Hit by a Train

I was crossing a rough set of tracks in a 28-wheel diesel truck in October of 2013 when to my astonishment and fear, the crossing gates suddenly dropped, the reds lights began flashing, and the warning bells rang. With not even time to think, all I could do was tighten my grip on the steering wheel. I watched the train come at me before I heard the metal on metal and felt the impact. Everything slowed to a deafening silence and darkness.

When I came to, blood was running down my face. It was over half an hour before someone showed up to help me out of my twisted cab. It took that long before the 107-car freight train could stop after pushing my trailer down the tracks more than a mile and a half and the engineer could reach me on foot. I fell limp into his arms. After a grueling ambulance ride to a clinic, I was emergency-evacuated by helicopter to a medical facility an hour away. A priest there told me it was a miracle I was alive.

I suffered a major concussion with loss of consciousness, contusions on my chest and lungs, and open lacerations on my face. Thankfully I had not damaged any organs. A nurse said God was not finished with me yet. After three days of stitches and morphine, I was discharged into the care of my wife who flew to North Dakota from our home in California.

We discovered weeks later that my jaw had broken and my wrists fractured. The right one got a cast and the left was left to heal on its own. Nine weeks after the accident, my jaw had to be rebroken, realigned, and held together with a titanium plate. I drank Christmas and New Year’s dinners through a straw. Even long after the surgery, it hurt too much to chew, and I remained weak, constantly dropping things. I had never known pain like what I had in my neck and back.

Making my way through 24 specialists, I was diagnosed with anxiety, depression, PTSD, nerve damage, and chronic back and neck pain. I went from being healthy and active to depending on a cocktail of sixteen drugs: pain meds, psychiatric meds, muscle relaxers, sleep meds.

The valley of the shadow of death was no metaphor for me. And told by my doctors that the pain and terrors would be forever, I set up camp in that valley. For several years, I could not drive from the trauma and hardly left my room. Most days I hid beneath the covers, hanging thick blankets over the windows because the dark felt safe, although it didn’t relieve the pain as I imagined it did. The nights were the worst with the horrible nightmares. And startled, I bolted up in bed anytime I heard the train pass.

Was this how the rest of my life was going to play out? The anxiety took a serious toll on my family. My uncontrollable bursts of anger was growing too much for my wife and damaging my relationships with my daughters. I was not the husband or the father my family knew.

Something had to change. I needed to change. I had cried out to God for help and heard that whisper, “Are you ready?” in answer. But no, I wasn’t. I had settled for what my life had become instead of fighting the good fight for His best for me. Seeing me in excruciating pain three months ago, my wife prayed, “Lord, I’m not even asking for healing at this point, just mercy and grace,” She heard back, “I have already healed him. The rest is up to him.” She did not know about the book by John Sarno that our blog hostess HW had encouraged me to read. But I was tired of hurting my family, tired of being estranged from caring friends, tired of all the medications, tired of the suffering, tired of living. I told God I was ready and picked up the book.

In Healing Back Pain, Dr. Sarno, who had freed thousands of people crippled from pain, explained the mind-body connection and how emotional pain seizes the opportunity of a physical injury to make its home there. Though he made no spiritual references, I was brought back to Biblical truths I used to teach on the importance of our thought life. I realized I had to see myself healed before I could embrace my healing. I changed my self-talk and stopped coddling myself. I slowly but purposefully started exercising and through very difficult withdrawal symptoms, weaned myself off the meds. I am down from 16 to 2, and am reminded that I need to hold that picture of myself drug-free.

Six years, four months and counting, I am free. No more bone pain throughout my body. No more anxiety and depression. No more PTSD. No more pain killers. I grab a gallon of milk with no thought. I recently drove over six hours from Los Angeles to Las Vegas and back home, my back just fine. I work out regularly and the other week went skydiving for my 60th birthday. Eager to get back to the working life, I am at a new job and excited for what the year holds for me.

God sure isn’t finished with me. I am just beginning.

Dino Fulton

Where Beauty Dare Thrive

His scream sucked me cold out of sleep. It had just turned midnight and as the dream evaporated, I did not know I would rest again only after dawn. My son had woken – yet again – to spit thick, cloudy coughs into the waiting mountain of Kleenex. Tennyson cried, holding the ice pack down on his head, wiping at watery eyes. How much can a kid take? How much could I? Unrelenting 16-hour shifts nursing him hand and foot and chasing down every possible remedy, days of aborted sleep. I was now battling the flu.

