Saturday, April 14, 2012

Creeping Creature from the Crusted Yellow Lagoon


It's also very important information, so I recommend that you hold onto your stomachs and keep going till the very end. 

Many months ago, long about October of last year, I got an insignificant rash on my chin. It was just a few tiny spots here and there, and I didn't worry too much about it. At first I even thought it was acne, but it didn't go away like acne would have. I would get a couple little spots, then they would recede, then a couple more spots nearby, and those would recede. There were times that it was better than others, but it never quite got well.

Fast forward to the end of February, and it began to gain a little ground. I began to worry that I would need to seek medical treatment, and debated at what point to break down and go in to the doctor. When I woke up March 1, there was no longer any doubt. Overnight, the small rash had blown up into a giant, painful, weeping nightmare. I got in to the doctor's office before lunchtime, where I was diagnosed with a bacterial infection, likely staph, and put on a sturdy dose of cephalexin (Keflex). 

Although I documented the whole progress in photos, I had NO INTENTION WHATSOEVER of putting any of them in any public place where they might be seen, and most especially on my blog! I would much prefer that everyone maintain the fantasy that I always look beautiful, with hardly a hair out of place even on a hurricane day, or when I have first crawled out of bed. The idea that I would post photos where I looked like a refugee from the Disgusting Tropical Diseases Textbook was completely unthinkable.

Until a surprise remedy suddenly made this information too important to keep to myself, even if it meant showing you the worst I have ever looked in my whole, entire life. This is vital health information that you need to be aware of. Are you ready? Good - it's time for the unveiling of the Creeping Creature from the Crusted Yellow Lagoon.

February 25

February 28

March 1

March 2
So painful I want to scrape it with potsherds and sprinkle ashes on my head.

March 3

The weekend was a real low point. I was too scary to go to church, and hurt too badly to think of anything else. I sat there and scrunched my lower lip to pop the blisters and let out a little pressure...

March 4

...and contemplated all the possible ways to get rid of my face. Dynamite, TNT, nuclear weaponry, I considered it all.

March 5

The antibiotics are helping slightly, but it's still so bad half-way through the treatment that I return for another visit to the doctor. She diagnoses it as staph, and we agreed to watch and see how it did. There were still no restrictions to driving the bus; I just couldn't touch my face and touch anything else (as if I would have voluntarily touched that seething cesspool anyway!), and I couldn't kiss any babies.

March 6

Most of the photos I took were right after washing gently with soap and warm water, and applying the antibacterial cream. This one is au naturel, and pretty typical of how I looked most of the day. It still hurt so badly I could think of little else but different ways to whittle and chop it off. 

Keep in mind that this is after a full SIX days of 2,000 mg of antibiotics each and every day, as well as 4x a day applying Bactroban, a prescription-strength antibiotic ointment. For a mild staph infection, Bactroban alone would usually be enough to treat it. 

Although no formal culture was made, the apathetic response this infection had to the standard treatment is an indicator that it could have been the dread MRSA, Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus. Clearly, I was not going to be well within the allotted 10 days of treatment. 

March 7

As soon as I woke up March 1, I had decided to order colloidal silver. (God had wanted me to have it already on hand, and I didn't listen, but that's a whole nuther story.) Now, I had tried CS before and been rather underwhelmed. Being heavily influenced by my Scottish roots, I had gotten the very cheapest, which I have recently learned was also the very wateriest. All but useless. This time around, I got some really strong stuff, which was 500 ppm instead of about 20. It finally arrived on Wednesday, March 7.

About the only thing I've been able to figure out about colloidal silver is that there are about as many different opinions as there are people in the world. I have no desire to bog down in any arguments, and am simply sharing what I did for myownself. I recommend doing your own experimentation on all sorts of different problems, and see what happens. Use common sense, pray for guidance, and God will show you what you should do.

The following should also be considered. Long-term internal use of high doses of colloidal silver can, in some cases, lead to a bizarre condition called argyria, a permanent change to the pigment of the skin, ranging from gray to bluish.  I haven't been able to find any harmful side effects for topical use. So, in a nutshell, my own personal philosophy at this point is to apply it liberally to the outside, and to be very cautious when applying it to the inside. 

But on March 7, the first day it arrived, the word "liberal" was not yet in my vocabulary. I put a couple drops on my chin, and spread it down to a microscopic thinness, and that's the only time I used it the whole day. The above photo was taken about 5 hours after that mini-dose, had already made enough of a difference around the edges that the doctor decided not to give me any further antibiotics, unless the rash began to deteriorate again. 

