Hard to Swallow

My intentions for this summer were simple: to rest, rejuvenate and prepare Five Seed for the holiday season. However, things didn’t turn out quite as I had planned. I ended up having to spend three weeks on a seminar (including one week 100+ miles away from home) and was also notified of Etsy’s policy changes, preventing me from mentioning any medical conditions whatsoever in my shop.

Things changed a lot. Fast. I spent weeks editing my shop to prevent it from being closed by Etsy. I was on an emotional roller coaster ride throughout the process, trying so hard to hold on to the positives – but in the end, I have been left feeling brokenhearted and a little lost. Above anything else, my intention was to offer healing products that I created for myself as alternatives to commercial products that are filled with who-knows-what. To have that aspect of my business taken away has been a huge blow. (Seriously, go check out my Etsy shop – you will find many listings that have almost NOTHING in the description sections.)

So yeah, it was a busy and stressful summer – the exact opposite of what I was hoping for. I’ve been looking for alternative solutions – farmer’s markets, consignment, etc. – but haven’t really found a niche, yet. I started opening a shop on Poppy Swap, an awesome marketplace, similar to Etsy, but for herbal products, only. The problem is, it is taking FOREVER to open the shop and I haven’t gotten much traffic – I’m almost thinking it would make more financial sense to put the Poppy Swap fees toward a website of my own – something I’m considering.

Throughout all of this, I have been struggling with severe health issues. In late August, after I had finished my seminar and shortly after I started deleting my description fields on Etsy, I developed what I thought was a severe case of thrush. My mouth became swollen, especially my tongue and upper palette, it felt like it was burning all the time, my throat hurt, my glands were swollen and eating food caused me extreme pain. It went away after about a week, though my sense of taste, which had been woefully inhibited, did not fully return, and I still had minor mouth pain along my lower jaw.

I could not figure out why such an odd, painful ailment would hit me so hard. I started looking at it symbolically and did realize that I felt “silenced” by Etsy and the FDA and that I was not allowed to communicate anymore. However, once it went away (mostly), I didn’t give it much more thought and was just grateful to be able to eat normally again.

And then…it came back. With a vengeance. During the first week of school, my mouth started burning again, and in 12 hours, I was in full-blown tortuous misery. My tongue was intensely swollen, my glands were the size of walnuts and my throat hurt so badly that I literally had to hold on to something (a wall, a fistful of my bedsheets, etc.) to brace myself from the pain. Eating and even drinking were impossible. I had to force myself to take a few sips of water every hour, because I was afraid of becoming dehydrated. Needless to say, I have never experienced that much pain from a mere sore throat. My sister was so worried that she drove me to Urgent Care, despite my objections (I don’t have insurance).

The doctor insisted I did not have thrush, which shocked me. But I was dismayed to find that he had no idea what was causing me so much pain and swelling. He gave me antibiotics for strep and said the condition might clear up with the medication. Well, the sore throat got better, but not the mouth issues!

So here I am, still dealing with the pain, though not as bad as it was. Some days it is bad enough to wear me down and prevent me from wanting to do anything and other days, it is mild enough that I don’t notice it unless I’m eating. The worst thing, however, is that my sense of taste has further diminished. If I lick something off a spoon, I can’t taste anything. I can taste certain foods, but not for several seconds after I start chewing and not to the normal extent. I can barely taste anything sweet, at all, and I definitely cannot taste salty tastes in any form.

I’m still trying to solve this on an emotional level, since there seems to be no apparent cause for what I’m experiencing. But if it’s related to this Etsy medical claim business, then I don’t know what to do. I just got ANOTHER email from them saying that the stories I have left in a few of my listings about my personal healing journey constitute as a medical claim. I cannot even talk about myself there if I use words related to the body or health in any way. And the truth is, I’m getting pretty fed up with it. This seems even more all-encompassing and far-reaching than the FDA’s own rules – I literally feel that they are putting tape on my mouth. My sales have dropped dramatically and I’m not sure I belong on Etsy anymore. I want to stay – you can’t beat the traffic they get. But wow. It’s become a police state for herbalists.

