I had a gallbladder attack—a tall, dark gallstone and I passed a wild night in the emergency room—last November. I’ve been slowly healing with an unhappy gallbladder ever since. Now here in July, just two weeks ago, facing unexpected stress, I found myself with gallbladder inflammation pain again. The pain has come and gone for two weeks now. Not an attack again. Not severe. But dull, aching, persistent, and annoying as hell. Nevertheless, the pain persists. So back to the doctor I went. Another doctor in my doctor’s practice who had free time this week. I quickly found myself frustrated by another western medicine doctor saying “just cut it out, just get over it.”

Thank you for your expert advice. And this gift…

When did I become the person who dares to question the expert?
When did I become someone who shows up having a wider range of ideas and options and cultural wisdom to draw from than this person in this small office I once bowed to without question, calling that “health”?

She referred me to a gastroenterologist, and I will happily go, assuming the insurance company agrees to pay for the CT scan and the additional expert. I’ll find that out later this week. I told her I’d be trying acupuncture, vegetables, and herbs to reduce inflammation and for pain management. She asked if I’d let her know how these things worked for me, so she could share it with others. Oh western medicine, there’s hope for us yet…

When did we become people who feel they are past wanting to just cut things out and get past things–possibly missing the deeper lessons and repeating the same mistakes?

I don’t want to get over this pain quickly.

Huh. Wow. I don’t want to get over this pain quickly.

Here, now, I welcome this pain into this body I’ve called home for 48 years. We want to learn from our experience here. This means feeling what we feel. Listening to what we feel, including pain. What is she here to tell me, this pain?

So, I sat down to write today, still healing, still in a little pain, learning—finally—to get up and move every hour, to build yoga into my day, and to drink tea and water every hour too. Asking my global community about gallbladder pain and inflammation. I sat wondering what to do when the wisdom within me/my community disagrees with the doctor in the white coat who listened for 5 minutes, then passed the judgement “just cut it out, just get over it.” I recognized that voice as my own voice, too. How often do I think those words in response to others? Or act on them?

As I sat down at my desk, I opened a new book, a gift from a friend. The page the book fell open to first contained the poem The Cure, by Albert Huffstickler. What? No. How in the? Wow.


This—this—is why I write. I write so that somebody else might open a book when they’re in pain and find exactly the thing they need, at just the right moment, for them. Like so many, many authors have done for me across my days. I write so that someone else will draw in their breath with wonder and delight, as they are reminded of the deep magic at play in our world, and within humanity, even here, even now…

The Cure
by Albert Huffstickler

We think we get over things.
We don’t get over things.
Or say, we get over the measles
but not a broken heart.
We need to make that distinction.
The things that become part of our experience
never become less a part of our experience.
How can I say it?
The way to “get over” a life is to die.
Short of that, you move with it,
let the pain be pain,
not in the hope that it will vanish
but in the faith that it will fit in,
find its place in the shape of things
and be then not any less pain but true to form.
Because anything natural has an inherent shape
and will flow towards it.
And a life is as natural as a leaf.
That’s what we’re looking for:
not the end of a thing but the shape of it.
Wisdom is seeing the shape of your life
without obliterating (getting over) a single
instant of it.

Thank you, Albert Huffstickler, for restoring my faith in old white dudes today. And for restoring my faith in myself. That’s all I have time to write today. My gallbladder, the dog, and I are going for a walk in the woods. If you want to learn more about why I write, search for the name “Albert Huffstickler” on the internet and listen to him read one of his poems and/or talk about his life. I have no doubt that his life will say to you what mine also wants to say.