Eye for an eye… 29

… a tooth for a tooth. This is familiar territory to just about anyone, mentioned in the Torah, the New Testament, the Qur’an, and much earlier, in the Code of Hammurabi. In all those references, it has nothing to do with exacting revenge, but everything to do with promoting justice… limiting retribution… encouraging appropriate response.

Eye for an eye. Kidney for a kidney. I was thinking about this principle on the pre-op table because 1) body parts were admittedly on my mind, but also because 2) so was the concept of appropriate response. Whenever I’m laid up with a common ailment like the flu or a cold, the symptoms that make me miserable are not from the virus or bacteria directly, but usually from the barrage of white blood cells, antibodies, clotting agents, bodily fluids, inflammation, and fever that my body responds with in an effort to overwhelm and repel the invading force. It has always felt like overkill.

So there I sat, in the hospital smock that hid my nakedness just from me and no one else, legs dangling over the edge of the table, having turned not just the other but both cheeks to a cohort of pre-anaesthesia residents. They were trying to thread an epidural feed between two of my thoracic vertebrae that had apparently closed ranks. Now that’s an appropriate response to an invader, I thought to myself. A nice, local, you-can’t-come-in-here response.

As I was being repeatedly stabbed in the back, I wondered if it were possible for the body to field an appropriate local response to the flu, to a cold, to any illness in a way that wouldn’t be so taxing on the body as a whole. Not too much; not too little; a Goldilocks amount in just the right place. Then I wondered what I would do to help make that happen and immediately realized that was the wrong question. The right question was: “What would Diana do?”

That was easy. She would talk to herself, or rather to “her cells.” She normally listens to them first and then engages them in conversation, usually through imagery, dreams, and meditations. I had neither the time nor patience for that. With all the poking and prodding going on behind me, I was definitely in a telling mood.

Listen up cells, organs, skin, muscles… something drastic is coming your way. I know about this already. I approved it. You do not have to try to get my attention. What I’m looking for from you is an appropriate response, especially from you, capillaries and blood vessels. The surgeon says we’ll need a transfusion of at least two units of blood. That’s somebody else’s blood. Not ours! That’s just creepy. I don’t want it. So blood cells, plasma, whatever else is in there… when your vessel gets severed—and lots of them will—don’t pour out unless for some reason you have to. Just stop at the cut. Don’t go shooting out like a fire hose or you’ll get sucked up and thrown out. There’s no future in that.

I figured that about covered it. The senior resident finally found the sweet spot at T7.5 and threaded the needle. They wheeled me into the operating room, put a mask over my face, and I just barely had time to mutter, “See you in the healing glen, sweetie… “

About 1.25 seconds later, a very nice nurse in the post-op area was gently rubbing my shoulder, trying to wake me.

“ughm gabla’s yer name?” I asked.

“Tsomalie,” she replied, with an indulgent smile.

“umm asked you that before?” I deduced, mind clearing somewhat.

“This is the third time,” she laughed. “Do you also want me to tell you again how you didn’t bleed very much? How you didn’t need any of the two units of blood?”

29 thoughts on “Eye for an eye…

  • Reply
    Louise Richardson

    Hi Kelly,

    Feeling very lucky to have had the opportunity a few years ago to get signed up for your posts/blog. The hospitalization and surgical experience can be de-humanizing at times. I love how true, personal, clear and humorous your telling is. The comments by friends and loved ones continue the opening of the heart.
    Have you read The Biology of Belief by Bruce Lipton? He speaks to this phenomenon of talking to your cells and carried out many, many experiments. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Warm regards, Louise

  • Reply
    Jessie Sutter

    Kel, glad your recovery is going so well! I have been home with pneumonia since Saturday which, as I understand it, is basically like having a partial nephrectomy (back me up on this kel). I was lying in bed feeling intensely sorry for myself and distraught that my milk supply was vanishing before my eyes. I’ve been able to give Cora only breast milk for the past 9 months and soon I was going to have to give her that thing called, gulp, formula.

    To distract myself I read your latest blog post. So amazing! I thought, well hell, if Kelly can totally avoid a blood transfusion by talking (or quickly barking orders) to his cells, surely I can get my boobs to fill back up with milk. A little visualization–channeling prolactin release from the pituitary gland, and some slightly desperate begging to the mammary glands to make more eff’ing milk, and voila, last night I pumped 4.5 oz! The night before it had been a pathetic 1! So thanks again for being total inspirations to me, and my milk ducts ;)
    Love you guys

  • Reply
    Ellen Collord

    I just read this out loud to Craig-we looked at each other and said, “cool”. We like WWDD.
    Craig likes telling the body parts what to do. Don’t talk to them-just tell them! Very impressive. Kind of like the outboard motor story. We love you guys. Miss you guys and hoping we can link up this summer.

  • Reply
    tandy beal

    oh kelly… how you can be funny in the face of it all is a gift beyond divine… the voice of grace… helping us all not to be afraid… helping healing… helping life to be at maximum richness…

    you let us all believe in miracles. love you both so deeply…

  • Reply
    Shannon Journigan Bolen

    So Happy to read this posting! You are definately the commander of your vessel. As always my prayers to continue to go out for you and Diana. Keep up the great insightful posts.

  • Reply
    Ann Medlock

    I’d been thinking that Diana’s ability to chat with/direct her cells was unique. But you learned. So maybe I can too. Maybe all of us can. Maybe med schools will start teaching this as a powerful healing tool. In about 2114. Ya think?

