It was time to find a new doctor. The woman I had been seeing mysteriously stopped returning phone calls. She missed three or four phone appointments.
When I asked her assistant -- I will call her Donna -- what was going on, the woman asked me if I was accusing the doctor of lying.
"She's been trying to reach you," she barked. "She's left you messages."
Messages that somehow never managed to make it into my voicemail. And calls that never made it to my list of recent calls.
After the doctor failed to call me still once more this past week, I placed still another call to Donna.
I never heard a word back.
Meanwhile, my dear friend Nancy Dunlop had given me a referral to her doctor's practice. She raved about them. I was a bit uncertain about switching, but really, what choice did I have?
So on Monday, just before 1 p.m., which was my appointment with this new nurse practitioner, I got a text message from her assistant. "Would you like to Zoom?"
"I'd love to," I responded.
The new practitioner seemed a bit foreboding. Long grey hair. Black rimmed glasses. But her smile was lovely.
Her assistant -- a delightful woman named Brianna -- was conducting the medical history.
She asked me all the standard questions...a long long list of them. And then this question:
"What is the highest grade level you achieved in school?"
I told her I had a Ph.D.
And honestly I'm not exactly sure how things unfolded after that. At some point, Angela (the new practitioner) asked me what my PhD was in.
"English, specifically teaching and writing. My first novel served as my dissertation."
Angela's face lit up. "So you write books?" She wanted to know the titles. I told her, and then I told her about this one, the one I'm now calling
"Angels Keep Whispering In My Ears."
"It's a crazy book and sometimes I'm not sure it is a book at all," I said. She asked what it was about and I told her, "it's a healing book, a story about how I healed myself of depression by believing in Divine forces."
Angela practically exploded through the computer screen.
"That's incredible," she said. "That's the premise of my whole psychiatric practice. I believe everyone is healthy when they are in touch with the Divine. You could be our spokesperson."
To say I was stunned is putting it very very mildly. And then came even more incredible information.
I told Angela that it was also a story about my Italian ancestors, including family from Calabria, the Orzo clan that originated with my great grandfather, Pasquale.
"You see, he was illegitimate, which was very shameful in those days. It's actually a miracle that he survived because in those days, in southern Italy, many illegitimate babies were put to death!"
I told her that the book is written partly in Italian.
"That's incredible," she said again. "I'm also Italian. Fluent. My maiden name is Loccisano (loosely translated, "healthy eyes" -- her brother is an optometrist!) And my ancestors are also from Calabria, from a tiny mountain town called Ciaverello, a place I visited last April." My ancestors were from the tiny village of Paola, in Cosenza, Calabria.
Then she explained to me that in addition to her medical practice, she has developed a peer advocacy group she calls "Mentisano," which translates to Whole Mind. People are coached by peer advocacy specialists to develop a plan that reflects their life goals and dreams.
At this point, the medical history was all but forgotten. We turned briefly to a discussion of my medications. Before I hung up, I promised to send a couple of chapters from the novel.
It wasn't until later that it hit me: through some mysterious process, I now have a medical practitioner who subscribes to the most important principles of my spiritual practices.
How did this happen?
How is it the other doctor just disappeared out of my life, and this new one with whom I'm perfectly suited dropped right in? How is it that these "coincidences" keep happening?
Here is just one more miracle, one more miracle, tied up with this book. Here is one more episode that I can't possibly explain, except to say it's a gift bestowed by the Divine!
Thanks to my dear friend Sharon Flitterman-King, Ph.D., who painted the beautiful still life that appears here. And thanks to my friends Peg Woods and Jan Ramjerdi -- both wonderful writers -- who have been reading this book and encouraging me to go forward.