The Money Tree uk.pinterest.com

This thing that’s mowed him down unflinching in the face of the best practitioners and products turned out to be a seasonal pollen allergy. Which is why it stealthily flared all last month as the pollen count here rose, and let up the two days it fell. Spring comes early in Southern California. On the way home with the diagnosis the other day,  I decided some plants would filter the air in Tennyson’s room. We picked out a big, tall palm and a cute little guy that made us smile, a Money Tree. Ten minutes later on our driveway, Tennyson was clutching his throat, hands wet with desperate tears. His throat tightened and hurt.  The plants! How sad is that, being allergic to the Money Tree! And a virus came along to kick him while he was down, sending him flying off a cliff, making sure not to neglect his parents. I didn’t remember my boy being so sick. But reserves are not bottomless. It’s incredible what life asks of us sometimes.

Where’ve I been? I’ve been stressed, if that isn’t obvious. We’re behind in school. Testing for Memory Master lies around the corner. The TV network PBS is also doing a feature on our music school and Tennyson was to be at the drums filming next week. The best laid plans of mice and moms, see them wheel away like chaff in the wind. It will be hard to swallow those events passing us by. The little mister has missed every baseball practice and Saturday’s opening game. We’ve been so disappointed, but the email from the coach touched me deeply.

Hi Diana,
No worries. I hope he is feeling better. His health comes before baseball. We are praying for him.

I wish this man knew the gift he gave me. I’m sure he inspires kids to love baseball and teamwork, but his humanity and ministry to me meant everything. He’s played professionally, but didn’t forget it was about people, not the game. It takes so little to help someone up. You persevere in hope but how long? And how, in the teeth of it going from bad to worse? Answers can come from the most unexpected places.

Flowers don’t like me. I can’t seem to coax them to life. I’m sure they sense the Tiger Mom, accordingly suffer performance anxiety. Or maybe they become passive aggressive and decide to just wilt on me. It also doesn’t help that I forget to care for them. And so looking up from the dishes, I was stunned at the sight of the bold blossom on my windowsill. I had given up on the orchid that had dropped all its petals some six months ago, even though it was said to be only going dormant. How foregone it’d looked, stripped of promise. But here was a triumphant awakening, the white silk so fragile, so strong. My eyes smarted. How…under my watch? In the midst of this despair? The tenacity not only of life, but of beauty. The insistence of hope.

***************

Goodness, is it only March? I can do this. Nine more months and I get to reset and wish myself another happy, hard year.

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Time: Lessons From a Dying Brain

The starship engine spins in winged centrifuge. The growing list of tasks in the mission multiplies its rotational speed and efficiency as the system expands tirelessly to accommodate demands.

That is my brain. THiS is HIS:

A white hum. The wheels dance easily between movement and stillness. Any information that streams in faster than homeostasis approves activates the self-preservation mechanism. EJECT. EJECT. The data overload leaks through a sleek aperture, which physiology translates into IN ONE EAR, OUT THE OTHER.

My husband’s brain is a fascinating piece of machinery. It refuses strain. Barring any unforeseen tragedy, he will likely outlive me because he lets go of the past easily, does not fret over the future, and functions in a simple, elegant neurological circuitry that permits only one claim upon his attention at any given time. Trying to be less of me, I find myself asking, What exactly does it mean to be “in the moment”?

human_brainNeuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor experienced a life-changing stroke of insight that left her unable to speak, write, read, or recall her past:

Our right human hemisphere is all about “right here, right now.” It thinks in pictures and learns through the movement of our bodies. Information, in the form of energy, streams in simultaneously through all of our sensory systems and then it explodes into this enormous collage of what this present moment looks…smells, tastes, feels, sounds like. I am an energy-being connected to the energy all around me through the consciousness of my right hemisphere.

Our left hemisphere is a very different place. Our left hemisphere is all about the past…and the future. Our left hemisphere is designed to take that enormous collage of the present moment and start picking out details, and more details about those details. It then categorizes and organizes all that information, associates it with everything in the past we’ve ever learned, and projects into the future all of our possibilities. And our left hemisphere thinks in language. It’s that ongoing brain chatter that connects me and my internal world to my external world. It’s that calculating intelligence that reminds me when I have to do my laundry. But perhaps most important, it’s that little voice that says to me, “I am. I am.” And as soon as my left hemisphere says to me “I am.” I become a single solid individual, separate from the energy flow around me and separate from you. And this was the portion of my brain that I lost on the morning of my stroke.