  • Reply

    Geeze, Kelly! I am behind on my reading (just had my second cataract surgery & not seeing too well yet) and had no idea you were going through all this. Hugs to both you and Diana, two of the bravest pioneering souls I have ever met. I like it that your blood cells obeyed your request, out of respect! Jane

  • Reply
    Laura taylor

    You are both amazing people. I am so happy to have connected with you. So sorry you are going through a health issue. It doesn’t sound like much fun. Please be well. It can’t hurt that you have S whidbey’s healing thought guru at your disposable.

  • Reply
    Pam Zaid


    You and Diana never cease to amaze! You two have given a whole new meaning to the concept of “pre-op.” Does the medical profession know about this? They sure should.
    Keep up the great work of recovery, get well, stay well, and, of course, keep writing!
    Was that a bit too bossy?

    Much love, P&K

  • Reply
    Joanne Lindsay

    Thank you for sharing another amazing and meaningful experience, Kelly. Yours, added to Diana’s previous ones, may be helpful to us someday. love, mom

  • Reply

    Kelly BE WELL, BE WELL, BE WELL. And gosh, you are a wonderful communicator. Despite its serious subject, your engaging and amusing story was a joy to read. Thanks for sharing your “nakedness” with us. Rest, heal, and… yes, be well! Hugs to you and Diana. ~Sharen Heath

  • Reply
    Larry Land

    Thanks Kelly. Love your blogs. I hope you’re feeling well these days, and looking forward to what comes next.

  • Reply
    Carol Crosby

    Hi Kel,
    So glad you are up and healing rapidly. Talking to cells, visualizing healing reminds me of a few things…a study a few years ago on how water changes at a molecular level when exposed to a variety of human interactions. Also, Do you think that one has to know a lot about anatomy and biology and cells to affect change or is it enough to ask your body to heal itself?
    Perhaps a longer conversation…

    • Reply
      Kelly Lindsay Post author

      I usually respond to every comment by email if one is provided, but in some cases I think an online response might be more broadly helpful and I think this is one of those times.

      Excellent question! The answer is…


      Diana used imagery from dance, music, and the arts because those are in her background. I use images from anatomy and biology because those are in mine—and I certainly hope you don’t have to “know” how any of it works on a physical level because I’m probably wrong about most of what I think I know. I think of this more as healing by metaphor, using whatever imagery, sensation, or construct that feels personally natural and engaging in order to kick in some underlying process that affects the change. I suspect it’s the same mechanism behind the placebo effect. I’m not trying to trick my body; I’m trying to trigger it. Anyone can do this, and they will do it in their own way.

  • Reply
    Cindy Weeks

    Kelly and Diana – catching up on both recent posts:) “Interesting” next chapter for the two of you. (Very glad recovery is going well and you’re home! Nice that spring is offering its own version of a “healing glen …”) I will look forward to hearing more about how this shift in roles plays out – and especially how what you create together is different now that both of you are drawing on an understanding of the other role. So very grateful for and with you that you have each other on this continuing journey! (Always a good reminder that there’s no “one right way” – glad you’re finding your own!) Thanks for the continuing enjoyable and inspiring posts!

  • Reply
    Loretta Stromberg

    Oh, Kelly! Wow, my heart was right with you. I too resist the thought of a transfusion and have not needed one so far. I loved your chat with you veins, cells and body parts. It did the job! Your descriptions are great word pictures. I can see all body parts snap to attention and reply, “Yes sir!”.

  • Reply
    Rick Bragdon

    Thanks as always, Kelly, for the remarkably good spirit with which you (and Diana) live the good and the not-so-good of your lives. It serves all of us well and beautifully.

  • Reply

    This one brought tears to my eyes, Kel. What a guy! What a team! What insight and understanding! What a lesson! And lab tested! What a melieu of friends and cohorts you and Diana have attracted and joined!

  • Reply
    Peggy Taylor

    So amazing to see you and Diana walking along 6th St. in Langley yesterday. Kelly, you didn’t look like you’d just been through major surgery. You just looked like yourself taking a walk on a thankfully sunny day. Extraordinary. Much love, Peggy

  • Reply
    Lily Taylor

    Bravo, Kelly! Great dialogue with your body. It’s a language and understanding we all should learn. You’ve had a great teacher. Thinking of you!

  • Reply
    Susan Taylor

    A joy to read, Kelly!

    Thanks for once again reinforcing that there is no separation between spirit, body and mind and that our symptoms are signs that our body is working to help us. The importance of returning to the necessity of remembering to use our minds in ways that encourage (or tell!) our body parts to do more fully what they are trying to do. Power with, not power over. A lightening up, but not denial, with humor-a foundation of your being that I love having wash over me. All this, without self blame when outcomes are different from what we had hoped or expected, but with a trust in the mystery of life and love’s power. I’m very grateful that your experience was one that turned out as we all had hoped! Also enjoyed your first post after surgery. Amazing to me (but guess it shouldn’t have been!) that you personally connected with the rest of us at that time. Glad you felt o.k. enough to do that! Thanks! With tons of love as you continue to heal xxxooo

  • Reply

    I’m trying to learn this technique of talking to my cells. At age 85 I know I will need this skill more and more. Great work, Kelly (and Diana).

  • Reply
    Susanne Fest

    What a terrific account of your pre-op pep talk to your cells, Kelly. And how amazing that they listened and obeyed. To get that kind of cooperation must feel incredibly empowering ! Congratulations on a well executed experiment.


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