Epstein Barr, Manic Poetry, and Yoga


Towards the end of my years as a Jesuit scholastic, I became very ill.   I suffered severe psychological stress.  I remember feeling like I was going crazy with wild thoughts in writing poetry.  I thought at the time that the poetry drive was making me crazy so I pulled back.  Looking back after many years, it was probably the onset of what later was diagnosed as Epstein Barr virus.   Of course, the rigorous intellectual and spiritual life was also a factor.  But I was up for that part of the life.   I lost so much weight, down to 135 vs. 165, that people commented that I looked like someone from a Nazi concentration camp.   Thanks a lot!   The Jesuit superiors were so concerned they sent me to several doctors.  One of my distinct memories was a session at the infamous old Peekskill hospital, a facility right out of Dickens.  I was made to drink barium then stand in front of a fluoroscope, a now long-outdated piece of medical equipment.  They found nada.  Many decades later, that hospital, much modernized, was one of my fundraising clients.

Much later, after I left the Jesuits and met my future wife, Lee Ann Menendez, the condition had continued.   Lee had me visit her doctor, Esther Tuttle.   She diagnosed my problem as a low thyroid condition.  I vividly remember her telling me to take my pants down and lean over.  She took out a horse needle and shot me full of vitamin B12.  For days I felt a surge of energy from that shot.   She also put me on synthyroid pills.  A couple years later, still suffering from symptoms of fatigue, combined with surges of nervousness, I went to a doctor at Georgetown Hospital in DC.   He was a very thoughtful man from India.  He told me to drop the medication and merely to do yoga shoulder stands every day.   This actually cured me.  His theory was that I was a borderline case and that the yoga positon would stimulate the thyroid gland enough to create a hormonal balance.   I have continued this position off and on ever since.  The condition has never reappeared.