Fuck Western Medicine
“Was it worth it?!? Really?!?!” I berate the fluffy dead bee lying upside down near my feet, as I pluck its ass out of my thigh where it impaled me with deliberate and alarming precision.
I’d been sitting in my car, having pulled over to the side of the road en route to my favorite hiking trail, while talking a girlfriend who was having a Pluto-squaring-Uranus meltdown of epic proportions off the proverbial ledge. I pulled over so that we wouldn’t lose reception while she told me her husband sucks in bed and that she is thinking of going on anti-depressants.
“Clearly, she’s your spirit guide,” Zoe interjects amidst my flurry of Fucks and Ouches.
“No,” I correct her, too pissed-off to embrace the bee as anything but my arch nemesis. “Clearly, she’s a dick.”
Livid though I am, I spend the ensuing three-hour hike connecting to the consciousness of the bee, and the lesson of the sting, while vaguely wondering if I’m allergic, and how soon I might know, and if I should have acquired an Epi-pen before heading out into the woods without a co-pilot, phone reception, or confirmation of my (hopefully) un-allergic status.
Back home, I hit the web: Allergies generally present themselves within the first half hour, and are marked by anaphylactic shock, fever, chills, vomiting and death. I think it’s safe to say I’m in the clear.
I don’t consciously remember scratching the sting in my sleep, but given how freely I pick my nose throughout the night, I can’t rule it out entirely. Upon waking, I notice that my leg has swelled considerably, and that the pain has morphed from annoying to outrageous. I Google “natural remedies bee stings,” concoct a poultice of honey, colloidal silver and bentonite clay, and snap a picture.
Bees are dicks. Is this normal? reads the caption.
The general social media consensus is: Definitely not normal.
Try meat tenderizer, writes a Facebook friend.
Tobacco, recommends another.
You need an antihistamine, instructs someone on Instagram.
But, I have none of these things in my vegan medicine drawer, and am pretty sure that antihistamines are chemical-y, anyways. Instead, I soak a cotton pad in apple cider vinegar, tape it to my thigh and head out to see Frances Ha at CCA.
Mid-way through the movie, I’m struck by a lightning bolt of pain seizing my entire leg, which is elevated on the seat in front of me. I can hardly concentrate on Greta Gerwig’s adorable co-dependence and slipshod dance moves because my hands are balled into tightly clenched fists, my face is contorted into a creepy sneer, and my leg is on fire.
“I hate bees,” I growl to my date, Ross. “I’m glad they’re dying off.”
Clear, cancel, delete, I immediately think but don’t articulate because even though I don’t mean it, I really am mad at bees, especially the Killer one whose extra strength venom is currently fucking with my peace of mind.
Back home, I try to remove the cotton swab from my thigh. It’s sticky. It doesn’t want to come off. My leg is swollen at least three times its normal size. The pain is so bad I can hardly stand still. Back to the Internet for yet another venom-absorbing recipe. I apply a poultice of baking soda, bentonite clay and lavender oil, cover it with a paper towel, tape it into place, and go to bed.
I am jolted awake at 2:15 am. Searing hot thunderbolts of fire are shooting through my achy leg. I stand on my porch in my underwear, yelping while picking poultice flakes off my thigh. I mix another batch while whimpering and doing something wholly unflattering with my mouth, and smear it on my leg, grateful for the instant relief. More paper towel, more tape, and then back to sleep – on my back, of course, because my thigh can’t take the slightest bit of weight upon it without me yelping in drama queen agony.
The next day, the swelling is about a thousand times worse and a yellow layer of rancid, bitchy pus has replaced the four-inch welt that continues to be the epicenter of pain.
Is this normal yet? I caption the photograph I snap upon waking.
Go to a doctor, friends implore.
But, it’s Saturday, and I don’t know any doctors here in Santa Fe, and it – quite frankly – seems alarmist and overkill (says the girl who keeps snapping pictures of her increasingly deformed leg and posting them on various social media sites to attract attention).
Get a cortisone shot. You’re having an allergic reaction.
It’s infected. You need antibiotics.
But, cortisone causes soft tissue damage, and antibiotics kill-off all the good bacteria that keeps the colon healthy. Plus, I don’t have a doctor, don’t even know any doctors, and it’s Saturday, anyway. Translation: Not happening.
