Friday, March 27, 2015

Folk Medicine Experiments: #1

Over the past several years I've occasionally had to battle with joint pains in my fingers.  Early arthritis or just the usual impact pains?  In any case, I've always cleared them up with my homemade remedy:

Take 1 dozen absolutely plain generic aspirin (no coloring, no buffering, no nothing), grind them as fine as flour, and dissolve in one ounce of DMSO.  Shake, stir, and filter through a coarse cloth until the fluid is clear.  Paint on the skin over the affected joint, wait until it sinks in and the skin is dry, then massage the skin vigorously to press the solution into the deeper tissues.  Apply twice a day.

This has worked reliably for years, until a couple months ago.  That's when I got pain and weakness in the joints of my right thumb, from wrist to tip.  I painted on my aspirin/DMSO solution as usual, and it stopped the pain and weakness from spreading, but didn't make it vanish as quickly as usual.  I told Rasty about it, and he worried that this was real arthritis;  he knows all too well about arthritis, having been damn-near crippled with it 20 years ago.  From what he could learn from a dozen doctors, what causes it is one's own immune system going crazy and attacking one's own cartilage.

I thought about that, and considered that the immune system doesn't go hog-wild for no reason.  Something has to set it off, and that something can only be some kind of an infection.  So, first solution: kill the infection.  Problem: just what kind of infection is it?  Not bacterial, I guessed, since lots of people with arthritis take antibiotics fairly often, for other ailments, and there's no record of them having any affect on the joint problem.  Not protozoans or parasites, I figured further, since those are quite noticeable in blood tests -- and, again, no correlation has ever shown up.  That leaves viruses and molds.  There are a number of mold-killers on the market, but where is there a broad-spectrum virus-killer?

Well, I know of an herbal mix that has a pretty good track record:

Grind up equal volumes of fresh raw garlic, fresh raw onion, fresh raw cabbage, and cured shredded tobacco.  For internal infections, swallow a teaspoon-full two or three times per day.  In this case, I painted the mixture on my skin, let it dry, then painted over it with DMSO. 

And looking further through folk-medicine accounts, I found something besides DMSO itself that's said to help with arthritis, and that's copper -- pure metallic copper, worn on the bare skin, as in a ring or bracelet.  After trying it, I realized that if you wear metallic copper on the bare skin, sooner or later the skin sweats.  Sweat is acid, and dissolves ions of copper out of the metal and deposits them on the skin -- thus causing the famous blue-green stain.  But not all of that stain stays on the skin;  some of it is absorbed through the pores, and eventually gets into the bloodstream, where the white blood-cells take up those copper ions and mix them into a chemical which kills all kinds of invading microbes -- but especially molds.  This isn't surprising, since molds (yeast, fungi, etc.) use a lot of copper in their metabolism, and therefore can't refuse to take in the stuff, no matter what else it's chemically attached to -- even if that something else is inimical to the mold's health.

At this point I mentioned my problem, and ideas, to my family doctor.  He agreed that mold infections do tend to make the immune system go frantic, and that both DMSO and copper have good track records for treating arthritis.  But he disagreed that the problem was caused by mold infections in the bloodstream, since "If you've got a mold infection in your blood, you're dead."  Hmmm, but how would the mold get to the cartilage in the joints if it didn't travel through the blood?  He also warned me to be wary of using too much aspirin, since it could burn the skin.  Well, of course: aspirin is acetyl-salicylic acid, and acid can certainly burn you if you get too much of it.  And we still hadn't completely ruled out viruses.

So what I settled on was painting the DMSO-and-aspirin on my skin only once a day, painting the herbal mix on my skin and following it with DMSO two or three times a day, and also wearing a copper ring and a copper bracelet on my right hand and painting DMSO on the resulting stain twice a day.

I've been doing that for the past four weeks, and the pain and weakness in the thumb have been slowly but steadily fading in intensity and shrinking in range.  They're not entirely gone yet, but they're retreating.

I think I'm on to something here.  Does anybody else have any similar stories?