…And…my left hemisphere brain chatter went totally silent. Just like someone took a remote control and pushed the mute button. At first I was shocked to find myself inside of a silent mind. But then I was immediately captivated by the magnificence of the energy around me. And because I could no longer identify the boundaries of my body, I felt enormous and expansive. I felt at one with all the energy that was, and it was beautiful there. So here I am in this space, and my job, and any stress related to my job — it was gone. I felt lighter in my body…imagine what it would feel like to lose 37 years of emotional baggage! Oh! I felt euphoria. And again, my left hemisphere comes online and it says, “Hey! You’ve got to pay attention. We’ve got to get help.” And I’m thinking, “I’ve got to focus.”

When I woke later that afternoon, I was shocked to discover that I was still alive. When I felt my spirit surrender, I said goodbye to my life. Stimulation coming in through my sensory systems felt like pure pain. Light burned my brain like wildfire. And my spirit soared free. I found Nirvana. But then I realized, “I’m still alive! And if I have found Nirvana and I’m still alive, then everyone who is alive can find Nirvana.” And they could purposely choose to step to the right of their hemispheres — and find this peace. And then I realized what a tremendous gift this experience could be, what a stroke of insight this could be to how we live our lives. And it motivated me to recover.

So who are we? We have the power to choose, moment by moment, who and how we want to be in the world. Right now, I can step into the consciousness of my right hemisphere, where we are. I am the life-force power of the universe. Or, I can choose to step into the consciousness of my left hemisphere, where I become a single individual, a solid. Separate from the flow, separate from you. I am Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor: intellectual, neuroanatomist. These are the “we” inside of me. Which would you choose? Which do you choose? And when? I believe that the more time we spend choosing to run the deep inner-peace circuitry of our right hemispheres, the more peace we will project.

That’s wild. I can’t imagine my inner radio going silent, taking my words with it. As for the life application she draws, I don’t know. We need both hemispheres tending to the moment. In the conversation she had with herself as her consciousness wove in and out, Bolte (that is, her left brain) kept urging herself to pay attention. And mindfulness is very much paying attention, isn’t it? I understand the power of sensory presence was such a new experience for her that it felt as though she were inhabiting reality more fully than she ever had with her linguistic and analytic brain. But I think cognition, comprehension, and the ability to name our experience complete awareness.

In the film Still Alice, we see Columbia linguistics professor Howland losing more than her memory to Alzheimer’s. Our history is part of our emotional, spiritual, and even physical anatomy. The past with its challenges, trauma and joys have forged who we are and given us the ability to meet the moment with knowing, with intelligence, strength, hope, gratitude and our bag of dysfunctions. If your past crumbles to ashes, you lose your autobiography, and can’t fill the new page. An illness or accident robs you of your past and hollows out your present. You forget why you came into the kitchen and lose the intention, and therefore meaning, of the moment. Psychologist and professor Dan Gilbert seems to make sense of this:

pixabay.com

pixabay.com

If you ask most people what’s real, the present, the past or the future? They say the present. Actually, they’re wrong. The past and the future are both real. The present is a psychological illusion. The present is just the wall between yesterday and today. You know, if you go to the beach, you see water and you see sand, and it looks like there’s a line between them, but that line is not a third thing. There’s only water, and there’s only sand. Similarly, all moments in time are either in the past or in the future…which is to say the present doesn’t exist.

As he says, most of us feel that the present is hard ground. But for the steadfast hands of the clock and the turn of seasons, we don’t experience time as an unending sea of movement that unseats the present from its place. And naturally, for we apprehend the material world with our senses and what we see and touch is obviously real. So what does this mean? How do I stay grounded in the shifting sand of time? Well, this moment is ephemeral but not elusive. And I’ve found that perspective makes all the difference in the way I relate to it. When I perceive time as a scarce commodity, the Bargain I have to fish out from the daunting Clearance pile, I approach the table with a measure of angst. Put the chicken in the oven, run his Spelling audio, check his math, email her about this week’s get-together, change the windows appointment, be sure to review Geography. I won’t get to write today! But when I trust that I’m not the one creature out of the eight billion on the planet who needs 28 hours in her day, I can let go the frustration that the sun sets too soon on the day’s hopes. I’ve been given the hours to do what I need to (bonus thought: to do what gives me joy. And take joy in what I’ve been given). What about multitasking, the great Zen no-no? I don’t see how anyone can mother (or blog successfully) unpracticed in the art of efficiency but what puts me in the marrow of the moment is consciousness in purpose, which call upon both the thinking and feeling parts of my brain. I’ve probably overthought this. I should study that right brain of my husband’s some more.

Guest Post: Has Gynecology Ever Faced Its Shameful Past?

