Wednesday, September 7, 2016

My Healing Journey - Part I

Today's post is about my life-changing journey I experienced in my teens. I am forever grateful and humbled by this five-year long event in my life, as I have learned, grown, and changed beyond leaps and bounds. Without it, I can't imagine what kind of person I would be--it's an understatement to say that it all has utterly shaped who I am. While I learned plenty on my own and certainly did a large share of self-work, I know I would not have recovered from my illness if it wasn't for my healers. One of the greatest gifts of my life I have received was having this community of extremely diverse but all caring, phenomenal individuals to support, teach, help, and heal me on my journey. It is because of my love and gratitude for these phenomenal people that I decided to passionately write a post about them and what I have learned.

Before I get to describing my healers, I must digress a little by prefacing: it all started in the spring of my freshman year in high school, a decently stressful time. Your average flu-like symptoms popped up, and they got progressively worse. After a few weeks, fatigue, dizziness, headaches, stomach aches, and sleeping issues arose, and I wasn't recovering. A regular doctor visit and blood tests concluded that I had two different viruses, and the doctor added that I, "wasn't dying, so [I'm] okay." I knew I was definitely not okay.

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Even this would've been more helpful than what I was told by the first doctor I approached.

Let me quickly wind all the way back to when I was eight years old. I quickly developed severe food allergies to peanuts, dairy, chocolate, tomatoes, mint, and cola; whenever I ingested any of these things, I had very intense, curl-up-into-a-ball kind of stomachaches. To a young, American child who wanted to eat all of the delicious things that everyone else is eating, this was the equivalent to a nightmare--except instead of lasting one night, it lasted over a year. During this year, my family spent a lot of money to have me frequently visit an MD. He put me on strange diets, took blood/stool samples, and essentially did nothing to help or even curb my allergies and symptoms. It wasn't until m Mom attended an event and got a tip by a stranger about this miraculous healer who could clear allergies in one appointment using NAET and EFT. We were very excited and willing to give it a try.

From the first moment we met Debbie, we absolutely fell in love with her. This woman is pure sunshine in a human being. I have always been able to recall her gorgeous, bright smile, and hear her triumphant, joyous laugh in my head--just minutes, seconds with her could utterly warm your heart.

She welcomed me into her office and tested me for sensitivity to different food extracts through muscle-testing me. This involved placing the tiny vials of extracts in one hand, and applying pressure to my extended arm. By my muscle unconsciously relaxing or tensing up when she would apply pressure, she was able to get clear "yes" or "no" responses from my physical body. Once she found all the extracts I was sensitive to, she guided me through breathing exercises as she repeatedly moved a back massager down my spine and tapped in certain places on my body. After not consuming anything but rice, cucumbers, and water for 24 hours, it was true--I was completely cleared of my allergies.

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After witnessing this miracle, my whole family and I very happily saw her for the next few years. Debbie could not only clear physical allergies, but could clear negative associations that one has connected to essentially anything. This was my first introduction to past lives; if I had an issue and/or symptom in my current life, she would muscle-test me and clear any kind of correlating pain/suffering/etc from previous lifetimes that would end up resolving that current issue. As a child, this all was like magic--it all worked, we were constantly and consistently witnessing it to be real!

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The very best days were when we would drive after school from Albuquerque to Santa Fe to see Debbie. Her office was so bright and filled with all colorful, mostly health-related tools, trinkets, and Eastern decor. It was like walking into a magical little world, one that was extremely comforting and homely. She also had two dogs that were siblings, Kobi and Tara, who would frequently cuddle with my brother Scott and I while we waited in the waiting room. He and I would often be in fits of uncontrollable laughter as we played with them and the laser pointer Debbie lent us.

Debbie, Justin (her lovely husband, who is also a wonderful, warm person and accomplished healer), Kobi, and Tara are weaved into some of the very fondest memories of my childhood. This extraordinary, loving woman and her family helped us all immensely with our issues and utterly changed our lives.

Skipping ahead to my teen years...after witnessing the unbelievable benefits of alternative medicine from my experience with Debbie, we decided to give it a try once again. As she was in New Mexico and we moved to Colorado, Debbie very highly referred us to another naturopath that was closer to us, named Tiffany Binder. After hearing about my symptoms, Tiffany ordered me a cortisol test that takes samples of your saliva to determine your cortisol levels throughout the day. Sure enough, all levels were extremely low, reflecting that my adrenal glands were barely functioning and producing any adrenaline. I was immediately diagnosed with severe Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome and put on many supplements.

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My mom recently shared with me the memory of conversing with Tiffany on the first appointment. After we stepped out, my Mom asked her for a time frame of how long it could take for me to return to full health. A month? A few months? 6 months, maybe? And Tiffany said something along the lines of, "Oh no, this could take a long time, years. This could easily be a long road to recovery." Being the kind of mother that would do absolutely anything for her children and reduce any/all suffering they encounter, my Mom didn't want to believe it. Neither she or I knew what I was in for.

Around that spring, I was nominated with an academic honor to live on a college campus for a summer program to take college courses. Despite my desire to exploit this opportunity, I had to turn it down because of my health. While my summer was consequently uneventful, it was quite memorable; at this point, I was feeling my worst.

