Last August I sat on a yellow jacket. Apparently, anyway. I never saw it. It was very warm out, around noon. (The fact that I was outside and not weak and shaky because of the heat is a little victory in itself.) The friend who has been helping me with landscape restoration in my garden, such as the lovely pathway you see in the photo above, was hauling some pruned branches out of the yard, and I sat down on the back porch steps as he paused to ask me a few questions before carrying them out to his truck. I had a skirt on, and at first I thought the cement was awfully warm; then I realized I was getting stung at the top of my thigh just outside the panty line. As my friend went on out to the truck, I promptly got up and went in for some lemon balm oil. Yep, definitely stung, and in a very inconvenient place. I went back out to fetch some fresh lemon balm leaves for a poultice (shown in the bottom left hand corner of the photo), and applied those to the sting area. Lots of fun trying to affix that with band-aids. Nevertheless, despite the pain, I could still move easily enough to accomplish these necessities.
Over the years I have occasionally been stung in the late summer. No matter how careful I am, it can just happen when it’s hot out and they are cruising, winding down their short sharp lives. We say around here they are pissed off they’re dying, so they’ll sting anybody just because. I once took a hit right on the end of my nose while trying to pick my blackberries, another very sensitive and inconvenient place for a sting.
Before this way of eating, the message that I had been stung was like a fire alarm stuck in the “on” position in all nerve endings, not just the ones affected by the sting. I couldn’t even see straight or walk around the “alarm” was so intense. About 10 years ago I remember sitting on a bench in our co-op deli “stunned” from a sting, barely able to speak or move as a couple of staff people I knew bustled around to make a poultice with Bach Rescue Remedy and echinacea tincture, hoping I wouldn’t need to be taken to the hospital. It often took hours, sometimes a whole day or more for that “fire alarm” to calm down. And the pain of the poison from the sting being drawn out by the lemon balm poultice was protracted, exhausting and literally nauseating. I would be on the couch or in bed for the rest of the day.
This time it hurt, but the neurological alarm had cotton all over it. It stayed in the background, pretty much localized to the sting site, and didn’t go completely systemic. It did hurt, don’t get me wrong. But the inflammatory response was reduced dramatically. In fact I didn’t even tell my friend until several minutes later, when I had it all bandaged up with the lemon balm and was writing him a check for some supplies. (I wouldn’t have been able to do such a thing so soon after a sting because my hands would have been shaking, or plain just not able to). He actually registered more alarm in his eyes when I told him than I had felt myself (which was stunning to me in a whole new way). He asked me if I needed a ride to the hospital. How strange and wonderful to be able to assure him, thank you, but no, I was okay. Just sore. (It seems common for many people who don’t have MS to worry those of us who do should go right to the hospital when we fall or get hurt, just in case. Bless their hearts. It’s actually the last place in the world I would think to go.)
The rest of the day went pretty much as if I had not been stung at all. In a couple of hours it was fine to take the poultice off, there was no swelling or tenderness. It all took a fraction of the time it once took.
This kind of remarkable “bounce-back” is something I’ve regained in many areas over time by consistently continuing to eat this way. Slowly and steadily, I have seen these kinds of improvements emerge. Instead of slowly progressing, plateauing, and then sharply progressing, as I had for the previous 12 years and more, I am NOT progressing, and am slowly and steadily seeing improvements.
Another side benefit: I had developed severe neuralgia and rosacea by the time I began this way of eating. That is all but gone. The rosacea flares up in response to heat and dust, but nothing like it once did. I met a nurse the other day who remarked on how healthy I looked, particularly my skin. She didn’t even know. So I went from being in pain while chewing, even smiling, my skin feeling like a peeled grape, to the miracle of being able to eat and chew and smile and laugh without also wincing in pain or guarding against the inflammation that would be triggered by those simple and essential movements.
I also had very severe issues with body temperature regulation. I was unable to cool down, and so would get very very hot and red, pulse as if on fire, then shake, teeth chattering, as I cooled off. The term “hot flash” does not even begin to describe this phenomenon. The slightest bit of stress or even simply trying to eat hot food could set this off. Sometimes it happened for no reason I could discern. The whole experience would last over an hour. I would have to lie down on the bed and afterwards, exhausted, I would fall sleep. That was a regular occurence, sometimes several times a day. Trying to live with that is gone, too.
These and many other things I call my “little victories and epiphanies.” Is everything perfect? No. But I continue to celebrate the miracle that at a time in my life when I’m getting older, instead of sinking into the oblivion of profound MS progression, I am, as the old Clairol Loving Care ad used to say, “getting better.” People can’t believe how great I look. Sometimes they don’t even recognize me. Only it’s not because of hair coloring (which I don’t use). It’s because of the way I’m eating.
So even when I happen to sit on a yellow jacket, things go more smoothly because of the accumulated benefits from this way of eating. Evidently it can even help take some of the sting out of getting stung.