Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Detoxin

As last year fades into a bad memory (thank the Goddess!), and this new year is hurtling forward, I am spending more time thinking of how important it is to get myself in order. What do I want out of life over the course of the next year?

I want to be happy. I want to be so happy that everyone around me gets bombarded with happiness cooties and is forced to feel happy, too.

I want to be productive. I want to use the gifts granted to me in the most productive way possible. I want to watch my business grow like never before. Not an entirely altruistic wish, I will admit, but in my line of work, my success rests on my ability to create a customer that doesn’t need to return because they are no longer in need of healing. Kind of a sticky situation, huh?

I want to be known for my honesty. My generosity. My loyalty.

But, most of all, I want to be healthy. I didn’t see much of that in 2016. For a while there, I wondered if I would even get to see 2017.  I spent a lot of time contemplating life, death and all of the in-betweens. Not just mine, either. This year seems to have been a do-or-die kind of year for me on a couple different levels. I acquired many clients this past year because the medical industry finally released them with the phrase, “There is nothing more we can do at this point”.  Liver failure. Cancer. Diabetes. Heart disease. Lukemia. I have dealt with them all this year, and quite successfully, I might add!

In the spirit of honesty, I’ll admit that I have slacked off a bit on my own health regime. A fairly frequent question is, ‘How are things going…you know…with the breast thing…?” The standard answer is, ‘Things are going great.”

The real answer is a bit more complicated. The truth is, things were going great. I did all the things I was supposed to do. I changed a few things that needed changing in my diet and lifestyle. I took all my herbs and tinctures. I did all my detox and immune builders. I eat healthier than anyone I know. I rest when I can. I stay positive. I do yoga…sometimes.

But, as time passes and I get further from the fear that motivated me to get healthy, I find myself drifting back into old habits. I eat more chocolate and drink more coffee than I should. I have those few pieces of bread or cheese that I know I shouldn’t. I stop in for a piece of pie at Slice of Pie. I skip a yoga class when I’m too busy. I forget to take my pills and tinctures. I choose a burger over a salad.

Here’s the thing that I ALWAYS tell my clients. This whole natural approach only works if you do what you are supposed to do. If you slack off, the sick comes back around. This is an issue your body is already prone to develop. It will come back if you fall into old habits. And, so it has.

I see those warning signs that I didn’t know were warning signs the first time around. I feel those strange twinges of discomfort that I didn’t pay attention to the first time around. I hear that voice in the back of my mind telling me that I had best get myself back on track.

It occurs to me, though, that there may be others out there who might be in the same predicament and they just don’t know where to start. Maybe you keep finding yourself getting sick. Nothing big or bad. A recurring cold or stomach bug. Allergies. Headaches. Tired all the time. Something just doesn’t FEEL right. I’m with you. It’s time to set things right.

Ready?

Let’s do a cleanse! Let’s flush out all that nasty crap that has built up in our bodies!

Oh, quit groaning. You know, every time I say ‘cleanse’, someone  groans and complains. They have visions of being stuck in the bathroom for hours, or feeling sick as the cleanse moves the nasties out of your system. It doesn’t have to be like that, though.  Truth is, a really thorough cleanse might have you in the bathroom a little more frequently than usual, but it shouldn’t be a traumatic ordeal. A good cleanse will likely cause some minimal stomach discomfort as the body passes toxins out via the digestive system, and you may sweat a bit more than usual for the same reason. You may even experience a ‘healing crisis’, especially if you have been sick a lot in the last year. A good cleanse will gently pull toxins and old ‘bugs’ from your bloodstream and your organs into the eliminative organs so the body can dispose of them, so you might feel bits of old illnesses passing briefly through your system. You might run a mild fever as your body kicks in the immune response. You might be a bit tired for a day or two as your body deals with healing itself.

In exchange for this day or two of discomfort, you get a huge payoff! Your body finally starts to feel like it is operating in peak condition. Headaches disappear. Belly aches don’t plague you. Those little aches and pains are suddenly gone. Your hair and skin look better. Your mind is clearer. You are less likely to catch every bug floating around there.

So, are you with me??  Oh, good! Here’s what we need to do:

First, decide what kind of juice you like best. Keep a couple things in mind when choosing;

  • You are only going to have this one juice for 2-3 days, so make sure you really like the one you choose.
  • Choose a fruit that produces a lot of juice. This cuts both your time and costs. I prefer organic grapes, apples and grapefruits.

Second, prepare yourself and your space. This doesn’t have to be a difficult experience. Here are some things you will need:

  • Distilled water. Not bottled, tap or well water. Distilled.  Why is this so important?  Because distilled water is ’empty’ water. That means that everything has been removed from it. All the naturally occurring vitamins and minerals, as well as any toxins or bacteria. This leaves more room in the water molecules, allowing them to pull more of the toxins from your system as it passes through. This is a much-simplified explanation, but you get the point, right?
  • Prune juice
  • Castor oil
  • Cotton cloths
  • A good blend of detoxifying herbs. Of course, I suggest my formula, Heavy Metal Detox, but there are plenty of others out there to choose from that will work almost as well.
  • Activated charcoal (see all the benefits and ways to use activated charcoal here)

Finally, a few things to keep in mind:

  • You are going to be tired, hungry and pretty crabby for at least a day or two. Expect it, warn your loved ones, and get ready to just deal with it.
  • You may feel pretty crappy for a day or two.
  • Plan to start your cleanse a day before your weekend starts. Usually the first day is easy, the second day is pretty rough, and the third day is a breeze.
  • The plan I am laying out will only work if you are willing to give it 100%. There is no compromising on any of the steps if you want to see real results. I promise you, though, that it is completely worth it!
  • This is the protocol that I always recommend to anyone who is having chronic health issues. It doesn’t matter what the issues are. This is simply the first step to cleaning up a body that is functioning improperly. It is designed to cleanse the entire system without depriving the body of much-needed vitamins and nutrients.

Now, we can get started. Here’s how it needs to go down:

Day 1-2:

  • Drink one 8 oz glass of prune juice first thing in the morning. Yes, I know it is disgusting. Drink it anyway. Just hold your breath and chug. It’s only one small glass.
  • Drink one 8 oz glass of distilled water.
  • Throughout the day, drink at least four 8 oz glasses of fresh fruit juice. Whichever fruit you choose is fine, but remember to only have ONE variety per day. If you start with grape, keep it to grape only.
  • Drink at least 90 oz of distilled water throughout the day.
  • If you get so hungry that you just can’t cope, eat some of the fruit that you are using for juice. Don’t go crazy. Eat only enough to get you through.
  • Take at least one hot bath or shower per day, as hot as you can tolerate. Baths are preferable. Add 1/2 cup epsom salt to your bath to help speed up the detox process and reduce any withdrawl symptoms.

Day 3-4:

  • Continue as you have been on days 1-2. Gradually start reintroducing solid foods into your diet. Stick to fresh fruits/veggies. Raw is best, but lightly steamed or baked is acceptable. Veggie broth is a great option, too.
  • Begin taking the natural detox that you have chosen.
  • Up your water intake to a minimum of 128 oz (one gallon) per day.
  • Take 1 tsp activated charcoal in the morning. The most effective way to take activated charcoal is to mix 1 tsp of charcoal with 8 oz of distilled water. Drink it quickly, then follow immediately with 20 oz of water. Do this on an empty stomach, at least one hour before/after eating. Capsules are the second best way to consume the charcoal. Water requirements are the same.

Day 5-6:

  • Begin eating small, regular meals.
  • Continue taking the detox herb blend you have chosen.
  • Continue drinking at least 128 oz of water per day.

Once you have completed your cleanse, you should notice that your cravings for ‘junk’ foods has decreased, if not disappeared altogether. You will notice that your hair and skin look more vibrant, your energy level will be higher, and your mind will be clearer.

Now that you have gone to all this effort, how do we hang on to all these benefits? Keep your body clean, of course! Avoid processed foods, dairy (except raw milk), refined sugar, and white flour products (bread, crackers, etc.). If you like your meat, limit it to organic, grass-fed portions no more than 3-4 times per week. If fish is your favorite, stick to wild-caught, not farmed, and avoid any seafood coming from the West Coast or the Gulf. Drink plenty of water. Eat lots of raw, fresh fruits and veggies. Get a bit of exercise, fresh air and sunshine every day. Meditate. Get plenty of sleep. Laugh a lot. It really is that simple to begin the healing process. Happy cleansing!

 

 

Activated Charcoal

Charcoal seems to be the trendy new health product, if the sudden influx of questions, news articles, and Facebook posts about it are any indication. However, the benefits of charcoal have been known for millennium among many . Used for everything from embalming to ship repair, charcoal has proven itself exceptionally valuable. Hippocrates (460-370 B.C.), and the ancient Egyptians employed the use of charcoal for a variety of ailments. Most notably, for it’s ability to rid the body of toxins and impurities.There is a great article on the history of charcoal, complete with ancient uses and other interesting bits of info, HERE.  There is really no sense in me repeating  what they have already stated so thoroughly, especially when we are only focusing on the medicinal aspects of activated charcoal. It’s a good read, though, for those who enjoy that kind of thing.

