My road from traditional western medicine to a homeopathic or holistic approach has stretched over the past twenty years. It started when I began to practice Natural Family Planning and I began to pay attention to my body’s rhythm and cues. When I was confronted with secondary infertility and the loss of two babies, I searched for answers. Traditional medicine responded with “the pill” or “fertility meds”, neither of which would heal me, but only attempted to treat my symptoms. The main turn of event took place two years ago when an excellent medical doctor diagnosed me with Severe Adrenal Fatigue and Hypothyroidism. I’ve shared some of my struggles with this illness already, but now I would like to share the healing aspect of my journey.
As I was sitting in Dr. H’s office being tested for food allergies I stared down at the line of red bumps on my upper arm indicating my allergies. I was overwhelmed at the list: wheat, gluten, dairy, soy, corn, baker’s yeast, brewer’s yeast, rice and beef. I was allergic to every tree and grass that was tested as well. How in the world would I eat? What is even left to eat? Thoughts of panic raced through my brain and I did the only thing that was left to do. I prayed. “God,” I said, “if I have all these food allergies you have to send me a nutritionist. There is no way I can feed myself, let alone my family with what is left from that list. You’ve brought me this far, please don’t desert me now.” Within three minutes of that prayer an old friend walked through the door at the doctor’s office. “Diane!” I exclaimed and jumped up to embrace her. The last time I had seen her had been over ten years when our children graduated from middle school together. She said she had seen my Suburbanin the parking lot and knew from the sticker on the back that it had to be me, so she came looking for me. Looking. For. Me. When I asked what she had been up to she told me that she was a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner. I am not joking! I explained why I was there and was in shock at the whole prospect of what I had just witnessed. I live in a big city of 350,000 people smack in the middle of Dallas and Ft. Worth. Do you know how many doctors practice here? What are the chances of any NTP being there when I uttered my prayerful petition let alone someone with whom I already had a history of trust and friendship. Diane handed me her card and within a week we sat down for our first consultation.
One of the biggest factors in switching from traditional medicine to natural and homeopathic medicine is the cost. Insurance covers the former but not the latter. Most people will give up the game right there because they cannot justify spending hundreds to thousands of dollars out-of-pocket when they are already paying a hefty sum for insurance premiums. With our own premiums creeping upwards of $2,000 each month and deductibles of $9000 we had already begun looking at alternatives and found Christian Medishare. Pre-existing conditions aren’t covered, but it has already paid for itself after a broken arm, an injured foot, a swallowed penny and hernia surgery in the past two years. At $350 a month for a family of 10, it has been a real answer to our health insurance dilemma (BTW, if you check them out and sign up, please put me down as a referral because my family will receive $100). So, with our health insurance expenses down, the difference in traditional and natural medicine is a wash for us. When the playing field is evened out, it makes comparing the two routes much easier.
The next big hurdle was learning a whole new approach to treating illness. Instead of reaching for Tylenol and antibiotics, I have learned about probiotics, clean nutritional foods and taking a truly preventative approach to my family’s health vs. responding to each illness. In the beginning, Diane taught me how to cook new recipes and provided instruction on choosing quality ingredients and offered a list of places where I could purchase them. The food we choose to eat is very emotionally integrated into our psyche. My taste buds had been formed to enjoy sugar, carbs and more of the sweet side of the palette. By changing things a little at a time, I have been able to change what appeals to me, even what I crave. A Dr. Pepper fix was a daily event two years ago, now I have absolutely no desire for one. In fact, if I drank a whole Dr. Pepper I would get physically ill—I’ll spare you the details. Good, clean food is expensive too. I went from $2 a gallon for milk to $7 a gallon. Eggs, meat, cheese and organic fruits and veggies are not any cheaper, but in the long run we are healthier and it costs less on the medical side.
Some people may question how well it is really working for me since I am still so ill. This is a legitimate question. On the one hand I am still healing, but on the other hand I have been asthma free for five years now. No inhaled steroids, no inhalers, no irritating barking coughs ever since I stopped eating and drinking pasteurized milk products. I have not taken any medications for allergies in over two years and recently was able to wean off hydrocortisone as my adrenals have healed. I have also avoided the need for antibiotics for over a year, where previously it was an every 6-8 week occurrence . Please, do not stop taking your medications without professional supervision. I was able to do all the above with the oversight of my doctor. A natural approach takes time as our body heals from previous illnesses and injuries and overcomes years of temporary fixes.
I know the holistic approach is highly debated and I won’t begin to claim that it is the right way for everyone, but I will say that I think it makes sense to start with the natural remedies and then move to traditional medicine for acute emergencies or when illnesses do not improve with treatment. It seems like common sense to me. Most people, including myself pre 2012, don’t even know natural remedies exist. Our nutrition has become so poor in our country it is embarrassing. We are a country full of obesity and yet we are starving from lack of real nutritional value in the food we consume. Our doctors are not even taught the basics of nutrition in medical school. I don’t think it’s a conspiracy either. I truly believe, and this is just Jill’s theory here, that once upon a time 50 years or so ago, people treated themselves for the basic illnesses. They knew the old wives’ theories of treating this or that ailment and they ate food that they largely grew and raised themselves with little or no pesticides (I have a family story that I’ll share with you later). They drank milk straight from the cow which was rich in good fats and natural probiotics. As modern medicine emerged and health insurance evolved from patient-payed visits to insurance company-payed visits, people became detached from making decisions based on their medical needs to cost-based decisions. Meanwhile doctors went from treating patients who had tried without success to heal themselves to seeing patients upon the first symptom of a disease who had not even attempted to treat themselves. Added to this is the fact that the drug companies are constantly educating doctors about treating illness with the latest developments in the pharmecutical industry and there is no continuing education on natural remedies apart from the doctor’s own personal research. So, here we are. And please don’t get me wrong. I love doctors and nurses and the amazing hospitals and technology we have to save and improve our lives. There is definitely a need for all aspects. I’m simply saying that I’m trying to get back to basics. Eat right, exercise, know my own body and its cues, and empower and encourage my children to do the same.
It has not been an easy journey and I often slip back into my old eating patterns, but little steps in the right direction will eventually get me to where I’m going. It is exciting to have a new world open up before you. My latest development is learning about essential oils. It is a new frontier for me, so when I get a little more knowledge under my belt I’ll be sure to share it with you. Yes, I still have a long way to go towards healing, but look how far I have already come and how much I’m learning in the process!