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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!

 

 

 

Zombie Juice

Zombie Juice. Tell me that phrase isn’t just a bit disturbing… Makes you wonder why I would name one of my products something like that, huh?

zombie juice

Well, you see, it started out as a bit of a joke. Then, we decided it tasted something like one would imagine a zombie might taste like, should you ever find yourself in a position to taste one.

That isn’t really a good selling point, though, so, after much consideration, I decided to tell people that I named it that because it will prevent one from turning into a zombie should we ever actually experience a Zombie Apocalypse. That sounds like a much better marketing strategy, right?

Fortunately, it is kind of a mostly true statement. At least, I believe it to be, though I haven’t actually had the opportunity to test out our hypothesis. Yet.

You may wonder what would cause me to come to this conclusion. Well, I will tell you.

When I set about creating my Zombie Juice, I was going for an end result that was good for the whole body. A tonic. Something that would boost the immune system, strengthen the organs, regulate digestion, cleanse toxins, and provide lots of vitamins and minerals to the body. I wanted it to have all the ‘anti’ properties…antibiotic, antibacterial, anti-fungal, antiviral, anti-radiation, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory…I wanted it to be strong enough to knock out any stray bit of illness or disease that might find its way into our system, but gentle enough to be able to take daily to prevent any illness or disease from finding its way into our system in the first place.

There are a couple of tonics out there that came very close to what I wanted, like Dr. Christopher’s Anti plague tonic, but nothing that hit the exact target I was aiming for. So, I turned all mad-scientist and came up with my own formula.

To date, we have had lots and lots of opportunities to test out our Zombie Juice. Colds, coughs, bronchitis, flu, strep throat, dental infections…all those little illnesses that run rampant through the work-place and schools. What we have found has been pretty amazing. It doesn’t just work…it works spectacularly!

It gets rid of infections of all types in about 48-72 hours. It helped clear up colds and sinus infections. It helped with constipation. And, while we can’t scientifically prove it, we all believe its preventative properties have allowed us to slide right through the flu epidemics that swarmed the country. While our friends and family that refused to swallow this ‘awful brew’ hacked and puked their way through, we smiled and choked down the Zombie Juice, germ-free.

I gotta tell you, though, it is some unusual-tasting stuff. Imagine extra-vinegary Worcestershire sauce. With a little dirt added for flavor. Yeah, that’s a pretty close comparison. I have contemplated adding it to salad dressing, though. Maybe in place of balsamic vinegar, cause that might be kind of good and still effective…

My advice to those who let the…unusual…flavor deter them would be this; Suck it up, buttercup! A spoonful of nasty will not kill you. Pansy.

This is one of those times when I am going to share my recipe with you. Generous of me, isn’t it? I will admit, my reasons aren’t entirely altruistic. For the most part, few people will go through the time and expense of tracking down all the ingredients, then properly preparing them. This stuff takes 6 weeks to make and it is a real pain in the ass. So, only the truly adventurous will bother to make this.

Also, I can’t seem to make enough and I keep running out.

So, here goes:

Zombie Juice Recipe

In a half gallon jug, combine:

½ lb organic garlic (minced, smashed or pulverized)

Apple Cider Vinegar (enough to fill the jug ½” from the brim)

garlic vinegar

Let this sit in a dark, slightly warm space for 5-6 weeks. Shake the mixture daily. Strain, squeezing as much of the liquid from the garlic as possible.

Gather up these herbs:

2 pts burdock root, red clover blossoms

1 pt alfalfa leaf, amla root, horsetail, black walnut hull, peppermint leaf, dandelion root, nettle root

½ pt milk thistle see, kelp

¼ pt cayenne, golden seal root

Get a couple of gallons of distilled water. Not tap water, well water or any other type of water. Only distilled water should be used.

Place each herb in its own separate glass container. I prefer glass Pyrex measuring cups.

Add enough water to equal 8 oz.

Place the herb/water container in a pot of water and place on medium low heat. This needs to be simmered down until it reaches 4 oz.

You do not want your herb/water to boil, just a very low simmer. This will take several hours and should be stirred occasionally.

Each herb is going to be brewed separately. This is an important part of the process. Don’t just throw the herbs in together. They must be done individually. Yes, I realize that this may take a couple of days. Do you?

As each tea is done, strain and add the liquid to your vinegar.

When all of the herbs have been extracted, add

2 oz of vegetable glycerin  and 5 oz of raw honey to the mixture.

