Taking Charge of Our Own Health

July 6, 2012

“Within all of us is the archetype of the Divine healer. This Divine healer is the true healer in all beings, not any particular individual or special personality. To heal ourselves we must set this Divine healer in motion within ourselves.” – Sri Dhanvantari Namah

In the wee hours of March 31, 2012, I awoke suddenly with my heart pounding out of my chest. I noticed that my left hand was grossly swollen and itching and that the swelling was working its way up my arm. I got up in a panic and tried to assess the situation. Being alone, I let fear get the better of me. I worried that I was having an anaphylactic shock reaction and so I reluctantly called 911.

My apartment is just down the street from a fire station so within minutes there were firemen pounding up my stairs followed by two EMS paramedics. It was 3am. Gulp. So embarrassing. They hooked me up to a heart monitor and gave me an okay there, but the paramedic taking my blood pressure told me it was 200/100. Yikes. They asked me if I wanted to get dressed before they took me to the hospital. Well, the word hospital got my attention and my holistic health persona took over. I asked if I could be having an anaphylactic reaction and they said that although it looked like an allergic reaction, it didn’t appear to be life threatening. I declined a ride to the hospital, signed the waiver and said thank you.

Somehow I managed to fall back asleep and the next day, which was a Saturday, I begrudgingly ended up at a clinic with my still-swollen hand. I was relieved to see that there was only one other patient in the waiting room. But my optimism was dashed when the doctor came in to see me. She walked into the examining room, turned her back on me and curtly said “Why are you here?” No handshake, no niceties.

When I told her what had happened, she took a quick look at my hand, declared it was cellulitis and that I needed an antibiotic. I replied that I would only consider taking an antibiotic if it was a staph infection and asked if she would please draw blood. “Oh…you’re one of those healthy types who don’t take antibiotics,” she said, and followed with a mini rant about “us.”

I was speechless. I questioned her cellulitis diagnosis because there was no pain, only itching. She ignored me and pulled out the blood pressure cuff. My blood pressure was still elevated, no surprise after this stressful ordeal, but it was considerably lower than 200/100. The doctor immediately started writing me a prescription for high blood pressure medication (HCTZ) and one for an antibiotic (Keflex). I bit my tongue, paid my bill and made a half-hearted effort to make it to the pharmacy on time, only to find it had closed an hour earlier than what was posted on the door. Was this a sign?

That night I reached for my trusty oil of oregano remembering that in addition to having anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal properties, it also acts as an antihistimine. I took one drop orally and put a drop in some coconut oil and rubbed it on my hand. The next morning, my hand was almost back to normal.

Here comes my disclaimer. I am not a medical doctor or a nurse. I did spend one semester in nursing school before transferring to art school and once had a dream about Florence Nightingale. But in all seriousness, I am not dishing out medical advice. I am simply telling my story and trying to illustrate the importance of taking back the power of healing our bodies.

Since overcoming the pain of fibromyalgia using a holistic approach, I have learned how to listen to my body and I always seek a mind, body, spirit approach to healing first. If I need a little helping hand, naturopaths, acupuncturists, homeopaths, herbalists and energy healers are my first line of defense. Yes, I am grateful that there are Western medical doctors who can mend broken limbs, stitch up wounds and perform life-saving surgeries. And I know many who are caring individuals with great bedside manners. But I believe their alliance with pharmaceuticals is often misguided.

I feel strongly that antibiotics are overprescribed and I have not used them myself in years. I sometimes wonder what it would take for me to turn to them again. I thought, well, if I had pneumonia I would probably take them. Instead, I got a nasty case of whooping cough and lived to tell about it after being healed with the help of a Traditional Chinese Medicine doctor. Or maybe a staph infection would warrant antibiotics. But then I got a staph infection on my shoulder and, against everyone’s advice, I opted for Chinese herbs and energy healing. The infection was gone within days and my shoulder was intact, with not even a visible scar.

I personally don’t think any pharmaceutical drug should be taken lightly–over the counter or behind the counter. Their overuse today is mind-blowing and the statistics are bleak. According to an article last year in the New York Times poisoning is now the leading cause of injury death, and 90 percent of poisonings were caused by drugs.

