Rachel’s story: Part 1

I’m opening up my mind, body and soul to you, so you really have a sense of what lead me to here. It’s not all pleasantries. Bear with me, TMI and all.

Please remember though, it wasn’t all bad. I had a wonderful childhood, and I have wonderful memories of joy with family and friends. Yet, when I look back at my life and recall the anguish I was experiencing being in my body, I am brought to tears, still. I know this helped me arrive here, and I remain incredibly grateful for that. The stars do indeed align and everything happens for a reason, this I know to be true.

1980 – As a little tyke living on breast milk and baby food I am having a hard time keeping things down. Why so much spit up?

1982/83 – We’ve discovered that I have a sensitive system. My parents express great patience spending very long hours with me in the bathroom, waiting (singing to me and reading). You’d think I was one of those beloved elderly people who tell you they just can’t go. That came with it’s own set of issues – imagine a 3 year old with hemorrhoids, seems crazy right?

Later in 1983, maybe ’84 – I have a bad cold while my parents are out for the evening. My beloved grandmother finds me wheezing uncontrollably in my room. I cannot breathe and it’s scary and painful. She swiftly takes me outside into the cold night air and my lungs relax. We spend the rest of the evening alternating between the cold night air and the bathroom with the hot water running to steam everything up. I will never again get sick without getting croup, even to this day.

From here the years continued with their more than fair share of health disturbances. I had nervous tics in elementary school that still show up when I am feeling off. I had belly aches and bathroom woes for years to come. I had trouble paying attention in school, I was antsy and disinterested.

In high school things became harder. In addition to my sensitive digestive system I was losing my voice constantly. I had chronic bronchial infections, coughing myself into choking or puking too often, my throat was on fire. I was exhausted, falling asleep in class daily though not able to settle down to sleep again at night so I was late to school many days each week. Diagnosed with acid reflux disease after some invasive tests, I ended up on a bunch of prescriptions by age 17 – the usual set of lifestyle shifts they recommend had little impact. By now my menstruation was 12 days long – so as a tiny teenager, I was bleeding half of every month. I was developing anxiety and depression symptoms too. I think the worst of it, that really put me over the edge, was the evening when I stood on stage in my high school auditorium singing with the Madrigals (choir was my life) and mid-line my voice just stopped working. I had nothing left for my senior concert; I was devastated.

College was a continued downward spiral with many anxious calls to my parents at 11 p.m. or 2 a.m. telling them I was dropping out of school. More hoarseness and coughing. I was too sick to major in music – my passion. My digestion was worse than ever – at one point I was vomiting after every meal no matter what I ate, I couldn’t keep anything in. More fatigue. There were days where I didn’t even know how I made it from one class to the next – it was as if I was in and out of consciousness. Looking back, I must have seemed like a real-life zombie – tired, grunting, expressionless and gray skinned. I was in miserable disposition.

Then, a break-through. A doctor who actually helped – still with prescription drugs, though at least the right ones and I was able to stop vomiting. My throat began to heal, I was losing my voice less and my bronchitis started to vanish. He taught me that doctors could care, could help.

A second break-through. My parents took me to a holistic nutritionist that my mom had been working with. Dietary changes and supplements and more improvement. My fatigue lifted and I was able to reduce some of my medications. I was learning about eating well for Rachel.

The anxiety and depression continued off and on. And while life moved along, the reflux did not, I remained on PPI’s for another 10 years which in turn lead to new digestive difficulties. Less fatigued, though never quite well-rested. I was emotionally wound-up most of the time and now a young professional in a stressful job.

In late December of 2008, right before the new year, things fell apart. I was having full-blown panic attacks with hysterical crying that I couldn’t calm down. Therapy, more prescription drugs, I made changes at work and in life. And then finally…

It was a beautiful warm day in May of 2009 when my college A Capella group was reuniting for an anniversary show. My friend Trish who I hadn’t seen in years tells me she is at acupuncture school at a place called Tai Sophia. “Funny,” I say to her, “I keep hearing about their open houses while listening to NPR, I’ve been thinking about studying herbal medicine, or maybe that transformative leadership program…” (read between the lines, stars are aligning)

She invites me to come in and try acupuncture. She is beaming, beautifully glowing as she tells me how much she loves what she is doing. “Isn’t it good for stress?” I ask. She chuckles, “yes, it is. Come in!” I pass her contact information along to my now husband, Matt, who immediately makes an appointment. Out of shear competition, irritated that he got there first, I make one for two weeks later.

Things begin to shift, I am starting to sleep. I feel easier in myself. I’m less bloated, my intestines feel better. I have new hope for life being wonderful. That’s when Trish tells me, “You’d be so good at this.”



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