March 8

Upon reading some inspirational stories about colloidal silver and staph infections, I applied generous doses every few hours, all day long. The first thing I noticed, was that as soon as I soaked it enough to make it down through the awful crusts, the pain stopped. There was still a mild discomfort while the open sores were healing, but the temptation to chop away the lower half of my face disappeared within a couple of minutes. 

March 9

By Friday morning, 24 hours after the first serious application,  the oozing had stopped entirely, and all but the deepest sores had healed over. For the first time, I began to suspect that I might actually look normal again. Someday.

March 10
Twenty-four hours after that, even the larger sores were nearly healed.  A deep redness remained, and new little zit-looking blisters kept popping up. The good part was that as soon as they came up, the colloidal silver would knock them back out again. 

March 11

Do you still remember how I looked after 6 days of Keflex?  This is after only FIVE days of topical colloidal silver.

March 16

I decided to try a little experiment. Since I was still applying the ointment and the colloidal silver at the same time, I decided to stop applying the silver for a few days and see what happened. 

March 19

Within a couple of days, the rash began to fill back in again, and it was clear the the silver was making a marked difference. After a couple of days of topical application, and continuing to struggle with the stray little blisters, I took a two-week course internally as recommended on the bottle. 

One of the children came down with a small patch of  the staph infection next to their nose. The silver stopped it in its tracks. Immediately, all sorts of uses began to suggest themselves. Our one sneezy cat had infected all the other cats, so I started putting one dropperful in their water each day. Within a few weeks, all the kittens were well, and the big kitties were much better. (Who cares if THEIR skin turns blue?) Jack had a couple patches of some kind of dermatitis, and they had been around for months. We had tried numerous OTC creams, but none helped. A few drops of silver a couple times a day was all he needed. Mom will have to tell you about her own adventures. 

I become aware that I'm starting to sound like one of Them - the colloidal crazy people who think silver is good for everything. Well, so far, it has been!

March 27

It's been a very slow process, but the underlying redness continues to fade. Sometimes it's still brighter than in this picture, depending on the temperature and other factors such as level of physical exertion. The new eruptions are getting fewer, but are still happening, even today, April 14, though my two-week-long internal dosing made a big difference. Even though progress is still slow, it continues steadily, and I'm looking forward to eventually having my chin back entirely to normal.

At the suggestion of a long-time friend who is very knowledgeable in matters of natural remedies and healthful living, and even runs a lifestyle healing center, I have just today begun taking the fight to the next level. Added to my regimen of oral garlic and topical silver is..............

Well, don't worry. You'll get to read all about it.

Then again, maybe you should be worried.

Friday, April 13, 2012


Joy of all joys, today I got to drive the big bus! By "big bus", I mean a coach bus the same size as a Greyhound bus. I figured it would be rather different than my baby bus, and I was right! For starters, it felt like I sat down at the control panel of the space shuttle. For another thing, you push a BUTTON to put it into drive or neutral. But the most glaring change was that it had no front whatsoever, and it felt like my feet were sticking right out the front into the road. 

Mr. H, the school superintendent (my boss), rode along in the morning in case I had any questions. He sat up front and gave me handy pointers, and hardly laughed at all when I kept turning wide enough for a semi-truck around every single corner. 

After a few minutes, one of the students came and asked to sit in the front. It took me a moment to realize that it was Chad, our neighbor and one of Devon's best friends. "Sure," Mr. H answered, "but just don't scare her." He pointed at me. "We have a new bus driver."

A piercing shriek reverberated throughout the length of the bus as he saw me sitting behind the wheel.

Mr. H said calmly, "Um ... I thought I said not to scare her."

"Hey," Chad defended, "she scared me!"

A few more extra-wide turns, and we arrived successfully at the high school music festival in Plentywood, just in time for a whirlwind of performances. Musicians would be ranked as I, II, or III. Anyone who got a I would be going to the state music festival in Billings, three weeks from now. Damon was fairly early on the docket, with a successful introduction, just like I had hoped. "Hi, my name is Damon. I'm a freshman at Westby School, and I'll be singing Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child, accompanied by my mother."

Less nervous and more relaxed, his performance had all the good qualities you heard in the previous post, with very few of the difficulties. When I first started working with him, he would've made a fine ventriloquist., with almost no discernible lip movements. It takes real talent to sing with your mouth closed. Our work bore such fruit that the judge actually had him open his mouth less.

As she walked up to him, she said, "Please don't take this the wrong way, but you are the shortest bass I have    E V E R   seen!"

