Posts filed under ‘random thoughts’

Mixed Feelings About National Fibromyalgia Awareness Day

is Today.

I have mixed feelings about it. The information trumpeted out is helpful, the awareness and support is undeniably fantastic and much, much needed,… but it’s not the full picture as it’s skewed towards western (allopathic) medicine.

If 5% of my healing was thanks to western medicine, 95% of my healing was thanks to “alternative” medicine (with is not my “alternative” – it’s my default when it comes to my chronic conditions).

These include:

Naturopathic medicine, including pharmaceutical-grade supplements to rebuild my deficiencies, get rid of my antibiotic-induced gallstones without surgery, plus oral chelation for heavy metals, and homeopathy for a host of other things

Acupuncture and other traditional chinese medicine branches, such as QiGong

Ayurvedic practices

Chiropractic, specifically the biogeometric integration method

Massage therapy

Guided imagery and meditation

Infrared sauna therapy

and, of course, Nutrition. Always nutrition.

I’ll plan on writing more about each of these modalities separately as this post would be too long if I try to do any of these any justice, but until then:

For a great deal of information about National Fibromyalgia Awareness Day, visit the National Fibromyalgia Association’s webpage here:
http://www.fmaware.org/site/PageServer?pagename=community_awarenessDay

It’s important to know that while western medicine states that the causes of fibromyalgia “still remain a mystery,” (see website above) it’s not such a mystery if you seek knowledgable sources and find the right fit with practitioners such as a Naturopathic Doctor or Functional Medicine Practitioner (MD with additional training). I am walking, talking proof of that. THAT is what frustrates me. And I can do something about it, so I will, here on this blog, one post at a time, in my capacity as a Health Counselor, Nutrition Educator, and Fibromyalgia + thriver.

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May 12, 2009 at 9:01 AM Leave a comment

Uh-Oh. Great Coffee. (And is it ok for your health?)

I think I may have just found the perfect coffee.

  1. It’s shade-grown and songbird friendly (which supports my love of songbirds… see this post: Tweet Tweet
  2. It’s decaf. SWISS WATER PROCESS decaffeinated to boot! So hard to find… Why is this so great? With clean-body living, it is necessary for me given my health and low-to-no tolerance to chemicals to seek this out, because this decaffeination process is 100% chemical free. Click here to learn about what this safer-than-conventional decaffeination process is all about: http://www.swisswater.com/
  3. It’s organic. Yay.
  4. It’s priced comparably, if not cheaper than other good quality coffees.
  5. And, of course, it tastes GREAT.

Here it is. Songbird Decaf Coffee, made available by the American Birding Association. (Click to head to their online store.)

The uh-oh is that now that I’m essentially coffee-free, it may be harder to resist on a more regular basis.

I used to be ADDICTED to coffee. Triple venti lattes were my best friends. All of them. And then I was down to “only 1 cup” in the mornings, cup top-brewed, nonetheless. Coffee snob, moi.

I can’t tell you how many times I hear from my clients… “I don’t drink coffee. Well, only 1 cup in the morning. But that’s nothing… … … Right?”

I quit – rather, HAD to quit – coffee about 3 years ago, when my body crashed. I didn’t have any until about six months ago. Now, I’ll have a cup of decaf every now and then, about 2-3 times a month, when I really want the taste and pleasure of this dark, lithesome brew.

Last week, I think – no, I’m sure – my busy barista at Starbucks forgot that I said DECAF for my tall soy latte (1 shot). I was on such a high all afternoon until I crashed around 3pm. Sound familiar? Plus, by the time I got home, my autoimmune symptoms flared up, i couldn’t walk for a few hours (first time in a long time) and my familiar rib and lower back and hip bone pain was almost unbearable. Autoimmune folks, beware.

So please don’t underestimate that “only 1 cup” of coffee.

Now, does coffee have benefits? Yes.

But should you be drinking coffee? Probably not. Why?

