It Takes a Village: What These 20 Pros Have Taught Me About My Health
It’s been six years since I received my lupus diagnosis and at least ten since my health began a slow decent. Within the past decade I’ve experienced many highs and lows surrounding my health, but it’s these unsung heroes and the silver lining that keep me growing in the pursuit of wellness...
One benefit of my health quest has been working with a wide variety of practitioners and learning something of significance from each of them. In fact, I've come to see such opportunities as an advantage to not only strengthen my health, but to enhance my skill set and abilities to guide others toward reaching their goals.
Many people with chronic disease are financially strapped, worn down, and become complacent in their care. It is definitely easier (at least initially) to go through the motions and follow your standard practitioner’s advice. It’s certainly less stressful and more affordable to do what’s covered by insurance and familiar. However, it’s those of us that deliberately drive our healthcare and intentionally hire professionals (often times out-of-pocket) - who will contribute to our long-term goals - that make the greatest gains.
With chronic disease there are constant set-backs. I find that it's during these times that a good self-care evaluation is warranted. Questions like: are you going through the medical motions? Does your healthcare team hold you back, or are they continually offering new ideas and solutions? Is your provider a one-trick pony, do they have anything else to offer and would they tell you if they didn't?
I regularly ask myself these questions and re-evaluate my need to continue working with each professional I employ. While I encourage long-term working relationships with most of my clients, even more importantly I promote a good fit for everyone. So do yourself and your practitioners a favor and make sure that you're both benefiting from the relationship.
As a practitioner, I tend to be fiercely loyal and have worked with several providers longer than necessary. This can be frivolous, especially if you don't actively work to take something away from the partnership. Early on in my health journey, I spent the most time going through the motions with standard practitioners following standard protocols. I made MANY errors that set me back for years (and still effect my health today). Fortunately, I figured out where the harm was being done and I began to avoid those situations.
Meanwhile I took an active role in my health and began hiring practitioners who brought new skills and knowledge to my toolbox of healing. Through the years I’ve acquired an array of resources. I believe this is due to the combined effort of my active and focused role coupled with many amazing pros who’ve spoken into my life. In order to receive their valuable knowledge, it was necessary for me to keep an open mind and to not limit myself with old beliefs.
I’m most grateful for the opportunity to have crossed paths with each of these complimentary or alternative practitioners, who’ve played an integral role in my physical, mental and spiritual progress:
1) Lin Roussel, RN, Massage Therapist - In 2008, I incorporated massage therapy into my self care for pain management and symptom relief. Lin taught me the importance of pampering all parts of the body (including our feet!), integrating herbs for symptom relief, the practice of cranial sacral therapy, and she also introduced me to the still point inducer - a nifty little device that I continue to use most days. Although she is based in Pennsylvania, I still make a point to see her when I visit.
2) Dr. Schreder, DC - In 2008, I sought guidance from this chiropractor pre-lupus and I’m most thankful to him for advising me to remove my dental amalgams using safety precautions outlined in the book, Amalgam Illness by Andrew Cutler, whose chelation protocol I've used for two years now.
3) Dr. Fuhrman, M.D. - In 2009, I worked with Dr. Fuhrman to revamp my diet and wean off prescription medications. Through him and his writing I thoroughly learned the concepts of nutrient density with micronutrient rich meals, Eating To Live and Fasting for Health.
4) Acupuncture - In 2009, I used acupuncture to take the edge off and reduce my symptoms while weaning from prescription medications and working full time as a clinical dietitian.
5) Arlene Ehritz, Colon Hydrotherapist - In 2010, I explored colon hydrotherapy after reading about it in Kris Carr’s book The Crazy Sexy Diet. While this was a most enlightening and invasive experience, it definitely taught me more about my bowel habits, the benefits of cultured foods, and Arlene even introduced me to my first enema bag (which I still use) for gastrointestinal maintenance.
6) Marie Forleo, Author and Online Entrepreneur - I’ve been following Marie since at least 2011. I’ve taken her B-School course and watch nearly every video she makes. Her gold-standard message in our house is that “everything is figure-outtable (with a Jersey style accent!)” Whenever I hit a road block health-wise or in everyday life, I remind myself of this little mantra. Then I find a way to get er done.
7) Dr. Pompa, D.PSc. - In 2012, I hired Dr. Pompa to guide me through the process of chelating heavy metals from my body safely and effectively. I was overwhelmed with the process and wanted someone who had personally gone through the protocol successfully to share his insight and expertise. Dr. Pompa also taught me his Cellular Healing Diet, introduced me to intermittent fasting and the keto-adapted diet along with a variety of cultured, grass-fed, coconut-rich foods to assist my recovery. I still consult with Dr. Pompa periodically to see what he’s learning and how to tweak my regimen.
8) Lorraine, Therapist - As I began chelating and dealing with new mental and emotional symptoms, I sought out a local therapist to learn how to cope in a healthy manner. This was my first experience with a therapist and something I initiated myself. Lorraine introduced me to the use of positive affirmations and the ideology that many diseases can be linked to emotional triggers as described in Louise Hay's work, such as You Can Heal Your Life.
9) Judy Lynne, Specialized Life Transition Coach - My work with a therapist encouraged me to explore past losses which led me to Judy Lynne and the use of Emotional Freedom Technique, or EFT. I still watch Judy’s weekly videos and use EFT when I’m feeling “stuck” or hung up on an issue to help shift my thought process.
