Crown of Fire
You may not be ready for yet another coronavirus story. This one, though, has a twist you might find useful at some point…
At the end of February, when the novel coronavirus was by all reports a vague threat thousands of miles from Colorado, Beth and I both fell ill. She had a sore throat and sniffles; I had stomach pains and nausea. Some kind of virus, we agreed, but not THE virus. That was still confined to a few cases on the East and West Coasts. We would, however, quarantine ourselves anyway, as we would do with any viral illness. And since we live in separate houses and weren’t even sure we had the same virus, that meant staying away from each other, as well as everyone else…
March arrived and wore on. Beth recovered after a few days; my stomach symptoms abated after ten days. But I didn’t feel better. In fact, I felt increasingly ill, with no fever but strange fever-like symptoms: alternating burning and freezing skin; itching; here, then there; migrating shooting pains. The digestive tract issues returned. I felt dizzy, weak, nauseated and enormously toxic, my skin crawling with invisible tormentors. And at night there was no respite. I could not sleep, my hyperactive nervous system propelling my body right off the mattress in mini-convulsions whenever I began to relax.
Pretty soon I was in fairly dire straits, but my increasingly foggy brain couldn’t put two and two together and suggest I ask for help. By the end of March I was staggering through my days in muddy, body-centric misery. My heart was pounding in my ears day and night and skipping one beat in every three or four, but since my blood pressure was normal, and—despite the searing heat waves running through me—my thermometer remained stuck at 98 degrees, it never occurred to me to do anything but wait this out. After all, I had none of the highly publicized COVID symptoms. No shortness of breath, no fever, no cough. About the only symptoms I did not have were the ones we were being warned about!
The worst of it, though, was the complete isolation I felt. Yes, I could talk to Beth on the phone, briefly, but I just didn’t have the energy or interest to contact anyone else. What would I say, anyway? “I’m calling to tell you how bad I feel” tends not to endear one to friends and family.
I saw no one at all for weeks at a time and spoke to only a few people. My daily walks and over-the-fence chats with neighbors were a thing of the past; my legs would barely carry me up and down the three steps from my kitchen to my home office. And somehow “Thank you. Just place the grocery bags on the step, please” doesn’t induce a sense of deep emotional connection…
In any case, the real isolation and loss was at the vibrational/spiritual level. Intellectually, I knew my non-incarnate “team” of inner guides and mentors was still there—I just couldn’t hear or feel them. I felt utterly alone. Not abandoned: I knew this was my issue, not theirs. Somehow, though, that awareness didn't help much.
Even the ongoing sense of Presence which sustains me was unreachable. I just couldn’t summon the necessary energy to connect, I told myself. But it was more than that. It was as if a crown of fire had been placed on my aching head, and the flames had proceeded to engulf my mind, my body, my stuttering heart, burning out my connections to everything and everyone on both sides of the veil…
The weeks wore on, until finally my legs and feet had had enough. In late April they swelled up rather dramatically; I called my not-yet-back-to-business acupuncturist
“I’m not liking what I’m hearing,” Carrie said. “And you are sounding short of breath. If it were me, I’d be going to the emergency room for tests”—she’s an RN—“but I know you won’t do that as your first option.
"We’re being allowed to open back up in nine days; I’ll see you then and we’ll do what we can to reduce the leg swelling. But if things get any worse before that, you MUST go to the ER.”
I began counting days. The shortness of breath was getting worse, but I wasn’t about to go to the ER, from which I was convinced I would never emerge alive, given my previous death-dodging hospital stays and current inability to bring an advocate with me.
On May 4 I staggered down the corridor after Carrie, discovering that breathing through a mask was not a happy experience for my lungs. No improvement on the edema. When I went in for my second treatment, Carrie placed the needles, pushed her chair back and looked me in the eye.
“Pat,” she said, “I am really, really worried about you. With this edema, we need to find out what major organ is in trouble here. And you may not be aware of it, but you’re having to gasp for breath after every three words you speak. If you’re not willing to go to the ER, would you be willing to have Beth take you to Urgent Care and have them at least do some tests?”
Now, Carrie had once saved my life by sending me to the hospital when I had a virulent infection; even in my fog I could remember that. “Okay,” I gasped. “I will.”
As soon as I left the clinic, I called Beth. “Quarantine’ s over between us,” I said. “I need to have you take me to Urgent Care.”
