Simon Says, “Rub Your Ears!”


The other day, I had my ear needled.  My mom’s acupuncturist, Matt, suggested it.  He said it would help me de-stress. It is amazing how stress can make you look like a giant elephant.


Or a spaced-out  cat.  “You will buy me that Betta fish.  You know I’ve always wanted one. Buy it…  Buy it meow–oops–now!”


Matt  put 3 needles in my left ear at various acupuncture  points for relaxation.


He then put 3 needles in my twin sister’s left ear. Matt pointed out that my sister and I have completely different ear anatomy. He said he can tell a lot about a person just by looking at their ears.

  • The ear is a microcosm of the human body– and in both Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine it is compared to an upside down fetus.



You can also de-stress by using your own fingers to press on acupressure (or marma) points of the ear.  According to Vassant Lad’s book, Marma Points of Ayurveda:

  • Gently pulling the earlobe downwards helps to descend energy to relieve headaches and migraines.  It has a tranquilizing effect because of its functional connection with higher cerebral activity, which promotes tranquility and bliss. This action also aids in stress management and quieting children who are hyperactive.




Qi gong is an ancient Chinese health practice that integrates physical postures, breathing techniques and focused intention for total body wellness.  Try this Qi Gong ear exercise.



Shiatsu is a form of therapeutic bodywork from Japan. It is based on the same principles as acupuncture–in which pressure is applied to certain points on the body using the hands.  Take a look at this Shiatsu ear exercise.



You can even make up your own daily ear massage routine. Just do what feels right for you. You cannot go wrong.  Your whole body will benefit!


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A Change of Plans (Leaving Rehab)



My mother was hospitalized for the second time in rehab due to extreme stomach pains. She had stopped eating and lost a lot of weight.




By this point, she was no longer taking Lisinopril (high blood pressure medication). Her blood pressure had actually  normalized thanks to an Ayurvedic home remedy–a cup of hot water with a teaspoon of honey and 5-10 drops of apple cider vinegar each morning before breakfast.  But she was still taking Aggrenox (a blood thinner) and Lipitor (for cholesterol-even though she did not have a cholesterol problem).




Initially, the Emergency Room doctors thought our mom’s stomach pain was due to gallstones. The scans, however, showed no gallstones. Nevertheless, they still wanted to do  exploratory surgery to make sure. The surgeon in charge said she did not feel comfortable operating on someone who was already compromised by stroke.  She said her gut instinct was that our mom was having a poor reaction to the Lipitor.  The surgeon was very concerned about our mom’s elevated liver enzymes.  She immediately discontinued the Lipitor believing this medication was causing  the problem.  The surgeon explained that  Aggrenox is often paired with Lipitor because (for some stroke patients) these drugs work synergistically– even if there are no cholesterol issues. However, she said, “Not all drugs are effective for all people. Some can do more harm than good.”




One day after the Lipitor was discontinued, our mother started eating again.  She was then able to go back to the rehab/nursing home.




Although our mom was eating– by this point she had completely given  up on her physical therapy.  She even resorted to falling asleep in the PT gym.   She was becoming increasingly more despondent and depressed– repeating over and over that she would never get better. The therapists kindly explained to her that recovery takes time.  My mom’s Occupational Therapist even gave her a pep talk for encouragement. She responded by telling him that we (her daughters) had abandoned her.





After 3 months in the nursing home, our mother was an emotional wreck.  She could be laughing  one moment, then suddenly  crying the next. She was confused and disoriented. She even said she wanted to die.  She also spent hours perseverating on nonsensical themes.




I was afraid our mother would not survive another week  in inpatient care.  Her initial plan was to stay in rehab “until I can walk,” she said.  But we needed to change plans.




It was time to bring her home. The social worker at the facility then started the 3 day discharge process.  The social worker  arranged for continued outpatient speech therapy, occupational therapy and physical therapy at a different facility.




On a rainy day in late April, my sisters and I  nervously brought our mother home.





Blizzard Warning



I had a bad feeling something big was about to happen. Every morning since Christmas, I’d been waking up wondering if my mom was going to wake up too.  Then the blizzard announcement came.



