From an acupuncturist colleague of my partner, as I was at the clinic where she worked one day, I learned of a product called Yin Care, which is an herbal wash used for all sorts of medical conditions. They have been doing clinical research for a while now on using it to treat HPV (and herpes too I believe). They have all sorts of protocols for different conditions. My partner’s colleague didn’t know the product well or have a specific protocol for me, so I called the company itself and was able to speak with one of their staff clinicians who sweetly and for free told me exactly what to do for my condition. He spoke with me twice (for free!) rather casually, even giving me his cell phone number, and just told me what to do and so I did it.
One day I was driving home from a dance retreat in Point Reyes, heading south on highway 1, through hilly, wooded land. Suddenly there was a break in the trees, the landscape opened, and I saw a group of wild turkeys by the side of the road. They were arranged haphazardly, their tails fanning out (as turkey tails always are in every moment.) They looked exactly like the peacocks of my dream, but chubbier and more brown than blue. Next to me in the passenger seat was a girl I carpooling with. I did not know her well, I was just giving her a ride. She was absolutely asleep, while my friend Raha was in the back resting too. A moment later, we passed another group of wild turkeys, like the first but fewer. I felt a shock wave through my whole body, as I knew some sort of a cycle had been completed. I was driving South now, and in the dream I had been driving North. I didn’t say a word to my travel companions but just sat in this knowing, stunned.
Later another shock wave hit me when I remembered that turkey tail mushroom is used to treat cervical cancer, with great success if taken early enough. I had not thought of taking it myself, to treat my cervical dysplasia, until right then.
Cait and I both use a pendulum to ask yes-no questions and get dosages on medicines. After practicing for a few years, I feel very confident in this method of gathering information. I use it the most to ask about if medicines are right for me or for clients, and to get correct dosages. So I asked about turkey tail mushroom and got a definite “yes!”, the pendulum swinging excitedly.
It turned out I had a client at the time who worked part time at a specialty store which sold culinary mushrooms and all sorts of culinary and medicinal mushroom products. He and I did a little trade and I got a 2 ounce bottle of turkey tail mushroom tincture, and then another. About halfway through that second bottle I got the sense it was no longer needed, and indeed when I asked with a pendulum, the answer I got was the same.
Almost a year had passed since my last colpo, and I had another one scheduled. They had told me to come every six months (since I had refused the surgery, that was their recommendation, which I believe they arrived upon somewhat randomly, as they told me they had never had a patient who refused surgery and chose to treat their own cervical dysplasia themselves and still chose to come back for monitoring, ever) but I just couldn’t seem to get my ass there.
That last colposcopy had gone rather badly, aside from the results being disappointing. When the doctor took the sharp little tool out of the sterile plastic and attempted to take a tissue sample from my cervix, the metal wasn’t sharp enough and instead of snipping off a bit of my flesh, it just pulled. I felt every organ in my pelvis and abdomen strain as she pulled on my cervix, trying to get that tissue sample. I had never known a pain such as that before and I cried and cried. She tried again with the same result before admitting that she needed a new one.
I was very sore and emotionally drained by that experience. While it was happening, I saw my mom on her deathbed, remembered all the pain she had been in at the end, all the tubes and wires running in and out of her, all her open wounds, and I felt my body to be her body, in those moments, and I felt out of control and buffeted by the powerful forces of technological medicine.
So I put off going back but I eventually did it, and this time it went without incident, unless you count another four tissues samples from my cervix as an incident. I had the sense a corner had been turned. Whatever the results and despite all this pain, I knew in my gut my cervix was healing.
As I waited for my results, my friend Kelley offered to do a shamanic healing for me and I accepted. I think we did a trade, massage for shamanic healing. She led me on a journey to and through the Otherworld. At one point she prompted me, You can ask for a healing if you want. So I politely requested a healing, from which Otherworld guide now I’m unfortunately not sure, and instantly I felt an icy rush up my pussy all the way to my cervix, and in my mind’s eye I saw a disembodied hand reach inside me and pull out a large blue and white marble - a particular marble I remember buying as a souvenir on a class trip as a young girl - which had been lodged in my cervix, and the hand held it up for me to look at. I felt it being plucked out and I felt a huge release of tension at it was removed, and a spaciousness inside which I had never felt before. Kelley guided me in composting the energy of the marble, letting it return to All-That-Is. For days I felt the sense of openness and relaxation in my pelvis. It felt like I had been carrying around a brick in there for years and hadn’t known it, and now I was finally free.
