Saturday, October 26, 2013

Skin Graft a Success

Home again after a five day stint in the hospital. Doc said it looked like the skin graft went beautifully: He was hoping for a 50 percent successful graft but he nailed it and it looks like he got 100 percent. Some is already dying--was dying when he unwrapped it, but it still stuck. That portion, the dying portion, is where there is still some infection. But the infectious disease doctor said that my cultures came out negative for all four of the flesh eating bacteria that got me in June and ravaged my leg in early July. I was scared to death to change the dressing at home right now, afraid that I'd pull off the old dressing and discover that the graft had come undone. Put off changing it for three hours. I finally had to do it and voila! It was still intact.
    The upper right thigh, where my doc took the new skin, hurts, but I suppose that's to be expected when someone takes a cheese slicer to your leg and pulls off an 8" by 10" slab and uses it like a drape--after running it through a meat pulping machine--on your wound.
    So I'm scared to death it will all fall off but thrilled that it's done and doc tells me not to worry. I told him I wouldn't but am. Still, all of you with all of your good wishes helped make this happen, so thank you. Just like people thinking negative things about you can hurt you, people thinking good thoughts can help you and after all this it looks like I'm not losing my leg, I'm not out of commission, I'm not going to be stuck taking antibiotics more than another fews weeks--which means the muscle aches all over my freaking body should stop soon--and you know, next thing you know I'll be down in Peru and out into the deep green for my February trip--on which there are still two or three slots open so you better rush if you want one.....Wait a minute! I wasn't supposed to put a plug for the trip in there! That was slated for a "Buy my book" plug. Oh, my, what these little pain killers will do to a person's sense of dignity.
    Thanks everybody. I really appreciate it and hope to one day pay back the favor, if not to you personally, to someone who needs good thoughts and help with the doctor bills.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A Note on Negative Spirits

Someone wrote me to say they'd had a difficult time the second time they drank ayahuasca. They'd run into some very negative spirits who scared the hell out of them and threatened them with continual negativity in their lives. But the person also said that someone else who drank that same night saw the same spirits and was just as frightened.
    Full Disclosure: I'm terrified a lot of the time, just so you know. The person people see is just an act...
    So the person asked two specific questions: How to tell the difference between an hallucination and a true vision; and could those spirits have been real, particularly given that someone else encountered them on the same night in the same space.
    The woman wrote about two weeks ago. I just got to answering her tonight. I hope it's not a muddled answer. Here's what I wrote:
Dear X: Sorry it's taken so long to get back to you. I tend to ruminate on questions like these.

    Your first question was how to differentiate between an hallucination and a vision. In my world the vision is the thing that, if you were given unlimited time and unlimited paper and had nothing to do but write down 10,000 things you might expect to see in a given circumstance--well, the vision would not be on that list. In other words, the vision is not something you've seen on television, read in a book, talked about with other people, imagined. It's something from a place outside of your experience entirely. 
    Things within your experience can certainly be visions as well, but things completely outside of the realm of your existence, well, they are definitely visions in my book.
    Now, bad spirits. They exist. No question. They are, to our way of thinking, spirits, entities, angels, whatever you want to call them, who thrive on negativity, get fed by jealousy and avarice and have the same will to live as you or I or a flea or a cat or a flower does. They have the same spirit as all living things but have learned to live on a diet of negativity--a diet which would kill most of us.
    How did that happen? I don't know. I was raised Catholic but I don't believe the Satan story. I do believe in negativity and have seen its results--just put a beautiful plant in a room and then scream negative things all the time. In short order, the best tended plant faced with a continuous barrage of hatred, will wilt and die. Put another plant in a room, sing to it, be joyful around it, have little kids running around playing in that room and watch it bloom.
     The "bad" or "negative" spirits are the few who have learned to thrive in the negative environment--or despite the negative environment but who have adapted to it.
     Why did you see it? Because it was there and you were somehow left vulnerable. Why did someone else see the same thing? Because it was there and they were vulnerable. I wouldn't be surprised if others in that medicine circle saw it, them, as well.
     As a rule, a curandero knows that negative spirits will be attracted to the positive ceremony to disrupt it, to cause negativity, and will create an "arcana" arc or shield, around the space, through which no spirits, positive or negative or simply curious, can pass without the curandero/curandera's invitation. The stronger the curandero/curandera, the stronger the mesh of the arcana. 
      If the curandero is not strong enough to be certain his or her arcana will be fool proof, he or she might ask someone else to make a second arcana, around the first, to impede uninvited spirit intrusion into the space.
      Not everyone serving ayahuasca has been schooled in this. I don't know who you drank with and don't want to guess, but if genuine negative spirits got into the space--and once there, into your space--someone was not entirely on the ball. They could have been distracted for a moment, they might have had other things on their mind, they might have forgotten to make their arcana or done it in a sloppy way--or they might not be ready to serve ayahuasca and call in spirits to help teach people. Whatever the reason, the curandero/curandera should have recognized the negative spirit the minute it entered the space, collared it and tossed it out. That that didn't happen disturbs me. For a person in ceremony to have to deal with their own negativity, their own negative spirits, that's one thing. For a negative spirit to come into a space and show itself to two people in ceremony means it wasn't just a negative aspect of you or the other person, but an outside negative spirit. And those cannot be allowed into that very vulnerable space. Too too too intimidating.
    In terms of their specific threats to you: That you would be kept in a negative space and whatever else, ignore that nonsense. That's a ploy to keep you frightened and therefore vulnerable to future visits. If they come again, during ceremony or a dream, send them away. If they are strong, remember that you don't have a body in those other worlds--and are not constricted by a body--so make yourself huge and scare the hell out of them. If they are 50 feet tall, make yourself 1000 feet tall and step on them. If they come as a six-headed dog, become a 43-headed dog and eat them. They cannot do you harm in this reality or in any other unless you give them the power through your fear and vulnerability--just like any other bully. But just like any other bully who live off your fear, or jealousy or negativity, if you don't feed them that, they can't get anything from you.
    So be strong. Don't be afraid, even in the moments when you are terrified. Hard, I know, but you can do it. Just breath, remember who you are and dispatch them.
Make sense? Probably sounds crazy but that's what I have to offer.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A Note About Ralph Calderaro's Dad, Who Opened My Eyes in a Big Way

