Hard Stop: Life Unexpected

Hard Stop: Life Unexpected

You know the classic movie scene where someone pulls the emergency break on a subway or a fast-moving train?

Smoke. Screeching metal. Wide-eyed shock as life does something that was not in the day’s playbook.

All that… and on Thanksgiving, with seven people expected for dinner and an 18-pound bird roasting in the oven.

My husband had been having odd symptoms for days. We were brushing them off, or perhaps I should say we weren’t putting it all together. It looked like allergies, and razor burn from a recent haircut, and some weird eye irritation that cleared up with Eyebright drops.

So when he woke up on Thanksgiving morning with lesions on his head and a new one forming between his eyes, we were baffled. It was painful to the touch and was multiplying quickly.

Luckily we have medical doctors, naturopaths, acupuncturists and assorted other helpers and healers in our circle. It’s good to have friends who will makes themselves available on Thanksgiving morning. (I am so intensely grateful for my friends and colleagues. They have been been all love and support these past few weeks. Mwah!).

It took less than a minute to diagnose the problem: shingles.

It was wild—we literally watched a new patch appear during the 15 minutes of Skyping with a friend, who was still in her pajamas and had her daughter on her lap. That’s medicine at its most comforting.

The latest studies show that pharmaceutical anti-virals only work at onset: the first 72 hours after the lesions appear. We were way beyond that window (although the doctor did end up prescribing an anti-viral in the hopes of cutting the duration), so we came up with a kitchen-sink of supplements, herbs and homeopathy to keep him comfortable:

  • Vitamins A, C, and D
  • Lemon Balm, St. John’s Wort, Licorice, Isatis, and Lomatium
  • Rhus tox homeopathic (when his eyes swelled near-shut, we added Apis and Mezereum)
  • Topical infused oils of Cayenne and St. John’s Wort
  • Ravinsara and Forhara topical essential oils
  • lysine
  • fish oil

There were some scary moments. Like when his tear duct swelled up like a water balloon over the course of an hour. We actually headed to the E.R. for that one. The admission staff was kind and efficient. He went to triage, was tagged as “urgent,” and sent to wait in a hard-backed chair in a small room.

After an hour and 40 minutes there was still no doctor. Gotta say, the Kitchen Witch in me was flabbergasted: You have a dude with a serious virus and you have him sitting in an uncomfortable position with no fluids for an extended period of time? Um, what school of healing did you attend, Hospital People?

We actually ended up leaving. The tear duct ballon had stopped growing and we figured being home in bed was better for his health than continuing a vigil at the hospital.

Needless to say all of this was taking a toll on my nerves.

The next day I found myself cleaning the kitchen and watching some really negative thoughts dance through my brain. Thoughts that were tired and grumpy and put-upon.

So I began the simplest of mantras:

My life is good. My life is good. My life is good.

I hear you, nasty thoughts, but you don’t make me any happier.

My life is good. My life is good.

We don’t get to control the events in our lives. But we do get to decide how we are going to think about them


This is a basic tenet for me. And since my brain is often a cacophony of snarky opinions, I spend a lot of time thought-wrangling!

A second life tenet is that there is magic in the world.

It’s subtle. It can look like coincidence if you haven’t wrangled the snarky thoughts (’cause the snarky thoughts separate you from the flow and keep you from seeing magic and happiness).

I must have done some impressive thought wrangling, ’cause the next morning in my inbox was a great post and video from Marie Forleo on just this. Give it a watch

Meanwhile, Andrew’s doing a bit better. The ophthalmologist gave his eyes the “all clear”, which was a huge relief. My attitude is under control and the train is slowly getting back underway.

Thanks to all who sent kind thoughts this past week. And so much love to our gorgeous circle of friends, healers, and employees who have run errands, sent remedies, and generally held down the fort. You are gold.

Big Hugs,