This is the first of a four-part blog post, describing my own health journey.
Occasionally someone asks me, How did you come to learn so much about herbs?
Before I answer their question, I have to point out, that I may know more than some people about herbs, but in the wild world of plant medicines, we could all choose one plant to be with, study, partake of our whole lives and still come to the end, not really knowing the plant.
And then, I talk about Jim, ex-husband and catalyst.
Jim was an electrical engineer. When I knew him, he’d begun to work on electricity deregulation and ratepayer cases, usually on behalf of public service commissions tasked with examining the effects deregulation would have on quality of service and prices.
It was heady work for him and allowed his intellect to flourish. Looking back, though, it seemed it did little for his heart. In fact, we met when he was doing something for his heart: We were on a hike hosted by a local chapter of the Sierra Club, in Gambrills State Park. His jokes got to me. Funny what humor can do to melt someone’s walls!
In less than a year, we eloped. If my parents had been there, if we’d had the usual lead-up to a wedding, we probably never would have married, each of us for our own reasons.
At any rate, we’d been married less than two years when he was diagnosed with colon cancer. In the months leading up to his vomiting blood and my taking him to the local ER at the hospital in our mostly rural area, he’d complained of stomach cramps. He saw a gastro doc—twice.
Did that doctor not ask him about the colon cancer that caused Jim’s mother’s death? The fellow, who I never met, gave Jim Prevacid first, then Levbid on the follow-up visit, the latter of which is contraindicated when there’s an intestinal obstruction. Why didn’t the doc suggest an emergency colonoscopy?
I don’t even know whether Jim would have gone for it.
At any rate, we ended up in the ER on a Friday morning in late January, snow on the ground, more snow threatening. They kept Jim that weekend, scheduled a colonoscopy for the following Monday, and gave him…laxatives. Because he couldn’t go to the bathroom. By Monday, his abdomen was the size of a large beach ball.
’Scuse me, doctor, but it seems on the health history—they have to take one, right?—that “familial” and “maternal” and “colon cancer” would have leaped out at them and they would have been smart enough not to give a laxative to someone whose intestines might be obstructed by cells gone awry?
The upshot: They did the colonoscopy, found the growth, scheduled an operation for that afternoon by which time Jim had peritonitis from all the little tears that developed along the intestinal walls. He ended up in ICU for several weeks. The experience got worse from there.