hourves. Beyond the lake were two mountain peaks that God placed symmetrically to meet at a V on the west end of the lake.The point of the V just resting on the water. And like a ball sliding into a cup, the setting sun silently slid down where the V folded itself, like a fan in a woman's hand.
The most miraculous event took place in the immature mind of a 13 year old boy that actually had the presence of my to be overwhelmed by this singular moment of miraculous beauty. He wrapped it up in a neuron box and store it in a place where important memories reside. Since then, I close my eyes and pull it out when I need it, be it pain, insomnia, test anxiety, or to escape.
The leader then asked if she could take us on an extended guided imagery, We all agreed. We were going to a tropical beach. She then stopped to mention that in a previous class a woman complained of major anxiety as she had once nearly drown at a tropical beach. Three or four people glanced at me, having read my blog on my near drowning in Cabo San Lucas. They waited for me to object; I remained silent.
The imagery began sitting on a warm beach, the waves lapping over your toes. Soon you are in the water up to your waist. The you dive in and become engulfed in a million bubbles swirling around you, you are disoriented....Anxious Memory-I Shift.....Now I could see the Golden trout jumping for dinner as the setting sun silent slithered for the seventy-seventh time in my happy place.  I didn't like the memory of the disorienting bubbles. They are actual quite scary.
Guided imagery is actually quite useful in daily life. I used it today during a vasectomy to distract the patient and they feel less pain and anxiety. You should try it out. (The guide imagery, not the vasectomy)


1 comment:

Aunt Renie said...

Good idea, using guided imagery to pre-solve a problem. I'm going to try that!
My happy place is at Lake Powell. It was a hot, dry day beckoning me into the clear, cool lake, and ending with with a gentle breeze at a glorious sunset.
Bless the happy places God has created for us!