I don't know if I've written about this before. If I have, forgive me. I'm crying now just with joy in my heart. Madeleina says I cry too much. I tell her my heart is full lots of the time with all sorts of things. Sometimes I cry from anger, sometimes from something touching, sometimes from a note a singer hits, sometimes from just watching Madeleina teach her sisters how to do something new.
    I used to go to Bishop Reilly high school. It was a pretty big high school, with maybe 600 boys in each grade. You hung out with the ones you liked best; you sometimes hung out with others that you liked but didn't know enough. In the end we hung out with everybody sometimes: I was not good but okay at athletics, so I fit with those guys even though I wasn't at their level. I was in theater and writing stuff and so I hung out with those guys. I was always in detention for not cutting my hair or talking back to Brother Earnest, the disciplinarian who had a habit of hitting us--and I had the temerity to hit him back hard once and told him to never touch me again. So I got along with the guys in detention. I was smart, so I got along with the smart guys. The science guys eluded me because I had no idea what they were thinking. They were way smarter than I was.
   Anyway, Ralph Calderaro was a big guy and he was involved--unless I'm totally insane--with set painting and design for the shows the school put on. So I knew him but he lived several blocks away and I didn't really hang out with him. We were friends but not close.
   Somehow, one evening, several of us were with Ralph and he suggested going to his house. That was weird but we did. I didn't really want to go because it was not familiar. But I went.
   And we met his mom and dad--and probably his brothers and sisters if he had any, though I'm not sure he did (now that I'm thinking of it I think he had a sister who went to our school, but since girls were on the other side of the school we didn't socialize much). Well, his dad was just a dad. He looked like everybody else's dad and they were all pretty lame compared to my dad, the Broadway actor with the very cool swagger who was the toughest, bravest guy in the world.
   Somehow, Ralph's dad invited us to the basement and asked if we'd ever been hypnotized. None of us had except Ralph, and his dad suddenly had the other guys walking around like chickens or jumping like frogs. Pretty amazing. I don't think he got to me, but then neither did the other guys we all laughed at doing silly things.
    The night changed my life. Ralph just wrote a note saying he'd be praying that my skin graft next Monday goes well. I thanked him and then asked if he remembered that night--the only night I was ever in his house I think. This is what I wrote:
    Thanks, Ralph. Do you remember the night your dad hypnotized a bunch of us in your basement? I don't know if it worked on me but a couple of the guys were walking like chickens. It has stayed with me for 40 years--not so much the idea that a person could hypnotize people, but that people were much broader than you might think. I'd never met your dad and you and I didn't hang around that much. But when I met him that night it never occurred to me that this friend's dad was more than a dad, that he had his own life and that his own life was full of surprises. And him doing that was such a surprise that I don't think I've ever met people in the same way since then. Now I just know--and I've known since that ight--that people are whole people, bigger than life, broader than the universe, filled with dreams, things they love and all that jazz. Just thought I should pass that on to you in case I never did before. Thanks, Mr. Calderaro for opening my eyes to every perfect stranger I've ever met since I met you.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Monday is Skin Graft Day--Whoopee!

