Going home'

by Rebecca Huber

Speaking from experience, losing one's health and finding it again is like going home; home to a familiar place that is warm, cozy and safe. Many of us will make several journeys through the maze of illness in our lifetime. Some bouts will be more serious than others, but you can be sure that each time we enter though the doors of illness we will learn new things about ourselves and our bodies.

Most of us will go kicking and screaming, shouting about the unfairness of it all, but go we will. And each time will be a testament to the endurance of the human spirit. None of us wants to be ill, so why not work to shorten that time and reduce our suffering. Why not work with more than one tool?

The world of medicine has become a confusing place for someone who is ill, if not downright frightening. Many believe that if traditional medicine does not have the answers no one does or have no idea where else to begin looking for their answers. The saddest thing is that many will simply not look.

The entire western world is abuzz with various forms of complementary medicine, but where does one start? Without a guide, a teacher, or a professional you can be sure complementary medicine will be just as confusing.

It seems this new branch of medicine cannot even decide what to call itself. First it was alternative, which no one seemed to like. Alternative implied a complete shift away from the known traditional. The traditional medical community labeled it all quackery and only further frightened the patients.

Now we have terms like integrative, holistic, complementary or blended medicine. These terms better imply how other therapies (tools for healing) might fit with the traditional medical model of treatment. To supersede, interfere or overstep the boundaries of the physician and the patient's agreed plan for treatment will only undermine the hoped for end result of returned health.

Illness does give rise to feelings of vulnerability and desperation and there are those who will play on those feelings. Always remember if you are about to embark on a journey of healing in this new field, there's a place inside each us that speaks loudly when it feels right, and even more loudly when it feels wrong. If they promise you the moon, do they have a shuttle sitting outside the door waiting to take you there? Don't let a silver tongue overshadow what you are feeling. Phony promises are painful lessons.

Having once stepped through the doors of serious illness and wondered if I would ever return, I would like to share with you some of the best pieces of advice I got along the way:

Deal only with well trained professionals.

''Six weeks is long enough to try any new therapy. If it isn't working, it isn't working, move on.'' My personal physician

''We don't always have the answers. I'm afraid I don't have yours. But don't give up.'' Rheumatology physician, Mayo Clinic

''What are you willing to explore to be well?'' My psychological counselor

''Dream big, you can always scale it down.'' Morgan Eagle Bear, Native American Shaman.

Healing is like a journey home. Home to the heart where all good things can and will unfold. To all my fellow travelers who have not as yet returned home, take heart, and do your best to keep the faith -- healing will come.

Till next time, Rebecca.

Uploaded to The Zephyr Online February 19, 2002

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