In the mid-eighties, I accepted a barter offer from a reflexology client to ride her horse. I had previously owned a horse and missed riding very much. I was thrilled to ride again! The next day, I drove to her farm and she introduced me to her horse Tommy. He was tall but not as tall as mine (17 hands), and seemed gentle enough. As I stepped into the paddock to ride him, a strange, dark cloud of a feeling swept over me. I had no idea what it was but it did make me turn around and put on a helmet; probably one of the only times I have ever worn one. I got on the horse and proceeded to walk him around the paddock to get to know him a little. A woman came out of the barn and told me that she was a trainer and with a very British accent, told me that I didn’t look balanced on the horse. She suggested that I take my feet out of the stirrups and focus on balance. Now I was letting someone else direct me and unless a trust is built previously, this is not always a good idea, especially in regards to horses. It would be a decision I would later regret. Now I had no stirrups to hold me in the saddle if something went wrong, if all else failed, and it was about to.
I proceeded around the paddock but as I neared the far end where there was a copse of trees, the horse would get nervous and snort a little. Sometimes horses will spook just for the fun of it so I pushed him on. Little did I know that there were three little boys hiding in the bushes. I could see nothing so I assumed the trees could be spooking him a little. About the third time around, the horse trembled warily as we approached the trees and I could feel him tense under me. I was paying attention now and ready to stop but at that moment, the boys threw a rock which hit the horse in the groin. Immediately, it was as though I was on a wild bronco. He was bucking and sun-fishing all over the place. I tried to rein him in but that just made him much worse. Later I would find out from the owner that the reason she wanted me to ride him was because he got so crazy whenever anyone tried to rein him in! Now, I knew I was coming off and as I noticed how far the ground was, the world went black. I have no memory of anything past that until waking up in the hospital.
I awoke in the hospital not knowing where I was. A very fat man stood at the foot of my bed. He introduced himself as my doctor and explained that I had a serious concussion that would have been fatal if I had not worn a helmet. He also informed me that my right leg was broken in 27 places from the knee to the ankle. He told me that they had tried to operate but once they had me in the operating room, they realized that there was not enough to attach a rod to so instead, they pushed my leg together as best they could and put a cast on it. I was having a hard time following him and it all seemed unreal, however, when he added that I would never walk again, I went into some kind of shock. I slipped back into unconsciousness but on the way, l I was aware of my anger and determination that he was wrong, so wrong and I would walk again dammit! I wasn’t buying it.
In this semi-comatose state, I began experiencing a series of very lucid dreams. I dreamt I was on board a type of cruise ship and had somehow broken my leg up on deck. The captain and the medic came up to see what they could do and wanted to take me down to the medic’s clinic down below. In order to move me, they taped water bags onto my leg which acted as a temporary cast. I thought that was pretty ingenious! Once in the medic’s clinic down below, he began to instruct me on what I must do in order to heal my leg. He told me that my leg needed to feel normal so it could remember how to be a leg again. In order to do that I must expose it to the elements such as water, sun, wind and earth. He emphasized that I must get connected to the earth everyday by sitting outside regardless of the weather. He also told me that I needed to go to the gym three days a week to work out and I must visit a chiropractor on a regular basis.
His next set of instructions was that I must find live comfrey, an herb known as knit bone in England, and make tea. The instructions were that I must make large vats of tea so that I could put my leg in up to the knee and I must make some to drink also. The tea should be from the root and leaf he explained but after I had soaked my leg in the tea, I should wrap the cooked leaves around my leg before putting the brace he was about to recommend back on. His final instructions were that I wear a certain brace on my leg instead of a cast. He showed me a white plastic affair with holes, belts and buckles. It looked sort of like hockey equipment to me. I had never seen anything like it!
In my waking state, I remembered these instructions but had no idea how to put them in place. After some physical therapy, they released me from the hospital with some codeine for the pain. This is when I discovered that I was violently allergic to codeine. After 24 hours of agonizing pain, no sleep and wanting to climb the wall, it was apparent that it had an opposite effect on me. My worried husband took me back to the hospital the next morning and I was greeted by the same doctor who made me so angry. I complained to him that my leg was paining so badly I could hardly stand it and the codeine was not helping but making matters worse. He bent over my wheelchair, grabbed the top of the cast and twisted it at which point I almost fainted. He calmly said “looks like a good fit to me.” He then wheeled me into a small room and with a saw, cut out a six inch square out of the cast: A “window” he called it. He glibly declared that everything looked fine and sent me home. Within an hour of being home, my leg protruded out of the “window” by at least four inches! The swelling continued to get more extreme and out of desperation my husband drove me to another hospital.
The first thing this young doctor said to his nurse was “get that damn cast off her leg now before we have to break her leg again. It’s on crooked and what kind of a doctor makes this kind of mess?” He replaced my cast with a lighter one and although it felt better, I wondered how on earth I was going to do what the medic told me. I couldn’t take the cast off! I was grateful for this doctor, it never dawned on me to ask for anything more at that visit but the opportunity soon came up at the next visit.