--Leslie <;)))><     

Thursday, March 19, 2015


--Leslie Fish

            People often ask me where I get inspirations for my songs, and the answer is: the damnedest places.  I've mentioned before how a passing phrase at Joe Bethancourt's memorial concert inspired a song – "High Desert Wind" – that I'm still working on, and how the inspiration lasted for only one chorus and verse, so I asked for suggestions from the fans to finish it.  I got some useful suggestions, a whole verse from Mark Horning and a lot of workable lines from other fans, but I still hadn't put together that last verse…
            At least until this morning.
            I was jerked awake by the sound of my cell-phone ringing, and swam up to consciousness as I reached for it, groggily aware that I'd nodded off in front of the computer again.  I peered at the blank screen even as I yawned "Hello?"
            "Leslie!" yelled a frantic male voice – somewhat familiar, a local fan, but I couldn't think of the attached name: Don?  Dan?  Dave?  Daryl?  "Make it stop!  Send him back!"
            "Whaaa…?" I managed.  "Stop what?"
            "That song!  The one you wrote at Joe's memorial, the one about raising ghosts from songs and forces of nature.  It worked!  He's here!  I can hear him outside!"
            "What the hell?" I wakened faster.  "Joe's there?"  I couldn't understand the panic in the fan's voice.  If my old friend's ghost should show up at my door, I'd welcome him in gladly.  And I'd ask for his help in finishing that song. 
            And why would Joe's shade drop in on Don-Dave-Dan-whoever, rather than me?  Ghosts appear unsummoned when (and where) they have unfinished business.  I didn't know half of Joe's friends or family, or what he had going on with them, but what urgency would have sent him there first?  …Did it have anything to do with the fan's terrified reaction?
            The fan's voice rose another octave as he screeched: "He's at the door!"
            I thought fast.  "Send him to me," I snapped.  "Toss him one of my tapes, or CDs, or books, and send him to me.  I want to see him."
            There was no answer but a single thump.  I wondered if the frightened fan had thrown the phone at the ghost.
            "What the hell?" I repeated, getting up from my chair…
            …And then I wrenched awake – really awake – and found that I wasn't sitting in front of the computer at all.  I was lying in bed among a tangle of coverlets and sleeping cats, and there was no phone in my hand.  Now I remembered turning off the computer, setting the phone in the charger, and coming to bed the night before.
            "What the hell?" I said, one more time.  I almost never remember dreams when I wake up, and when I do, they're only vague fragments – nothing so clear or coherent as this.  And I hadn't been thinking about Joe Bethancourt, or that song, before I went to sleep;  I'd been working on a novel I'm doing with Rasty.  So why that dream, and why now?  I started to get up…
            And felt an unmistakable sense of Joe Bethancourt's presence, as if he were standing in front of me.  It was there for only an instant, but it was unmistakable.  It was followed by a sense of urgency, which nudged me to get up and come into the livingroom.  I yielded to it, definitely intrigued.  So I plodded out to my desk…
            …And saw that the computer was turned on.
            Now I distinctly remember turning it off, as I usually do, before I went to bed.  Turning it back on would have required pressing a recessed button, set into the vertical face of the power-box at an angle the cats couldn't reach, with more pressure than a cat could manage.
            So how did the computer get turned on?
            I could make a good guess.  So I clicked up my Word document files, and started working – and, sure enough, I had an idea for that last verse.
            As I said, I get inspiration for my songs from some genuinely weird places.

May, 2014


            High desert wind won't blow the songs away.
            They pace the streets of Tombstone with Doc Holliday.
            Long as they blow the stronger souls can stay.
            High desert wind, come blow again.
For half the year it's blowing dust and blazing sun-fire heat.
Then twice a year the solstice rains flood gully, field and street.
Earth and water, air and fire, as any wise soul could desire,
Shaped by ancient songs upon the wind –
Sung before, and they'll be sung again.     (Cho.)

