Birthdays are good for you. The more you have, the longer you live.

Saturday, September 13, 2014


My little cat, Freya, left me just over a week ago, as recounted at my SnakyPoet blog.

By that evening I had developed the worst back-ache of my life, across the whole of my back from neck to tail and side to side. It lasted the best part of three days, and at its worst was almost crippling. Luckily all I had to do all weekend was sit in front of a computer, hosting my section of a collaborative virtual book launch.

That was a commitment I couldn't get out of. The only other person who might have been able to fill in for my hours was ill herself, and hardly likely to make an instantaneous, miraculous recovery just because my circumstances had suddenly altered.

As it turned out, the launch was tremendous fun. Doing my duty was a blessing in disguise, as it took my mind off the emotional distress. And what with pain-killers and hot water bottles, sitting at my desk was probably one of my better options for not exacerbating the back-ache.

I had to be on deck for the launch on Saturday morning, so couldn't dash off to the doctor until Monday. I called on absent Reiki from two friends, swearing them to online secrecy. (I didn't want to deflect attention away from the purpose of the launch, let alone make my collaborators feel guilty. Being caring people, I thought they might have done, however irrationally.)

What caused the pain? There were two possibilities. Either the new weekly tablet for osteoporosis, which I began that morning, or Freya's departure that afternoon. Maybe both.

Painkillers, heat and absent Reiki did help some, but not as much as I'd have liked. Not immediately, anyway. I wondered if I would have to end up going to hospital. But who would look after my remaining cat, Levi, if that happened? And how would the poor lad cope with my absence, when still distressed at that of his sister?

During my tea break on Saturday, at one point I lay down on the bed to have a cry — partly at losing my Freya, partly from pain, and partly in anxiety about how to cope. It was clear to me that, with sole responsibility for Levi, I just can't afford to have any serious health breakdowns!

Levi came onto the bed and snuggled up to my back, needing comfort himself. I started to turn, so as to take him in my arms and say, 'What are we going to do, Levi?' As I did, I caught a glimpse out of the corner of my eye of Andrew (my late husband) standing by the bed in his white shirt. I didn't even see his face, but after living with the man for 20 years, I know his torso — and his energy.

'Andrew!' I said, half turning back — not in alarm but in surprised greeting. Of course, the image had already vanished (that is the way of it in my experience) but I knew he was still there.

'I don't know what to do,' I told him. I explained about the pain, the possibility of hospital, and my concerns for Levi. I explained about having to be present for the launch, so as not to let others down.

'Help me!' I said. Then I lay back, exhausted from that small effort.

I sensed him reach down and give me Reiki. I didn't feel disembodied hands on me or anything. Instead I had a mental image of him reaching his arms down so that his hands touched my shoulders. Funnily enough, although I had seen and still felt him by the bed, my image was of his arms having to elongate and stretch a long way down. But I didn't think much about that at the time, through the pain; it only registered afterwards.

What I did feel was the Reiki taking effect very quickly. Not only did the pain reduce considerably, my sorrow was eased by a deep feeling of peace. Neither pain nor emotional distress went away entirely, but I was very soon able to get up, feed myself and Levi, and go back online refreshed.

By Sunday morning the pain was starting to leave. By the time I saw the doctor on Monday, it had almost gone. He said he couldn't rule out the medicine but that was not one of the known side-effects, and as it's a slow-acting drug, he wouldn't have expected any reaction so soon. He did, however, think it feasible that it could have been due to emotional stress.

'We won't know until you take your next tablet next Friday,' he said. The mere thought of taking another was scary, just in case it was the cause!

But it is true that emotions tend to go straight to my body. I'll get a cold, or a headache, or a bit of low back pain. I just never experienced quite such an extreme physical reaction before. (Well, there's a school of thought, to which I partly subscribe, which says most or even all physical symptoms can be traced to an emotional origin — but not usually so fast.)

I saw my chiropractor on Tuesday. He felt my back and confirmed that there was  'a large stress component' in what had happened. And I took the second tablet this Friday without the same effects.

Since then, Freya herself has come back to visit, as detailed in this short poem.

It's nice to get such vivid reminders that my dear departed are still around, and to know that Andrew still has, as I always told him, 'the best Reiki hands in the business'.