So this week was a challenging one. Our little family got very sick. Come Monday Michael came home from work complaining about aches and pains in his body. This is nothing unusual as he rides his mountain bike a lot and quite often has muscle aches if he hasn’t stretched properly after each ride. By late Monday evening, I knew something wasn’t quite right as he was laid up on the sofa with no appetite and abnormally inactive and quiet. He went to bed early and I was left thinking maybe he’d overdone it at the weekend riding and too many late nights.
Tuesday came around and he was no better. In fact he was running a fever with a high temperature, his aches and pains had worsened and he didn’t want to eat a thing.
By Wednesday he phoned in sick but worse still I had noticed Lacey had started to show signs of going downhill and not being her normal happy self so I quickly did what every mumma would do and became full time nurse running around after their every request.
By Wednesday evening I thought wow, I must have started to improve my immune system over the last year as I haven’t been sick in ages and even now I feel great while my poor loved ones are suffering. I remembered a couple of months ago when Michael and Lacey had a head cold that I had managed to escape that one and I thought maybe I won’t get this either. Well, clearly I spoke too soon.
Wednesday night was literally the night from hell and has to be added to the top of the list as one of the worst nights ever experienced in our household. By 1am Lacey had woken about every half an hour which was about 10 times as she was having trouble breathing through her nose and had also started to show signs of a fever and high temp. I moved her into our bed at that point to keep a check on her and make it easy to help her out with tissues, a drink of water or a cuddle if she kept waking. By 2am my symptoms started to kick in but like nothing I had ever experienced before. I had in a sudden moment intense pressure and pain on my lungs, difficulty breathing and an awful lingering cough. Sleep for us that night just didn’t come.
By 7am on Thursday my head felt like it was literally going to explode, I was also running a temperature and I had intense nausea. I was no good to anyone; I couldn’t even get out of bed to pee. Thankfully I wasn’t overly needed as both Michael and Lacey were back to sleep again until around 11am which meant I to could get some desperate shut out. We spent the remainder of the day all still in our PJ’s curled up under blankets on the sofa and since none of us had an appetite whatsoever we went on a liquid fast which turned out to be for 2 whole days before we felt like solids again.
Between us it was a 4 day long ordeal with symptoms ranging from body aches and pains, fever, high temperatures, chills, migraines, nausea, mucus build up, coughing, wheezing, pain and pressure in lungs, intense tiredness and weakness. Not a nice concoction.
I suspected from various past reading, research and other people’s experiences that we weren’t dealing with just the common cold but quite a severe case of the flu virus or even swine flu as it matched our symptoms precisely.
So why am I telling you all this, it’s seems quite a depressing story and what does all this have to do with food anyway? Well, a lot actually….bare with me!
You see in the last 6 months we’ve been on a really interesting journey. One that has truly opened our eyes to the wonders of reliance on “self-care” as opposed to “health-care” and the miracles that food plays in this chosen path.
It’s not that we don’t believe there is a place for doctors, they clearly have their place, but sadly we believe that most conventional doctors are only trained to deal with symptoms and are too quick to fob you off with “drugs” rather than get to the root cause of the symptoms. I’ve had many personal experiences with this in the last year trying to get to the bottom of my health and digestive complaints. It seemed all they wanted to do was give me a “pill’ to fix me and send me on my way.
We also, like most people, grew up believing everything we were told or heard and therefore took little responsibility for our own health. We thought it too easy to just pop a pain killer here or there or go through a course of antibiotics because we were told to without taking any responsibility for the long-term effects on our body.
I mean let’s face it, pharmaceutical drugs are highly toxic. You only have to read the small print in the leaflet of the drug to see its long list of “side effects” and personally I’d rather not swap my actual health complaint with another list of complaints. I believe there is another way!
This past week truly put our new “convictions” to the test and became the first time we needed to take full responsibility for our health and wellness. I wanted to share with you what we’ve done this past week in the hope that it may encourage you to try some methods of “self-care” for yourself. I hope and pray you don’t have to endure what we have this week but if you do, do yourself a favour and don’t just reach for the nearest box of Panadol but listen to your body and do what it needs instead. It’ll thank you for it later.
Here’s what we did:
- The first and most important thing to help in the healing process is rest. This was particularly hard for me as I’m a task-driven Nazi so I find it hard to sit still for too long however this time round I had no choice; all my body wanted in the first whole day was sleep. Rest seems to be very underrated as a medicine, we are so used to being able to fix things with drugs but rest will enable your body to focus all of its attention on the healing process and nothing else.
