Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Why I Didin't Speak at the Shaman Conference in Iquitos This Year

Opening night of the conference: I'd had serious surgery for a busted gut--holes in my upper intestine--21 days before the conference was to open. I did eight days in the hospital, then a day getting to Iquitos from Cuzco,
then three days to prepare and then took a small pre-conference trip out into the jungle for eight days. I didn't do much and when I came back on day 20 and had the stitches removed, everything was good. But on day 21, the day the conference was to start, I took off my protective girdle and began to open the dressing when I realized I'd come open. Worst personal shock of my life. If there is such a thing as a trauma for a middle-aged guy, seeing my stomach coming out of my stomach was it.
So I closed the dressing and girdle and in a panic went to the Parthenon, where the conference was being started, thinking my Iquitos doctor, Rubi, Alan Shoemaker's sister-in-law would be pitching in--and sure enough, there she was. By the way, she was looking way way way too fine to be a doctor.
(For those who consistently think Alan is a bad money-hungry guy, you should know that Alan, with the help of a friend, paid for Rubi to go to University and Medical School and now she's a major doc in Iquitos. So tip your hat to Alan S and Bruno in New Jersey , who made it possible, as well as to Rubi, who actually used the funds for what they were earmarked and is now helping thousands of people a month in the regional hospital in Iquitos.)
And Rubi was there, helping her sister Mariela--Alan's fantastic wife--out, and I told her my stomach burst again and she didn't believe me and pulled me to a quiet corner of the Parthenon Hotel and had me take off my girdle and told me to unwrap my dressing. The minute I got to the dressing she said: "Oh, that's not good. Let me call a surgeon I work with at the hospital."
Two hours later he was there. In the meantime Rubi had taken a few bucks and bought what he needed to do the emergency surgery on site: gloves, medicines, suture kits, creams, alcohol, iodine, local anestheia, an antibiotic drip-kit, gauzes, and so forth.
Then we rented a room--nice rooms at the Parthenon--and did the surgery there.
The 12 needles to the stomach with local anesthesia hurt a bit, but overall it was a great great surgery.
Two hours after the suegeon arrived I was on the main floor, girdle in place, talking with Alan, who asked if I would still present that evening.
I chickened out. I was in pain, exhausted, on demerol, very recently stitched and simply couldn't think of anything to talk about except my pain. And I didn't think anyone would want to hear that.
I did stay around and talk t o several people who wanted to speak with me, but I didn't have the voice, ideas or anything else to talk to 150 people.
And now a couple of people are giving Alan nonsense about "Peter Gorman didn't speak. Can we get some money back???"
The answer is no. Deus ex Machina--the hand of God interfered. So leave Alan alone. No funds returned. I really couldn't talk above a whisper and had nothing to say. By not presenting that night I saved you all an hour of boredom.
That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
Any questions?

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