I did take the matter of my elevated blood pressure seriously. My diet is very healthy so I doubted that was the culprit. I meditate daily and am calmer than I’ve ever been, but I decided to monitor my blood pressure twice a day for a few weeks. It was elevated for a few days after the emergency before it began creeping back down to a normal range. Probably the most helpful thing in bringing it down was not a pill, but an email I received from my friend Ross telling me about a method he learned from Gregg Braden, a pioneer in bridging science and spirituality, to achieve heart coherence which also lowers blood pressure. I have pasted it below.

One evening I took my blood pressure and it was 158/80–higher than it had been in days. I decided to do Gregg’s exercise, combined with a little aromatherapy. I gently inhaled Young Living’s Peace and Calming essential oil blend as I meditated. After 10 minutes, I re-took my pressure. It had dropped to 127/76!

Here are a few key things to remember if you are interested in regaining control over your health:

  •  Our bodies are all different. Even the healthiest food or herb may not be right for you. Get to know your body.
  •  Take the time to educate yourself about all types of healing modalities so you can make smart choices. Finding a primary care doctor who is open to all methods of healing is well worth searching for.
  •  Eat organic, seasonal foods whenever possible. Avoid processed and genetically modified foods.
  •  Drink pure filtered water (shower with it also), and lots of it.
  •  Learn to meditate. There is nothing about the mind, body or spirit that isn’t improved through meditation.
  •  Be patient. It sometimes takes years for the body to reach a state of dis-ease and it takes time to get back into its normal state of balance.
  •  And last, but not least, always always trust your intuition.

Get Out of Your Head and Into Your Heart (From Gregg Braden)

Place one or both hands on your chest, over your heart.

1. Think of something that makes you smile – something you are grateful for.
2. Hold that thought while you start taking slow, somewhat deep, conscious breaths.
3. Notice your heart and your hand(s) rising and falling on your chest. Do this for at least 3-5 minutes.

It WILL help immediately and for hours afterward.
Repeat as necessary.

Here are some books that have helped me on my own healing journey:

  1. This is a great article and so needed! People take pharmaceuticals and OTC drugs so cavalierly (and then they end up in my drinking water which is another story). I’ve been called “disgustingly healthy” because I don’t take any meds and don’t eat artificial food. Even with my worst injury, over a year ago when I fell down stairs on my face and landed on my head on the flagstone at the bottom, dizzier than I’ve ever been and looking like I’d been beaten up, the strongest “drug” I took was tea tree oil, my antibiotic of choice, for the facial lacerations. A chiropractor and massage therapist worked on me soon afterwards, but I wasn’t gong near anyone who would tell me I needed drugs, even some questionable salve on my wounds which would slow down the natural healing. Yes, meditation helped a lot, as did EFT, and I’m still getting cranial adjustments, but what I think helped the most was the rock-solid confidence that my body knows how to heal. I just have to give it a little help and support sometimes (which may be just a nap!). I am not a doctor either, and I have great respect for anyone in that difficult profession. I’m hoping with what we’re learning from Deborah’s energy medicine training I’ll never need a traditional western doctor. Oh, and I have had a series of dreams where I was getting a masters degree in nursing, at a college in upstate NY in a place called Aurora (lots of light?)! This is not something I ever considered doing, especially when I was a computer programmer (when the dreams started), but perhaps I, like you, do have some innate healer energy. Deborah says we are all natural born healers, that we just need to re-learn what we’ve forgotten. Take care and keep up the good writing, my friend.

