Sunday, January 13, 2013

My Journey with Essential Oils, part one

If that's not a title that will send you running for the hills, what will?  It has all the harbingers of doom, beginning with 'my journey'and ending with something that clearly points to the whackos who trust bizarre medical treatments over their trusted physicians.  Nonetheless, here I go.  My apologies in advance if you continue reading.

I used to be a big supporter of traditional medicine.  My mother and grandmother are nurses.  Medical advances are wonderful and we are so blessed to live in  a time where these advances are readily available to most who live in our country.  If you get sick, the easiest road to recovery is clearly medicine!  If I suffered from a headache or a stuffy nose or a fever or whatever, I took medicine.  Most of the time, it worked.  I took my kids for their  yearly checkups and saw my doctor regularly for my own checkups.  I have always been very well behaved.

Gradually, however, over the past 3-4 years, I became dissatisfied with traditional medicine for my children and myself.  One of my children was taking medicine for attention deficit disorder.  It had been a long battle.  She didn't respond to medicines the way most people do and so it took some work to find one that was effective for her.  We went through several medications, including one that caused scary hallucinations, and eventually found one that helped  Once we found that medicine that would help her to keep it together in school, so she could think well enough to finish her sentences and do her work, she also had the side effects.

First and foremost, she didn't want to eat.  Ever.  So she became painfully thin, we worried about her weight, and we had to teach her that she had to eat regardless of whether or not she wanted to eat.  She could not pay attention to hunger cues to let her know when to eat because she didn't get them.  Can you see the danger sign flashing in red above our heads?  We did not.

Second, she couldn't sleep.  She wasn't misbehaving.  She sincerely could not sleep.  She was often up until midnight or later, with all of us frustrated because she couldn't sleep and she was miserable laying in the bed not sleeping.  My husband and I were frustrated too.  The solution our doctor offered was to give her another medicine that would help her to sleep.  It worked for a while.  Then as she got older, it was less effective and I was more frustrated that she still wasn't sleeping.  The solution?  More of the "make you sleep" medicine, which was actually a blood pressure pill.  So, my adolescent daughter was on blood pressure pills to make her sleep because her ADD medication made it impossible for her to sleep.   After more than four years of this battle, I had enough.  I talked to the doctor about switching medication, and she suggested we try just the blood pressure pill without the "you-won't-want-to-eat-or-sleep pill."  Enough.  We stopped.

I remembered when we first started battling ADD.  Our daughter was in second grade.  We insisted on some extra testing for allergies and other disorders.  When we finally determined the main culprit really was ADD-Inattentive type, the doctor told me that she would support us in whatever type of treatment we chose.  She also assured me that she had no objection to alternative treatments, but that in her experience, parents tried all the alternatives, saw no results and then came back to the doctor for medication.  I trusted her, so I skipped the alternatives at that point.  So, several years later when we decided to stop the medication, I didn't tell the doctor.

Believe it or not, now that she is older, she has learned to manage it herself.  I am learning to accept that she will always move at her own speed.  She still struggles to finish her sentences and collect her thoughts.  She also has very high grades, has been accepted into the gifted program and was elected to Student Council this year.  And, she sleeps.  We still have work to do in helping her learn to follow hunger cues, instead of ignore them but overall, she is better.  She still struggles with allergies and we are still learning how to deal with those.  More on that later.

Now, for myself, I also gradually became dissatisfied with my doctor.  I love my doctor.  She is smart and kind and practical.   I stayed with her for quite a while.  She cared for me through a couple of surgeries, a bout of laryngitis that left me voiceless for two weeks, and several other minor bumps and bruises.  She also kept a close eye on my blood sugar, always a concern since I had gestational diabetes when  I was pregnant.  She was sympathetic with my pitiful attempts at weight loss, which were mostly unsuccessful.  She gave me some borderline diabetes medications to try and hold it off a few more years.  She never suggested I meet with a nutritionist and she never discussed my diet with me, other than to suggest I stay away from concentrated sugars.  I appreciated that she was not overbearing.  Except, she did really like to prescribe medicines, especially new ones that cost more than the standard $8 co-pay.  She kept an eye on my blood work and kept tabs on the medications I took for migraines and to attempt to keep my allergies and reflux under control so I wouldn't lose my voice again.

Last summer, I went to see my doctor for a long overdue check up.  I explained that I had been working all night and had not fasted the recommended eight or more hours.  I also explained that I had not been taking any of my medication at all so I didn't know if blood tests would be meaningful since they clearly would not tell us if the medications she had recommended were effective.  She reassured me that it would be good to have the information. She gave me a blood glucose monitor and promised to call and let me know how often to test my blood sugar based on my test results.  The results came in:  my blood sugar was too high, as expected.  She did not say anything about the promised recommendation to begin tracking my blood sugar or to adjust my diet or exercise.  Her recommendation?  Immediately begin injections of a medication I had never heard of before.   That was the limit of my tolerance and trust of her recommendations.  I decided I would have to figure it out on my own.