This is where I respectfully differ from what Dr. Mehmet Oz, one of my most respected teachers and health pioneers, supports. He believes it’s ok to have 1-2 cups of coffee a day, and that you’ll benefit from the antioxidants. Is that true? Yes, but only if you’re already super healthy and live in a no-stress world.

Instead, while you probably love the taste of coffee, you’re really using it as a crutch. Especially with my typical clients – either a busy professional and/or someone living with an autoimmune condition – you, like them, are using coffee to prop you up when your adrenals are running on empty.

In this scenario, you’re masking many of the critical signs your body is already sending you, saying it’s time to slow down a bit, reboot, and restore your body, before something bigger crashes.

And if you have an autoimmune condition, these conditions are intricately linked to the adrenals, so anything that upsets them can trigger a cascade of symptoms.

Energy fluctuations, sugar cravings, trouble falling asleep even if you’re tired, anxiety, depression… these are all connected and can be made worse by your addiction to caffeine and other stimulants.

The other main reason to avoid coffee when your system is already compromised is because coffee is naturally highly acidic. The by-products of stress in your body are also highly acidic. What this means is that your body’s pH level skews towards more acidic (vs. alkaline). When your body is too acidic, your immune system becomes compromised and remains open to attack, whether it’s from the latest flu going around, or an autoimmune trigger, or cancer. And this applies whether you’re drinking regular or DECAF coffee. Hence my “uh-oh” in the title here.

So, before you imbibe again, take a whiff and smell the (decaf) coffee. But beware – sometimes even that is too much for some. (Hee hee – have you ever had to RUN to the bathroom even while just brewing coffee… Pavlov’s dogs comes to mind – but that’s a whole other story, that one.)

There are so many other wonderful options to coffee… coming in a future post.

April 29, 2009 at 6:41 PM Leave a comment

Yay for the Downturn in the Economy! A.k.a. Who are YOU?

It’s already happening. I hear more people talking about spending more time together, rather than spending more money.

I, for one, while I feel for everyone who’s been affected by the economic crisis (really, who hasn’t?), feel that it was time for a reality check. And not just about how much and possibly how frivolously we were all spending, buying, consuming… but also a reality check for how fast we’re living, always gunning for more, better, faster… and ruining our health in the meantime.

And what have you got if you haven’t got your health?

I was forced to discover this when my own internal economy came to a grinding halt. The simplest things, such as brushing my teeth, or wearing shoes, became things I had to THINK about doing… then do it – usually haphazardly because it hurt or because I had no energy… and then rest before I could do anything else.

I spent a lot of time staring at the ceiling and counting the floaters in my eyes.

I didn’t know who I was anymore. I no longer had the ability to work, no income of my own, and I couldn’t even read – ME, the lifelong BOOKWORM – my comfort, my one thing that always was ME – because I lost my short-term memory. Who was I?

Who are you?

Without your money, your job, your busy-ness, your deadlines, your rush, your favorite hobbies, the things you own, your family who needs you, WHO ARE YOU?

I found out I had a great laugh. That I missed herbal tea, not coffee. That I could hear the birds if I just tuned my head differently (i.e. make my chatterbox brain shut up). That I was the luckiest girl in the world because I have family and friends that stuck by me (and welcomed my calls again after being buried in the consultant lifestyle for so long!). That I actually do like beets (love at second sight)!

I found out that that it was time to move on from what wasn’t supporting me. That I really DIDN’T want to have to be perfect all the time. That I am terrified of failure. That I was ok with that. That I believed in my spirit and that it was alive and well, and always had been, quietly waiting.

That I was evolving into a new me – the real, the whole, the unabashedly alive and imperfectly perfect me.

Who are you?

April 27, 2009 at 4:52 PM Leave a comment

The Power of Words… and Pain

It’s way past bedtime for me but I have such a buzz that I can’t get to sleep.

No, not that kind of buzz!