I had essentially no energy and was glued to either the couch or the bed. Fierce dizzy spells would hit me whenever I stood up, and I experienced stomachaches, headaches, and heartaches randomly throughout the day. Both temperature and light were things I became weirdly sensitive to. I would take around 30 capsules multiple times throughout the day, and was on a strict diet to maximize nutrients and cut out unnecessary sugars/carbs. Needless to say, I spent nearly the entire summer indoors and with little to no exposure to other people. The only times I would really go out was either to get Blockbuster movies (back in the day when that was a thing!) or see Tiffany, and those were really good days.

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Yeah, I totes use these. The ones that hold the most. E'ry day! 

Very similarly to Debbie, Tiffany was one of the most open-hearted individuals I had ever met. I never felt more heard or acknowledged by someone I barely knew at the time--she listened to every word and very genuinely held immense empathy and understanding for me and what I was going through. With every appointment, she felt more and more like another mother to me. There was a bond with her that I can't fully described, except that it was boundless and seemed to transcend time and space. It felt like I knew her previously and felt a sense of familial love nearly instantly upon meeting her. 

She was more than just a naturopath, often listening to the emotional and mental struggles I was experiencing. Additionally, she frequently taught me some of the most important lessons that I still recall and act on to this day. For instance, I often would bottle up my struggles and would let the positive, optimistic, loving nature that I feel within shine through those struggles. That was simply who I was, and who I always wanted to be to others; I genuinely didn't want to burden anyone else with my own issues. She, along with my mother, encouraged me to let my external self reflect my internal self. Tiffany expressed that it was actually hindering me to exert extra energy to do this, and my healing was very important. She even knew how to state it in a way I couldn't possibly contest--if I truly wanted to help others to the best of my ability, I had to take care of myself first. I agreed. Both then and now, I continue to keep myself clear, happy, and healthy to be there for others as much as I can.

In addition to this beautiful support she provided me, she muscle-tested me for supplements and did cranial sacral work. Cranial sacral is an alternative therapy in which the head, spine, and sacrum are softly and gently manipulated to relieve the tension that causes pain and stress. This was one of the most relaxing and comforting tabletop work I've experienced yet; as she cradled my head I felt that I was safe in her hands. Perhaps my serenity was due to my trust and connection I felt to her. Regardless, I would leave feeling lighter and more at peace.

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A cranial sacral hand position
Tiffany would often do her cranial sacral work while collaborating with a acupuncturist/chiropractor named Katrina, who was also quite lovely. This was the first time I had the experience of multiple healers working on me at once, and from then on I knew it to provide one of the most fulfilling feelings. To have multiple, strong female healers work on you at once is so empowering--especially for me at the time, an adolescent struggling to fit in with everyone else my age. 

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As someone who was markedly afraid of needles since childhood, you would think I wouldn't enjoy acupuncture. The opposite was true! When Katrina would insert the tiny needles into my skin, I could feel a tiny prick followed by a subtle, electric-like sensation that arose and stayed as long as the needle was inserted, and even lingered a bit afterwards. She explained to me that the entire body contains energy meridians, which are tiny points that are connected by channels of energy that lead to larger energy centers, called the chakras. By testing my pulse, she would get information on what organ systems needed support, and used her intricate knowledge of what points correlated to those systems when she worked. The needles are used to stimulate those points of energy which may become blocked, thus bringing the energy back and the entire body into balance.

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Acupunture Meridians

When I was on the table and given time for the needles to do their work, I would experience what felt like a swirling sensation in the air above me. I remember an appointment where I had even randomly broke out into sobs, despite being quite calm moments before. Katrina expressed that my distressed state reflected the previously-stored emotions in my energy system that were being released. While I think acupuncture helped me greatly in ways I probably wasn't fully aware of, the effects weren't dramatic enough given the great mountain's climb of healing I specifically required to return to full health. Thus, I only saw Katrina for about a year. That said, I learned so much and always left the table feeling clearer and better than when I got on it; I still believe acupuncture to be a wonderful healing tool.

Debbie, Tiffany, and Katrina are only a few of the many pivotal, life-changing healers I met on my healing journey. It was apparent to me that these women healed with more than the tools they were given--they healed with their hearts, their love, their warmth, their light. It hasn't been until recent months and meeting various people that I've truly seen what I gift I've received. Few have ever, or will ever, be exposed to such focused, tremendous love and help from so many pure-hearted individuals. It was these people, these angels in human bodies, that inspired me to become a healer.

From left to right: Debbie Sie, Scott (brother), Mary (mother), me,
Justin Hoffman holding daughter Shaela, Tiffany's daughter, and Tiffany Binder.
We had a most wonderful reunion a couple years ago with what I consider to be my forever soul family. 

Ever since then, I have strongly desired to give back the love and light I have received; to provide others with such a beautiful experience and assist them in their challenging path on Earth. With every fiber of my being I feel that my life chapter of having Adrenal Fatigue was so that I could go meet these extraordinary people, experience the challenging yet beautiful journey of being healed, and become inspired by it enough to do it myself.

Thank you very much for reading this lengthy post! I certainly plan to write more about this experience (as this is only a sliver's glimpse), hoping to educate and inspire others on the benefits and positive experiences of alternative medicine. If you have any questions at all about anything that I wrote above, please respond in the comments! :)