Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Reasons behind my decision to become a Naturopathic Physician and Oriental Medicine Practioner

Questions One and Two:
Please tell us how your experiences, background, abilities, interests, and/or hardships make you a good candidate for NCNM
What led to your decision to pursue a career in naturopathic medicine or Chinese Medicine?

In the fall of 1994, I was eleven; I lost my great-grandfather who was my best friend. “Pa” was 87 years old. He was the kindest, most patient man I have ever known. He was diagnosed with lung cancer several months before his death. I dearly wished that there was something that I could have done to help him. It seems as though we all know someone who has had a personal encounter with cancer.
When I was 14, my mother was diagnosed with Pulmonary Sarcoidosis (a little-known disease that causes fleshy, benign tumors to form and proliferate in the affected areas). There were periods when she felt sick, and others when she felt fine. As her illness progressed, there were times that she couldn’t breathe well, and she could hardly walk one hundred feet. Just taking a few steps would cause her to be short of breath and feel extremely tired. She was overweight as a result of Prednisone – at the time, the only treatment western medicine offered. She went to many medical doctors and pulmonary specialists but nothing helped. As a last-ditch effort, a close family friend suggested a friend of his. She went to the referral who was a nutritionist, and a practitioner of Chinese Medicine, Mark Mincolla. He used muscle-testing to evaluate her for food allergies or sensitivities. He eliminated most foods from her diet, allowing only a minimum of simple foods in order to help her body to “re-boot”. My mother soon abandoned Western Medicine’s typical treatment.  She also started seeing a local acupuncturist. Rachel, the acupuncturist, and my mother grew very fond of each other and helped each other out, both professionally and personally, in many ways. Rachel and Dr. Mincolla helped to re-establish my mother’s health.
I didn’t know it at the time, but my barista job would send me down the path to health and wellness education. People would come in feeling miserable, wanting their usual coffee beverage, coughing and sneezing everywhere. Instead of their usual beverage, I suggested, “today instead of your coffee, allow me to make you a blend of teas!”. I mixed the loose teas gently together and squeezed a bit of lemon into them. The next day they would come in, breathing clearly, and ask for another custom tea-blend. They said that it was tasty and soothing.
As the year progressed, I felt a great urging to go somewhere I had never been. I was introduced to an older gentleman by the name Olinto who was going to New Mexico.  I told Olinto that I wanted to go cross-country. He said that I could join him if I had liked. I decided to continue my journey on to Arizona. Once I got there, things fell into place. I found a job as a barista, and a new home. I knew there was something there for me, but I had not discovered what.
As winter was waning, I traveled back to Nantucket. I had an interest in how to grow and maintain the plants that were used in those teas I made. I applied for a gardening position, and discovered that I enjoyed the work. My knowledge and skills progressed rapidly. I became a crew leader, supervising 2 to 5 people. In addition, my responsibilities included teaching the other employees to become gardeners. During that season, I applied to massage therapy school in Arizona, because touch came very naturally to me and I have always been a “hands-on” type of girl. In the fall of 2005, I went to school for the first time since leaving high school.
After successfully finishing massage therapy school, I headed back to Nantucket continuing to garden and began a massage therapy business. My first client, now a long-time friend, would trade massage often; as he is a massage therapist too. He was the husband of the acupuncturist who helped my mother. I grew to know and love the very same Rachel.
I decided that I needed to continue my education in the health field, so I applied to Salem State College in Massachusetts. On my visits home, I noticed that Rachel was changing. Her body was extremely thin, and her hue had altered. In the autumn of 2008, Rachel lost her battle with Stage IV liver cancer. I don’t remember feeling that crushed since I lost my “Pa”.
While at Salem State College I gained a position as Lead Therapist, at LivingWell in Salem, MA. My growing knowledge of the body combined with that of massage; enabling me to better understand my clients’ needs and develop unique goals for them. My goal for each of my clients is optimal health. Between the client, the owner and myself, we develop a specific treatment plan, which we believe is best for them. I am proud to say that for each of my clients, I not only have a satisfactory professional relationship, but I also have gained their trust because of their positive results.
            My experiences with cancer, the early loss of my Pa, and my friend Rachel – much too early in life- combined with massage therapy and teaching others have fueled my desire to continue my education in the field of health and wellness. I wish to pursue a career in naturopathic medicine and Chinese medicine. I wish to empower people to choose a healthier lifestyle. There is something spectacular about “getting dirt under your own nails,” and passing on a little bit of life, be it through gardening, or providing care for those around you, with the modalities learned.
I am an excellent choice for NCNM because I know of no one with a stronger desire and will to help people improve their health than I have; I am a professional gardener who understands a variety of plants, a licensed Massage Therapist and soon to be graduate of Salem State College who put herself on an accelerated program. I have learned that helping people is a calling within me. I have seen first hand what I am capable of providing for people so long as they are willing to listen and willing to walk the less beaten path. My limited knowledge leaves me wanting for so much more so that I may help people obtain their goals, and general well being in all aspects of their life. It is the driving force in my every effort. I believe that my calling is not to cure people, but to enrich and teach people an older tradition for care, which originates from our oldest human roots. I will be practicing naturopathic medicine and Chinese medicine eventually. I will be helping people, and they will have NCNM to thank for my opportunity to be of service to humanity and the planet.

