By Barbara Janelle M.A.
First Published In Touch, Vol. VIII, no. 1, March 1996
The London Therapeutic Touch Support Group meets the 2nd Thursday evening of each month at my home in the “Old South” neighbourhood of London. During a short practicum in our September 1995 meeting, Jean Hudson noticed that Brian Parkinson’s field was quite unusual. “The field felt very strong at the front of the chest, almost as if energy was gushing out. I couldn’t find the field at the back. It was ‘missing.’” The field did not respond to her brief work.
At 9:00 a.m. the next day, Brian had a heart attack. His son was home and called 911. Brian got to the hospital very quickly and his wife, Gloria, called me at 10 a.m. saying that Brian was asking for TT. I immediately called several of his friends and we started long distance TT.
When I saw Brian for the first TT session in hospital, I asked if I could set up a group of people to provide TT for him. (It is a policy in our Support Group that if a hospital patient asks for Therapeutic Touch, several people share the work schedule. This way, no one person has to add a daily hospital visit for many days and possibly weeks, to an already busy life. No one gets burnt out or assumes too much responsibility for the treatments either.) Brian agreed to this and asked that his former TT classmates and several of the regular support group members be asked to participate.
Nine people teamed up to provide Brian with Therapeutic Touch treatments each day for six weeks, then every other day for a week, then every third day for two weeks, then once a week until Christmas. We saw him through double by-pass heart surgery and were permitted to treat him daily in CCU before the surgery and in ICU after surgery. We treated him at St. Joseph’s Hospital and then at University Hospital where the operation took place. We’d appear, one each day, identify ourselves to the desk nurse as a member of “Brian Parkinson’s Therapeutic Touch Team,” and immediately be let in to see him.
Much of the success of this effort is due to Brian and his extraordinary kind and unassuming nature. His connection with his classmates and with the members of the support group was so strong that the scheduling of visits flowed. The delight in seeing him made our visits to hospital very enjoyable.
Four weeks after open-heart surgery, Brian was looking forward to attending the monthly support group meeting. An hour before the meeting, Gloria called to say he would not be coming. Brian was responding to a call from a man with cancer whom he had given TT to during chemotherapy treatments in the late summer. The man was in hospital in Kingston, his hometown, not doing well, and wanting Brian at his bedside. Brian was now on a train to Kingston! This gives a good idea of Brian’s caring and commitment to others.
In mid-January, Brian and Gloria invited the members of the Therapeutic Touch Team over for a party and a discussion about our shared experience.
Jeannie Hudson described her concern about Brian’s field before the heart attack. We thought how wonderful it would be if, in the future, a description of such a field would be accepted by doctors so that the person would be immediately monitored or treated in hospital. We know that currently it is possible for someone to emerge from a doctor’s office, with a clean bill of health after a battery of medical tests, and have a heart attack an hour later. Because changes occur in the field before the onset of visible problems, TT could give a potentially life-saving alert.
When I scanned Brian’s field the first time after the heart attack, I could not feel anything over the front of the chest. Then I checked the field two feet out and found a light static band over the heart area. Helen de Salis Spangenberg described the field over the heart as a large hole that seemed to heal and grow smaller over the next few visits.
To all of us, the field felt very fragile during this period. We were surprised to find that individually, we all decided to keep our TT treatments to under five minutes. We also worked in the same way: unruffling the entire field and focusing on the grounding. In looking back, we think that if it could have been managed, several one to two minute treatments each day might have been even better than one treatment per day.
On September 28th, Brian had another slight heart attack and was admitted to CCU to await surgery. Kelly Travail was the first to see Brian in CCU. Calling into the ward on the hospital phone to wish him well, Kelly was told by the nurse who relayed her message, to come right in because Brian was expecting her for TT. Brian received TT in CCU daily until his surgery.
Gloria and Brian spoke about the different personal styles but how in each there were similar treatment steps. Brian was very pleased with the foot reflexology that Marilyn Wallace added to her TT treatments.