If this all sounds totally nuts, well it sounds a little nuts to me too. But it is the truth of my experience, as well as I can tell it. Life is wild and complex and full of things I do not understand.
In due time, I got the results of my colposcopy: One. A grade one down from a three. I was elated. The new recommendation was not a LEEP procedure, but instead to just come back in a year for monitoring. It may be worth noting that none of the medical staff acknowledged that I had been actively engaged in healing. They behaved as if this was something that “just happened sometimes”, and they showed not the slightest interest in what I had done to heal myself.
I wish I could remember for sure what year this was, how long ago it was, but I don’t quite. I think it was about five years ago, as of this writing. And I didn’t go in for another colpo. Or a pap smear. Or anything, until last month. I was maybe 95% certain that I was clear of any sort of abnormality or unhealthy cells on my cervix, and I just couldn’t seem to get myself to go in to have another four snips off my cervix, and I didn’t really want to get a pap smear simply because they are not very accurate - they are a screening not a diagnostic - and I thought it possible my pap would still be abnormal (despite the fact that I was clearly healing) and then they would recommend a colpo and I just couldn’t seem to make myself do it. Everytime I tried to make an appointment, I ended up just crying. Like, ugly crying into my hands and getting snot and tears all over myself and remembering the time the blade did not cut but pulled on all my organs, and remembering the paper gown, and remembering my mom on her deathbed.
At some point I got a flash of insight or inspiration or something, and I looked up the history of gynecology. And holy moly. Gynecology has a terrible, terrible history. Writing about it in depth is beyond the scope of this personal blog post. I’ll simply say that James Marion Sims, the “father of modern gynecology” experimented on / actively tortured enslaved black women and poor Irish immigrant women in order to learn how to perform the surgeries he “pioneered”.
Don’t believe me or want to learn more? You can look that shit up easily same as I did. It’s all right there. Anyway, that asshole is considered the FATHER of gynecology! The whole field is grounded in his work and in his perspective, or maybe it’s the other way around. But same difference.
Any gynecologist I have met in my own life seemed to be a fine person doing their best in this complex and sometimes difficult world. Yet. Gynecology itself, as a field, is institutionalized violence against women.
I recognize that is a strong statement. And, I stand by it.
Seeing it in that light I understood more why I shed so many tears on this whole journey and why I felt so resistant to making those appointments. Instead of feeling irresponsible and like a fuck-up, I had a lot more compassion for myself. I wasn’t sure what to do though! According to my pendulum, I had no trace of HPV or unhealthy cells on my cervix, so I left it at that for years, choosing not to participate in this system of violence, only occasionally worrying about it or getting mad at the medical establishment.
It was only when the potential of me having a new lover arose (my partner and I have an open-ish marriage), who was very responsible and gets tested regularly and all that, that I thought, Holy shit I need to actually know for sure that I am not passing on a dangerous virus into my community.
Cait has had no sign of HPV or cervical dysplasia in our ten and a half years together, and she has had a couple pap smears, and I have been with others who I have told my full story to - I have never concealed it from a lover or potential lover - and they have, as far as I know, not contracted HPV from me or had any issues, but truly how could I know how another person would respond to exposure to that virus, if I had it? I couldn’t know. So I sucked it up and got a pap smear. I was terrified. Every step of it was terrifying, except the thing itself. My new doctor at Bluestem Health in Lincoln, NE was chatting with Cait the whole time, having medical provider public health shop talk, and she did it really quickly and painlessly. She told me my cervix looked “great” and that she saw no scar tissue (which I used to have, from all those biopsies). I was terrified to get the results, and when I learned my pap was normal I felt lightheaded, could have nearly fainted.
On Sexual Violence and Ancestral Healing
For a while in the beginning, after my first colpo, I went down another sort of rabbit hole doing ancestral and emotional healing practices I kinda just made up, and I explored how to compost violence and inherited trauma. I was struck by the legacy of sexual and physical abuse which occurred in my mother’s lineage, when I stopped and thought about it, and it felt connected to this physical problem I was having on what is the doorway to my own womb. My father’s side of the family also knew great violence, but somehow it has always felt distant to me, like hearing a story, watching a film. Stuff from my mother’s side of the family felt and still feels intricately tied into every cell of my body, or like I’m in the soup of it, swimming in it constantly.
My mother’s womb, the womb in which I began my life, had been violated so many times. First by an elder brother and then by other men as the years went by. I had this sense of that sort of violence stretching back in time to the misty past. It did not start with my uncle, that I was sure of. And I was equally as sure my mom was not the only one my uncle hurt in that way.