Urgent Care, as I knew it would, referred me to the ER. At which point my mental story machine proved that it, at least, was in excellent shape: “I’ll go into the ER, they’ll banish Beth to the parking lot just like they did at Urgent Care, they’ll take one look at me and admit me to the hospital and I’ll die there alone. I’ll never see Beth or anyone else I love again.” My breath was becoming more labored with every retelling of that doom-laden story; I informed the Urgent Care doctor that I knew most of the shortness of breath was just sheer terror.
“I have… paradoxical… reactions… to most medications,” I finally got out, “and have had several… narrow escapes… already… during hospital stays. Without an advocate… I’m truly afraid I’ll… die there… alone.”
“I’d feel just the same way,” she said. If I’d had the breath for it, I’d have burst into tears of gratitude for her understanding.
On to the ER. And here, contrary to all the official warnings, they actually allowed Beth to come in with me! My breathing promptly eased somewhat. After several hours of scans, X-rays, and waiting, the PA came back with test results.
“The heart is showing some stress,” he announced, “but your EKG isn’t significantly different from three years ago, so we think your doctor can take care of this. Everything else is within normal limits—except for one thing.
“You told us your thyroid tests always worry the testers because they indicate low thyroid function, though you have no actual hypothyroid symptoms. But that’s not what you’re showing today. Your free T4, the thyroxine level in the blood, is off-the charts high, so high we can’t even measure it, and your TSH score, measuring the pituitary’s ‘send out more hormone’ signals to the thyroid, is so low we can’t measure it. So you currently have extreme hyperthyroidism. Your doctor will know what to do about that.”
“You mean I can go home now?” My breathing was improving by the second.
“Yes,” he said. “Just set up a doctor’s appointment right away.”
“Explain to me exactly what’s gone on from when you first got sick,” said my doctor. I did.
“Well, Pat, I’m 99.99% sure that was indeed COVID,” he said. “We now know some people have atypical symptoms. And the thing that really convinces me is that after their body throws off the virus, a small percentage of people undergo what’s called a cytokine storm. That’s a massive attack by the immune system on one or more major organs. For some reason, in your case your immune system chose to attack your thyroid.”
“But why am I now hyperthyroid?”
“Because,” said he, “the thyroid doesn’t just manufacture and distribute hormones, it stores them. Imagine a water tower full of water. If a bunch of soldiers shot the tower full of holes, what would happen to the water?”
“Oh. So under attack, my thyroid let out all the hormones into my bloodstream at once?”
“Exactly. We call this condition thyrotoxicosis; so you can see why you would feel so toxic. And then your liver and kidneys got way overstressed trying to deal with that toxic overload. And meanwhile, under the influence of all that hormone your metabolism has sped way up, which puts a lot of stress on your heart. And it could be your heart also got a hit from the cytokine storm; we’ll never really know.
“What we do know is that all the symptoms, your tests, and what I’m hearing when I listen to your heart are pointing to Stage Two heart failure: not lethal yet, but a cause for concern. If it were my choice, I’d refer you to an endocrinologist, plus prescribe some beta blockers to help that heart, but of course it’s always up to you.”
“So what can I expect from here?”
“Well, your body will gradually use up and expel the extra thyroxine now in the blood stream. You’ll feel better for awhile as that happens, but since your thyroid won’t be able to produce any more thyroxine, eventually you’ll use it all up. And then you’ll start to feel worse and worse. We’ll get you on some hormone replacement therapy, which you will take for the rest of your life.”
“So you’re saying my thyroid is essentially dead?”
Now, this might not be such dreadful news, except that over the course of my adult life I have dutifully taken five different kinds of replacement thyroid hormones, when various doctors were sure all my troubles were caused by those dreadful thyroid test results—and none of them have ever caused the readings to so much as twitch. I wasn't at all sure that "getting me on some thyroid replacement therapy" was an easy fix.
However, I was not out of resources. I might be shaking, breathless and exhausted, but I had resources most folks don’t.
“Joey,” I said—he’s that kind of doctor, always an equal partner, not an Authority—“as you know, I’m a mind/body healer by profession. So I’m going to ask if you will do something for me. Can you offer me a window of possibility by suspending your belief that my thyroid is a goner and my heart needs medication, until we see what I can do?
“My body needs to have that openmindedness from you, because though you and I know we are a team, it believes you are an Authority. My body needs to know you’ll support me in doing my own work first.”
