Saturday, April 29, 2017

Speaking up and Reaching out


Fall 2015, I signed up for a class, "Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction," at our local Zen center.  The cost was $ 280.00.  Based on the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn and pioneered in Boston at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, this 8-week series of classes was designed to help those with chronic pain and other difficult health conditions. A well-researched and-widely practiced curriculum, it includes mindfulness meditation, body scanning and simple yoga postures.

I made it through four weeks of classes before I had a spike in my chronic migraines as well as some stomach trouble.  I just couldn't get there by 9:00 am, or get out of the house at all on some days, so I dropped out and requested a partial refund or if they could apply my remaining tuition to a future class.  The answer was "No" accompanied by an apology and an explanation that they needed the income to keep the program and the Center afloat.  It seemed unfair.  After all, MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) is supposed to serve those of us with health problems.  Could there not be some acknowledgment of and provision for the challenges we live with?  Apparently not.  I stewed about it for a time before I moved on.
Anger Goddess

Meanwhile, I continued to take my once weekly adapted yoga class through our local Parks and Recreation Department.  When I had to miss class for two weeks for an anticipated, out-of-town trip, they credited me against my tuition for the next quarter.  It felt good and right, a simple acceptance of my needs.

Meanwhile, I continued to receive regular emails from the Zen Center on their classes and retreats, including MBSR.  A couple of months ago, finally goaded into action, I responded with a polite email of my own.

"Thanks for the information about the upcoming retreat.  I took a class, MBSR a year or so ago, and I’m not inclined to follow up with any more classes or retreats at the Center.  I have a chronic health problem, and basically there seems to be no place for those of us who can’t always show up according to the set schedule.  While I understand that you have to work to keep the program afloat financially, it seems ironic and counter to the philosophy of MBSR that you can’t really accommodate those with chronic health problems.  I had to drop out of the class after about a month because of a spike in chronic pain.  There was no allowance for this, and I forfeited my tuition.  While I’m doing better now, there’s no guarantee this will continue to be true.  So I’m not willing to pay for something I may not be able to follow through with.

I previously took a summer drop-in class.  Heather was the teacher, and the class was great, very helpful. I enjoyed practicing with a group. Apparently there are no more drop-in classes.  Too bad.  It worked really well for me, and I made it most of the time but didn’t have to pay when I couldn’t show up."

I received an immediate response from their new office manager, saying they did have a refund policy and would be happy to reimburse part of my tuition.  They thanked me for bringing the issue up and promised to look into a drop-in class.  They have, and that class will start in the fall.  Last week I received a check for $ 180.00.  Not only was it nice to have the money, but it was also a crystal-clear  affirmation.  "I see you. I hear you."  And hopefully it will help someone else along the way, too.

Practice - sticking up for yourself 

Sometimes I have to get a little angry.
I have learned, slowly, over the years, to stick up for myself, but it is a lesson I continue to need.  Opportunities abound.  Sometimes I can rise to the occasion, sometimes not.  This last Wednesday I had another opportunity.   I had an abscess in a wisdom tooth.  It had to come out.  At the pre-op appointment, the oral surgeon gave me a rundown and instructions including nothing by mouth after midnight for a 10:00 am appointment.  I explained,

"I have chronic migraine headaches, 20 to 30 days a month.  No morning tea will surely trigger a migraine before the procedure.  Can I drink clear, black tea and a glass of clear juice?"

He was reluctant, but once he understood the extent of the problem, he agreed.  He would add an anti-nausea drug to my IV sedation to prevent vomiting with the danger of aspiration.  I was relieved. The extraction went well, and I awoke with no head pain.

Anger Goddess

I am a weaver.  Sometimes when I feel the need of someone to express what I'm feeling, I create her.  The Anger Goddess reminds me to stand up for myself, to speak out when I need to.  She's a good friend, and of all the dolls I've made, she is everyone's favorite.  They like seeing that bold side of me.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.