Sample article from the August 2000 Star Beacon

Sentrina's third trip to the Spirit World

McManus illustration
Art by Darren T. McManus
Copyright 2000, All Rights Reserved

EDITOR'S NOTE: Many readers may remember the Sentrina series of articles that ran in The Star Beacon several years ago. Sentrina is a woman from the East Coast who has experienced many unusual and fascinating experiences having to do with Native American spirituality and her connection to White Buffalo Woman. I hadn't heard from Sentrina in months, but one day received this lengthy letter describing her incredible trip to the Spirit World last October. Sentrina says, "Archie Fire Lame Deer once told me, to become a holy man/holy woman (medicine woman/man), Shaman, you must travel to the Spirit World three times and return. Seems like I finally did it."

By Sentrina

Since last Jauary l999, my immune system has been down. Since then, I contacted two different strains of pneumonia four times. I've also had a lot of bronchitis and sinus problems. Each time I got the pneumonia, I got the same symptoms and had to be hospitalized. I knew each time I had it. In September is when I had the BIG ONE! But, this time it was not pneumonia. I've been falling asleep a lot lately, like narcolepsy. They did a test and I do have this. Well, it's really bothersome when I get up during the night to pay a visit to nature. I fall asleep before I get back to bed. It's also very hard for me to sleep all night. Anyway, I was washing my hands after the trip to the john and fell asleep. I woke up hitting my head on the door and landed, sitting down on ceramic tiles, knees hitting first. My left ankle went underneath me and twisted. I could hardly get up and Mark didn't wake up when I called him. So, I sat there in terrible pain until I was able to get up by myself. The next day the ankle was very sore, but not black and blue, so I didn't go to the doctor (wrong choice).

A few days later, I started getting my bronchitis symptoms back and stayed in bed that day and night. My calf started hurting me terribly, so I wrapped it up in an Ace bandage. This night I got worse with my breathing, I began to get a terrible sharp pain under my right breast. I could hardly take in a deep breath. The next day was the day Hurricane Floyd came through and it caused torrential rain here. Mark went to work, anyway. Around 3:00 pm, I called him to come home. I was having a terrible chest pain and now a temperature.

I got to the hospital about 5:00 pm. My temperature was high and my oxygen level was so low that my skin was now gray and my lips were blue. They put me into the trauma room and began the battery of tests. The first test was a regular chest x-ray. The doctor came in and told us the scary news - I had a lung embolism, a huge blood clot in my right lung. They didn't expect me to live the night. The blood clot was approximately 5 inches long; they had never seen any that big there, and one doctor had only seen one that big in his medical lifetime. An ultrasound of my left leg showed four more clots in the calf waiting to move up the artery. God, I was scared. But, thank God I wrapped it up in the Ace bandage; that kept them from moving up. This was not all; the right lung had collapsed because of the clot, I had pneumonia, pleurisy (water in the lung) and some congestive heart failure.

Now for the first miracle, for there are miracles here. The clot had already gone through my heart and was now embedded in a vein in the right lung. It could move. They still don't know how that 5-inch blood clot moved through my lung without stopping or getting hung up in the chambers. If this had happened, it would have been a massive heart attack or stroke. The blood had pumped it out of the heart.

Now, they had to get me ready for surgery to put in a Greenfield filter (not sure about the spelling). This filter goes into the groin and then is put into the main artery, where it branches off. The problem with this was that it has hinges on it, little teeth to grab onto the artery. They had to call the man who invented this filter in Europe to see what could happen regarding making another clot there. Well, I went into surgery and only got a local at the groin site because my oxygen level was so low. I was turned up all the way. I did feel a lot of pressure, but not real pain. It only took l0 minutes to get it in. They put me in a room and watched me close during the night. Very early in the morning my blood pressure dropped to 60/40. I went into Intensive Care immediately with bells going off on all the machines. This started my journey. I was in Intensive Care for l0 days. I stayed in the hospital for six weeks.