“Of course I can do that, Pat,” he said. “My job isn’t to doctor by the numbers. I’m here to support you.”
“So, how about I take a month to do my own work, and we’ll see how I am then. Deal?”
I do love my doctor!
Well, it actually took two months before I walked out of Dr. Joey’s office with his agreement that my symptoms had “resolved”—doctor code for “You’re back to your usual good health.” And I’m going to give you the how-it-happened, because you never know what might come in handy some day…
My first healing process was conducted, if you will, by my inner circle of advisors—at least I could contact them during a facilitated session!—who insisted that before trying to “fix” anything I needed to understand why it had all come about. That understanding came in three stages.
First, I recalled that the very day before my presumed exposure to the coronavirus, I had opened an email from someone I love dearly, only to be hit by a violent verbal condemnation which tersely and without explanation cut off the relationship. No details were given as to what I had done to anger this person enough that they wanted no further contact with me. So it was clear that from that point on my body was in shock, my heart feeling shattered and vulnerable in the face of an unexpected emotional and energetic assault. Small wonder that my immune system was unable to defend me from the viral invaders!
Next, I remembered how hard I had tried to keep my own Inner Judge from joining that email’s vitriolic attack. While I was awake I did a fairly good job at countering my Inner Critic, but in the undefended night that nasty, condemning voice would flay me in my dreams. “If you had just…” “You should have…” “You could have…”whispered through the darkness in an endless loop, and each morning my first task had to be booting out the hanging judge yet again. A perfect inner environment for a cytokine storm of self-attack from my immune cells!
While certainly interesting, those two contributing factors pale by comparison with the third. Why did my immune-soldiers-on-the-rampage attack my thyroid and not some other organ? I was directed to ask. And that question took me back to countless memories from my childhood when my mother would inform me, “Now remember, you inherited my under-performing thyroid. That means you’ll never have much energy; you’ll just have to accommodate to it as I have.”
Having my mother’s thyroid was often hauled out to point out that I didn’t have it in me to do sports, or explain why I needed to take an afternoon nap when Mother did, or exhort me to be careful not to overdo, and so forth. So my thyroid had been programmed from a very early age to “believe” it was not Patsy’s thyroid, but Margaret’s thyroid. I saw the energy of “Margaret’s thyroid” encasing my thyroid like a heavy blanket, weighing it down—and disguising it. No wonder my immune system saw it as a foreign invader!
I was ready to go to work. First, my guides and I showed the thyroid the origins of that heavy blanket of under-performance. I also congratulated it for having done so well, under-performing only slightly despite the weight of all that programming. Next I removed the energy blanket and gave it back to Margaret, making sure I forgave her for what she had unknowingly set in place.
Then, after first praising their response to the coronavirus itself, the thyroid and I explained to the assembled army of T-cell soldiers that they had been misled by a false-flag operation into subjecting their own side to friendly fire. Peace talks were held, ending in mutual forgiveness, and a formal treaty was presented and signed—trumpets, parchment scrolls and all.
A stranger to inner work might well have dismissed all that as mere empty pageantry, a colorful but useless exercise. But we know differently, don’t we? We have experienced the body as a living metaphor that reflects what we and others have taught it to believe about itself. Change the metaphor and the cells, the very DNA, will listen.
I was all set to do more around healing the thyroid, but in each of the next four Journey processes I was firmly informed by the thyroid itself that another organ was the top priority at the moment. “You just go take care of that heart, my girl,” it said first. “I’ll be fine for now.” And lo and behold—after all the work I had done on my heart over the years, way down at the bottom of the right ventricle, lying on the heart’s very floor, was a thick layer of what looked like oil-doused, muddy, filthy newspaper pages. “Aha!” said Pat the Intrepid Investigator. “Old news.”
And sure enough, old news it was: dozens and dozens of old beliefs and outdated decisions and limiting vows, most from my teens in the 1950s and all thoroughly examined and discarded many years ago—I had thought. They certainly woke no echoes in my mental or emotional realms—but it seemed they had not after all left the body when I banished them in long-ago processing. Now they made perfect tinder for the corona-fire: beliefs like “I’m an outcast, I’m alone” from eighth grade; “No one will ever love me” from seventh grade; “I’m weak, vulnerable and disabled” from the ordeal of entering junior high with my recently broken arm in a cast… and so on. So this time, after determining once again that no, none of these old relics were serving me, we made sure to clear them right out of the body, adding in some EFT tapping to align my body’s energy meridians with my clean, updated heart.