Mix well.

Bottle and store in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year.

Here is how the adults take it:

When we are feeling run down, tired or sick, or if we know there is an outbreak of some type going around, or should we hear of a possible zombie attack headed our way, we take 2 Tbsp twice a day.

When we aren’t trying to get rid of an issue, we take 1 Tbsp per day…you know, just for general good health…

You can take it straight or add it to a little fresh juice…however you have to get it down is fine.

We don’t suggest giving this to any children under 2, but 2-10 years old, we suggest 1 Tbsp twice a day to fight off illness and ½ Tsp daily to help fend off illness. Nobody wants a child zombie running around town, cause that’s just…well…disturbing!

Of course, we are not licensed medical doctors around here, so you could just chalk all of this up to quackery. I don’t mind and I get it…I know, the zombies and all are a bit much to contemplate. I would never consider handing out any type of medical advice or diagnosis, and I most certainly can’t tell you that herbs and other ‘natural’ ingredients can make you better if you are sick. I’m simply handing out some friendly advice that we believe has helped my family and friends stay a little healthier. And not zombies. What you choose to do with the info is your own business.

So, there you have it. Sounds tasty, huh?

I guess I am little late in posting this. Go figure, huh?

As most of you know, we had our 1st  Annual Harvest Moon Festival in September 2013 and it was…well…let’s call it a ‘learning experience’…

Don’t get me wrong. We had an awesome time, made tons of new connections, met lots of new people and learned a wealth of little things that we hope will help us make our 2nd festival way better! It didn’t quite go how we had planned, though.  Performers didn’t show, schedules weren’t kept and admission was too high. Some of it couldn’t be helped. Some of it could have been avoided. Shit happens, right? But, we had a great time!

 

 

Live music and fire...how can you go wrong?

Live music and fire…how can you go wrong?

We had some awesome vendors! Bless them all for putting up with us as we fumbled our way through the event. We did warn them that it was our first year and we had no idea what we were doing….

josh smothers signs tie dyeThe kids seemed to enjoy the Kiddie Corral! Arts and crafts, three-legged races, hula-hooping…there was something for kids of all ages!

baby in car kids crafting kids hula hoopHorseshoes, hayrides, demonstrations, herb walks, awesome food…we had it going on!

hayride horseshoes Steve on forge

So, this year we are making a few changes. Admission is much cheaper. We really want this to be a family-friendly event, so we needed to make it affordable for families. No-brainer, huh? Yeah…

Our staffing will be a little better trained this year, too. At least, that is the goal.

Our demonstration, competitions and events will stick closer to the scheduled times.

Our bonfire will be bigger.

Our event will be awesome!

And, here are few more random pics from our first go-round

baby shoes bills vinyl craft project cynthiafood table goatsguests1 KC on swing kids crafts kids on hayride tye dye girl vendor 1 vendor 2 elvis

I guess that about covers it. As you can see, we were all clearly having a great time, and things really got kickin’ after dark, but the photographer had gone home by then. Maybe that’s a good thing….?

 

Healthy By Choice

I think it is safe to say that I, by nature, am a controversial type of person. Religion, politics, current events, healthcare….I freely admit that my view on all of these subjects tends to go against the grain. It’s not that I set out to create controversy, but it seems to happen quite often, all the same. I spend a great deal of time biting my tongue whenever any of these subjects comes up in conversation. Mostly because I think the people speaking about them are lacking ~ lacking education, lacking research, lacking common sense…just lacking. In all fairness, I can only assume that people think the same of me. I’m good with that. I tell you this to prepare you for the following post.

On a regular basis I am asked the same question; “Do you have anything that will cure (fill in the blank here ~ cancer, diabetes, gout, IBS, migraines, MD, HIV….)?” My answer is always the same. Yes.

I watch, inwardly laughing as I wait for the inevitable next question. “What is it?”

It is at this point that I usually cannot restrain my laughter any longer. It isn’t really malicious laughter. It’s more of a ‘you asked for it’ kind of laughter. I see the hopeful gleam in their eye; the expectant look on their face, and I sigh. As they wait for me to tell them the name of that one magical herb that is going to fix their ills and make them whole, healthy and nearly immortal, I wonder if it is even worth the waste of breath that I will have to expend on the speech that will deflate their hopes and burst their bubble. The speech goes something like this:

“Well, yes, there are several things that will help heal you of that condition. First, though, I have to ask…how often do you exercise, how often do you spend time outside and what is your diet like?”

