Aligning Within~Diadel Ortiz talks to Makiko Damon ~November 2019
I am a 100% ( I think ) Japanese, 41 years old woman.
I was born in Tokyo. At five years old, I grew up in a small Rice farming town/Saga, Japan till 22 years old, and moved to New York City by myself. I loved to travel to other countries during my college time. I majored in Cultural Anthology, where I lived the life of a New Yorkers and fell in love with city life.
I had been enjoying living in NYC for ten years. I spend most of my time dancing African/ Caribbean while taking classes. Then I started doing massage/bodywork and got married, had two daughters, and became a single mom!! Subsequently, I had to change the plans of my life, and I moved to a small-town Montpelier in Vermont with my two lovely and small babies eight years ago.
Life of a single mom for two kids in the non-native country was not easy. (e.g., I had no credit history, no car, no driving license, basically nothing!!) But fortunately, I had a significant community, and my massage work to support myself. But the worst thing in my life happened at the end of 2015. I suddenly fell ill and experienced total lung failure. I ended up staying in the hospital for 6 months and miraculously survived and began a new life.
This life-threading experience made a significant impact on my lifestyle and awareness in my daily life, including my bodywork. I’ve always been curious about human beings, health, body movements, postures, the energy of lives, but this my health issues forced me to learn to be slow, quiet, and gentle for myself, which are the biggest keys for the peace of mind!
It’s been almost 4 years, and my lungs keep recovering. Now I can enjoy doing my bodywork, salsa dance, Tai chi practice, eating out and enjoying tasty foods, and, most importantly, laughing with my daughters and friends. I’m so grateful every day”.
Japanese, Massage Therapist and Business Owner ~ MAKIKO Therapeutic Massage
My guest today is a Massage Therapist, single mother of two girls and a survivor who has endure a near death experience in a fighting battle for life. Please welcome, Makiko Damon.
Welcome Makiko to Aligning Within~ Authentic Women Showcase.
DK-How, are you feeling today, Makiko?
MD- I am feeling great, good to be here.
DK- Can you tell me about your near-death experience?
MD-Almost four years ago, in Nov. 2015, Thanksgiving week, I started to have flu-like systems. I had a little fever for a couple of days. Usually, I don’t take any mediation, and I thought, “well… if I take some time to get rest, I will feel better.” After three days, my fever didn’t go down, and I had a terrible headache, coughing, and I wasn’t breathing. It felt like asthma. Finally, I decided to go to the emergency room. When I arrived, they took my vital signs and told me my oxygen levels were deficient. I was being admitted to hospital care. The pulmonologist said the inflammation spread throughout my lungs, causing pneumonia. They performed all kinds of tests and couldn’t find the cause of the virus or bacteria.
The Doctors told me I had to go to a bigger hospital. They send me to Fletcher Allen Hospital in Burlington, Vermont. Again, they did more testing and still couldn’t figure out what was the cause. My lungs were not getting better, so they told me to go to Mass General Hospital in Boston. It was December 20th or 21st, 2015; they sent me by ambulance car. As they were taking me, I was texting friends and family, letting them know what was going on.
Luckily, I have a Japanese cousin living in Connecticut who is a doctor. I told him I was going to Mass General Hospital. He decided to meet me there. As I arrived at the hospital, they took my vital signs and said I looked ok that I will sleep the night.
But the next morning, things got worse. I don’t remember what happened next, but the doctors told me; my body shut down and they couldn’t do anything for me. They were going to put me in a coma.
They put me in a coma and hooked me up to big machines called the ECMO, which they took my blood out of my body, oxygenated and put back into my body I had an oxygen tube in my neck, and they stabilized my head so that I couldn’t move. The doctors then explained to me I was going to be like this for a while. They didn’t know how long. They needed to clear my lungs. All of my other organs were fine. They continued to give me oxygen. I heard from the doctors that I was crying and felt scared, these moments I don’t remember.
A clear memory I do remember, is when I woke up and saw tubes in my whole body…11 tubes. They tied me up so I won’t move. They asked me, “do you know where you are?” I wrote yes on a small board; I am in Mass General. They asked me, “do you know which floor are you in”? I wrote I see the number 702 on the wall, so we may be on the 7th floor. He said, Yes. They asked me, “do you know what day it is today”? I thought I don’t know what day it is, but probably I slept a couple of nights, I responded. Doctors replied, “it is February 10, 2016”. What? I was in shocked. I don’t have any memory after December 20, 2015.
I started asking questions in my head since I couldn’t talk because of the tube in my throat. What happens to me? Why am I here? Where are my girls? My mind was racing.