I've put it off as long as I possibly can. I've sung, I've asked the universe to intervene, I asked my surgeon--a freaking excellent surgeon named Dr. Ronny Ford, chairman of dept of surgery at Huguley hospital--to put it off. No freaking dice. Time for a skin graft on my leg.
    I am not happy about this. I'll be admitted at about 8 AM on Monday, Oct. 21. At 9 I'll be given an epidural shot into my spine, freezing me from waist or sternum down for hours. They'll give me a happy pill to go with that so that I don't try to interfere with the operation--so I'll be blurry. Dr. Ford will take what is essentially a cheese slicer--you know those things that have a handle, a roller and a blade above the roller so that you put the roller on the cheese, press with the handle, and the slicer takes off a slice?--and take a slice of my right thigh. Then he'll put that through what is essentially a meat masher--a machine into which you feed meat that gets pressed out by a hundred little pieces of metal--and then he'll take that pizza pie piece of my leg and drop it on a special glue that he will have previously applied to my wound--now about six by seven or eight inches--and hope it stays in place and chooses to grow rather than commit suicide and turn black and rot.
    Both Dr. Ford and I know there are a few patches of infection remaining. He assures me that the graft will simply turn black and decompose on those but that they'll be small and will close on their own over the next month or so.
    I love this surgeon, okay? He's only the third or fourth I've dealt with--the first was the person who reimplanted my teeth after a bad fall that CL saved me from; the second was the guy who performed the first and third surgeries on me after my intestine exploded; the third was the guy who performed the second surgery on that intestinal nonsense, and now Ford. Unless you count the hernia operation, or the couple of times they've had to go into my face for broken bones after I lost fights--and damn, I lost almost every fight I was ever in. So Dr. Ford is my fourth/fifth/sixth surgeon and I love him.
    BUTTTTT......I'm still skeptical about taking a piece of meat from my thigh and putting it on my calf, okay? And I'm skeptical about another epidural: What if I don't recover? What if I'm freaking crippled because they missed when shooting up my spine? WHY am I allowing this to happen???
    Doc says the wound would close over the next several months. And yes, it's already been reduced by about one-third. But he says the risk of reinfection if I don't get the graft is really high since it will take several months to close and I will be back in the Amazon in two months. With the graft, he says I'll be in the hospital for five days, watching television and eating broccoli, and by the end of that time the pockets of infection will have shown themselves and will be treated and when I leave I'll be in ship-shape.
    Okay, so I go in on Friday to register. I go in on Monday, AM, for the operations--removing the skin and then putting the skin in place.
    I am not really happy. I love my surgeon, but I'm still nervous if you know what I mean.

Friday, October 11, 2013

How Big is Big Enough for Ayahuasca?

I recently saw a picture of a beautiful ceremonial malloca built in the Amazon. Truth is it looked pretty gorgeous. But something is sticking in my craw about it. And I guess it's because of the size. It looks like thousands of leaf-sections were used for the roofing--and as a rule, there is a limited supply of things like leaves to make roof sections. And, as a rule, locals need them for their homes. So it maybe just seems extravagant when someone needs so many for their malloca. I can't say for certain, but it's not improbable that some local will now have to walk deeper into the jungle to get what he/she need for their roof. And walking deeper into the jungle, well, it sort of ruins the jungle just a little.
    I feel very much the same way about ayahuasca centers that open up and ask the locals to collect 50-100 sacks of ayahuasca vine for them. In most parts of the Amazon, that would mean all of the vine on a several mile stretch of a small river. Which means that the local ayahuasqueros will not be able to go to their favorite plants because those plants have been cut and will take years to grow again--that is, if they were cut properly.
    Yes, people are spreading the medicine. Yes, the people who collected the leaves or those vines got some work and were able to splurge on sneakers and beer and maybe even clothes for the kids for a few weeks, but at what cost?
    In the old days, and still out on the river, people just drink at the ayahuasquero's home. No ceremonial space, just his/her little kitchen area. Cook during the day, drink that night, save the left over for another night. I know there is a new paradigm being designed for foreigners. I know things have changed. But I don't know if the resources can keep up. Yes, some people have planted a good amount of ayahuasca, but it takes years and years to grow strong enough.
    I'm not completely railing against things here, but I am concerned that things might be a bit off kilter. Ayahuasca, after all, is part of the jungle, not apart from the jungle--and hot water and wifi and electric light, well, I don't see any of that as being good for the jungle or its people in any way. I see it as a way to keep people apart from the jungle and I guess I'm not keen on that.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Mowing Lawn/Bad Leg Getting Better

