Summer was vanishing. Days were shorter: morning was chillier. Autumn was coming with its yellow light, dry grass on the edge of the road. It didn’t rain yet, we were lucky. I continued my daily training. I woke up at six, had troubles to take over my left-sided stiff and almost right-dead body. I got up the stairs. After I emptied the dishwasher, I prepared breakfast. As I felt well enough, I decided to drive kids to school and my wife to the suburban train station. I went for a walk, and then played the piano for an hour and then the viola.
At the beginning of November, the “Academy of Arts” in Thiais was finally inaugurated. Classes started again. Up to the last moment, I feared a violent storm or a physical problem prevented me from going to work with my car. I didn’t know why but the fear something could impede my plan kept me awake for a long part of the night. I looked after any noise, searching for thunder but it was only plane rumbels and inside me, the beginning of a big dizziness which prevented me from going to work. The weather forecast told it was going to be stormy and on the morning, the sky was clear and I was fine. Thank you Lord!
I rescheduled my agenda and asked to the director for only giving me classes on the afternoon in order to use the morning to make my rehabilitation exercices. Florence planned to come with me. She took her car and drove I front of me. We left at 1 P.M. I followed her. It was not crowded because it was lunch time but my see sight made me uncomfortable. So I drove slowly. We arrived in Thiais quite easily and the students gave me a standing ovation. The “miracle man” was back and I was deeply moved by their congratulations.
I started my classes again in the upstairs room. I took Manou’s stick to be safe and especially to get up the few unpractical stairs. Once I was in the room I knew for twenty-five years, my illness seemed to calmed down; my body appeared to be more lively, keener. I still didn’t feel my right side, but it looked like it was more connected. I began to get used to its failures. A new meeting will allow me to progress even faster and partly erase the consequences of my sickness.
Alice was from Vietnamese origins. Her two daughters, Elise and Noemie, came to my classes since the beginning of the school. I really got on well with her. She was always full of attention towards me and very interested in my career. She often brought me exotic fruits and nougat. At the end of the class, she was so happy to find me and came to talk to me:
“Michel, I think I can help you.”
I was surprised. I explained to her my daily work to find my life and my musician life again. She smiled.
“If you agree, at the very least we can give it a try!”
She invited me to her house after my classes, which I accepted with no hesitation. Something told me, indeed, this young woman owned a knowledge which was totally unfamiliar to me, unknown technics which were often a success despite the skepticism of the “official medicine”. And I always has been interested and attracted by what was out of ordinary and of the Western specialists’ certainty.
After my classes of the afternoon, I drove to her housing estate. I parked in front of her house. I got out of the car hunched. I always found it was too low. Alice took a book and a case full of odd little tools. She was standing in front of me who was seated on a chair. She began to rub my face with one of her sharp instruments. My forehead, the nose bridges, the folds between above my mouth and my chin. They looked like tiny torture instruments. After twenty minutes, she asked me to lie down on the coach and she continued her therapeutic actions – often very painful but for my well-being.
She stroked my face and jabbed the points which matched with my pains. She looked at her book from time to time in order not to forget something. She examined me now with a kind of cigar she lighted on. A pleasant smell filled the room. Once it was glowing, Alice asked me to close my eyes in order me not to see what she was going to do. She came closer with fire, really close from my arm and my right hand and much to her surprise , she noticed I really didn’t feel anything.
“I’m looking for your energetic track! “ She explained. “As long as your limbs are not cut, you can wake them up!”
Alice knew her subject; she constantly educated in Paris with a mentor each second Sunday of the month. She found a real problem with my heart and my kidneys worsened by my high blood pressure. Some months later, the exams at Georges Pompidou Hospital and those made by the doctor Serban Mihaileanu confirmed I had a “heart shunt”, an “oval foramen” (or OPF) since I was born which was never detected before.
I began, with Alice, a series of weekly sessions in order to stimulate my right side, my arms and mainly the hand. The principle was to wake up three times each stimulated point firstly on the left, then on the right with little spiky tools like chestnut hulls. Eventually, she stimulated the different selected places with this kind of big, glowing cigar. It was very impressive and pretty tiresome for me who was hypersensitive. After a few weeks, thanks to the daily exercices and rehabilitation I ordered myself, I noticed my hand and my right side found some feelings again. The bow was guided better and better on the wires of my viola.
By now, I continued regular sessions by my friend’s, Alice (always for free). I followed her pieces of advice I added to my usual routine. My days always started the same: I got up at six, it was not easy to sit on my bed because of my awful backache. I had to wake up my right, stiff side. My limbs shook, I was unsteady but I walked in the bedroom. At that moment, my headache came back. In the corridor and the stairs, I gave my body more forces using a “mechanical” action. For every gesture – even the simplest – I had to focus hardly trying to control it. I made my unsensitive, right side do the same as my left one. I had to think about everything, reckon the distances between my right hand and the little wall of the stairs, the pressure of the fingers or the hand. Once I was upstairs, I opened the shutters and I staggered until the kitchen. I started waking up the arm and the right hand putting them under the very hot water. Then I pricked with Alice’s spiky tools. And I managed to empty the dishwasher quickly – even if I took thousands precautions and thought very focusing before I grabbed a glass or a plate and to tidy them – I had to evaluate the distances, which didn’t prevent me from breaking things frequently (but they were accepted).
Then, I prepare breakfast. Family came, Florence always first ant then the boys. Once I was downstairs, I stimulated the places I knew now thanks to Alice’s tools and rubbed with a big , spiky, black caster from the right side of my foot to the end of my toes, my fingers and even my face for at least fifteen minutes. I had in my car some of those tools to keep stimulating me.
When everybody was gone, I took my car in order to go to the supermarket when it opened. Like that, I won’t have to remain still too long. When I was back, I played the piano and when my body felt fit,, I could play the viola. I needed to play at least an hour and a half each morning each morning so as to be at y best. If I had a rehearsal on the morning, I had to get up earlier on order to be “operational” and play “as if nothing had happened”. That was how, with Alice’s help, I finalized a daily program which allowed me to live almost like everyone.
But it was only to all appearances. I never talked about my headaches, my shivers shook me sometimes and my sight became blurry from time to time and I only saw fleeting shadows. Was it my still too high blood pressure despite my shock therapy based on five molecules?
Giving my classes back made me feel really good. “My life” started again where it had stopped. In front of my students, I could not stay in tune with my body as I did at home. My progress was slight. I played the viola again and I knew I will be ready for Timisoara Festival. I learnt each day to use my body and my bow again.
Five years later, I still use my spiky balls, I put them in different places, make them roll on my limbs. I raise the reactivity of my muscles thanks to the instruments of torture dedicated to the Vietnamese massages. I find a very precise playing for my situation.
But you need to know: there’s everything left to play for! I have to fight every day against my sickness which is waiting my least weakness for taking over me. This fight to be “like everyone” (or barely) asks me a lot of efforts but, I do accept them because I consider many people are not as lucky as I am.