On my drive home, I told myself that I was going to get to the bottom of this. Mainstream Western medicine failed me. There were all of these things signaling that something was wrong with me. My body was screaming, “Hey man, I need help here! Listen to me!” It was at this time that I decided to try different healing modalities. My first step was seeing a massage therapist who specializes in lymphatic massages. These sessions were incredibly powerful, but after three, even he saw that I needed more help than he could offer. My next step? I would give a Chinese herbalist that I had heard about a try.
In July of 2015, I walked into the shop/office located in Chicago’s Chinatown, and it felt like stepping into another world. Workers were busily divvying up concoctions for various patients; the scent of herbs and tea lingered in the air. During my appointment, the herbalist, Dr. Lisa, examined my tongue, pulses (“There’s more than one?”), my complexion, my posture, and so much more I was not aware of. Right off the bat, she told me foods that I needed to avoid, and also showed me foods to eat more of or add in. Everything she was addressing had to do with food and diet, and I ate it all up (pun intended). I left with an eating plan and a week’s worth of herbs and I felt so empowered. I felt like I finally won some control back over my health! I didn’t understand any of the concepts or reasonings behind her treatments at the time, but I continued to see Dr. Lisa for months. It was difficult to stay disciplined on such a strict, temporary diet.
At times, it made me feel isolated and alone. It was extremely difficult to deal with, and I felt like I lost a part of myself. I felt my sickness changing me. I wanted to bow out of every social situation in order to avoid having to talk about what I was going through or be the "problem one" of the group who had to specify exact requirements when ordering dinner. Anne was a huge help to me during this, always encouraging me and finding new recipes that fit the bill. After implementing Chinese food therapy and herbs for a while, my lymph nodes improved. However, I finally got to a point where my progress plateaued.
Six months later, I decided to also see an acupuncturist. I had acupuncture done once before, but nothing quite like this. After explaining everything that I was experiencing, the doctor went to work placing needles at various points on my body that seemed completely unconnected. He also performed cupping on my back and noticed that my body was toxic, apparent by the deep purple bruising that lasted for weeks. I had acupuncture done religiously for months, each appointment bringing about new discoveries. My acupuncturist pointed me to different foods, teas, and books to learn from. Anne and I couldn’t get enough! We found ourselves researching and learning all about Chinese medicine, specifically how food and diet play such a crucial role in overall health. One of the books the acupuncturist referred me to was Healing With Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition by Paul Pitchford. I dove in deep, reading for hours on end, and over the course of a few weeks I came to a section that addressed the danger of root canals.