  2. Barbara, this is another great article. I am 100% with you. I am working for hospital and see it everyday how people are over medicated.
    Thank you very much for a useful information about essential oils. You should write a book.
    Many blessing to you, Ludmila

  3. Thank you, Ludmila! You are always so supportive of me! 🙂 You will get a free copy of my first book because you were so encouraging! 🙂 The hospital is lucky to have such a bright light like you shining in such a dark environment. Much love, Barbara

  4. Lily (Mathie :) ) July 7, 2012 at 9:27 pm Reply

    Love it, Barbara! I’m going to go meditate now. 🙂

    I also haven’t taken pills in years. Last two times I had serious side effects, so anytime a doctor or a well-wishing person suggest a medication, I have my ‘funny horror stories’ to tell them. 🙂

    Your questioning what it would take for you to take an antibiotic reminded me of how I was postponing my daughter’s vaccination. First, I thought, when she is 6 months old. Then I thought, a few more months, maybe a year. Then I thought, later. And now I realize that it’s either never or some particular vaccinations much later in her life. 🙂

    I’d love to hear more about how you overcame fibromyalgia.

    • Hi Lily! I can picture your sweet face while reading your comment! 🙂 I wish I had known more holistic approaches when I was younger to help myself and my children. Now I’m making up for lost time! We will have a “fibromyalgia talk” soon. Hope to see you at a workshop. Love, Barbara

  5. Thanks, Barbara. I like your article and I like your perspective. We are blessed to receive your insight and direction. Tea tree oil and oil of oregano. I’m learning little by little, bit by bit. I’ve pretty much ditched my prescribed meds because I haven’t been able to see that they’ve done much. It was like when I hit fifty-five or so, the medical establishment thought I was ripe for everything ever manufactured. It’s been ridiculous to me, so I’ve let my prescriptions run out, purposely. And I do believe in the ability of the body to take care of itself. I only wish I hadn’t been exposed to so much sugar in everything from age 7 to 65. I’m now cutting back on it as it’s only slightly less destructive to the “natural man” than are tobacco products. That’s my take on it, anyway.

    • Thanks, Bill! – It’s a great take, and I wish you well with it! I agree about the sugar – it’s so destructive in so many ways. Better late than never though – we should bow down every day to our bodies for all they do for us despite our bad habits! 🙂

  6. Thank you dear Barbara for this lovely post! Just want you to know that I am feeling a lot better and on the way to heal thanks to acupuncture, bio-electric stimulation, homeopathy, my trampoline, listening to my heart, living a creative life, having my own studio and having moved to a little city surrounded by nature and with a very peaceful energy and a physiotherapist who works holistically. I do have a lot more energy now and it feels so good. Still working on the food thing, as I believe this is an important component as well, so thank you for sharing this book list with us. Didn’t know you were writing a book: I am really curious so please keep us posted! Have a great Sunday! Warm hug from Belgium x

    • Hi Cococita! I think of you often and am so very happy to hear of your progress!!! When you get through this difficult time in your life you will be a shining example to others of the power of mind, body, spirit medicine! Thank you for always taking the time to leave me such wonderful comments. 🙂 They feed my soul. xoxo

  7. Hey, Aunt Barbara! Don’t know if I told you this story before, but this post reminded me of it. Last year, I had a bacterial infection on my back that covered 4 or 5 square inches. It started as a couple red bumps that I honestly thought were pimples. They seemed to heal, but then came back and brought reinforcements. I wound up going to a clinic, where a nurse practitioner told me I indeed had impetigo, a fancy word for skin infection. Problem was, without culturing or swabbing it, she wouldn’t be able to tell me if it were staph or strep. That test would, of course, cost uninsured me more money. She wound up writing me a prescription for cephalexin (Keflex), which I filled. There was a chance the ceph wouldn’t work for whichever bacteria was responsible and I may have to switch antibiotics. I went home with my pills, but didn’t take any of them…instead, the following day, I ran by a homeopathic office and picked up a bottle of colloidal silver, which the practitioner told me would work regardless of bacterial origin. I took silver orally 5x/day for 10 days. By day 2, my back had stopped getting worse. By day 4, the bumps were disappearing. It worked like a charm and I never had to take a single capsule of Keflex. I keep a bottle around as my standby for the first sign of colds or other infection.

  8. Intestinal troubles after operation may be a indicator of a staph infection, according to the Mayo Clinic. Vomiting and feelings of nausea after surgical treatment may result from toxic shock syndrome, that is a serious problem brought on by widespread staph infection. Individuals who have a feeding tube implanted immediately after surgery have got a bigger chance of getting staph infections as a result of contamination of the tube.”

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