Healing A Blood Infection with Herbs: A Narrative

For detailed instructions about how we healed Mark-David’s blood infection, please click here. Below is a narrative describing my experience with this herbal remedy and the life lessons I personally learned along the way. 


herbal medicineFrom what I can tell, 2015 was a year to remember for most people. Personally, it was no different for me. I stopped speaking to members of my biological family, my marriage ended, I fell in love with someone new, saw a man die, moved homes twice, helped support a homeless person for three months, went to three burns, on three epic road trips, visited Colorado for the first time and experienced hundreds of other firsts. You’d think 2016 would give me a bit of a break, but it’s proving to hold more teachings for me than 2015 did!

I took a pause from my writing when my old life crumbled because I didn’t know how to express myself eloquently during such a difficult time. Writing is like bleeding all over the keyboard and I couldn’t bear the sight of so much blood. And even though I’ve broken down a lot of barriers, until recently I hadn’t come to a place where I felt strong enough in my metamorphosis to write. I have been shy, waiting for the “right time to write again” (Oh, the homonyms!). And it turns out, there really isn’t one.

When I am honest with myself, I realize that I’ve been waiting for the right time to do a lot of things. The right time to speak a truth, the right time to stand up for myself, the right time to say that I love someone, the right time to tell someone “no “…

But, something happened last week.

It was something that forced my brain into life-or-death mode; something that snapped that last piece in me and drained all the fucks out of my body that I was able to give about anything. Ever.

herbalismMy partner, Mark-David and I (with the help and guidance of our herbalist friend, Eva), cured a blood infection that he had without antibiotics. We did not seek out the help of traditional Western medicine. Emotionally, it was the most difficult few days of my life and physically, it was the most effort I have ever put into helping a person become well again. It was the type of blood infection that probably would have sent 99% of the world (who has access to it) to the emergency room. Between the swelling at the site (wrist), the veins darkening all the way up his arm to the Lymph nodes, the deliriousness and body-temperature fluctuations, I was scared shitless.

To give you a bit of background, we had had an epic weekend. Between Friday and Monday, we went to a birthday party and a burn decompression in Atlanta and a blessing way in Asheville. As we were driving back to Atlanta on Monday, Mark-David started to notice the bump on his wrist and complain about it itching. It looked really similar to a spider bite I had gotten at Euphoria. Mine had swollen up to the size of a dime, had two pimple-looking-things on it that never popped, and went away a few days later. His, like mine, was about the size of a dime on Monday. As we drove back to Atlanta, we realized we were sick with a cold or flu (sore throat, cough, runny nose, etc). It was already evident that with all the activities, we had taxed our immune systems far too much. Little did we know how badly, or what other lessons life had in store for us.

tuesday facebook image

The image Mark-David posted on Facebook Tuesday, May 17th, 2016

Tuesday, I was the one who was most sick, so Mark-David helped me get to the tutoring sessions that I had scheduled for that day. It was easy for him to focus on me and ignore his wrist because I was really struggling to make it through the day. Since he had to spend about 6 hours in the car, driving me around and waiting on me to finish lessons, he got bored. And that’s when he made the decision to post a photo of his arm on Facebook.

Our friends responded in droves! We received many opinions of both supporters of Western and Eastern medicine. At first, it was great, but it quickly became overwhelming. The supporters of Eastern medicine shared so many suggestions of herbal and spiritual remedies that it got to the point of absurdity. The supporters of Western medicine offered no suggestions other than “go to the emergency room”. And this one suggestion, they offered loudly and repeatedly. It was quite bewildering because some of our friends even flip-flopped on their beliefs! We saw typical supporters of Western medicine advocate for Eastern practices and vice versa. It was enough to confuse us to the point of considering a coin flip to decide what to do.

thursday

The infection site on Thursday, May 19th

Sick and exhausted, we were too tired to do anything but sleep on Wednesday. Thursday, when we woke up and his normally thin arm was puffier than the Marshmallow Man’s from Ghostbusters, I was officially worried. The veins were turning pink, then red, and each hour they crawled up his arm another inch. It was clear the infection was in his blood and spreading quickly towards his Lymph nodes (unfortunately, we don’t have photos at this stage). By noon, I started reaching out to the one friend who had been really consistent with her herbal advice and seemed the most knowledgeable, Eva. She agreed to help and encouraged us to come to her work where she sold bulk herbs. Not only could we get the products we needed there, but she could advise us on them as well. I took advantage of the opportunity and we rushed over to see her. I drove, because by that point, Mark-David was mentally slowed down by the infection and couldn’t move smoothly or think clearly.

