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Hi everyone, thank you for taking the time to read a little about my story and my new journey. As vulnerable as this feels I have decided to ask for support and although not an easy decision, I hope it can inspire others to do the same when needed. Six months ago I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), a disease that my family and I already know on an intimate basis. My dad also had MS and although he passed away ten years ago, his own journey with MS is partially why I chose the career path I did. I have been a massage therapist for twenty years, a yoga teacher for eighteen years, an acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist for eight years, and I am leading my fourth wellness retreat next month. I spent many years researching MS, trying to find alternative ways to help my dad and now it seems I was also preparing myself for this news. Fortunately, I whole-heartedly know the benefits of dietary and lifestyle changes along with complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) as a path to live a good quality and meaningful life, regardless of the cards you've been dealt. I firmly believe in having a team of medical and CAM support, but as soon as I was diagnosed, I knew I wanted to contact Josephine Spilka, a Chinese Medicine practitioner who was my teacher and supervisor during the four years I spent in Chinese Medical school. She is brilliant, please check out her work at www.josephinespilka.com. I planned for a one-on-one 5-day personal medicine retreat with her just two months after my diagnosis and took a month off from work to allow myself time to process, grieve and recognize the changes needed moving forward. The type of work Josephine provides for someone is extremely hard to come by these days. She guides you to a deeply internal place to question and listen in a way you may not have ever given yourself time or permission to. Having had many years of experience working with chronic illnesses and being the wise woman she is, I trusted her to help me create a plan for my alternative healthcare. With your support, we will do a one-on-one retreat every three months to assure we are fully addressing the beginning of this disease as the changes made now, make way for what’s to come. In her words, “We go deep into the lake of your being, connecting with your core and exploring your choices for your health and your life from the biggest view possible. These retreat days allow you to really slow down, and discover your own knowing in an environment where you can completely relax. You will be cared for with treatments, meals and workshops all created just for you. You'll be invited to enjoy both the inner and outer space of your being, while being exclusively cared for with medicine made from words, acupuncture, meditation practice, essential oils, food and love.” Her approach to comprehensive care is one that I connect with deeply.
The changes I have made already: I am following the Wahls Paleo Plus Diet which means I have cut out all grains, dairy, legumes, and refined sugar. I have added specific types and amounts of vegetables, proteins, organ meats, fats and fermented foods to get the nutrients needed for reversing the onset of MS. I have added in herbs, supplements, medicinal mushrooms, essential oils, and stone medicine specific to my condition. In addition to following Dr. Terry Wahls protocol- www.terrywahls.com, I am following the information provided at https://www.direct-ms.org. I have re-committed to my daily meditation practice and am taking on a new approach to my deeply revered yoga practice. I continue to walk and listen to audio books. I am bringing a magnifying glass to the areas of my life that are the most stressful for me and making changes where I can. I am practicing gratitude, presence and learning to befriend and listen deeper than ever before to my body’s truth in this moment. I am finding love and joy with my family and their support.
When I came across this particular fundraising platform, I was lit up with passion around what they have created. I immediately registered as a practitioner so that perhaps one day I could help someone else benefit from this amazing opportunity. In asking for the support of my community, I hope to empower my own patients who may need help, as well as the many people who have a similar diagnosis. What if we all could help in creating an integrative medicine insurance plan?
The cost to fund the four individualized retreats with Josephine this year will be $12,000. I have set the goal higher to potentially help cover the other expenses and therapies that are making these changes possible. Luckily, we have medical insurance to help with the MRIs, the initial lumbar puncture, ongoing tests and doctor visits, but as you probably know, it is not full coverage. You will be assisting with the added expenses that insurance does not cover (yet!). I have decided to give myself this time of exploring how powerful alternative medicine truly is and will continue to reassess the plan after each MRI. My six month scans are up in a few weeks and my neurologist is on board with my current plan if there has been no changes on the scans, so we shall see. Regardless of the changes that may or may not be needed, with every new piece of information that I receive on what is happening inside my body I want to give myself, my family and my future the best possible chance that I can.
I am beyond grateful for my family and close friends. You know who you are! You have been my lifeboat as I have come to terms with this news over the past six months. My husband, Steve has been extremely supportive in this process. He is so encouraging in all of the right ways and trusts my own wisdom with what treatments personally feel right and which ones don’t. He spends time researching with me as well as hours in the grocery store reading labels, as he does most of the grocery shopping and cooking these days. We have a four year old, Euston and he is the light in my heart right now!
Whether you have the funds to support this mission or not, I am grateful for whatever type of support you have to give. A prayer or meditation, envisioning healing or even a thumbs up! The healing power of community is transformative beyond belief.
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