Anyway, I guess the reason I’m writing this now is to ask for support. If any of you are of a like mind, I would sure appreciate prayers, good thoughts, reiki from a distance…anything. I feel selfish even asking – there are far bigger problems in the world than my health and business – but at the same time, I’m feeling a little desperate for help.

Thanks, also, to all of you who have already been so very supportive. I’m so grateful and so lucky to have you all!

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18 thoughts on “Hard to Swallow

  1. Thinking of you, Yancy. Its sounds like such a frustrating moment…I’m on Etsy, too, and I’ve felt a similar crunch from the new regulations, though not as severe, as my items seem to qualify as less “medicinal” (whatever that means). I’m wanting to expand my business beyond Etsy, too, and I’ve been working on a new separate shop via Big Cartel, using an Aarcade shop template. You might want to check those options out if you are considering your own site, as they are fairly affordable, and the design is generally clean and good. Hope this helps – sending my best wishes your way! Warmly, Briar

    • @Briar: Thank you so so much! I appreciate it. And thank you for the info about the storefront. I am definitely looking into this and feeling very overwhelmed at the amount of options! I will look into BC. Thanks!!

  2. My darlin’ it’s a struggle yes but it’s not the end, it’s the universe telling you to get the hell off of Etsy and start your own website. And when you create that you can put your new website on your Etsy page until folks get the message, then close that account.

    There is SOOOOO much you can do with your amazing products and SO many places who would love to carry your stuff. A line of oils just for massage therapists would be brilliant, and once they realize how amazing it is, spas could carry your full line (check out The Dragontree…).

    The world is cracking wide open for you and sometimes it has to shake us big time to make the changes we need to make. I’m wondering if all the business stress translated to the physical symptoms you’re dealing with…

    Big big BIG hugs!


    • @EcoGrrl: I just about cried when I read this! THANK YOU! This is just what my sister said when I called her in tears after I got that email. Anyway, you are the best and thank you so much. I’m definitely moving in that direction – the faster, the better! LOL. Hugs back!

  3. Yancy, don’t feel in any way selfish for asking for help, support and positive energy. You have helped innumerable others, whether it be through your products or your thoughtful blog entries (imagine how many people felt better about themselves through your resolve to love challenge!)

    You have every right to be happy and healthy – now you just need the strength to make the tough decisions that will ensure you happiness and health. You know this – it’s the reason why you wrote this post in spite of your discomfort. So, I send you my strength, my well-wishes and my hope that you recover from both the physical and mental pain. Listen to what your body, heart and loved ones are saying and you’ll figure things out, I have no doubt of that.

    You are capable of anything and eveything, don’t forget that! And if you ever need a little reminder, look at the message you left yourself on the wall of your studio space – it was meant for times like this :)

    Be well

  4. Yancy: you are AMAZING and I admire you so much!
    I second everyone else- this is definitely the universe telling you to leave Etsy- I am honestly thinking of writing them a letter explaining why I am so disappointed with how they are handling businesses such as yours and how that has discouraged me from using their service. If you make your own website I will TOTALLY advertise for you on my blog- not sure how much traffic it would generate, but hopefully a bit more?

    Your health: Yancy.. I’m worried- did the doctor send you for any tests to see what else it could be? I say this as a Canadian who doesn’t have to worry about insurance or cost of testing…. would the tests be expensive??

    i would most certainly donate towards tests etc if that were the case. your health is important!

    Email me if you need anything…. HUGS

    • @EcoYogini: I cannot thank you enough for these kind words! I’m definitely on the road to a new website, though it will realistically take me a few months to get it all set up and moved over. It’s overwhelming to think of, but I’m trying to focus on baby steps.