So I was finally forced last week to take in my lawnmower. It's an auto start that is guaranteed for two years but it wouldn't start. I brought it in and the guy told me the problem was my fault but only charged me $38. No sweat.
   The sweat is that it weighs nearly 90 lbs and with the bad leg and no way to pick it up, I creamed myself both putting it on my Ford Ranger and taking it off. No big deal. So I bled into my flesh-eating bacterial wound. At least I'd taken the 15 bags of fetid garbage to the dump before I opened the thing up.
   And the next day it was ready. So I've been mowing my lawn for five days now. Today was the yard over the bridges by the chicken coop and fire pit: 100 feet by 170 feet. Grass and weeds about 2' tall. Pain in the neck, but no one mowed it since I left for Peru in early June. Now to be honest, this isn't all that hard: It's a push mower--the small tractor isn't working--but it has a lever that makes it go into drive mode so that it sort of walks itself, unless you hit an ant hill or a dip or something like that. Still, it's been an hour or hour and a half a day to get five of the seven yards done. And I only raked two of them, so there is some work to do tomorrow with the rake. Which is really hard work. And boring. And you want to quit after ten minutes. But you don't. You just rake harder. Shit. Sucks. One more bag full please.
    Normally, I love physical labor. But since my intestine exploded five years ago and I had those three operations, including the one where they had to cut out my belly button and give me a fake one, my upper and lower bodies have no relationship. I go to run and my upper body leans forward while my legs stand still and I simply fall over. I go to do sit ups and my legs rise uncontrollably while my torso doesn't move. All that changed in January when Ayahuasca put me back together after the three operations and five years. I was falling asleep, leaning forward, took a breath and to my utter surprise my upper torso straightened out, without me thinking about it. She'd told me to be clean--and I was--and told me to pay attention--which I did--and told me to drink a little to let her do her work--which I did--and she told me it would be important that night. But I never expected that present. Wow! That was fantastic.
   Five months later the flesh eating bacteria came and ate my right calf. So much for strength, eh?
   But everything is getting better, slowly: My wound has gone from about 12 by 15 inches of lost flesh to a measly 6 by 7 inches: And we know that because I have the pictures with the rulers in them to prove it. And I'll get a skin graft in a week or two and close that baby up--if it sticks. If not, it will close in a couple of months on its own, as it's been doing.
    But while I'm trying to get out of my spiritual crisis--see last post--by mowing lawn and so forth, I am physically in pain. And I ran out of pain killers nearly a month ago and thought it better to not ask for more. Why? Cause I'm a stupid macho 62-year-old who forgot that pain hurts if you don't have pain killers and if doctors are willing to give them to you for pain, you're an idiot to not take them. I'm the case in point.
    So someone very generous--actually two people--send me medical marijuana. One sent two joints, one sent about half-an-ounce. I put them away. I have no idea who sent them, they just showed up. That was very cool. And they showed up in vacuum pacs  with fake return addresses so that nobody smelled them and I have no idea where they came from.
    So the other day, I was in real pain after lifting the mower into my truck, lifting it off, mowing lawn and raking for an hour or two. Plus carrying rocks that the people building the road on my property have left all over the freaking place. So, no pain killers? I thought, Now is the time to break into that medical mar stash.
   But you know what? It wasn't there. Neither of them. I mean, I'd taped the half ounce to the back of the box in the freezer that is frozen to the freezer floor, and I'd put the two joint baggie into a bag of basil that was sealed in two baggies. I knew I'd need it sooner or later so put it in a place where no one could find it.
   But then it was gone.
   I called my kids in one by one. I called Chepa. "Chep? Did you happen to find a baggie of marijuana in the freezer? I mean, if your friends were over and they were asking for a joint, is there any chance that you said, "maybe Peter has some" and then went and looked and found it and gave it to your friends?"
   She was insulted. "If I wanted a joint, I would ask, cholo. You think I would steal from my husband, even if we are not together the last 12 years? Who do you think I am? Cholo!"
   I asked Madeleina. I told her that there would be no repercussions and that she could say whatever she wanted but to tell me the truth within 24 hours. Nothing bad would happen, just tell me. I know Madeleina doesn't even know what marijuana looks like but sometimes, when I talk about property forfeiture and such she panics and throws out the frozen basil, the frozen strawberries, the frozen grapes, anything she thinks might cost us the house or might be illegal. She said she hadn't done a thing.
    I gave Marco the same deal: No repercussions for answering truthfully to the next question. If you need to lie, no problem, you can rectify it within 24 hours, still no repercussions....Marco, did you happen to find any....
    "I did it, dad."
    I paused. I wasn't ready for that, at least not so quickly.
    "I don't know what I"ve been doing for a few weeks. I feel lost. I looked for it, I found it. I didn't even smoke it. I just took it and then I threw it away."
   "Were you saving me from me?" I asked.
    I thought about it for a minute.
    "Marco, if I have a bottle of wine and you want a glass, you're my kid and you are welcome to it, right? And if I have two trucks working and you need one, you're welcome to it, ritght? Okay. But please never never never again take the whole stash, much less two stashes, without a note saying that you did it, and particularly when you know dad is hurting and needs something and there are no pain medications. Okay?"
     "Sorry dad. I'll try not to do that again."
     "Okay, I said no repercussions for the truth. Don't do it again or I'll kill you. Meanwhile I love you. And I hope it helped you through your own spiritual crisis."
      "I think it did, but I don't want anymore. Let's leave it at that dad. I love you too."
      Sometimes you just can't get angry at the people you most want to get angry with. They are the precious few that matter in the long run, and Marco and I? We've had a 20-year run so far: If I'm gonna go crazy over every little thing, or if he would hold me accountable for every time I was less than a great dad, well, we'd hate each other. But if we forgive, and we do, and if we try to forget, which we also do, well, maybe he and I will have another 20 years, and you know what? The good has outbalanced the anger about 100 to one.
      Thanks for being my kid, kiddo. I love you. Dad.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Little Crisis of Faith

