Tuesday, March 20, 2012

My holistic doctor experience

My mantra over the past several months has been: "What is the root cause?" I'm not interested in quick fixes. I don't want to delude myself and continue on with bad habits. Really, I just want to understand my body inside out and I want to pave the way for a fantastic, healthy life. Recently I was asked why it seems like more health issues have come up for me lately. I answered that none of these complaints are new, I just never considered the fact that I could fix the root causes of allergies or eczema, for example. Now that I'm aware that I CAN fix these issues, and that I can do so through nutrition, they've popped up into my consciousness and I'm ready to tackle them one by one.

Finding the right doctor!

Enter doctor #1. When you visit multiple doctors and ask them similar questions, the divide between approaches becomes quite clear. In retrospect, my visit to the nutritionist from the Rittenhouse Women's Wellness Center is laughable. I had a ton of specific questions which she could not answer, and I found out later that she was even younger than I thought (right out of college!). As she is quite early on in her career, she couldn't offer me a breadth of experience, and I've realized how important that really is. I've also realized how amazing it is to see a doctor who can analyze your situation from a variety of viewpoints, instead of sticking to the book. The one benefit of that first visit was that I realized I likely needed to be tested for food allergies.

Enter doctor #2. I decided to approach my primary care physician to be tested for food allergies, and to ask her the same set of questions I had regarding nutrition and symptoms. While I think she's a very competent doctor in the traditional arena, she was of ZERO help to me and she knew very little about nutrition via PH balances in the body, which is something I've grown to see as very important. Do traditional doctors not study nutrition or acidity in the body? The most I got from that visit was a $30 copay and a referral to go see an allergist, which would likely be another $50 for seeing a specialist.

Enter doctor #3. At this point, I knew that the paths I've normally taken during my life were no longer working for me. I think that our bodies are SO connected and that how we treat them, what we choose to consume, and the medicines we take have a huge impact. I discovered the Live Well Holistic Health Center in Ardmore, and liked their mission: "Our mission is to relieve suffering and restore health and to help our community become less dependent on medications and more reliant on our body's innate ability to heal through regular chiropractic care, good nutrition, exercise, and a positive mental attitude."

That sounds perfect for me, right?! I was excited. Frankly, I'm still excited. The downside to holistic healthcare is that it's not covered by insurance (I overheard them telling another patient that her visit could be reimbursed through flex spending, but I don't have that). This is more pricey than a regular copay, friends. However, I've realized that I could continue to pay copays and have zero luck with my regular doctor, or I could try alternative methods which better align with my perspective.

The visit

The office was small, peaceful, and immediately calmed me much like a yoga studio does. They sell supplements and chiropractic tools right in the office, which is quite convenient, and it's a husband and wife team: the wife at the front desk, husband as doctor. They are both very friendly and I felt completely comfortable, which is also important to me. My visit with Dr. Martin Orimenko was 1hr long, and in that time he listened to my story, answered questions, tested me for food allergies, diagnosed what he saw as my root problem, designed a treatment plan, provided some chiropractic help for my hip / knee problem, evaluated my current supplements, and talked nutrition with me. As he's so comprehensive in his approach and his training background, I was able to talk everything from nutrition to scoliosis in one visit and left feeling that I'm FINALLY getting the approach I need. Talk about exciting! Also, the price starts to look smaller once you realize how many individual doctors you'd have to see to equal the kind of care he provides.

Granted, you have to be open and ready for this kind of care, as it's very different. You also have to be ready to do the work, as there are no antibiotics or other quick fixes. When it came time to test my food allergies, he rested small vials of each solution on my stomach one by one and did a series of small tests using pressure on my stomach and resistance from my arm (which was up in the air). How this provided him with answers I don't know, but he's been in practice for over 20 years and at this stage seems highly intuitive. I was willing to go along with it, and he diagnosed me with sensitivities to corn, wheat, eggs, and dairy (but not gluten!), all stemming from a larger problem: Dysbiosis, or, Intestinal Organism Imbalance (also known as an imbalance of the good / bad bacteria in your intestines which is generally caused over time by using birth control pills, antibiotics, or following the standard american diet, among other reasons).

He then showed me other symptoms which relate to Dysbiosis and said once I solve it, my skin should clear up quickly and the food sensitivities may likely also go away. There we go: the root cause. He also said that no matter how clean my eating habits had become, my other symptoms such as the bad skin would not go away on their own and needed treatment via targeted supplements, as well as a restricted Candida diet for 1 month to starve out the bad bacteria. I have to go back in 2 weeks so he can assess how the diet is going. ALSO, as I'm typing this his wife called to make sure I understood the diet and to ask me if I had questions. As I had one, she got the answer right away and told me to call back anytime as she'd love to discuss eating tips with me. How nice is that?! I feel cared for, which is honestly something I can't say about any of my previous doctors.

So friends, for the next month I can't eat yeast, eggs, dairy, wheat, corn, sugar, fermented products, and a variety of misc things such as sauces and most processed foods. As for what I CAN eat, some examples include vegetables, some meats, beans, lentils, brown rice, quinoa, healthy oils, raw nuts, etc. I'm happy that I did the cleanse this winter, as it's going to make this transition much, much easier! The doctor was happy with my diet for the most part, thrilled with the juicing, and very excited that I've been taking Spirulina. My visit ended as he gave me the supplements and smiled and said "life is about to change for you - you're about to solve this." Here's hoping that's true.. :)

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