Physician Heal Thyself; My Giant Hogweed Expedition

As many of you know, I’ve been on a 7 month retreat, a writing sabbatical, while still serving patients by Skype or phone 3 shortened days a week.  I’ve been working on 3 books intermittently throughout this time; a 3rd book of poetry, “Natural Home Pharmacy for Horses”, and another memoir. After parenting 2 magnificent children, being a wife, researcher and writer/publisher for the past couple of decades, last Summer, I got myself entangled in some “Giant Hogweed” that caused some profound blistering and dermatitis of my skin and near blindness in my left eye.  I was at the hospital daily for a month receiving IV’s of broad spectrum antibiotics and also the strongest doses of cortisone both topically and internally.  I had not seen an allopathic doctor in 25 years.  My body swelled with the cortisone and I described the pain as having kerosene poured on my skin and then lit on fire. I felt deeply ashamed that I could not suss the root cause of my ills and cure them outright. I secretly wondered if I was on my way out as there were few cases recorded in the province where I lived, and I had never heard of this connection between blistering skin and the eye issue before.  It was about 4 months before we had a diagnosis and could administer the homeopathic nosode to address the underlying cause. By then the poison was travelling all the way up my left shoulder and right hand.  I was wearing mittens of gauze while coated in Vit. E ointment, coconut oil, and calendula and neem.  If I took off the gauze the corrosive burning sensation would come back with a vengeance.  I would sadly state, “I’m not an animal,” however, I felt people stare and my clearly debilitating condition like I was a leper.  I bowed my head in frank humility.   IMG_2063 IMG_2477 IMG_2679 IMG_2489                                           Interestingly, during this time, I went very still at my core. I updated my Will, got my affairs in order, lovingly asked my husband to give me some free rein and sought a quiet space 1,300 kilometres from my Maritime home to be alone.  Like an injured animal in the barns I’d grown up working in, I need to go away to ruminate, reflect and get “good with God.”  I was committed not to arriving on his doorstep in my spiritually tattered and broken state. I asked myself multiple times per day, “What do you need Love?”  My internal gesture was,  “You can have anything you want and I’ll do my upmost to provide it for you.”  The maxim, “Physician, Heal Thyself” and to, “thine own self be true” rang in the inner sanctum of my beleaguered mind.   IMG_3034 IMG_3252 IMG_3076 IMG_3434                                           Once alone, I started commit to profound overtures of self-romance.  If I wanted to read a novel in bed all afternoon, I did.  If I wanted to bandage my arm and hands and drive to the art gallery with pencil and paper to sketch, I did.  If I wanted to take myself to the salt water spa in the hills of Chelsea, Quebec, on a weekday, I did. If I wanted to spend the afternoon sipping tea with one of my dearest friends and fellow Heikünstlers, I did.  If I wanted to photograph the sun in her glorious relationship to the rippling blue river, I did.  If I wanted to order Thai food, I did. If I wanted to sit and cry like a 2 year old with such fervour until I threw up, I did! I’d sit on the bank of the river for hours and listen to the geese honking as the sun made her strides across the blue vault of the sky.  I would snap sunset pictures until the glowing orange orb disappeared leaving me in cobalt twilight.   Everything in me prepared to return to my spiritual home.  I read “Sermons on the Mount,” a Tibetan Monk’s take on life and death, a lay minister’s version of putting on the mind of Christ. I was clearly seeking to be ministered to, just as I had for years ministered to my children, husband and patients.  I was curious at all the Christian content, having studied and converted to Judaism decades before, but I wasn’t about to restrict my natural inner yearnings as the resources fell into my lap.  I was going back to my essential self the way I’d been born; re-kindling a relationship to my underpinnings. I very slowly began to heal. By Christmas, nine months after the ordeal had begun, I felt I had a tremulous hold on my life.  I felt gratitude and reverence, holding my more monk-like existence as a cherished crucible to once again, realize “The Path To Cure,” Part II; The Hogweed Edition. My husband came to visit me for a month and we enjoyed a renewal of our relationship on a different level.  We both knew I was still feeling fragile, and he lovingly, albeit reluctantly, continued to give me my space as I faced another 4 months on my retreat.  While visiting with his best friend, Rob, I came to be introduced to a local meditation group in the village where I was living. I’d meditated off and on my whole life since 1975 when I was 12 and suffering anxiety before swim meet competitions.  While I was introduced to Transcendental Meditation (TM), this new group I was trying out more connected to the United Church and related to the teachings of John Main a Benedictine Monk from Montreal.  I’d not meditated in a group since I’d gone through the series of classes when I was 12. Now, 40 years later, I was coming back to the fold of folks who sit in sacred spaces in total silence with their eyes closed. An new Aramaic mantra (Ma-ra-na-tha or “Come Lord”), a short recorded introductory talk by Father Main, a lit candle out of reverence and I felt my body breathe around the gift of my renewing breath.  I was curious what this more consistent practice might bring to me and my recent “Hogweed Event” or what I was now more fondly referring to as my “Baptism By Fire.” About 4 weeks later, I was craving my 30 minute meditation sessions twice per day.  I felt more and more that I was cascading into the depths of silence, a place  of utter stillness lay in the recesses of my soul.  I listened to the throb of my heart-drum on the tableau of sheer tranquility and I felt the fiery hatred and shame leak out the back door of my being.  I quietly waved it goodbye and waited to be led. It was while I was reading Jim Marion’s book, “Putting On the Mind Of Christ” that I stumbled headlong into the core theme of my transcendental healing.  One afternoon, while reading in streams of sunshine by the window listening to the voices of a stunning choir by that famous composer “Anonymous” that I found the essence of my 9 month plight revealed …   

My Complete Story is Now Available as a Kindle Book on Amazon:

The Art Of Falling Apart

5 Star Rating

 

Real, Raw, and Amazing!

by Kassie Ehler

This is by far one of the most honest, raw, emotional books that I have ever read. Allyson shares her relevant lifetime history and how it led her to the ‘baptism’ encounter. Most importantly, she gives a firsthand account of how she sought the true meaning behind her suffering and took it upon herself to dig into the depths of her soul to cure her disease outright – which is her heart’s calling for herself and others.
Aside from the raw account of understanding her truth, Allyson’s writing style has once again left me unable to put her book down until I was finished reading!

Visit Amazon to find out more about this book.

2 thoughts on “Physician Heal Thyself; My Giant Hogweed Expedition

  1. May I use several of these photos for an education display on the eye hazards of Giant Hemlock? The photos will (if approved) be used for a county fair in Minnesota, USA.
    I look forward to hearing back and thank you for sharing your story.

  2. While I’d love to help you out, my images are specific to Giant Hogweed poisoning, not Giant Hemlock. The plants are different. As a Physician and Photographer it feels misleading to use my pictures for another purpose other than my own. Sorry.

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