At first I didn’t know why I felt so poorly. I thought that it might just be due to my new job filled with travel, deadlines, and an ever-changing focus. My stress-levels increased while my exercise decreased. My eating habits became poor as processed, prepackaged convenience foods and the perceived need for caffeine became the norm. Even when I tried to eat better, the weight still kept coming on and my digestive system was erratic. I began to have health issues with seemingly no source. My menstrual cycle was horrendous with heavy flowing for weeks, not days, excruciating pain piercing into my legs, a bloated protruding stomach, an agonizingly constricted back, plus a slew of digestive problems. I was tired, drained, and irritable. First I searched for relief from this pain with all the doctors in my HMO: gynecologists, urologists, gastroenterologists. They poked, prodded, and prescribed. Each had an idea of how to relieve my symptoms but again and again they could not diagnose where my pain was coming from. No doctor could find the cause of my illness. They did their best to pump me full of chemicals in the hope that a prescription would solve my severe discomfort, bloating, and irregularity, all to no avail. Finally one doctor suggested a hysterectomy might relieve my pain. I didn’t think “might” constituted enough reason for surgery and so I left all the allopathic specialists behind.
After getting nowhere with Western medicine doctors, I was now open to exploring the world of homeopathic medicine. My first stop was acupuncture. By holding my wrist and looking at my tongue, the acupuncturist diagnosed that my qi or energy flow or vital force or something was too warm. He said my yin was overpowering my yang, or was it the other way around? In any case, I received a slew of specifically made herbs and was stuck with needles a few times a week. Initially I felt some relief, but then any relief appeared to plateau. I also wanted to know why my qi was so hot. Why was I out of balance? What was the root cause?
Onward I went, this time to a nutritionist. Here my hormone levels were tested and reflected the same imbalance found by the acupuncturist. Another round of herbs, vitamins, and supplements were administered. I followed the program without fail; popping tablets before every meal, making changes to what I ate as well as how and when I ate, adding in exercise, and even hiring a personal trainer. Again I found some initial comfort, but no true relief.
During this physical crisis I was also still receiving regular chiropractic adjustments and massages to manage the back pain from the Los Angeles car accident. The massage therapist I frequented often told me of the trips she took to Peru to work with a shaman. Face down on the table I would listen to her stories of plant medicine and energetic healings. It was pretty far out there. She was very into it and her passion made the stories very interesting to hear, but energy-work, shamans, and ancient culture weren’t my thing. However, one day in 2007, she shared a story of this shaman curing a man with cancer. It caught my attention. Since I was running out of options for my own health, I began to consider that this might be a valid course of action, or at least as valid as taking out organs and digesting chemicals. In a moment of desperation, I thought traveling over three thousand miles and working with a South American shaman might be my last hope.
The seed was planted. I was actually considering flying to Peru to be healed, but it was a hard decision to go. Could this mystic healer help me where all the others had failed? Could I go alone to a country I had never been before? Could I justify taking such an expensive trip? I used every decision tool I could think of to justify the trip, but it just did not seem to make sense. Yet the idea of going would not leave me. I remember the day I decided to go. It was not based on logical justification. My heart, soul, intuition, and desperation just called out “GO!” Thankfully my husband, being ever supportive, had no issue with me going and also hoped I would find the relief for which I was looking.
This is an excerpt from the first chapter of From Type-A to Type-ME: Daily Habits to Take Back Your Life. Download the entire first chapter here.