Week of April 7, 2015 - Trauma Care, Part 7

Monday, April 06, 2015 6:04 PM | Anonymous

It is now eleven weeks since I injured my wrist falling at the Montezuma waterfall in Costa Rica during our Healing Adventure. (There is still room in our Healing Adventure for January 2016. Find out more here) What am I doing to help myself heal now?

I stopped doing cold packs about two weeks ago. Went through the freezer and put every bundle of frozen comfrey leaves in the compost. Washed out the cloths I was using for poultices and compresses. And switched to heat.

I heated my wrist with hot water. I am heating my wrist with moxa. And I am oiling my wrist before going to bed.

The end of putting cold compresses on my wrist coincided with my return to Costa Rica; this time to the mountains near Arenal, an active volcano. Lots of hot water bubbles out the earth in this region, and I soaked my wrist in it every day for over a week. We stayed at Bio Thermale, where I soaked every morning and every night for at least thirty minutes. We attended the Edge Conference at Thermale de Bosque, where I soaked every afternoon and one late, late night, too. I laid by the hot pools with my wrist dangling into the water. I sat in the hot pools and massaged my wrist, arm, and fingers, moving from the fingertips into my palm and up my arm.

When I returned home, I continued the heat with moxa. Moxa is the white fuzz from Artemisia chinensis. (Artemisia vulgaris can be used as well.) I buy moxa sticks in Chinatown (New York City); I don’t make my own. In the photo, the moxa stick looks like a green cigar. The end is lit, making it moxibustion, the burning of moxa. The stick is held very near to, but not touching, the skin. It is not held steady, but continuously moved around in spirals and circles. When it area feels hot, it is time to quit. The hard part is putting the moxa out.

Moxibustion is a tonifying technique. It fills empty chi. Moxibustion is not considered safe to use until swelling has abated. Most of the swelling is gone; not all, though. The physical therapist, Nina Silverman, wants all the swelling to go away. (Me too!) She put some physio-tape on my arm, from elbow to wrist, and did some massage too, from wrist to elbow. She asked me to wear a brace, and gave me some exercises to do to regain flexibility.


I am doing those exercises, but they are painful. I look forward to bedtime and a soothing herbal oil under my night time Ace bandage. There are so many helpful infused, unscented, oils to choose from when healing a sprain.

Arnica oil is one of my favorites. It is a specific for healing after trauma and is very kind to overused and strained muscles.

St. Joan’s wort oil (Hypericum), also known as red oil, is the one I have been using since the start. It not only eases muscle pain, it goes into the nerve endings and eliminates nerve pain. (Those shooting pains I get when I try to pull the covers up in bed are nerve pain.) There is no way to injure a joint without injuring the nerves, so I have been taking Hypericum tincture, a dropperful every day or two, since the first day of the injury to help heal the nerves of my hand and wrist. I travel with a full ounce of the tincture and a full bottle of the oil, as well, and have used both almost daily throughout these eleven weeks.

Plantain oil is the absolute best of them all; it is the one I would use if I didn’t have so many good choices. (Thanks to my students who supply me with their excellent oil and salve projects.) Plantain has been known to heal sprains that are years old and still sore. It has remarkable abilities to help the body put itself back together again after traumatic injury of any kind.

And then there is my jar of comfrey ointment from Henry Doubleday in England. This is my all-time absolute favorite ointment for healing wounds, cuts, bruises, and sprains. I have hoarded this last jar – it is not made any more – for a quarter of a century! I use it in tiny amounts, and only on my worst injuries, as it has to last for the rest of my life. This sprain certainly deserves the aid of comfrey ointment (in addition to the comfrey leaf infusion I am drinking). A fairy-sized dab is applied to the area of my wrist that hurts the most, and worked in with whichever healing oil I am using that night. It is all wrapped up with the nice, soft Ace bandage that Magda gave me three months ago. The oil has not been kind to the elastic, but it still gives me support while I sleep.

And that brings this story nearly to its close. Ligaments, tendons, and joints heal slowly. I will continue to attend to my hand and wrist for many more months: nourishing and tonifying and listening to stories. The physical therapist wants me to focus on regaining flexibility before rebuilding strength. I want full use of my right hand, for both delicate work and hard work. I want to be able to take a lid off a jar and turn a doorknob. I need to have enough strength in my hand to be able to milk the goats. It will take focus, work, and time for us both to get what we want, and we will get it.

To be continued. . .

~ Recipe Box - Nettle Soup ~

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