Not too long after that, I heard a friend talking about essential oils.  She had been using them with great success, and she was very persuasive.  I was extremely skeptical about trying alternative treatments.  I had tried (and disliked) all sorts of homeopathic remedies and all natural cleaners before.  Most of them tasted like black licorice and/or smelled like really strong incense.  No thank you!  I read more of my friend's experiences and some other sources as well and decided it was worth trying.

At the beginning of November, I went to a class on using DoTerra essential oils.  DoTerra oils were said to be stronger, safer and more therapeutic than similar products.  My friend's personal experiences using the oils were compelling.  The company seemed reputable.  I decided to give it a try.  I ordered a kit that included a modest assortment of basic oils that could be used in a variety of ways.  I was specifically interested in using oils to treat allergy and sinus issues, ADD, migraines and any other minor ailments that cropped up.  This is just the beginning - more coming soon!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Now that it is officially 2013, it seems appropriate to drop any pretense that I will be sending out the rest of our Christmas cards.  Here is our Christmas letter for this year:

Poll:  How do you feel about family letters included with a Christmas card?
a.  They are obnoxious.  It's just one more way to brag about your family's miniscule accomplishments.
b.  Yawn.  They make me sleepy.  I read them on Christmas Eve when I can't get to sleep.
c.  I can take them or leave them. 
d.  I prefer pictures.
e.  I like the to hear the news from my friends and family.  Bring it on!

If your answer was "a": We apologize and suggest you toss this in the trash and move on with your life. We promise not to be offended.  

If your answer was "b": Just add this to the stack you are saving for your next bout of insomnia, especially if it doesn't arrive before Christmas Eve!

If your answer was "c": Hmmm, we have no advice.  Do as you wish.

If your answer was "d":  We are low on pictures at the moment.  Try to imagine what we looked like last year and add more hair (except for Michael) and wrinkles on everyone.  We'll do better next year. 

If your answer was "e":  Here's our news!
--> We are all older!  Michael hit the big 4-0, Jenn will reach there soon, Jarom hit 16, Ainsley is 14, Rebekah turned 12, and Holly will complete her first decade at the end of the month. 

--> For those who have not seen or heard, our church opened a temple in Kansas City this year.  This was definitely a memorable and important time for our family.  Before the dedication, we toured the temple with our kids.  Michael and I each had an opportunity to help as volunteers during the temple open house.  Even more thrilling, Jarom and Ainsley (and 3000 other teenagers from our area) were part of the Cultural Celebration at Municipal Auditorium in honor of the temple dedication.  It was an amazing show!  

-->This year, for the first and only time, our kids are all attending school in different buildings.  This has added a new kind of crazy to our lives! 
*Jarom attends Ruskin High School and survived his first year in the high school drumline.  We had no idea the kind of time commitment this required, but it was *so* much fun to watch him march with the band!  He plays  Bass Drum #3.  Now that concert band has resumed, he is back to spending his time mostly on the marimba.

*Ainsley attends Hickman Mills Junior High.  She is an excellent student and was recently accepted into   our district's gifted program.  She also continues to play violin in the orchestra and she was elected to the Student Council!  She has been a little disappointed that they have not had a meeting since the elections, but I am sure she will have them falling into line soon.

*Rebekah attends Smith Hale Middle School.  She is also an excellent student and she plays the cello in    the orchestra.  She is the first chair in the cello section for the whole sixth grade!   Since she turned 12 in September, she now gets to participate in the youth programs at church.  She is also becoming a social butterfly, being the first of our kids to burn up the phone lines & invite friends over!

*Holly is our last child still at Burke Elementary in fourth grade.  She recently starred as Goliath in a video production of "David and Goliath," performed by the Activity Day girls at church.  She gave a moving and dramatic performance.  She also participated in the Twelfth Night Feast for school (as an ox horn dancer) and, we are told, had her picture in the Kansas City Star.  She will be available for autographs during Christmas vacation.  You can check our family website for her schedule of appearances.

-->One other major event this year: Michael graduated summa cum laude from Columbia College with a B.A. in history.  We are *so* proud of his accomplishment!  He took a (very short) break and is now working on his master's degree in public administration. 
--> Jenn is still here, doing the same things, praying for a clone or a little more brain power to keep up with everyone else!

Enough of that!  From our family to yours, with *much* affection, we wish you a beautiful holiday season, celebrating with those you love most.

The Ort Family