I've been in a little crisis of faith for some weeks now, and think that yesterday brought it to a head but am a long way from really out of it. What crisis of faith? The crisis of not being sure that I can do anything. I mean not being sure I can make a meal, not being sure I can wash dishes. Not sure I have the strength, energy or drive to do a laundry or make the calls necessary to get the story done. Things I live for and love to do look and feel like insurmountable barriers meant to hamper me in every way.
    People depend on me to 'sing' for them in the mornings. It's just what I do to say hello to the world, to the medicines, to the colors of the universe, to the spirits, to friends, family, to strangers who ask for help. I love to do my sing--something based on Peruvian ceremony but modified to be strong for me outside of traditional ceremony. But I have avoided it for a month. I say a nodding hello to the spirits who help me and otherwise ignore them.
    I have not called my friends or family for weeks. Too much effort and I don't have the oomph, the pizazz, the joie de vivre, the pump, the push, the oh la la to force myself to do it.
    Part of it is that I hurt. I hurt all over every minute of every day. My knees, my leg, my toes. Standing is a pain, walking is a pain, mowing lawn a pain--though after I'm doing any of those things for more than a few minutes, I'm okay. So the start is slow because of the physical--a lot of which is the side effet of nearly four months of 1500 mgs of antibiotic a day--and that's after the other three antibiotics were cut out of the program. Part of it is just not believing that I can really get anything done. And when I do there is no feeling of reward. It all has seemed pointless. Yes, I've done what needs to be done. But where I normally do things with joy and thunder I'm just getting them done.
    I am not happy about it. I do not want to be this person. Yesterday was very very low. Today my son Marco came over to talk about a similar situation he's been in, so it might be running through the Gormans right now. But I want out of this. I want the spark back, I want the fire. I want the insane joy of living every second no matter what I'm doing. Washing dishes? Scrub those babies!!!!! Doing laundry? Toss each piece of clothing into the washer from 10 feet! Doing lawn? Burn it, baby! Calling friends? Get ready for an hour of good conversation. And writing a story? In the zone. Disappear into the place where Peter Gorman doesn't exist, where walls melt and information I've researched for the story come to me in such a way that I have a hard time typing it fast enough! Sing in the morning? YES! Heal those people or try to heal them. Send out the most positive, deep, worthwhile courage and love I've got to share and then share even more!
      I've never lost an ounce of strength in giving and giving. But this sitting around, getting things done as chores and physically hurting all the time, well, this is sucking the freaking live and love out of me. So universe, give me a hand here, cause I'm about done with this nonsense. If this leg and all the attendant shit is a test, well, tell me my grade and lets get on with living. If I'm just sorry for myself, well, then, self, you really are a sorry muthafugga, so quit it. If it's the weather? No excuse. Time to find those bootstraps and rip it up again in a joyful and meaningful way. It's the same job, the same life, the same work. And I'd rather be doing with while I'm exploding with energy than doing it while dragging my behind.

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Just a Little Rant Regarding Fences, Food, and Social Security

