Chapter Fourteen: Wildfire Smoke

During the summer there are wildfires and the air in town becomes very polluted with forest fire smoke. I kept going about my business, but my lungs were filling up with fine particulate. When I drilled the hole, I became aware the gossip about me was not merely I was gay, but that I was sleeping with young boys. The source of this was due to when the police started treating me as a suspect and started sending a young boy to try and get me to allow him into my room. It was if the light suddenly came on and I realized. I don’t know why I did not make this connection before. I just thought I was one of potentially many suspects, but when I drilled the hole, I realized I was the suspect. I guess the reason I hadn’t realized it before was because I knew I was innocent. I believed in innocent until proven guilty. No one had accused me of the crime or given me a trial. I was just guilty by association.

I had realized this as I was taking the scaffolding down to take it over to the location where the other apartment was located. When I arrived there a woman who lived in the main house came out and another one who lived in a house on the alley approached me. I immediately started to explain to them what had happened in India to try and clear up the confusion. They had already accepted I was guilty and there was no way I was going to dissuade them. I called the Kirtan Woman and asked her what the gossip was, and she told me it was I was sleeping with young boys. I laughed nervously and stated that it was good I had a sense of humor. This was 2012 and it was 2006 when I had blurted out to the woman, I was a Homo. So, it had been six years I had been walking around completely oblivious to the seriousness of the situation. I felt very exhilarated when I came out as if a weight had been lifted. Now when I realized the enormity of the actual situation the exhilaration went away and was replaced with horror. I did not know what I was going to do. I felt I had to clear my name but did not know how. I started going up to people I knew and telling them what had happened in public. I can remember doing this in the checkout line at the grocery store as well as in a big box store. I would preface it by saying I was homosexual and then telling how my items had been stolen and going to the police and being treated as a suspect and realizing it was because a professor had tried to pick me up and turned me into the police when I rejected him. People just thought I was insane, which I probably am. I became very angry and started suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD as I started having obsessive repetitive thoughts. How had something as benign as practicing yoga morphed into the horror of being viewed as a pedophile?

The definition of insanity is repeating the same behavior and expecting different results. So here I am trying to continue to have relationships with women, thinking it was somehow different by outing myself and viewing it as a “Platonic Relationship.” This was completely nuts! By September 15th, the air had gotten so bad my lungs were starting to become completely saturated. The woman who I had stayed with in Berkley was in Great Falls taking care of her mother who had had a stroke. A week or so earlier we had agreed to meet in Helena for lunch as I had found a restaurant there that had an Indian meal on the menu.

I thought the air would be better in Helena, but when I got there it was as bad or worse. I met the woman, and we had lunch and I told her about how I had been accused of sleeping with young boys and the gossip had gone viral in the yoga community. She was understanding and suggested I go to a hot spring for the night to clear my lungs. I tried to get her to go along but she needed to get back to Great Falls and attend to her mother.

The air and my lungs cleared up after this, but there was still damage done to them by the wildfires. I continued practicing yoga at the warehouse, but my practice had become compromised. By October 15th the weather indicated the smoke was going to blow back into the valley. By Friday I was in such a state of panic I packed up my laptop and went to the emergency room to admit myself. I thought the air in the hospital would be filtered. When I told them my condition, they assured I would be fine and gave me a prescription for anxiety medication. I did not fill it immediately but waited a few days. The air was getting bad, and I was staying in my apartment with all the windows closed and an air filter running. I had no air conditioning, so it was getting hot. In a few days I was so anxious I tried the anxiety medication. It made me feel better and relieved the symptoms of the lung damage, which was numbness in my feet and calves.

By the end of the week, I was taking the maximum dosage which was a pill not more than every four hours. The pills completely intoxicated me and made me very flexible. I started doing my yoga practice in a hyper fashion. I found doing back bending really opened my lungs and helped me to breathe. At Thanksgiving I bought a tofurkey. I had it for my Thanksgiving meal and ate the leftovers on Friday and Saturday. By Sunday morning I still had tofurkey in my system as it is pure gluten. I should not have practiced yoga in this condition, but I did. When I got to the warehouse mall that morning there was a hole knocked in the wall across the hall from the studio. Turned out the warehouse had been broken into over the weekend and the infiltrators had inflicted damage while looking for valuables.

I had been using a rope secured to the wall around my waist to prep for backdrops rather than dropping back to the wall. I was tight from the anxiety of damaging my lungs and was not as flexible as usual. While I was dropping back off the rope, I attempted to walk my hands in and catch my ankles. This was not good with the tofurkey in my stomach, and I should not have been doing it, but I was anxiously trying to keep my lungs clear so I could breathe. I went out of my body and looked down at myself at the wall with the rope around my waist.

Monday when I was doing my practice it felt like the inversions were a bit compromised and by Tuesday when I went to do Mayurasana, or Peacock pose where you balance the body on the elbows tucked into your stomach, I experienced excruciating pain. I thought I had gas and stopped by the grocery store on the way home to buy a bottle of ginger ale. I was unable to sit down all day and by four o’clock decided to go to Now Care in the Mall. I did not want to go to the emergency room after my experience a few weeks earlier. Now Care took a urine sample and said I had blood in my urine. They told me to go home and eat and gave me a laxative as they thought I was merely constipated.

By Thursday I was in excruciating pain and called the woman whose mother has a home in town as she was here visiting for Thanksgiving. She came over and I told her my symptoms and she suggested I do an enema which did not help. Finally, I told her she needed to take me to the emergency room. This was at 12:34 am because I can remember seeing this on her digital clock in her car as I got in. When I walked in the door and went up to the desk, I told the person on duty I was a 60-year-old male and that I was experiencing a bowel blockage. I blurted this out without knowing how I came up with the diagnosis.

They began giving me mega doses of pain medication and finally admitted me and put me on a drip. When I woke in the morning in a hospital bed feeling like a million dollars, a nurse came in and asked if I wanted more dilaudid and I screamed “NO!” I had worked with a blues drummer who had been addicted as they are a synthetic heroin. I pulled all the tubes out of my nose and throat and got up and sat down on the floor in full lotus. I felt great and said I was ready to go home. They got me back in bed, sedated me and moved me to the pre-surgery floor. They wanted to do surgery because they thought I had a hiatal hernia. I was ready for them to perform it so I could continue with my yoga practice once it healed. I had called the Kirtan Woman and she told me not to let them cut on me. The woman whose mother had the home here also told me it was not a good time to have surgery. Of course, I listened to them instead of my intuition.

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