What is activated charcoal? This is not the same charcoal you throw on your grill, so don’t go grinding up charcoal briquets and eating them. Activated charcoal is made using coconut shells or select types of wood. Coconut shells are the preferred option due to their renewability, and because charcoal made from wood has the potential to cause an allergic reaction in those with sensitivity to certain types of nuts and woods. The charcoal is created through a process of steam, heat and washing. The result is a substance that can adsorb up to 350 times its weight in gases, liquids and toxins.

That is adsorb, not absorb. The difference? When something is absorbed it is taken in and disappears, as with a sponge. When something is adsorbed it works like a magnet, drawing substances to its surface and holding onto them tightly.

Charcoal’s uniqueness lies in the range of substances that it is capable of adsorbing. It has been shown to adsorb toxic gases and chemicals, especially those from opiates, cocain, morphine, nicotine, salicylates, strychnine, antidepressants, venom, poison, and toxic metals. This ability makes it exceptionally valuable in helping cleanse the system from addiction, and helping those with intestinal issues like excessive gas, diarrhea, heartburn and ulcers.  It has been used throughout history for treating gangrenous and cancerous lesions, to lower cholesterol, to cleanse the bowels and bloodstream, and as an antidote to many poisons. It is commonly found in emergency rooms around the world, and is an absolute must-have for every home medicine cabinet. If something a little more scientific and…well, medical-slanted is what it takes to convince you of charcoal’s value, you might check out the National Library of Medicine‘s website. If both the medical and natural world are in agreement on ANY subject, you might wanna take notice!

Take note, though, charcoal will not help with alkaline poisoning from things like lye, alcohol, mineral acids or cyanide. Those require a neutralizer like vinegar or baking soda, and that is an entirely different protocol.

The newest trend for activated charcoal is in the beauty arena, though. Little wonder, since the benefits of charcoal are often seen after a single use. Charcoal draws impurities from the skin, whitens teeth, freshens breath, and reduces blackheads and acne. It can be found in soap, toothpaste, face masques and shampoo. I’ll admit, even I have jumped on the bandwagon. Look at this beautiful charcoal soap I made!

charcoal soap

When purchasing activated charcoal, look for a source that specifies what the charcoal is derived from. Always choose organic, as this ensures it is free from chemical processing which can cause many adverse reactions.

Charcoal is available in three forms: tablets, capsules and powder.

Tablets should be crushed or chewed before swallowing, and are the least effective.

Capsules take time to break down in the digestive system, but are still highly effective.

Powder is the least expensive, most versatile, and most effective way to use charcoal.

A word of caution; it is not selective in the substances it adsorbs. This means that it pulls out the good with the bad. Vitamins, nutrients, amino acids and digestive enzymes are pulled from the body, along with the poisons and toxins. Charcoal should not be taken long-term.

Ways to use activated charcoal vary.

  • To use as an aid for gastrointestinal issues, 90 minutes before eating, you can either take 1 capsule of charcoal with 20 oz of water, or you can mix 1 tsp of charcoal with 2-4 oz of water and drink it. Don’t worry, it isn’t gritty and there is no taste at all. It is a bit like drinking thick water. Make sure you drink plenty of water over the next few hours. Charcoal will draw moisture for body as it passes through. If you fail to drink enough water, this can lead to constipation. That’s no fun at all. Drink water.
  • In the home, setting a small bowl in your fridge or pantry will eliminate odors.
  • To whiten teeth and help eliminate tooth or gum issues, use charcoal twice a week in place of your normal toothpaste. You can either use the dry powder, or you can mix 1 Tbsp powder with 1/4 cup coconut oil and 1 oz of cocoa butter to make your own paste. Dip your toothbrush in the powder, or place a small bit of paste on your toothbrush.  Brush as usual, allowing the charcoal to remain on the teeth for 3-5 minutes. Rinse until the water is clear. Charcoal won’t stain your sink, skin or teeth, but it will stain fabrics.
  • For bites and stings, mix charcoal powder and ground flax seed with enough boiling water to create a semi-thick paste. Apply the paste, extending it out past the affected area. Cover the paste with plastic. Cover the plastic with a natural-fiber cloth like cotton or wool. Secure it with an ace bandage and leave on 8-10 hours. Wash with lukewarm salt water after removing the poultice. Repeat daily until the area has healed.

So, there you have it. Charcoal is a pretty amazing substance that I suggest keeping on hand. It is easy to find at any drug or health food store. It’s cheap, it’s safe for all ages and, well,  it is kinda fun to play with….if you like that kind of thing….

Pain happens. Headaches, backaches, wounds, broken bones, bumps and bruises. It is almost second nature for us to grab an aspirin, acetaminophen, an ibuprofen, or, for some, something a bit stronger. Unfortunately, even the safest of these options come with serious negative side effects. Liver and kidney damage, stomach or digestive issues, neurological damage. In extreme cases, even death.

The last few decades have conditioned us to believe that our options are not just limited, but non-existent. We either take the options on the market (or at the pharmacy), or we deal with the pain. Under no circumstances should we consider taking natural alternatives. Not only are they extremely dangerous, but they are quite ineffective. I’m still trying to work out the incompatibility of that last statement.

I gotta wonder, though…if natural alternatives are so ineffective, why did the medical world develop some of their best medicines from them? Aspirin from willow bark. Opium, morphine, codeine and laudanum from poppies. Digitalis from foxglove. The list is long and impressive, and pretty interesting, if you are into that kind of thing.

The point is, there is an abundance of exceptionally effective, natural alternatives for dealing with pain of all types. In truth, some of them work faster, more effectively and, well…better. These are a few of my favorites:

Castor oil packs

Most of us have heard horror stories of grandmothers forcing a spoonful of castor oil on reluctant children when they had belly aches. I simply cannot condone that level of torture, but castor oil is not without powerful medicinal benefits.

Of course, the above scenario is not without it’s benefit, either. Castor oil is a highly effective, exceptionally safe laxative for all ages. The biggest problem with this method is actually choking it down. The good news is, it only takes 4-6 hours in most cases for a dose of castor oil to completely cleanse the bowels. A little more good news, a single dose is only 1-2 tablespoons for adults, and 1 tsp for children. Mix it with a bit of fresh fruit juice and it really isn’t so bad.

Castor oil is a strong fungicidal due to its high content of undecylenic acid. Ringworm, athlete’s foot, jock itch…castor oil applied topically daily for a week will help tremendously in any of these situations.

Castor oil is exceptionally moisturizing. It attracts and holds in moisture, so it is the perfect addition to any beauty routine. Acne, dry hair, dry scalp, age spots, warts, and skin tags are just a few of the issues that can be improved with regular use of castor oil.

However, one of the very best ways to administer castor oil is through the use of a castor oil pack. I don’t know all the science behind castor oil and how it does what it does. What I do know is that I have seen it work over and over again to help the body heal, to provide relief from pain of every kind, in every part of the body. I have seen it help people who were in liver failure to detox. I have seen it help shrink cysts and tumors. I have seen it perform nearly miraculous things. But, that’s just MY experience with it. Sore muscles? Use a castor oil pack on them. Arthritis? Try a castor oil pack. Painful period? Use a castor oil pack. Seriously. You gotta try this!

Castor oil packs can be a bit messy, but are relatively simple to use.  All you need is:

  • a bottle of castor oil
  • 2 pieces of natural cloth like wool or cotton. One should be large enough to completely cover the area you intend to apply it to. The second piece should be larger by about 4 inches in both directions.
  • a piece of plastic
  • a towel that you don’t mind getting stained
  • a hot pack or heating pad

Here’s what you do with all of that:

  • Thoroughly coat the smaller piece of the cloth with castor oil. You want it wet, but not dripping. The piece of cloth should be large enough to completely cover whatever area of the body you are treating.
  • Cover the castor oil soaked cloth with a piece of plastic.
  • Cover the plastic with the larger piece of dry cloth. This piece is going to help hold in the warmth so it should be something heavy and natural like wool, cotton or flannel.
  • Place a heating pad on top of your cloth. That’s it. Now just kick back and relax for a spell. Leave the pack on for at least 20 minutes, but I like to leave it on overnight. You will want to put an old towel or sheet under you, because castor oil will stain whatever it touches.

You can use an ace bandage or strip of fabric to secure the castor oil pack in place.

Don’t throw out your castor oil pack after one use, either. The same castor oil pack can be used 10-15 times. Just store it in the fridge between uses and add a bit more castor oil if it begins to dry out.

This is one of those great treatments that work immediately. By the time you remove the castor oil pack you will be feeling better. When dealing with long-term and/or chronic conditions,  I have used this treatment daily for two weeks with absolutely no negative effects. For things like menstrual cramps, arthritis flare-ups, and muscle aches/spasms, we use it as often as we need to. In most cases, we are back up and moving comfortably after an hour or so.

