Sunday, 21 August 2016

Dem bones

This is a story about re-integration. 

Do you remember this old Spiritual?

Ohhh, the toe bone's connected to the foot bone
The foot bone's connected to the heel bone
The heel bone's connected to the ankle bone
Now hear the word of the Lord ..

That song's been in my head since I got up this morning, but my version of the lyrics goes like this:

Ohhhhhh, the hip bone's connected to the sinuses
The ear bone's connected to the ankle bone
The kidney bone's connected to the brain bone
Now hear the word of the Lord ..

I think my version's more accurate. That's because I just realized that the issues I'd been having with my sinuses, which have been driving me nuts, dry dry dry and swollen inside, and my ears too, might not stem from the sinuses themselves.

In fact, it might all be stemming from my wonky foot, a 10 yr old tendon injury that, in the words of my physiotherapist "will be with me for life".

The weather's been "close", an old-timey term for hot and humid with a hint of thunder. That kind of weather just plain brings any and all 'health' issues to the fore. Inflammation can be, and often is, exacerbated by weather conditions. My husband was aching all over and I had, weirdly, a terribly dry mouth. Like tongue-on-fire dry mouth. I was drinking gallons of water and peeing it right out, while every tissue in my body felt like it was shrivelling up. Ugh.

I also had a sort of stiff neck/headachey thing going on. I'm nothing if not lazy, so it took me a while before I finally grabbed a scarf and did the neck exercises the physio gal taught me years ago. Not only was the pressure in my neck and head instantly relieved but I got a sudden rush of saliva and my mouth felt better.


Does the Lord give me these weird things just so's I'll learn how bodies really operate?

Once that happened it didn't take long to piece the whole thing together. In summertime I tend to put that cranky old foot injury through the wringer with all the work I do in the yard, and while I've been clearing out a bed of perennials over the last few days, weeks  all summer long, especially so. That's given me a slight limp, which threw my sacroiliac off just a wee bit. That, in turn, stressed out my neck muscles, which led to clenching my jaw which is, of course, terrible for the sinuses and ears. As to the kidneys/brain mentioned in my lyrics? Well (I'm going on instinct here) the kidneys haven't been able to distribute fluid correctly due to the all over body tension. And believe me, chronic dehydration can give a person brain fog,which is probably why I didn't figure it all out for so long.

Now here's the thing .. if I'd taken my dry mouth and sinuses and crackling ear to the local walk-in clinic, what would I have ended up with? Antibiotics for the assumed sinus infection. If I mentioned the neck, I'd be told to take pain killers, maybe given an anti-inflammatory and sent for x-rays. Then there would be questions about whether I had diabetes coming on, what with the thirst and peeing. If I was asked if I'm sleeping well, (and of course I wasn't) various medical approaches would have been on offer for that, too. That's best case scenario - and it would have been all wrong.

BUT, and I don't know if this is universal, around here if you're sitting in a waiting room you'll see a sign that tells you "Only one medical issue per visit please". I'm told it's a scheduling thing, keeps appointments shorter so they can churn more patients through in a day. I might have found myself with several appointments and/or referrals to specialists, one for each symptom, with prescriptions for drugs to match!

No thanks.

Instead of taking my kaleidoscope of weirdnesses to an MD, here's the approach I've been taking: First, religiously doing my stretches to relieve the tension all over my frame. I'm slapping mullein root tincture on my upper vertebrae because it's got this amazing way of restoring synovial fluid so the discs aren't all bunched together (yes, it really does that). I'm taking dandelion root tincture because "when in doubt take dandelion" is just a good rule of thumb. (When is it not a good idea to support the liver, gall bladder, kidneys and stomach?) As well I'm taking mullein leaf and yarrow tinctures. Mullein leaf thins mucous, so my sinuses are clearing. Yarrow disperses heat (and I've got heat!). Yarrow will heat you when you're cold and cool you when you're hot, (among other things). Lastly, I'm drinking red clover blossom tea, as it works specifically on the salivary glands, it's a nice gentle blood cleanser and it's tasty. I'll probably be throwing all kinds of other plant medicines into me for the next little while, not to quell symptoms, but to support the various systems so they can bring themselves back into harmony.

It's the approach that matters. If we want to, we can look at each issue separately, but when it comes down to it, every subsystem within the whole is intimately connected to every other.

Of course they are.

The follow-up

Much better, all around.

Now let's talk about the spiritual significance of what happened there, because that's what matters to me, and that's what this blog is all about in the first place. I believe the Lord really does give me these experiences so I'll learn, not just about how bodies function, but about how I function.

How do I put this .. I'm a slow learner. I'm a 'quick study' intellectually, but emotionally and spiritually it takes a lot of repetition for me to understand and work with reality the way God intends it. Living and interacting with the world with the heart - the seat of the True Will - in charge, and the intellect as its servant, is my challenge. Without constant vigilance, I slip up.

