September 8, 2011

Bicycle Accident Part II ~ Herbal Triage {Still A True Story}

 Part I

DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME. This is not medical advice. If you are involved in an accident or have an injury, please seek professional help. If you’re having an emergency, please dial 911. If you are on fire, please stop, drop and roll.

Healing Mantra: The Force that spins the earth and twirls the galaxies is the same Force that is healing my wounds.

Three hours after the sidewalk attacked my face I met with my yoga dentist friend, Dr. Ernest Fontaine. He confirmed there were no exposed nerves or mobility issues. He would have to cap the broken teeth because the dentin (inner tooth) was exposed to the elements. Eating a “Soft Diet” was the stunning reality that I had not considered yet. He told me to come back next week for an x-ray and reparations—but first I had to stop bleeding.

Eating fruit and vegetable smoothies every meal isn’t so bad, except when your wife is sitting across from you at the breakfast table having crunchy granola orgasms. I was eating the same thing as Neela, our 7-month-old.

The instant we got home form the crash Erica’s primal instincts cranked into flux capacitor mode. She moved with the dexterity of an octopus, cleaning, wiping, rinsing, medicating and bandaging my wounds—all while holding an infant and keeping a concerned and anxious German shepherd at bay. Who is this girl?

She cleaned each abrasion with a homegrown St. John’s Wort tincture. A look at the date on the cap revealed that I had brewed the elixir exactly one year, one week and one day ago. It was extremely potent. The liquid was black and had not seen sunlight for over a year.

St. John’s wort has recently found a niche in the “wellness depression” market, but for two thousand years it’s been known as the most effective herb to speed wound healing. The plant contains glands that release a red oil when you crush the stems and leaves. It was believed that the red secretion was the blood of St. John himself. The medicinal properties are said to be most active around the anniversary of his beheading in late June.

The road rashes and gashes were then rinsed with an antibiotic solution of Grapefruit Seed Extract. I was also reluctantly drinking the foul concoction in a concentrated form.

We soaked gauze in homegrown Chamomile tea. This plant was worshipped by the Egyptians and praised by the Romans for its characteristic demeanor as an herbal bad-ass. The more chamomile is trampled, the harder it grows. Stomp it down, it gets right back up. That is the chamomile plantra.

I found some dried Comfrey leaf and mixed it with the Chamomile Tea. Comfrey has just about the worst reputation on the block among modern herbalist. The internet tells me that it’s toxic to drink and can cause death. But the 16th century alchemist, Paracelsus told me that its a miracle herb, known to heal broken bones. I’ll use it in moderation.

There was also a 9 month old jar of Marshmallow Root soaking in a local Potato Vodka. I used the alcohol laced mallow as an anti-inflammatory press for my lips and gums. This plant has also been known for its powerful medicinal properties for a few thousand years. We can thank the people of France for mixing it down with confectionary sugar and making a dessert out of it. The modern Stay Puft version does not share any of the botanical benefits and is similar in name only.

Erica sliced open several long tendrils of Aloe Vera leaf and wrapped them inside each bandage, directly on top of my open skin. The next morning I almost lost my mind when I saw the vague tint of green underneath my bandage. I thought my hand was gangrenous for a good moment or two while I unwrapped the appendage. Whew! I forgot we put that there. Immediately afterwards I ate some fresh sage leaf which has been known to improve memory and cure some types of insanity.

Repeat in 6–12–24 hours.

I never realized how healing our bedroom is. A beautiful bamboo plant sits in front of a window that houses a fiery grapevine. Thirty yards away the arborvitaes are standing tall at the back line of the property like a peewee soccer team photo—each just a little taller than the last. Dominating the distant horizon are the tops of massive 250-foot-tall cedars and pines, whose roots are planted firmly into the funeral grounds below. From death springs life and I was thankful to be alive.

Over the next 72 hours I drank various cocktails of St. Johns wort, chamomile, and marshmallow root teas.

Erica and I prepared contrast baths to enhance the movement of fluid and relieve swelling. I was soaking my face in a sink full of cold salt water for as long as I could hold my breath, exhaling slowly while still submerged. After 20 minutes, we drained and refilled the sink with warm water, no salt. My entire head was throbbing with concentrated healing energy. We refilled the sink one more time with several varieties of cold fresh herbal tea.

Temperature was my medicine.

After two and a half days almost all the bandages were off. I was standing in the backyard dancing with a cool summer breeze and letting it breathe directly into the exposed capillaries. I let the air touch my wounds more than the bandage. Standing barefoot basking in the sun’s warm golden glow, I repeated my mantra.

The Sun, Earth and Air were my medicine.

I let all the wounds dry out for twelve hours and by day three the swelling in my hand and shoulder was resolved. The store-bought Arnica Montana made a huge contribution as well.

I let the scabs take over and kept the scaly lizard skin semi-moist with various tonics and antiseptics made with mint and garlic. I rinsed my mouth with a refreshing Horehound and Parsley iced tea.

Time was my medicine.

My face and limbs became increasingly itchier over the next few days which indicated the next step in the process. The scales peeled away piece by piece revealing a soft pink skin. Within one week 95% of the abrasions were gone.

I was shocked at how fast I was healing, except for my big fat lips. They were experiencing a refractory period. My 7-month-old daughter and I were speaking the same language for the entire week—which became my medicine.

I had previously taken a 24 hour vow of silence, but this was different.

On the sixth night I froze Comfrey and St John’s wort in an ice cube tray and made an herbal ice tea press. I remember pouring the highly concentrated concoction into each of the small cubicles and watching the plant oils spiral throughout the water like a Mandelbrot screen saver. One cube alleviated my lip swelling by half. This is genius. Am I the first person to ever think of this, Google? Not even close.

Herbal Ice Tea

On the second evening after the crash, Erica gave me a loving pep talk. “Don’t try and figure this out. It’s not karmic retribution.”  It always feels different when someone else says what your thinking. But I wasn’t looking for a reason, I was patiently waiting for the reason to reveal itself to me. And it came—just as the massive earthquake originating in Virginia did the east coast shakedown.

To be concluded in Part 3…

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