I had surgery two weeks ago… less than 10 people knew about it. It took me out of my holistic clinic and into the depths of modern medicine for a few days of intensive rest and recovery. To be honest, as a doctor of Chinese medicine, I say the phrase “Surgery should be a last resort” to patients every day. But, when I heard the words “It could be cancer” I knew I had to go to the last resort.
Committing to surgery stirred up feelings of frustration (why didn’t acupuncture help?), fear (what if the surgery doesn’t go as planned?) and a sense of abandoning patient-centered holistic medicine for the profit-focused modern medicine machine. Having surgery felt a lot like a betrayal to everything I believe in.
This is what I learned…
• Modern medicine can be life-saving
• Modern medicine doesn’t have all the answers
• Modern medicine has a very limited toolbox (drugs or surgery) to solve health problems
Back in September, my gynecologist felt a mass near my uterus during my annual exam. I had been having severe pain with every menstrual cycle and knew my endometriosis had returned. An ultrasound revealed a complex cyst about the size of an egg and attached to my ovary. We agreed the best course of action was to watch it for a few weeks, clean up my diet (goodbye coffee, hello celery juice!), and check it again in December. The exam in December showed the cyst remained and had a new feature on it, a nodular tumor. My gynecologist told me it could be cancer and offered a CA-125 blood test. However, there was no definitive way to know without surgery. So, we scheduled the surgery, a laparoscopic cystectomy. The whole discussion took less than 10 minutes.
I returned home from that appointment scared and uncertain. Of course, my ultimate fear was losing a battle against cancer and leaving my 4-year-old without a mother. It was ridiculously easy for my mind to jump to that awful conclusion. I consciously refused to buy into that outcome that my mind wanted to play on repeat. After a few hours of acknowledging the fear and reprogramming my mind with positive outcomes, I felt more at peace.
In the days leading up to the surgery, I reprioritized my day to begin with a writing meditation full of “I am” statements such as “I am healthy and pain-free” and trust statements like “The universe conspires to help me.” I also spent 5-10 minutes every morning connecting to a higher power and asking for divine guidance. I revised my will. I treasured tucking my daughter into bed every night.
By the day of my surgery, I felt confident that the surgery would be a success. That morning I reminded my gynecologist to preserve my ovary if she could and to clean up any other endometrial tissue she discovered. She agreed and within minutes the anesthesiologist was there ready to knock me out. When I woke up in recovery about 90 minutes later, I was in a lot of pain and the nurse sent fentanyl through my IV. As someone who relies on herbal medicine, having fentanyl surge through my veins was quite a sensation. My pain level decreased from 8 to 1 within minutes, but I still had no idea if the surgery was a success. Once I saw my husband, my first question was, “Do I still have all my organs?” He said yes and a few hours later, I was released in a fentanyl haze of relief and gratitude.
Fast forward two weeks to today, when I had my post-operative appointment. I found out the cause of the pain was endometriosis, but not at all what I expected. The surgery revealed I had a benign ovarian endometrioma (often called a chocolate cyst) full of endometrial fluid. Compared to 5 years before when I had stage IV endometriosis scattered across my bowels, peritoneum, fallopian tubes and uterus, my body had effectively encapsulated the endometriosis into a single cyst. Miraculously, there were no signs of endometriosis on any other organs or structures. I thought to myself, “Wow, the acupuncture and herbs did help!”
Modern medicine can be life-saving and anyone facing the possibility of a life-threatening illness should consult a trusted MD for a modern diagnosis and treatment plan. However, for many chronic illnesses and conditions, modern medicine offers a very limited toolbox consisting of drugs or surgery. Now that I’ve had a surgical tune-up, I’ll continue with acupuncture treatments two times a week and a daily regimen of Chinese herbs to control the endometriosis. I know the risk of recurrence is high, but now that I’ve witnessed how intelligent my body was to isolate the disease, I have faith that I won’t be on an operating table again anytime soon.
I want to tell you a secret. It’s a well-guarded secret. An important secret. And it can change your life.
Before I reveal the secret, let me ask…
Do you suffer from daily headaches? Migraines? Other pain that just won’t go away?
Have you ever thought about what pain is?
Is there a message in that pain?
The answer is YES, there is a strong message hidden in that headache or migraine or stiff neck or backache or whatever is causing YOU pain.
Pain is a messenger. Pain is the only way your physical body can communicate directly with your mind. Pain is your body’s way to yell “STOP! PAY ATTENTION! LISTEN TO ME!”
The big secret is... Pain exists so your body can heal itself. Your body is engineered to heal itself. You can see it in action everytime you get a papercut!
So, are you receptive to your body’s calls for attention? Or is your pain buried under medications designed to keep it quiet and hidden?
If you’re ready to hear your body’s message and banish your daily headaches, migraines or other chronic pain, contact us to schedule a consultation at 512-686-0777 or book online by clicking the blue button below.
Do you suffer from Migraine or Chronic Headaches?
We have a solution for you!
