A New Life through Holistic Care
Clinical Herbalist Reviewed on March 21, 2009 by Paulina Nelega, RH
Editors Note: Here at NaturalWellbeing we receive a lot great content from our visitors. That content often includes touching and inspiring stories. This one really stood out so we decided to share it will everyone. Enjoy!
I’ve spent most of my adult life in poor health and severe pain. In my early 20s, I was a naturopathic patient. I didn’t have health insurance, and I figured that I would go where I got the biggest bang for my buck – with holistic, natural health care. Those were the days. Things were pretty good back then. I felt great. I was active. I was energetic.
Then I got health insurance. At the same time, I caved into the pressure being applied to my family that I seek “quality” health care from a medical doctor. And so, I stepped away from holistic health and stepped into the medical establishment.
During that period, I was a competitive bodybuilder and fitness instructor. I hiked, bicycled, jogged and played soccer and racquetball. If there was a physical activity to be pursued, I chased it with energy and enthusiasm.
At the same time, I was expanding creatively. My mind was bright and alive. I consumed information voraciously. My thoughts were clear and quick. I was making headway as an author and musician, and supplementing my pitiful income as an artist by modeling. I had the world in the palm of my hand.
One day, I woke up feeling horrible. It was a case of the flu, I thought. Nothing was ever the same again. What followed was years of debilitating pain and exhaustion. It was like flipping a light switch. My brain fogged and I could barely think. My body ached. My skin, which had always had a healthy glow, grew dry and dull. My hair –previously extremely thick and shiny – dulled and started to fall out. I slowly started to put on weight in spite of the fact that I was very careful about what I ate. Over ten years, my weight crept up to 308 pounds.
It was difficult – to say the least. No that’s too mild. It was devastating. I felt like I didn’t know myself anymore. My entire self-image changed – not just because of my looks, but because I started to wonder if maybe I had some personality flaw that was causing my ill health. I have always believed that there is a mind-body connection in health, and I was certain that somehow I was self-sabotaging and creating sickness for myself. My whole picture of who I was changed, and I felt as if I had checked out of my life.
I used my newly acquired health insurance to go from doctor to doctor, trying to find a solution. The standard answer I got from the medical establishment was that it was all in my head. They told me I was eating more than I told them I was, and that all of my other problems were because of my weight. Not a single doctor heard what I was telling them – that the pain and debilitation came first, followed by the weight.
The truth was, as my weight went up and up, I tried everything I could think of to bring it down. I exercised more in spite of my pain. I ate even less. All this did was made me more exhausted and brought on more pain. I was certain that I must be weak-willed, because if I wanted it badly enough, I would be able to lose the weight. This is what the doctors were telling me, and I was beginning to believe them. I thought maybe I was deluding myself about what I was eating and how much I was exercising. I was beginning to wonder if perhaps I did have some kind of a deep-seated emotional connection to the fat that I just couldn’t figure out.
One day I was looking through a natural health book, and something clicked into place. I realized that my health changed severely after I stopped treating my health holistically and started allowing my medical doctors to treat my symptoms rather than pursuing my wellness.
This led me to my current health care provider – a wonderful nurse practitioner/naturopath. As I sat in her office and told her my story, she listened to what I had to say. And then she said what I’d been waiting to hear for years. “There’s nothing going on here that we can’t get you out of.”
I was so overwhelmed and relieved that I cried on my way home from her office that day. For the first time in years, I felt that maybe there was a possibility that I would have my old life back.
What I discovered was that I had an autoimmune form of thyroid disease called Hashimoto’s Disease. Essentially, my body thought my thyroid was a foreign body and it was attacking it and killing it. This was responsible for the majority of my symptoms such as the hair loss, dull skin, pain and weight gain.
For years, I had convinced myself that my ill health was somehow my fault. Now I had a name for what was attacking me, and I had a plan.
First and foremost was thyroid support. I started taking Armour Thyroid (yes – that Armour – every part of the pig, including the thyroid), which was a traditional medical cure, in combination with licorice – a naturopathic cure. That in combination with Hair Essentials, a natural supplement to promote hair growth, soon had my hair and skin returning to its former glory. I’d actually forgotten how good my hair and skin could look.
She also prescribed transdermal magnesium, CoQ10 and acetyl L-carnitine to help clear away my brain fog. Boy did it work. My creativity soard, and all of a sudden I remembered things that I had forgotten I ever knew.
For my chronic pain, which was caused by the inflammation associated with the Hashimoto’s, she prescribed turmeric capsules. Soon my pain receded and I was able to participate in activities I hadn’t done in years. My energy levels rose, and my weight dropped.
For every problem I had, there was a natural solution. I was surprised at how quickly I felt like a new person. So quickly that, even when I was still quite heavy, I had the energy to go on long hikes, play tennis and walk eighteen holes on the golf course.
I can’t ever adequately describe what an impact my new state of health has on my life. Every day I wake up in this body that doesn’t hurt and can move easily and freely. I have a new life. One in which I can participate actively — with my husband and with my kids — without just sitting on the sidelines watching because I feel rotten.
Here’s a confession…. each day I wake up surprised to be in my own skin. I spent more than 15 years in a state of crumbling health and constant pain. I looked in the mirror and saw a fat, exhausted woman whose skin was dull and her hair was thin. Now I wake up feeling light and free. When I look in the mirror, I see glossy hair, shiny skin and amazing energy. And every day, I spend fully engaged in my life and loving every minute of it. All because I finally found the right health care provider who wanted to treat the causes of my problems, and not just the symptoms.
I have a new life. And for that, I am eternally grateful.
Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan