Tuesday, June 16, 2009

I Choose Real Health

Today's post is inspired by a dear friend who is urging me to see a doctor for symptoms that are a toss between a sinus infection and the flu. I refuse. And this topic also happens to be one of the changes in my life that definitely gets filed under Fun and Mental! I'll explain.
This particular health journey began many years ago after sustaining an injury at work. I saw doctor after doctor and took prescription medication after prescription medication. Going from Darvocet to Ultram to Vicodin to tons of Ibuprofen all to "help manage the pain". No one was trying to cure the pain. The experience of being injured and the resulting lifestyle change along with just trying to manage pain led to deep depression and a very weak immune system. My doctor quickly prescribed Trazodone to deal with my depression which almost caused me to end my life. The weakened immune system was not dealt with at all. Thank God there were people in my life to explain that chemicals only treat depression caused by chemical imbalances, depression caused by traumatic events worsen when chemicals are added (because my doctor never explained that to me)! It was a vicious cycle that came to an abrupt halt when a friend advised I meet with her holistic doctor to discuss vitamin supplementation to battle the chronic fatigue syndrome I had newly been diagnosed with. I was falling apart fast and my health was far worse after three years with doctors than it had been just dealing with the injury alone. Surly this holistic doctor was worth one visit?

To my shock the doctor listened to me talk for an hour. He didn't say much and took many notes. I actually watched his facial expressions change as I went into my story of the injury and the effects that it had on my home life. I remember it was very amazing because every doctor I had ever seen never listened quite that way. I don't ever remember ANY doctor making any facial expression, let alone eye contact, and here this doctor went from a look of surprise to a look of anger to a reassuring smile. Before he ever actually spoke, I really felt like I was with a healer. Then it was time for him to talk. He began with my depression. He went through an inventory of what I had been through over the course of three years. The injury, the loss of my career, the weight gain, the stress on myself and my family, the various pain and mood altering medications I had been prescribed and then he said, "So after all of that, you say your depressed huh?" I could tell by his sarcastic tone that he was about to shed some light. "Well, when really great things happen to you in life and you are OVERLY happy, you come see me... I've got some pills for that." Yep... the light bulb went on. I got it. Depression was perfectly natural for me and I needed to work through it... not medicate it. He then explained that he wanted to do some blood work to see if my liver had sustained any damage from all the pain medication I had taken over the three years. He also wanted to see where I was deficient in vitamins and minerals.

This experience was the catalyst for my getting healthy as well as taking control of my health care... And I was prepared for the long haul. I felt like my body had slowed from all the medications that I had taken over the years. It made sense to me that I had taken antibiotics to fight sickness and pain medication to fight pain resulting in my body not being relied upon to handle the business of keeping me healthy. So it was time for me to stop medicating. I was fully prepared for this to be hard. I understood that because of years of taking over-the-counter pills and prescribed medications, my body was weak in the "healing itself" department which meant the pain would hurt more and I would be sicker longer until my body was used to the new state of affairs. And in return, I committed to taking care of my body. I would give it proper nutrition, proper rest, proper exercise.... and I was going to quit poisoning myself! If I was dealing with unbearable pain, or I couldn't breathe, I would certainly go to the hospital, but unless it was something serious I was NOT taking medication.

To date, it's been about 6 years since that visit to the holistic doctor. And I'm feeling a million times better. Am I perfect?... No. Am I almost there?... You betcha! When I get a cold, it lasts about a week longer than someone else's who got pills from their doctor (which is great because the first one I got after seeing the holistic doctor and stopped medicating lasted over two months.. I'm not kidding!). I no longer suffer with upper respiratory infections (I was used to having them twice a year like clockwork) and the flu doesn't send me to the emergency room. I force my body to fight. I increase my vitamin intake, I drink plenty of fluid and I take care of the body that's taking care of me.

Does this mean that I NEVER visit the MD listed on my insurance plan? No, not at all. But my visits to the doctor are for serious issues. The last time I visited my doctor was for a broken ankle. Back in the day when penicillin was first discovered, its only use was for serious, emergency situations... it was a last resort. Now it's given quite freely and I believe that society as a whole is quite dependent on medications to make them 'feel' healthy. Because of the way our bodies become immune to the medications and the way our deceases are evolving, medications have to continue to evolve and get more potent (possibly more poisonous). So how healthy are we really, if we have to depend on medication? Me I choose real health.

I would like to add, before wrapping this up, that holistic medicine treats more than just physical ailments. Holistic medicine is about making the body whole. I only touched on the one facet of holistic medicine because this is where my journey to health started. My holistic doctor, Dr. Brimhall, would like my readers to know that he never advises patients to stop taking prescribed medication. While he believes in educating his patients, he recommends consulting with your physician regarding your personal health care.

For me, I say that knowledge is power! Understanding what you are putting into your body should be your responsibility alone because it is YOU that deals with the consequences (both good and bad). Please look for more posts on this topic and be sure to check out the links for more information on holistic medicine. Here's to everyone's health!

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