Drug-free (mostly) Shoulder Surgery Recovery

Hhmm… where to begin… I thought my recent experience might be useful for some. Last week a doctor performed arthroscopic surgery on my shoulder. The rotator cuff was damaged and the bicep tendon was detached.

So this story is about how, not so much why, I wanted to avoid opioid painkillers after the surgery.

fight opioid abuse
the sign of the times

In the area where I live, there are lawn signs decrying the Opioid Crisis which is ravenously consuming lives here on a daily basis. Regardless of the three unwanted prescriptions I had been given prior to surgery, I wanted to see if I would be able to get through it without taking any of them and I’m happy to report that I have.

There were so many opinions offered to me prior to surgery. Most people didn’t think taking the painkillers was a big deal. Most had done it with no problem. As I have more experience with pain than painkillers I was more comfortable in the company of the devil I know than the chemical stranger. A trusted friend who had the same surgery as I, who was about the same age and temperament, who is himself a doctor suggested I try Advil and ice before filling the scripts.

ice machine
simple cold perfection the ÖSSUR® COLD RUSH

So I woke after the surgery and of course the joint was still anesthetized – thus, no pain at all. This slowly wore off the following day. The pain I experienced was rather mild by my experience, certainly far less than many untreated accidents I’ve had before as an ironworker. It was mainly irritating at night while trying to sleep. The first few nights I slept with my arm in a sling. Then I received the ŐSSUR® COLD RUSH® COMPACT ice machine. The medical benefits and descriptions can be found elsewhere, I’ll just say it’s a 10/10 on my value scale. Ask your doctor for a prescription for this simple little machine. It’s like a small insulated bucket of ice water with a built in pump that has a tubing running to a pad which you wrap around the joint. In the pad is a maze of tubes which circulate the chilled water. No drips, no hassles. I loaded the tank with refreezable ice packs and got 8 hours of satisfaction before requiring a refill. With a single Advil capsule it was more than enough to get through a night’s sleep.

dōTERRA® Deep Blue
dōTERRA® Deep Blue Soothing Blend of essential oils

I applied dōTERRA® Deep Blue essential oil all over my shoulder and down my arm day and night. This is an excellent blend which addressed that sharp bone feeling instantly and for hours of relief at a time. The combination of Deep Blue and the ŐSSUR ice machine with an Advil at bedtime was perfect for me.

Today is 9 days after the surgery and this afternoon I go for a followup appointment where they will remove the stitches.

Nature Deficiency Syndrome – most Americans suffer from it

Nature Deficit Disorder is a very real thing. For those of us who have spent a lifetime working in and enjoying the Great Out Doors, this is guaranteed fact. I live in a big city and I love walking. I try to walk whenever I can rather than driving there. Mapping out my walks with the help of a map app shows I clock between 10-12 miles per week. Although my routes are not what anyone would consider nature walks, exercising in fresh air and sunshine is good medicine. I have no idea what biochemical effects I receive from working in my garden 6 hours a day – but I know it’s good.

This post quotes the good Dr. Mercola with a link to solutions from Japan.

nature deficit cure
Sunchokes reaching for the sky

“Americans spend 80 to 99 percent of their lives indoors — a trend that has led to “nature deficit disorder,” a term used to describe a lifestyle deficit that contributes to poor psychological and physical health”

nature breathe deep
Passionflower vines defying gravity

“Ecotherapy employs methods that cultivate the health benefits of being in nature. Research shows nature therapy lowers anxiety and depression, improves self-esteem, reduces blood pressure and more”

“Spending time outdoors can significantly lift your mood, and outdoors activities such as gardening and nature hikes have been found to be good therapy”

Outside Good For Inside – Dr. Mercola

 

Passionflower 

Passiflora incarnata “Maypop”. One of the most useful herbs in the apothecary. Calming and sedative. A long used staple of herbalists, doctors and pharmacists until Big Business started seriously promoting their addictive synthetic compounds around 1910. Included in the US and British Pharmacopeia until that time and then POOF! like Keyser Söze – it disappeared.

Passionflower - Passiflora incarnata flower
our first Passionflower for 2017

Here you will find no side effects. A homemade necessity safe for the entire family. We have found Passionflower useful for tension headaches and those produced by eye-strain and loud or incessant noise.

Easy to grow and a delight to behold. Perennial here in zone 7, New York City, USA.

Look for directions on how to prepare a tincture from the leaf and vine at the Herbarium. There’s a link at the top of this page.

Women vs. Men

Geoff Stein writing for Dave’s Garden observes and speculates about which types of plants are favored by each sex.

