Saturday, August 11, 2012

"The Garden"

In the course of my job as patient advocate for my daughter, I travel to various places - CA, London, New York City, Ottawa, Brussels. Most of the time I am mired down in patient advocate work, which is only partially rewarding. One positive reality is that I do get to meet many extraordinary people - and this could certainly be the subject of another and longer post. In these travels there are moments of relief -  ducking into the National Gallery to view my favorite painting (Titian's The Death of Acteon), a hot dog with mustard and sauerkraut on the corner of 69th and Lexington on a sweltering day, checking out the Gauguin painting at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, or going to an Orchestra concert in Minneapolis.

Gauguin, 1889

Throughout the mid-West there are these extraordinary museums reflecting broad and deep collecting interests of past inhabitants of these towns - Minneapolis, Detroit, Cleveland, Cincinnati, and St. Louis.

This summer I had the privilege of visiting with Dr. Dale Guyer at his Institute of Molecular Medicine in Indianapolis. I really admire this clinician. I have learned fundamental approaches to ME/CFS from him. At the end of my time with him, I asked if I could have a picture taken with him. Dr. Guyer suggested that we go out into "The Garden" for the picture.

I stepped out back of his clinic and encountered an astonishing world.

Chris Cairns and Dr. Dale Guyer

In the approximately 1/2 acre behind his clinic, Dr. Guyer has planted a vast array of conifers and Japanese Maples. Dr. Guyer explained to me that the two plants directly behind us in the above photo were recently added and are of a species that is quite rare, yet can exist in the environment of Indianapolis.

I can only assume that Dr. Guyer has made every single decision in regards to the plantings and combinations of this rare and beautiful garden. One can discern from the photos the care taken regarding color, variety, size and placement of each and every plant, stone and path. The reality is very powerful. Everything is calculated to deliver the greatest visual and emotional impact. Nothing is haphazard and the entirety has a sense of oneness, of great unity. It is like a gigantic three dimensional painting.

It occurs to me also that this garden is an extension of Dr. Guyer's skill and experience as a physician. Certainly the garden gives a clear insight into the complexity of his personality. His staff jokes that when he gets really refined in his medical practice, he will just send his patients out back to sit, resonate and heal in the environment.

I spent some time walking around "The Garden" and took a few pictures. My only regret was that I did not stay longer, and I have thought about this space and its effect on me a great deal since then. It is very seldom that I am swept away by a spot and enter into a suspended space where I am lost or do not know where I am. This is the profound effect of this garden as you walk into its midst. Suddenly you are transported to - who knows where? It is another world, a world suspended from the raucous existence of modern life.

Dr. Guyer's garden reminded me of another favorite destination of mine, a place that I have not been for many years, but to which I yearn to return: Bok Gardens and Tower in Lake Wales, FL. Although Bok Tower is much different than Dr. Guyer's garden, it has the same powerful effect on the visitor. Much of the impact comes from not expecting it. Bok Garden takes you into a suspended world where you are suddenly and completely detached from yourself. I suppose many people, like me, return there for solace and removal from life's travails - and to reacquire a bit of peace or peace of mind.

I asked Dr. Guyer what he does in his Garden? He says that he sits there in the evening with a glass of wine.

It is not possible this morning to leave this appreciation of Dr. Dale Guyer and his garden without mentioning a recent article that appeared this morning. The article is found here and concerns gut ecology. Both Dr. Guyer and Dr. Kenny De Meirleir  have emphasized the need to heal the gut. It is a central issue in ME/CFS to both of them. Recent research into the gut environment begins to confirm what a number of ME/CFS physicians and researchers believe - that gut ecology might very well be at the center of this illness. If one wonders - as I do - why MAF 314 brings improvement to the patients who have access to it, this article suggests an answer.


  1. This is so exciting especially for those of us here in the Midwest.

    Thank you Chris, and thank you Dr. Guyer!

  2. Growing up in Florida, I have been visiting Bok Gardens and Tower my whole life. I find it to be a very beautiful and comforting place. It is the place I used to go, before I got too sick to even drive there, to meditate and organize my thoughts.


  3. Lisa Petrison, Ph.D.August 11, 2012 at 8:47 PM

    Hi Chris,

    I've been seeing Dr. Guyer since about 1998 and think he's a truly excellent clinician. (I still wish he were more focused on toxic mold, but at least he does believe it can be an important factor in this illness and has been supportive of my own avoidance efforts.)

    His garden is a wonderful place, I agree. Thank you very much for writing about it!



  4. I you ever travel to Europe again...

    The Von Gimborn Arboretum, in Doorn in the Netherlands, is a hidden pearl.

    And in Belgium, quite close to Brussels, there's Arboretum Kalmthout. I've never been there myself, but it's on my "When-I-get-out-of-the-dark"-List.

    Best wishes to you and your daughter.

  5. Erma Bombeck said:

    "Never go to a doctor whose office plants have died."

  6. Erma Bombeck said:

    "Never go to a doctor whose office plants have died."