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The Art and Practice of Healing with Plant Medicines
From the Patient's Point of View
excerpt from Chapter Five:
The Offering of Herbal Medicine
FORTY-TWO-YEAR-OLD men sometimes need to be reminded that bounding outside on a warm winter day to split wood ain't like it used to be.
I awoke the next morning sore. Nothing unusual in that. I had been swinging a maul into hardwood at a steady clip yesterday afternoon. Turning to get out of bed brought a sharp pain from my heart region up through the left shoulder. The pain lessened in certain positions but never quite went away. Some mighty powerful realizations come to the fore when muscular tightness centers in the chest. My health has always been so good. I want so, so many more years with Nancy and Gracie. Me? Heart problems? Come on.
Deep down a muscle strain hurts. Put that pain in the leg, the lower back, even the right shoulder, and you face a body needing rest. Put that pain near the heart and you turn pronto to the dire cautions of a first-aid manual: Seek medical treatment immediately. Yet the obvious connection of wear and tear the day before suggests I'm okay. Maybe the pain will go away. Not having health insurance enters my thoughts ... don't incur the big costs unless it's real, man. Nancy, reasonably, isn't so sure. The hospital route entails many choices we might decline.
The morning passes. I can't lie down comfortably. Ironically, the position most tolerable is in front of the computer, striving to meet the deadline for this book. Stress ... now there's a thought. Maybe I better go see the doctor after all.
Then we remember our friend, Rachel. A nurse will have a good idea of the possibilities behind this pain. Rachel has the voice of a reassuring angel. My breathing is regular, my pulse steady, and, no, I'm not sweating. Inflamed muscle tissue hurts ... why not try ibuprofen? (Talk about true confessions to the herbal world!)
Reducing swelling in the cartilage tissues should abate the aching pain if we're not dealing with more serious heart issues. It does. Now I face the days ahead with a truly appreciated muscle strain. It's invaluable when you hurt to talk to someone who knows.
I'm off one round of the anti-inflammatory after a reasonable night's sleep, ready to focus on the underlying causes behind yesterday's pain. Comfrey/lobelia poultices rapidly help the tissues in my shoulder regenerate. Ginger adds a soothing heat to the moistened herbs. Nancy brightens my outlook with calendula oil rubs. My herbalist and love feels quite capable with a muscle ailment, but in a dear expression of boundaries, acknowledges not yet being ready for hearts. Especially the big guy's. I understand. Experiencing the dynamics of healing from the patient's point of view teaches precious lessons.
The Herbalist's Way:
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