One Door Comes Unhinged, Another Door Opens: How Alternative Care Found Us.
How our view of health care changed in six weeks
In 2009, my husband and partner in business and in life became very ill. A fall on a chair initiated a string of events that changed our lives forever. He first complained of severe pain in his back and neck. A customer at our Austin coffee shop traded chiropractic adjustments for coffee, but the pain worsened with each chiropractic visit.
He then began experiencing pain in his knee, the next day in his foot, then his hands, the next day his elbow. Within two weeks, he couldn’t walk without help, and had numbness in his feet. An ER doctor drew a remarkable amount of fluid from his knee. Each visit to the urgent care clinic, ER, and doctor’s office had the same result: doctor scratches head, runs tests, writes prescription for narcotics to help relieve the pain, and sends Duane home.
Four weeks after the initial fall, Duane was 30 pounds lighter and couldn’t walk. He was taking heavy narcotics that helped him sleep a little, but he was visibly and audibly in extreme pain. As a wife, mother, and business owner, now down a major contributor to the business. I knew I was failing on all fronts. I had taken a second job to try to cover bills, my kids’ grades were falling, the house was a mess, the fridge empty, and I had no idea how my wonderful children were even doing. It was a very dark, tumultuous time.
Alternative care? Not an option. Not even on the radar.
Like a knight on a white horse, my mother and father in law drove to our Austin home from Montana to help. As Duane’s condition continued to worsen daily, I was working 6:30 am to at least 8:00 pm. We were so thankful for mom and dad, Don and Sandy. They helped with the business, fed us, took care of the kids, and brought Duane to see the doctor every few days.
Duane then began to turn yellow and was really getting horrifyingly thin. He was losing two pounds per day, and really did not have much less to lose. I was tracking every calorie he ate, and we were getting 3,500-3,800 calories into his sedentary body daily. We were all so scared. He made two more trips to urgent care, was told he did in fact have liver damage, but was again sent away with another prescription for narcotics. WHAT??!! Liver damage and freakish weight loss – treated with narcotics? Isn’t there some kind of doctor’s oath that says “first do no harm”? How much longer can he go on losing weight and only gaining terrifying symptoms?
You would think at this point, considering we had met many alternative care practitioners along the way, that we would be making a call to a naturopath or nutritionist. Would you? Is that the call you make when the medicines you take make you more sick instead of well?
My customers at the coffee shop knew I was exhausted emotionally and physically. I tried to hide it, but it was obvious. The chiropractor came through one day and handed me a piece of paper with a name and phone number. She urged me to call the naturopath and make an appointment with her right away.
Although we had previously been leery of alternative care, Duane’s mom drove him in right away. The naturopath did some tests, gave him a strict list of things he could and could not eat, and an armful of supplements. I was exasperated, and not very interested in the wacky craziness of alternative care. But, because I truly believed Duane would die if we didn’t stop seeing new symptoms at the very least, because seeing some sort of improvement seemed like a pipe dream. I was ready to try anything, and happy to have something new we could try.
The official diagnosis was parasites, mercury poisoning, liver damage, and a thyroid problem.
We immediately changed our eating and Duane religiously took the supplements.
Day 1 of alternative care: no weight loss! It had been weeks since he went 24 hours without losing a pound or two. It seemed miraculous. Four days passed and Duane was maintaining his weight, and also was not experiencing any new symptoms.
Day 4 of alternative care: he finally gained one pound! Words cannot express the joy I felt the first day he gained a pound.
Within two weeks of alternative care: Duane could walk, sleep through the night, but most remarkable – he could spend really good time with his family. Four weeks after his first visit with the naturopath, he was back at work full time.
Total cost for inconclusive ER, doctors, tests, and prescriptions: about $23,000. Total cost for naturopathic alternative care visits (there were many), including supplements, until he was well: just under $3,000. Alternative care was clearly the more affordable option!
Duane is now working 40 hours a week doing pretty heavy manual labor as a handyman in Austin, TX, and is very fit – in the best shape of his life, in fact. He will never again be able to eat sugar or gluten without feeling symptoms of his previous illness. Our family is so much healthier and has a much better understanding of alternative care and nutrition. The way we see it, Duane gave himself as a living sacrifice for his family. This sacrifice will never be forgotten. When we begin to forget, we are reminded by it rearing its ugly head when he “cheats” and eats foods we now consider toxic. We are also reminded when we are compelled to ignore the results we saw with alternative care, take our kids to the doctor, and give them the prescription drugs which consistently harm more than help them.
It is my desire to team up with brilliant and talented people, in both alternative care and traditional medicine industries, to help “regular” families like us, who are busy and on tight budgets, live well in practical ways. I want to do the work to help them see how simple – and how much more enjoyable a healthy lifestyle can be. Instead of giving it up, I’d love to see you LIVE it up!
Alternative Care Saved Our Lives
Have You Given it a Chance?
It could be fair to say we were “anti” alternative care. When faced with death, we were ready to try anything to get Duane well, and had a “Naturopathic Rebirth”.
Encouragement is contagious – please share your story with us. Comment below.