Email Print Share

When the Rubber Missed the Road


by Debi Pearl of No Greater Joy Ministries

September 2006

Sometimes unexpected events make you step up to the plate and test you on things you thought you knew.

That’s what happened this week when two friends of Shoshanna’s took a nice easy motorcycle ride on a rural (curvy) Tennessee road. Just a small patch of loose gravel caused the wheel to slip sideways, and the next second they were lying out in the hot noon sun moaning in pain.
As far as I am concerned, motorcycles should be called murdercycles and hung by their chains. I know I am old, and when people get old, they tend to get uhh…sorta…uhh…SMART.

You’ve all likely heard the old idiom, “Where the rubber meets the road.” That is akin to “Put your money where your mouth is” or “Down to brass tacks” or “Put up or shut up.” It is where talk stops and demonstrative reality begins. It is the moment of truth. A person studies and prepares to meet a challenge, and it is when the challenge becomes a reality that you find how much you really know, and if what you know in theory actually works!

The wounded couple had to lie out on the road in the 100-degree heat for 20 minutes before someone finally came down the road to get help for them. They were rushed to an over-crowded hospital emergency room, where the medical care left a lot to be desired. Some of the larger raw 2nd and 3rd degree burns were not even cleaned before the couple was released. In the wee hours of the night the two victims were released from the hospital and came to James and Shoshanna’s house for recovery. It was Shoshanna’s chance to find out if all the “herb stuff” she had learned over the years and had applied to much less severe wounds could bring healing and keep down infection in the wide variety of serious wounds of her two friends. It is her rubber meeting the road story.

~Debi

The Man: In order to protect their identities, I will call them Man and Lady. Both had a number of serious skin abrasions caused by sliding on the asphalt, plus numerous bruises, and they were generally beat up quite badly. The lady had 3rd degree burns on her hand where she was pinned under the motorcycle while touching the exhaust pipe. The man had a large deep cut on the bottom side of his forearm, with rocks shoved all the way up inside, and he had surgery while at the hospital to tie a cut tendon. Upon leaving the hospital, the wound still looked dirty and ragged, like it was full of debris from the roadway. It had nine rough stitches. Even though they put him on antibiotics at the hospital, twenty-four hours after the accident his arm was swollen, inflamed, hot, and throbbed painfully. It looked like a bad infection had set in, and the skin around the wound was purplish.

Shoshanna tells how she treated his wounds:

I washed the wound with warm water, anti-bacterial soap and applied green salve. Then I made a poultice with fresh herbs, which included root and leaves of Echinacea (about ½ cup), the leaves of plantain and comfrey (about ½ cup each), and crushed garlic (1 clove), and aloe (4-inch piece). After washing them, I just threw all the herbs in the food processor for a few seconds and then wrapped the damp green mass in a strong paper towel and applied it to the wound. I am sure I could have used dried herbs instead of fresh (garlic and aloe must be fresh), but I was able to get fresh plants out of Mom’s garden and the plantain out of our front yard. This fresh poultice was applied once daily for two days and was kept on the wound for four hours at a time. The fever in his arm was gone within 36 hours. We continued to apply a fresh poultice each day (excluding the garlic) for three more days. Each time the poultice was removed, there was dirt on the cloth that had come to the surface. It has now been a week since the accident. His hand is still slightly swollen, but there is no fever or redness in the wound. It is healing rapidly now, although it still looks rough.

The Lady: The lady had deep 3rd degree burns on the upper palm of her left hand about four inches long and three inches wide. Both forearms were burned/scraped to 2nd or 3rd degree burns about eight inches long and three inches wide. On the upper back part of her thigh there was a large oval 2nd and 3rd degree burn and a scrape eight inches long and five inches wide. She had a cracked hip bone that was also chipped, and her pelvic bone was cracked in two places. The three breaks left her unable to move without extreme pain, and she required much help in the process.

At the hospital, she was X-rayed, and the hand wound was dressed by a burn specialist. None of the hospital staff took note of other wounds that were on her back, in part I think due to the extreme pain she would have suffered in turning her over. She was released from the hospital 12 hours after the accident, and was not put on antibiotics.

