When I wrote that one of the four things I wanted to focus on this year was healing, I should have known I was inviting a challenge from the universe. January 1 brought me not a hangover, but my first cold of the year. The days since have been an uphill battle to regain my ability to breathe and swallow without pain. Two boxes of tissues, twenty one tea bags, thirteen vitamin C tablets, eight therapeutic inhalations, a chicken’s worth of broth later, and invaluable support from my partner later, I am making progress in this wee war!
When I finally kicked off the toasty sleepwarmed comforter and crawled out of bed this morning, I began my recently adopted cold blasting routine. A warm steamy shower to wake up and attempt to open my nose to this new day. Then, a new addition to my healing repertoire: a gargle with warm water, apple cider vinegar, honey and a bit of cayenne (Thanks for this idea, Shirley!). Wow! Trust me, that will go a long way to waking you and your throat up. I follow that with a bit of bonding with my Neti pot. After those thirty minutes of cold fighting fun, there’s little I’d rather do next than tip my head over a bowl of warm water to inhale tea tree, eucalyptus and peppermint oil. Finally, and much to my neglected cat’s relief, I sat beside her on the couch to sip my peppermint tea.
I have to say tackling all of those steps three times a day has taken about all of my energy. Thankfully, my love is just as determined to see this cold fade as I am. She has had her head buried inside our books about nutritional healing to find wonderful cold fighting foods and recipes like the cabbage, potato and garlic soup I ate for dinner and breakfast. Take this non cabbage lover’s word for it, it is delicious and almost as powerful as a dose of Dayquil. Thanks to her research and shopping efforts our refrigerator and my body are filled with all sorts of anti inflammatory, cold fighting produce. Leeks, bell peppers, cucumbers, radishes, lemons, cabbage… many of these are things I normally wince at when they appear on my plate. No wincing now. I get it. I understand that these undesirable tastes and textures are part of the food medicine that will aid my mission of healing. I sit taller at the table as I chew determinedly.
Yesterday, I was feeling a bit cocky about my proactive approach to all of this. When *thwap* the universe threw me a few reminders that sent me right back to the drawing board. A well timed tweet from Dr. Andrew Weil “Exercise may help prevent the common cold,” elicited a few choice words from my lips and then a sigh of resignation. Yes, of course that is true. I know that and it is one of the “should”s that cartwheels through my mind regularly. I suppose that got my inner voices talking. I’d just about forgotten Weil's tweet, when one of them crept out on my hoody encased shoulder, tugged on my earlobe and whispered, “Hey, why are you only taking care of yourself when you are this sick?”
Palm to forehead, tail to chair… thinking material enough for ages. It is absolutely true. I have shelves filled with books about healing foods and remedies. I live across the street from one of my favorite health food stores in the city of Atlanta. If you have a question about what supplement would help with a certain ailment, I often know the answer. But here I am, only applying the bulk of this knowledge only when my body forces me to. I make do with daily aches and pains, joking that I often feel “like an 80 year old trapped in the exterior of a 29 year old.” The joke is on me if I don’t start applying the things I know during my daily life.
I am grateful that if I squint I can see the end of this cold approaching. I’ll spend some of this time sitting with the lessons it has brought me. I don’t want to waste the understanding I have of food’s healing powers. Even buried beneath the cloud of this cold, I feel the difference these whole foods and teas are making inside my body. I don’t want to continue accepting my “normal” achy, creaky, cracking, popping body. My healing mission for the year has broadened and I have this cold to thank.
Now, if I could only get this dead tree out of my living room...