The best kind – a natural high. I spoke in front of 500 people (and had a great time doing it!) but that wasn’t even the best part. (I actually asked for some red wine tonight but just realized I didn’t even take a sip… I don’t drink anymore… my body doesn’t like it.)

Andy and I just returned from the Celebrating Science & Soul event, which “generates donations to support the Institute for Health & Healing’s work of healing people and transforming the practice of medicine. Last year the Institute touched the lives of more than 50,000 people, many through our scholarship fund and free programs at the bedside and in the Bay Area community.” Amazing, really.

Each year, this event honors pioneers in integrative medicine. This year’s honoree was Dr. Michael Harner – an incredible visionary – as well as Dr. William Goodson, breast cancer surgeon extraordinaire, who received a Compassionate Caring award. Beautiful people. Past honorees include Drs. Deepak Chopra, Andrew Weil, Mehmet Oz (pre-Oprah!), and Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD. Wow.

I had the honor of speaking as a patient testimonial. Here’s the video if you’re interested in watching. It runs about 7 minutes.

I haven’t shared much of my personal story yet in this blog. I’ve had a bit of a block. I am a super private person; I get the heebie-jeebies when I share too much personal info. But SO MANY people thanked me for doing so tonight at the event, that I see now I must. The story of my past 2.5 years is much bigger than just me. It’s part of my contribution and part of what I can give back. Because, you see, it’s been a long journey for me, but not as long as for others who are still suffering in silence and who, like some of the attendees tonight, may read / watch / hear about / listen to my story and have that be their nudge of hope that gets them to start healing and return to claim their life.

So, here, I will start to break my personal barrier and I begin offering to you my medical story and the story of my return (braver! bolder! brighter! than ever before) to owning my life.

I’ll start by giving you the video above as well as my speech transribed below. Pass it on.

*****

Simla’s Speech

They say the memory of pain is one we cannot retain, probably for reasons of survival. I beg to differ.

 

Pain.

 

It takes over your life until it’s all you can see, feel, taste, or think about.

 

It clouds your world so you don’t know who you are or whether you’ll ever have a good day again. When a good day means you can breathe without your ribs throbbing or your lungs burning, when you can tie your sneakers and take a step without your feet screaming, brush your teeth without getting exhausted, and remember the sentence you just read for the fifth time.

 

That’s the state I was in when I arrived at the Institute for Health & Healing Clinic in November 2006. I had already seen close to ten physicians to no avail. I had severe nerve, muscle, and bone pain along with short-term memory loss, debilitating fatigue, and a host of other symptoms. My standing diagnoses are fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, undifferentiated connective tissue disorder, multiple chemical sensitivity, and immunotoxicity. Along the way, I had been misdiagnosed and developed medication-induced hepatitis and pancreatitis. Not to mention gallstones. Add to that a lifelong battle with IBS, asthma, chronic bronchitis, a bout with Legionnaire’s Disease and pneumonia, and you get the picture. I was a mess. I was desperate, and desperately lost.

 

As a management consultant, I had thought I could use my intellect and methodical thinking to figure it all out. I was wrong. I had to go much, much deeper.

 

Using guided imagery, the incomparable Dr. Michael Cantwell helped reintroduce me to my Self – the Self that was not defined by pain. He helped me strengthen and redefine my connection to something bigger that had been lost. I was able to hear my inner voice again and let it take charge. Slowly, I began improving.

 

I recall one particular guided imagery session with Leslie Davenport, Integrative Psychotherapist, when my itching from jaundice stopped for good after I asked my body to give me a break, even though my skin was still very much the color of a ripe banana. Leslie’s kind and soothing presence created a haven where the noise in my body could sort itself out.

 

With the radiant Jodi Fishkin Manning, my stagnant insides found movement again, through her gentle touch as an exceptional massage therapist and powerful ability to really, deeply listen to what I had to say, without judgment or pity.

 

I still see Helen, the warm-hearted sage, every two weeks for acupuncture to keep my body balanced and my symptoms under control. But I see her just as much for her ability to help me get and stay grounded. She is always patient with my stream of questions, teaches me about myself and promotes guilt-free self-care.

