Everybody's got one. So here's my 'hi-story':
I was 'brought up' in Western medicine and wanted to be a MD since I was young. I wanted to know all about this incredible vessel- the body. But, through experience and education I began to realize that while we have the finest medical system in the world in the West, something was missing, but what? This grated at my underlying perception that we were dealing with disease, illness and injury 'after the fact'- after the disease took root, after the illness presented in symptoms and after the injury became life or lifestyle altering. It did quite a bit of pondering on this query, researching 'other' systems of medicine from the modern to the esoteric, but always with a scientific eye. Eventually, my compass settled, in what, at the time was an unpopular direction and also dubbed at the time- Alternative Health Care. I much prefer the current label- Complimentary Medicine, or a term I have coined- First Medicines.
Believe me, I was the quintessential skeptic! A western, empirical scientist with training in modern mechanics, medications and methods, I gave little to no credibility to people outside our allopathic (Western) system of practice. But that missing piece of the puzzle kept an allusive hiding spot. What got me thinking about holistic health care? It was the word 'holistic' Whole-is-tic. Hmmn? I began to research myriad disciplines in a cursory way and decided that 4000 years of documentation had to have some validity, right? I took the leap. I told myself that I would enroll in an acupuncture school, and, if after 3 months, I thought it was crystal waving hocus-pocus, full of charlatans and con artists, I would simply leave. Boy did I have my preconceptions shattered! In my first three months in Traditional Chinese Medical School, my nagging questions began to be answered and the holes began to fill in. As an added bonus, I was able to bear witness to amazing things that our system of medicine had little to no effectiveness in treating. The shocking part was that these same 'problems' that had low treatment success in our allopathic model, were 'common place' and highly treatable under the Oriental diagnostic model. Moreover, there were always always 'more' to treatment. The Western model addresses the symptom or complaint and sends one on thier way. The First Medicines approach is to take the time to consider the WHOLE picture and make a plan on how to address the symptom or complaint on many fronts. Emotional, constitutional, nutritional, historical, genetic and lifestyle are ALL considered, discussed and interwoven to address not only the symptom or dis-ease, but how to minimize it intrusion of life going forward.
During the course of my undergraduate and graduate work I had the opportunity to learn and practice several different techniques of massage. Today there are so many even those of us committed to learning them can't keep up, but we try. Eventually, as with acupuncture, I had to take a long look in the mirror and develop a list of what I excelled at and those areas that I may be better having knowledge of, but finding the people who did it better than I, and helping my clients and patients first. So today, I regularly practice about 15 different types of massage or bodywork that in practice are blended into what is needed at the moment for the client.
I was quoted in the Milwuakee Journal Sentinel in 2009 in an article on the rise of Holistic Medicine that sums up what my approach to practice now is- "I believe that health is defined as a balance of mind, body and spirit. When one aspect is out of balance, the others are affected. My approach to healthcare is also simple, start with the least invasive therapies and work up. Massage and its related therapies are often enough to prevent non-life threatening conditions in the first place, and restore us to balance when the pendulum swings too far, resulting in stress, illness and pain."
Note: I must also take a moment here to acknowledge one of my mentors- Dr. Sidong Chen. Dr Chen was trained in Guanjou , China as a Western MD and TCM Master. Dr Chen was an instructor at the Midwest Center and, along with another peer and student, Dr. Steven Mak, he turbo-charged our education by allowing us to work under him as interns in exchange for a little cultural immersion (a two-way street) and introduction to American business practices. Steve was a former nurse-anesthetist and also a burned-out medic like me, and Dr.Chen apparently saw something effort worthy in personally tutoring us. He still has a highly successful practice in Kenosha, Wisconsin, has authored several books and continues to pretend he doesn't understand English after twenty+ years in the country. God Bless you Sidong.