Within two days the nausea had disappeared, the edema was down significantly and my heartbeat had settled into its normal steady, unobtrusive self. In five days I went from no-food-please to eating like a whole stableful of horses. Within two weeks my lost energy—and weight—were approaching normal and I was out working in my sadly neglected garden again. I was aware I was still hyperthyroid, but the signs of toxic overload were diminishing steadily.
In subsequent processes we offered similar resources and clearing to other affected organs like the liver, spleen and kidneys, and received feedback on how I could best support them in clearing out the accumulated toxic sludge at both the physical and the non-physical levels. And by the time I went back to see Dr. Joey in mid-June, I could tell him that though my thyroid was still a work-in-progress, my heart was its normal self—which his stethoscope confirmed—and my liver and kidneys were doing what they oughter. We agreed that I no longer had any stage of heart failure, and that I could have another five weeks to work on the thyroid.
The first thing I did was a little research, in which I discovered that contrary to Dr. Joey’s information, thyroids can and often do recover on their own from such auto-immune storms. So when I and my two brilliant process facilitators began the new cycle, I asked my thyroid not “How do you need to be fixed?” but “DO you need to be fixed?”
It turned out that without the smothering Margaret-blanket, my thyroid was actually recovering very well on its own. It did not, however, just want to repair the storm damage to its manufacturing and storage facilities. My body wisdom asked for my conscious and energetic participation in creating/envisioning blueprints for the thyroid’s new, updated factory and warehousing, plus a state-of-the-art communication line between thyroid and pituitary!
Over another handful of sessions, the structures were built, and I was given timelines for the final flushing out of excess thyroxine and resumption of normal manufacturing, storage and eventual release of more T4. After due consideration the thyroid’s Chief Engineer and I agreed that the optimal thyroxine level for me is 10.4 on a scale where the old norm was 8 to 9; I was given a way to monitor that number and to observe my energy and metabolic levels as they returned to a lively normal—and leveled off there, just as I had been assured they would.
It was a fascinating, detailed, highly illuminating collaboration with a part of my body I had always thought of as “it”, not addressed as “you.” I now know more about how my particular thyroid and pituitary glands work than I would ever have expected to learn or understand—and I understand how robust, resilient and adaptable they actually are. And that if I listen to them, they will listen to me…
In mid-July I bounced into Dr. Joey’s office with a proud smile under my mask. After a brief examination he said, “It’s very clear that when you speak to your body it listens. You’re certainly in excellent health right now. So I will hold the vision with you that it all continues this way. You’re good to go; call if I can help in any way.”
I did not tell him that it was far more a case of my body speaking to me than the other way around. I was just content to hear my professedly medical-mainstream doctor talking about “holding the vision with me” and “speaking to the body.” Despite my long self-imposed quarantine, perhaps I had actually been an agent of contagion—a benevolent one—after all!
As my own healing initiative drew to a close I began to hear about the long-haulers: the significant percentage of COVID sufferers whose symptoms have remained, or morphed, but not disappeared after the usual couple of weeks. After months and months, they are still very ill, their cries for help often ignored or pooh-poohed by doctors because “that’s not how this disease presents.”
No? My experience says yes, this can happen, to even the healthiest of us. Be it due to massive inflammation, multiple organ involvement and/or post-viral auto-immune attacks, for tens of thousands of people the pain and debilitation continue with no end in sight. These folks’ stories hurt my heart, torn between such gratitude that I and my practitioner-facilitators had the tools to help me extinguish the fires, and such sadness for those who don’t have those inner or outer resources.
Then I remind my heart, “Focus on the gratitude. We need to keep you healthy and powerful, heart of mine, so you can help me spread the awareness of how powerful our body’s inner picture of itself can be—and what we can do to change that picture. And perhaps some day you can write about all this, and remind your readers that not all healing resources come from the outside.”
That day has now come. And who knows, perhaps one or more of the deepwork practitioners who read this article will be called to help a long-hauler remove their own crown of fire, the coronavirus firestorm that is consuming the landscape of their life. To hold the energetic space the patient or client cannot provide on their own. To remind them of the questions they are burning too fiercely to formulate. And to hand them the tools and resources they’ve lost sight of in the toxic smoke. If this happens even once, if health returns for even one person because of a window of possibility this article opens, it has been well worth the writing.
As the French say to close a prayer, ainsi soit-il. May it be thus.