On Being Sick & A Holistic Perfectionist

I hate being sick.

It's hard for me to rest and sleep when my body is telling me to slow down. Every time some new symptoms show up in my body I try to diagnose myself. My acupuncturist - herbalist- practitioner brain tries desperately to figure out what the quickest (holistic) fix is.

Even after 7 years of being in Chinese Medicine, I still struggle in my own body that sometimes it doesn't work perfectly.

While I struggle with this holistic perfectionism, ultimately being sick has taught me how to be a better practitioner. I was a pretty healthy kid, but I got really sick when I was 14. After the fall semester of vigorous training for the crew team, I got strep throat over winter break. I remember the moment I felt it. It was the day after Christmas and I was sitting on the floor of the waiting room at Emergency. My cousins, aunts, uncles and parents were all there.  My grandmother, who we were visiting, had had a little stroke and was in the hospital. I was exhausted, my body hurt all over and it hurt to swallow. I got antibiotics, "recovered" and went back to school and life. Then I got the flu. I can't remember if I got better, but I know I got a second round of strep throat. (I now know that when there are consecutive rounds of strep throat it is usually the same bacteria that never goes away and is waiting for the correct circumstance to come back - if this is happening to you, let's talk and we can put you on herbs and probiotics to get your body back)

The result of being consecutively sick for two months at the age of 14 was that I was tired all the time. My stomach hurt constantly and random symptoms would pop up, achy-ness, name it. 

I didn't have energy to keep on keepin' on. I also began to have allergies for the first time in my life and that summer. When I was outside enjoying the heat of summer nights getting bit by mosquitos the bites turned into hard swollen knots the size of tennis balls, my immunity was shot.

I switched from full time at High School to part time home teaching and part time going to school. I was embarrassed about not being able to be a "normal" teenager, and even my best friends couldn't totally understand why I was constantly missing class and not around like everyone else.

Being sick really changed my life. All of a sudden, at the age of 14, I had to treat my body with special care.

I was a teenager, moderation was the last thing I was interested in. I spent high school not doing sports, doing way less activity than my peers and just trying to be "normal". I got better, I was able to do school and weekend fun. But I wasn't doing all the after school stuff of sports or clubs or other stuff, I didn't have capacity. 

New york city

I left my life behind when I went to college in New York. I had recovered enough and had a pretty successfully healthy college experience. But depletion began to rear its ugly head in my senior year. I started having blackouts. (not the drinking kind). I went to a couple MD's who didn't have much to say or do about it. I was left terrified and confused. This began my journey with acupuncture.

As a child, I was deeply afraid of needles. I would turn green when I would get my blood drawn and feel faint when getting shots. Feeling stranded by western medicine and wanting an answer to why i was having blackouts, my acupuncturist was such a ray of light. She asked me about my period, what the quality of blood was, what color it was, if I got cramps. She asked me about my digestion and appetite. When she needled me I could feel sensation up and down the channels. 

Finding a diagnosis - even in Chinese medicine felt reassuring and like I wasn't simply crazy. This was the beginning of my dive into Chinese Medicine and becoming an acupuncturist.

My health history is complex and confusing and sub-medical. I have never been able to find help or answers from MDs. Even when I have visible symptoms on my body, my vital signs, blood levels and every test come back completely within the normal range.

This experience has given me a keen eye. As a practitioner I see through lots of layers and information and stay curious about what the root of an issue could be. Experiencing lackluster doctors has given me the motivation to truly seek help for my patients so they continue to improve.

With all the health issues I have dealt with I have learned a lot. And sometimes, I still get sick, or have weird symptoms. What I have found that no matter how healthy I get, there can always be something that happens to my body.

It does not make me a failure to be a human who gets sick, doesn't feel well, and doesn't always know how to fix herself. 

Whenever I get healthier I tend to push my body in different ways. Sometimes this causes new symptoms. My self-care practice is better than it ever has been. My overall health is the best it has been in 15 years. And I continue to work on the fact that I am a human and finding holistic solutions to immediately fix myself does not make me a better person. 

If you have been a holistic perfectionist - come join me in this journey. Being hard on ourselves does not help us to heal.


I am letting go.

I am forgiving myself.

I am making space to be a human. 

All She Needed

Over the weekend I spent 16 hours learning about pediatric acupuncture and herbalism with an amazing teacher. What I walked away with was the knowledge of how to treat so many ailments and the reminder of what this medicine is really for.

With the teachings of Raven Lang I learned more in two days than I learned in some 15 week classes. Raven has over 40 years of experience practicing medicine and is constantly curious and keeping up with current research. In her 70's, her long silver hair hugs her shoulders and her energy is palpable in the room. She has a firm, commanding presence and she also has a soft maternal energy that radiates kindness and compassion.

Our inner child truly shouts for help when we are sick or injured. It is common for adults of all ages to really want their mom as they fight a fever off or are lethargic from being sick for a week. 

Raven's years of experience span treating people of all ages and she is full to the brim of resources and homework for patients to learn how to take care of themselves at home.

This weekend taught me recipes, remedies, herbal dosages, and point prescriptions. But even more so it taught me that our role as a practitioner is an incredible important and intimate one. 

I see patients come in with various aches, pains, ailments, discomforts, being under-slept, overtired, overstressed - as adults we often forget how to take care of ourselves. Self-care of eating, sleeping and breathing gets put aside as we conquer to-do lists and strive to become more productive and powerful. 

We rush things. When moving quickly is no longer working our bodies start to sound the alarms. A small headache, a little nausea, some tiredness. And if we don't listen, the alarms turn to sirens and they make sure they are heard. Headaches morph into migraines, nausea turns into digestive ailments and tiredness turns into fatigue and total lethargy.

When the alarms sound, it is time to slow down and listen. If you need help listening - go get acupuncture. If you can know what your body is needing, do it. Rest more. Eat some healthy foods. Go have fun. Get to nature. Exercise. Breathe. Meditate. Just be. Do what you need to do, for you, before the sirens.

In our busy lives, minds and bodies we often forget that a little bit of space and stillness can take us a long way. This is a reminder, that sometimes the best way to help yourself is as simple as that.

stillness support raven lang