Say what you want about modern medicine, but we all have to advocate for our own health care. We all have to do what we think is best by us. These are our bodies, after all – we’re in charge of them.
Case in point: I’ve been diagnosed with a nasty tear of my left shoulder’s rotator cuff. My doc, a surgeon, understandably is pushing for orthoscopic surgery because that’s his training. He recommends drilling into the shoulder to sew the muscle up, putting in a plastic something-or-other to shore it up, scooping out bits of wayward gunk in the joint that’s found its way there over the years (yay aging!) and making the pain I’ve had there for some time go away. Maybe.
The cost is high: I’d be six weeks in a sling, on pretty powerful painkillers for a bit, followed by six or more months of physical therapy and at least that much time, likely more, away from playing hockey and hitting the gym.
I said no, opting for physical therapy instead, and also started poking about for alternative treatments, like eastern medicine such as acupuncture, cupping, Chinese herbs, and naturopathy, holistic approaches, homeopathy, you name it. One appealed to me specifically – Reiki – because it’s all about energy, and face it, from the universe out there to the us down here, we are all energy, all the time.
And that’s why I recently found myself lying on a cushioned table at Clarity Wellness, a new business in Fairhaven run by Caroline Paradis. She is a bright young woman and certified Reiki practitioner, also specializing in guided meditation/mindfulness sessions, doing it all out of the Barley Wellness center on Huttleston Avenue. Check it out on Facebook under Claritysouthcoast.
Soft spa-style music played as Caroline slowly worked her way around the table, laying her hands on my head, shoulders, chest, feet, legs, all in an effort to balance my energy, using her own as she utilized Reiki, the Japanese healing technique based on the principle that the therapist can channel energy into the patient by touch, activating the natural healing processes of the client’s body, restoring physical and emotional well-being.
It was incredibly relaxing, and when she placed her hands on my bum shoulder, her fingers felt hot, then warm, then absolutely comforting. I drifted in and out of blissful sleep, hearing only the soft music and rhythmic cadence of my own measured, deep breathing. By the time she was done, nearly an hour and a half later (the $65 she charges is a pittance, believe me), I was as relaxed as I’ve ever been with any massage I’ve ever had.
But Reiki is not a massage – it’s literally a laying-on of hands but with no kneading or pressure, or hovering them just over the body. Still, the next day I experienced that residual good soreness of the muscles, the kind you get from a vigorous massage or a lively workout. I slept better for the next several nights and that late-winter bluesy funk I’d felt blanketed by in recent weeks slowly and mercifully lifted.
Oh yeah, and my shoulder? It felt terrific. Not perfect, not cured, but way better than it had. Was it the Reiki? I dunno. Time will tell, because I’ll go back for more, in addition to doing physical therapy.
If you’re old-school and think this holistic way of treating the body and mind as one is woo-woo wellness, fine, I don’t care. But I watched my parents put their complete trust in doctors and modern medicine, buying into the slice-and-dice surgical approach and prescribing chemicals to “make us better.” By the time my folks died four years ago, they’d endured far too many operations for a variety of non-lethal maladies that did nothing – in fact, my dad’s back surgery left him worse off than before. And they were each taking upwards of ten different medications a day, making it easy to see how we Americans are by far the most-prescribed population on Earth.
I love my parents but dammit, they lived and breathed by doctors. I stop just short of saying they died by them as well. But I firmly believe doctors didn’t help them that much at all. I am not discounting western medicine in general, or doctors in particular. I’m just saying that caveat emptor – let the buyer beware – applies to our health care as well.
The mind and body operate as one. Western medicine splits it up. Nature doesn’t do that. For example, panic attacks, which are based in the mind, come with physical manifestations: chest pains, shortness of breath, a pounding heart. Mind. Body. Unified in sickness and in health.
There’s tons of information out there, and one tremendous local resource is The Marion Institute’s BioMed Network. Check it out at marioninstitute.org/programs/biomed-network.
These are our bodies. We’re in charge. Advocate for yourself. Don’t let others tell you what to do.