We’ve teamed up with Qi Gong Extraordinaire and Mind-Body Coach Julie Balderrama to provide a comprehensive program for relieving the root cause of Migraines and Chronic Headaches. This program will not only banish headaches, but improve your life with easy tools and strategies for migraine and headache prevention.
Join us at Skull and Cakebones on Saturday February 9, 2019 at 11am to learn how you can reclaim a headache-free life you love. RSVP required, click the button below or call 512-686-0777.
Conventional medicine is great at some things, like emergency surgery. However, it often fails at treating more common problems, like frequent headaches or poor sleep.
Here are five common conditions that are poorly treated/managed by conventional medicine:
Acupuncture excels at treating these five conditions because it gets to the root of the problem. Conventional medicine only offers interventions (pharmaceutical or surgical) to relieve the symptoms of these condition, while acupuncture delivers long-term relief.
Often the quick-fix of drugs or surgery creates more health problems as the root cause of the condition is left untreated and/or undiagnosed. If you hear your doctor say the word "idiopathic" it means he/she does not know the cause of your condition. Not very comforting, right?
At your first acupuncture treatment, we’ll diagnose the root cause of your condition and get you on the road for long-term healing and relief. Acupuncture treatments not only prevent conditions from returning, it can prevent related conditions from arising.
Every once in a while, one of my patients will receive what I call a Unicorn Treatment.
What is a Unicorn Treatment?
A Unicorn Treatment is a magical, mysterious acupuncture session that...
Maybe you've had a friend who's personally experienced a Unicorn Treatment. For example, a friend trying to get pregnant without any luck for 19 months has acupuncture once and conceives right away.
Results like this lead to a common misconception that the Unicorn Treatment is a regular occurrence in the world of acupuncture. Upon hearing these stories, many people try acupuncture once, expecting a miraculous cure, only to feel disappointed when the condition returns a few days later.
This is totally normal.
The reality is most conditions, especially chronic ailments, take multiple acupuncture treatments to resolve. Patients usually feel better after the first treatment, but if they don't receive another treatment within a few days, the pain or illness returns as if the acupuncture treatment never happened.
In my clinic, all treatment plans are customized to a patient's needs. In most cases, I advise the patient that their condition will take X number of treatments within X number of days before they feel consistently better.
So, if you've tried acupuncture once, and you felt disappointed because it didn't help you, I highly recommend trying it again (especially before resorting to an irreversible treatment like surgery). It's likely that consistent treatments will give you relief of your symptoms. And if you haven't tried acupuncture, maybe your first session will be a Unicorn Treatment, which will feel just as good as winning the lottery!
About 12 years ago, I suffered from debilitating chronic migraines. They would start with an aura, usually consisting of a blind spot that would prevent me from reading anything, including my watch. The aura would last about 25 minutes, then the vomiting would start, followed by intense pressure building in my skull. The worst sensation of each migraine was the stabbing pain behind my eye that could last for 12+ hours. All I could do was lie in a dark, cool room waiting for the pain to subside. There was no sleep, just unrelenting pain and silent prayers for relief.
The migraines consumed my life, 2-3 days of every week. I lost work days, I lost friends, my marriage decayed, and I fell out of touch. People got tired of hearing me say “Sorry, I have a headache.” It was both depressing and terrifying.
I tried over-the-counter meds like aspirin, acetaminophen, and ibuprofen. I tried drinking coffee and dark chocolate during the aura. I had a CAT scan and a MRI, which revealed nothing. Neurologists prescribed an assortment of pharmaceuticals, but they either didn’t work or had terrible side effects (topiramate = hair fell out/slurred speech/memory loss). Plus, they were only mildly effective, reducing the rate of my migraines to about 2 a month. My neurologist warned me that I would need to take a beta blocker (propranolol) for the rest of my life to prevent the migraines from coming back.
I was only 28. The rest of my life sounded like a very long time.
As a last ditch effort, I gave acupuncture a try. There was an acupuncturist across the street from my office and she performed nothing short of a miracle.
The frequency and severity of my migraines diminished over the course of a few weekly treatments. After a few months, I was able to stop the topiramate. After two years, I weaned off the beta blocker. It was a long journey to relief, but manageable with acupuncture and Chinese herbs.
At this point, I can look back and see how migraines caused me to stop and rebuild my life. The migraines called me to become a holistic doctor and help others find relief. They turned out to be an amazing blessing in an awful package.
What are your migraines telling you?
Let's talk about Chronic Pain...
A recent study in the scientific journal Pain found, “90% of the benefit of acupuncture over usual care is retained at 12 months after the end of a course of treatment.” Indigo Healing Acupuncture offers customized treatment plans designed to provide you with long-term relief of chronic pain.
If you're ready to live your best life and return to activities you love, schedule a consultation by calling 512-686-0777 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Michelle Wendt, L.Ac., DACM
Dr. Michelle Wendt, L.Ac., DACM practices Oriental & Chinese Medicine in Hawaii and Texas.