We probably looked like two scared, run-away children when we entered Sevananda to see Eva. I noticed our uncombed hair as we passed our own reflections in the store windows. When we got to her, she looked him over quickly and drew marks on his arms to trace where the veins were changing colors. Then, she quickly prepared a list of things we needed, flying around to the shelves, pulling out powders and putting them in bags that she carefully labeled. I was impressed with her grace and speed as I tried to keep up with her and take notes while she talked. Her movements were natural and her confidence contagious. It was like we were in a medieval apothecary! She confidently explained that we had to destroy all the bacteria: good and bad, then replace it with good. We were going to do it without antibiotics; oh, and while we were at it, we were going to gently draw out the infection without lancing the wound. No big deal.

The regimen Eva gave us was all-encompassing (click here for specific instructions) and she told me that the next six hours were crucial. It was exhausting to execute the tasks she gave us and scary to trust in the fact that clay, garlic, ginger, herbal tea, honey, tinctures and a few other things were going to do the trick. I knew we had to fight both the blood infection and the wound.

When we got home, Mark-David and I rushed to make a gallon of the blood purifying tea and get a poultice on his arm, both of us struggling to peel the garlic and make the clay mixture because of our lack of energy. Throughout the day, I tried to keep us fed, cooking with only organic food and eliminating all sugar, carbs and other chemicals. I knew that chlorophyll is a blood purifier, so I knew that green foods were going to be best. He has a fast metabolism and in order to keep his weight up, I came up with protein and complex carbohydrate ideas that wouldn’t feed the infection. Thursday night was rough because sleep was almost impossible. We had to administer something to him every few hours. I was starting to see why Western medicine had invented what it had. Healing with herbs was a matter of bombarding the system with said herbs 24/7. At least, at first.

It was difficult to let go of others’ judgement of us. We were bombarded with unsolicited advice, yet lacked the physical help and emotional support that we needed so desperately. Many people refused aid on the grounds that I had not yet forced him to see a Western doctor. We started to lose focus. I felt desperate and started to question whether or not I knew what I was doing. As some point in the middle of the night, even though I don’t fully believe in it, I performed a ceremony for us. I guess I was trying to tap into my “witchy” side. I lit candles and carefully laid out crystals and stones in a grid shape, focusing on attracting clean, white, healing energy to our home. At dawn on Friday morning, I was practically hallucinating from lack of sleep. I knew I was losing my shit because the first thoughts on my mind were doubting my choice of stones for the ceremony and entertaining the idea of getting a psychic reading to find out if I was right. That is a gross misrepresentation of my belief systems. But I still wished I was a witch.

There were many points when Mark-David and I didn’t get along well because he was in pain and we were both sleep deprived and scared. By Thursday late at night, my skills as a nurse and his skills as a patient were lacking in grace, to say the least. Friday we did the same thing as we did on Thursday, working around the clock to keep up with the regimen. I was scared because his wound was still very red, oozing puss and inflamed. However, Eva felt confident and told us to keep going. By Friday night, it was looking much better and we were both relieved. We were overwhelmed with gratitude for both the herbs and Eva’s knowledge. Her skills and our diligence had essentially saved his arm.

may 21 image from mD

His arm on Saturday morning, May 21st.

I’m not proud of what I did, but as time went on, I became more defensive of my home, our space, the kitchen and the herbs. Vicious, like a Momma bird, I cut off communication with the outside world. The anger didn’t stop there though. I nagged Mark-David when I thought he wasn’t drinking enough tea or doing his other regimens correctly. I yelled at our roommate and friends. Something was happening to me that I felt like I couldn’t control. I was so scared that I was getting angry, and I had never had that happen before. I would oscillate between keeping it together and collapsing into sobs on the kitchen floor. My lack of mental and physical strength was demotivating for everyone.