Men will want to read this for their wives, sisters, and daughters, too. Comments closed. Feel free to take them over there.

forwomenseyesonly

This guest post is written by K. Badgers, a valued contributor to this blog.

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” ~ George Santayana

Memory is intrinsically entwined with politics – there are restrictions on who is deemed important enough to remain in the history books and in the public eye. As a result, not everyone deserving leaves a legacy, whereas certain practices and beliefs are perpetuated to become part of our customs and culture which aren’t in the interest of the greater good. The root of several modern-day problems – including the widespread medicalization of the female body – can be identified by looking back into history. As the above quote by Santayana suggests, it’s often important to recognize these key, damaging moments of the past in order to successfully move forward.

Bad Medical Practice has Roots in Nazi Directives

In one of the most…

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The Land of the Living

March 2003, Journal

Friends were ready to call 911 this week.

Painfully sleep-deprived with glands really bad off, I attempted a home sauna. I didn’t realize it’d be too much after last week’s sauna at the gym. I drank at least a gallon of water this time but started seeing lights flash in the bathroom. My hands tingled. Things took a fast downturn the more I drank. I vomited myself completely out. Totally dehydrated, I went into shock.

I couldn’t move, lost sensation and perception of color. The few muscles I could still feel stiffened like wood. Lightheaded, I could hardly speak. Or crawl. I collapsed on the phone and managed to eke out a few words.

The wildest thing was the perfect succession of friends who came. After my doctor, the first friend I got a hold of was out on her lunch break right nearby. She made a bank deposit for me before the hour passed so the rent check wouldn’t bounce. Also went and picked up what I needed from my doctor’s to keep me out of the hospital.

She was stunned to see me like that but couldn’t stay. When she dropped off the goods, my roommate had just arrived. Roomie was indispensable. She held the phone to my ear because I couldn’t do even that and as I whispered back to the doctor, kept the paper bag over my mouth and swathed me in blankets. I later learned she happened to have dropped by that moment only to grab some medicine for a sick friend she had with her. By this point, I had called T for prayer. I couldn’t pick up his follow-up calls and then was disoriented and taken aback to hear him at the door. Two other friends entered on his heels. I didn’t want them there, felt so bad for being a bother when I didn’t know them as well, but later saw I would’ve had to call the ambulance if they hadn’t taken care of me that night.

—————————–

So two guys, one girl. They didn’t have enough hands. Too nauseated and weak to move, I couldn’t open my eyes or sip water. Whatever I drank I promptly lost through both ends. I ran through the first remedy quickly and needed more. Friends spoke with the doctor and while one guy ran out to her office, I started regressing and losing feeling throughout my body again. I was limper than a rag doll (which at least has stuffing enough to sit up) that they had to push my chest and head up against the wall, keep the paper bag over my head, quickly lift it while one spooned me remedies every 40 seconds and pulled the bag back down.

It was so incredible we laughed. In his typical humor, T complained his hand was tired and hooked his elbow under my chin to keep my head up in a (gentle) wrestling choke. By the time they put me to bed at 11 pm, I hadn’t slept since three in the morning and my stomach was empty. What they had done was unbelievable. They had to work the next day but labored nonstop for seven hours to nurse an invalid back to life. I’d heard them pray.

It’s like…I’ve been in line forever at the DMV after an endless license suspension that’s kept me off the road, the land of the living. Just as I was making noticeable progress up the line, I found myself forced all the way to the end again. I’m looking out the window at the cars zooming past, sure I’ll never be able to join the world of normal again.

==================

December 2014

It is hard not to get emotional revisiting this chapter of the craziness I once called my life. I went on to rebuild from Ground Zero, to become stronger, to dance, marry and give birth to the child of my dreams. I went on to write and live all over again. There are many things about my blogging journey that have startled me – not only the growth of this readership but the depth. You don’t know what it is you do for me. Some days I hit publish. And your comfort is so deep, though I hadn’t sought it. Apparently, I’m not done needing angels. We all talk about the treasure of community we discovered in one another. A fresh wonder, it’s a familiar refrain on my lips. I’ve come to genuinely care for many of you these 21 months, and to share in your happiness and sorrows. I wish I could make it better, that things will look up in the new year, that the sun will break through your grief and fears. I also learned to laugh with you. Now that’s living, isn’t it? I look back at these 11 years. Wow, I’ve come far. Thanks to those who would light my way back every time. Normal? I’ll never be normal. And this blog proves it. You are one extraordinary bunch, great minds with the biggest hearts, and I am so very fortunate to know your love, affection, and respect. As you’ve glimpsed, I’ve received a great deal over the years and if the candles I light should ever help you find your way and stay the course, I am so grateful to be able to pay it forward.


