February 25, 2018

What We're Doing for Dan's Hand

This post is a follow-up to my last one about Dan's hand.

Of the two fingers that collided with the table saw, the ring finger looks really good, although where the fingernail used to be is still scabbed and tender. The middle finger is still open and draining and looks a mess. The saw sliced through quite a bit of skin which is starting to come off. Healing will be slower for that one because it has to work inside out. Both fingers are extremely sensitive to pressure and to cold.

We received no instructions for the hand other than to keep it clean and change dressings. So to support healing we've been focusing on good nutrition, improving circulation, and healing herbs.

Since we grow so much of our own food we eat a pretty good diet anyway. For now, we're keeping meals light and easy to digest. Bone broth is especially rich in minerals and nutrients, so it forms a basis for daily soup. Detox tea is tasty hot or cold, and makes a nice beverage any time of the day. Here's the recipe.

Detox Tea
  • 2 parts dandelion root (cleansing, anti-inflammatory, liver tonic)
  • 1 part each of 
    • burdock root (blood purifier)
    • cardamom seed (digestive, liver, and gall bladder support)
    • ginger root (circulatory stimulant, antiseptic)
    • pau d'arco bark (anti-fungal, anti-viral, anti-inflammatory)
    • cinnamon bark (antiseptic, kidney tonic)
    • clove buds (antiviral, antibiotic, antioxident, aids digestion)
    • fennel seeds (circulatory stimulant, anti-inflammatory, kidney support)
    • licorice root (detoxifier, anti-inflammatory)
    • juniper berries (facilitates removal of acid wastes from urine)
    • black peppercorns (antioxident, antiseptic, aids digestion)
    • uva ursi leaf (bladder and kidney support)
    • horsetail (anti-inflammatory, tissue healer, source of minerals)
    • parsley leaf and root (anti-inflammatory, immune booster)
    • orange peel (bioflavinoids, kidney support, tonic)

To make a decoction (tea of roots, bark, and berries) an ounce of dried herbs is added to a pint of cold water. It helps to soak the herbs in the water for several hours. Then heat to boiling and simmer for 15 minutes. Cool and strain.

I mix this about half and half with green tea which is an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, improves blood circulation, and promotes wound healing.

Good circulation is important because it's the blood that carries nutrients and healing elements to the wound and carries waste products away. Exercise helps here, both walking and working the hand and fingers as best he can.

Hot and cold treatments improve circulation. How? Think of how flushed the skin can become when you're hot and how it turns blue when you're cold. Heat forces the blood to the skin and extremities; cold forces it back into the core of the body. Alternating hot and cold promotes circulation. I also give Dan what I call "circulation tea" made from cayenne pepper powder and ginger root powder. Cayenne promotes circulation by strengthening the pumping action of the heart, and ginger promotes circulation in the capillaries.

Another herb that is helpful for circulation is garlic. Plus it's a powerful antibiotic and antiviral. Dan makes himself a drink of raw garlic and ginger in tomato juice every day.

To promote healing Dan applies an herbal salve during the day called Dy's Liquid Bandage. It is actually a veterinary product, but it contains healing ingredients we also use on ourselves: olive oil, beeswax, golden seal (antibiotic, anti-inflammatory), bee pollen (immune booster, antibiotic), yarrow (stimulates circulation), aloe vera (anti-fungal, tonic, promotes wound healing), vitamin E (antioxident, promotes healing), tea tree oil (anti-fungal, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory), propolis (antibiotic, antiviral, promotes wound healing), calendula (antiseptic, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, promotes wound healing), and honey (antibacterial, anti-inflammatory). It was on sale in January so I ordered some to have on hand. Little did I know then how quickly we would need it. It protects and helps heal the wound plus keeps it from drying out.

At night we're doing a Bone, Flesh, & Cartilage fomentation. A fomentation is wrapping an area in a cotton cloth soaked in a strong concentration of herbal decoction.

