From New Orleans
I arrived home late Tuesday night and have not been able to stop crying, nor lift this feeling in my chest. I guess it is grief and loss even though it was an awesome experience, a life altering experience. I was excited and energized until the end when I became tired and knew I needed a break. I liken this to a glimpse of what a soldier may feel returning home and feeling so disoriented.
All I think about are my interactions with people and their gratitude for our willingness to be there for them.
It was truly an honor to touch peoples’ hearts and souls by listening to their stories, to lay my hands on their shoulders or to put 5 simple needles into their ears.
I remember a woman coming to the supply facility of Common Ground and asking me what I was doing and I told her I was offering acupuncture to help with stress, relaxation and some of the effects of trauma. She told me she had not slept in 3 weeks and she was concerned because her blood pressure was so high. I invited her to sit down and let me insert needles in her ears. She was so scared. So I promised her I would insert one needle at a time and would stop at any point if it became too much for her. I not only successful inserted the ten little needles, I also inserted a needle for hypertension. Within minutes she was fast asleep. I stood next to her and watched her sleep for the next 45 minutes. She felt great afterwards and thanked me, but could not understand how she became so sleepy.
There are so many stories to write and each one touches my heart. I think of a gentleman who was sitting on the chair outside Common Ground, he had just come out of the medical clinic. I went over to him and introduced myself and told him what I was doing. He said: “No, that’s not for me.” We continued to talk and I told him that I was not surprised that he would not accept my offer and he asked why. We then started a conversation that brought us both to tears. He told me he was heart broken that his girlfriend had just left him basically at the altar and that he still loved her and found it difficult to go on. Having been there not too long ago myself I was able to hold his hand and cry with him. I told him to hold tight, that the journey was not over and hopefully he would have sunshine again. He never received needles but I was able to place my hand on his chest and hold him tight.
We worked with a Vietnamese community on Sundays. Words cannot describe this community. All I can say is that the human experience is truly amazing. The strength, commitment and determination of this community is powerful. The first Sunday I worked with a 97 year old woman whose face was a mess. I am sure her jaw was broken. She was so brave and sweet. She let me put the needles in her ears and other body points for pain, bone swelling and for calming the spirit without even a flicker. There were no words exchanged only eye contact and at the end when I took out the needles she took hold of my hand and squeezed it and smiled at me.
No one in New Orleans was unaffected by this disaster. It was the human spirit that I was working with. Rich or poor, left wing or right wing, they were human beings first and foremost. I worked with some of the poorest people in the United States and I worked on some of very influential people in the United States and the emotions were the same: grief, worry, fear, and devastation