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Twilight

It still hurts to swallow and I can feel I’m not quite drug-free. I managed to contain my thoughts this morning, not ramble into the thicket of fear or worry about bleeding and complications. Though it was cold – of course it was cold – I focused on the moment. Milked how nice the nurses were and asked for three more blankets after discovering the throws were fresh out of a warmer.

I abhor hospitals and all their close cousins. The forms to sign, the smell, those ugly scrubs the color of flat twilight. Why couldn’t the staff sport something more cheerful? The process, the incompetence that lurks and has no place where people are fearful and suffering. Yet there I was, dependent on the system and its machines to tell me if I can go on in hope, can count on a semblance of normalcy to my days. Or if I’ve been harboring anything unwelcome along my G.I. Like cancer.

It was my first time on the oxygen tube. I’d seen it only in movies and on old people. Between the nasal cannula and the faithful monitor, I felt like a fully certified sick person. I hated it.

They didn’t tell me it was going to be so awful. At least the surgeon listened to me; saw that at 85 lbs I didn’t need as much sedative as the others and gave me half the normal dose. They lay me on my left side and I soon realized I would not have been able to hang in beyond those ten minutes. It was rough, even violent, though that was no one’s intention. The bite block kept my mouth open, and prevented me from biting and damaging the tube. I learned exactly why I hadn’t been allowed to eat or drink all morning. I gagged and gagged, and the tears ran. When I continued to wipe my eyes outside the room, the nurse explained the Versed does that to a lot of people.

The good look down my esophagus and stomach showed all was clear. Still sore from one of the biopsies, I realize that one had been unnecessary. Why the hec didn’t the doctor see the stomach test I’d passed already? Important thing is my innards looked healthy and at least I left with cool photos for Tennyson. He just learned the parts of the digestive system last week.

I didn’t tell many friends, didn’t want to burden anyone. I don’t bother trying to explain to people the trouble I’ve had eating the last several years. One wonderful doctor of mine once said my life is difficult to describe. But pray, I did. Not so much for fear of dying but for the brute powerlessness of it all. You look in, you look out. And you see nothing but the unknown dark, hear nothing but the echo of your questions. For all your dreams and aspirations, you come up short face-to-face with your humanity.

You look up.

Why I Run

You might run for the thrill. You sail into the zone, keep on like you’re under a spell. I wish it came so naturally to me, wish these limbs would move with knowing.

I run because I was terrible at it. And I’m less terrible the more I do it. I run to silence the aspiration for what’s easy. To teach my body to endure, hold on just a little longer. I run to meet my weaker self head on – conquer her on strong legs Treadmill2so I limp less under my load. I sprint for the fullness of being alive because I often forget how to live. I remember the power of simplicity. I jog to find my pace and cadence. I run to take ownership of myself and to stretch my reserve. I run to claim every day that is mine.

I run because good enough isn’t good enough.

 

See me wrestle? Why I Sweat

 

The Boy Who Never Had Ice Cream

Correct, he’s never had it. Even here, it’s pseudo cream – really just cold, sweetened coconut milk. But I can live with his record broken at six years, four months. Tennyson has never been given candy, chocolate, jelly beans. You get the picture. Sugar weakens the immune system and feeds pathogens. Food so cold not only shocks the stomach but dampens the body, making it a lovely greenhouse for microbes.

Here is something you don’t come across everyday. From Food is Your Best Medicine by Henry Bieler, M.D. who practiced in California and treated patients only with food:

“One of the common sources of the diffusible toxin is ice cream – which is a highly putrefactive protein mixture, whether it be the best “homemade” or the crude commercial type, rich in emulsifiers….The freezing process gives to the cream its last and finishing touch of physiological corruption. Quickly fermenting substances like milk, cream, fruit, etc. break down structurally at the first touch of frost. And, as the arrest of bacterial activities caused by the frost is only temporary while the molecular derangement of the frozen substance remains a permanent menace, it follows that a renewal and increase of the destructive work of the invading microbes immediately takes place when the ice cream reaches its melting point in the stomach….the ice cream, melting in the body, sets free the carcasses of the ice cream and milk cells, to lay them open to the resistless attacks of swarming and festering bacteria – though the evidence of the ghostly carnival of putrefaction escapes the taste by being masked into unrecognizability by the great deceiver – sugar….the putrefactive acids from ice cream indigestion when not eliminated entirely by the liver and kidneys, emerge vicariously through the mucous membranes of the nose and sinuses….the polio virus feeds upon this excretion.”