 

That’s “my Team.” Together, along with my naturopath, chiropractor, rheumatologist, my husband Andy and my family, the IHH Clinic Team gave me hope, validated my pain but also my ability to heal, and encouraged me to pursue my newfound passion for holistic nutrition. In the past two and a half years, I left corporate America, went back to school (again!) to become certified as a health and nutrition counselor, and have opened the doors of a thriving holistic practice of my own.

 

Today, on most days, my pain is a memory – one that I respect, for it taught me much. Though my body can still be temperamental, I am always mending, healing, moving forward.  I can wear heels, haven’t needed surgery and my memory is better than ever, although my husband may beg to differ.

 

Consider yourself fortunate if you get to meet or spend some time with these exceptional practitioners tonight, as you are in the presence of true healers. They embody the spirit of medicine in all the ways medicine can and should manifest.

 

Thank you for giving me this opportunity to express in a small way my immeasurable gratitude to Dr. Cantwell, Jodi, Leslie, and Helen.

 

How do you say thank you to someone who has helped you rebuild your body, mend your spirit, redefine your way of being, and incidentally, discover your life’s work?

 

But I can tell you that everything they’ve taught me is embedded in how I now live. I hope to pass it on. Thank you.

March 9, 2009 at 8:04 AM 9 comments

Taking Stock

It’s been a rainy few days here in San Francisco. And with the 3-day weekend, super quiet. Even the confused too-early spring buds have retreated again.

For me, different ribbons of experience have been converging and making this a time for taking stock, not just of this past year, but the past 2.5 years:

For the past three weeks, I’ve been entering LOTS and LOTS of data into Quickbooks. What felt like a thankless exercise (yes, Oh QB Gods – I’ve learned my lesson – keep up with the books on a weekly basis – don’t try to enter the year’s data at once to meet the tax deadline) ended up becoming an exercise in taking stock, financially, of how far my fledgling practice has come since I had my epiphany 2 years ago and started my practice a year ago. It is now self-sustaining and poised to grow. Just in time for Spring!

Then, I was recently given the honor of speaking as a Patient Success Story at CPMC’s annual fundraiser gala, “Science and Soul.” It’s been a contemplative period for me to pause, give thanks to my supportive circle, and begrudgingly (it’s so hard!!) give myself credit for all the hard work I’ve put into healing my body and much more. I finally get to publicly thank part of my healing team – four beautiful people who have made me whole again – or more whole than ever. I have THREE MINUTES to try and convey the life-shifting experience and do justice to the gratitude I have accrued for these healers in the past 2.5 years.

Here’s a link to more details about the event:

Science & Soul Event

[I may post my speech when it’s ready – right now, it’s a scribble of notes that pushed itself out of my sleepy self last night, not letting me get to sleep until they were down on paper.]

And, most potently, as we recently lost a dear family member, it’s been a time of taking stock and acknowledging the passing of time, the passing of souls, and the perfection of each slice of time in our lives. I’m several chapters through the book of my life – almost halfway there, actually (if I may be presumptuous enough to guess so), and it was sad but soothing to let another chapter become a memory.

So. Are you due for taking stock of your ribbons?

As for me, right now, it’s dinner time, so time to get back to the present that is the present!

February 17, 2009 at 2:11 AM Leave a comment

Isn’t it funny?

Have you ever noticed how we tend to be uncomfortable when people are smiling / laughing / chuckling to themselves?

And yet we, by default, consider it perfectly normal when people walk around with a frown / scowl / worry on their face?

Is that funny? Or sad?

I noticed this when I had a lot of introverted, observing, quiet time riding on buses between my myriad medical appointments, sometimes dozens of hours a week.

Look, watch. You’ll notice.

So be bad and smile a bit today. See who’s watching and smiling back.

January 29, 2009 at 7:58 PM Leave a comment


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