When I was in a coma state, I was seeing and feeling I was in a bad dream, a continuous lousy dream. They are vivid; I thought I was being tortured, tied up, and I couldn’t see my kids. Sometimes these dreams were in a different location, my hometown, a church, a basement, or down in NYC. I can see my family and friends coming to my dreams. These dreams were nightmares I was living in while I was in a coma. Funny thing, I had family and friends visiting me at the hospital usually came into my dreams, which I found out later.
DK- What happens when you woke up?
MD- After I woke up, my lungs were still fragile. Doctors were thinking about lung transplants. My children were 4 and 6 years old when this happens. For my children, six months without a mom was hard; they start disremembering my scent, what my voice sounds like what I looked like. It was scary for them. Doctors and social workers were supportive and helped my children understand that mommy was fighting hard to get well. I was still ill. A new doctor came to visit and said, I will recover, but it will take time.
DK- How did it change your life?
MD- Life is precious, and you have to live moment by moment, minute by minute. Enjoy and find joy in everything you do. And now, I strongly feel our lives are miracles, you are not living by yourself, the Universe is letting you be here, that’s I believe.
DK- Do you feel more intuitive with yourself and others?
MD- I think I have always been intuitive, but this changed my view of life a lot.
DK- You are a massage therapist, and you own MAKIKO Therapeutic Massage. What type of massage techniques are you most proficient in?
MD- I am Japanese, and grew up in Japan. I went to a massage school, Swedish Institute in NYC, and got my licensed in 2005. I studied Eastern and Western Medicine; my practice is in Shiatsu series (Japanese style acupressure points), deep tissue massage, foot reflexology, and Craniosacral therapy. I believe in a holistic way of health.
I usually start with a whole-body massage from the feet. Since our feet are the foundation of our body, and if the feet are tight or tensed, nothing can be relaxed, and you can’t be grounded. So, I start massaging at the feet and work up to the whole body. I enjoy what I do.
DK- How do you stay energized when you have back to back clients?
MD- I believe the energy in the Universe is infinite, but my body energy is limited. So why not use the energy from the Universe. If my feet are tight and my body is tight and if I feel disconnected from the earth. Also, if I am doing massage to “try to heal” the patient or client, I will use up my energy and drain my strength, which is not healthy.
When I work with the Universe, I am focusing on my feet on the floor to move with the Universe’s energy. By using the universe energy, I am also helping to drive the client’s energy around. It is really like Tai Chi and Martial Arts.
DK– Wow, I never really looked at universes’ energy that way. That is interesting.
DK- How do you manage stress?
MD-Take my own time as much as possible, being honest with myself and saying no when I need to.
DK-What 3 adjectives describe your strength?
MD- Well, many people say I am a strong person, but I don’t feel that way… But I feel lucky because I enjoy having fun and being playful; life is to enjoy. I enjoy connecting with people and being around people. People say I have perseverance because of the things I have endured in life.
DK- Why are massages essential?
MD- As a child, I was always sick having asthma and random fevers, I became curious and interested in health. I discovered for me; it is good to take care of the body first by massage or bodywork that will help the body increase its happiness.
DK-What is your most memorable experience as a business owner?
MD- Remembering the struggles of my life as a child and adult has helped me shape my passion for Massage Therapist. Learning from my previous job as a waitress has taught me that it is hard to work for people who don’t respect you. I needed to find a job, a purpose to do for myself. I never thought of being a business owner, owning something by myself, and yet, here I am doing what I like most. I want to work for people, but I do not want to work for the boss; working for myself has shown me the strength of character and self-governing.
DK- What are some mistakes you wished you avoided making?
MD- That is an interesting question. I think if something is a mistake or didn’t work well at that time, it is a lesson. Without mistakes, you cannot learn to be better or make changes. I don’t like the words,” what if.” Instead, I make a mistake than having the “What If” feeling linger. To me, life is an experiment. Every day, I experiment in life with my kids, with my job, being with people. We learn every day.
DK- If you have one piece of advice to give to someone just about becoming a business owner, what would it be?
MD-You have to find something you like. Otherwise, you will not keep doing it.
What do you consider your great achievement?
MD- I still don’t know what I achieve, but I love what I am doing, and that is no doubt. I feel lucky for that. I am making money and enjoying life.
DK- What does it mean to be an Authentic Women?
MD- In Japanese, my name Makiko is pronounced as MAA-Kiy-Kow. Kow means a child. Kiy is just a tree, and MAA means authentic. So, my full name means; Child of Authentic Tree. I never thought about Authentic Women until you asked me. I feel being an Authentic Woman is being honest for myself in life.
DK-Makiko, you are extraordinary, sharing your close brush with death while in a coma. The ordeal you encountered must have felt terrifying and scary. Yet, you survived. You are a walking miracle and a gift to all of us. Life is truly precious and limited. Thank you for sharing your story with us and for teaching us the value of life, love, and passion.
MD- You’re welcome, this was fun.