Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Today, I had one of those ‘well-at-least-I-showed-up practices’. I didn’t have any profound moments or experience any breakthroughs. I did everything I usually do, except for that pesky wrist bind in Marichyasana D. I received the usual adjustments with gratitude and just plowed through the rest.

I worked steadily through my 8 backbends, but I wasn’t feeling open or strong today. It was a struggle. I felt heavy and tired. I couldn’t get my hips moving forward at all. If I could go back and change one thing, it would be my breathing. I think I would have rallied if I could have just gotten a good breath rolling in the first three backbends. Lesson learned: breathing is important! Who knew? ;-)

But enough about my practice. Let’s talk about my big toe!

Last week, I casually mentioned that I had a ‘sore left toe’ and then I dropped the topic, mainly because I found it embarrassing and also because I was genuinely puzzled. I had no clue what the problem was, but I hoped it would just go away. And I hoped...and I hoped.... And It didn’t and now it really, really hurts! During practice today, I had to modify jumpbacks to land on my right foot, then lower the left foot very gently. When something is affecting my practice like that, I’m forced to take it seriously.

When I got home, I turned to my good friend ‘Google’ and asked some very pointed questions. And the news is not good. Without a doubt, I have acute paronychia. Boodi thinks it sounds like a dinosaur name! It’s pronounced pear-oh-NICK-ee-ah. It’s an infection of the cuticle around a finger or toe nail, usually caused by biting or chewing on the cuticle or from getting a pedicure.

The irony of this is astounding. Since childhood, I’ve had this terrible habit of chewing on my cuticles (my fingers, not my toes!) when I’m nervous or upset. I’ve mostly stopped doing it as an adult, but the old habit still pops up when I’m under stress. But in all these years, I’ve never once developed paronychia on my hands. Ever!

Yet I do something relatively benign like cutting my *toenails*? THAT’S when I’m walking around with an infected toe! After the week of Backbending Drama and then a week of Gremlin Drama, it seems terribly unfair to be hit with something stupid like this: Swollen Big Toe Drama.

But this is where it stops being funny. The standard allopathic treatment for paronychia is oral antibiotics and I’m notoriously antibiotic resistant! Resistant to the point that I rarely go to my allopathic doctor for sinus infections and stuff like that. She never has a good answer aside from ‘amoxicillin’ and that’s the WRONG answer (it doesn’t work!). Whenever possible, I try to use natural remedies because the antibiotics that DO work for me are 1) heinously expensive 2) extremely hard on my body. So I’m a big fan of natural remedies, mainly raw apple cider vinegar and wild oregano oil and GSE and anything else that can kill an infection or stave it off.

I’m NOT a fan of pharmaceutical antibiotics in general. I know they can be life-saving in certain cases, but as far as I’m concerned, they’re poison for my body. I regard them as a last resort. The last time I had to take antibiotics, I was feeling the effects in my body for up to a year afterward (it took two rounds to do the job, and they *still* took forever to work). I don’t want a sore toe to lead to two weeks of out-of-control nausea (at best) or a hospital stay ( at worst).

This is why I’m a bit freaked out. I’ve already tried peroxide and neosporin. No dice; it’s getting worse. There HAS to be another way.

So here is Plan B (really, it should have been Plan A; I don’t know what I was thinking, except maybe that my toe wasn’t a big enough problem to break out the Big Guns).

-Epsom Salt soaks 4x daily

-Followed by a soak in a solution of half raw apple cider vinegar, half water with 5 drops of GSE added

-Wild Oregano Oil (93% Carvacrol concentration) diluted in olive oil and applied directly to the infected area

-3 drops of the oregano oil taken orally in a glass of water, with meals

Plan C may be a visit to the naturopath and homeopathics (which are touch and go for me when it comes to this kind of thing).

Then I may travel to Bora Bora and make animal sacrifices to the God Toolooboo while dancing around in a purple loincloth. Just kidding, but I’m getting desperate here!

I can’t win! If it’s not the gremlin, it’s the dinosaur! I’ll definitely keep you updated.

(illustration by Bryan Ballinger,


Boodiba said...

You've got a dinosaur in your toe!!!

I tend to avoid prescribed medications as well. I hope you can fix it. I do have a good feeling about it.

susananda said...

I had a blister a couple of years ago that got infected and my entire foot swelled up.. scary! Went to the Chinese medicine centre and they gave me some herbal tablets, plus this yellow powder that comes in a teeny tiny jar. The infection cleared up instantly, and that little jar of yellow powder is a godsend now for any kind of blister or whatnot that gets sore or infected... clears it up instantly, just dries it up and sort of sucks the baddies up out of your skin. Only thing - I don't know what it's called because it's all written in Chinese... but you could go and ask.

Anyway.. good luck...

Kaivalya said...

:-D I'll take that! After all, you *look* like a fortune teller lady in your FB profile pic, so you MUST have good intuition!

What is it with Ashtangis and our feet? I think the Samkaras we're supposed to be burning off must be leaking out through our toes!

I suppose you could put the magic yellow powder in a little baggie and mail it to me, but we might get busted for drug trafficking!

There's a Chinatown here, I'll look around next time I'm in that part of town.

Anonymous said...

Kai - Infrequent commenter but long time fan :)

Question for you - what do you use in lieu of antibiotics for sinus infections? I am very prone to them and use a neti pot regularly but that only works to a certain degree. Once I am past that, I have to resort to antibiotics and while they do work, I believe also that they poison my body and would prefer to not use them.


Anonymous said...

Garlic is good for infections. You could take it orally. Honey might also help when applied directly to the area.

I'd advise against seeing an actual homeopath (homeopathy is the practice of massively diluting any substance due to the belief that the 'energy' continues to resonate despite the substance being diluted past usefulness) since a naturapath, or herbologist, will have more practical advice in terms of treating something this sore/problematic.

Worst case scenario, your GP might have to lance it and apply topical antibiotics. Are topical ones a problem for you?

Good luck, and feel better!

Loo said...

Oh man I was just planning on getting a pedicure too. Is that what caused it? Ashtanga is hard on our toes, no doubt. I get chaturanga toe regularly (tearing skin off, ow!) but I like a nicely painted toenail, what's a girl to do? I'm so sorry you have to deal with this, hard to get around not using your toes.

Kaivalya said...

In tomorrow's blog post, I'll share my recipe for the net pot mix and talk a bit about my experience using the neti pot to ward off sinus infections and chronic bronchitis.

Garlic doesn't do a thing for me - I've tried it.

Topical antibiotics are not necessarily a problem, per se, they just don't work because I'm resistant to many antibiotics.

The swelling is down today and last night, the pain had subsided a lot. I'm going to keep trucking along with the soaks and the oregano oil and see if it starts to heal up.

Yes, Astanga is hard on toes. All of the jumpbacks I do could be slowing the healing process. In a few days, I'll be taking some 'time off' for my lady's. This should help!

I'm in touch with a friend on FB who's an esthetician and she's been offering advice. I'll ask her if she has any advice for a girl who love pedicures, but wants to keep her tootsies safe from the dinosaur!

I'll let you know!