Sometimes we need something that works a bit faster, right? And,  maybe more convenient? After all, I doubt the boss is going to approve of you taking a break to apply a castor oil pack that you will need to wear around the office for a while.

It’s cool. I have this one covered. Herbs. The answer is herbs.

Quit rolling your eyes. Don’t knock it til you’ve tried it. Let me try to impress upon you the unbelievable power of herbs to help control pain when used properly.

I live on a farm. I do yoga. I garden. I paint. I write. I bead and sew and crochet and knit. I spend HOURS in the kitchen. I make soap. I build fires. I play with grandsons. I spend unfathomable amounts of time staring at a computer screen.  None of these activities seem especially dangerous, right? Look a little deeper.

Yoga and gardening are the source of many muscle aches, strains and sprains. Crafting, writing and gardening require the use of my hands, which are prone to attacks of arthritis, small cuts, big cuts, cuts from stems and tools (because, you know, why wear gloves like any rational person?). Hours in the kitchen can occasionally produce burns, cuts and other injuries that we need not name, as can building and maintaining fires in the wood stove. Computer screens give me massive headaches. Living on a farm covers everything from shins bashed into trailer hitches to broken limbs. Playing with grandsons…well…the danger potential there is unlimited. So, you see all of the levels of pain that my family may experience at any given moment. Keep that in mind when I make my next statement.

We have not needed a ‘conventional’ pain reliever since we started using herbal pain-relieving options. No aspirin. No acetaminophen. No prescription pain killers.

What is this miracle herbal pain-reliever, you ask? Well, it isn’t one herb. Or even two. It is a combination of herbs. While each of the herbs we are about to discuss work reasonably well for minor pain all by themselves, combining some of them can be far more effective than many of the dangerous synthetic pain pills flooding the market and killing people by the millions. Unlike prescription or OTC pain relievers, there is no risk of organ failure, heart issues, digestive issues, neurological issues…no negative side effects for a normal, healthy person. Did you catch that? These alternatives should not be used if you have some pre-existing conditions. Some of these herbs can interfere with medications, which can cause big problems. Some of these herbs should not be taken long-term. If you are not trained in the use of herbs, don’t just go taking these herbs willy-nilly. Consult a Certified Herbalist. Really. Don’t be stupid.

Okay, you’ve been warned. Now, let’s move on. I have found a beautiful blend of herbs that works fast (it has never taken more than 10 minutes to feel relief) on every kind of pain we have thrown at it. I’m going to tell you the herbs. Not the formula. The formula, Nerve-Ease, took me a long time to perfect, and is easy for an amateur to mess up.

  • Black cohosh – this root is most often used for female complaints related to the menstrual cycle, menopause, and female organs. This is because of the fact that it has many natural estrogens. What many don’t realize is that is also has a mild sedative effect, is anti-inflammatory, and acts as a mild anti-depressant, just to name a few of its benefits.
  • Catnip – yeah, the same herb your cat flips out over. Catnip is a fabulous pain reliever, and one of the safest option available for all ages, including small children. It is a mild relaxant, it settles the stomach, it calms the nerves, it reduces pain, and it promotes relaxation and sleep without any drowsiness.
  • Cayenne – there is a lot of science behind this herb, and how it works is a whole lesson in itself. We will just leave it at this: cayenne is a powerful pain reliever, and it boost the ability of any herb it is working with. One of the many additional benefits of cayenne is its ability to stop bleeding. There are very few of my formulas that don’t contain a bit of cayenne for very good reason. It is safe for all ages and requires only a small amount to be effective.
  • Chamomile – this is a wonderful sedative herb that works powerfully, but mildly, on the body and mind. It, like catnip, promotes relaxation without making  you drowsy, so you can go to sleep easier without waking up feeling foggy or disoriented. It soothes the nerves, so it is good for anxiety and depression. It is anti-inflammatory. It soothes muscles and joints. Chamomile is safe for any age and can help control just about any type of pain or discomfort you may be having. It is pretty tasty, too!
  • Hops – while best known for its use in beer making, hops has a long history of medicinal use. As with many herbs, hops has a variety of uses. Herbalists often use it for its ability to calm the nerves and promote sleep without causing drowsiness or brain fog. It is an anti-inflammatory, so it also helps with nerve pain, or pain caused from internal inflammation.
  • Mistletoe – the same plant that we stand under for a chance at a free smooch is a most excellent nervine. That means that it helps soothe frazzled nerves and helps rebuild damaged nerves. It is an anti-inflammatory, as well as an immune system builder.  Mistletoe has so many healing benefits that we can’t cover even a fraction of them here, but it also has some warnings attached to it. It is a fantastic pain reliever, but must be properly prepared and used only under the supervision of a Certified Herbalist or natural health practitioner.
  • Mullein – one of my all time favorite herbs, I could spend hours extolling it’s many virtues, not the least of which is it’s pain-relieving capabilities. It doesn’t matter what the pain stems from; Mullein will help soothe it. This is an especially useful herb for dealing with pain from broken bones, sprains and strains, as well as pain from inflamed, irritated mucous membranes in the lungs and respiratory system.
  • Skullcap – if you are looking for power and performance, this is the herb to go to. It’s pain-relieving properties are well known among herbalists, and this is one of the first choices for helping promote sleep, calm anxiety, reduce pain and promote a sense of well-being. It is not an easy herb to work with, though, and is best used fresh, as it loses much of it’s ability with drying.
  • Turmeric – If you have been on the internet in the last couple of years, you have heard of turmeric and all of it’s health benefits. It is used for everything from cancer treatment to dental care. More than 6,000 peer-reviewed studies have been done on this herb, and more are being done daily in an effort to understand it’s range of healing. Even among standard medical groups, turmeric is gaining popularity because they are finding that it is more effective than many prescription drugs for treating a variety of health issues. Pain, depression, heart issues, inflammation, stomach issues, cancer, diabetes and cholesterol are just some of the issues that turmeric is having a profound effect on, all without a single negative side effect.
  • Valerian root – this is easily one of the smelliest herbs known to mankind. Fortunately, it is also one of the best pain-relievers ever. It is a mild, but highly effective nervine that helps calm anxiety, promotes relaxation and sleep, soothes pain and promotes a general sense of well-being.
  • Willow – this is where aspirin comes from, in case you didn’t know. A long time ago, some scientist got the bright idea to extract what they believed was the active pain-relieving constituent in willow bark, then called it medicine. If they would have just left the herb alone they would have gotten much farther. Willow bark has all the phenomenal characteristics of aspirin, but it also has built-in protectors that keep it from harming the liver and other organs. It is not without dangers of its own, though, and should only be used under the supervision of a Certified Herbalist or alternative medical practitioner.

The world of herbal medicine contains a vast array of other effective pain-relievers, but these are the ones I prefer. When used together, they have the ability to fight pain stemming from nearly every source imaginable. They can replace anti-depressants, sleeping pills, nerve pills, stomach pills….pills, pills, pills. They can even help you wean off many of those pills without suffering the symptoms often seen from withdrawals.

This is by no means a complete list of the many ways natural health practitioners approach pain management, especially long-term. However, reaching for a more natural option for every day aches and pains seems like a no-lose situation. If it doesn’t work for you, there is always the option of running to the drug store for a bottle of acetaminophen or ibuprofen, but why start there if you don’t have to? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Doctor Said…

I know you all are ready for a story, right? Well, my friends, grab yourself a drink and settle yourself in, ’cause I have a humdinger of a story for you!

First, though, let me fill in a few things that led up to the rest of the story.  Through some family connections, a doctor at the Breast Health division of the Siteman Cancer Center in St. Louis was told about what was happening with me. They were told about my unwillingness to have a mammogram. They were given my ultrasound images.  Like all of the other medical personnel involved in this thing, the doctor was highly concerned  and wanted to get me in as soon as possible. We encountered a few twists and turns, and the doctor I was originally supposed to see ended up being out of the country, so I ended up seeing someone else. Not really a big deal, simply a part of the bigger picture. After many scheduling conflicts, on Tuesday of last week I was finally given an appointment for today (Monday).

While everyone around me was incredibly relieved, I had a lot of mixed feelings about the whole thing. Of course, I was eager to have an actual diagnosis. I didn’t want a diagnosis because I had any intention of changing how I treated it. I wanted a diagnosis, mostly, because without one there would always be room for questions. Do I have cancer? Is it the type of cancer that we were originally afraid it was?  I wanted more images to see if anything had changed. It all looked better on the outside. In fact, over the last three days it has completely cleared up. No tenderness, no heaviness. No bruises or itching. No discomfort. Nothing.

