~Be sure to read the last paragraph. ~ editor

A few years ago, I worked as an in-house personal chef. I called myself “The Healing Chef.” I wanted to cook only food that would aid a person in healing. I’m resurrecting the healing chef in this column. I want to write about food and alternative medicine. Not because I’m an expert in either, but because there are plenty of experts to quote and ask, and some of them are very close by.

Alternatives to Medicine and Alternative Medicine

We often use the term “alternative medicine” when we talk about naturopaths, chiropractors, acupuncturists, herbalists and other alternative practitioners. How do you define the word “medicine?” Do you immediately think of pharmacies? Of medicine bottles lining the counter? I found two definitions with a quick search.

  1. “A compound or preparation used for the treatment or prevention of disease, especially a drug or drugs taken by mouth.”
  2. “The science or practice of the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease (in technical use often taken to exclude surgery).”

My purpose isn’t to go into technical details about definitions, but to talk about how we think about health care and self-care — and maybe how we can change what and how we think, and how we take care of ourselves.

Choices During Life

In this series, I want to talk about food as medicine, but I think first we need to talk about alternatives to standard medical care and alternatives to how we use standard medical care. I want to get into the subject of how to be responsible for our own health decisions. Why do we talk so much about having choices at the end of life, yet neglect today? Today, we depend on the doctor – the doctor who sees you for a few minutes once a year, who mostly looks at the chart while talking to you, the doctor who briefly makes eye contact. And, if the nurse takes your vitals, unless the doctor does a probing exam, he or she may not even touch you. And probing isn’t exactly getting to know what you’re about. I mean, think ob-gyn exams, prostate exams, etc.

I’m Not Getting all Conspiracy Theory Here

This is how medicine is done, and it isn’t a horrible thing. But we have to understand what it means for our health care. We need to ask questions. As much as some medical professionals get annoyed about it, we do need to read and research for ourselves. But along with that, we must feel free to ask questions of our doctors. People who don’t ask their doctors about what they read may diagnose themselves and miss getting treatment for what is really wrong. Contrary to what some people say, it is OK to read and research. But be ready and comfortable to talk about it. Some doctors are very willing to explain and to listen. Search for that kind of doctor.

Wait Doc! Isn’t There Another Way?

When the doctor takes out the prescription notepad or asks the nurse for a steroid shot, I ask if there is an alternative. They often know of an alternative. One doctor told me once that he knew I wouldn’t make changes because no one does, so the only answer was surgery. I kept searching and found a doctor who did not agree with this assessment. Yes, there was a way to change my diet and solve my problem, and I do still have my gallbladder, symptom-free. That was almost 15 years ago. How would a doctor I just met know what I am willing to do to keep my organs and prevent surgery?

Stay Away, Said the Doctor!

Have you ever been told to stay away from chiropractors? There’s a whole history behind that, but I won’t get into it as it is irrelevant in 2019 due to scientific research — except that this attitude lingers in some circles. I believe it matters, so I’ll tell you my story.

One day when I was pregnant with my fourth child, I helped in the daycare during a church event. A 7-year-old child with severe cerebral palsy, who could not walk, was slipping down in his stroller. I attempted to make him comfortable. I was pretty strong at the time and put a lot of force into moving his little body, but he did not budge. Instead, I had moved something in my spine. Instant severe pain shot through my spine. I went to the restroom and tried to hang from the stall frame, but it did not relieve my pain.

Good Doctor, Bad Advice Leads to Years of Unnecessary Pain

After trying everything I could to get relief, I told the person running the children’s program I couldn’t help now. He went to get one of the guest speakers who happened to be a doctor talking about back health! Crazy timing. He gave me advice but added, “Do not go to a chiropractor. He will mess you up.” I was three months pregnant, so I had quite a way to go without real relief from back pain. He gave me advice on positioning, using ice, and not lifting, pushing, pulling. No ironing, mopping or sweeping, lifting or pulling clothing from the washer. Do you have children? Can you imagine getting this advice? I had 5-year-old twins, a 3-year-old, and one on the way. No laundry? Women from my church were kind enough to help, and I really appreciated their help. But I wanted to do my own work.

I went to a local doctor after the baby was born. He ordered an x-ray and determined there was no ruptured disc. That was all I was told.

A Slide Down a Snowy Hill, an Ambulance… and

Three years later, I was still in pain but coping. Housework was hard but I did it just the same, and I assumed that was why I still had issues with my back. One beautiful snow filled day, I took my children with three other families to a hill for the children to go sledding. One of the moms was the first one to go down the hill. She just spontaneously jumped on a sled to show the kids how it’s done. The sled went sideways into a concrete staircase where she hit her back, then flipped over face down. we all ran down to check because she did not get up. She was frightened and said “I can’t move. I can’t feel.” An ambulance ride and a few hours in the ER, and no fracture shown on the x-ray, she was sent home and told to put heat on her back.

Lynn to the Rescue!

That’s when I met my friend Lynn, a chiropractor. After a call to some friends asking if they knew anyone in the alternative health circles who could help, they gave us Lynn’s phone number. She immediately said to put ice on, and not heat. She made house calls to our friend’s home and treated her at home until she was able to walk and come into the office.

We had to give a little support at first when she went to the office, so I had the opportunity to see her progress, and how chiropractic treatment helped her recover when the medical doctors said basically “Go home. Your back isn’t broken.”

What About Me

Then it dawned on me that Lynn could help me too. And she did! I could have had relief sooner. Although that medical doctor had good intentions, he prevented me from getting relief. Because I was breastfeeding that first year, I wouldn’t even touch a Tylenol.

Since then, I don’t hesitate to get chiropractic care. These doctors are amazing. I remember once going to a chiropractor because of a different kind of pain in my upper back. He felt around the shoulder area and pressed on one spot and said: “here it is.” With his hands, he found the spot that was inflamed. I was fascinated and asked how he figured that out so fast. He said it was warmer than the rest of the area, and it was knotted up. Isn’t that fascinating?

Not Just About the Back

Did you know a chiropractor can help you with a stiff neck? A dislocated knee, too — I learned this after a $3,000 ER bill. They did an ultrasound and determined I didn’t have a blood clot and sent me home. It was late Friday, and all the chiropractors had gone home for the weekend, and none have been available on weekends. I was in pain and could not walk unassisted. But Monday, a tiny maneuver later, the pain was gone, and I was able to walk. It took less than five minutes and cost me $65 for an accurate diagnosis and an effective treatment.

But today I don’t have to wait until Monday, and neither do you. In Marietta, I know a chiropractor with a flexible schedule! I hope this becomes a trend, but for now, I only know of one. Would you like to meet Dr. David Norris? He gives free talks open to the public. He’s also a Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist. He gives free talks to the public on a regular basis on topics that might interest you. Click on his events tab, and if you find something you’d like to attend, be sure to register. Sessions with no one registered will be canceled. Also, check out this article about alternatives to opioids.

Tell us your thoughts!

The Healing Chef

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