Shoshanna tells how she treated her wounds:

The first 24 hours after the accident, we began cleaning the front wounds two times daily, washing with soap, then heavily applying the prescription burn cream. By the second day, the wounds were red, feverish and very painful. We did the same herbal poultice as the man’s (no garlic), except that we added flaxseed oil to keep it from sticking to the open burns. She said the poultice tingled, but brought relief from the extreme pain. Late the second night as I was applying her 2nd poultice, I noticed the back of her calf appeared red, inflamed and oozing. We built a table the next morning where we could turn the lady over on her tummy. It was then we saw the large, feverish and inflamed wounds on her upper thigh and calf. The wounds were full of road dirt, and there was no skin of any kind left in many areas. I literally pulled a stick out of the calf area. The wound was so grievous and painful that we decided to cleanse it by laying luke-warm soapy cloths on the large areas, and let them soak for two minutes before we gently removed the cloths and repeated the process. We did this for over two hours until the wounds appeared cleaner. Then we applied the poultice for four hours. When the poultice was removed, a fresh thin pink layer that looked like skin was clearly visible. The burn cream was heavily applied, followed by the wrap. This was done three times daily for the next four days.

In the meantime, her broken hip was really hurting, so 36 hours after the accident, we started applying a bone-mending poultice made out of comfrey (several large leaves) and aloe (one four-inch piece) which she kept on all day. According to her testimony, that made a big difference. She woke up the first morning after using this poultice and was able to move some by herself and felt much better. We applied this poultice every day thereafter.

At the wreck scene, she had ended up in a freshly mowed area that included poison ivy. The day after the wreck, a large area of her stomach, back, arms, and face began to break out into swollen red blisters. You cannot imagine the feelings of frustration and grief this caused. At first, we thought it might be a hive reaction to the pain medications, so we treated it as such and also changed her medications. The blisters got much worse, and it soon became apparent that it was poison ivy. We applied calamine lotion. It didn’t help! We tried a topical prescription medication to control the poison ivy. No improvement! It still was very bad. We lived in dread that the poison ivy would get into the open wounds. After two days, the lady decided to use prescription cream on one arm and applied a poultice of fresh jewel weed (1/2 cup), plantain (1/2 cup), aloe (four-inch piece) and green salve (2 tablespoons) to the other areas. Yesterday, the prescription arm was still full of ugly poison ivy blisters, but the poultice/green salve area is almost dry and free from poison ivy. The poultice/green salve did wonders. The lady then used the poultice on the other arm last night.

It has been a week since the accident, and the two victims are still slowly recovering. Starting on day six, we only washed and changed bandages once a day. This gave the wound time to grow skin. The man is back to work, although he cannot use his arm. The lady hopes to travel home with her family in the next day or so. Her poison ivy is obviously drying up, the back thigh wounds are healing, and she is able to stand alone for a few seconds. Her hand wound is healing, although it will take some time before it is useable. The pain has receded, and the lady is able to get a good night’s rest.

From this real life nightmare-like experience, I have learned a great deal. More than ever before, I have gained confidence in the efficacy of herbs for physical healing. I have seen firsthand that in some cases, herbs work better than prescription meds. I have also learned (and seen) how extremely important it is to keep a wound clean.

There are several herbs that are easy to grow and should be kept in every home. A pot of aloe can grow near any window of your home and is a good investment of time and space. Echinacea is a beautiful yard flower, and the seeds can be bought from almost any store that carries flower seeds. It is a perennial (comes back from root every year) flower, so it does not need to be replanted once you establish a bed, although it is important to start it early in the year. Comfrey plants can be bought from many plant catalogs or on the web. It has large leaves and small, pretty flowers. Echinacea is taller than comfrey, so plant it in the back. Comfrey is full, so it shades any small weeds. Garlic can be bought fresh in most groceries and kept on hand for cooking and healing. Plantain is a yard weed. My parents travel all over the country to seminars, and Mom says she has seen plantain in every area of the country. The seeds are readily available in herb catalogs, which can also be found on the web. If you don’t have web access, go to the library and have the librarian look up some addresses for you. Many libraries now have web access. Plantain is also a perennial. Its root will stay in the ground and come back every year, and the seeds will cast into the wind to make more plants. Jewel weed is native here in Tennessee, and you will need to research where to get those seeds for yourself. My mom always grinned at me at times like this and said, “Now, that’s a good homeschool project. Be sure to tell me what you learn.”


Return to all articles