Their face falls a little. Their shoulders droop, the light in their eyes dims ever so slightly. They shuffle their feet and slide their glance to the side as they reply, “My diet is not too bad. I eat a couple salads a week. I probably drink more soda than I should,but it’s diet soda!  I really like apples and oranges. I don’t really have much time to get outside, but I go to the tanning bed once a week, and I Zumba now and then!”

It is because of this very conversation, which I have at least once or twice a week, that I am writing this post. It is time to clear up some common misconceptions. Plus, I can now just direct them to my handy little blog post instead of wasting my breath trying to explain it. Here goes…

There is no magic herb. The Elixir of Life does not exist. It never has, never will. Two hours of Zumba and a five mile run will not keep you healthy. Tanning beds are not the same as real sunlight. Shocking, eh?

I know that some of you, at this point, are gleefully crowing, “Ha! She is finally admitting that natural cures don’t work! I KNEW it!”

Yeah…you are so very wrong. While I will be the first to admit that there is no magic fix-everything herb, I will also point out that there is no magic, fix-everything pill. With all of the hundreds (thousands?) of medicines created by evil pharmaceutical companies looking to make a buck from the suffering, disease-ridden humans out there, not one of them actually ‘fixes’ anything. In fact, there is not one single drug on the market that does not create a larger health issue when taken. Not one.

So, what’s the difference, then, you ask? Why not take the pill instead of the herb? Why not just fill the scrip your doctor hands you and hope for the best? That is an easy answer. Because, while there is no magical herb to fix your ills, there are natural remedies and cures for every single disease known to man. They don’t cause negative side effects. They won’t shut down your liver or kidneys; they won’t cause heart problems; they won’t cause cancer, bleeding rectums, brain tumors or any of the other horrible side effects of your doctor’s ‘magic pill’. Did you get the part about there being a natural cure for everything? Yes. Everything. Your disease or situation is not an exception.

The answer to your problem is this: Set down your coffee, tea and soda (Yes, this includes your diet soda and no, it is not healthier or better for you in any way so quit lying to yourself on that point!). Forget that fast food restaurants exist. Quit buying your meat from the grocery store. Quit buying fresh produce that is covered in chemicals to make it look pretty and last longer. Quit buying food that comes in metal cans, boxes or plastic. If there is an ingredient on the label that you cannot pronounce, put it back on the shelf and step away. Spend ten minutes a day outside. Get your heart rate up for at least ten minutes a day. It is that simple.

Stop with the eye-rolling. Seriously. If you are too simple-minded to understand this basic premise of healthcare that is your first problem. Educate yourself on the dangers of preservatives, GMO‘s, and processed foods. Go a step further and educate yourself on the dangers of the materials used to package those convenient foods you are stocking your pantry and refrigerator with.

Do not say something as ridiculous as, “Those are our only food choices”. Bullshit. Be honest with yourself, at least. Admit that you are simply too lazy to drive to the local farmer’s market instead of the grocery store. Then, head on over to the pharmacy and fill that prescription.

Or, take a little initiative and check out some online resources like localharvest.org that list all the farmers and co-ops in your area that sell real, healthy, chemical and preservative-free food. You just might be surprised at how close you live to one of them! Not only can you walk away with something healthy, you would also be supporting your local economy. This option effects everyone in a positive manner. Less fuel is used to transport your food from the grower to the table. Less money is spent on pretty packaging. Less waste is generated, so less goes into landfills (or oceans, or the atmosphere…). This option has no downside. None. Zero.

You don’t have time to play outside, exercise or prepare a meal from scratch, you say? Really? You seem to have plenty of time to play on the computer, watch tv, go to the gym, go to the ballgame, or generally waste on meaningless pastimes, but you don’t have an extra 30 minutes to prepare a meal using real, healthy ingredients? And, how much time have you wasted in a doctor’s waiting room or at the pharmacy…? Again, I call bullshit.

Don’t know how to cook using real ingredients? Buy a cookbook. Don’t know how to use an oven? Read your owner’s manual. Don’t like the taste of water? Add some fruit to it. Can’t afford a gym membership? Walk around the block…or yard…or parking lot. Just don’t want to do it? Then shut up and quit complaining about being unhealthy. Your health ~ or lack of it ~ is nobody’s fault but your own. Only you can make the decision to change it. Quit your annoying whining. Quit making lame excuses.

