Monday, May 16, 2011

A Shameless Plug for Natural Healthcare

I was lying on a massage therapy bed about ten years ago and was surprised when the therapist pushed in the middle of my back and I felt it all the way down my leg. When I told him, he said, with no small amount of sarcasm, “You mean…like it’s all connected or something?”
Well duh, Morgan, I hear you say. Of course it’s all connected – of course the pain and tightness in one part of your body can either be caused or lead to pain or tightness in other parts of your body. This was a small thing for me to remember at that point. The bigger thing I’ve learned recently, however, is that the physical pain in your body is also inexorably linked to the pain in your mind.
Uh-oh. I think I just lost half of you. That’s ridiculous, you say, that can’t be true. You can treat physical pain with physical pills and they go away; emotional pain is intangible and can’t be treated the same way.
If that’s the case, then why do we try to treat it the same way? How many of us are sloshing down sugar, carbs, alcohol, pain killers, ANYTHING to try and get our minds to shut up? A lot of us, myself included. But that’s not the half of it.
About three years ago, I had a cough that wouldn’t die, despite all the antibiotics in the world that had been thrown at it, plus some steroids, good food, rest and exercise. Pretty soon it was followed by some alarming weight gain, despite everything I tried to do to the contrary. All of a sudden, despite all the things I had always done right, it wouldn’t go away.
Then I broke up with my boyfriend. The day after, I called my friend who worked at a Natural Health Clinic – one that I had been stubbornly refusing to go to for quite awhile– and Dr. Laura Walton agreed to see me on her lunch break. It was a breaking point for me: I had never felt so defeated, exhausted, depressed and unable to understand what was going on. Dr. Laura helped me, but not in any way I had ever been helped before. We figured out I had been on TEN antibiotics in the last year, that they had probably nuked my immune system, and then she did something my other doctors had never done: she asked how I was doing emotionally.
Excuse me? How am I feeling?
I felt like shit, and I felt like shit for a long time. But for the first time, I felt like someone was looking me straight in the eye, seeing a person instead of a list of symptoms, and that person wanted not only for me to feel better, but for me to be in optimum health. That’s what naturopaths want, you see: optimum health for their patients, not just a freedom from the symptoms of illness.
I didn’t get better right away, but I left with a boatload of supplements after a steam shower meant to help me clear the gunk out of my lungs that had been stuck there for months.
I wasn’t immediately sold, however, and soon went back to my regular doctor for my yearly checkup. I asked her why it was I couldn’t stop putting on weight, which had continued to be a problem that persisted even as my cough improved due to increased doses of vitamin D.
“[Regular] Dr.,” I said, “I can’t seem to stop gaining weight. Do you have any ideas what I can do?”
“Well,” she said, “Maybe you should stop eating sugar.”
“I don’t really eat sugar.”
“Then maybe you should give up pop.”
“I don’t drink pop…I don’t drink much except for water.”
“Well maybe you just need some more exercise.”
“I exercise regularly, even though it exhausts me.”
“Hmmm…well then I’m not really sure.”

When I eventually went back to Dr. Laura and told her I was getting really frustrated with not being able to lose the weight, she left the room to go ask her colleagues what the answer might be, but not before telling me something that made too much sense.
“Morgan, I think your body has been putting this weight on as a way to protect you from something or someone that it thinks you need protecting from – do you think that could be the case? Do you think maybe you need to remove something from your life before the weight will go away?”
It was the same boyfriend. After that first breakup that had gotten me into the clinic, I had gone back to him – twice. It was him. My body knew what my mind wouldn’t admit: that he wasn’t right for me. Refusing to listen to the physical signs to my emotional problem was keeping me sick.

I’m not currently in optimum health. Poor Dr. Laura is constantly kept on her toes by my body’s ability to turn emotional stress into physical symptoms, but at least now when I go to her I can consider the possibility that all my problems aren’t related to the flu bug going around…and that sometimes that’s all they are. Not only that, but I’m much less likely to get that flu bug based on all the things I’ve learned – and continue to learn – from her. It’s amazing to me how much more in touch with my body I’ve become as a result of her care, and how much more I’ve been able to treat the root of the cause instead of just the symptoms.

Love and naturally healthy kisses