Exploring the “Alternative” Approach to Chronic Illness

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I haven’t posted in about 3 months now. In some ways it feels like I stopped writing yesterday, but it also feels like it’s been an agonizingly long time since I put my truth to (virtual) paper. My health is my top priority in life, something I will never apologize for or feel the need to justify. With that stance in mind, I have learned over the past year to stand strongly in my values and keep my boundaries intact. I faced some unexpected challenges with Hashimoto’s and as a result I took a few months to seek the proper treatment, rest, recover, and regain my strength with the help of my support system. Well, I am BACK and I look forward to posting much more often and to sharing what I have faced over the past few months. 

 

 

Eastern medicine? You mean witch doctors and heretics?

Functional medicine? Why would I have to discuss nutrition with a physician? How does that help my disease?

Sticking needles all over my body will help me relax and reduce inflammation? Oooook, why don’t I just take some snake oil while I am at it.

 

These are all thoughts that have run through my head, verbatim. I was a doubter in every sense of the word.

Hi, my name is Paige, and I am a Law & Order-a-holic. For many years, I aspired to be the Jack McCoy of my own life circumstances. I questioned every possibility until I walked around doubting everyone and everything. Jack was a badass (we will have to agree to disagree if we’re not on the same page here), but those tactics belong in a courtroom. There is no place for them in your personal life, especially when it comes to your health and wellbeing.

I was guilty of applying my longstanding narrow minded, judgmental perspective onto the world around me. I lived a life of sharp-angled black and white boxes that I squeezed myself and my perspectives into. I did not feel like an active participant in my healing, and I certainly didn’t act as an advocate for my own health. Following orders, picking up prescriptions, picking up prescriptions that lessened the undesirable side effects of the initial prescriptions, and coping with the side effects that were unavoidable was just a part of life… or so I thought.

Then I decided to try something different…

Different doesn’t always mean weird, preposterous, or ill-informed. Did you ever notice how some people refer to anything outside of their own norm to be weird? I have close family members who are guilty of this knee jerk verbal reaction. That’s fear talking. There’s no need to get on a pulpit and condescend to those individuals if your experience contradicts their weird labeling. Just be aware of what it is (FEAR), and choose not to let another person’s perception of what is or is not normal keep you from exploring a new methodology or even ideology. In this case, I find it amusing that exploring your diet lifestyle, past traumas, and energy is considered an “alternative” approach or, in the case of the fear based doubters, just plain weird. I will always use the quotation marks for that reason.

My first visit to a functional physician was eye opening. She walked in, reviewed my new patient paperwork, and proceeded to ask no less than 50 questions about my health history, lifestyle, family background, and major events in my life. It was an engaging conversation that went on for almost an hour. I’ve never spent that long sitting in a doctor’s office (the waiting room is obviously not included in this estimate), and I was a frequent flyer for the majority of my life. Imagine going to the same Starbucks location for a couple of decades. The routine is similar. You wait in line, walk to the counter, make your order, wait near the end of the counter which may or may not be awkwardly crammed with other people who work in your building, and eventually grab your usual concoction before heading back to your desk.

One day you hear about this new coffee shop in the same neighborhood. You think, how is this any different? Coffee is coffee. Please note that I am well aware of varying quality levels, flavors, and additives (hello Bulletproof) that make coffee anything but simple. However, I think we can agree that the experience in a highly normalized setting such as Starbucks shows little variation. Well, when it comes to the treatment of chronic illness, coffee is not just coffee. I felt like I stumbled upon Willy Wonka’s version of coffee making. Endless varieties, so many colors, something different for each and every person.

The end of the appointment was a turning point for me. The physician looked over her notes before looking me directly in the eyes and saying, “Paige, I think we can help you begin to heal.” No one, not one single doctor, had ever said the word heal to me before. I had always been told they could help manage my pain, reduce my symptoms, and help me to live the most normal life possible. I was never given even a flicker of hope that healing or remission was possible. It was empowering, motivating, and the kick in the a$s I needed to become my own advocate. I decided to stop hiding behind my illness and began to face it head on.

I have since explored treatment in the following areas, and I look forward to sharing how each “alternative” practice continues to help me on my journey back to health:

  • Acupuncture & Traditional Chinese Medicine
  • Nutrition Counseling
  • Ayurveda
  • Reiki
  • IV Therapy
  • Meditation
  • Medical Massage
  • Hypnotherapy

 

I would like to state, once again, that I am not in any way demonizing Western medicine. Speaking as someone who has broken a bone, had the flu, been in a car accident, and had horrible food poisoning (I have not set foot in a Taco Bell since 2001)… I am eternally grateful for the modern medical care that I received. I do, however, believe we have missed the mark on chronic illness. I don’t believe the mental, emotional, and spiritual issues we face can be separated from a chronic state of autoimmunity. These methods have helped me immensely and I feel it is my duty to share them with others who are suffering or have someone in their life who is seeking hope and relief.

 

 

“Every disease is curable, except when Life energy is depleted.” – Julia H. Sun
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