Venus vs. Mars

Datura Germination Tip

Following suggestions from a Dutchman, I soaked seed collected from an open thornapple I found in November in a dilute solution of rainwater and FPJ or fermented plant juice for several days. My FPJ is made of Comfrey.

The Dutchman recommended “G3” – which is a similar commercial compound. I set the seeds potted in fine sphagnum on a germination mat with a 12h on/ 12h off timer. That was on New Years Day 2017.

I waited over one and half months to see the first arise. Some of the others popped up two months later after I had given them up for dead. Everything about this plant is highly peculiar.

Night Blooming Datura

Now I must wait patiently for the Luna Moth to appear.

Connecting the dots

Essential oils and Lyme

I love the plants and herbs my husband has been sharing. It’s been an essential part of of our healing process from Lyme disease.

What he hasn’t spoken too much about is how this journey began. We’ve both always loved plants and flowers… he has always been an avid gardener and purveyor of plants and seeds…and I owned florists for many years.

And so the journey began long before we knew that it would be these very things that would accelerate the healing process of Lyme to full recovery. And YES…I mean a FULL RECOVERY……From an ICU bed to a life surrounded by plants and essential oils. He seems to forget that part …and maybe it’s because he was laying in a bed in ICU sedated that he doesn’t remember me applying Frankincense and then Helichrysum to his body and massaging it into a severely injured and damaged liver area.

What happened that day and the days that followed opened my eyes to a world I didn’t even know existed… the therapeutic value of essential oils.

What was the most relevant part to me was that they contained no insecticides, heavy metals or chemical fertilizers, all of which are neurotoxins, and we were already dealing with advanced stage 3 Lyme disease that had caused not only lesions in the brain and left sided paralysis, but also a body that was atrophying before my eyes.

We couldn’t afford any further injury or stress to his neurological system. We couldn’t afford ANY further insults. I had NO experience  with essential oils… I had no experience with using them therapeutically. The only thing I had was a blind trust and no other options.

Sometimes things are given to us when we are ready to receive them, and sometimes things just happen and we watch our experiences come full circle.

So yeah… herbs are great. They’re amazing. I place a high value on herbs and their abilities.

BUT for me…the most eye opening revelation was essential oils…. herbs and plants that were CONCENTRATED…. free of toxins… free of heavy metals…. and it brought my two worlds together… nursing and my background of owning florists and loving my plants and flowers. Now I had flowers – herbs in little bottles that were CLEAN and PURE and they assisted the body in healing itself.

mysterious Lyme disease
connecting the dots

And the dots connected…. little by little.

Black Currants

the hard body alternative to blueberry

 

Russian Red Kale

eliminate carbs by using a fresh, raw leaf of Kale instead of tortillas or pita

Beach Plum

after they devoured the fruit, they burned the wood and wonder where the dunes have gone but only when the hurricanes come, now men pump sand onto the beach at great expense temporarily doing this little Plum’s job

This little tree’s ancestors once covered the dunes along the Atlantic coast of North America. The hungry sailors came then and now, they are rare, so rare I have seen far more Bald Eagles than Beach Plums here in NYC.

dune preservation specialist
Prunus maritima – Beach Plum

I got this one from Michigan. Modern life… reminds me of Godfrey Reggio and Philip Glass’s Koyaanisqatsi.

Bitterness Scale of Herbs

A bitter scale? If there is such a thing. Taste, well… IS a matter of taste isn’t it? I eat hot peppers like candy but others avoid even the mildest peppers for their entire lifetime. What I really avoid is sour. The important thing that no one really says is that there is not, nor can there be any truly accurate way, to scale taste.

We can only strive to make general indicators for wide groups of people. Connoisseurs of beer, wine, coffee and chocolate have their own scales but are limited to the ingredients or preparations of those products. Genetic research will no doubt figure out the specifics as they have done already with the Cilantro gene. Then we’ll know why people have different reactions to the same stimulus.

So here goes my simple list of plants you could easily access, perhaps in your own garden, from the mildest bitter down to strongest:

  1. Sage
  2. Melissa (Lemon Balm)
  3. Willow
  4. Mugwort (Cronewort) – a VERY common “weed”
  5. Hops
  6. Lesser Periwinkle (Vinca minor) – a VERY common ground cover
  7. White Oak
  8. Motherwort
  9. Yarrow (flower buds)
  10. Wormwood
  11. Barberry – a VERY common ornamental shrub
  12. Quinine

The easiest way to make sure you have your daily bitters is a simple tincture, Herb Pharm has already thought of that including their cool new spray. Perhaps some one will suggest other bitter nibbles. It’s worth noting that all these herbs are good anti-bacterials and great for your teeth and gums as well as your digestion.