But…this was a cancer research center that is part of Mallinckrodt. That means that their main interest is in studying new drugs and treatments. None of those include anything natural. Also, Mallinckrodt has a vested interest in mammography. They are the makers of mammogram equipment, including the newest fad…3-D mammograms. I was fairly certain they were going to push hard on me to have a mammogram. So, on Friday when they called to verify my appointment, I made it a point to ask them about it. I asked if they were aware that I was not coming in for a mammogram. I asked them to please save me the time and the trip if that was going to be a factor in whether or not things could move forward. The girl of the phone seemed rather uncomfortable and said I would just have to wait and talk to the doctor.

Jim and I debated canceling the appointment. We both knew how this was going to go. We both knew that it was most likely going to be a wasted trip. However, I know how many strings had been pulled and how many people were holding their breath waiting for me to make it to this appointment. Mostly, it was sense of obligation that had us up and on our way to St. Louis this morning.

Okay, here’s where it starts getting good. So, they call me back and Jim starts to follow me, but the girl stops him and says he has to wait until after they are done with the imaging part of the appointment. I assure him that I’ll be okay and they will come and get him as soon as I am done. The girl leads me to an exam room and tells me to undress and put on the robe, then she will be right back to get me. I stopped her as she was leaving to ask her where, exactly, she was taking me. Her answer? Come on…play along! Guess!  That’s right, friends. We were on our way to the mammogram machine! Go ahead and laugh. I did!

I think she was taken a bit aback when I said, “No.” She had the oddest look on her face, as if she was uncertain what the word meant, so I felt it necessary to help her out. “I made you all aware a week ago that I was not coming in for a mammogram. I am willing to do either an ultrasound or an MRI, both of which I know you offer, but we are not doing a mammogram.”

The poor child turned white. Then red. Her mouth kinda flopped about soundlessly. “I have to talk to the doctor,” she finally got out. “Just…don’t do anything. I’ll be right back!” and she was gone. I did nothing. I waited.

A few minutes passed and the doctor knocked on the door. She stepped in the room, introduced herself, then said, “You haven’t put on the gown yet. You aren’t undressed! Get changed into the gown and I’ll be right back.” Poof! She was gone. I think this doctor’s office must give courses in how to disappear quick.

She comes back in to the office and the visit begins. She wants to know the whole story. I start back at the beginning. She checked her notes and asked me a few questions, then wanted to know what I had been doing (antibiotics? any meds?) I explained briefly that I had made some dietary changes, used a lot of herbs and salves, did some other natural stuff. I skipped over the less-than-legal stuff. She laughed and waived a hand dismissively, “None of those would have made a difference with cancer. Cancer doesn’t go away like that. Did you do anything medical?”

And, there it was. “Nope,” I replied. “Not a thing.” I explained to her that, over the last few days, the rest of my symptoms had gone away. I didn’t go into details because I knew she didn’t want them. I didn’t explain that the last several weeks of my life had consisted of nothing beyond making teas and poultices and herbal concoctions, applying salves and oils, doing lymph massages, making and taking natural medicines every few hours, taking baths, eating nothing but organic foods, doing yoga, and sleeping more than I ever thought I could. It didn’t matter, in her mind, so why waste my breath?

After 8 long weeks, there was nothing left of what was there before. She assured me that she had seen the ultrasound and knew what we were dealing with. She was ready to examine me. You know how when your car makes that terrible noise and you schedule an appointment with the mechanic, but when you get there the car isn’t making that noise anymore? Yeah, it was pretty much just like that.

She looked at my breast and seemed a little confused. “There is nothing there,” she said.

“Um, yeah. I know. That’s what I just told you. It all cleared up a few days ago.”

“How long ago did the symptoms start?”

“A couple months ago,” I told her.

She pushed around on the places that had showed up the worst in the ultrasound. Then, she pushed a little harder. She felt around the lymph nodes that had been swollen and sore a few days ago, but there was nothing there anymore. So she pushed harder. She raised my arms and felt, then lowered my arms and felt.

“Can you show me exactly where the hard spots were?” she asked.

I did. She pushed and poked some more.

“There is nothing there,” she told me.

“Um…yeah.” I said. Hadn’t we just had this conversation?

“Well, uh, you had this ultrasound just a few weeks ago, right?”

“Yes.”

“And, when was your mammogram?”

Shit.

“Never.”

“Of course you have. They did a mammogram the day they did the ultrasound.”

“Nope.”

“No? But, you had a mammogram.”

I was starting to feel like I was in a bad adaptation of ‘Who’s on First’.

“No. No mammogram.”

“Ever?”

“Ever.”

“But, they did take this ultrasound?”

“Yes.”

She was silent for a minute.

“Are you sure you don’t want a mammogram?”

I swear, that is what she asked me.

“I’m sure.”

“Well, there is nothing there to ultrasound. I mean, I don’t have anything to tell them to ultrasound. There’s nothing there. Are you sure you don’t want a mammogram?”

I laughed. “Well,” I said, “can you tell me of anything else, anything at all, that could have caused the skin thickening and the layering that is in that ultrasound?”

She mumbled something that I didn’t hear, then shrugged and said, “It was possibly just something odd or unusual that went away on it’s own.”  Then she changed the subject. To mammograms.

“If we do a mammogram maybe we would see something that needs to be looked at a little closer by ultrasound. Do you want to get a mammogram?”

“Nope.”

She was quiet again. Then, she said, “Do you want an ultrasound? We could just consider it a follow-up ultrasound maybe, since you’ve already had this one to compare it to.”

“Sure. I would love to have something to compare to the first one.”

“Are you sure you don’t want a mammogram?”

“Yep.”

She sighed. “Okay. Let me set up the ultrasound.” And, she was gone.

So, I was led down the halls to the imaging waiting room. I was suddenly a member of the pink-robes club. There were 4 of us in the waiting room, each one waiting to find out if we were about to given an expiration date or a reprieve. I was the last one left.

A new girl showed up, called my name and said, “I need to speak to you for a minute.”

She led me to a little exam room and closed the door. “Here’s the thing,” she said. “The doctors here won’t do an ultrasound unless you have a mammogram first. It’s policy.”

Wait, wasn’t it a doctor that had just suggested it? Hmmm.

I shrugged. “No problem. Let’s just skip it, then,” I said.

She looked very uncomfortable. “Um, so, you don’t want a mammogram?”

At this point I was seriously beginning to wonder if anyone in this office was firing all their cylinders. I was beginning to get the impression that they really wanted me to have a mammogram, too.

I took a really deep breath. Then another. “No, I do not want a mammogram. Can I put my clothes back on now?”

She left pretty fast, too. I’m telling you guys, they train them….

She was back just a minute later to tell me that the doctor wanted to see me before I left. She led me to another exam room and they finally let Jim come back.

I was almost finished catching him up on everything when the doctor opened the door and stuck her head in. “I just wanted to make it clear to you,” she said, “cancer does not just go away on its own.”  She closed the door. Our visit was, apparently, finished.

As we left the cancer center, Jim started to laugh. “I knew it had to have been you,” he said.  I raised an eyebrow at him. He says the oddest things sometimes…

“One of those girls came up to the front desk just before they came out to get me,” he told me.  “She looked pretty upset. She was waving her arms around and looking mad while she told the girls behind the counter something. I recognized that look and I just knew it had to be you!”

I’m pretty sure he thinks he is funny.

So, there you have it. No more imaging was done because they couldn’t find anything to image. I suppose we will never have an answer, but I’m good with that. I intend to continue my course of treatment for a bit longer, and I intend to continue to focus more on prevention of a recurrence. I intend to keep my thermographic imaging appointment, just to be sure everything is really gone. I intend to never see a doctor again, mostly because this whole experience has reminded me that most of them aren’t too bright and they are incapable of hearing any voice but their own. I intend to actively encourage women to forgo mammograms and insist on less dangerous, more reliable options like ultrasound and thermography. I am going to actively campaign to legalize marijuana in Missouri so that anyone diagnosed with an illness doesn’t have to turn their friends and family into drug dealers in order to cure said illness. Yeah, that’s a whole other story that I won’t be able to tell for a while…

I have learned so much during this whole ordeal. I have learned to appreciate all the little things. I have learned that I need to tell people what they mean to me while I can. I have learned to trust myself. I have learned that there are a lot of people around me who love me and support me, no matter what.

I know that many of you are full of questions about what I have been doing to treat this thing. I have debated over and over whether or not to put it out there. What I have decided is that, while I am more than willing to tell anyone who wants to know what I have done, I am not willing to do it here. The internet, while being a highly useful tool, is also full of people who are less-than-wise. Some of the things I used to treat this can be dangerous if used in the wrong way, and many of the things I did were specifically formulated for breast cancer, not cancer in general. As with anything else, even natural medicine can be dangerous in the wrong circumstances, and what works for me may not work for you because there are so many factors that go into coming up with a treatment plan that works as quickly and safely as possible.

