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!

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