The Grow Network: Inside Edition
‘I Smell the Infection’
“I smell the infection,” said my husband, Dave, as we met at the bottom of the escalator. I still leaned into him for a perfunctory, closed-lip kiss. And, I was just a little more than embarrassed that I had leaned further into him then he toward me.
“How are you feeling?” he asked.
“Bad,” I replied.
He tightened his arm around my waist as we walked toward the baggage claim area.
“Hey, will you get my luggage for me?” I asked as I disentangled myself from him. He nodded. Before I slipped off into the crowd, I said in a lowered voice, “I really want to go to the bathroom and brush my teeth and clean out my mouth.”
‘No, I Will NOT Go to the Hospital!’
A few hours earlier, back at the hotel in San Diego, I had yelled into the cell phone at Dave, “No, I will NOT go to the hospital.” At that moment, I longed for the good old days when you could slam a phone handset into its receiver and hang up on someone with satisfaction.
But I didn’t hang up on him.
He was afraid. I knew he was only trying to protect me. In emergency situations, this is what he reverted to.
“Hon,” he continued, “why do you want to take these chances? The doctor said last time that I got you there just in time: you were close to dying. You need a real doctor to lance the abscess, not some guy who butchers goats. The doctor told me there are lots of nerves and blood vessels there and it has to be done carefully. If one of those nerves accidentally got severed, you could be drooling for the rest of your life or have slurred speech. How would that be for The Grow Network and those videos you make?”
Last November, the salivary duct in my lower right jaw got hugely abscessed. I tried everything I could to treat it at home. I reached out to my local networks of alternative healers, but it seemed it was one of those times when no one was available. When I got to the limit of what I could handle, Dave took me to the hospital for treatment. (I wrote about this experience in the January 2017 Inside Edition.)
It should’ve been a simple, five-minute procedure to lance and drain the abscess. But the medical system turned it into an extremely painful 36-hour medical drama complete with CAT scans, IV’s drip feeding antibiotics, three doctors, and God knows how many nurses and technicians.
I came away from that experience knowing one thing for certain: conventional medicine knows almost nothing about healing a human body.
Duct Déjà Vu
Now the duct was abscessed again. I think it had been triggered when I was shoveling a huge pile of compost and inadvertently breathing a lot of the material in. Before it had really flared up, I left for a weeklong business trip in San Diego. But now, I was cutting that trip short to return home to Texas to seek treatment.
I have a friend, Abi, who has a lot of home veterinary experience tending his goat herd. Abi had agreed to lance the abscess for me. The abscessed area was large and white from the puss inside. It was a very easy target to hit with very little danger of accidentally severing something else.
I know my immune system is strong, and I have a bevy of herbal antibiotics to support the healing.
In the grand scheme of things, this would be a tiny wound compared to the other things I’ve successfully treated at home.
“Dave,” I said, “that hospital completely violates the first tenet of medicine which is to do no harm. They completely destroyed my gut flora; they injected me full of some kind of radiation for their CAT scan; they wanted to feed me sugar; and God help anyone who actually tries to get any rest in a hospital where they insist on poking and prodding you at least every hour or two. Do I need to go on?”
Dave sighed heavily into the phone and said, “I just don’t know why you want to take such senseless risks with your own life.”
The pain in my jaw hurt, but his lack of understanding hurt even more.
When I returned from the airport bathroom, Dave had my luggage and we walked to short-term parking. Neither of us spoke as he navigated through the toll booth, until we were settled down for the long drive on the country road that would take us home.
I would have been content to stare at the yellow lines in the headlights in silence, but Dave spoke.
“Hey, did you hear about an African-American woman named Henrietta Lack who died in 1951 with cervical cancer?”
I wondered about his choice of topic and suspected I was being set up for something.
Dave continued, “Medical researchers took some of her cells and these were the first human cells they could reproduce endlessly in petri dishes. Her cells are now famously called HeLa cells because they are widely used — even today.”
“Where did you hear about this?” I wondered aloud. Medical research was certainly not something Dave normally looked into in any normal day.
“Well, it’s been in the news lately because the researchers took her cells without her knowing it, or her permission. And eventually the family found out about it and there were all kinds of concerns about DNA privacy and such,” Dave said.