Maybe this wasn’t cancer. Maybe this was, really, just some odd, unusual thing that is not yet in any medical text. Maybe it was all the prayers and healing thoughts sent my way. Maybe it was the herbs, or the food, or any one of the other things I have been doing. Maybe it was just the Gods smiling down on me. I don’t know. I don’t care. I’m healthy. I’m happy. I’m very alive, and that is really all that matters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Journey

I’m pretty sure this is going to be one of the most difficult posts I have ever written. It doesn’t bode well that I have had to scrap it and start over several times.  I’m not really even certain that I want to write it. I wonder if this is one that I will regret writing somewhere down the line.  But, what I have finally decided is that I have to write it. No matter how this whole thing turns out, maybe someone else will benefit and be inspired. Maybe this will answer the questions that everyone keeps asking. Maybe this will make the future a bit easier. So, here goes.

There is some speculation that I might have breast cancer. It is merely speculation at this point. While the simple answer would seem to be, ‘go have that shit checked out’, there is no such thing as simple in my world. Here’s how this whole thing happened…

I had this really bad issue with my right breast. It got all sore and red, and there were these big hard spots along the bottom and side that were tender and wouldn’t go away, no matter what I did. I pumped up my immune system from the inside out. I applied poultices and oils and drank herbal teas. After a few days, I started feeling much better. Great, in fact, but my breast wouldn’t clear up. It didn’t hurt anymore, but it didn’t look very good. Okay, it looked really bad. After a couple of weeks, it was still tender, especially those hard spots, but there wasn’t any real pain. It just didn’t make sense and it wasn’t like any infection that I have ever dealt with in either myself or my clients. So, I started researching and digging a little deeper into some of the medical possibilities.  No matter how I twisted it, everything seemed to be pointing toward a possibility that I didn’t want to face. Inflammatory breast cancer.  I was getting kinda scared.

While I know that everyone is very clear on how I feel about most doctors, the truth is, I have many associates in the medical community that are open-minded enough to recognize the value of natural therapies and are willing to discuss many medical issues with me. I often consult with them and we have wonderful information exchanges. I figured now was a good time to start calling them.

Let me just say right now…if someone had told me that I would be texting pictures of my boob to friends and family, I would have called them a liar.  I’ve sent more boob texts in the last couple of weeks than any cheap floozy out there!  Anyway…I did it. I sent them the pics and told them the story and waited for just one of them to say, it is most likely just an infection…nothing to worry about.  Instead, they all kinda freaked out. Without exception, they all voiced my own fear. Inflammatory breast cancer was a serious possibility.

Still, I didn’t want to overreact. I took a day (or 4) reading everything I could find about Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC). I read legitimate medical info, I read personal stories, I read treatment options, I read symptoms, I read case studies and prognosis outlooks. I talked to anyone who I thought might have something to offer that I hadn’t found.  Sadly, there isn’t a lot of info out there because there isn’t a lot to be had. During this four days of intense research, my phone was blowing up with friends and family begging me to just go get a diagnosis. Despite the fact that I was treating it as if it were, in fact, cancer, I was caving under the pressure to visit a ‘real’ doctor.  I knew I was going to have to eventually, but again, I didn’t want to overreact. Finally, I caved.

Here was what I knew going in:

IBC is a relatively rare form of breast cancer.

IBC won’t be detected by mammogram, PET, MRI or any of the normal breast screening options. Abnormal areas can be seen on an ultrasound (which will also show infection, if it is present) or thermo imaging. Mammograms can make this type of cancer worse, too, according to some of the research.

IBC is highly aggressive, often showing up within a week or so, and moving quickly through the body.

IBC has a very low survival rate using standard cancer treatments like chemo, radiation and mastectomy.

IBC is often misdiagnosed as mastitis, especially in women past childbearing or in/after menopause. Valuable time is often lost treating it with several rounds of antibiotics before they are willing to do a biopsy.

Things weren’t looking good, my friends.

Through a series of fortunate events and tons of help from family, I was able to get an appointment with a surgeon at DePaul who deals with breast cancer, as well as an ultrasound on the breast. The ultrasound came back completely clear, except for a few areas of ‘skin thickening’.  I was told that my breast looked very healthy, with no signs of lumps or infections. Still, the skin thickening was concerning and she would send the images to the surgeon with me. While this seems to be good news, the truth is, it is pretty in line with IBC.  IBC does not form lumps like most breast cancer. It forms layers, or areas of thickened skin that are actually cancer.  Understandably, this news didn’t make me feel any better.

My meeting with the doctor was rather…awkward. I did not want to let the words ‘mastitis’ or ‘cancer’ come out of my mouth. I did not want to pass any preconceived notions on to him. I didn’t want him to know the conclusions I had come to, or that I had done any research on it at all.  If that was an issue, I wanted him to be one that  put that card on the table, not me. I especially didn’t want to mention IBC, mostly because I didn’t want him to brush me off as a hypochondriac who runs to the doctor all the time over nothing (if he only knew!) So, I told him how it all had happened – the tooth infection, the sore breast…all of it.

He laughed at the notion that the dental issue could have had anything to do with an infection anywhere else in my body. That was my first sign. I should have just left then. I didn’t though. I stayed and heard him out.

The ‘specialist’ told me several things during that visit. He told me that his gut told him this was just a very bad case of mastitis, despite the ultrasound showing no sign of infection. He told me that he wanted to prescribe me a round of the ‘most powerful antibiotics available’. He also insisted that I get a mammogram. You all know how that shit went over, right? No need to explain? He refused to do a biopsy until after I did those two things. I tried to discuss the issue with him, but he laughed. Again. What kind of doctor does that?  He told me that the only other option with my symptoms would be what is called Inflammatory Breast Cancer, but he didn’t want to jump straight to that conclusion, so we were going to assume that it was not until after the antibiotics. I asked him to verify the info that I had concerning mammograms not being able to detect IBC and he clearly said, ‘You are correct, but let’s give it a shot, anyway’. I knew it was time to go, so I left.

Walking out of his office, all I could do was play the conversation over and over in my head. I was pissed, but not surprised. It played out exactly as I had expected. Exactly as it has played out for nearly every woman who shared their story of IBC. I also knew, without a doubt, what I needed to do. I needed to assume the worst and treat it as such until I could figure out if I wanted to try and fight for another option at diagnosis. I knew that chemo, radiation and mastectomy were not options. I knew what that decision would entail. I knew what I NEEDED to do. I knew how to treat cancer. I knew the options -both legal and not-so-clearly-legal. I had the info I needed to start.

That was last week. I’ve spent my time searching for other answers. I am trying desperately to prove it all a lie. Something else could be causing this, right? The thing is, I can’t find it. I can’t disprove it. The more I learn, the more the answer seems pretty obvious. Still, though…

I have found a local ND who offers breast thermography, but only every 3 months. I have an appointment set up for the next time it is available. September 23. Three days before my 18th wedding anniversary. The day before Paige’s baby shower. Answer day.

In the meantime, I will keep treating it as I have been. It is looking better. A little, anyway. It feels better. I have to trust that what I am doing, what I have always said I would do, what I have spent the last twenty years telling everyone else will work, is actually working.

To my friends and family, most of you understand where I am at and where I am going. You support me in these decisions I am making, in spite of your fears for me. I am overwhelmed at the amount of love and support that you have all shown so far, and I thank you for it from every corner of my heart. I can only ask that you all continue to trust me. Trust that I have every intention of getting back to the healthiest version of me. Whether this really is cancer, or just the bad infection from hell that won’t disappear, I will treat it in the way that I believe gives me the very best chance of surviving for as long as I can. Understand that I intend to live to a very old age, annoying everyone that I possibly can with my hippy, witchy ways.

To those who have questioned me in the past about the strength of my belief in natural medicine, know this: I will prove it if I must. This path that I have chosen, while maybe not easy, is the path that I believe offers me the best chance of surviving. The fact that it is happening to me does not change my belief. My fear will not make me change my mind.

To those who want to scream at me to get the chemo/radiation/mastectomy should it come to that, just don’t. You don’t have to agree with my decision. You don’t have to like it. This path is mine, not yours. I ask that you either respect my choices in spite of your doubts, or simply keep them to yourself. I do not have the energy to fight your biases and my own body at the same time.

As for the waiting…well, we wait. I tell myself that the symptoms will go away before I make it to the thermography appointment.  I tell myself that I’m only tired because of stress. I tell myself that the discomfort and other oddities in my breast are just some freak thing, but not cancer. I tell myself that I’m only staying sick with this chest cold and sinus infection because my system is tired. It is all getting better, though! I feel a little better every day. Things look a little better every day.

I wonder how many women before me have sat where I am and waited, wondered.  Is it REALLY cancer? Do I REALLY want to know if it is? What if it is? What then? Were they as scared as I am as they waited? Did they play out the million different versions of a future they may not have? Did they play the same head games with themselves? Did they hope that when it all played out they would look a little silly for assuming the worst, because that option is so much better than the alternative? Did they wonder how they were going to afford the simple act of being diagnosed, let alone the treatments? What will I have to sell? What will I have to borrow? What will I have to DO?

