(Please note: I am not a doctor, nor do I have any medical qualifications whatsoever. My writing is entirely philosophical. Please do not take this article as any kind of directive or advice, and please ensure that you consult your doctor prior to making any decisions. Your doctor knows best.)
Fever is not a pathology.
It is a purpose and a remedy unto itself.
When, from time to time, one of my children becomes feverish, I have no interest in “bringing down the fever”.
Instead, my intent is to support my children’s bodies, psyches, and emotional selves so the fever can do its healing work effectively.
My husband and I would never consider giving our children Tylenol or other OTC pharmaceutical drugs (as a treatment for fever or any other reason I can think of).
Aside from the documented neuro-developmental risks of taking acetaminophen during pregnancy (which cause me to remain concerned about the potential neurological harm in giving such medications to children) and the fact that it can have adverse effects on a child’s liver in large quantities, my non-scientific view is that medications like acetaminophen inhibit important forms of activation in the body.
Fever, like pain, is guidance, directive, and antidote, all at once.
And while I love plant medicines and employ them occasionally for their energetic, reverberant qualities, I am just as disinclined to engage with allopathic herbalism as I am industrial medical treatments.
I understand and experience the often uncomfortable symptoms of “dis-ease” as the healing process in action; not as something to obscure, to suppress, or to mask, but to accept, move through, and learn from.
For the past twenty years, in every online and in-person mother’s group I’ve ever been part of, the subject of fever comes up with regularity, and women are eager to share their recommendations for herbs and tinctures and medicines.
Most of these strike me however, as being rooted in a fundamental urge to “fix” fever.
What I’ve come to know in my twenty years of mothering and (forty-one years of life) however, is this:
Our bodies inherently possess everything required to heal spontaneously.
Dis-ease is a messenger: a form of profound communication between our bodies, our psyches, our beliefs, and our soul’s purpose.
Rather than “treating” symptoms with the intention of halting or interrupting them, my goal is always to “treat” the person: with love and care so that they can feel safe to receive the message being offered by their bodies, and to complete their healing.
The approach I’ve used in supporting my children in moving through the experience of fever has been very successful, in a variety of situations of varying severity.
My protocol includes attending to the following factors:
Environment: Audit the environment, both emotional and physical. Where are the disturbances in the field? Remedy the space, whether that’s just tidying up, or remediating various forms of pollution, or consciously transmuting our response to what cannot be changed.
Rest: support the child in sleeping easefully, with any comfort measures that resonate with his/her temperament.
Nourishment: Make available nourishing, comforting, in-season whole foods, including broths, fruit, or whatever is fresh and appealing. Bless the food.
Hydration: offer water and lemon-water liberally. Bless the water.
Relationship: Be with your child. Be willing to sit with them, to lie down next to them, to hold their hand, to read them stories, and to give yourself fully to the experience of healing which is, for a child, a necessarily co-creative one (and which is, as the parent, your responsibility to facilitate.)
Validation: Support the experience your child is having. Yes, it hurts (if that’s so). Yes, it’s scary (if that’s so). Yes, it’s intense. Yes. All experiences are real. And…
Confirmation: Confirm to your child what you know to be true—that in addition to validating their thoughts and feelings, you also know that this process is *for* their healing and their vitality, and is also evidence of it. Reassure your child that this is an essential passage of life, and an expression of their body’s wisdom.
Touch: Touch is power in every way. Massage, soft feathery touch, the laying-on-of-hands.
Energy: Use your hands outside of touch to encourage the movement of energy through their bodies. Remind yourself of your own power as an electrical resonant being, with the capacity to connect with others, and especially your child, and to support the metabolism of energy.
Story: Look for the story in the lead-up to the healing. Where was the pressure? Where is the adventure? All our lives are stories, and the story of our life becomes the reality we live into. I tell my kids a lot of stories about how powerful and right they are, and how cared-for they are, and how they are built to heal.
Incantation: You are so strong. Your body is healing beautifully. You are releasing so easily whatever it is that your body doesn’t need. You will feel so much better soon. I love you.
The challenge that it is to witness our children fully in their suffering is in itself part of the healing journey.
We always heal in relationship, as a response to the people around us, and as a reflection of the quality of our environment, both internal and external, of which our relationships are a core aspect.
Fever is an old friend. It burns, but it revitalizes us and makes us new.
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