“Ahhhh,” I said. But before I could go on a tangent about the nefarious antics of the medical community, Dave surged on.
“Her cells have been used in thousands of medical research studies. They were used in the development of polio and other vaccines, cancer therapy, and in vitro fertilization techniques. They even used it for drugs for herpes, leukemia, the flu, and Parkinson’s disease.
“I can’t help but wonder why people would reject this amazing scientific medical research?” Dave finished.
I saw where he was going and decided to change the subject.
“Dave,” I said, “before I left the hotel, I managed to get in touch with Shifu. Would you feel more comfortable with him doing the procedure instead of Abi?”
Shifu is a friend of mine who is highly skilled in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Some of the stories of his healing ability were legends in our county. I had never used him for medical services, but had trained with him for a while in a style of tai chi.
Dave shifted in his seat and tapped the steering wheel with his fingers for a few minutes.
“Well,” he sighed, “at least Shifu has got some training.”
Turning to Traditional Chinese Medicine
The next day we drove across the county. Shifu lives in the heart of the Lost Pines forest. The trees grow tall and thick, casting deep shade. As we pulled in to Shifu’s little homestead, I recognized the old mobile home on the right.
I had been delighted by the rumors that he had recently gotten a wife. If there was ever a man who needed a woman….
I was so glad for him. Her touch was immediately apparent as the area had transformed from the bachelor’s construction mess to tidy little walkways neatly lined with stones and flower beds.
Off to the left was Shifu’s herbal office. It was a reworked pre-fab building that was about 12’ x 20’. Shifu stood out in front in greeting and I notice a bit more salt in his “salt and pepper” hair. I guess he must be in his 70’s now? He was in great shape.
Even before we stepped in, the rich smell of herbs enveloped us. Inside the building, every wall had floor-to-ceiling shelves that were neatly lined with jars. Every jar was carefully labeled in Chinese and contained herbs, roots, fungi, and all sorts of things I didn’t recognize.
Shifu ushered us into the cramped space, pointed to a chair for Dave, and ushered me to sit across from him with a small table between us.
“Ah, the forms,” he said as if just remembering them. I had heard that Shifu had recently gotten certified by some American accreditor for Traditional Chinese Medicine, so I guessed the forms were a new procedure to comply with. The certification process must have been a bit of an insult. Shifu is a sixth-generation medical doctor and learned much of what he knew directly from his father back in his homeland.
He looked under my tongue at the abscess, then asked to look at the top of my tongue. It used to be standard procedure for doctors to look at your tongue. What has happened to that practice?
He then asked me to put my right arm on the table between us. He took out a pocket watch and begin to do a three-fingered pulse test.
For skilled practitioners, there is a surprising amount of information to be had using three fingers to feel your pulse.
Shifu then asked for my left arm and did the three-fingered pulse test there also.
Then he asked me questions about my bowel movements, my heat and cold tolerance, if I was waking up in the middle of the night, and several other topics.
When he seemed finished, I asked, “Will you be able to lance this, Shifu?”
No, he did not feel that lancing was necessary. The problem was that I had too much heat in my heart and my liver. He would use acupuncture to relieve this heat, and the abscess would go away on its own.
Uh, what? How could a hugely infected and swollen abscess just go away without being lanced?
I am not that familiar with Chinese medicine so this proclamation was news to me. I asked Shifu again if he would lance the abscess, but he just waved me to the table and started his preparations.
10 Needles and 15 Minutes
I clambered up onto the massage table and laid down. Shifu carefully counted out the 10 needles and laughed a little bit saying, “We don’t want to lose one!” He carefully put them in my hands and feet.
He then took two needles and pricked the underside of my tongue just enough to get two drops of blood.
“About 15 minutes should do it,” he said and motioned to Dave to come sit in the chair across from him at the table and talk.
In the 13 years that I’ve known Shifu, his English has not gotten one iota better. And even though my ears are trained to Mandarin accents from my years of living in Asia, I still had a really hard time understanding him. But here is the gist of what he spoke to Dave about:
Shifu felt that most herbalism practiced in America was pretty good medicine. “Grandmother’s medicine,” he called it. “But it cannot compare with the 5,000 years of practice of Chinese medicine.”