On October 6th, Brian underwent double by-pass surgery. Gloria was surprised at how quickly the operation went–1 to 3 hours shorter than she was told to expect. She believes that this is because the Therapeutic Touch prepared Brian well for the surgery. Helen de S.S. and I described how we had independently talked to the field about accepting the surgery and healing quickly.
Brian remembered Jitka Malec’s visit in ICU after surgery. Jitka whispered, “May I give you TT, Brian?” Brian responded, “Do your best!” Jitka spoke for the entire team when she described how open and ready to receive TT Brian was in all the sessions. “His trust and acceptance of the work was a gift to all of us.”
Donna Zavitz described the courtesy of two doctors who waited to see Brian until after she finished her treatment. Helen Thorn talked of the interest of both nurses and other patients in the treatments she gave Brian. Both Donna and Helen gave treatments to Gloria, and Donna treated another patient in Brian’s room (and watched the relaxation and relief from pain that TT brought him).
Brian used every opportunity to talk about Therapeutic Touch to the doctors and nurses. His early comments about teaching his classmates something through this experience extended to the medical staff as well!
Sherron Cafik described how wonderful this shared experience was for all of us, and the delight we each felt as the field grew stronger so quickly after the operation. Brian and Gloria were most grateful to Sherron for her regular treatments to both of them during the last weeks of home visits.
Jeannie commented on the tremendous difference between the field immediately prior to the attack and the evenness of it several weeks after the operation.
Brian attributes much of his rapid healing to Therapeutic Touch. He went back to work after Christmas. “Many of the customers in the store where I work knew I’d been away but were amazed that I was back to work so quickly. The manager asked if I wasn’t returning too soon because most people take 6 months to get back to work after by-pass surgery.” Brian says, “No. It’s not too soon to be back.”
He says there was only brief and minimal discomfort in the thigh from which a blood vessel for transplant was taken. In addition, he has shown no sign of depression, a very common after-effect of open-heart surgery.
Brian told me that the thing that so impressed him about the treatments he received was the “purity of intent” of each of the team members in their work. “As Cathleen Fanslow-Brunjes says, ‘You are most sensitive at birth and at death.’ No one was doing TT for their own glory. They were there to help me. I sensed a Presence in each session. I think those two doctors waited to see me because they felt the purity of Donna’s intent in the room.”
“The timing was crucial. Why did I take Therapeutic Touch when I did? I didn’t know I would have a heart attack at 49!”
“I am awed and thrilled at the success within the hospital. Giant steps were taken.”
Everyone on the team spoke about how unsure they were going into hospital to give TT, and working with a recent heart attack condition as well. Brian says there were no signs of nervousness or tentativeness. “Every one who came to give me Therapeutic Touch came with such composure and professionalism. I’m sure that this had a lot to do with the success of the treatments.” (Centering is a great tool!)
A Final Note
Our gathering ended with a meditation of gratitude and recognition of the very special gift we had all been given in this shared experience.
By the way, the man that Brian went to see in Kingston was told by a doctor, in Brian’s presence, that he had less than two weeks to live. His white blood cell count was very low, .4 thousand/cu.mm.. After Brian’s 3-day visit, the man signed himself out of hospital and went home with a cell count of 12 thousand/cu.mm. (normal range: 5 to 10 thousand/cu.mm.).
I wonder if receiving work consistently from so many people hasn’t enhanced Brian’s skill. We learn not only by attending classes and practising, but also through an exchange of information in the field. Brian had some pretty compassionate and effective “teachers” during his illness.
Brian Parkinson’s request for Therapeutic Touch led to the development of our first long-term TT team. As we realised how much it was helping Brian, how much we were learning from doing it, and how feasible it was to set up, the idea of doing this for more people grew. Now there are 25 members of the Team and it is accepted in all of the major hospitals, including ICU, CCTU and CCU units. –BJ 2/99