He goes on to explain a connection between the polio epidemic of the 50s in the U.S. and excess ice cream consumption. He is not the first health care practitioner to name the study where a doctor in Virginia had kids abstain from such sweets. There was practically no outbreak of polio in the VA town. The point was not to conclude that ice cream causes polio per se but that restricting the former predisposes the body to defenses even against something as frightful as polio.

So Tennyson mentioned around his sixth birthday that it would be nice to try some ice cream. Mom had planned on holding out until he was eight or nine. But even she couldn’t say no this time, when the little guy’s been so good about eating differently from other kids. Am not preaching. This is just the path I’ve chosen for my boy until he can exercise discretion. Not to mention that it’s been 100 degrees all summer. This was the coldest food he’s had. Yes, I would warm it in the oven if I could. As it is, I left it out to melt a little.

He asked for it on a cone – next time.

CoconutBliss

INGREDIENTS: Organic Coconut Milk (Organic Coconut,
Water, Organic Guar Gum), Organic Agave Syrup, Organic Fair
Trade Cocoa (processed with alkali), Organic Vanilla Extract

My Holistic Table

koreansoupWe interrupt this program to bring you Food News
with the Holistic Chef.

Rather than wait until the end of the year, let me go ahead and introduce the blog that was my first love.

Was.

This blog – where I write you from – has stolen my heart and I have largely you to blame. I’m convinced I have the most loyal, gracious readers. The affection I have received has deepened my attachment to this blog, and consequently slowed me down on the site I have dreamed the last several years. Few friends and bloggers have known of My Holistic Table. But I talked the perfectionist out of herself. Why not share it with readers now? The Table is a specialty food site for all, parents especially. Not because it recommends a certain diet but for the broad principles that apply to human beings. Not everyone cooks, but y’all eat. Be sure to open the pages How to Eat and The Wonder Years. If you know anyone else who has three meals a day, kindly pass it on. I’m sad to be unable to post as often as I’d like if I wish to stay on the Journey.

Oh, here I am when the to-do list overwhelms, the eve of my historic first camping getaway (auuugh)! Why I would abdicate the delicious comfort of my mattress for the intrusion of noise and light upon a canvas cot almost baffles me. Except I go for my guys. Hubby gets to hug his trees again and Son will make new memories with homeschool friends. Am hoping Word Inspiration from the Rustic will redeem the roughing it. Can I at least get a poem out of this? I have to pull the kale and gorgeous garnet beets with their tops from the oven into the dehydrator for their service to us this weekend.

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myholistictable.wordpress.com

My happy best,
Diana

First Aid from my Apothecary: Bugs, Bumps, Cuts, Poison, Sun

This post will make more sense if you’ve read the introduction.

Two days ago, my husband said, “I gashed my leg. I need your apocalyptic stuff.” Holistic Husband had trouble with apothecary. Here we go, in alphabetical order of Uh-Ohs:

Bites and Stings
R
epellent
The majority of popular brands contains deet, highly toxic especially for kids. I took forever deciding on a natural alternative because contrary to popular perception, essential oils are not categorically beneficial. Too much of it, along with the added fragrance so common in products claiming to be “healthy,” can disrupt children’s endocrine and reproductive systems. Essential oils are strong and I am also sensitive to them. So after looking for something that wasn’t overpowering but effective, I settled on this spray by Quantum. You have to repeat application.

P1040431Echinacea and Goldenseal – Tennyson got a squirt three times a day the first two days of bite inflammation to boost immune response. Topically, the herbs help draw toxins out.  After mUch experimentation the last few years, the most natural and soothing external treatment I came up with was a few drops of these herbs followed by a thick baking soda paste on the itch. The cooling paste has helped my son fall back asleep when he’d wake up itchy. I add just a drop or two of water for a moldable paste and don’t mind the dried crumbs on floor, carpet, or bedding, as the soda is a natural cleaner and of course vacuumable. The alkaline soda neutralizes the acid of the bug poison. Goldenseal is a very strong cooling herb so you can use the Echinacea alone, especially in the winter. Gaia is the best company I know for Echinacea – knows it like the back of its hand and fastidiously harnesses quality herbs.  The bottles for kids are alcohol-free.  Some health food stores carry this brand.  You can go to the Gaia site but online resellers like this one often sells for less.