Bitters are Better

A bitter truth. I know quite a few people who have had their gall bladder surgically removed. Why is that? Some of them talk about their excised organ as if it was just worn out and they are better off without it since afterall “you can live without it”. Of course the real reasons are different. Excruciating pain being the prime factor for the patient but then there’s the curiously high, even staggering rates of gall bladder surgeries promoted by the medical profession.

Evaluate your options.

“I have seen many hundreds of patients who have had their gallbladders removed and I don’t recall anyone ever telling me that their surgeon advised them to do something to compensate for removing this important organ. Just about every one of them was told they didn’t need their gallbladder and that it was perfectly fine to have it removed. This is reprehensible ignorance as it condemns the patient to a lifelong deficiency of essential fatty acids.” Dr. Joseph Mercola

Not everyone finds this acceptable or necessary. For those not ready to accept the notion of disposable body parts, herbal solutions are often possible.

I believe it is nearly criminal what traditional medicine is doing to the public when it comes to managing this problem. It is RARELY ever necessary to remove someone’s gallbladder. If one ignores warning symptoms and does not address the reasons why their gallbladder is not functioning properly, than the disease can progress to the point where the pancreas is inflamed or the gallbladder is seriously infected and may have to be removed to save a person’s life.

However, it is important to have a proper perspective here. Nearly ONE MILLION gallbladders are removed every year in this country and it is my estimate that only several thousand need to come out.

So, not only are surgeons removing these organs unnecessarily, but also in their nutritional ignorance they are telling patients that their gallbladders do not serve any purpose and they can live perfectly well without them. Dr. Joseph Mercola

Thing is – it’s bitter! Can you handle that?

my bitter wild friend
Wild Lettuce – Lactuca virosa

I’m told bitterness is the least favorite taste. I suspect, bitterness has become the least favored to the modern western palette and not too long ago either. Most industrially farmed crops have been bred relatively recently to taste less bitter. Iceberg lettuce the most commonly used salad green in the USA is nutritionally worthless and bears little resemblance, in any way, to wild lettuce. People eat gadzillions of megatons of it. Many actually consider it a vegetable!

Ask yourself how big of a role do advertisers and marketers have in making you want what they have to sell. Then peek into the world of agricultural research and read with your own eyes how through “recombinant inbreeding” bitterness has been deliberately removed from lettuce due to “consumer choice”.

Salads should contain bitter greens and be served before the main course of a meal for optimal digestion. Alanna Kellogg of A Veggie Venture has a good list of bitter greens. Modern dietary “innovations” all have the same thing in common: they’re blander, sweeter, softer and whiter than what was eaten years ago and never ever bitter. We have evolved baby mouths.

slightly bitter companion
Russian Red Kale

There are so many naysayers who deride vitamin supplements with the now standard claim that “if you eat a wholesome diet, supplements are unnecessary and wasteful”. This might be true if what was sold in supermarkets was only truly wholesome foods and we actually bought and consumed them within the correct ratios. Naw, that’s not happening anytime soon. Free choice is a bitch. Example: with the rise of consumer capitalism in China came rising obesity rates and worsening nutrition. So much for the free market diet. I am guessing there will be fewer bitter greens for the Chinese too.

Bitters do remain in the apéritifs, like Vermouth, Absinthe or Chartreuse all made with Wormwood (Artemesia absinthium), and the bitter greens like Kale, Chicory, Endive or Dandelion. Without going into the chemistry involved suffice it to say our ancestors were much smarter then we realize today. The bitter taste is the critical thing. The thing we avoid. The thing we need. We need bitters because of the fascinating connection between our taste buds and our liver, gall bladder, pancreas, stomach, etc… to, forgive me, the bitter end of the alimentary canal. No, de-bittering a bitter doesn’t do the same thing. If you love your friends and family, make it a bitter love.

The short story is, if you don’t “like” bitterness, you probably really need to eat more of them. The even shorter story is, if you eat more bitter foods, your digestion will improve and so will your immune system and oddly enough, the more bitters you eat – the less bitter they taste. Bitter taste triggers hormones and nerves which direct the the release of bile by the gall bladder, acid by the stomach and several enzymes by the pancreas. All this from a bite of the bitter thing many people avoid with unreasonable dread.

I emphatically recommend Carmen Lynde Medical Herbalist’s presentation. It is perhaps the most important thing you can do to understand the role of bitter herbs in your diet.

Insufficient release of any of these juices causes all kinds of problems. Instead of suppressing stomach acid with chemicals or surgery many more people should be eating their bitters. Alternatively you could chew a pinch of bitter herbs. How about a sprig of Mugwort? or Sage? not so bitter. Or a squirt of Barberry or a drop of Wormwood tincture in a shot of water before a meal?