Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Crunchy granola...healthcare?

Anyone who knows me is aware that, although I'm generally very healthy, (pausing to knock wood) when I do find myself in need of medical attention, I tend to seek out the most natural, holistic options available for treatment. Now, don't get me wrong--if it's a sinus infection, I run to my primary care doctor, accept the antibiotics gratefully, and wait for the healing magic of pharmaceuticals to kick in and vanquish the bad bugs back to where they belong (which I can only hope is some form of...Bacteria Hell). But at various points in my life I've also used the services of a other...non-mainstream...professionals, such as an acupuncturist/herbal medicine expert, a massage therapist, and a chiropractor.

In fact, with all the baggage (literal and metaphorical) associated with relocating and getting settled, it had been almost 5 months since I'd visited my chiropractor in Maryland. For about 3 months, I was honestly feeling pretty peachy-keen...but then the neck began...popping unpleasantly from time to time. And the shoulders (not just the repaired-rotator-cuff one, either) started to get stiff and tight. Finally, when I continued to ignore the increasingly blatant signs from my body that something was amiss, everything just decided to get all achy and...just downright...cranky. Okay, okay, I GET it...making an appointment with a new guy...jeesh, get off my back! (Hahahaha! Sorry...)

New guy--or "Dr. F"--did all the routine stuff first: read over my intake forms, asked a bunch of questions about my current symptoms, as well as overall health and habits, and performed a cursory visual examination. Then we got to the good stuff. He had me lie down on the table so he could attach what appeared to be electrodes to my right hand and foot (all the while continuing his stream of friendly chatter). Before he proceeded to do anything...shocking...he commented on my "very high arches". Um....yeah? "That's an indication of an extremely fast metabolism," he added. "Mmm hmm," I agreed ...wait...what? That doesn't sound right--if that's true, then why do I have to be so careful about every dang thing I eat these days? He clarified, "Not digestively....but rather in a 'fight or flight' way. Your body runs at an elevated level of stimulation pretty much all the time." Oh...uh-huh, that absolutely describes me. Carry on...

In his hand, he held some sort of meter, on which he read the electromagnetic impulses emitted by my body. (I chose to take his word for it, as I felt nothing at all from the electrode sites....thank goodness!) Evidently this confirmed for him what he'd said about my metabolism, although he looked thoughtful as he admitted, "For your body type, I would expect the numbers to be higher. With that, and the way your right scapula tends to jut out, we might suspect some liver congestion." (So, what, my liver is...stuffed up? What am I supposed to do, throw Sudafed at it? What the HECK?) After this pronouncement, he took out what appeared to be a beefed-up handheld massager and applied it to the area of my torso where my liver purportedly resides, I can only assume to encourage the flushing of toxins (yes, without even a small break in the ongoing conversation). It was...weird. But not painful, or even uncomfortable, just...different.

Next we discussed certain dietary issues, such as the fact that I tested very low for iron a couple of years ago, and since then have been continuously taking supplement capsules, to maintain appropriate levels. He nodded knowingly and replied, "With the metabolism you have comes an increased tendency towards diabetes (yep, there was THAT little scare a while back, also--I swear, it's like he knows me already...) and anemia...although it's quite possible you have TOO MUCH iron in your body." I'm sorry...huh? He explained that supposedly my body type takes the iron it receives and stores it away in the tissues, effectively making it unusable for physical functioning (like fending off exhaustion, for example). It can then become a whole other problem to have so much of the mineral stockpiled in your organs and...whatnot. He went on to say that he often finds patients like me are deficient in magnesium, instead, and that when they begin taking it, their digestion and energy improve almost immediately. (Right...Memo to Self: FE out, MG in...)

And while we're on the subject of the periodic table of elements, he had one more little zinger to impart. He inquired--quite delicately--if my hair had always been...this color. When I told him it hadn't, he wanted to know exactly when it had started to change. Specifically, he wondered if there had been stress in my life at the time...like having kids, maybe? Ding ding ding! I never really thought about it before, but that pretty much nails the time period when it occurred. He then informed me that the aforementioned stress (and by the way: thanks, beloved children) combined with a...copper imbalance (of all things) can lead to losing the pigment in one's tresses. We didn't really discuss what to DO about this--I'm assuming it's too late to start chugging good old CU and thus transform myself back to an auburn chick--but what I took away from the discussion is: I'm totally blaming the boys for causing me to go prematurely silver. (Yep, that seems fair...)

I think it's pretty obvious that I'm fascinated by--and also wholeheartedly buy into--this whole "alternative medicine" thing. I just can't help but think that it's wise to take the whole body (and brain!) into account when trying to: 1) figure out why something's hurting or not functioning properly, and 2) prescribe solutions to help return to a state wherein all parts work smoothly and efficiently. I'll be meeting next week with Dr. F to go over his findings in more detail. But in the interim, he provided several concrete suggestions to begin addressing my areas of concern.

After he adjusted my back and neck, (aaahhhhhhh!) he handed me a lacrosse ball, to use against a wall as a kind of rolling self-massage for tight or tender areas in my mid-back and shoulder blade regions. He also gave me a magnesium supplement for a trial run. Last but not least, he recommended that I give "sunflower spread" a taste, as a replacement for traditional peanut butter. The reasoning here is that peanuts naturally carry a certain kind of mold, which in itself is obviously harmless, but which might not agree with my particular internal system, from what he can tell. (Suuuurrre...as long as I can still spread it on a banana, it's all good....) So in summary, what some may label "quackery", I cross my fingers and hope to call "sweet relief"...and my happier neck, shoulders, and back would have to agree!

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