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Wholeness & Wellness Journal
of Saskatchewan Since 1995
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Volume 15 Issue 6
March/April 2010

Know and Love Your Lymphatics!

The Great Milk Debate

Nia, The Joy of Movement

Sask Walk for Health 2010

Reclaiming My Joie de Vivre

Angels in Action: Only Kindness Matters

Tao of Female Sexual Energy


Reclaiming My Joie de Vivre
by Elizabeth McDougall

I grew up believing doctors to be the Gods of Health. Neither their diagnoses nor cures were to be questioned. If anyone died, it was still considered an “act of God,” an excuse handed down from the Dark Ages. A strong healthy woman with three healthy children, I had no cause to question my perception of the medical profession until the day I hit the wall—physically, mentally, and emotionally.

I work shift work at a local airline; long days filled with problem solving and flight schedules that are highly impacted by poor weather. Atrociously stormy and unbelievably cold weather for three weeks had caused major delays and we were short-staffed due to a vicious virus. By the end of my shift, exhaustion clogged my body. Every cell felt nutrition deprived.

I had been in and out of my doctor’s office over the course of several years trying to pin down my loss of energy and joie de vivre. This time it was accompanied by feeling ill, shooting pains, and pox-like eruptions on my scalp and face. Back I went to the doctor.

“It is obvious you have a classic case of shingles,” the doctor said. “Have you been under a lot of stress lately?”

“Yes.” That was easy to answer. I had been under a lot of stress for a long time. I was sure I had mentioned that before.

“Take these pills. Hopefully we have caught it before it is too advanced. Stay off work for a week.”

Three weeks later, after weaning myself off painkillers, I was back at work. But my vitality continued to spiral downward, taking my spirit with it. Attempting to overcome my physical challenges by talking positively to myself was no longer effective.

I was tired of everything, including going to the doctor with symptoms of heart palpitations, cold sweats, interrupted sleep, headaches, eye tics, unpredictable emotional outbursts, stress, fuzzy thinking and lack of focus, fatigue, and depression. I had been tested for low blood sugar, low iron, low thyroid, high cholesterol, hormonal imbalance, and vitamin deficiencies. Everything was “normal.” If this was normal, then I was seriously going crazy. My personal life had shrunk to nothing. My professional life was at a functional breakdown point. This was far from normal for me.

I felt betrayed, brushed off, unheard, and my symptoms belittled and unacknowledged. I was now angry, frustrated, and depressed. My faith in doctors was being challenged and I did not know where to turn for help.

A close friend recommended I consult Dr. Mark, a Homeopathic doctor. An appointment was arranged for the following week. Within ten minutes he had diagnosed my symptoms.

“This is very common today,” he said, “especially with women who do shift work and have had children. Blood tests only tell you what is in your blood, not what is in your tissues. Your cells are not absorbing the nutrients from your blood.”

Homeopathic remedies are prescribed on the principal that “like cures like”. They are very dilute, and while the remedy may be beneficial, the raw product may be harmful. Always seek professional medical advice – minor symptoms can often be a sign of a more serious underlying condition.

Sepia, derived from cuttlefish ink, is a long-standing homeopathic remedy for women.

Tissue-salt therapy is a complementary alternative remedy devised by W. H. Schüssler, a medical doctor and homeopath. Schüssler discovered that diseases were accompanied by biochemical imbalances of twelve vital mineral compounds (salts), which when applied in the correct ratio, would restore the body’s ability to return to a natural state of health.

I was living in a river of nutrition and starving to death. The prescription was sepia and tissue salts, available over the counter and affordable.

Within 3 weeks I noticed improved energy. In three months I felt more vitally alive than I had felt for 15 years. This insidious condition had been eroding my life for a long time. Though feeling amazingly better physically, I realized I was still angry with my doctor.

If my symptoms were so common, why had my doctor not been able to help me? What would have been the next step, anti-depressants? That was unacceptable. My depression was not causing my symptoms; it was caused by my lack of diagnosis.

I began to explore the world of Alternative Medicine—a large group of natural healing practices that includes Naturopathy and Homeopathy. I discovered that “alternative” medicine in North America is actually the “traditional” medicine of other countries such as India and China. I wonder if Western Medicine is labelled “alternative” there?

The Naturopathic doctor’s approach is proactive and preventive. They see illness as a result of the body being out of balance. By assessing life styles, physical and emotional fitness, and diet to find the cause of the imbalance and prescribe a correction, they can often treat the condition before it becomes acute. They believe once the imbalance is corrected, the body will naturally return to a state of health. This is truly a Wellness approach involving preventive and maintenance care.

Practitioners of Western Medicine have a more reactive and curative approach. Once a disease is identified by various lab tests; they isolate it and treat it with corrective medications, diet and/or surgery, spending very little time on borderline symptoms. However, due to the demands of a more educated society, Western medicine is in transition.

“There is a movement today towards ‘patient-centred care’,” says my doctor, a Western physician. “The idea is to encourage our patients to have more input into the diagnosis of their symptoms and the choice of treatments by sharing their reactions, preferences, and comfort levels.”

As with all types of change, and physicians being people not Gods, some are less willing than others to embrace these new concepts. They are reluctant to change, feeling their authority and knowledge is being questioned and undermined by the patient. Other doctors welcome the patient as a team player who contributes greatly to resolving health issues, presenting possible solutions that they, unless self-educated in naturopathy, are not aware of. These doctors are amenable to suggesting Complementary and Alternative Medicines (CAM), such as acupuncture and massage therapies, and will continue to work with the patient, monitoring changes.

Both approaches are valid and credible. Both have successes and failures. It is essential to look at all the options. Not all alternative health-care providers are licensed or regulated; hence the Western doctors’ reluctance to give referrals. Looking for a Naturopath or Homeopath? You may find them working in wellness clinics, or listed in wellness magazines, as there is greater emphasis on the body/mind/spirit concept than on disease. Also, never underestimate the power of personal referrals—ask your friends, as I did.

One’s health involves a relationship between doctor and patient; there are two sides involved and when it fails, the blame cannot be laid totally on one. For this system to work, I needed to participate fully, giving and sharing information, and asking questions.

Today, with a more patient-centred approach, the final decision truly is ours. Individually, as we are taking responsibility for our own health, we are impacting the health care system. Universal acceptance of all forms of treatments will be the end result.

Now my joie de vivre is back. I am grateful to have an open-minded doctor and several alternative care workers with whom I have strong and honest relationships. No more the blind victim of unquestioned archaic beliefs and unrealistic Godly expectations, I actively embrace my role as decision-maker and the doctors as consultants. After all, no one knows my body better than I do. Ultimately, I am responsible for my own health.

Elizabeth McDougall is a freelance writer living in Saskatoon.


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