Bone, Flesh, & Cartilage
Equal parts of:
  • white oak bark (antiseptic)
  • marshmallow root (wounds and skin ulcerations)
  • mullein (wound healing, kidney support, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory)
  • wormwood (antibiotic, antiseptic)
  • lobelia (anti-infective, a catalyst for other herbs)
  • scullcap (nervine)
  • comfrey root (promotes cell growth and wound healing, nutrient rich)
  • black walnut bark (anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, rich in minerals)
  • gravel root (immune stimulant, solvent for unwanted mineral deposits)

This is also made into a decoction made the same way as the Detox Tea above. After it's strained it is simmered down to about half it's original volume and cooled. The fomentation is applied at night, six nights a week. We wrap the BF&C soaked cloths around the fingers, wrap with plastic wrap, and cover the hand with a clean sock. BF&C tincture internally rounds out the routine.

So that's our daily routine. Of course, anyone who's had a severe injury knows how slow healing is, and how hard it is not to become discouraged. But I have to say that the response to our GoFundMe for Dan's medical expenses has been extremely encouraging, not to mention humbling. I hope you could tell from "A Message From Dan" what a difference it's made for him. To have so many people we've never met respond so willingly and generously has given him hope. And to have so many people praying for him has given him peace of mind. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

February 22, 2018

A Message From Dan

Hello from Dan.

I feel it is necessary to address you all personally. First of all THANK YOU for your financial help and secondly for your prayers. Both are unselfish acts of kindness and caring, not to mention a sacrifice. I am more than grateful for you.

This injury has devastated me more than any other I have experienced. I spent 15 years in the military out of which five I was in special ops: parachuting, rappelling, and generally getting beat up on a regular basis. In 1992 I under went back surgery and had L4-L5 fused. In our nine years of homesteading I've damaged both thumbs setting over 150 t-posts, and almost cut off my left big toe with the chainsaw. I've been bitten twice by spiders. All of that doesn't compare to having a finger almost cut off.

Your words of encouragement and advice have not fallen on deaf ears, and a lot of it is confirmation of what I'm already doing. Just knowing there are folks out there who genuinely care and understand is a comfort. Maybe someday we can meet face to face and I can give you a big hug.

This lifestyle, which I know you can relate to, doesn't foster local friends. A church family we don't have due to the jobs I've had in trucking. Thank you for being family.

May God truly bless you tenfold for all of your support.

February 21, 2018

What the Hospital Said

The response to our GoFundMe for Dan's medical expenses has been both incredibly humbling and extremely encouraging. So far we've raised nearly $3500 to cover medical and other expenses. I wish you all could see the difference it's making in Dan. To have so many people we've never met respond so willingly and generously has given him hope. And to have so many people praying for him has given him peace of mind.

Yesterday Dan talked to the billing office at our local hospital. This is the first one we went to and have been billed $3554.42 for the initial emergency care of his fingers (my original blog post here.) He hoped to get the bill down to a manageable size, but the most they would discount it was $1066.30 which brings it down to $2488.02. If he paid in full on the spot, they'd give him an addition 10% off and accept $2239.21. We still don't know what the second ER will charge, so Dan set up a minimal payment schedule for that first bill. Once we have an idea of the combined totals, we'll have a better idea of how far we have to spread our funds.

What we have paid, is the GP and the hand surgeon, both in full so that's behind us. Also Dan made a decision about the options the surgeon gave him. In my update last Sunday, I shared that he was given two possibilities. He was told he could let the one finger heal as is, with no knuckle and compromised functionality, or have it amputated at the knuckle. The finger is very much alive; he has feeling, blood flow, and movement (albeit limited at this time), so he decided against the amputation. It didn't make much sense to pay for an appointment just to tell them he wasn't going to have the surgery, so he canceled it.

Several of you mentioned about applying for financial assistance, and have been able to utilize such programs yourselves. When Dan spoke with the hospital billing office he was given an application for that, and I'm curious as to what you all think about the information they want.

