“…If any of these situations resonate with you, I’m here to tell you that if you feel it in your body, then it is real…”

Have you ever experienced a weird sensation in your body and questioned whether or not it’s real? Maybe you’ve convinced yourself that what you’re feeling is all in your head. Or maybe you’ve experienced an “actual” symptom that’s lasted for several weeks and after doing a lot of research on your own you think perhaps you’ve found a potential cause, and when you finally go to the doctor to get a professional to confirm what you may have found they tell you “That can’t possibly be the cause”. End of story. Or maybe they simply tell you that your now chronic ailment has no cause and the only course of action is pain/symptom management. If any of these situations resonate with you, I’m here to tell you that if you feel it in your body, then it is real. That is one of the most powerful messages I have ever heard and I think it’s something that needs to be shared and repeated and respected more. Now, my story is not one of many years of illness or chronic, poor health, but it is one of trials and tribulations, of intuition and accepting to follow the signs,  and of the gradual coming into of one’s life purpose.

This story really begins to take shape when I moved to Spain in September of 2018. I was so ecstatic to finally be living in the city I had dreamed about living in for years, but all of that quickly came to the crashing and sobering realization that in Spain, life was hard. It was nothing like I imagined it would be, and I would be lying if I said this wasn’t the most difficult period of my life to date. Everything was a challenge: buying groceries, taking the bus, even using the washing machine, the weird eating schedule, a work schedule that was constantly changing. I cried a lot. I felt unsafe and I felt wildly insecure. Looking back on that time now I wish I had listened to my body. I wish I had been more gentle and patient with myself. Instead, I was frustrated and angry; I was exhausted all the time, I was struggling to adjust to my new schedule, I wanted to make friends and to have a support system but I was too insecure and tired to make the effort to go out. Around mid October I started to get a recurring cold accompanied by laryngitis every couple of weeks and instead of seeing this as an early warning sign and cry for help from my body, I chalked it up to working with kids, using public transportation, and being in a new place where my body wasn’t used to the microbes yet.

Then, early one morning at 3am, I decided I needed to go to urgent care (my third trip in a six week period). My throat was so sore that I could barely swallow, and I certainly couldn’t sleep. The doctor saw me within ten minutes of arriving and after asking a couple of questions (NONE about my health history) determined that I had tonsilitis, prescribed me an antibiotic and a steroid to help with the swelling of my tonsils, and sent me on my way. Now, what this doctor didn’t know, and what I very painfully found out, was that if you prescribe antibiotics to an individual with an active EBV infection (Epstein Barr Virus, which causes mono, the same mono I had six years prior in 2012) they will 98% of the time develop a terrible rash all over their entire body. Four days later, when the rash started I immediately went back to urgent care. Again I was in and out in twenty minutes. They gave me a strong steroid shot in the ass and told me to stop taking the antibiotic and sent me on my way. When I mentioned that this type of reaction was common in someone with EBV they paid almost no attention. All I could do was wait for it to pass.

I was angry and I was frustrated. I was disappointed with myself and felt deceived by my body. How could this have happened? I’ve always been someone who took care of her body, someone who had a semi-normal body image, someone who considered herself to be strong both physically and mentally. Every day that I woke up with the rash I felt myself get angry with my body all over again. Why couldn’t it heal itself? Why was my body betraying me? When I finally decided to accept the situation as it was, and to realize how negatively and poorly I was talking to my body, I was finally able to start helping myself recover. That New Year I made a promise to myself that I was going to be kinder to myself in 2019; that I was going to be more patient and gentle; that I was going to love myself and my body and all of the hard work it was doing to try to heal me. I was going to start feeding it good, nutritious food and I was going to get back into exercising. If I wanted my body to heal, I needed to change my mindset and believe in my body’s natural healing abilities.

My short but intense time here in Spain has led me to some hard and fast conclusions about our modern-day health care system. It has become an entity that cares more about reducing patient wait times than properly caring for and listening to the people seeking their help. It has turned into a place where people go for acute infections or for highly specialized medical procedures. There is no inbetween. Preventative care exists in the form of vaccines and the occasional commentary about eating a healthy diet. My goal is to let people know that there is another option. You can find an herbal practitioner or a doctor of traditional chinese medicine or an acupuncturist or a naturopath that will explore YOU. You are unique. You are the only you in this world. And you are complicated! We humans are complicated beings! We each have our own history and influences and emotional baggage and spiritual baggage. All of those experiences make us beautiful and make us who we are. We owe it to ourselves to advocate for our health and to find a doctor who is willing to listen to us. A doctor who is willing to consider not only the physical symptoms, but the emotional symptoms and the larger role that they play in our lives. I am here to help you advocate for yourself.