I don’t know what September 23 will bring for me and my family. Maybe a chance to celebrate, maybe something far less happy. I’ll let you all know how things turn out, but I don’t know that I will write much more about this issue, unless it is share the successes or failures. I do know that, in the meantime, I am taking the time to focus on me. I am looking very closely at every aspect of my life and my health in a way that I never have before. I am concentrating on the things that really matter. My husband. My children. My grandbabies. My family. My friends. I am finally understanding things in a way that I never knew I didn’t understand in the first place. This life is short. Take every opportunity to tell people how much you love them. Let go of the little things that don’t really matter. Hang on to the little things that matter more than anything. Accomplish something every single day, even if it is only something small. Make someone’s life a little bit better every chance you get. Smile. Be strong. Hold on to hope. Offer hope to others. Be a friend. Let others be a friend to you. Live authentically and stand for something. Make sure that, if today is your last day on Earth, you left behind a piece of yourself that will bring someone comfort, joy, hope and a smile when you are gone. And, should things go as hoped, make sure you have surrounded yourself with people who will sit around the campfire with you, laughing at the close call while doing shots of tequila.

 

 

 

 

 

Wow. It has been more than a year since I posted anything on here. I knew it had been a while, but really? Where did the time go? That’s the question I asked myself and I really had to think about the answer. What I have finally concluded is that it passed by in a haze of crazy, life-altering events that consumed my family and myself. It has been a scary, exciting, awful, wonderful, uncertain, frustrating, joyful year, and as it has played itself out I have thought on many occasions, “Hey, this would make a great blog post”. Then, the moment passes and I put off writing that post because I think, “Does anyone really care, anyway? I’ll write it later.” Then, the moment passes.

So, here it is, more than a year later.

To my readers who left comments and questions, I apologize. I didn’t intend to ignore any of you. I hope that by the end of this post you will find your way clear to forgiving me my inattention. I hope this post will make up for it, ’cause this one is gonna cover a TON of info!

To myself, I apologize for not taking the time to sit down and just write. About anything. To anyone. About anything. I’m sorry for burying this part of myself that is such an integral, necessary part of who I am. I’ve missed it more than words can say.

Let’s rewind back to 2014 when I broke my ankle. Stay with me here while explain all that happened after that incident. There is a purpose to my ramblings, and you really need the whole story to understand what happened, and how I ended up where I am.

My ankle healed beautifully. In fact, it ended up being better thank it was before I broke it. Go figure.  However, while it was healing, I was forced into inactivity for a week or two, which was a fate worse than death for me. I was crabby and I hurt and I was bored. As I lay in my bed, I felt the inactivity settling into my body. I truly felt like my body was going soft and deteriorating, though I know most of that was in my head. At least, I thought it was.  By the time I was able to get up and about again, I began to realize that there really was more going wrong in my body.

At first, I chocked it up to getting older, menopause, and too much coffee. I just didn’t feel good. My back always hurt. I kept getting little illnesses. Nothing specific..sinus infections, belly aches, arthritis flare-ups. Then, I began putting on weight. Despite eating very healthy and being very active, I was putting on weight at an alarming rate. I was developing rashes all over my body that nothing could get rid of. I was tired all the time. My back kept going out. My vision was going downhill. There was always something not quite right, and as soon one thing cleared up, something else popped up.

I survived the healing up of my ankle, but my mental state sank rapidly. I felt depression creeping in and trying to take over. I was angry because I felt like my body was betraying me. I would try to sit down and write out my feelings, but even that was an epic failure. I couldn’t focus. I couldn’t piece together the words in a way that made sense. My thoughts were foggy. Unfocused. Useless. This, maybe was the worst part. Writing was just who I was. Who I have always been able to be. My brain has always been my greatest asset, but it was starting to slip, to malfunction. It was failing me.

Eventually, my back got bad enough that I went to the chiropractor. He told me that I had a bulging disk. He put me on the traction machine. It worked, but only temporarily. Soon enough, my back would go out again, then again, then again. My arthritis was going into hyperdrive. My hands hurt, my shoulder hurt, old injury sites hurts. My activity level was dropping simply because it hurt to move. And, through all of this, the weight kept piling on, adding to the problem.

In between all of this, my second grandchild was born. My son was dealing with some very serious dental issues. My husband was working more and more hours in the construction industry, and it was putting wear and tear on him that was getting harder for him to cope with. My mother was having a hard time recovering from ankle replacement surgery. My dad was dealing with long-term illness. I was getting more and more requests from friends and strangers to help them fix issues that their doctors couldn’t seem to fix. The farm still needed attention. My business needed running. Every appliance we owned was breaking down, as were all of our vehicles and farm equipment. There were many days when I seriously considered selling the farm. It was just too overwhelming. I was tired. I was scared. I was sad. I was mad. I was losing a battle that I just didn’t feel capable of fighting.

Then, life hit me right in the kisser. Literally. Suddenly, my gums began to recede rapidly. My teeth would frequently hurt. Even the roof of my mouth was sore. In the early part of 2016, one of my molars just broke. It was one that had an old metal filling in it from when I was a child, and that sucker just cracked right down the middle. I felt it go. What a strange feeling that was! It took all of 5 minutes for me to figure out that the situation was kinda bad. I couldn’t afford to go have it pulled, and the way it broke meant that every time my tongue touched it, it put little slices in the side of my tongue, both from the tooth itself, as well as the exposed metal filling. With no other recourse, I cleaned it out, sterilized it, then packed it with beeswax. That was working. Not great, but it was doing the job. There was no pain from the tooth, though I couldn’t eat on that side without dislodging the beeswax. It was awkward and uncomfortable, but I could live with that.

The final straw for me, though, came with the bladder control issues. I had heard all the jokes about not being able to cough or sneeze without peeing a little, but it was just a joke. Until it happened to me, anyway. It wasn’t so damn funny all of a sudden!

Through all of this illness and bouts of pain, the only thing that I kept coming back to was my weight. It just kept going up, and the more weight I gained, the more problems I had. Now, let me confess something here. I have always held a large amount of contempt for people who are overweight and blame it on a ‘medical condition’, most often something with the thyroid. It’s not that I don’t believe that it is possible, but  can’t tell you how many of my obese clients come to me asking, “why can’t I lose this weight”, then proceed to tell me how they don’t like water, they really aren’t crazy about fresh fruits/veggies, and they eat most of their meals from a box, can or drive-thru. I can’t tell you the number of sales I have lost because I tell my prospective buyers that the herbs I am giving them won’t help a whit if they don’t take them with a full glass of water and eat right.  All that to say, I was a bit reluctant to even look into thyroid issues as part of my weight problem. I refused to be one of ‘those’ people.

Instead, I did a million other things. I fasted. I dieted. I cut WAY back on the coffee. I tried every natural remedy that has ever been documented. I tried everything. Everything. Did you get that? EVERYTHING! Eventually, though, I couldn’t avoid it any longer.  I typed ‘thyroid’ into Google. The Universe shuddered. The Earth tilted on its axis. I cried.

For weeks, I did nothing but study the thyroid. How it worked. Why it worked. What it controlled. What it didn’t control. Why it quits working. Why it goes into overdrive. Foods to eat. Foods not to eat. Medications commonly prescribed. The benefits and risks of said medications. Natural alternatives to fix it. How to manage it. How to diagnose it. I poured through websites, medical texts, alternative medical texts, comic books, CIA records….wait…that was another subject…anyway, you get the idea, right? My life was consumed with learning about the thyroid.

When I couldn’t find any more info to study, it was time to make a decision. What do I do with all this info? Put it to use, of course. I changed my diet. I changed my schedule. I changed my thinking. Nothing. No change. I was still taking a nap every single day between 2-3 pm because I couldn’t function without it. I was still putting on weight. I was still foggy and unfocused. I was still feeling like crap all the time.

Finally, I couldn’t avoid it any longer. It was time to delve into the world of medication. I was, after all, desperate. I went back to the info I had gathered on medications for the thyroid. Now, let me take a moment to say this (legal issues, you understand). I do not suggest that anyone self-diagnose. I do not suggest that anyone try and fix their own medical issues. Talk to your physician. See ~ I put that in bold italics. You see that, right?

Okay, so I put together this list of issues that are caused by the thyroid malfunctioning. I had nearly every single symptom associated with hypothyroidism. What I didn’t have was a thyroid test from a doctor. The chances of me getting one were pretty slim, but not just because I refuse to go to a doctor. What I discovered was that the method used to test for thyroid issues is extremely unreliable. Unless you happen to catch it at just the right moment, thyroid problems often don’t show up. Further, because everyone seems to have their own ‘normal’ when it comes to T levels, what causes issues for one person might not cause a single issue for another person. So, as with most medical issues, a doctor was somewhat useless to me. Unless I wanted a prescription for thyroid meds.

Now, for the toughest decision I had to make. What was I going to do? Was I going to try a synthetic thyroid med, or was I going to stick to my beliefs and go all natural? I  hit the books again, and here is what I came up with.