A friend of mine from back in childhood and highschool cut and pasted a picture of WWl vets behind a fence being denied entrance to the WW ll memorial in Washington DC. Next to it is a picture of two supposed-to-be Mexican illegals climing into the US over a simple barbed wire fence. The caption reads something like: President Obama Logic 102: He'll fence them out (meaning the vets) but not them? (indicating the illegal Mexicans.
    It bothered me but since he's my old pal and since he rails against both republican and democratic idiocy, I left it alone. That is, I left it alone until someone posted that my friend was racist for posting the pic. So I jumped into the fray with this:
    L: I love you and know that healing--[he just had surgery]--is a pain in the, you know. But, Obama didn't erect any fence to keep anyone out of the WW ll memorial. The republicans shut down the government, which means there's no one to work the memorial, which means that it's closed. So that's the republicans.
    As for the Mexico fence, well, I've been living in Texas nearly 12 years now and all that the fence that has been built has done is make it difficult for families who live on both sides of the border to visit, to see their back yards and so forth. It certainly hasn't stopped a single person coming in, and the reason for that is that our country comes to a halt if there are no illegals to pick crops. We simply starve. We depend on illegals for crop picking, restaurant dishwashing, laying our roads in Texas--hired by the Texas govt--digging ditches, doing all the work no one else will do.
    On top of that, President Obama has deported more illegals than any other president--with a focus on deporting those with an criminal record. So he's been the toughest President on illegals, without question. Hell, even insane Governor Perry here in Tejas doesn't want the fence because it does nothing but look ugly/cut farms in half/cost money. But it certainly has not kept a single person out: You just bring a ladder to the Mexican side and there you go.
    The additional benefits of illegals, of course, is that they'll keep Social Security solvent for 100 years if the Feds stop stealing from it.  That's because illegals tend to use legitimate social security cards and numbers and pay into it. But they'll never collect, and the person to whom it belongs will only receive his/her $1400 a month max, so the additional thousands/tens of thousands being poured into a card like that weekly/monthly simply go into the social security pool. And it's not unusual to find cards being used by 500 people or more. With all of those people paying $20-$30 a week into social security, one card might be accumulating $15,000 grand weekly. So the pic you posted, well, I won't get into the racist thing the first respondent did, but I will say that it's completely inaccurate. And I hope you feel better quickly.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