I sat with this knowledge and the memories of what my mom had told me about this, and felt and saw the energy patterns playing out. One of the energy patterns was silence. A heavy leaden silence, and a forgetting.
The more I sat with this, the more I began to forgive my uncle. I started writing angry letters to him, and found that as I wrote, I wasn’t angry any more. I just felt sad. And I saw felt the heaviness of that silence and forgetting in him too, and I saw how he lived out his whole life in reaction to the harms he caused when he was young, probably without knowing he was doing so. So I wrote him a letter telling him that I know what he did, and that I forgive him. That I want him to make peace with himself and his own heart. Everyone makes mistake and causes harm in their lifetime and eventually there comes a time to accept this and to try to forgive yourself.
I didn’t have his address, so I called another family member to ask for it. It took months for us to make contact. My first voicemail was choppy and indecipherable to her, it turned out. I called again. Then when she finally called me back, the connection cut out right before she gave me the address and we had to call back again.
It felt like all those difficulties in communication were not so much due to me living on the side of a hill and sometimes having bad reception, but to the heavy cloud of silence and forgetting in my family. I felt as I sent that letter that I began to pierce through that fog and let some sunlight in. I know he got the letter, I saw it in his eyes when I saw him a year later, but we have never discussed it.
I don’t know how much this relates to my healing from HPV, but it was such a big part of my journey I feel I must share it. Rape, sexual violence, and other forms of violence are not personal problems, not unique to individuals or families, but systemic.They are part of a culture that created single use plastics and cut down the forests of the entirety of Ireland for timber - some of which timber was used to build ships for the transatlantic slave trade, another campaign of systemic violence which of course this same culture also perpetrated.
These things are all one thing. People have to be violated and traumatized from a young age for these other types of exploitation to occur, to either participate actively in them or allow them to happen. People have to be cut off from their own bodies, their own sources of nourishment, pleasure and power, to rape and destroy the Earth and other people.
So I work to heal this in myself in many ways all the time. But at this time in my life, I said prayers and made offerings to my ancestors who had been raped and abused, including my mom, and I wrote that letter to my uncle. After I did this work, my colpo was still a three, so maybe it didn’t help with this specific medical condition I was dealing with, but I felt I was being asked to do it anyway.
That’s it. That’s the story, as far as I recall. Thanks for witnessing. I welcome your comments and if you are on a similar journey to me, I wish you so much support and love and knowledge and growth.
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In more detail….
The Protocol I Used To Heal
1. Yin Care Effective Herbal Wash
For me, what I did, was: I m ixed in a little bowl 2 capfuls of water : 1 cap full of Yin Care solution. Put a (organic cotton!) tampon in the solution until it soaked it up, then awkwardly and kinda uncomfortably shoved it up my vag, as deep as I could get it so it was theoretically close to or touching my cervix. That was every night before bed, removing it in the morning, starting on the day my period ended, and going straight through until my period came again, about three weeks. Or maybe I was told to take a little break around the time of ovulation? I don’t remember. That is one treatment cycle. That was all I did. But I was told some require another cycle. I was actually told to use a stronger concentration of 2 caps full of the Yin Care solution : 1 cap full of water, but that burned like hell so there was no way. I reversed the ratio and asked the clinician I was (very informally) working with if that was okay, and he said it was fine. There are other situations where Yin Care is used as a wash or a douche, but he said for the severity of what I had going on, this stronger, more sustained application of the tampon holding the medicine on my cervix all night was better. I just price checked this product, and you can buy it online from any number of retailers for $27 or so a bottle. I only ever needed one bottle.
2. Turkey Tails mushroom tincture
I believe I took 2 droppers full of tincture a day (orally) for however long it took me to go through 3 ounces, maybe a 2-3 months. I suggest a double extraction (water and alcohol) to get more of the medicinal constituents, if you can find it, or get the whole mushroom and learn how to make it yourself. All this is available online pretty affordably.
3. An Energetic / Shamanic Healing
I also received an energetic healing/psychic surgery facilitated by my friend Kelley Kessler, who practices a kind of shamanic healing. I had this one particular session with her after I had completed the Yin Care protocol and was still taking the turkey tails extract. It was an extremely powerful experience that I believe was integral to my healing as much as the above herbal medicines. If those plants and mushrooms worked more on the physical manifestation of this viral condition, this energetic healing worked on the level of the spirit to shift to make change there.