Friday, July 1, 2011

Part II: A Passion Ignites But is Short-Lived

For many years I have been passionate about nutrition, healing and acupuncture.  After what I had gone through with the illness I felt a new spark light up in me.  Life is too short for regrets and I decided to pursue my dream of attending acupuncture school.  In the summer of 2010 I completed all my prerequisites and with the encouragement of family and friends I applied and got accepted to the program at Bastyr University.  
The flip side to all the excitement - the school is located 1.5 hours away from home, my husband Trevor and dog (child), turning 12 this year, Spier.  We decided our marriage and commitment to each other is strong enough to sacrifice a few years of being apart weekdays.  If it became too hard we would cross that bridge when it came.
Trevor and I met when I was 18 and he 23, in my home town of Wichita, KS.  We began dating at 19 and by 21 moved across the country to the northwest, where he was born and raised in Washington state.  By age 24 we were married and bought our first home.  Up until the time I really got sick I always worked hard and put off school to pay bills.  Now, I finally had the chance to fully submerge myself in what I love most, education and healing.
The first quarter I lived in the dorms on campus and immediately loved the classes, made good friends, creating what seemed to be a satisfying yet totally separate life Monday through Friday.   I felt like Harry Potter at Hogwarts, learning about the 2000 year old healing system of acupuncture and Chinese medicine, the history, techniques, language, in addition to the western sciences of the human body and disease pathology.  My classmates and I spent hours together both laughing and going crazy trying to remember hundreds of needling points, diagnostics and every part and function of the body. On the weekends I drove home and did my best to be present and attentive to "normal life."  The intense studies, traveling back and forth as well as the time apart became stressful but I felt my love for school would balance out.  Dreams of my future practice as an acupuncturist fueled my motivation and focus to keep on the hard work!
By winter quarter my stomach symptoms began to worsen spring break was spent back with doctors and repeated tests.  My GI, Dr. K, highly recommended a procedure using botox injected into the stomach to temporarily hold it open so food can pass through easily.  If it works then it could provide relief anywhere from 2-4 months.  The mere thought of this toxin being injected in my already broken stomach seemed insane!  How could I possibly go through with something so unnatural when I've dedicated my life to natural medicine and what would people think of me?  I still believed acupuncture and herbs were going to make this all go away so I turned down the treatment and returned to school.  My worried husband insisted I come back home and put off school but being a perfectionist and quite stubborn I was committed to completing the quarter and doing it well.
Over the previous months I went in for acupuncture treatments 1-2 times/week.  I always left feeling better, less nauseous and able to eat more but only for a couple days.  At this point even the doctors at school were insisting I make an appointment at the digestive center at UW (University of Washington), nationally known for their medical center.  I made an appointment for the first available time in July.  
The last 2 weeks of school, prepping for and taking finals, were absolute torture.  I wasn't eating much and so busy I didn't realize how dangerously low my weight was becoming.  After the last final (and many sleepless nights), while everyone was making plans to go out and celebrate , I packed my car, drove home in tears and collapsed the moment I entered the house.  Whatever mental adrenaline that held me together before dissolved and I had never felt more exhausted and fatigued in my life.  I hit rock bottom with my weight at 94 pounds (I'm 5'8) and was told if I didn't gain any weight within the week I would be admitted to the hospital.  The problem was, I felt so sick and tired I could barely swallow.  Through concern and persistence from family and friends I called Dr. K and agreed to give the botox a try.  He came in that Saturday to get it done ASAP and I returned home to a much needed weekend of sleep.

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