      The doctor did not send me for any tests because he was worried about the cost. In fact, he didn’t even get a strep culture to confirm his diagnosis because he said it would be extremely expensive, whereas antibiotics are not. I haven’t even gotten the bill for that visit yet, and it’s likely to be $200+ – not including the $50 I already paid at the clinic. My worry is that going for additional testing, when the doctors don’t know what is wrong with me, would add up FAST. If there was some probable cause to all this that could be tested, great – but with no idea what it is, I could end up taking multiple tests and having lots of lab work. And lab work is a killer.

      Anyway, I will email you more about this over the weekend. In the meantime, I want to thank you again for your kindness and generosity. You are such a bright, loving spirit! Thank you!!

  5. Hi Yancy,

    I’m so sorry you’re going through this rough time – physically, mentally, and emotionally. I think you are right about the symptoms being tied to your feeling silenced by the regulations. I think about the work you do, the wonderful, nurturing products you create, your kind heart, your focus on natural, healthy ingredients and lifestyle…I know this is just another way the Universe is guiding you to help you spread your message and your products even further. Maybe you’re going to be moving to a bigger platform with more exposure.

    Looking from a distance, I see that you’ve been making big changes in your life and in your business —you’ve redesigned your office space, created new photos to create a new representation of your products, you’ve been reinventing your personal look to reflect how you feel about yourself as a person and professional, you created a new logo and artwork for your website, you’re branching into ebooks now…It sounds like every aspect of your business life has been getting a makeover. So somewhere part of you is viewing this and saying, “Yeah, let’s completely makeover our business plan. Let’s get a new store and change how we do business.” I just got the image of turning the earth after a harvest to make the soil richer and ready for the next planting. I feel like that’s what you’re doing with your business.

    I also love the idea EcoGrrl had about the massage oils. Maybe they can use your scented oils during the massage and then tell their clients the oil they use and sell it at the desk. Or maybe creating gift baskets with themes – spa night, pampering yourself, Valentines, etc. You’ve already got awesome products. Now you’re just figuring out new ways of getting them to the people who need them.

    Overall, you’ve been saying and taking steps toward making your business grow. This must be another step in that process. It sounds like you’re being pushed into new markets. You have so many friends who support what you do (including me) and would be happy to help or brainstorm, pray, sending healing energy, or whatever else you need. You are a bright shining light in the world.

    Sending you love and light,

    Melanie :)

    • @Melanie: Thank you so so much for these kind words. I never really thought about the big picture like that. It is a little more comforting to see the changes that have been happening and that this could simply be an extension of that. I will continue to mull this over and meditate on it and hope to roll out some awesome new changes very soon!!

  6. Behind on my blog reading but here’s to carrying the good vibes and prayers in to this week! Every time I grab my happy tummy seeds, lips balms and lovely scents I am thankful I found your blog and Etsy store. From now on each time I grab for one I’ll send out a little prayer for you…that ends up being a lot of prayers by the way! Hang in there, I can’t wait to see what’s next :)

  7. Are you on PoppySwap? There seem to be a lot of people migrating over there from Etsy after the change.

    PS – I’m thinking of starting my own little herbal shop (it scares me to even write that). I started selling some of my extra soap at work and one of my co-workers, who is an artist, wants to create packaging for me to sell my soap on a bigger scale (like getting a booth at a local market). You are one of my inspirations for getting enough courage to do this, so thank you.

    PPS – Was there any resources you found especially helpful when you were just starting out?

    • @Lauren: I did open a shop on PS, but then closed it a month later. I was getting no traffic, and for some reason, though I have the highest respect for that shopping platform, I just felt it wasn’t the right move for me. I thought it might be a better decision for me to put that money into my own website.

      I’m so excited for you taking the steps you are taking! Wonderful! Keep going! :) I can’t say that there is a resource that helped me particularly. I just soaked up everything I could and continue to do so. I read business blogs and websites, took a business class at my local college, networked with other bloggers, and now I’m doing the same with herbalists and going further in that direction. It’s all a long process of learning, which never ends. It’s an adventure!

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