What Happened to My Leg

I've been thinking about writing this for a while, but have not. I think I'm intimidated because there is at least an element of brujeria--black magic--or the possibility of an element of brujeria involved. Which means an awful lot of people are going to write this and me off pretty quickly. It also means that I have to explain some things.
    So I'll give the prior-to-the-leg story.
    Some years ago, I was attacked by a pretty damned negative energy during an ayahuasca ceremony with Julio. He saw it and tried to chase the spirit--or the physical person's negative energy--away while I sang for my life. In the end, I saw two friends/quasi friends who took credit for the attack with the simple explanation "Because I can." As if they were trying out some superpowers and just happened to try out the negativity one on me.
    I don't know that they were really the attackers--in the spirit world spirits hide behind a lot of masks--or we humans, in our attempt to compartmentalize the disembodied spirits we're seeing, give them form. So it might have been a negative energy bought and paid for by someone who didn't like me--in Iquitos, that's pretty common--or it might have been someone directing energy at Julio that I somehow intercepted--and a lot of people wanted him dead when he got very old because they thought--and this is the way it is with curanderos and their spirit helpers--they could steal his spirit helpers if they were there at the moment of his death. Whether they can or not, I'm not sure, but that's the belief system for a lot of people in that part of the world--and it results in good friends trying to kill you if they think you're going to die, just to be there when you actually kick the bucket so that they grab that power.
    On a trip not long after that one, one of my guests put a box into my green shoulder bag--those who know it call it the magic bag because it always seems to be filled with just what you need at the moment you need it--and told me they'd been given it by a friend of mine who said it was a gift for Madeleina, my daughter.
    It was a box with an odd little plastic space man sort of doll in it. I thought it a strange gift for Madeleina but put away in my suitcase in my room in Iquitos with the intention of bringing it to her when I went back to Texas.
    But strange things started happening almost immediately: My team began complaining that they didn't like the energy in my room. They smoked it with mapacho--think of smudging with black tobacco cigarettes--and Agua Florida and sang icaros and shook chacapas--bundle leaf fans--to clear the space. A couple of my team felt ill and vomited in the room in the first days after I got the doll, but I didn't even think of it at the time. But something was going on: There were noises and conversations in the room at night when I was alone; things fell off the thick cement walls that had been in place for 40 years.
    And then one morning when I got up--my team was already in the room and hallway ready to work--I just keeled over. My team got me to a doctor who said I'd had a little "heart attack, a little heart fart" would be a good translation. No big deal, just one of those things. He examined me and said everything was fine, it was an isolated thing I didn't need to concern myself with but that it was lucky that someone did a basic CPR and got me breathing.
    Back at the room, the team demanded to look around. They said it was brujeria at work and were sure someone had put something in the room that acted as a magnet--or directional compass--to draw the negative energy that was so recently prevalent there, to the room. I said the only thing new that I knew of was a gift for Madeleina, and I took it out for them to see.
    They urged me to open the box. I did. The doll was hard red plastic. But out of the box I realized it looked as though you could open it. So I did. And inside was another doll, smaller, I think more or less the same. But when I opened that, there was another doll inside. But this doll was turned in the opposite direction and was completely different except for being made of red plastic. This doll had a knife in a raised hand that was pointed to the second doll's heart from the inside--and that meant it was pointed at the larger doll's heart as well. And there was a note attached to the doll in English. I can't remember the exact words this very second, but it went pretty much like this: "You are my enemy and I will kill you until you die!"
   Okay, that was freaking eerie and we decided that it wasn't the sort of doll I should bring Madeleina--in fact, it might have been the sort of doll that someone would pay a brujo--negative person, generally a fallen curandero who made a living with love spells and being paid to cast concentrated negative energy toward people--to put a lot of hatred and anger into and pass along to me. But they would only do that if they really hated me and they'd only hate me if I'd wronged them. And I had not wronged anyone. Chepa was free when I met and fell in love with her. I didn't take clients from anyone else, ever,  didn't steal money, didn't do anything that would make someone hate me. Hell, I didn't even take my clients for the Jungle Trips to a place used by anyone else.
    We got rid of the doll: Burned it, sang over it, crushed the remains and buried it in the river. It might just have been a doll but with that little knife and that message, well, it wasn't a nice doll.
    Two or three years later, out of the blue, a fellow who'd been on one of my very early trips called me out of the blue. I'd seen him on the street in Iquitos now and then and we shared pleasantries but I always though him a bit distant considering we'd spent a week in the jungle together and he'd had a great time and we'd enjoyed one another's company and so forth. After saying hello, he said that he wanted to apologize. I asked him "apologize for what?"
    He said he knew that I knew he'd gone to work for a well-known ayahuasca lodge in its early days and had helped grow it to something considered very excellent just outside of Iquitos. I said that sure, I knew he worked there and I was glad they were doing well and doing good work.
   Then he told me that many time he and others at that lodge--I knew some of them at least to say hello to--sat around and talked about how stupid Peter Gorman was, how I was a jerk and how my trips sucked. I asked him why they thought that. He said they sometimes saw me drinking or drunk on the Boulevard and I said of course. When I'm in town I'm on my time having a party. And when I have faltered in the jungle setting--and I have, occasionally--I try to make it up to the clients. He said he knew. He also said the trip with me was the trip that opened his eyes and made him want to be down in the jungle, drinking medicine. He said the overnight riverboat ride up the Amazon was the single best night he'd ever had and the medicine he drank with Julio was the most potent, profound and healing medicine he'd ever done.
    I asked him why he sat around and made fun of me and my trips if that's how he felt. He said he didn't know but that's why he was calling to apologize.
   I asked him if it ever got to the level of wanting me hurt--or sending a doll my way. He said no. It was nasty and negative and at my expense but not brujeria. I believed him and that was that.
   The call sort of opened my eyes to the idea of people not liking me. Not that I thought everyone did, but until then I couldn't have imagined that anyone who didn't would have spent one second thinking about me. It never occurred to me.
    I believe he didn't send that doll, but someone gave it to one of my guests with instructions to put it into my bag with the word that it was a gift for my daughter. And it was not a doll that's available in Iquitos or anywhere in Peru. So someone went out of their way to send negativity in my direction. That was disturbing.