They were having a terrible time trying to break up the clot; the medicine wasn't working and my heart was getting weaker. The nurse told me that the doctors were going to put me to sleep and put me on a respirator because I was going into congestive heart failure. I told her NO. The doctor came in and told me they were going to have to use a new drug that they give to stroke victims to keep them from getting another stroke and also heart attack victims. But, this medicine had a lot of risks to it, one was bleeding in the brain or kidney. At this point I had no choice. They called Pakistan to see how much to give me. This medicine cost $5,000 a day. I only have Medicare, so you can understand how much it cost us. The low oxygen, etc., gave me hallucinations.

I also don't remember hardly anything at all those first l0 days. Mark was there every day to feed me and do other things to help me. I did remember a few things. One was that I had a dream (one of those). I was high on a rock butte overlooking what looked like the Painted Desert, beautiful colors but no one and nothing around. I was wearing a rust-colored fringe jacket, the sun was shining and my cat, Apache, was with me. I heard a voice overhead that said, "Now find your way home."

Within a few days I began to cough up blood, not a good sign. They had to up the medicine again. Then, each day a man would come with gray hair and peek in. He would ask me how I was doing that day. After this was all over, I asked about him; there was no one. I was the only one in Intensive Care for those l0 days and no one was allowed in except nursing staff and family. One day I asked to be taken out of bed and be put into a chair. I was so weak, I couldn't even pick up a straw. That day it was raining and cold. That day I told Mark I was leaving. I felt only to just let go, one last breath, I was so tired. My daughter isn't speaking to me, not in five years. I haven't seen my grandchildren now since September. I sat there, looking out into the rain and as I felt so weak, I began to tie things up, forgive those who hurt me and me them. To my sister, Claudia, hopefully she got the message that I loved her, even though I still didn't know what happened between us. I would miss her. I was thankful for all I did have, a wonderful husband from the angel realm to love and take care of me through all my back surgeries, etc. Something kicked in then; I can't explain it.

Mark came that night, and took my hands in his and was crying a little. He told me he had something to tell me that he had waited for the right time. Apache was missing. I was so torn apart. My God, my Apache. She was with me in the dream when we were on the mountain. He told me she had disappeared two days after this happened. He had gone everywhere looking for her. She never ran away, she always stayed close to home. All the neighbors knew her. We got her from the shelter. She has a big black arrowhead on her nose that's why they named her that. She already had a Native name. She was also calico. I felt she wasn't dead, just missing. We have a very strong bond together. She sleeps with me every night, putting her head on my pillow away from me. She watches the door; if she hears anything, her head goes up and looks. I put my arm around her body and the purring puts me right to sleep. Sometimes she turns her head around and kisses me on the forehead or my nose. She likes to put her whole head into my hand and wraps her paw around my wrist. I guess she did this with her mother. What would I do without her? Mark went out looking for her each night after he came home from the hospital.

The medicine finally began to work and I began to get a little better, very slowly The doctors are truly calling this a miracle. This is not all.

The blood clot had damaged my right lung badly, so I needed to be on oxygen 24 hours a day for the rest of my life. Oh gosh, how awful. All the things I couldn't do anymore. I was hooked up to a 45-ft. hose in the house because I had to sleep with it, too. There are oxygen machines everywhere and canisters to take in the car. The large condenser was on the main floor and the bedroom on the second floor. I had to get a hospital bed in to use during the day. I couldn't climb the stairs more than once a day. I was on blood thinners now and had to have a nurse come in twice a week and take blood.

The second day I was home, I got a phone call from a Realtor who had an office two houses away. He asked if Apache was still missing. He used to see her a lot over there. She is a hunter of moles, mice, grasshoppers, even butterflies. Never did she hurt a butterfly or a grasshopper. She used to bring them into the house. He's only there twice a week. We were having warm weather in October, so he opened the back cellar doors. These open from outside in. That morning he saw something down there. It was Apache!! Even now as I write, I'm crying. She's like a child to me. My God, six weeks and she's alive! I got so excited, but I couldn't go get her because of the oxygen. I hurried and got my neighbor on the phone and she and her children literally ran down there with a blanket from the house. I stood with my hose attached outside on the sidewalk and waited.

