My Journey To Wellness
We all have inspiration for who we are or who we would like to become. My motivation and purpose in life surrounds my past circumstances, which at one time felt like a curse, but now are a gift and a muse.
The Inspiration… At the age of sixteen, I was diagnosed with Systemic Lupus Erythematous or SLE. SLE is an autoimmune disease that attacks multiple organ systems throughout the body including but not limited to the skin, the heart, the kidneys, the lungs and the brain. The disease manifests itself at varying degrees, from mild to severe and in various capacities, from skin rashes to debilitating brain inflammation and rarely death. I spent much of my adolescence and early adulthood battling this disease with medication, hospitalizations and advice from rheumatologists, therapists and internists. Often, I required more medication to deal with the side effects of the primary medications that were intended to keep my disease at bay. I struggled with joint pain and swelling, painful skin rashes, fatigue, infections, depression and anxiety. This left me very unhappy, overweight and unhealthy through most of college, medical school and my residency training. I found myself self-medicating with fast food and alcohol in an effort to feel better about having such a crippling disease.
The Journey . . . Eventually I had had enough. I had been a practicing physician for three years and knew that something had to change or I was headed for a life of misery. At this point, I was being prescribed every toxic drug you could image- prednisone, Cellcept, Plaquenil, Methotrexate and the list goes on. I was also receiving IV infusion therapy monthly in an effort to calm the demon called Lupus. Nothing was working. I continued to be miserable and hated myself both inside and out. I did an internet search for “natural ways to deal with lupus” and found a center called ‘Balanced Health and Wellness’ in Houston, with a physician that specialized in preventative care and wellness. Knowing I had nothing to lose, I called that afternoon and scheduled an appointment. After working with this physician for about a year, things started to significantly shift for me. We began addressing issues like my gastrointestinal health, my inflammatory status and my nutrition. I was educated about these “underlying causes” for lupus and was taught that my prior management only addressed the symptoms of the disease. Slowly but surely, things continued to change. I noticed that I was able to start tapering off of many of the toxic pharmaceutical medications that I was on and was replacing them with nutraceutical and herbal preparations. I also noticed that I was losing weight and feeling happier. As I watched myself transform, I felt compelled to share this new found excitement and wanted to educate as many people as possible about this fascinating and motivating medical care model. I decided to go back to school and became board certified in Anti-Aging, Regenerative and Functional Medicine in 2011. The more I learned about integrative, holistic and preventative medicine, the more I knew that I had to move away from the traditional medicine model.
In December of 2012, shortly after my daughter Aria was born, I met an amazing nutritionist, Carrie Thienes. I was having a lot of trouble breast feeding and was desperate to find something besides over-the-counter, riddled with soy and toxins infant formula to feed my child. I came across Carrie’s blog where she described how goat milk formula was instrumental in helping her son in his first years of life. I emailed her frantically on Christmas Eve knowing it wouldn’t be until after the holiday that I heard back from her. But if you can believe it, she responded that same night, which is absolutely unheard of in healthcare. She helped my husband and I figure out how to nourish our child with homemade goat milk formula. Carrie became an integral part of my family’s health as she taught us how to really eat well with the use of nutritional balancing, safely detoxify heavy metals, monitor our success with hair mineral analysis and was instrumental in teaching me the science.
Now I knew exactly what I had to do and how I had to do it. It was time to open my own practice using the principles of nutritional balancing along with the concepts of integrative and holistic medicine. I also knew that any care that I provided needed to be genuine, fun and come directly from me. What I had learned along my journey is that I really liked when I was able to directly reach my provider, whether by phone or email, they were always there for me, especially during the times that I was feeling terrible and just wanted reassurance. I didn’t have to go through three gate-keepers and an army before I spoke to someone and this was absolutely integral to my success.
So here we are….Evolve Integrative Care was born.
Now, I walk the talk. I respect the principles of food as medicine, moving mindfully and vigorously, and utilizing nutraceuticals and herbs appropriately. I have since expanded my awareness and understanding into our energetic nature, the connectedness of the body and the immense importance of regular meditation. Is it a full-time job? Yes, but well worth the pay off. I no longer take any medications, nor do I require acute sick care. I am strong and energetic, and I have two beautiful little girls (something I was told early on may not be possible with a diagnosis of Lupus). My personal journey has taught me so much about what it means to be a physician and a patient. I now believe that my role as a physician is one of support. I facilitate the journey for my patients as they are able to self-heal with the assistance of bioenergetics medicine, food as medicine and understanding root cause. My support is individualized and holistic rather than symptom-based and algorithmic. Further, I realize that I must inspire my clients to try to make lifestyle choices that will prevent disease before they manifest. As a life-long patient, I know exactly what patients desire in a healthcare practitioner and plan on providing just that every day!