The first page discusses eligibility. Uninsured patients between 100 and 200% of the federal poverty level apply. For two persons that's between $16,460 and $32,920. Our combined incomes fall easily within that range, so we're eligible. What could they need, I thought, except proof of income and perhaps some information on things like mortgage payments and other bills. I was wrong. Here's what's required to apply.

For all members of the household (not just the responsible party) they want photocopies of:
  • drivers license or photo ID
  • social security cards
  • 4 weeks of pay stubs
  • social security income verification
  • food stamp verification
  • self-employment or business verification
  • utility bill
  • car insurance statement
  • voter registration
  • 3 months worth of bank statements for checking, savings, IRA/401k, and PayPal accounts
  • any other information on request

I confess this was something of a jaw-dropper for me. When Dan was discharged from the second ER a financial aid application was included in his paperwork. They wanted occupation of patient and spouse, income, bank balances, value of home, and unpaid mortgage balance. All of that seems logical. This one, on the other hand, does not. Unless there's the possibility that my great-grandmother lives with us and receives a small SS check each month, then they would use that as part of our eligibility formula? Or if someone has teenagers working to save for college, their personal savings is considered fair game for their parent's hospital bill? Or are they trying to deter people in need from applying? Keep people in poverty? Sorry, but the information they want seems a tad overreaching. What do you think?

Next time I'll give you an update on Dan's progress and what we're doing at home to encourage healing.

What the Hospital Said © Feb 2018 by Leigh

February 18, 2018

Dan Update

It's been a tough couple of weeks since Dan's accident. Nearly sawing off a finger is pretty traumatic, but even so, we thought healing was progressing fairly well. At the ER we'd been told there was a dislocation, a little bone loss, and extensive tissue damage. Dan had hoped they could fix it then and there, but the ER doctor said they were too busy for the time it would take. So he talked to a hand specialist and set up an appointment at another hospital. When the specialist didn't keep the appointment, nor call to let us know he wouldn't be there, we figured maybe it wasn't as bad as we thought. The ER report described it just as I did above and indicated that a follow-up should take place within a week of the injury.

We'd been flushing it with betadine, applying an herbal salve, and changing dressings twice a day. The worst wound is still weeping and both fingers are very sensitive and painful to touch. Improvement is slow, and Dan had an inner concern that something wasn't right. We made an appointment with my daughter's GP, because she really liked him plus he doesn't accept insurance. That means his fees are much lower than most physicians. (Nor did they become instantly unfriendly when they learned we have no insurance. We've been getting quite a bit of that lately.)

Dr. K took another x-ray and showed it to us. Dan had had x-rays taken at both ERs, but no one had shown them to us or even talked about them with us to explain what they indicated. Based on what we'd been told, we had assumed the bone loss was at the tip of the finger. Dr. K's x-ray showed that the loss was actually in the knuckle itself. That's where the saw hit, which explained the dislocation, but also where the most bone had been lost - below the first knuckle.

The ends of the bones that form that joint have been destroyed. They should be flat on the ends, but the lower bone had been chiseled almost to a point. In other words, there is no knuckle. Dr. K sent us to his own hand surgeon to discuss options.

Surgery? That would entail a fusion, but with the end of the bones gone, there is nothing to fuse to. Letting it heal as is, is an option. The end of the finger is still very much alive and Dan has feeling and blood flow to the tip. Without a functioning joint, however, there would be limitations. The last option is amputating the end of the finger where the joint used to be. Since losing the finger was Dan's primary concern in the first place, this option is something of a blow. Fortunately no decision had to be made on the spot, so we opted take some time to consider what to do. Dan has a follow-up appointment in three weeks.

The first of the ER bills has arrived - $3554.42. This is from our local hospital and I have to say it is significantly more than the "average" emergency room costs I've researched. The hospital will discount $1000 because we are self-pay. The second bill is yet to arrive.

At the encouragement of several of you, I have set up a "GoFundMe" account for Dan to help with these costs.