10) Kathleen Sollars, Certified Yoga Instructor - After moving to Arizona in 2012, I began taking a restorative (gentle stretching with an emphasis on breath work, meditation, and relaxation) yoga class at the gym. It was through a skilled instructor and a consistent practice (2 days a week) that I saw great benefit to my mood, muscles and pain management.
11) Mark Jagodzinski, PT, DPT - In 2013 as I dealt with an ongoing intolerance to my chelation dose, and therefore unpleasant symptoms, I was reminded by my physical therapist that de-conditioned muscles result in imbalances within the body and unnecessary aches and pains. Implementing his guidelines for consistent stretching, activity and weight resistance inspired me to return to the weight room for the first time since college which increased my strength, stamina and self esteem.
12) Dr. Pawluck, M.D., Pain Specialist - This consult was also a result of ongoing symptoms and pain (likely stemming from chelation). It was Dr. Pawluck whom first made me aware that I had a past Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and the potential connection to my chronic pain (stemming from the head), viral load and autoimmunity as a generally weakened host. He taught me the “survival of the fittest” concept and encouraged me to use Pulsed ElectroMagnetic Therapy (PEMF) to alleviate symptoms and promote long-term well being. We rented a machine and later purchased a device which I use while I sleep every night.
13) Melodee Bosna, Therapist - Finding a therapist that’s a good fit can be like shopping for a swimsuit in the dead of winter. Although I had a few A-HA moment’s with Lorraine, I knew it was time to move on. That’s when I found Mel and have worked with her since. There’s nothing quite like paying someone to actively listen and insightfully speak into your life. Her feedback has been invaluable and she has taught me a lot about self care, “self soothing” techniques, and the importance of emotional and mental health for a well being.
14) Donna Jackson Nakazawa, Science Journalist - Although I have not actually met Donna in person, I have had the pleasure of speaking with her on several occasions. Her work in The Autoimmune Epidemic shifted my entire thought process in regards to autoimmunity, root causes, and environmental toxins - giving me multiple leads to explore in my own health. As if that wasn’t enough, another one of her books The Last Best Cure was the perfect companion to my spiritual self exploration.
15) Oprah & Deepak - This dynamic duo took my lonely (and rather pathetic) meditation practice to the next level with their guided imagery meditation challenges. Every time they offer a free 30-Day Challenge I eagerly sign up and join along. When their meditation challenges aren’t happening, I practice using one of their recorded meditation challenges. As a self described "liberal christian" born and raised in a conservative christian church, I find these meditations to be universally respectful, adaptable to individual beliefs, and quite refreshing to my mental and spiritual growth.
16) Kenna Saleh, Brennan Healer - Being chronically ill forces us to ask some big questions. As I began to delve deeper, I felt stuck. In an attempt to free myself from a spiritually constipated state, I heeded Dr. Pawluck’s advice to work with a Brennan Healer after reading Barbara Brennan’s book Hands of Light and being truly fascinated by such a highly trained (and sci-fi like) practitioner. I worked with Kenna for about 10 months and during that time she instilled in me the power of my thoughts, the importance of asking for (and seeking) help, the use of color meditation for healing, core star energy work for positive self affirmations, and many other spiritual practices with an underlying christian influence.
17) Dr. Downing, M.D. - In 2013, I sought out an Integrative MD to oversee my care and to order a gastrointestinal study - due to ongoing symptoms. Although she left the practice shortly after, the GI findings were revealing and she reminded me of the importance of a simplified supplement regimen. Between her and Kenna’s encouragement, I decided to lower my dose of chelation - thereby reducing the severity of my symptoms and increasing the quality of my life.
18) Andrea McDonald, RN - As my detox slowed but steadily continued in 2014, I found a local Registered Nurse specializing in lymphatic drainage and cranial sacral therapy through gentle manipulation. Andrea has not only become a friend and a mentor, but she’s also fostered my gratitude for the amazing and under-appreciated lymphatic system, immune health, and the use of essential oils.
19) Acupuncture - Allergies are pretty bad in Arizona year round, so I recently began seeing a local acupuncturist who uses Chinese medicine to balance energy levels and alleviate symptoms for headaches, digestion, congestion and allergies. I’m not noticing any major benefit right now, so I'll likely place this therapy on hold and revisit at a later date.
20) Kerri Rivera, Doctor of Homeopathy - I most recently consulted with Kerri to learn how to lower the high pathogen (viruses, bacteria, candida and parasites) load in my body, which goes hand-in-hand with heavy metal toxicity, inflammation, and allergies. She pointed me toward Dr. Andreas Kalcker, Ph.D.'s work. Together their combined efforts have provided a protocol for reducing my pathogen load, while generating future treatments to consider such as Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) and GcMAF.
As you can see, the tools I’ve acquired through the years come from a multitude of counselors - it truly does take a village to obtain wellness in the face of disease. Working with these professionals keeps my personal care fresh, my professional care sharp, and my soul inspired.
If you have a challenging case and tend NOT to respond to typical treatment options, you may find that you need to use less conventional methods (like myself) to be your best. I encourage you to have a core set of practitioners that you trust to challenge and motivate you. Work with them long-term and rotate other skill-sets based on temporary needs, constantly re-evaluating what services to continue. As always, let me know if there’s anything I can do to help you along in your journey.