Monday, October 20, 2008

Things I Do When I First Start Feeling Sickly

I'm not feeling sickly, but last night I was in a group of people and heard all the coughs and sniffles, sounds of incipient weakness in our various immune systems. It occurs to me to share what I do at the first signs that all is not well with me.

I subscribe to the idea that when a person gets sick their immune system is down or suffering some setbacks. I also think that yes, there are bacteria and viruses and bugs that cause disease; however, when the person succumbs to that bug, the person is simply too toxic to resist it and gets ill. I think we share the world with bacteria and viruses--ALL the time. They are constantly present, in the air, soil, food we eat, etc. And most of the time, we simply don't notice them because we don't have to--they won't make us ill. Sometime last year Johns Hopkins put out a medical report that says most people get cancer up to seven or eight times in their life. Most of the time, the immune system catches the abnormal cells and flushes them out of the system. When the person is weakened or stressed or elderly or young or whatever, then the cancer can take hold. I've been looking, but haven't found the report again yet. If any of you out there knows where on the net it dwells, let me know!

So the first thing to do when starting to feel sickly is NOTICE IT AND PAY ATTENTION. Symptoms of illness are your body's way of talking to you and telling you that something is wrong: "Yo, dumbass! Take it easy for a few days, would ya? Stop eating all that crap and let me do my job, here." Many of us are way too busy and too self-absorbed to listen to our own bodies, but that can be changed. When your body tells you to take a break, listen and do as it asks. I believe you can cut out all manner of illnesses by simply paying attention. Oh, I know, you have that workshop and this lesson and that report to file and blah blah blah. So you ignore the signs and get sick. The choice is yours--but you'd do well to pay more attention and let go when you can. There are ways you can still do what you have to do AND obey your body's needs. I'll get to that.

Second thing is don't name it and don't claim it. Do so in the silence of your mind, notice the signs and pay attention to them, but don't get all hypochondriac about it. When you put a name to it, you're claiming it. To say "I have a cold," means you are now invested in having a cold, you've gone along with it. Your subconscious notes that you are now involved in "having a cold" and can and will make reality fit that paradigm. (Note how scientific I am, all the medical studies I'm citing. Hah! This is just all my outrageous theories and you can take it or leave it.) You might let others know you're feeling a bit under the weather, but let that be it. Don't make a big deal out of it, or you will just be playing a game. I learned this from Michael, who learned it from Daniel, and both men have mingled with wisdom.

OK, now for the stuff you CAN do:

1. Stop eating crap. Stop eating is even better, but it is essential to cut out eating any junk. The energy your body doesn't have to put into digestion, it can put into healing. First thing I do is make up a batch of chicken soup and garlic and usually onions. Garlic and onions are heroic warriors when it comes to battling the badguys that make you ill. Heavy, heavy on the garlic. Don't know what it is about chicken soup, but it has been a standby worldwide for eons and it is very comforting. Get that broth thing going early on--make enough to last you a week, 3 big cups or bowls a day. And let that be your food, your only food. Don't add much of anything--just the broth and garlic and onions. A few other veggies maybe, but the easier it is for your body to digest, the better. Fruits are OK too, but ideally, you need to cut out food for a few days.

2. Immune boosting: Vitamin C and E, goldenseal and echinacea, cayenne pepper, our buddy dandelion, root and leaves. If what you've got is potentially flu--use elderberry syrup or extract. Sambucol is commercially available, but you can also order dried elderberries from online herb suppliers (Penn Herb Co. Ltd, for example), buy some vodka or everclear grain alcohol and make your own extract or tincture. Do lots of immune boosting things by upping your vitamin intake, taking herbs in teas or tinctures, and THINK well, I'm feeling good--my body is doing well. Eat raw garlic. Peel a clove or two and chop it up and if you can stand it, chew it, or if not, swallow it with water. I always get a big boost from doing these things--after I stop grimacing and dancing around howling, that is. :) If you've got Garlic Syrup around (a previous post), then 3 tablespoons a day.

3. Look honestly at your obligations and cut what you can so you can get more rest. Taking it easy and allowing your body to rest is important. The energy you are not expending running around doing stuff will be used by your body in healing.

4. If you are strong enough, and willing, don't take drugs to cut the symptoms--let your body do it's thing in getting rid of disease. A fever is your body's effort in burning off the badguys. Let it. Your body needs to expel toxins and you are best off just letting your body do this. Yes, you'll feel awful. But you will get better faster, much faster. I'm not good at this step myself, lessen you think I'm Ms. Super Pure--hell no. I reach for the drugs just as I've been trained to do in this culture. These days, though, I'm more likely to use herbs or cayenne pepper or whatever is on hand in my kitchen. And that's good--while people are sick around us, Michael and I are usually well.

5. Take a hot, hot bath. Drink cold water while you're in the bath. This will open the pores of your skin and allow your body the chance to dump a lot of toxins. Be careful to not let yourself get too lightheaded or dizzy--if you're prone to that, be very careful. This step will really help you. If the water turns greyish as the bath goes on, then you are succeeding.

6. Take an herbal laxative, relatively mild, and let your body dump toxins thataway too.

The idea of all this is to let your body expel toxins while simultaneously giving it some needed nutrition and immune boosters. And resting so that your body can use available energy in healing.

And that's it. These are the steps I take when feeling the first sign of any illness. I don't stop living my life--though I may stay home and not go to a social function--I go ahead and do the things I really have to do, but I get mindful of what my body needs and I try to supply what support I can for the process.

It works--to whatever degree. It is rare that I get really sick. For me, most cold/flu things are very shortlived--I believe because I go along with what my body is asking me to do. Allow the process, help it along, and get over whatever is bugging you quickly.

Note that this is not medical advice and please stick in all the usual disclaimer stuff. Like everything you read on the web, take it with a grain a salt (in the chicken broth, natch).


treesong said...

Well said Patricia. Thanks again for a great column and a helpful reminder as the "cold and flu" season begins. Another thing I'd add is get yourself a humidifier. Dry air causes scratchy throats and noses and often people treat these symptoms as "illness" when they are not. Treesong

Patricia said...

Hey treesong, thanks and good point about the dryness. I have bad luck with humidifiers--they break on me. So I have a pot of water on the stove for the dryness. I sometimes add a few drops of eucaluptus oil or herbs such as thyme and rosemary to the water. But that pot of water simmering makes a big difference.

riverwalker said...

I'm guilty of not getting the proper rest sometimes. Funny thing about it is a little extra sleep always helps me to get back on my feet when I'm not feeling the best.

Great reminders to take care of ourselves!


tammy said...

yeah! what you said! great post, full of wisdom and truth

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