The predicted storm was alarming to most people.   For me, it came at a good time.  Since the beginning of January, my mom had developed an odd rash all over her face.  It was getting severe.  I thought maybe a few days at home would do her some good.  Plus, I thought it would give me time to do some research in my handy dandy book on Ayurvedic home remedies.   I had to figure out what was causing that rash.  Maybe it  was  caused by  troubling thoughts?  I even thought she might be depressed.



I first learned about Ayurveda (the Science of Life) when I was a sophomore in college. I had just formally declared  my concentration in International Relations instead of pre-med. Initially, I had planned on becoming a Dermatologist.  I had this weird fascination with pimples.  Then my mom showed me a few of her medical journals.  The pictures were graphic.  My mom said, “Bet you didn’t know pimples could pop up in all sorts of places-not just the face?!”   After that,  I decided, International Relations was indeed going to be my major.  Anyway, I was taking a Russian Literature class and was seated next to my loud, obnoxiously catty friend Eric.   He started saying snide things about  this girl seated in front of us.  He thought her hair was “way too long” and she should “not be wearing that sweater with those pants!”  The girl turned around to look at stupid Eric.  I apologized. The girl was Mallika Chopra.  We soon became fast friends.  She told me all about her dad (Dr. Deepak Chopra) and his books on the mind body connection and Ayurveda.  Those books changed my life!   Ayurveda is one of the world’s oldest  healing systems.  It is based on the belief that health and wellness depend on the balance between mind, body, and spirit.


I knew there had to be a reason for my mom’s rash.  Was this skin outbreak her way of grieving?



Lucille and Alberta

In August 2015, my mom’s older sister, Lucille,  died.  Coincidentally, Aunt Lucille had suffered a similar stroke nearly 10 years before my mom.  My mom and Aunt Lucille had a special bond.  My mother often talks about how Lucille was the one who encouraged her to go to medical school.  At the time, my mom had been feeling low because the schools she wanted to go to were not accepting women.  Aunt Lucille did some research and found a medical school for my mom.  She even got her an application.  When the acceptance letter arrived, my mom asked Lucille to open it.


Lucille opened the letter and read the good news.  My mother was washing dishes. She  was so excited she broke the glass she had been washing and severely cut her hands. Lucille angrily rushed my mom to the hospital. She feared my mom had now ruined her chances at going to  medical school.




Also, in early January 2016, my mom’s very  dear friend from medical school and fellow psychiatrist, Dr. Frances Cress Welsing,  had a stroke.  My mom, my twin sister Akwelle and our cousin Janice (Aunt Lucille’s daughter) went to visit Frances in the intensive care unit.  When we got there, my mom was totally shocked to see  her friend on life support. My mom was speechless.  But once we got home, she would not stop talking about it.  The next day we got the news that Frances had died.  My mom was very sad.  This is when my mom’s rash started getting  really bad.  I’d never seen her so upset, not even when my dad died.


The weekend of January 23, 2016,  we got 28 inches of snow.  A blizzard!  Monday evening after the snow had stopped falling, my twin sister and I had a marathon of shoveling snow in the front and alley areas of the house.  My mom took her nightly bath and afterward said, “Good Night.” About 30 minutes later, my sister and I heard a loud thumping noise from my mom’s room. We ran upstairs and there was Mommy on the floor with her legs folded under her. My sister said, “What happened?” My mom said, “I just tripped over the humidifier. It’s nothing.  Good night!”



The next morning, my mom said she thought she might have the flu.  She said she was going  back to bed.  I noticed  she was stumbling again while walking up the stairs.  When she got to her room, there was a very loud thud.  It actually shook the house like an earthquake.  My twin sister and I rushed upstairs once again.  Our mom was on the floor, but this time she had trouble getting herself back up.  That’s when my twin sister insisted that we go to the Emergency Room.  My mom said she just needed a nap.  But my twin sister  said she was going to call an ambulance.  My mom said, “No!” Then my twin sister cleverly said, “Why don’t we go to your doctor’s office.  He’s in the building next to the hospital.  The streets are probably clear over there.  Let’s do that!”  My mom said yes.  The next task was all mine–driving through all that crazy snow!   I did not stop for any red lights. I just kept on going– praying I would not crash.  Thankfully, we were the only people on the road.  Finally, we got to my mom’s doctor’s office.  There was a note on the door, “Due to inclement weather we are closed.”  I had already parked the car in the parking garage.  But, the ER was just in the next building.  So we walked.