Three days into my five-day prescription antibiotic
I found myself unable to eat, unable to walk, unable to think and shaking with tremors. I could not count. I could not add numbers. I could not feel my muscles and
I did not have health insurance.
The story is long.
I will tell the full of it another time and I won’t leave out any of the gushy details on the incoherent conversations, curses spewing from my mouth and confessing life sins in the ER room, like I was going to die or something.
But the story I want to tell you right now is about the ER doctors who would not listen to me—the ones who thought me either drunk, high or pregnant. They were not hearing that I had already taken 5 pregnancy tests for the nausea and that I’ve never swallowed an ecstasy pill, never rolled a joint, never inhaled that white dust, never shot thin needles.
They sent me home with no explanation, no answers. Just a crap ton of prescriptions for meds and more antibiotics that I was too paranoid to take, anyway.
Doctor to doctor,
test after test.
I gave up. Eventually stopped signing my name on the long waiting room lists and started playing connect-the-dots with whatever wits I had left—called my mom, talked it through, read labels, researched facts, until…I found it.
It was the antibiotic that made me sick.
I had experienced the rare, but very real, adverse reaction that is ever-so-carefully printed on the labels that no one EVER reads.
Oh, how I would have done it differently. So differently.
Research became my friend. My lifeline.
Through research, I was able to make the connection between my blood tests, which showed that my potassium was severely depleted, and my inability to walk. Though the list was LONG with symptoms, sensations, pain, sickness and triggers, at least I knew that I was able to start somewhere: my muscles.
Through research, I learned that potassium is a vital mineral used by our bodies to carry out the cellular processes that regulate nerve & muscle function. I grew convinced that my deficiency in potassium was directly related to my muscle weakness and inability to walk. I also learned that magnesium, another mineral vital for the body to carry out cellular processes and functions, was crucial and closely related to regulating levels of potassium in the body. I figured that my weak muscles were lacking potassium and that, to get my potassium up, I’d also have to get my magnesium up.
So I took baths.
At first, the baths only seemed to aggravate the muscle weakness and bouts of tremors. I would come out of my baths a stumbling mess and feeling worse than I did before—unable to walk and needing my husband’s help to get from the tub to the bed. But. I had to believe that the Epsom salt (rich in magnesium) was not hurting me; I had to believe that it was helping me.
Over the course of a few weeks, the twitching and the tremors began to lessen until, eventually, they subsided. This was the first symptom in my health battle to heal, although the recovery of regaining my muscle tone and strength was a longer process, which is another story that I will tell later on.
Soaking in hot water raises the body’s temperature. It’s like working out—you get everything pumping and flowing inside. When the body heats up, it begins to sweat. You can think of sweat as the body’s built-in AC unit.
How do we sweat? Well, our skin has pores. Remember those little guys? When we sweat, the body’s pores open up in order to release the sweat. With the cells working so hard to get the body sweating, there are all kinds of things going on—blood flowing, heart pumping, water & waste (no matter how trace the amount of waste) releasing. This is good. Our bodies were made to work, to push, to be in process, to circulate—to flush.
Picture this—a child with outstretched arms, hands facing up and palms open. This child is in the perfect position to receive a gift. This is like the body’s pores—open, like the child’s hands, to take in whatever is readily available.
This is where salts & soaks come into play. Bathing with pure Epsom salt, sea salts and other bath soaks can deliver naturally occurring minerals (gifts!) that the body is not able to produce or obtain otherwise.
Potassium, Magnesium, Sodium, Calcium, Sulfur
just to name a few…
Though we were created to and are recommended to obtain these minerals through natural foods, it’s helpful to know that receiving them through a bath is an option. Example: when I was unable eat or drink ANYTHING (except for water and crackers) due to nausea, heat/cold intolerance, allergic reactions and triggers that took months to wade and wander through, it was soaking in Epsom salt that gave my body the magnesium it needed.
. . .
Along with delivering minerals, a bath also delivers so much more. Mentally, it can deliver peace, as it can be a quiet space for you to detox bad thoughts and moments from the day or week, and a place to take in truth and soak up healing.
I have grieved in the tub. Mourned in the tub. Dreamed in the tub. Released lies in the tub. Wrestled with myself and with God in the tub. Laughed in the tub. Accepted and forgiven myself in the tub. Prayed in the tub. Closed my eyes and found rest in the tub.
There is nothing magical or spiritual about a bath or a tub. But — there is something powerful about the act of making time & space with the specific intention of releasing and letting go. It is like journaling, or going for a walk or a hike — you go into it knowing that you are going to leave something behind.
SALTS & SOAKS TO TRY
Pink Himalayan Sea Salt & Black Lava Salt » as with all sea salts, these two contain naturally occurring minerals. Black lava salt is just a fancy name for salt that is mixed with charcoal.
Epsom Salt » not really a salt, rather it’s a mineral compound of magnesium and sulfate. It gets its name, Epsom, from the spring in Surrey, England that it is named after.
Baking Soda » a common household product, so even if you don’t have a fancy sea salt, you can still get yo’ bath on. Baking soda is not only a great cleanser for the home, but it’s very cleansing and soothing for the skin, too.
Witch Hazel » a natural remedy of the Native Americans—it is useful as a topical for burns, insect bites and bruises. It is also a gentle astringent which makes it a great toner for the skin and face (I use it everyday!). When used as a bath soak, it can be healing and soothing to inflamed skin.
Ginger, Mint, Rosemary » common herbs & spices that everyone has lying around the kitchen. When added to a bath, these herbs & spices can warm, soothe and invigorate the body. They are also aromatic, which can be clarifying to the mind, too.
I only take detox baths 1-2 times per week. I sometimes also bath with lavender buds and I always try to drink a cup of water before and during my bath.
Note: This blog post is solely based on my personal health experience. I am not a doctor, nor is the above post an attempt to diagnose, cure, or treat any condition or to provide professional medical guidelines for any person. Spices, herbs and salts are powerful agents and should be treated as such. Be safe, be smart: always seek professional medical assistance before using salts and other ingredients/recipes as soaking aids, especially if you are pregnant or have circulatory or heart problems.
TRUTHS TO MEDITATE ON
It’s not enough to try to take care of the body; the heart has to be taken care of, too. The heart is where our daily battles take place. It is home to our thoughts—it is home to who we are. To clean and beautify ourselves on the outside without doing the same on the inside is as effective as spreading thick a coat of paint over muddy boots:
you’re only covering up the mess; you’re never dealing with the root.
The following bible verses are powerful truths. Instead of mindlessly thinking (or dreaming, like I tend to do), try meditating on these verses. Break them down, repeat them over and over again, use them as points of self-searching. Check your heart, your motives, your thoughts, your anxieties and insecurities against these verses. And after all of that mindful thinking and meditating, ask God to help you to believe these truths and to apply them to the areas of your life where you lack belief in these words.
My next heart & soul detox post will come out next week, but I’d love to hear your heart and where you are in your health journey. Have you ever used salts or soaks in your baths or is it something you’ve been wanting to try? Do you think that a detoxing bath would help you more mentally or physically or both?