A Tool Kit for Liberation

- The Eldorado SUN, June 1999

 
  by Linda Braun

She is a tall, graceful woman, whose presence bespeaks both the wisdom of life’s experiences and the openness and ease of a child.

True to the Native American and Hispanic chords in her family history she has a long ponytail of thick, dark hair reaching to her waist, wrapped in colorful bands of cloth. Her voice is joyous and musical as it relays a most imaginative selection of words; it's an invitation to perceive from a new seat at life’s buffet table. Smiles and laughter punctuate the interaction as new possibilities arise.

Felicia Noelle Trujillo was born with the tiny imprint of a spinal defect called spina bifida occulta. Her doctor felt her poor posture was not due to the spina bifida, but to an early childhood with frequent bronchitis and asthma. Years later her own practice was to discover the accuracy of how even colds can contribute to changes in posture.

When Felicia was 5 years old, her mother taught her yoga, hoping it would provide improvement. It didn't. Four years later, her mother discovered Jay Scherer, a Santa Fe naturopath. After a brief time as Scherer's patient Felicia told him that she wanted to do this work when she grew up. Scherer began to train her as a massage therapist and naturopath. Felicia recounts, "I realize now how much Jay's early influence inspired me to view my work as being a form of service and spiritual practice. He also encouraged a detective approach to uncovering the source of illness; to address causes rather than symptoms."
 
 
 
Felicia remembers that every fall in Santa Fe meant severe asthma. She was 12 years old and weighed only 60 pounds. "I had been sitting up for 36 hours; drawing each breath was a mammoth task," she said. "My chest was like a cage, and each breath was trapped inside. My body was so painful that I suddenly felt an 'other' self that was painless and free and floated somewhere above my head looking down at myself as I sat perfectly still, laboring for the next breath.

"I woke up in the hospital, found that I could breathe more easily and fell back asleep. The next day I began to hear the screams. I rang for a nurse but no one came. It was an agonizing, pleading scream for help that continued for hours. Finally a nurse told me, 'That's just an old lady with a broken back. Her family brought her here to die 'cause she's too old to fix her back. There's nothing we can do for her.'

"The screams woke me up again late at night. I remember my bare feet on the linoleum as I stole down the long halls, following the sound. I was frightened by just the sight of such an old woman. There were tears rolling down her wrinkled cheeks. I crept up to her side and murmured hello. Her hand shot out clutching my arm and I realized that she was blind. I was terrified. She pleaded with me in Spanish that I couldn't understand. I rang for nurses but no one came. Eventually two nurses aides passed by and I convinced them to enter the room.
 
 
 

Felicia, as a child, explored novel movements. This was her favorite position for reading.

Photo by Clare Turlay Newberry

   
" 'Oh, she just wants a bed pan,' was their translation. To my horror, the two aides yanked the old woman's legs up in the air and forced the bed pan under her, ignoring her piercing screams. As if I were invisible, they scrabbled through the woman's things, retrieving some money and candies and left laughing.
"I stood there still pinned by her desperate grasp, with tears rolling down my cheeks. I swore that somehow this horrific treatment must be stopped."

Scherer, Felicia believes, had eradicated her asthma by age 14, and she returned to the very same hospital, this time as a volunteer offering massage to patients.
(Continued on page 2)
 

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