I shivered in the cold, forced air of the dim hospital room and pulled my shawl tighter around my shoulders. I listened to the ominous drone of the heart monitor. He finally fell asleep. I watched my child, now a man, lay there in the hospital bed with the flimsy covers upon his slight frame, barely covering his tattooed arms. His dark hair pressed to the side of his face. His brow still furrowed from pain. My baby. I pulled the covers up around him a bit more and held my breath so not to let the pressing tears release. Breathe.
I am considered an expert in my field. I can tell you about hundreds of local plants, their medicinal properties, growing conditions, contraindications, their uses, how to prepare them, and how to heal nearly every ailment there is. I am an herbalist, a medicine woman, a plant girl, a lover of nature, a great believer in the original medicine, and a skeptic of modern medicine. And yet, all the herbal knowledge in the world could not help me as I stood on that cold tile floor.
“Help me, Mom!” he screamed over the phone before I got there. He went in to the emergency room for a fever and back pain and the hospital gave him a spinal tap. They missed. Three times. Spinal fluid pooled into his lower back and created more pain than my child could handle without madness. But he was in the hospital now, so it was too late, I could not help. Except to pull the blankets over his arms to cover the goosebumps. To kiss his head.
A few weeks later- last weekend- I stood by the bedside of my grandmother, whose tall, thin frame was dwarfed by the hospital bed and flimsy covers. The drone of the heart monitor and the bustling of nurses outside the door filled the large, cool space. My beloved grandma had fallen and just had a partial hip replacement. Again, I could do nothing but watch her sleep. My children came. They gathered in the room and talked wildly, trying to catch up on events since the last time they had seen each other. My new granddaughter was passed around. Smiles and laughter filled the space as grandma would slowly open her eyes and look around and grin. So much life that came from her.
I am a healer. We are all healers, especially women. Any of us would take care of an injured frog, or a stranger, or try to bring life back into someone with warm soup or a hug. Anxiety fills our chest as we feel the pain of others, see their worries, the punched feeling in the stomach when we know we can do nothing. That is why so many of us become healers. We have to do something.
I have learned that the only thing I can do in cases when no one asks for my help, or I simply cannot help, is to release the outcome. They might die. They might not be able to change their life. They may still have lessons to learn. They are choosing other options. They are their own decision makers. They might be paralyzed. They might…oh the possibilities of tragedy are endless. And there we are… trying to save the world. Sometimes we just cannot help. Once you can release the outcome, you can then breathe and be there to give love and support or to pull the covers up over chilled arms. We must release what we cannot control or it will control us. Give it back to the powers that be. We can only help ourselves and do what we can for others.
My husband looked so pale. A colorless sheen crossed his face as he came out of surgery a few days ago. (It’s been quite a month, y’all.) I had released all outcomes. Whatever happened, happened. But here he was, smiling dopily from the morphine drip, and a long overdue hernia surgery complete. At home, I help him in any way I can. He asks me for help. I can help him. I give him my own antibiotics and pain medicines along with his prescribed pain pills. I make him teas for his digestion and tend to his wounds and bruises. I am so much better when I feel like I can do something.
Sometimes we can help, sometimes we cannot. My neighbor called me after badly spraining her ankle yesterday. I took over some muscle healer and she was at the dog park by the afternoon.
I feel like it is a very good idea to have some basic knowledge of herbal medicine. Everyone should know what herbs heal wounds, fight infections, handle pain, and heal. I currently have two books on this subject on Amazon. The Herbalist Will See You Now; Your Complete Training Guide to Becoming and Working as an Herbalist and The Homesteader’s Pharmacy; the Complete Guide to Creating Your Own Herbal Pharmacy.
They may just give you one more outlet in which you can help yourself and others.