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Breath & Shadow

Summer 2013 - Vol. 10, Issue 3

"On The Healing Circuit"

written by

Rick Blum

We’re a motley mélange of middle-aged mortals gathered together

on a sunny fall afternoon in a dimly lit suburban hotel ballroom,

which has never been used for a ball – or a dance of any kind for that matter.


Nationally renowned health experts are here to advise us how to

ameliorate our various physical and mental challenges…

and for the free lunch provided by the generous donors –

usually drug companies – to our particular affliction’s advocacy group.


Mindy kicks off the morning proceedings by launching into a

nutrition monologue with the verve of a late-night TV pitchman,

except accompanied by Powerpoint slides instead of a bubbly, blonde sidekick.


Bill in the front row, whose bald patch shimmers under a

misdirected spotlight, interrupts Mindy on slide three to ask

if it’s better to make dietary changes incrementally or go whole hog



Mindy equivocates.


From the back row, Tom pipes up forcefully that the former option is the only way to go, although judging by his girth, ample enough to be an NFL defensive line man, it’s hard to see how he would know.


Now Cathy, who’s enthusiasm is palpable even from across the room,

quickly joins the discussion, sharing her strongly held belief that lavender

relieves stress, all the while entwining a dangling strand of auburn

hair around her finger.


Sitting next to me, a sleepy-eyed Lucas takes this comment as his cue

to confidently assert that the medicinal benefits of marijuana are real –

a non sequitur that we all appreciate despite it taking us

distressingly far from the topic.


Mindy tries to wrest control back from us now by clicking to the next slide

on healthy eating habits. But it’s too late as it’s eminently clear our group

has spent many hours in similar seminars, as well as countless late

nights on Google, becoming experts on everything from optimal yoga techniques to dangerous drug interactions.


So we and Mindy come to an unspoken agreement: we’ll listen attentively

for the next hour as she runs through her slides as long as she lets us

dispense our accumulated wisdom, no matter how quirky or off topic.

But this free-for-all itself is a form of healing, maybe not one that

will get us out on a dance floor any time soon, but at least one that will help us survive the bland chicken parmesan and cloying, double chocolate cake served at lunch… as well as pump us up for this afternoon’s speakers, who we plan to quickly indoctrinate into our recovery regimen.

Rick Blum has been writing and publishing humorous prose and poetry for more than twenty years. Currently, he is holed up in his office trying to write the perfect bio, which he plans to share as soon as he stops laughing at the sheer futility of this effort for someone with MS.

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