What are you doing to treat it? prods a FB friend – a mom, who tends toward the nurturing and concerned.
Um, rubbing fresh aloe on it and pondering a Theta healing.
Would you even consider a topical antibiotic? she presses.
I guess I’d consider it if it I hadn’t already slathered the sting site with colloidal silver and tea tree oil, and if topical antibiotics weren’t rife with toxic ingredients made in laboratories by way of processed chemicals, human error, arrogance and short-sightedness.
I am reminded of the fight I continue to have with my mother, twenty years into (relative) adulthood.
“Have you looked into health insurance?” she asks for the nine thousandth time.
“Ew, no,” I shudder. “Why would I do that?”
“Because if you get hit by a bus and break your leg I don’t think rubbing a crystal on it is going to help.”
She has a point, but my morning practices include both meditation and alternate nostril breathing, which I do specifically to strengthen my intuition, which is to say – my higher self wouldn’t let me step in front of a bus unless my soul needed that experience, in which case I’d heal it as guided in that present moment. Besides, hospitals have grants for the uninsured. It just takes a little creative research, and I’m an expert at that shit.
Topical Benadryl is what you need, reads another FB comment.
Fuck western medicine, I mutter, while “Liking” her comment, because it’s the polite thing to do, and I honestly appreciate the concern.
Part of it is pride, sure. I don’t want to admit defeat by throwing down for some pharmaceutical concoction. But, also it feels like a shortcut, like some artificially imposed end to this bizarre experience that – while painful and alarming – is also a dash of visceral novelty in my otherwise consistent and healthy life. I’d rather see what happens next.
“I’ll tell you what happens next,” my mother barks into the receiver. “You lose your leg to rampant infection, or you die of blood poisoning. Now, get over your hippie, health freak bullshit, and get yourself to Urgent Care. It’s not such a fascinating experiment that it’s worth spending the rest of your life in a wheelchair over.”
While I jot down her every word, because I don’t want to misquote her because she’s the type to actually sue me for that sort of thing, I don’t get my hippie health freak ass to Urgent Care. It sounds awful. Just imagining the harsh overhead lighting, the smells of industrial cleaning products, plus blood, plus vomit, as well as all the teenagers being wheeled in on gurneys for alcohol poisoning and meth overdoses makes me dizzy. What a horrible way to spend a Saturday night. No, thank you.
By bedtime, the swelling has reached a hideous crescendo. A ten-inch ring of cranky, red pulled-tight skin surrounds the still yellowed, blistery center. The infection has moved into my lymph, and my left groin is now tinny and throbbing, which is providing a welcomed distraction from the heat and the prickly pins and needles orchestra stomping on top of my quad, but is a little disconcerting, just the same.
You might want to consider SEEING A DOCTOR, Ross texts.
Fuck doctors, I think as I text my friend, Sally, a healer and network chiropractor based in L.A.
It’s moved into my lymph. Just swallowed three doses of colloidal silver. I’ll be fine, right? (P.S. Say yes)
I pass out, figuring if a searing hot fever starts coursing through my body, it’ll wake me up, at which point, I will call a cab, direct it to Urgent Care or the ER or one of those places people go to be sick when doctors are asleep, and avail myself to the horrors of western medicine.
Let’s get witchy on it, Sally texts back, though I won’t actually receive the message ‘til morning because I’m in a coma. Okay, I pulled the reference signal for the venom of the exact bee that is in ur leg, harmonized that with ur body. Harmonized your spleen and an arrhythmia in your heart. Then ran a technique called Waking the Tiger, after Peter Levine’s book about somatic holding of stress and trauma. Added your leg immunoglobulin in, which is the hypersensitivity response one. It’s showing you are now toast and processing. You may run a fever soon, and that would be good.
I wake up after my first full night’s sleep in three days. I feel rested. I feel calm. Even still, I lift the covers, half-expecting to see a rotting elephantine limb just begging to be amputated. All I see is a normal-sized leg, with a tame, and well-behaved three-inch welt atop the center. It’s warm, but not on fire. There is no pain.
Yet again, witchy worked. I repeat: Fuck western medicine.