Synthetic thyroid medicines don’t usually work for very long, if at all. Yes, I know there are some people who have had great success with them, but the more I dug, the more I found that the majority of people who took them were unsatisfied with the results and they suffered worse side effects than the symptoms presented. Same old story, right? What stumped me the most, though, was how they could claim to fix the thyroid with these meds that only helped with T4, therefore needs to be supplemented with a T3 medication. What about the other T’s? Aren’t they just as important?

I have no intention of giving you a big, medical explanation here. If you suspect you are having thyroid issues, do your own research. I’ll give you a list of some great places to gather info, if that helps. I’ll simply say this….there is a lot more to proper thyroid function than T3 & T4.

The real question, though, is what about natural alternatives? There is only one. Natural Desiccated Thyroid. I latched on with both hands and gathered every bit of info I could. I looked at why the medical community was against it and why the natural community was for it. I read case studies. I looked at adverse reactions. I looked at benefits. I looked at how it worked. What it came down to was this: Both the synthetic and natural forms of thyroid meds have one thing in common. Neither of them is easy to standardize. The synthetic forms have been recalled several times for inconsistencies in dosage, as has the natural form. The difference? Are you ready for it, ’cause this is the big one….While synthetic thyroid meds only supply T3 and or T4, desiccated thyroid provides T1, T2, T3, T4 and calcitonin. Why? Because desiccated thyroid is actually the thyroid gland taken from either bovine or porcine  sources, as these are almost identical to the human thyroid.

Yeah, sounds kinda gross, I know. But, does it work? Study after study, review after review, testimony after testimony seemed to strongly indicate that yes, it most definitely works.  Bonus…no prescription needed. So, I bought some. Once again, the Universe shifted. My life changed so dramatically that I still am a little amazed.

Here’s how it all went down.

Day one: Nothing much.

Day two: I think I feel a little better, but maybe its all in my head.

Day three: Holy shit! I haven’t felt this good in years!

Day four: OMG! I haven’t had a nap in two days and my house is sparkling clean! My grass is mowed and I can’t wait to spend the day with my grandbabies! All of my orders are filled and shipped, and I can feel my brain beginning to function again! Holy shit! Sweet baby Jesus! Wait…my back doesn’t hurt…and neither do my joints.

2 months later: Best decision of my life! I am finally back to myself, mostly. No more foggy brain. My arthritis has disappeared. I rarely take a mid-day nap. I’m seeing my weight slowly falling off. My dry, rash-covered skin is clearing up. My hair and complexion are doing great. I have more stamina and energy than I have had in years. Bladder issues are nearly non-existent. I feel…healthy. Happy. Normal.

Lest you think this is the end of the story, the last couple of weeks have seen a few problems manifesting. Migraines, which I haven’t had for years, are suddenly a part of my weekly agenda again. I was getting tired at odd times. My brain was having little moments of fogginess again. I just felt yucky. Not quite right. A little off. Did that mean the desiccated thyroid was no longer working?

No.

Remember that tooth that broke off and left the filling exposed. Yeah. Well, turns out that an exposed mercury filling presents a new set of problems. It’s also extremely uncomfortable. So, off to the dentist I went to have it pulled. I’ll admit that I’m a big baby when it comes to dentists. I hate having my mouth messed with. Hate it. I called the dentist we take our son to and begged for an appointment that day. Not because I was in pain, but because I knew I would chicken out and cancel if I had time to think about it. The dentist showed mercy on me and fit me in that day.

When the dentist came in and asked me what the problem was, I showed him the broken tooth. The sore, red, receding gums. The cuts on my tongue. He tapped around in my mouth, took an x-ray and poked my gums. The prognosis? My teeth were relatively healthy (especially for someone that hasn’t been to the dentist in 20 years). Very little plaque build-up, teeth firmly seated in the bone, and yes, periodontal disease that was kinda bad, but not horrible. And, a tooth that needed pulling.

Now, when he said, “your teeth are firmly seated in the bone”, he wasn’t kidding. In fact, they are so firmly seated in the bone that the broken one didn’t want to come out. It took some….persuasion. (Translate: extra anesthetic and firm, forceful extraction methods that felt somewhat like he was trying to break my jaw). I am pretty sure the dentist broke a mild sweat in his attempts to get the tooth to let go. I know I did! Surprisingly, there was little pain. Just a bit of discomfort.

In all fairness, he did warn me that I may feel a bit sick. The exposed filling and the trauma from the extraction, combined with me having an extra dose of anesthesia might cause this. I mumbled my understanding around a mouthful of cotton and drove home.

Again, the dentist wasn’t joking. I was all good the day after, but day three~not so much. The extraction site didn’t hurt at all, but the rest of my mouth did! I kinda felt like someone really had busted my jaw, and my gums were so sensitive that I just wanted to cry. I seriously considered pain killers, which the dentist offered, but I had declined. He smiled and said, “call me if you change your mind”. It was an option. Instead, I resorted to the natural stuff. Pulling oil, essential oils, pain-relieving herbs and my mouthwash.

Day 4 I felt much better.  Taking this as a sign that all would be well, I decided to get to work on some projects I had going. For those of you who know me, I’m sure you just giggled. I don’t really do small projects. I prefer big, outrageous projects, like putting a tree in my kitchen.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The cedar tree we put in our kitchen. Who does this kind of thing??

The project I decided on was, in fact, getting more done on my kitchen. I have a beautiful cabinet that has been sitting in storage for a year or so. It needed to be sanded down. Simple, no? It should be, but sanding wood ALWAYS gives me a sinus infection, especially when the wood is old and has been in storage for a long time in the Missouri humidity. Yes, I used a face mask. No, it didn’t help. I sanded for hours, mostly because once I had the cabinet sanded, I saw some other boards that needed sanding for a different part of the kitchen. Then, there were the small boards I had marked for making some cutesy little signs…well, the projects multiplied.

I went to bed that night feeling like I had accomplished quite a bit and feeling pretty good. I woke up and wanted to die. No, really. I WANTED TO DIE. As I slept, all of that sawdust settled into my sinus cavity and turned into a raging infection. The pain started in the left side of my nose and traveled directly to my front tooth, radiating out along my gums and into both jaws. The front tooth, though…my god…every time my tongue or lip touched that tooth, waves of pain would engulf my face. Unimaginable pain. Pain that makes you want do horrible, unthinkable things. Things like taking pain killers.

I didn’t though. I DID NOT BREAK!!! What I did was made me some extra-strong shots of lemon, garlic, honey and cayenne to boost my immune system. I took hot showers and epsom salt baths. I took detox herbs and didn’t smoke a single cigarette. I used the neti pot and ate natural pain relievers by the handful. I cried. I sought sleep. I cried some more. I thought about pulling every single one of my teeth.

That was yesterday. It was a really bad day. Today, though, things are looking better. The pain is very minimal and easily managed with natural pain relievers. A friend slipped me a pain killer…just in case. I keep looking at it sitting on my shelf. I know it is there as a very last resort. I can feel the infection clearing up. I checked my gums today. They are finally healing and firming back up around my teeth. I am pretty sure I am back on the road to healing.

Best of all, though? Today, I wrote this blog post. The whole thing in one sitting. The more I write, the more I want to tell you all! I have so many stories  from the last year that I want to share with you all! I have tried so many things ~ some that failed, some that worked spectacularly. I have projects completed that I can’t wait to show you all. I have so many things…grandbabies that arrived, grandbabies on the way, future projects, little bits of wisdom that I know you all can’t wait to receive!

Here’s to me finding my way back to health. Thanks for those of you who have stuck with me despite late orders, forgotten meetings, days when I just couldn’t function. You all are so much a part of the reason why I kept going, even when I wasn’t sure I could. I’m really looking forward to the future and can’t wait to share it all with you!

 

 

Bone Repair

Remember that scene in Forrest Gump where the mean boys are chasing Forrest and Jenny is there yelling, “Run, Forrest! Run!” Yeah, I remember it well.  Why? Because, once upon a time, I had an older brother and sister standing on the other side of the yard yelling, “Run, Tam! Run to me!”.

They thought they were really funny.

No, I didn’t have big metal braces like Forrest, but I did have to wear corrective shoes. I was very pigeon-toed and I couldn’t run more than a few steps without tripping over my feet and landing face first in the dirt, at which point my older siblings would roll on the ground laughing at me. It is a very disturbing memory, but that is another issue…

Eventually, I no longer had to wear the corrective shoes, but my ankles never grew quite right. They have, for as long as I can remember, been weak and prone to sprains. A simple misstep would result in a painful roll, followed by swelling and pain for a couple of days. I could always rotate my ankles and hear/feel a popping. Most noticeable, though, was when my legs were at rest, both of my feet would naturally fall inward at an almost right angle. Keeping them straight was a very uncomfortable effort.

So, it was no surprise when I stepped off the 4-wheeler and landed wrong, rolling my ankle and hearing a series of cracks and pops. As I lay there on the ground trying to keep the blackness and pain at bay, I just kept telling myself, “Breathe. The pain will fade any second…”

Yeah, not so much.