- There was not just a personal conviction but a sure signal from our bodies to fast. By this I mean that for the first two days we had nothing but liquid. We had no appetite whatsoever but we were sure to keep our fluids up. Fluids prevent dehydration and help to loosen mucus in the lungs. We lived off water, freshly squeezed warm lemon tea with honey, homemade chicken bone broth, organic herbal teas and freshly squeezed orange juice and nothing else. I think our bodies healed a lot quicker because for those first couple of days when the symptoms were the most severe they were able to put all focus into the healing process rather than having to worry about digestion. Now I’m not saying for every illness that you need to fast. In this case, it helped us but you really just need to listen to your own body. If you’re hungry, eat, if you’re not, don’t….it really is that simple!
- An abundance of fresh air was definitely on order. Indoor air that is stale and electrically dead can worsen breathing conditions and prolong the healing process. Every day, even if we were rugged up on the sofa with chills, we opened all the windows in the house and let the fresh air flow. Even at night we slept with the windows in our rooms slightly ajar and I believe it did wonders. We’re lucky here in that we live in a subtropical area and don’t really experience very cold winters so having the windows open all year round is doable for us without freezing. If you do live in a colder area, consider having maybe one window open slightly to allow new fresh air to circulate. Having live, green plants in your house also improves air quality and this can aid in healing.
- Plenty of sunshine. Now I know this subject can be controversial because government would have us believe that we need to “slip, slop, slap” to be fully protected from the sun. Now while I believe that prolonged sun exposure at the wrong times of the day can be damaging, I also believe that covering up completely all the time and slopping on artificial, chemically made sunscreens on our skin are equally, if not more dangerous. We need adequate Vitamin D and one of the best ways to get it is direct from the sun. Though we were pretty much sofa/bed bound for 4 days we made sure to have 15 minute intervals outside in the sun throughout the day and I’m pretty convinced this aided our healing.
- Detox baths. I believe we are far too toxic and probably half of our illnesses come on due to toxic overload. There are chemicals in everything; the food we eat, the drinks we consume, the products we put on our skin, the chemicals we clean our house with, the air we breathe etc. We need to be constantly mindful of regularly detoxing our bodies to give them a good chance at healing and wellness. It takes time to rid your body of year’s worth of ignorantly formed habits. When you’re sick your body needs a detox the most. I wasn’t up for much during this sickness so a nice warm detox bath was perfect. I filled the bath full with warm water and added Epsom salts and apple cider vinegar as the detoxifier then lavender oil to relax. Obviously if you’re running a temperature you need to be careful not to have the bath too hot as you don’t want to bring your temperature up any more. Equally it won’t feel comfortable getting into a cool bath when your body is baking. Just make it warm enough to relax you and enjoy.
- Eucalyptus oil mixed with a little coconut oil rubbed onto the bottom of your feet works wonders to help with breathing. It is known for having great antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties and acts as a decongestant particularly when inhaled so I also added some drops to Lacey’s humidifier at night in her room. The humidifier kept the air from getting too dry and helped her to sleep much better on the second night.
- Sniffing peppermint oil. Now I was the only one who seemed to have trouble with pain on my lungs and I’d read about peppermint oil acting as a natural inhalant for people suffering with asthma so come the second night I put coconut oil into my hands along with a few drop of peppermint oil, cupped my hands and took up to 10 deep breathes holding after each one. It relieved the tightness in my chest and helped me sleep more easily.
- And lastly, ease back into eating slowly if you did need to fast. We started out with fruits such as bananas, oranges and kiwi fruit and added rice noodles to my homemade bone broth to make noodle soup. We still didn’t have great appetites but this was a good way to kick start our digestive system again. By day four we were eating 3 meals again though smaller quantities.
So I hope this helps you in your quest to wellness and healing. Never underestimate the power of food and natural products like essential oils. Statistics say that on average it can take a healthy adult up to 10 days to heal from flu. We were feeling much better after 4 and I personally believe the “self-care” root worked way better for us this time than any path we’d taken before.
It’s certainly not an easy journey and you fight every learnt instinct to go grab the Panadol box particularly when your head is pounding and you want instant relief but I’m pleased to say it’s a journey I know I won’t regret and will enrich our future for the better.