Homeopathics
Once I saw how lumpy and red the bites had grown, I started Tennyson on Ledum Palustre in liquid form sublingually. The rich blood vessels under the tongue absorb the drops efficiently. Ledum accelerates healing from bites. It is what I would use if he were bitten by a child or an animal. I would add Hypericum Perforatum for nerve endings, where there is risk of Tetanus. After the first day, I found Urtica Urens to be more effective for the itch at hand. This remedy facilitates healing of hives, itch from poison, and burns. Tennyson took Urtica under the tongue about five times a day, down to two times the third day.  We have Apis Mel on hand for bee and wasp stings. Last summer, Daddy and Son were needled by a wasp – Daddy in several places, Son a hairsbreadth from the eyeball. It happened an hour from home and I happened to have Apis in the car. I KnOW!  Don’t ASK!  Homeopathics are available from holistic practitioners, from online and at health food markets. The lower potencies treat acute conditions. You can’t overdose on most of them and there are no side effects with the right remedies. But you use homeopathics only as long as the symptoms call for them. It’s best to consult a homeopathic doctor who can target the remedy to take by mouth but after reading up on them, you can keep some on standby for acute conditions. Homeopathics work on animals just as they do on people.

Bumps, Bruises and Trauma
Arnica Montana – Our dear loyal friend. It speeds healing and has come through even in the most traumatic of falls. Awesome for kids and athletes or those who work out – and of course the clumsy like Yours Truly. Arnica facilitates recovery from surgery and the remedy, along with Aconite which treats shock, are excellent in cases involving hard impact, like auto accidents.

Traumeel Ointment – I should’ve started out with straight Arnica ointment or cream but I was introduced to this combination preparation of homeopathics as a new mom and it is so dang effective I turned a blind eye to the inactive ingredients. At least the ingredients are pronounceable. I justify the breaking of my own law by our holistic doctor’s sentiments: hey, we don’t rub this on everyday. It was indispensable when my son started crawling and walking, greeting hard places head-on. My mother banged her forehead on a sharp protrusion so hard she actually expected to feel a hole. She was amazed at how well she healed from Traumeel. You can get it from most pharmacies and online stores. Traumeel contains Arnica, which you don’t apply on open wounds.

Dehydration
Summer has hit us, no holds barred. The air conditioning graciously lowered the oven heat in the car to 97 degrees this week. Obviously we need to drink more, days like these. Taking pink Himalayan salt in food and capsule at our doctor’s word has revived my husband from the weakness and the headache he gets from sweating out minerals. I pour the salt into an empty gelatin capsule that he washes down with water so he doesn’t have to taste it. When I can manage the extra step, I roast the salt on low at 175 degrees for about 15 minutes in the oven and cool before encapsulating. Macrobiotics practice recommends cooking salt 10 minutes for digestibility. I started giving my son a small capsule of Celtic sea salt, which I also do a bit extra of in the oppressive heat. A sudden very painful tightness on the sole of my foot just below the toes went away tonight after 3/4 capsule of lightly roasted sea salt. I remembered my holistic doctor saying seven years ago that the occasional pain was probably mineral deficiency. In this heat, she was right. A little bit of seaweed (presoaked 20 minutes) or kelp cooked into grains or broth will cool and help remineralize the overheated body. Sea salt supplementation and a banana for the potassium punch are very helpful for long flights, as flying is dehydrating. Natural health care professionals might carry sea salt tablets. Quality salt is not white, the color you get after nutritive minerals have been refined. Celtic grey is among the finest salts.

Detoxification
Bentonite Clay – The medicinal use of clay goes back milennia. Sodium bentonite you usually mix with water and ingest as a laxative aid.  A natural antibacterial, calcium bentonite absorbs toxins when applied externally. I could’ve made a wet pack for my son’s bites a few days ago. To suck out the wasp poison that made Peter’s head throb last year, we left some shampoo that contained bentonite on the sting site on top of his head.  Hubby was awed at how well it eased the pain. Five to ten minutes of a dollop of bentonite on a zit two, three times a day will dry it up. A bentonite or rhassoul clay face mask of just a few minutes leaves my skin clearer, whiter, and softer.

Food Poisoning
Peter got very sick from a group barbeque last year. The aurora threatened a crippling migraine and he expected to call in sick the next day. I gave him about half a tablespoon of brown rice vinegar in a cup of water and, to his disbelief, his head and stomach soon felt better. The vinegar turned him around and by the time he got the second dose some hours later, he felt fine. Paul Pitchford’s deep and wide explanations of the medicinal properties of food in Healing with Whole Foods details the use of quality vinegar in the case of food poisoning. He explains that (white) distilled vinegar is not a food (though a great cleaner), and leaches minerals. After comparing pasteurization temperatures, I chose Spectrum Brown Rice Vinegar as the most nutritional ferment. I also have activated charcoal capsules in my pantry. Homeopathic Arsenicum Alb hastens healing from food poisoning.