The intellect prefers life packaged up into categories. It prefers facts. It divides. The heart sees the whole as more than the sum of its parts. Once I stitched myself back together physically, as above, I could see how I had divided my inner self in a way that had become inappropriate.

There is less about life that is right or wrong, black or white, than we might like to believe. Everything is contextual and as the context changes so must we. For a time, it was appropriate for me to divide my writing; I've had a plant medicine blog and a "God blog" (as it were). It's not that it was strictly appropriate for me, as a person, but for the work itself.

The plant blog, free (initially) of anything that smacked of faith, was there to say what the plants themselves say - "Here, you might need this". Linked as it was to a very popular food and health site, the many readers I could reach there could now get a taste of hands-on herbalism they wouldn't have had otherwise. Mission accomplished; appetites were whetted in those who needed it.

Meanwhile, there were those who followed me here to the God-blog and found themselves tasting something more. Here, I can share the spiritual aspect of my journey with the Medicine Plants as a part of Creation (note capital letters), and Creation itself as a responsive, living servant of God.

Sometimes the Lord sees fit to teach us with a smack up'side the head, but mostly He is patient and kind with us. The lessons of the Medicine Plants are the lessons of God's gentle hand. He rarely insists; mostly He encourages, supports, nourishes and makes us whole. That is exactly what the Medicine Plants do when we use them appropriately.

Free Will allows us to ignore anything we want. Human nature, since the Fall, has been to ignore His generosity and loving kindness. Instead we fight and scrabble for what we can gain. We battle against His gift of Creation, never noticing for a moment that it is as supportive and responsive as we need it to be. So responsive, that when we try to push it against it, it pushes back.

Our bodies, the environment, and even whether we feel we have "good" luck or "bad", whether we feel blessed or cursed, all of this is what I mean by Creation. Creation is not static. It responds to us, but it does so according to His will, following His Laws, not ours.

So it was that when I continued on, trying to push myself to write the way I thought I was supposed to in order to please the readers of the plant blog (or more to the point not to alienate them by mentioning verboten topics like faith), after a while something began pushing back. I felt guilty for not recording all the details of my summer's work with the Medicine Plants to teach them in blog posts over the winter. I procrastinated, I argued with my self until finally, the events recorded above told me what was really going on. It was time to re-integrate my writing so that I could re-integrate the parts of my self that write. What had been appropriate for a time was no longer so.

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, but not in this case. It wasn't a sinus infection, it wasn't diabetes, it was that I wasn't standing firmly on my feet or my convictions. I was limping along, physically and morally.

Does any of this really matter to you, the reader? I don't know, but it sure matters to me. This blog is simply a record of my steps and mis-steps along the way, a record of what can happen for one person, not what will happen for everyone. Still, my stories may serve someone if they offer a taste, whet an appetite for exploring their own experience from a different point of view.


  1. Oh yes, compartmentalization of the self is a part of the Curse of the Fall.

    1. And our whole society seems to be built on it!

  2. "Only one medical issue per visit please". I am blessed in that I just carry my list of concerns in to my doc's office and we address them. Then we decide whether any of it is serious enough to warrant actual intervention or if my way of dealing with things Nature's way will do.

    1. You are fortunate to have someone like that.

  3. "Without constant vigilance, I slip up."

    You got that right! It's literally a moment by moment struggle, for me anyway. Only because my mind still wants to be the boss. It will lose eventually, but not without a fight. Crazy, huh?

    1. I dunno. It's crazier not to try, right?

  4. This reader thinks it matters. Thanks for a post to spend time thinking about.

  5. Yes. When I started eating whole, real food and felt so much better, I felt "right." Like this is what I was supposed to be doing all along! It felt spiritual. And then I'd read comments on blogs about people poking fun of people following certain diets and how it was so spiritual for them! I felt kooky, but you said it well when you described compartmentalizing! They were compartmentalizing and I felt bad for not compartmentalizing. I keep thinking, if I can get my house in order, I can write. But that's compartmentalizing, isn't it!?

    On the idea of one health problem per visit, it's about reimbursement. Health insurance plans will only pay for one problem per visit. That's it.

    Well, must go. Good thoughts.

    1. Ever since I wrote this post I've been seeing where I compartmentalize, and in some cases I'm just going to let it happen. AND then reintegrate when it's time. It's got to be one of those endless, circular things.

    2. Probably is a circular thing. But when I get tense, do it more, I notice.

  6. Good approach, Christine. We can compartmentalize some things just fine; it takes heart wisdom to discern when it's wrong.

    1. Thanks Ed.

      One of the rewards of blogging is being able to stand back and look at what I've said, then rethink as necessary. And the feedback. I love me some feedback.

  7. P.S. re the one health problem per visit - this blog is coming to you from Canada-land; no private insurance here, "free" health care (well, tax payer funded but let's not split hairs). But when MD's are paid by how many bodies they see in a day, then what I was told is probably accurate. Either way, it borders on negligence.