Question Three: What exposure have you had to the philosophy and modalities of naturopathic medicine?

As Hippocrates proposed the laws of medicine, these hold true to naturopathic medicine as well. The goal is to eliminate, not to suppress; and to coax the aliment out of the body without causing harm to the patient. Inside each one of us, with Nature’s help, lies the power and ability to heal.
We must recognize and identify an illness in order to treat it. We must be cognizant of our own abilities to treat and overcome illnesses. Naturopathic medicine looks at the person as a whole organism, consisting of systems and organs, from the macro to the micro. Maintaining our body’s health and possessing the knowledge of what we are challenged by, is our first defense. We will not be doctors as much as advocates and teachers of what prevention may do for each one of us. Some of the modalities consistent with naturopathic medicine are: nutrition, massage, homeopathy, and other non-invasive procedures and techniques. 

Question Four: What is your understanding of the differences between classical and traditional Chinese Medicine?

The differences between Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Classical Chinese Medicine (CCM or CM) are what they are based on. CCM is based on inherited traditions, observations, practices, philosophies and experiences; whereas TCM is based more on modern medicine. In CCM the body is treated as a whole. TCM looks at the body as an independent entity. TCM could easily use the S.O.A.P. note method for documentation, whereas CCM would not be able to “color so neatly” inside these lines. TCM may be considered a body-mind medicine, whereas CCM is a body-mind-spirit medicine. CCM also uses the arts such as calligraphy, music, meditation, painting and journeys or traveling to expand the practitioner’s knowledge to understand the world around them.
TCM is the use of a physician, who is legally defined with ethical standards, who is skilled in the technicalities and imbalances between the bodily humors and advocates or calibrates the structural composition, through a process of elimination, such as boosting the immune system to defend against a virus. Health in TCM is defined as the absence of pathology. In CCM it is defined as an active process of refining the body’s essences and cultivating one’s vital forces. These essences and forces are sometimes called chi, or qi.
Chi or qi flow along meridians along our bodies and is the link between our organs. Without proper chi, our bodies slow down or speed up, and become out of balance. This imbalance is documented though touch, vision, and listening to a patient’s complaints, and likes and dislikes for food. Each organ is associated with one of the five elements: earth, metal, water, fire and wood. Also, each organ is associated with a specific time of day, occupying one hour at a time, and a total of two hours each day. Taking notice of when one feels best and worst though out the day is important for diagnosis, to figure out which organ and element is either strong or weak.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Day 2...

Day 2.
Socrazy and I were supposed to wake up super early (before the rooster crows), or somewhere around 4 in the morning so that we could be on the road by 5. Needless to say, neither one of us woke up in time. It was very important that we leave early because we had 14 hours to drive to get to “Aunt Ada Mich-chicken” and I didn’t want to arrive in the early morning the next day. We missed my sister’s “wake-up” call and slept through the alarm. So at 6:30 I opened my eyes, stretched my legs and arms and flung out of bed and while whisper screaming at Socrazy “Wake up! We are late!” So we threw our clothes on, stripped the bed, and tiptoed out the door with the cats. Started the engine and rolled out the driveway.

As we shift gears, the windows fogged up due to our hot steamy morning breath. Hmmm… delish! (Thank God, I brushed my teeth) We roll down the steep hill and see dawn is ever so present over the city. I remark on how beautiful the city is, especially when it is sleeping.

We first stop at my Uncle’s - brother’s café, Donut Express so that we may get some very large coffees and something to eat. After we picked up our coffee and food through the takeout window, I drive toward the road (the main road which is rather busy and the “exit” portion would have my SUV bottom-out, so I decided to play my cards on the traffic. Mean while as I am in motion of driving toward the busy road, Socrazy is getting huffy with me about why I choose to use the main road, that I would end up sacrificing a lot of time this way…

So what do I decide? Well, I am currently in Massachusetts, so what better way to act than a Mass-hole. So I turn up the radio and step on the gas and tell him to stop yelling at me. As we pull out in front of someone practically at snail pace, I start to accelerate while the person behind me is now quite aggravated. We drive along to the gas station, to fill the gas tank since it is pretty much on the way to the highway.