On Saturday morning, the worst thing happened. There was a moment when I pushed everyone away – even my patient. Around lunchtime, both Mark-David and our roommate made quick exits from the house after I blew up at them while making the day’s tea.

Suddenly everything was silent and I was alone. I felt like I had failed completely. But, it gave me a moment to breathe and a moment was all I needed.

I asked for tranquility, but what I got instead was more anger. I was fucking livid. I stared to realize that I had let the opinions of others affect my confidence in my own abilities. I had let the trauma my grandmother caused during my childhood block the memories of how she also taught me how to use herbs to heal people. I had let my insecurity of scientific knowledge affect me enough to perform spiritual ceremonies that I did not believe in. I had let my fear get the best of me so much so that I had prioritized only the consumption of the herbs, not the emotional and psychological support of Mark-David. I had failed the man I love.

My anger grew and I was like a ball of fire. I flew into action and started getting my home in order. I wasn’t giving up – I was going to fight harder! I looked outside in the backyard at the seedlings we had bought almost a month before. They were going to die in the next few days if I didn’t get them into larger pots or in the ground. “Fuck!” I said to myself, “We have pushed every living thing in our house to the limit!” The dogs were ungroomed and the house plants uwatered. The laundry stood in piles all around the room and my anger wasn’t subsiding. I stomped into the garden and that’s when I encountered the half-built fence that Mark-David and I had started earlier that spring. Not being able to do it alone wasn’t going to stop me, so I stubbornly hammered planks into the ground and stretched out the wire fence material around them. I didn’t finish it properly, but I managed to do enough to keep the dogs out for a few days until we could finalize it. I propped up pallets where the fence came up short.

When I finally got my hands in the dirt, I was already tired from the fence-building. It was enough to slow my mind down so that I could think straight. I started to realize that I was much more capable than I had given myself credit for. Having so heavily considered the opinions of others caused me confusion, but I knew the answers. My community was strong and even though they challenged me, they also helped me. We had managed resolve a situation as serious as this with methods as unique as the ones we had just used. I was grateful for all my past experiences because they had made me the woman I was. It was in that moment that I realized I didn’t need anyone else to help me through this. I just needed to pay attention to the opportunities that the universe was providing for me. What actual information I had needed to heal Mark-David had been easily provided to me. We knew what to do and were going to be alright. I reveled in the fact that I knew I was capable of not only using herbs for medicine, but also growing and cultivating them. It wasn’t magic and I wasn’t a witch. I didn’t need special crystals or stones, just a calm mind. I was a human being using plants for medicine. It wasn’t inherently spiritual or religious; it was just chemistry. Suddenly I started to feel rooted again; grounded; saner.

It felt like all the struggles of the last year resolved themselves in those two hours in the garden. I put the plants in the ground and took back my power. My insecurities faded and my strength returned. I felt clear-headed about other unresolved matters in my personal life and instantly knew what to do about them. I was done being weak and asking for everyone’s opinion. I wasn’t angry anymore. I knew I could do it.

saturday the 28th

Saturday, May 28th, 2016. Just a scab left!

Mark-David came home right as I was putting some of the last plants into the ground. I looked up to find him staring at me with tears in his eyes. I knew that he sensed something was different and was relieved and happy to see me in the garden, advancing a mutual goal of ours. I stood proud, he nodded and we made eye contact for a long time in silence. Afterwards, we hugged and apologized to each other for being unkind. Walking back in the house, I knew we would be alright. We could both feel the shift.

His health continues to improve, as you can see from the photos. We are eternally grateful to Eva for all her sound herbal advice.

The shift that happened that day got me to write again, which is something that I’ve been begging the universe for inspiration for during all these months of transformation. And yet, even though it flows from me again as it used to, this article somehow feels like my first.

Thank you for reading. I love you all.

To see details of how we healed his blood infection, click here.

 

 

 

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  1. Pingback: Healing A Blood Infection with Herbs: Instructions – Ashley Elizabeth Wood

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