The Journey Begins

I feel like there is often a clear, memorable moment in which we decide we’re sick and tired of being sick and tired. For me, one of the biggest moments was the first time I visited a naturopath.

I had been plagued (ha. ha. maybe there could be a more fitting word here…) by illness, aches and pains, rashes, headaches, asthma, etc, etc, for most of my childhood. It was exacerbated in my teens, and I’m sure that smoking pot didn’t help – even though I assured my family doctor that of course I didn’t smoke! Because I had, at that point, never touched a cigarette. Anyway, at some point my grandmother finally went to a naturopath in our hometown, after her doctor determined there was actually nothing wrong with her and it must all be in her head.

Heads up, folks: it’s NOT in your head. If you are experiencing discomfort or pain, there is a reason for it. More often than not, general practitioners are unable to pinpoint the cause, and shrug it off as stress. Modern medicine and research still has a long way to go. It’s okay. Be your own advocate. Get a friend or family member to come to doctor’s visits with you as moral support. Bring print-outs or bookmarked articles from research papers and scientific journals. Ask for tests. Ask the what-ifs. Ask to be referred to a specialist. Do not stand for the doctor giving up and removing one of your organs or glands just because they don’t know how to heal it. There is always a solution! I know that in small towns, there is essentially zero choice in doctors. I know. I’m sorry. Fight anyway. Please. You are worth it.

So, back to my grandmother. This would have been around 2004. She finally went to the naturopath, who diagnosed her with Celiac disease. Fancy that. Nobody in my family had ever suspected that any of our health problems could POSSIBLY be caused by trusty ol’ wheat. After all, it was in everything! It was the basis of our entire diet: breads, pasta, pies, cookies, muffins, buns, you name it. Grandma even ate Shredded Wheat cereal (not the sugary kind) for breakfast. So, after her diagnosis, I decided to look up a naturopath in Victoria, where I was living at the time.

I was about nineteen years old at this point, and my alcoholism and drug use were in full swing. I was smoking cigarettes too, but wasn’t up to a pack a day yet. Perhaps to you, it sounds a bit young to be seeking solutions to health. But to someone who had been sick for nearly fifteen years already, it was past time. I have a long life expectancy in my family, and didn’t want to spend the next sixty years or so in misery.

So I found this doctor, who, it turned out, lived in Washington State and commuted by ferry to Victoria, where he worked a few days a week. I don’t remember his name. I remember he was not young, but he was full of life. Vibrant, bright-eyed, healthy, strong, and attentive. He didn’t have that washed-out sort of look that I was used to seeing in my tired old GP’s. But the biggest thing that stood out for me was on my first visit, during my intake, and he asked me this question:

“Are you ready to get healthy?”

Well yes, of course. What a silly question, I thought. He then explained that if people aren’t mentally ready to begin healing, they won’t. It still seemed odd to me that some people wouldn’t want to get healthy, but I supposed he had a point. I later learned that it’s true… if people aren’t willing or ready to do the work, if they don’t really believe they CAN be healthy, or they think another few years of working towards health isn’t “worth it” somehow… they just won’t. They quit before they even start.

So I can consider myself lucky that I already had this mindset, this long-term vision of how I wanted my life and health to be. That one of my grandfathers was an osteopath, who continued practicing well into his 80s. That my non-Celiac grandmother TOOK UP synchronized swimming as a senior. So I already had this idea, that I had better get my body in check in order to actually LIVE life for the next several decades.

There is more I could write about this doctor. But I put off writing until way too late, and my husband is reminding me to “practice what I preach” and have no screentime so close to bedtime. Actually… it’s past bedtime! Eek. So I’ll leave you with that today.

What about you? Are you ready to get healthy yet?

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