The 1:4732 Potion

One of the things they don’t tell you about when you enter a hospital or nursing home, or start getting Meals on Wheels, is that you will never again enjoy the smell of food being cooked. It all will be cooked Somewhere Else and delivered to you under cover of a lid or plastic wrap and you will smell nothing.

Smelling your food being cooked is one of the grandest experiences known to man. My mother told me that if all she did was sauté onion in butter, Dad would be out in the kitchen saying “M-m-m, that smells good. What’s for supper?”

Today my aide and I cooked and I smelled the good smells for the first time in about a year. You take it for granted, and can’t imagine the awesome thrill of smelling the perfume of supper. We made coleslaw, then scalloped potatoes and ham with onion. The sauce was cream of cheddar cheese soup, with milk and a little pepper. After about half an hour in the oven, the odor began to waft through my tiny apartment and I thought I had died and gone to heaven.

Then we made chicken in the pot (crockpot)—potatoes, carrots, onions, chicken, bouillon, thyme, basil and oregano. My apartment now has all these warm and cozy aromas hanging lightly over everything.

I am getting better.

On March 4, I posted “Forward, March,” ( a commitment to forward movement, despite despair, which had been triggered by taking ten drops of the homeopathic remedy. The despair and depression continued for a week. The homeopath said that my immune system was peeling off layers of stuff.

What do you know of depression? Do you know that it is total blackness? Depression smells like a skunk. If it were food, it would be burnt. It is the sound of a snowplow, the sight of bare branches covered with ice. Depression feels like taking a hot shower while having a bad sunburn. Depression is being tied hand and foot to the bed. It is dying from an odorless gas. It is the sound of endless commercials without musical breaks. Depression is being unloved and unlovable.

It was really, really bad and there was nothing I could do about it. I was too depressed to call the homeopath, and the homeopath was using the wrong phone number to call me. It took several days before we got on a plan, and each of those days was unendurable. Do you know what unendurable is? Have you contemplated what cannot be borne but has to be? Have you ever gone through that kind of pain?

It does not exist anywhere yet it is terribly real. You can’t point to a place in your head or your heart or your elbow and say “Here—it hurts here.” If depression were visible then I would have been covered in blood and everybody would have been horrified and rushing to help. People who suffer depression know this, know that they are in unendurable pain and that you have no idea how bad it is. We are inarticulate to tell you.

So the pain went on and on and on, infinite and unescapable. What we finally worked out was a daily regime of one cup of water with one drop of homeopathic remedy, Mercurium Aceticus LM7. A cup is 4,732 drops. LM7 is Mercurium Aceticus that has been diluted and diluted and diluted a whole bunch, such that it is about one drop of remedy to one swimming pool full of water. Now we are taking one drop of that and diluting it with 4,732 drops of water and then taking one teaspoonful from the cup.

I have no idea how this works. It defies everything taught by American medicine that wants to slam you with 2000 milligrams a day of some awful laboratory concoction. I knew a doctor who thought that taking one drop of the laboratory concoction and diluting it with 16 drops of water was a homeopathic treatment. Not even close.

So I started taking this 1:4732 potion. Meanwhile, the lab that had previously reported that I had a bacterial urinary tract infection, Klebsiella oxytoca over 100,000, was now reporting on a new sample. I no longer had Klebsiella oxytoca; now I had over 100,000 of Klebsiella pneumoniae. I don’t know how this is possible. Both Klebsiella cause urinary tract infections, particularly in patients with compromised immune systems, diabetes, and a catheter. Klebsiella pneumoniae also causes lung pneumonia.

After a week of pure hell, the depression began to diminish. The next day, I started sneezing. What was this? An allergy? It is spring and I am trying to wheel outside for at least an hour a day. That night the scratchy throat started, then the runny nose and coughing: I had come down with that most dreaded disease, a full-blown cold.

(To be continued. I am sure it will be continued because I’ve already written the rest.)

About annecwoodlen

I am a tenth generation American, descended from a family that has been working a farm that was deeded to us by William Penn. The country has changed around us but we have held true. I stand in my grandmother’s kitchen, look down the valley to her brother’s farm and see my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Hannah standing on the porch. She is holding the baby, surrounded by four other children, and saying goodbye to her husband and oldest son who are going off to fight in the Revolutionary War. The war is twenty miles away and her husband will die fighting. We are not the Daughters of the American Revolution; we were its mothers. My father, Milton C. Woodlen, got his doctorate from Temple University in the 1940’s when—in his words—“a doctorate still meant something.” He became an education professor at West Chester State Teachers College, where my mother, Elizabeth Hope Copeland, had graduated. My mother raised four girls and one boy, of which I am the middle child. My parents are deceased and my siblings are estranged. My fiancé, Robert H. Dobrow, was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps. In 1974, his plane crashed, his parachute did not open, and we buried him in a cemetery on Long Island. I could say a great deal about him, or nothing; there is no middle ground. I have loved other men; Bob was my soul mate. The single greatest determinate of who I am and what my life has been is that I inherited my father’s gene for bipolar disorder, type II. Associated with all bipolar disorders is executive dysfunction, a learning disability that interferes with the ability to sort and organize. Despite an I.Q. of 139, I failed twelve subjects and got expelled from high school and prep school. I attended Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College and got an associate’s degree after twenty-five years. I am nothing if not tenacious. Gifted with intelligence, constrained by disability, and compromised by depression, my employment was limited to entry level jobs. Being female in the 1960’s meant that I did office work—billing at the university library, calling out telegrams at Western Union, and filing papers at a law firm. During one decade, I worked at about a hundred different places as a temporary secretary. I worked for hospitals, banks, manufacturers and others, including the county government. I quit the District Attorney’s Office to manage a gas station; it was more honest work. After Bob’s death, I started taking antidepressants. Following doctor’s orders, I took them every day for twenty-six years. During that time, I attempted%2
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