How to Sustain Yourself until the New Later On Appears

And, if the Market had turned in my favor or the Economy had delivered me a job I would never had seen my network act as a trampoline. This story is about a rebound anchored by two friends one from the 1970s the other from the 1980s. They do not know each other and, yet, they collaborated to create an ongoing Miracle.

Published May2017 in Journal of Global Transformation

ABSTACT

 Early on, in the 21st century, I thought that Mayans were as extinct as Babylonians; that only Chinese people were “barefoot doctors”; that Bank of America could not fall any further, and, that if I kept waiting just a li-i-ittle bit longer projects would surely find me like they always had.

No

Wrong on all counts.

It turns out that Mayans are very much alive and, moreover, they enjoy Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).  And, if the Market had turned in my favor or the Economy had delivered me a job I would never had seen my network act as a trampoline. This story is about a rebound anchored by two friends one from the 1970s the other from the 1980s.  They do not know each other and, yet, they collaborated to create an ongoing Miracle. 

 In July 2010, I was most definitely not enjoying the space of Miracles; I was, in fact, in quite a dark state when I messaged, a very old friend, Juan.  I told him that I needed to do something and didn’t much care if the activity was a suicide mission.  Would he send me to that place where he brings his medical missions? 

Since 2008, it had become clear that this sixty-plus year old couldn’t afford to live in the USA. And, I was wincing through the seething summer of the Deep Water Horizon disaster unable to stop watching the damn robots failing to cap the well.  It was too hot, I was upset and it was crunch time.  I left Baltimore and began visiting around the country secretly “saying goodbyes”– All the while casting about for any worthy domestic “project” that I could afford to take on and stay.  Nope. 

I needed to expatriate.  But, what would I do? For sure, I would need to learn a new language. Asia was immediately out because both the language and the alphabet would be too unfamiliar plus the airfare was four digits.  Europe was out for the same reason as the USA.

Back in 1970, I met Juan.  He was eight and I was barely twenty a hippy hitchhiking from Los Angeles to wherever. He and his brothers and sisters were living next door to the Dallas crash pad I had landed in.  He and his siblings liked to hang with us, and were delighted when I took them to get library cards.  We would drive “top down and collars up” in a Mustang Convertible that belonged to one of the other guests.  Each child could get three books a Saturday. By Tuesday Juan would pester me to get three more books.  When some New Jersey guys with a car rolled in, I decided to leave with them and head for New York City.   On the last day, I hugged the kids and told Juan to go to Yale never expecting to see any of them again.

 Juan received full scholarships through his Masters Degree at the Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania.  He became a very rich man dealing in distressed assets in South America. To “pay back” his high school, he created a program where juniors and seniors, who want to go into Medicine, volunteer for a mission trip assisting five medical doctors and accompanied by a few faculty members.  By the end, the young men knew if they wanted to go into medicine and had earned substantial community service credits.

 Me:  Do you think they will notice that I don’t speak Spanish?

Juan:  I don’t know.

Me:  OK. Please set me up with the NGO.

 Juan assured me I would like the place.  “There’s lots of ex-pats from all over.”

So, forty-eight hours later, there I was at Lake Atitlan with everything I owned in a roll-about and a backpack desperate for the new “later on.”  …whatever that meant.

And, yes, my lack of Spanish was a major problem for the medical NGO, because the indigenous Mayans speak their own languages but Castillano is the lingua Franca. Obviously, one needs to be exact in healthcare.  So, it was time to refocus.  It took only a few conversations to find some textile-related NGOs that needed an English speaker’s help. 

ROLLING 

The weavers of these NGOs were astonishing, friendly and, it turns out, once you can understand them, they are very funny.  So in that first rainy season, I found my footing working for Guatemalan, Canadian and USA-based organizations.  This was perfect.  The NGOs briefed me on healthcare, education, disaster planning, women’s rights and the history of the Civil War.  Some of these cooperatives distributed food, others did trainings. And, so, soon enough, I was adopted by an Aldea (small village).

 A local leader invited me to teach a gaggle of Patanatic’s kids on Saturdays.  So, we studied Sacred Geometry and traveled to the Mayan ruins, learned how to draw and throw water balloons.   In this way, the fitful, frustrating years of pigeon Spanish would pass. A couple of babies would even be named after me.  Word has it that most of the original dozen, from 2011-12, finished High School – And two Saturday players surprised us all by studying pre-architecture. Useful, welcome and included, I have become as “at home” as ever in Guatemala. 

BOOM

 

In 2011, my friend, Joan Boccino, D.A.O.M., L. Ac., was volunteering with a medical mission in a nearby district.  As an Acupuncturist and professor, she had come to treat and train Indigenous women in modalities of TCM.  Along with massage and moxibustion, she thought it would be wise, cost effective and easy to teach to the largely illiterate population  NADA Protocol. [1][i]

Would I be interested in the project?

Yes.

 It looked like it would bloom… if cultivated.  And, there existed (and still are) systemic obstacles to fruiting.  For starts, Acupuncture, a complementary medical modality, is not legally recognized (therefore, not formally taught) nor certified in any form in Guatemala. So mainstreaming TCM through government health structures was kind of, shall we say, impossible.  But, Joan agreed to bring supplies, colleagues and students twice a year while I set about creating the logistics for a more permanent mission.  The biannual five-day ‘Medical Tourism’ missions were fun and got better once the 501(c)3, The Integrative Health Project, (IHP) was formed.