This time around, I had really done it. I tried to deny that it was anything more than a sprain. It is, after all, gardening season around the farm. I absolutely do not have time for a broken ankle. My ankle didn’t get the message, though.  By the end of the day it looked like this:

Swollen ankle Day 1

That was on July 23. Everyone was kind of freaking out and letting me know that it was probably broken and I should at least go see a doctor.

You all know how that worked out, right? Of course, I was not going to the doctor. I really have very few people left in my life that are willing to argue any medical points with me, but there are one or two willing to broach the subject. Both of them asked me the same question…”Why not just go have an x-ray so you know for sure?”  The answer was quite simple.

It seemed silly to waste hours in a germ/disease-filled doctor’s office so he could send me to have an x-ray taken, thereby exposing myself to radiation, only to be told that, yes, it is fractured/broken. The doctor would then offer me some preventative antibiotics and a round of pain pills, cast it, and tell me to come back in a few weeks to do it all again.  There are numerous problems in this scenario.

First, a hospital or doctor’s office is the best place in the universe to pick up some seriously nasty illnesses. Not to mention the hours wasted sitting and waiting for your turn with a doctor who is uninterested in the anonymous patient sitting in front of them.

Second, radiation exposure is ALWAYS a risky thing to do. Yes, x-rays are sometimes necessary, but this was obviously not a messy break. The ankle was straight, I could put weight on it, I still had full range of motion…and, even if it was broken I wouldn’t have let them reset it. I will explain why in a second. Needless to say, I didn’t feel that an x-ray could tell me anything I didn’t already know. Plus, as someone with moderate thyroid issues, any extra radiation exposure would have more dangerous consequences for me.

Third, ‘preventative antibiotics’ is a term that makes me cringe and laugh all at the same time. Preventative antibiotics for me is a good diet, an herbal supplement and general clean living. I spend my life in the search for a safer, healthier way of life for my family and me, which includes ways to keep our natural Immune System in good working order. This includes eliminating things like toxic cleaning and beauty supplies, eating organically-grown foods, avoiding processed foods, getting plenty of fresh air and sunshine. I am operating on the firm belief that my Immune System is operating at a perfectly capable level. Should an infection develop, I know how to fix that without prescription antibiotics, so what is the point?

Fourth, I am unbelievably claustrophobic. No, seriously. You can’t imagine. So, the thought of being in a cast gives me a case of the heebie-jeebies like you wouldn’t believe. Yeah, I know…whatever. I was NOT going to have a cast put on. Besides, that would have prevented me from being able to get at the break with my poultices and salves. Nope. Not gonna happen.

And, finally, the pain pills. Do you really want to even get me started? I never, under any circumstances, for any reason think that prescription pain pills are a good idea. Never.  Have I taken them? Yes. Would I ever take them again? Highly unlikely. No, this is not just to prove what a badass I am. I understand pain. Broken bones, natural childbirth, surgery…I even drilled through my finger once and had to have shards of metal pulled from the wound…I get pain. I understand the need to feel a single moment of relief from pain that makes you want to curl up and fade away.  But, the downside of finding that relief in a prescription pill is so huge and monstrous that it just isn’t worth it. Addiction, organ damage, bone damage, brain damage…and the truth is, most pain pills just take the edge off and make you loopy or tired. There are so many natural pain relievers available that the thought of taking a scrip med for pain is ludicrous. The natural choices may take a few minutes longer to work, but their effects are often longer-lasting and also provide healing benefits.

So, there you have it. There was no need to go to the doctor. I could splint it myself, prevent an infection, deal with the pain and heal it up much faster all by myself.  Here’s my little secret, though…I was kind of scared. I knew, in theory, that it was possible. I had seen it done. I have read case after case of herbs that worked for healing bones on a spectacular level. This was me, though, and, after all of my spouting off about the power of natural medicine, this was something of a test. Of my faith. Of my ability. This was a ‘Live it or leave it’ moment. I chose to live it.

The first thing I did was remind my husband how to make a poultice. I am quite determined to make an herbalist of him yet, and he did a fine job! He mixed up the herbs and added the oils and heated and wrapped and doted on me. I slept with the poultice on the first night. By morning, the pain was minimal. Definitely bearable if I was very still. I applied my Bone Salve several times a day and soaked my foot in an Epsom bath. I applied ice and drank herbal tea that had herbs to heal bones in it. I stayed off that sucker for almost 2 whole days!

Then, I needed to be mobile. I got lucky because our neighbor had just healed up from ankle surgery and had gadgets and gizmos that he was willing to let me borrow. Like this crazy boot:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGetting in to the boot is an exercise in fine motor skills and patience, but once you get through all the straps and velcro, it is a truly beautiful contraption! It was comfier than I expected, provided amazing support and allowed me to hobble around for short periods without a lot of pain. I kept it on for a whole week…almost. After the first week, I only wore it when I felt like I needed it.

It took a good 3 weeks before I was back to almost-normal. I most often forgot to apply the poultice, but I took bone-building herbs and tea, and used lots of Bone Salve. By the third week, the swelling was gone, most of the bruising was gone and I had full functionality of the ankle. I was pretty impressed.

Now, here is where I want you to really pay attention. I attribute a majority of the healing that is happening to a combination of herbs. The most important one, though, is one that the FDA has declared, “dangerous”.  They state liver toxicity resulting from the use of comfrey. 4 cases of it with sketchy details as the basis for their theory.  I won’t make you sit and read all the studies, but should you be interested in how they arrived at this conclusion, this is a fantastic starting point that is fairly easy to read. Like most of the herbs labeled ‘dangerous’ by the morons at the FDA, Comfrey has been used for thousands of years, across a broad spectrum of nationalities, with no bad press until the last few decades. The studies conducted have been on inbred lab rats that were given several hundred times the dosage of the questionable constituent needed for a human.

Comfrey

Comfrey

For the sake of argument, let us say that they are correct, though. Let us pretend that there have been 4 cases of liver damage over the last 300 years. Hell, let us say there have been 40 cases. Compare that to the antibiotics and pain pills the doctors try and feed you at every opportunity. Need I say more…?

Next, compare the risk of comfrey to the benefits of comfrey. Of course, I have read the reports on how comfrey has been used over the centuries, not just for healing bones, but for a variety of ailments. Safely. With no reported negative consequences. Dr. Christopher has a wonderfully explicit history of comfrey here that is well worth the read!

For the sake of time and space, though, we are just going to stick with comfrey’s ability to help heal bones. One of the many historical names is ‘boneset’.

It has been reported to have the ability to pull shattered bits of bone back into their proper place. It is also a cell proliferate, which means that it has the ability to generate new cell growth, as well as repair damaged cells. Can you imagine? A plant that is actually capable of repairing a shattered bone? These aren’t a few isolated reports we are talking about. It is hundreds. Thousands.

The stories that really hooked me, though, were the ones that talked about comfrey’s ability to repair old wounds and breaks. Ones that had already reset themselves. It was said that comfrey could realign bones that had healed improperly, or that had been wrong since birth. I will admit that even I was a bit skeptical of some of these claims. However, I never really expected to be able to test the claims. Ain’t life funny?

I have now reached the 6 week point. This is the point at which I would be expected to return to the doctor’s office, had I opted to go that route. As I lay in my bed the other night studying my ankle and admiring the fact that I no longer had a greenish-black kankle, I noticed something unbelievable. Remember when I said that my feet used to turn inward at a right angle?  Let me elaborate. My left ankle was so turned in when at rest that my big toe would rest against the inside knob of my right ankle. My right ankle was not nearly as turned, but it did have an obvious bend.

That is no longer the case. Check this out!

crooked foot

My ankle is straight. For the first time since before I can remember, my left ankle is straight! Do you see that?

Then, I rotated my ankle. The double-jointed popping thing was gone. Poof! Vanished!

I started paying attention after that, and realized that I am walking different, too. It is a hard thing to describe. Where once I had to walk carefully because there was a ‘loose’ feeling in my ankles, that was no longer a problem. My ankle felt firmer. More stable. I also noticed that my heel and the side of my foot were a bit sore. I have always walked slightly on the inside of my feet and my heel and outer edge of the foot never had to bear much weight. Not anymore.

The moral of the story? There isn’t one really. This is more about my renewed amazement at the power of herbs and the bodies ability to heal itself when given the proper tools. And, not just heal, but heal in a way that makes it better and stronger than before.

After 6 weeks, I still wear the boot occasionally because I have a penchant for over-doing it when my to-do list is getting out of control. I still use the salve to help soothe the ache that comes with damp weather or over-use. I still take it easy on my ankle because I know that it is still healing. But, that’s the whole point…it IS healing. Spectacularly.

But, still…maybe, just maybe…this was simply another fluke. A one-time thing. So, I am going to be my own guinea pig. Seeing as how my right ankle is still a little bent and much weaker than it should be, I am going to spend a couple of weeks using the poultice and bone salve on it. I’ll let you all know how it goes!