We later notice that the egg sandwiches that we ordered were very wrong, usually they would come with a toasted bagel, egg, cheese and some sort of meat. All we got was a cold bagel with egg on it. But that doesn’t matter because in reality we didn’t really need all that protein.

            I fill up the tank hop back into the car, and Socrazy is filling-up the window cleaner fluid. A few moments pass, he gets into the car and we take off for route 90. For a good four hours we are silent. Not talking to one another, not playing music, just silent. I look over just to make sure he is not sleeping, and as I suspect he fell a sleep a little bit. He soon wakes up, and starts talking to me. We are talking about where we are going to go which route to take ect. All that we know A.) is that it is winter time, so we can not go straight across from Aunt Ada-Mich-chicken to Portland, Oregon; B.) Socrazy wants to see Chicago and Detroit and C.) I have a friend who is willing to house us when we arrive to California in San Francisco.

            As we were talking, we decided that it would be best to stop when we had a half a tank. So we are somewhere in upstate New York, with a half tank of gas and pulled off the highway to fill up, bathroom break etc.  We decided to pick some very nutritious gas food, which we ended up throwing away. Perhaps it is because we are on the road, the lack sleep or that we were not in the comfort of our home, but nasty food on the road has something about it.

            For many more hours it was silent, until I broke out my old CDs. Most of which are scratched to all hells and back.  As I flip through them and wondered why I even took them with me in the first place, I noticed Socrazy looking at them and getting excited for the BEASTIE BOYS! So my first reaction is just to go past it and see what else I could find but ended up flipping back to it realizing I might not have anything better. Oh, by the way the reason why I am not using up to date equipment is that I don’t really have that with my vehicle, and the FM transmitter that I do have doesn’t transmit so well when there are mountains blocking the signal. So CDs are it. I put the CD in and we start dancing around in our very snug-seated positions.

            Many hours pass, and as we continue to push the petal to the metal and drive across the mountainous terrain of New York to the rolling hills of Pennsylvania, which comes a quick stop of flat plain-like land.  At this point, we can see for miles and grow quite tired of the redundant appearance, and the vastness. Wondering if we are there yet and how many miles have we gone… In the morning, an hour seemed to go by like minutes, and now minutes seemed to go like hours.

Please don’t get me wrong; it is not that the land is not beautiful. It is that after 8 hours one’s body grows tried of sitting and looking at miles that seem to go one for hours at 70 mph.

We stop at some very fancy mid-western fast food place for dinner. A place that is foreign to most Nantucketers, but well known to those of the place deemed “AMERICA” called Burger King. (Out of the healthier fast food vs. not so healthy fast food, we chose not so healthy).  After eating we hop back into the car which is sitting in a parking lot full of ice, when upon entering there was one very special driver who refused to look behind him as he backed up, with his wife and new-born aboard, he barely acknowledged us, however she seemed very apologetic, as if to say, “Yes, this is the intelligent man, I chose to marry.”

            As we cautiously drive over the ice, not to step on the gas too much and have an accident we slowly pull away from our grooved parking spot. Once back on the road, we decide to pick up the pace. We drive. We Drive, and We DROVE. Hours passed and now it was time for coffee to get hyped up so that we could eventually crash into our already awaiting bed at my sister’s home.  

My sister calls wondering when we would be arriving. We had one more hour to go, and my sister deemed it to be two. So we push the metal down to make sure we arrive there in one hour, so that we could go to the bathroom and collapse in the bed.
For some reason, I knew I had aggravated my sister, perhaps it was my poor timing, scheduling, or lack of “desire” to get out of bed that morning, but I could sense and urgency for us to get there. Her husband had gone to bed hours ago, and so didn’t the children. So for me it was no wonder why she was wondering where we were.

So I expressed quite frankly my need and want to get there now. So we drove. We follow her directions and follow the directions provided by my Christmas present from my Father, an iPhone with maps. As we drive down some scary narrow dark windy roads, I ask Socrazy to drive a little slower, so as not to end up in some briar patch or snow bank.

We reached our destination, in a little less than 15 hours. Time to set-up the kitty litter boxes, food, brush teeth, change into P.J.s and collapse into bed.