Powerful Mind Medicine

Kangaroo dance and pointing the bone. Margaret Preston. 1957

Kangaroo dance and pointing the bone.
Margaret Preston. 1957

COPD and the Secret of Living Longer

When refrigerated trucks were first on our roads in the 1940s, drivers were warned never to lock themselves in the back, because there was no escape mechanism on the inside latch. One day a driver was found dead, locked in the back of his freezer truck — everybody’s worst nightmare come true.

The cause of death was a mystery because the refrigeration unit itself had not been turned on. But the driver thought it had, and believing he would freeze to death, he had lay down and obligingly did so.

I was told at 40 that I could be in a box within five years. I’ve just rung the bell on 57. So what changed? Well, I changed.

Yes, I am in The Departure Lounge, but my flight has not yet been called. And nor has yours. Perfectly well people will, as you know, leave suddenly, tragically, ahead of us.

I am chary, though, of strappingly healthy people telling me, ‘Well, anyone can get hit by a bus.’ Indeed they can, but our bus has already left the depot!

To live longer with COPD you must first grasp the need for daily exercise and good diet. Follow your chest doctor’s orders, and if you haven’t done Pulmonary Rehab, please try to find a course.

When, last year, I was told to ‘get my affairs in order’, I became very calm. I was sad of course, but I had broken my hip and was a skeletal 38kgs. I couldn’t blow out a candle and was a sitting duck for pneumonia. The slightest cold would finish me off. So I pulled up the drawbridge. I paused in my life and I took stock.

I needed oxygen for exercise and then soon for other activities. I needed to acclimatise to the nose-hose. It is gradually becoming a fixture, although I am not yet 24/7. I purchased portable oxygen and began to wear it out in the world. Embarrassing and liberating at the same time.

A will was finalised, and in preparation for my death, I read both A Course in Miracles and ‘End of Life’ directives—a bet each way if you like.

Funeral arrangements were undertaken, pardon the pun. But how can you pick a song emblematic of you from the millions you have loved; or a scrap of poetry or a line or two of a story from the thousands of volumes you have inscribed on your heart? What are your final words to be?

As per the Desiderata, I surrendered gracefully, not the things of youth, but the idea that I had celebrated my last birthday; heard the voice of a dear friend for the last time. When expecting death, life becomes zoomed in on and framed tightly on events. It might be the last time you see certain family members, who come to visit with their sad faces.
Will your old pet out-live you?

It might be the last time you vote. It might be the last movie you see. It might be the last time you fly. It might be the last sunrise you see from your kayak on a misty lake. Or the last season you taste your home grown vegetables and summer fruits.

This is the mindset of end-stage disease.

At the time he was dying from cancer, Christopher Hitchens imagined Death, as lurking in the hallway like an old bore, hoping to have a word with him. He trapped himself with this image.

Hitch needed to see himself escaping, out the back door, free to once more taste the moonlight, giving Death the slip.

‘Change the way you see things, and the things you see will change’.

In Australia, ‘pointing the bone’ derives from Indigenous customary law and meant you were sentenced to die, without hope of reprieve. Many a man could and did die because a sorcerer ordained it by pointing a bone at him.

I refuse to believe I have a fatal, chronic disease that will kill me in a certain amount of time. I will not point the bone at myself.

Aborigines called it Purri. We know it as Placebo. Powerful mind medicine.

All things are possible.

7 thoughts on “Powerful Mind Medicine

  1. I have just found you through a post I re-read from Bill Hamilton. I was diagnosed with COPD in December/13 although I believe I have probably had it for a few years already. I am 58 years old & live in Alberta, Canada. I have been fighting with the government here to get disability payments which has taken up most of my time for the last 5 months, along with trying to get referrals to cardiologist, respiratory specialist & psychiatrist. I have found a great friend in Bill – he gives me hope & great advice.


    • Hi benzeknees.
      It can be tough to negotiate all those issues when newly diagnosed. Trust me, it’s like learning to drive a car. It will become a heck of a lot easier. Australia has a disability support pension for COPD sufferers, but there are fears the current Government may wind back pensions. It costs money to stay well. A good way to save money is sharing what we learn with each other. In a future post I intend to talk about all the snake oil cures I’ve tried!

      My best advice is to exercise every day. Rain. Hail or shine. Find a way. And keep that chin up.


    • Thank you Jarv. I hope you see fit to contribute from your great store of experiences.

      As a meditation teacher, you might agree to write me a guest post one day on breathing better through meditation. It helps me and is a life-changing practice.


  2. It’s taken me a long time to be able to read past the About page. Hi B1 – glad I can now come and get comfortable with you in The Departure Lounge!

    Hitch was a little fangirl of Voltaire. When Voltaire was in The Departure Lounge, a priest came to visit him. “You must renounce the devil!” The priest commanded. “This is no time,” said Voltaire, “to be making new enemies.”

    Of course, this anecdote is pure fiction, but if you don’t have any good last words I’ll make an effort to make up a good story.

    Apart from that, just wanted to let you know that well, anyone can get hit by a bus.


    Liked by 1 person

    • B2! Thank you for the grin I had this morning remembering Voltaire’s wicked comment. My father despised Voltaire to the point, when I was a kid, I thought his first name was Scoundrel.

      (You will have enjoyed Wolf Hall as much as I have, I’m sure).

      Thanks for visiting the Departure Lounge. It can be a busy place. Bob Ellis just left and we are all a bit poorer for his passing.

      Write more, please.

      Love you Bron. xxx


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