The sun burns down on shattered rock like fire from the sky.    
The stars at night burn like a dream that no one can deny.
Light and darkness, stars and moon, petroglyph and ancient rune,
Secrets whispered softly on the wind,
Sung before, and coming around again.   (Cho.)   (M. Horning)

The wind that spreads the flowers' call, the pollen and the seeds,
Bears life throughout the desert lands that serves the spirits' needs.
Bannered clouds in glowing herds, paint the sky in ancient words
Of powers from the oldest days of men.
Welcome in, old friend.  Come sing again.   (Cho.)

--Leslie <;)))><  )O(    

Wednesday, March 4, 2015


Sorry it's taken me so long to get back, folks, but I've been a wee bit distracted for the past couple weeks.  'Tis because Rasty was scheduled for heart surgery, and there were complications -- not with the surgery, but with the scheduling.

He was originally supposed to get the operation two weeks ago, but there were problems with transportation -- ours and theirs.  First, no way was I going to let him drive 30 miles across the valley for his surgery, so we had to get ADA-mandated medical transport -- a.k.a. Dial-A-Ride.  For unknown bureaucratic reasons, Dial-A-Ride would provide us with a cab from here in Buckeye to the border of Phoenix, but we'd have to get off there and pick up the city's Dial-A-Ride bus from there to St. Joseph's hospital.  That meant waiting at the border bus-stop for nearly an hour, and that -- coupled with the traveling time -- meant that we had to get up at 5 AM.  How jolly.  And the weather that early in the morning was distinctly cold.

Anyway, we got to the hospital on time, did all the usual pre-operation things, settled in the pre-op room and waited.  And waited.  Some two hours after the operation was due to start, the surgeon came in and apologized.  It seems that the operation couldn't proceed because a vital instrument (he didn't say what it was, but I got the impression that it was the arterial roto-rooter) hadn't arrived.  It came from Boston Instruments, and hadn't been sent because Boston airport was snowed in.  *Sigh*  So 'twas all for nothing.  We re-scheduled the operation for the next Thursday, and -- thankfully! -- got Sharan to drive us home.  We also arranged for her to do the driving for the real operation day.

The next Thursday things went a lot better.  Sharan drove us to St. Joe's, we got there in plenty of time, the pre-op work went a lot quicker because they still had the previous week's records, and the operation started on time.  Rasty's daughter Cheryl showed up, and we sat down to wait.  It took a long time, and Rasty didn't get out of the operating room until noon.  While he was snoring off the anesthetics on the cardio-recovery ward, the surgeon and the main operating nurse filled us in.

Yes, the miniature medical roto-rooter had thoroughly reamed out Rasty's right main cardiac artery, the miniature medical vacuum-cleaner had sucked out all the organic debris, the delivery-tube had implanted no less than three stents -- adding up to 88 millimeters, or about 3-and-a-half inches -- and the artery held up so well that the surgeon planned to go and open up Rasty's other blocked artery sometime this summer.  In other words, success!  Of course Rasty had to stay overnight, so I did too (part of the pre-op preparations included packing a huge duffel-bag for just such a contingency).

By morning Rasty was awake and eager to get home.  He groused and grumbled at the interminable wait for the techs and nurses to clear him for release, particularly since Cheryl had to go to work and couldn't drive him.  Sharan came to the rescue again, and we made it home with no further stress.  Rasty's main problem after that was ravenous hunger, since he hadn't eaten for a day and a half.

So for the past week I've been hovering over him, watching developments.  At first he was too tired to do much more than haul himself out of bed to watch TV, and that worried him.  I explained that the fatigue was the result of his body spending energy on healing itself, and he should give it time to recover.  He grumbled anyway, and made effort to exercise a little more each day.  Today he managed to drive to the bank and post office before feeling tired out, which mollified him somewhat.  He's now been a whole week without any angina pains, which is a pretty good indication that his heart's getting the blood it needs.  He's cautiously optimistic.  I'm a lot optimistic.  He's looking better than he has for the past year.

So that's why I've been letting my postings slide a bit.  Patience: I'll make up for it.

--Leslie <;)))><