Next on the quit list: Quit saying stupid things like, “Why did God let this happen to me/my child/spouse/parent/friend?” Let’s get real honest here. God ~ whichever one you choose to believe in ~ had nothing to do with it. In fact, every single religion floating around out there has explicit instructions on dietary habits. If you have chosen not to follow those instructions, there are going to be some natural consequences. Illness and disease are one of those natural consequences. Period. Interestingly, all of the religions seem to agree on this one point. What you eat matters. You can’t spin that fact to suit your desires. There is not one religion that says, “Goest to thou doctor and asketh him for a pill to fix you” or, “Drinketh more diet soda with your Big Mac”. Nope. Not one. What all of them do say, however, is, “Eat more fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds. Exercise.” Okay, I am paraphrasing a bit, but you get the point. Don’t preach about the importance of religion in your life, then pick and choose which directives you are going to follow. Don’t preach on the evils of homosexuality, promiscuity or abortion while you are cramming pills in as fast as the doctor can prescribe them and carrying around an extra 50 lbs. That just makes you a big old freakin’ hypocrite.

Then, you need to address what you are putting ON your body. How many chemicals do you slather yourself with in a day? Hell, how many do you slather yourself with before lunch? Shampoo, conditioner, hairspray, perfume, lotion, face cream, toothpaste, mouthwash…have you ever actually read the ingredient list on one of your bottles? But, you aren’t quite sure why things like skin disease, brain tumors and cancer are climbing steadily, right? Seriously? Has it never occurred to you that your skin is the largest organ of the body? Your skin takes in and releases the largest amount of toxins. And the hair products? Really? You are rubbing a chemical cocktail on your head every day. You do realize that your scalp is right there over your brain and all those little nerve endings and receptors, right? Like…centimeters away from it…?

Whew…okay, now that we have that out of the way….

Chances are, if you eat and drink the way you were intended to do so, you probably aren’t likely to need any extra help with staying healthy. Most of your ills will right themselves when you treat your body the way it is meant to be treated. Once you quit poisoning your body and start giving it the proper nutrition, you will inevitably find that many of your ‘diseases’ have fixed themselves.

Unfortunately, many of us have damaged our bodies so badly over the years that even a healthy diet, fresh air, sunshine and exercise can’t cure all of our ills. Or, maybe you live in an area that has an inordinately high level of pollution. Or, your job exposes you to toxins that have serious adverse health risks. That’s where herbs come in. Herbs work WITH your body. They don’t trick your body into fixing one problem, only to create another. They simply prod your body to work the way it is supposed to work by giving it the proper ingredients. Some herbs work by helping your body to produce the natural chemicals that keep it functioning properly. Some herbs work by helping to slow down the production of chemicals that are being overproduced. Some herbs work by helping you to relax so your body can heal itself. Herbs work in a variety of ways, but they do work when used properly.

Another frequent comment that I encounter is, “I tried this natural remedy and it totally didn’t work. Natural remedies are silly.” Really? So, let’s say you and your best friend both have strep throat. You both go to the doctor and are prescribed some amoxicillin. Your friend is better in a week, but two weeks later, you are on your second round of antibiotics and still sick as a dog. Does that mean the amoxicillin doesn’t work? No. It just means that it didn’t work for you. So, while your friend has now moved on to trying to clear up the yeast infection that the amoxicillin caused, you are still stuck trying to clear up the strep throat AND the yeast infection. Lucky you, huh?

Herbs and other natural remedies are no different. There is no one-size-fits-all advice. That is why it is so crucial that you don’t simply take herbs as medicine without consulting a real, tried-and-true herbalist. If your herbalist isn’t asking you questions like, “What is your diet like?” “What color is your pee?” or “How often do you poop?” then you probably aren’t dealing with a reliable herbalist. Sometimes, the first herb or herb blend you try isn’t going to work. Tell your herbalist that it isn’t working and they will tweak it a bit…add something new or take something away. That’s just how it works.

It all comes back to this: there is no magic remedy. If you are not willing to give up the junk and replace it with safe, nutritious, healthy foods, then don’t expect good health.

So, let’s recap:
If you are serious about wanting to restore your good health, you need to start with the following:
~Quit eating and drinking crap. This includes anything with ingredients you cannot pronounce and/or don’t know what they are.
~Quit rubbing toxic chemicals into your skin.
~Drink more water.
~Get lots of fresh air and sunshine.
~Exercise.
~Walk barefoot in the yard.
~Laugh more often.
~Love bigger.

Ah….I feel cleansed!