Alternative Medicine, Alternative Thinking

It’s freezing this morning. The air temperature was a mere 18 degrees when I went out this morning, though thankfully the stiff winds from the past two days had settled into just a light breeze. Especially because the mornings are so dark again because of the time change a week ago, the frigid morning felt much closer to winter than spring. I am really looking forward to lighter, warmer mornings next month. Winter is stubbornly holding on this year.

Yesterday, was a nice Saturday. I worked about half the day, but had nice breaks interspersed in there. Ben and I have slowed our jigsaw puzzle fury, although we’ve still been spending some weekend free time together tackling this challenging 2000-piece wildlife map of the United States. As I mentioned before, it’s quite evident that the puzzle difficulty level does not have a linear relationship with the number of pieces; rather, it is a steep exponential curve. A 1000-piece puzzle is more than twice as difficult as a 500-piecer. A 2000-piece puzzle seems about eight times more challenging than a 1000 piece one. This particular wildlife map has many similar-looking pieces, so it’s not easy to whittle down the general area where each given piece goes. Still, it’s fun to watch the image gradually fill in.

Ben donned his pet groomer cap yesterday and trimmed and bathed Comet. It’s a bit cold for her summer shave, but I’ve been so allergic to her long fur lately. With a good sweatshirt on, she’ll be warm enough and it’s important to lower my circulating histamines. Chronically high levels increase cortisol and trigger the mast cell activation syndrome symptoms.

Tomorrow afternoon, we are going to an integrative medicine doctor who has been recommended to me. There have only been a small smattering of alternative medicine providers who I’ve consulted with at some point over my lifetime. I grew up in a “West is best” medicine thinking family, although I think in the past five years or so, this strongly western-centric mentality has eased into a more open-minded approach. It’s interesting how it’s so natural for children to adopt the religion, political views, opinions, values, and beliefs of their parents. It’s usually not until adolescence that children question these ways of thinking, either because they’ve finally learned enough and been exposed to alternatives or have become mature enough in their thinking to develop their own set of guiding principles and ideas about the world (or entered the rebel phase and simply “act out” by rejecting what they were raised with in favor of anything else as long as it’s different!).

Fortunately, I was raised in a family with two intelligent, kind parents who exposed my sisters and me to a variety of perspectives, yet they were not afraid to assert their beliefs and viewpoints. That said, as I’ve grown up and become my own independently thinking and operating young adult, I’ve found my own “answers” to those life questions and choices, religious, political, social, medical or otherwise. As such, I’ve found the lure of eastern medicine pulling me with more convincing validity than I used to believe. It seems like there must be some merit to health treatments that have been around for thousands of years in cultures that are still thriving.

I’m typically of a scientific, data-based mindset. I want observable evidence and proof that things work. I want reason and logic, order and rationalization. It’s not easy for me to ascribe to airy-fairy “sciences” that seem but a mere collection of made up ideas and creativity (astrology, myths, potions and tinctures, homeopathy, etc.). I’ll fully admit that I’m relatively closed-minded about these “sciences” that aren’t backed by hard facts and proven truths. My skeptic snake-oil sniffing gene is stimulated quite easily and I become wary of any sort of woo-woo magic. That said, I’m trying to keep an open mind when I’m exposed to a new way of thinking before I count it out. Alternative medicine falls under this umbrella. I don’t know much about the integrative medicine provider I’m seeing except that he considers the person as a whole instead of focusing on isolated systems the way that many western medicine specialist do. Although primary care doctors and general practitioners are supposed to take a zoomed-out view of the patient and look at the systems in integration, I’ve found this to often not be the case. Instead, they gather a list of symptoms and address them in isolation by referring the patient to the appropriate specialists for each cluster of related symptoms. There is rarely, if any, consideration of the meaning of the list of symptoms in aggregate along with the physical presentation of the patient.

In addition to the comprehensive body view, the integrative medicine provider combines herbal and pharmaceutical treatments. I have not taken medicinal doses of herbs before and because my body is so super reactive and herbal supplements tend to evade the federal regulations and scrutiny that prescription synthetic drugs must undergo, I have reservations about their safety and compatibility with my unusual body. However, I feel compelled to at least listen and consider the recommendations of any sort of alternative treatments given the limited success I’ve had with any of the conventional medications I’ve tried. It doesn’t hurt to learn about the options and research what is suggested. It’ll be an interesting experience, and who knows, maybe the first step in the answer to my prayers regarding my health and feeling happy and well.

Although it’s bitterly cold today, the sun is shining and I feel lucky to have the day with Ben. I have an excited feeling inside, like a little seed that believes something good is going to happen.

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