    Now the leg. On my trip in June, I had a good group of nice people, and ayahuasca said she had things to teach me so that I should stay very straight during the trip. I did. And as always, before the trip started, I asked the universe--give it any name with which you feel most comfortable--to make certain that if anything bad had to happen on the trip--like a bad fall, a snakebite, a really awful spider bite and so forth--to make certain it happened to me, and not my guests. They were just down for a life-changing experience, after all, and were due home in a couple of weeks and having them hurt would really crimp things. Now I don't like getting hurt either, but I've been hurt so much in the jungle over the years that I figure I can handle it, so it should come my way. Wretched universe is always accommodating and so yes, the bad things always happen to me. Darn.
    We left Iquitos on a riverboat at about 2 PM, headed up the Amazon. The boat arrived at our first destination at about 3 AM, where we disembarked, had all of our food/camp materials and so forth taken off the boat, and headed into the pitch black town. The place we land has no electricity most of the day most of the time, and certainly none at night, so it's really pitch black after you get past the four solar panel-lit lights at the port. But I'd arranged for a restaurant to be open for us and to have hot coffee and tea ready. The owner had two long tables with table cloths and candles set up, so that my guests, probably wondering what my plan was as we walked through the pitch dark of the town, suddenly got a lovely surprise. We had coffee and I bought some of the local cheese and crackers and we had a good snack, after which my friend Juan got them to their simple hotel rooms.
   Now at the end of the alley where the tables were set up--I called it a restaurant but it's really just an alleyway--were the gates to the local market. The market has two bathrooms in one corner. It opens at about 5 AM when the first fishermen come in with the fish caught in their nets. Their wives cut and clean them and strip the scales on long cement tables and push the refuse to the cement floor. Shortly after the fishermen arrive come the people selling plantains and papaya, chickens, bread, and the other things sold in the market.
   Well, the gates had just opened when I had to take a leak. I mean, had to take a leak. Normally, I would have stepped around the corner of the alley and peed there, but a couple of guests had not gone to their rooms yet and so out of decorum I decided I'd try to make it to one of the bathrooms on the far side of the cement-floored market. It was a desperate situation: I'm a grown man and can hold it for hours if I have to but not this time: It felt as though someone was squeezing my kidneys from both sides and I knew I'd be peeing down my pant leg in just a few moments. It might have been the first time in 10 years I got the urge like that, and with my clothes in my backpack being loaded onto the smaller boats in the port that would take us where we were going, I had nothing to change into.
   I strode to the steps at the top of the market, walked with long strides across the floor, and about halfway across felt myself begin to slide. It was as though someone had put a rope across the floor and I'd walked into it: The floor was slippery, but instead of falling with one leg forward, my head stopped abruptly, my legs came together and left the floor so that I was in a perfect planche position, head parallel with both feet for a moment, then fell and hit with my entire body at the same moment. I tucked my head so that I didn't hit that so hard but when I landed I stayed still a moment. "Oh, shit. Something bad just happened," I thought. And I knew it. Something awful had happened and I didn't mean falling in front of people selling fish. I've been embarrassed way too often in my life by my own failures to worry about that. No. This was a deep feeling that something had just gone terribly wrong.
   When I tried to get up I realized I couldn't. I just slid in place. Heck, it probably took me 30 seconds just to turn over. When I did, I realized that what I'd fallen in was the soap and water used to get yesterday's fish guts off the market floor. I was sliding around in day old fish entrails and soap and muck and finally someone passed me a long stick and I grabbed it and they pulled me to where the floor was dry and I got up then went to the bathroom and peed.
    As there was no water, I just brushed as much of the goop off of me and my bare calves--I was wearing shorts--combed the goop out of my hair and returned to the long tables for a coffee. But the nagging sensation that something had gone wrong, really wrong, stuck with me. Who had made me need to urinate that way? So badly that I didn't look at my surroundings when crossing the market floor. Who had caught my neck with an invisible rope that had me fall the way I did. And why?
   That's the kind of "really bad thing" I was thinking about. This was not an ordinary fall. I do that frequently enough to know I don't have any style when I fall. This was entirely different.
    And I knew that it wasn't necessarily someone who hated me. Just someone who sees me come into that town four times a year and each time I arrive I have a huge team of helpers and guests and they might imagine that they should be working instead of my helpers, or that they should have the guests and not me, or who knows what. I do know--I've learned--that negative energy from simple jealousy can have real world impacts. And I know that there are people in that town who don't like me or who are jealous--several have told me I don't belong there even though I've known that town since 1985.
    The trip itself went well. And while I tried to ignore the tugging feeling that something had gone very wrong with that fall, when nothing happened by the time we all returned to Iquitos, I was thrilled to be proven wrong. I imagined I was just getting caught up in my own self-importance and was glad to see the universe was putting me in my place by letting me and the guests and my staff all come out without anything rotten happening.
    I went to bed that night in my room alone, thanking the universe for not letting anything happen on the trip.
    I woke up to angry red streaks on my right calf and a small hole of rotten flesh in the middle of them. By that evening it got ugly; the next night was so bad that Alan Shoemaker sent my friend Jorge to my my room insisting I go to the hospital. I did, but the flesh eating had started and in the end nearly took my leg off.
    Interestingly, when cultures were finally done at the hospital in Texas a month later--and they took more than a week to fully develop--it turned out that there were four different things attacking the leg:
Morganella morganni
a species of Proteus
Aeromonas hydrophila
    The last two, while fairly common, often occur in fish--and rotting fish guts and skin and tails that have been sitting in the heat of a metal roofed building festering for 24-hours is apparently a good place to pick them up in open cuts and such. And I've always got some small cuts on the back of my calves in Iquitos because I scratch at mosquito bites and such.
    So I'm not gonna swear that those four bacteria, or even the last two, did the very unusual and became flesh eaters--not their typical action in humans--because of any brujeria. But I am going to think that the fall that landed me in that microbe goop exposed open cuts on the back of my calves to them. And I'm going to say that the fall just wasn't normal.
     And the takeaway is this: While someone who has accrued a good deal of personal power or spirit world juice can wreak havoc on you life after sitting around a cauldron and wishing you ill for three or five or seven days, it really really doesn't take that much effort to mess a person up. Just thinking negatively will send energy out into the universe and that's enough to change the equilibrium of people who are not continually geared to protect themselves.
    So I'm going to ask anyone who doesn't like me, hates me, thinks I suck, to just not think about me, okay? I'm not doing anything to interfere with anyone else's life, so don't waste time on me. Cause I don't want this happening again. Seriously.