 Then, suddenly (for me) and after long deliberation, Joan decided to go for her Doctorate. The several years long Capstone process would lead to the design and clinical testing of a protocol for patients with Type 2 Diabetes

 In the spring of 2015, twenty-eight local patients with diabetes agreed to be the subjects for a four-week trial, here in Panajachel.  It would have been enough if this ‘demonstration of professional competence’ lead to her receiving the title of “Doctor”. But, the study actually succeeded!  The statistician and Joan’s oversight committee were so delighted with #BoccinoProtocol[2] that she received an ovation for her Defense.

 Citing the results of the study, I approached the local health department, and requested a space to open a weekly Pain/Stress/Diabetes clinic. The Health Department agreed to give us temporary space for a two hour clinic on Thursdays. During the entire first month of August 2015 twenty-five patients came.  In 2016, excluding the 3,000 plus treatments given during the medical missions, and including three volunteer acupuncturists, IHP-Guatemala treated over 3,400 patients in four weekly, two-hour clinics. Two are hosted by the First Lady’s senior centers SOSEP – Anos Dorado.  – About thirty percent are  patients with diabeties..

 GETTING THERE

 IHP-Guatemala is currently providing Acupuncture for the Federal Government. Next steps are to take meetings in the Capital with Medical Universities and with the Federal Government to discuss changing the law and introducing the curriculum.  Recently, The Prenza Libre headlined and praised ‘NATURAL MEDICINES’ confirming that we are in the perfect position and aligned for support  of this development.

 BEING THERE

 My clear intention in the quest for the new (better) later-on was to find some kind of project to keep me useful and it did not have to be easy.  The Miracle was the long chance-chain that connects Juan, Joan and me to the people in Guatemala.  Simply by being here, the perfect project ‘came to me.’ The Diabetes Study is making the Public Health component of the project very possible, especially with a full year of good statistics.  And, I am enjoying discovering and treating people with diabetes.  There is something miraculous about bringing down their blood sugar with ten needles in their ear.  IHP is saving the government money because the patients need less medicine to maintain healthy blood sugar levels.

 The sequence to any later on exists in ‘No Time;’   you are holding the elements of it right now.  Living in “economic exile” may not look like a life full of miracles… but on the streets of this little town, patients, who feel better, give me Saludos, smiles and hugs and I experience why I always wanted to be a doctor.

.

 [1] This is a specific protocol designed for addictions and mental health problems– ideal for the rampant PTSD the population still suffers after 30 year armed conflict.  https://www.acudetox.com/

[2] BoccinoProtocol #earaccupuncture   

http://www.theintegrativehealthproject.org/

 

The Integrative Health Project -Supports Acupuncturist’s Clinical Trial in Guatemala

The study is set to begin in two weeks pending final IRB board approval. Afterwards, the protocol could be made readily available in underserved areas where access to conventional treatment is unavailable or unaffordable. It could also be used in cases where the conventional treatment is contra-indicated or has unacceptable side effects. Joan has already given instruction in auricular acupuncture to more than 90 Guatemalan midwives, community health promoters and students. Acupuncture has been well accepted and popular in the community. Her work is supported in part by the Integrated Health Project.

04APR15
Panajachel, Guatemala

A New York based Acupuncturist is doing a Clinical Trial on Reducing Blood Glucose in Patients with Type Two Diabetes

This is the first time an auricular (ear) acupuncture protocol is being tested for this outside of China.

Joan Boccino, L.Ac. a doctoral candidate in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, is trying to determine if ten small needles inserted in both ears have any effect on blood glucose levels . The “ear only” or auricular point combination she will use is derived from published literature and a survey of practitioners in the field. It is similar to another ear protocol known as the “NADA Protocol.” That combination was originally developed in the context of drug detoxification treatment in the 1970’s. However, it proved so effective that it’s use has expanded for use in general wellness and stress reduction including PTSD. In the US it is used in private practices, community settings, hospitals and by the US military.

Joan developed #BoccinoProtocol with NADA in mind as the NADA protocol has historically been taught to community members who are not “medically trained” in addition to those within the healthcare field.

Dr. BOccino knows the immediate need for pragmatic intervention in diabetes since she has been working in the Mayan Highlands since 2011. In 2012 colleagues and senior students from the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine joined Professor Boccino in founding a mission that is still on-going at the Barbara Ford Center for Peace in Quiche. Last year, she brought a successful Traditional Chinese Medicine Jornada to the District of Solola.

This year, her study is being coordinated with the assistance of The Diabetes Club which will provide patients and office space for the research in Panajachel. The study’s criteria calls for patients with a history of blood glucose levels above +125 They also must have the ability to test blood glucose levels — two times a day for four consecutive weeks. Twenty participants will all be issued meters, materials and given instructions for recording their data prior, during and after the study. During the second and third weeks of the study they will receive the acupuncture treatment.

If this study is successful Joan can seek alliances with the Guatemalan government and educational institutions to discuss running a larger study. If results of that larger study are also successful, Joan can work with the appropriate agencies to develop a curricula of certification (and professional acknowledgement) for practitioners trained in this protocol.

The study is set to begin in April pending final IRB board approval. Afterwards, the protocol could be made readily available in underserved areas where access to conventional treatment is unavailable or unaffordable. It could also be used in cases where the conventional treatment is contra-indicated or has unacceptable side effects. Joan has already given instruction in auricular acupuncture to more than 90 Guatemalan midwives, community health promoters and students. Acupuncture has been well accepted and popular in the community. Her work is supported in part by the Integrated Health Project.

Poster_FINAL-01