MARCH 2015
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Healing Wise ...
with Susun Weed

Trauma Care in the Wild, part 5 & 6
Story medicine is central to the Wise Woman Tradition, which heals by nourishing, because story is a kind of nourishment. And, as with anything we use for nourishment, there are "junk foods" in story medicine, too.

Blame, shame, and guilt are the junk foods of story medicine. Unfortunately, many of us were raised on this junk, fed to us by parents, teachers, religious figures in our lives, and even our friends. We have internalized their voices, and now heap shame and blame and guilt on ourselves. . . especially when we are in an accident or get sick.

The predominant story about health in our culture is that you are never supposed to get sick or injured. If you do, something is wrong with you (shame and guilt), or you are the victim of someone else's bad intentions (blame). These ideas have deep historical roots and lots of modern offshoots. The Heroic Tradition is exceptionally fond of blame, shame, and guilt. If you are sick, you did something to cause it; if you are injured, there is a lesson to be learned – or so they would have us believe.

I asked my mentor Elisabeth Kubler Ross why people blamed themselves for their accidents, their cancer, their terminal diagnosis. "Because guilt is preferable to chaos," she replied with a sad smile. "The world we inhabit is fundamentally chaotic. Bad things can just happen. We aren't in control of everything." she continued.

When Eaglesong pulled me up out of the river, I did not blame myself, the rock, the water, or anyone or anything. Blame looks backwards, to a time that we cannot change. Affirmations take us into the future, into a time that we can change.

Affirmations take the place of blame, shame, and guilt. They help us avoid looking for the reason we are hurt.  Affirmations short circuit our desire to blame. Affirmations lead the way to a new story.

 "My body heals rapidly and well."

And it does. Now eight weeks since the injury, most of the swelling has receded, say 99 percent. I have stopped using ice packs and I wrap my wrist with a comfrey poultice only once or twice a week. I apply arnica oil or St. Joan's wort oil or comfrey root ointment twice a day. I am able to bring in firewood, though mostly left-handed. I can hold two pounds unassisted in my injured hand. I can finally type with two hands. I can't milk with my right hand yet, though.

Next: Rebuilding muscle mass and strength. Looking for a physical therapist. 

Trauma Care in the Wild, part 6

I am asking everyone for a story that relates to my injury. And I am telling my story.
I keep asking for stories to calm my fears. Like all of us, the fear part of my brain pops up at odd moments and insists that I cannot take care of such a severe injury at home, that I am foolish and unwise. The fear brain needs to hear from "experts."

Everyday my hands and wrists are healthier and more flexible.

I asked a massage therapist who focuses on sports injuries. She says I have a third-degree ligamentous sprain and that that kind of injury can take months to heal completely. (We are at week ten, not even three months yet. Okay.)

My body heals rapidly and well. (Rapidly is not at internet speed but body speed.)

I asked Aviva Romm, MD, herbalist, midwife, mother of three, and good friend. She says the worst thing that could happen is that circulation could be impaired to my hand. I reassured her that, while that was true for the first few weeks (I could see that my right hand was paler than the uninjured left), full blood flow returned once I got the swelling controlled. (My injured hand and wrist are now a healthy pink; in fact, my right hand is ruddier than my left because I spend part of each day massaging it.)

"Your body has a miraculous ability to heal itself," Aviva affirmed for me.

Telling the story is just as important as listening to stories. Telling one's story changes your perception of the health challenge/change. Telling the story changes others and gives us all permission to be more pro-active in own health. I think of the woman who refused to believe that she had to have a C-section for her second child because she had had one for the first. She fought for her right to have a try at birthing naturally. She not only had a successful vaginal birth, she told her story afterward. Because she told her story, all women (and doctors) know that V-BAC (Vaginal Birth After Caesarean) is possible – and preferred.

Telling the story is part of healing. We begin with the first medicine (serenity) and move on through the medicines/rivers, slowly or quickly as the situation demands, until we are in the river of healing that is most effective. So long as we use only the first four medicines (serenity, story, faith, and lifestyle), we need not return, for we have stayed within the rivers that build health. But if we cross the Great Divide, and engage with the last three medicines (alternative, pharmaceutical, hi-tech), we must go back through the medicines in order to be fully healed, whole, and well.

Trauma throws us over the Great Divide and into dangerous rivers where x-rays, surgery, and drugs predominate. We must go back. Modern medical practice now understands the need for restoration surgery, immobilization, and other severe measures, so physical therapy (Step 4: stimulate and sedate) is now standard practice after traumatic injury.

This was not the case 50 years ago when I pulled the ligaments off my left knee in a skiing accident. A cast held my leg immobile for the next three months, and when it was removed, no physical therapy was recommended, or even available when I asked for it. Needless to say, I engaged in long vigorous walks with a home-made weight (there were none for sale at that time) strapped to my left leg for the next six months to rehabilitate the muscles and connective structures of my leg.

I, too, needed the Fifth Medicine: I sedated the pain with herbs. I iced the swelling. So I return. I return to the Fourth Medicine: Lifestyle. I return to the Third Medicine: Faith. I return to the Second Medicine: I tell my story. I return to the First Medicine: Serenity.

Thanks for listening.

Susun Weed’s books:

Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year
Author: Susun S. Weed. Simple, safe remedies for pregnancy, childbirth, lactation, and newborns. Includes herbs for fertility and birth control. Foreword by Jeannine Parvati Baker. 196 pages, index, illustrations.
Retails for $14.95
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Healing Wise
Author: Susun S. Weed. Superb herbal in the feminine-intuitive mode. Complete instructions for using common plants for food, beauty, medicine, and longevity. Introduction by Jean Houston. 312 pages, index, illustrations. Retails for $17.95

NEW Menopausal Years the Wise Woman Way

Author: Susun S. Weed. The best book on menopause is now better. Completely revised with 100 new pages. All the remedies women know and trust plus hundreds of new ones. New sections on thyroid health, fibromyalgia, hairy problems, male menopause, and herbs for women taking hormones. Recommended by Susan Love MD and Christiane Northrup MD. Introduction by Juliette de Bairacli Levy. 304 pages, index, illustrations. Retails for $19.95
For excerpts visit:

Breast Cancer? Breast Health!

Author: Susun S. Weed. Foods, exercises, and attitudes to keep your breasts healthy. Supportive complimentary medicines to ease side-effects of surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, or tamoxifen. Foreword by Christiane Northrup, M.D. 380 pages, index, illustrations. Retails for $21.95

Down There:
Sexual and Reproductive Health the Wise Woman Way

Author: Susun S. Weed Simple, successful, strategies cover the entire range of options -- from mainstream to radical -- to help you choose the best, and the safest, ways to optimize sexual and reproductive health.
Foreword: Aviva Romm, MD, midwife, 484 pages, Index, illustrations Retails for $29.95
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