One day my husband came home and said “I think there is comfrey growing over by the stream and the mill pond down the road.” We lived out in the country on a dirt road which had a stream that ran beside it. We discovered that all along the stream-bank acres of wild comfrey just happened to be growing! Apparently it had been planted by British settlers years ago by the old mill pond that the stream ran out of and I guess that over the century, it had grown wild and spread by stream for miles down the road. So this would be my source for comfrey but how to get it on my leg?
The next time I visited the doctor, I shyly asked him if he had ever seen a cast that looked like hockey equipment and I proceeded to describe it to him. His eyes lit up and he began to tell me about this new tibial brace he had just received. He said that it was experimental and it was the first one in Canada! He explained that his clinic had been chosen for the study due to their reputation with fractures. I didn’t need to think twice when he asked if I wanted it on my leg. Now, the joy about this brace is that unlike a cast, it was removable although he strongly advised me against it. It had three parts, a front, a back and a heel. The whole thing strapped together with Velcro and had an inner stocking that went on first.
As soon as we got home, (yes you guessed it), I had my husband lower me into a bath full of water where I very carefully removed the cast. My leg was shocking! The skin wasn’t broken but it did not look anything like a leg. It looked like it was made of blue jelly! It was so disgusting I couldn’t look at it. The water felt wonderful but getting the cast back on properly was daunting as I could not move even a hair but pretty soon I could whip that cast on and off as easily as a pair of socks! Now the therapy could really begin I earnest.
Every day, my little girls would go and pick some fresh comfrey and my husband would boil it up and put it in a metal barrel he had found somewhere. I would take off my cast and carefully let my leg be submerged in the tea. Then we would take the boiled leaves and wrap them around my calf and put the brace back on over them. This along with drinking the tea was one part of the treatment accomplished.
A few days later, I heard of a gym with a chiropractor located in the same building right near my husband’s work. It was so convenient and so began my visits to this building three days a week. I would get dropped off and begin with the chiropractor.The chiropractor just happened to be Japanese and knew a lot about energy medicine and so he worked with me and was able to understand what I was doing. It was nice to feel supported and not viewed as crazy. After my chiropractor appointment; I would go and shock all of the ladies in the gym. I used the exercise machines, brace and all and finished by getting in the hot tub where I gleefully took the cast off!
Every day I made sure to get outside and sit with my leg up on something. I would take the brace off and let the wind, the sun and whatever weather, remind my leg be a leg again. Thank goodness it was summer time, although, I think I would have done it any time of the year if it meant that my leg would heal properly.
After about three months, I was still on crutches but able to bear weight on my leg and day by day, it was finally looking more like a leg. When I went in for my check up, the doctor had a look on his face that made me uncomfortable. It was the kind of look you don’t want your doctor to have: somewhere between concern and curiosity. I asked him what was wrong and he explained to me that he wasn’t sure what was happening with my leg. When I asked him to explain, he said that although I looked great, was weight bearing and seemed to be healing fast, something didn’t add up. He told me that if he showed me to ten doctors, they would be amazed at how well I was doing but if he showed them the x-rays they would not believe it was the same person. He said that the x-rays looked as though I had just broken my leg yesterday. He beckoned me to come and look at the latest x-rays with him. He pointed out how there was no callus bone! He explained that this the way the body heals these kinds of breaks by covering the breaks with a callus bone that acts somewhat like a bandage. He went on to say that not only did I not have one but that the many fractures looked like they happened the day before! He was mystified and I was terrified. He reassured me that he would discuss this situation with his fellow specialists and see what they thought. I went home cursing my stubborn audacity to follow some silly dream instead of doing what I was told by the ‘real’ doctors.
A week later, after eating a lot of calcium supplements and worrying about my leg, I returned to the doctor to hear what the verdict was. He was cheerful and excited! He told me that they had all decided that my healing was amazing. They concluded that the bone was healing ‘endostealy’; in other words, from the inside out instead of the usual outside in. The doctor then asked me what I might have done to cause this to happen. I eagerly began to tell him about the dreams and by the time I got to the word comfrey, the wall went up and he beckoned me to stop. He did not want to know. In fact, that is exactly what he said much to my surprise so I quickly shut down and although stung, I realized that this was a typical response.
I continued to heal miraculously from a situation that looked pretty grim. I have full capacity of my leg and the only sign that anything ever happened is a very slight limp when I am tired and a touch of arthritis. Other than that, my leg is fine. I am so thankful to the captain and the medic. I realize that they are there whenever I need them but I still am not very good at summoning them on command. I am learning that all of us have healers inside just waiting to be called on and maybe this will be a part of medicine in the future. I know that they just graciously visited me that time through no awareness or effort of my own and unless it had happened to me, I would be skeptical. I am so grateful every day that I can walk and I hope they know the depth of gratitude I feel.