I know most of you are probably in the same financial boat as we are, but two things would be a great help.
  1. Your continued prayers. It is your prayers that are keeping us from being overwhelmed with discouragement. 
  2. To share Dan's link (https://www.gofundme.com/DanielTate) or a link to this post on social media. The GoFundMe folks say this is the best way to meet goals. Since I'm not a social media person, this would be a tremendous help. I will say that we've contributed to similar campaigns in the past, because we always think, "what if it was us." Well, now it is us and it's hard to ask for help!
The goal is estimated and I'm hoping it works out that we will need a less. I pray it isn't more! I'll update it after we hear from the other hospital and find out how much both hospitals are willing to lower their bills.

Dan Update © Feb 2018 by Leigh at

February 15, 2018

Almost a Spring Day Kid Play

We've had a lot of cold rain lately, but yesterday was finally mild, only overcast, and almost spring-like. Even though our winter pasture was pretty much frozen out this year, the does were still happy to get out to see what they could find. All their kids went out with them.

It's hard to believe how quickly they grow.

I'll have another update on Dan soon, to tell you what we've learned and what the doctors say.

February 12, 2018

Dan Update

Here is the update on Dan I promised. If you didn't catch my earlier post about his accident, you can read about that here.

How's he doing? Considering that he nearly sawed off his finger, I can say he's doing fairly well. Comparing that to full healing and function (or even semi-function), however, I can say that he has a long way to go. The finger that was only nicked by the saw is healing nicely. The swelling is down, the tip is scabbed over, and the fingernail is gone, but it is very, very sensitive. The sawed finger is better, but the wounds are still open and it is quite mangled looking. We see improvement, but it is much, much slower than he would like.

Pain comes and goes, but he finds that naproxin controls it. The hydrocodone they prescribed makes him nauseated, and he says that offsets any pain relief, so he sticks with the over-the-counter pain killer as needed.

When will he be able to go back to work? My guess is not for several months. Most of you know he is a truck driver, which entails more than simply holding a steering wheel. That he could do, but it's things like securing loads, raising and lowering the trailer bed, carrying heavy objects, opening and closing container doors, i. e. anything that requires two hands he can't do.

Having only one hand to use also limits what he can do at home. That means all projects (like the barn) are indefinitely on hold. That's frustrating for him, because he is an active, self-motivated, outdoor person. But now he can't do much and his normal routine is gone.

The bills from the two ERs haven't come in yet, so I have nothing to report on that front. Several people have suggested that we either set up a GoFundMe account or a tip jar, for anyone willing and able to help financially. Once I have an idea of what it's going to cost I may do that. It feels strange to ask for help, but somehow communities helping one another seems more natural than relying on some government agency. Some of you have already helped us out and words can't express how grateful we are for that. Also I had someone inquire about Dan's Etsy shop, to buy one of his woodburnings to help out. He closed the Etsy but still sells from his pyrography blog, here.

Dan's company said he'd be welcome back when he's able to work again, but few trucking companies offer sick pay so there won't be an income until he can go back to work. To continue paying our bills he looked into getting temporary disability. Since he is 62, they told him it would be faster and less complicated to apply for his social security retirement benefits, which he did. Hopefully that will begin in March or April. That will be about 2/3 of what he currently makes at his part-time driving job, but it will at least pay the mortgage, utilities, car insurance, phone and internet, etc. We have simplified our needs over the years so between what we produce ourselves and the little bit of writing income I get every month, we should be able to eat nutritiously and buy toothpaste and toilet paper!

The livestock pretty much pay for themselves. Every year I sell enough registered Kinder kids to cover whatever feed, hay, and other supplies we need to purchase. We grow as much as we can and then buy whatever we need to make up for what we can't grow. So in a sense, our animals are self-supporting and our eggs, dairy, and meat are "free."

So that's where we stand at the moment. Your prayers have made a tangible difference and we continue to welcome them.

Dan Update © Feb 2018 by Leigh at