Dave asked Shifu about the nervous system. Shifu replied that the Chinese understanding of the nervous system was very similar to the Western model, but there were differences, and they did not map out completely the same.
Shifu recounted some of the stories when President Nixon went to China. And of all the things that China offered, Nixon was most interested to see the acupuncture being used in hospitals.
After a bit, Shifu took out the needles and helped me up. He gave me a bottle of herbal capsules and told me to take three of them twice a day for a week. He said the abscess should be gone in about 24 hours.
He then handed me a bill for a total of $95.
I wrote him a check for $125 and handed him a big bag of kale and chives that I had cut from my garden earlier. When he read the check, he started, but before he could say anything, I told him, “It’s not a mistake, Shifu. Thank you.”
On the way home, Dave and I looked at each other and shrugged. I said, “I’m not sure what to make of that. We will just wait and see.”
At least this was something we could agree on.
In about two hours, even though the swelling had not gone down at all, I was feeling noticeably better.
At the family dinner table that night, I didn’t eat much but I was feeling even better.
The next morning I awoke with both an appetite and an ability to swallow without pain. The swelling had gone down in my tongue and in my lymph node, but the gland was still abscessed as large as it had been.
Shifu’s timing was a little off; it didn’t take 24 hours. It actually took about five days. But the miracle is — it only took five days.
No excruciating pain from the lancing.
No blood or puss to be removed.
No antibiotics were used.
No CAT scans were needed.
No army of medical technicians constantly prodding me.
This procedure had been essentially pain-free, didn’t introduce toxic radiation into my body, didn’t destroy my gut bacteria, and cost only a tiny fraction of the bill from my hospital stay.
And that is how it happened.
Dealing With the Root of the Problem
But I still had a problem. The main reason why this gland keeps getting abscessed is because of a small stone that is lodged in my salivary duct. How it got there, no one could say. It has been explained to me that it is like a kidney stone. It was blocking the duct, which normally had a good flow of saliva to keep the area clean.
With the stone in the way preventing saliva flow through the duct, there was always potential for infection if dirt did get in.
I asked Shifu if there was anything he could do to get the stone out of the duct. He sighed and told me, “no.”
Some people may think I am completely against the medical system.
But I am not.
I started making an appointment with an oral surgeon to remove the stone. The first available appointment was two weeks out.
While I was waiting, it dawned on me that I had two identical medical situations and both were treated completely differently. I understood that having these two experiences was the purpose of the stone. If you recall from the March 2017 Inside Edition, while on vacation at the sea shore, I made an offering to the Ocean and I explained that I was writing a book. I told the Ocean if there was anything it wanted me to communicate to the people of Earth, the Ocean should let me know.
Apparently, this is the way the Ocean wanted to communicate with people. I should write about these two experiences.
Since I felt this process was almost complete, I decided to talk to the stone in my body. I know, it is a little woo-woo, but what could I lose? While out in the sanctuary of my garden, I said aloud, “Stone, I understand that you have served your purpose, and you can go now. You can just go out the duct.”
I didn’t really expect the stone to listen to me: my husband, kids, dogs, and cats certainly don’t listen to me — so why should a stone stuck in my salivary gland respond?
I went ahead and confirmed the appointment with the oral surgeon.
But about three days later, as I was walking back to the house after finishing up the evening chores, I had an overwhelming urge to sneeze.
Before the sneeze, my mouth was empty. After the sneeze, there was a stone in my mouth! Its weight clanked against my teeth as my tongue moved it around.
The stone was about 1 cm long and 0.3 cm at its widest point.
Dave confirmed there was a big hole in the side of my duct where it had blown out. The hole healed up in a few days.
And now I have a piece of physical reality that continues to amaze me by its existence. Dave has also been deeply moved by the experience. He has a new respect for the “alternative” choices I sometimes make. You cannot argue with a little stone that you can touch and feel. It now sits in a small tin on my altar. It is a constant reminder to me that reality has many more layers than we normally perceive.
P.S.: I am thinking of having a conversation with the Ocean about being more gentle in its communication style. 😉