Infection
Along with my beloved Goldenseal, I use colloidal silver. Silver was the natural mainstream antibiotic before the synthetic came to market in the late 30s. It treats a gamut of issues and can be ingested or applied. I find integrity and effectiveness in the brand Paul Pitchford considers the best. Here is the site. It’s been the only product to help my son’s occasional eye irritation. I lay Tennyson down for a drop or two and have him roll his eye around. Traditional Chinese Medicine says eye issues trace back to the liver. But it certainly helps to relieve the symptom. We’ve never had Pink Eye but I bet silver would be wonderful for it. I love how it’s safe for kids. The atomizer nozzle in the picture above makes it user-friendly for nostrils and throat.

Painful Cuts and Injuries Open to Infection
Goldenseal – This herb is a phenomenon. I keep some of the powder that comes in the plastic you see above also in a 1 oz. jar for ease of use. My midwife gave us some to apply on Tennyson’s umbilical stump when he was born which helped heal it quickly. Goldenseal has served us beautifully when we’ve had deep or open cuts and punctures that invite infection and can’t take ointment. When Tennyson cut his finger the other day, I scooped out just a little of the powder into a bowl and added about two drops of water to form a wet paste.  When I packed it on the site and covered it with a band-aid, I could see the relief on his face. “Aahh… feels mUch better, Mom.” And he wrapped my legs in a grateful hug. Heads-up: Goldenseal stains.

Calendula gel – I sent my boy to bed with just a little over his cut without a band-aid that first night to let it breathe. Mine is pure Calendula with no other ingredients.

Calendula ointment – The thicker version is more effective for dry skin, when sunburned or in cold weather, as the gel goes on clean and will feel like it evaporated.

Poison Ivy or Oak
Homeopathic Rhus Tox!

Sun
Okay, so I know readers on the fence who stuck it out this far will move on at this point, never to return. Conventional sunscreen has been proved carcinogenic for all the crazy, unpronounceable ingredients. Ironic indeed. The latest research has reneged on its old pontification that Sun is evil.  We need about half an hour a day over at least 20% of our body to produce the Vitamin D hormone that only she supplies. Purists forgo sunscreen altogether and keep covered with clothing and hat, but such a measure is often not very feasible in California. After years of searching, I’ve settled on Thinksport, available in most stores. We like the coconut scent and the way it absorbs as much as its effectiveness.

I feel so bad: Our last beach trip a distant year-old memory, I realized too late today that my son needed to have worn the sunscreen before he did the sand. My tired, sluggish brain saw that application and reapplication were difficult, and he came home pink in some spots. I was so disappointed with myself. Calendula oil soothed and relieved the slight itch on the sensitive areas. My boy will stay another day or so on the homeopathic Urtica Urens that hastens recovery from sunburn. Cantharis would work well, too. Aloe gel also cools and heals sunburn. Aloe plant is wonderful but the gel’s easier to apply on large areas. The little man will be doing about 3,000 I.U.s of vitamin A in gel cap the next couple of days, so good for skin. The vitamin also promotes health of mucous membranes and the upper respiratory. If the pink patches really bother him, I would apply a towel wet with comfrey root tea several times a day. Comfrey works wonders for skin – even bone – injuries. Dehydration often attends sunburn.

*Summer 2014 update: Nutribiotic Skin Ointment with 2% grapefruit seed extract is amazing for sunburn. I recently got it to keep on standby for skin irritations and injuries. A mix of echinacea, goldenseal, calendula extracts with Vitamin C and E. I like the honey that nourishes skin and acts as an antibiotic.

SmartMedI have found this reference useful for the spectrum of concerns that arise in child rearing. The book applies to adults, too. It’s written by a team of professionals that mixes conventional (Px) and natural approaches in treating anything from allergies, burns, colic, eczema, fainting, Lyme disease, with first aid instructions for emergencies like choking. Recommendations on drugs, homeopathics, herbs, acupressure, nutritional supplements, and tips on prevention form a comprehensive plan of action for each concern. You see the range of options available to you.

I’ve summed up years’ worth of research for you. It would redeem my labor of love to learn if you found the information useful, insane, or apocalyptic. In any case, I hope it interests you enough to dig further.

Healing wishes from my apothecary,

HW