On June 30,1979, at the age of 10, I got on a horse for the first time. From that moment forward, I knew what I wanted to do in life. I wanted to be a professional with horses. To ride, train, teach, and compete. And I did. I even got up to the first level of international competition in Eventing, which is like a horse triathlon. But fate had other plans for me.
I was sickly as a child. I had strep throat at the age of 6 months and continued to get it at least twice a year throughout my childhood. That led to many, many doses of anti-biotics, which lead to other issues. By the time I was 18, I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis, which is an autoimmune disease where your immune system attacks your large intestines leading to severe pain, diarrhea, blood, mucous, all that icky stuff. I was treated for it and even though most of my symptoms still abounded, I ignored them.
Even though I was totally excellent at ignoring my health issues and pushing through my symptoms, I inherently knew that I couldn’t keep up the physical work required to be a horse professional. Then, when I was 25, my horse, my horsey soul mate, died suddenly. I was devastated, and I decided I was going to be a horse vet and save all the horses!
I spent the next two years taking the prerequisites before applying for veterinary school at Kansas State University. The dean told me I missed getting in by just one person! I would surely get in the next year. But I actually felt relieved. Being a veterinarian just wasn’t the right fit. I considered medical school or getting my Masters-PhD in clinical psychology, but there was something missing there too.
Lost, I moved to Asheville, NC. While there, I got very sick again. This time, not only had the Colitis become a bigger issue, but also anxiety and depression (that I didn’t even know were related) started to come up. At one point, I had such bad anxiety, for hours at a time; I was literally living under my bed.
I remember the first time a friend suggested acupuncture for my issues. My response? “Yeah, right, like that woo-woo Chinese BS is going to do anything! Sticking needles in me, yah right, THAT will help me with my issues!” But finally I got desperate enough; I was willing to give it a go. After all, it couldn’t hurt, right?
My first practitioner kept reiterating how very, very sick I was. I didn’t believe her. She saw me weekly for a very long time and even though I didn’t think it was doing much at first, I kept coming back. I somehow knew it was helping. And slowly, over time, it did. More than anything, it put me into remission with the Colitis. And it helped me with ankle pain I had whenever I rode.
Soon I realized that I had found my calling, my Tao. I quit my day job and became an assistant at the big acupuncture clinic where I was treated. The acupuncturists helped me to figure out the best school for me, and I started at TAI (Now Maryland University of Integrative Health) in September of 2000.
But my story isn’t over. Because a year and a half into my 3.5 year master’s degree, I hit a wall. I was working at a big barn teaching, riding, training, 35-50 hours per week AND in grad school full time. I collapsed. I thought I was just “depressed and lazy” and couldn’t understand why I couldn’t just “get it together” and get back to work. I just couldn’t.
I graduated and started my practice in September of 2003. And it took me another 8 years of misdiagnosis by both the alternative world and western world before my true issues were discovered. Through a horse client, I was referred to one of the best rheumatologists in the state and I was finally diagnosed properly. It turns out that Ulcerative Colitis is a very complicated disease. There are several “extra” autoimmune diseases that can go with it, and I had 3 of them. Finally I got the support and treatments I needed to be well. I takes a village to keep me healthy!
I love how I can help people in ways no one was able to help me. I love how, through my acupuncture training and years of experience, I can bring down pain, help bring up energy, and get people the real, long-term plan they need in order to heal. I feel lucky that through my own journey I have been able to create many, many connections with other providers, and I have learned many alternative ways to heal. My patients don’t have to go through what I went through!
I’m excited that you are thinking of coming to me! After 14 years of private practice, I can likely help you with acupuncture, lifestyle changes, and perhaps supplementation. We will work together to help you to heal. And, if you need further help, more support, or a different kind of support than I can give, I have the resources to get you the help you need.