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Hold Me

I have had lots of opportunity to observe and contemplate touch.  

I am remembering a handful of years back when my family adopted a new dog, one who was fully vaccinated for the deadly Parvo virus.  We had this sweet dog for only a matter of weeks before she contracted Parvo.  It is a horrible, horrible illness that acts fast on the intestinal lining, causing internal bleeding, loss of appetite and lethargy.  After just one day of watching our dog deteriorate we took her to the vet, she was diagnosed, we were told that Parvo was an incurable virus and that our two choices were to have her euthanized or take her home and watch her die a painful death in less than 72 hours.  We chose euthanasia.  

Parvo is an extremely contagious virus and we had two other dogs at home.  We worked quickly to disinfect everything we could, including the outdoors and destroying everything inside that our infected dog had used – bedding, toys, stuff like that.  I also knew I needed to learn something about Parvo.  

The dreaded virus hit our second dog a few weeks later.  She was not vaccinated.  We were panic stricken and pretty terrified.  We really, really love our dogs.  All I knew this time was that we would not visit the vet.  Instead we began an intensive therapy that had us using an eyedropper to administer immune system supplements and ones for intestinal health, about every hour.  We also committed ourselves to gently, quietly and lovingly holding our dog… continuously, setting her down every hour or so to poop more blood.  We had no idea whether she would survive but we knew we wanted her to know how much we cared for and loved her.

About 12 hours into our treatment, she began to perk up and the bleeding slowed.  18 hours into treatment the bleeding had stopped and she was interested in wandering around on her own.  About a day and a half later she was FINE.  We were overjoyed and she went on to live for another 10 years.

A week after this ordeal, dog #3 was hit with the virus.  As painful as it was to watch the last of our precious dogs deteriorate within hours right before our very eyes, we now knew definitively how we would proceed.  We put our therapy into action once again and began the continuous holding process.  One full day later, she too, was completely fine.  From pooping nearly pure blood and extreme lethargy to normal… fine.  That dog is still alive and thriving 10 years later.

About two years ago my son moved out of state and took dog #3 with him.  He immersed himself immediately in his new life there, working, playing, socializing and exploring… most of which did not include his dog.  About one month into his move, he called me in a panic:  our dog had become increasingly lethargic, was pooping blood and had lost her appetite.  After some quick online research we knew it couldn’t be Parvo – you can’t get this twice. Still, we had no real idea what could be going on.  He found a vet he could take her to quickly and was told she was reacting to stress.  My son was told to leave her at the vet so they could observe her for a day or two.  In his heart of hearts, he knew he couldn’t do that.  He loved this dog immensely and could not bare to abandon her in her time of weakness.  Against doctor’s orders, he walked out with her.  He took her home, cancelled everything on his schedule, bought an eyedropper and a few immune building supplements and hunkered down with her wrapped in a warm blanket in his arms… for the next 16 hours.  By next morning her appetite was returning and the bleeding had stopped.  By evening she was FINE.

As I think back on my life with children and animals, my husband and friends, I am left to wonder:  is touch so important, so critical to well being, that every other thing we attribute to wellness is secondary?  Is the energy that is exchanged when authentic love, care and touch is present the true food of life? 

9 Comments Post a comment
  1. This reminds me of the language deprivation experiments carried out by Frederick II, the Holy Roman Emperor in the 13th century. He ordered young infants to be taken from their families and raised by foster mothers and nurse maids with instructions to not speak to or give attention to the infants other than feeding and dressing. He was trying to determin what language the infants would learn if they were never spoken to. All of the infants died before their 1st birthday. I learned this while attending massage school and it really helped make it clear to me how important touch is.

    April 10, 2012
    • Oh my. I hate to say this, really I do, but only a man could perform an experiment like this. It makes me wonder, given my ability to say what I just said, how natural attachment parenting or immersion parenting is for fathers. I know a lot of what I believe are great fathers and I am wondering whether they have TAUGHT themselves to be great fathers or whether it comes completely easily and naturally.

      April 12, 2012
  2. Speaking from my personal experience as a person who is rarely touched, my life is diminished from a lack of friendly human touch.

    April 11, 2012
  3. Maja #

    Wow, thank you for sharing!!! For the past few years I have had a feeling I would like to develop a therapy based simply on holding people in a safe and comforting and caring ( completely non-sexual) embrace. Having had as a profession my entire life to take care of people in different ways, including using touch-therapies such as healing and the Metamorphic technique, I have gotten the sense that what people really need the most is simply to be held, feeling safe and cared for, just like little children. I have also read a lot about research done on oxytocine, and it only strengthens me in my beliefs. Keep up the good work 🙂 Love, Maja

    April 30, 2012
    • Very interesting Maja. What I feel is really important is that the holding is done by one for whom genuine and mutual love is felt. Do you feel that objective holding would have the same effect?

      April 30, 2012
      • Maja #

        Thanks for your response!
        Actually, since this was the very first time ever I put these thoughts into words, I realize I am not quite clear myself about it!!! What I do feel is that touching and holding could be used with much greater intention of healing and revealing than is usually the case. I agree it is important that there is mutual love and trust, yet I believe holding can be done in a more objective and less intimate way and still be very beneficial! What I believe is really important in the latter case is that the intentions are clear and pure and outspoken. But, as I said, I am in the process of clarifying it to myself, still…

        May 2, 2012
  4. I have been immersed in the mental aspect of healing now for quite some time. I am very excited to hear these stories as proof of the power of touch. Thanks so much for this enlightening lesson.

    May 26, 2012
    • Thanks for posting! I would love to hear some of what you have experienced and learned… would you like to share something?

      May 26, 2012
      • Hi, well lately I have been working on a particular way of thinking each morning, very simple but powerful, where you simply decide not to make any decisions today while imagining the perfect day and what it will be like. As long as I don’t do any deciding, that day has been happening. What is new with you that has been feeling good?

        May 29, 2012

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