A few minutes later, they came with her. The kids were both jumping around and carrying on. All the kids knew Apache. All the neighbors knew Apache. I felt the hand of God that day as she gave her back to me. How did this cat survive? She had only some rainwater to drink and maybe a mouse. But, she didn't eat mice. She was only a little thin but okay; she was dirty, though. After everyone calmed down, I laid down on the bed with her. Even the dogs wouldn't leave her alone. She laid down next to me in the crook of my arm and gave me a wonderful meow sound. About an hour later, Mark came home. He walked in with a box that had a vase in it with these huge beautiful rust-colored roses in it. He began to walk towards me when Apache sat up behind me. I thought he was going to drop everything. He started crying, saying, "Shes's back, sweet, she's back, she's back? How did she get back?" He hurried over and picked her up and gave us both a big kiss together and held us together. What a day that was. I will never ever forget this day. My prayers were answered for sure.

She settled down to her same routine, this time, though, I won't let her out anymore. I'm too scared. I almost caused her death by letting her out to play. Now, she's depressed a little that she can't go out anymore by herself. Mark takes her out and watches her. She's all back to normal now. She's gained weight.

Now, to my daily existence. The doctors were very worried that the clot had caused some dead tissue in the lung. I may have had to go to LA for surgery to remove it. I had a great doctor. My medical doctor still says, "I thought we were going to lose you." He told me never to give up and said that I had so much courage and strength. This is what I fought with. To have all those things wrong with me all at one time was the clincher. They decided to wait to do a lung scan in January. The one they took before I left the hospital still showed some of the clot still being there. I used to gasp for air each time I climbed the stairs. So, in January, I went and - ready for this? - the clot was gone completely and there was no tissue damage, only a scar. He said I was just full of miracles, he was so pleased.

But, my oxygen numbers were still not staying up. Each time I came off the oxygen, the numbers would fall into the 80s. Normal is 98 to l00 percent. So, I still had work to do. I went back for another scan a week ago. The doctor took me off the oxygen machine and we waited about five minutes or so and then he put the little oxygen measuring machine on my finger to measure the amount of intake. It was 97 percent! I was taking in oxygen on my own. He stood there and didn't know what to say. He smiled so big and said, "You don't need the oxygen anymore." My husband jumped to his feet and started kissing me and hugging me. No more lifetime oxygen. The doctor is still being careful; he wants me to use it for sleeping for a while and only if I feel I need it during the day. The lung, he said, is 97 percent healed, no permanent damage, as they thought, but still a little weak.

Look at all these miracles I've been given. My work is on the horizon. I don 't know yet why these things happened, maybe to tell people to have ultimate trust in their Creator, whoever or whatever they perceive it to be; not to lose hope and to let go and give yourself up to the higher power when you have to, and trust and trust.

When I was at the Hopi reservation last year, I met quite a few people there and also found out about my mission with them. It has all become clear now. The old ones were on the other side, working with me the whole time. I will tell you that story later on. Now, I need prayers for our home to sell, so we can get out to Arizona, so I can begin my new life there.

Sentrina's Message:

Life is too short to fight with others, especially when it causes so much pain and sorrow. To say I'm sorry to someone is not demeaning, it's God like. We all make mistakes in this world, no one is without that. Life can be snuffed out in seconds and we leave behind our friends and family. Most of them would say, I never said I was sorry, or I should never have fought about something so trivial.

So, make a phone call, hug someone you're mad at, forgive them and ask them to forgive you also. We're loving beings and we need to show it to others. Help when you can give it, but don't feel guilty if you can't right now. Everyone is a child of the universe, each unique. Each his own light, his own shining star in the heavens. We will all be with each other in the heavens someday, all of us shining to bring love to this world and others.

Blessings to all

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