No matter how many attempts are made to organize an event of this magnitude, reality intrudes without mercy. The schedules serve as a rough guideline, and the attempt is made to carry them out, but during some stretches, time and accompanists are both in short supply. A certain amount of flexibility is needed, since no matter how much I try to give my children the impression, I can't actually be in two places at once. Apparently, neither can the other accompanists. Thus the rest of the morning was spent dashing from one room to another, sometimes waiting, and sometimes being waited for.

My last performance, just before lunch, was to accompany Chad as he sang, Go Down Moses. Until a few weeks ago, I didn't even know Chad could sing, and the community was surprised in turn at the concert. His performance at the festival went well, as I had every confidence that it would.

"The Mustache Judge", as I thought of him, had spent the morning helping one student after another learn to breathe correctly for singing. Which, oddly enough, is also the correct way to breathe for living. Most of us forget how to breathe properly as we go along. I know when I first began taking voice, it was a struggle to overcome my natural inclination to breathe with my shoulders instead of my stomach. Really, what girl wants to breathe in a way that makes her stomach stick out??? It took some getting used to, believe me, but now I breathe that way all the time, day and night, 365 days a year. (366 days this year.)

Chad was one of many singers who were also shoulder breathers. The Mustache Judge had a novel approach for anyone who was suitably dressed: to lie down on the floor until they started breathing correctly. As it turns out, it's impossible to continue to breathe incorrectly while lying on your back on the floor, though Chad came very close to breaking a record as the lone holdout. 

To pass the time while he waited for Chad's shoulders to get tired, The Mustache Judge told stories and chatted. Finally he asked Chad, "Are you a football player?"

"No," Chad replied without missing a beat, "but I was a champion in the Special Olympics."

The judge's jaw dropped. "That's wonderful," he said, clearly stunned. What started as a chance to help just another boy with a nice voice to improve, ended with a sense of reverence and awe at the Divine gift placed in a pure and loving heart.

Chad has autism, and at times has struggled to fit in. But when it comes to music, he speaks a language anyone can understand. He will have a chance to speak it to a whole new audience when he goes to Billings to perform at the state music festival. Damon will be there, too, along with the other Westby students who scored a I. 

The triumphs of the day were shadowed by tragedy, after the deaths of Carlie and Ty Anderson, who died in Medicine Lake on Sunday. They and three of their friends went out in a paddleboat. It's not clear whether the boat capsized, sank, or both, but when it was done, the brother and sister had drowned. 

In this part of the country, all the communities are so tightly knit that this has had a huge impact on all of us. Even Tiggy had met Carlie before, and was friends with a couple of the other teens who survived. At first the Medicine Lake students weren't sure if they would choose to come to the festival or not. No one would have blamed them for staying home. But they decided the best way they could honor the memory of their friends was to carry on, and perform the best they could through their tears.

During this last week, many students even attended school wearing cowboy boots and jeans, which had been a favorite wardrobe choice of Carlie and Ty.

As I peeked in through the door of the library, I thought of the courageous classmates and brokenhearted family, as they all prepare for the double funeral tomorrow. Oblivious to those watching, a slender girl stood in the front of the room, long blonde hair framing her elfin face. In a sweet, clear voice, she sang a song that traces its roots to the British Isles during the 1600's.

The water is wide, I cannot cross o'er,
And neither have I wings to fly,
But give me a boat that will carry two,
And both shall row, my love and I.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Basso Diminuendo

Over last summer, Damon's voice changed. He was one of those lucky few who underwent no cracking, no breaking, and no teasing. Over the course of a couple weeks, it just went smoothly down, down, and more down. But until it was time to start practicing a song for music festival, we hadn't really bothered to find out how far that was. 

As I tell all the young men when I practice with them shortly after their voice changes, it's like learning to play a whole new instrument. Even the most musical often have trouble with some of their pitches at first, and it can be comical as his voice runs aaaaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa up and down the scale trying to find the right octave to sing in. Because I'm nice, I keep all comments about air raid sirens to myself. 

College voice class was such fun - hearing beautiful voices emerge from some very unlikely beginnings. Only time will tell what Damon makes of his voice with a start that's miles ahead of many of my former classmates. At barely 15, he has tons of musical potential, and Jack and I are SO PROUD of him! We got a good chuckle out of his song choice, too, Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child. I told him he should introduce it as, "Hi, my name is Damon, I'm 15, and I will be singing Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child. My accompanist is my mother." Well, maybe I will have convinced him by the festival on Friday.

So here, reproduced in video format for the first time, is the new and manly voice of the Basso Diminuendo.