I remember reading “Home” by Toni Morrison. In it, the female character, who is being nursed back to health by a group of older women after her vagina was abused by a doctor performing experiments on her, was advised to go outside, open her legs, and let the sun heal her.
At first, this idea seemed absurd and comical to me, but in the back of my mind, I pondered its plausibility. My grandmother was a treasure chest of home remedies, a midwife who pulled infants, screaming and hollering, from a dark canal into this beautiful world. She could heal just about every illness with herbs and plants. When I was born, I fell out of my mother onto a concrete hospital floor. My grandmother healed what the doctors, after months, could not.
My mother-in-law, a former nurse opposed to pharmaceutical drugs, can go to the farmers market and explain the healing properties of every fresh fruit, vegetable, spice, oil, nut, and bean. Diabetes, she says, is curable, manageable like anemia; just take magnesium until the deficiency is gone, then eat foods rich in it. She is 75 years lovely, exercises every day, and does not take one pill.
My mother is a praying somebody. “Pray and trust in God, and have faith” is her remedy for everything, everyone, every time. How can she, diagnosed with throat cancer and cured with prayers and faith—and not one treatment of radiation—look anywhere else than above for healing?
When I found out my pap smear results were abnormal and a number of tests, including a biopsy, were scheduled, I felt a pain in my stomach. Not a sharp pain, but the kind that fills the stomach, like food or air. Anxiety, mischievous and unrelenting, was the culprit, of course. Imagining doctors probing and plucking, scrutinizing between my legs made me feel physically hurt.
During a brief, irrational moment, I felt disappointed with my body—as if it were not me and I was not it—for going off on its own to do abnormal things, afflicting on me invasive tests and procedures, when all I ever tried to do was eat healthy foods.
Now I needed to undergo tests. At times, I am exacting, a strict manager of scheduling; other times, I can be a procrastinator, gluttonous and wasteful. In this unfortunate circumstance, I could not be the latter. I could not avoid them, the tests, not if I wanted peace of mind, which I thought I had thanks to a report I received a week earlier from my doctor stating the pap results were negative, no HPV. Why would they not have included everything in one report? I felt tricked, the target of a cruel doctor joke, and it angered me. I clung to the anger and vexation I felt at having no option to lallygag, and rested my focus on them in order to dismantle, in the background, my knotted nerves. Diversion, it seems, can bring about healing. When I was younger and felt sad or upset, my father would say to me, “You will not feel like this always, Daddy’s baby. It will go away. Think about later and tomorrow. You will not feel like this then. What do you think?” He pushed my eyes somewhere else and he was always right. As a mother, I do the same thing. I push my daughter’s eyes to look at brighter days.
I have not been tested, as yet. I only received the report a day ago. I need more time, not to skylark but to relish in healthiness, to peruse the farmers market and believe my remedy is in there, in a simple raw vegan meal. Maybe I just need to eat 10 passion fruits or maybe a jackfruit. Maybe I need to lie outside and position my vagina toward the sun and let it sear away all abnormalities. Maybe I just need to pray and trust in God, have faith, even if it is just the size of a mustard seed.
I used to run three to five miles a day with no headphones pumping music into my head. If I thought of the job I disliked, the horrendous commute to and from it, the dinner to be cooked, the groceries to buy, the book to finish writing, the person running ahead of me or behind me, the manuscript to edit for a friend, the hot sun, whether or not I hydrated enough, my husband needing me, my daughter asking why a piano has 88 keys, I would have to slow down, refocus, and regain my pace. I learned that in order for me to attain success, I had to feel my breathing, listen to the sound of my sneakers hitting the asphalt, and count the miles; there could be nothing else in my mind, not one distraction. I could only focus on completing the run.
It is a mental thing, the body follows the mind. I do not know what caused the abnormal test results, but my mind is being emptied of all distractions. When I pick up the phone to call, I will be ready. I am preparing to win the way I know how and that is all I need to focus on right now.