I’ve had multiple clients ask me over the years why did I choose to embark into the field of Naturopathic Medicine. My answer has always been I didn’t choose it, IT chose ME.
I was recently asked the same question and I felt maybe it was time to put my journey into words. I think that some folks naturally assume than when one is in this type of a field of practice that they don’t struggle with the same mental or physical issues that folks who seek my services out do, but I have to burst the bubble with that assumption…. WE too are humans on this spinning ball we call earth, and therefore are subjected to the same hurdles. There is zero doubt in my mind and heart that God chose my path for me, and my conditioning began for me right from the stages of infancy.
Back in 1965 , it was quite common for laboring mothers to be placed in what was referred to as a twilight sleep. The drugs used to initiate this twilight sleep were comprised of a chemical cocktail of “Morphine & Scopolamine”. The Morphine was to reduce the pain in labor, and the scopolamine was to create amnesia so the experience wasn’t remembered. The problem is that this cocktail greatly suppressed the Central Nervous system of both mother and baby. This meant the baby would need to be delivered with the assistance of forceps, (which I was), and baby upon birth, to have a very suppressed Central Nervous System which could cause breathing issues and a host of other neurological malfunctions, mine began in the digestive tract.
The other common thing to offer the mother after birth was medication to dry up her milk, my mother was told by the medical staff that her emotional state was too nervous to breast feed me, and would make for a very nervous baby, so they recommended she resort to feeding me formula vs. breast milk. Hence, my digestive issues began from the starting gate. The colostrum in breast milk works as the perfect stimulant to allow the baby to pass out the meconium, which is a black tar like coating inside the infants colon. I was constipated before I even left the hospital with my parents. As an infant I was diagnosed as having colic, and infant constipation. My parents rode the rollercoaster of trying to find which formula would work best for me. I was given colic prescriptions and prescription laxatives as an infant, adding insult to injury.
As a child I always remembered, (what should be a simple task) of having a bowel movement was one of great agony and a dreaded body function that I sought to avoid at all cost. Was I the only child, that in order to use the bathroom had to sit on the throne rocking back and forth with a cold rag on her forehead, and the wastebasket between my legs (because most bowel movements meant throwing up), cold sweats and feeling like I was going to pass out, which some times actually happened? I remember asking my mom, what is wrong with my “poop shoot”, twas, what I called it…..
When I reached the age of 8 yrs. old, I experienced my 1st migraine headache, albeit it took the medical field upwards of a year to realize that was what I was experiencing. In the meantime, I was put thru E.E.G’s to see if the headaches were some form of a seizure, or possibly a brain tumor, once those were ruled out, they assumed I must need glasses, which they gave me yet I couldn’t SEE thru them. They mysteriously keep getting lost! Not sure what was up with that?
So after spending much time at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago, it took a Pediatric Intern to confront my parents with the statement that he felt I was having migraine headaches. So, they prescribed a medication… I do NOT remember what it was, but what I do remember was when I took it, it was like having a total out of body experience, and I was expected to still sit at my desk at school and be a kid at recess, when I couldn’t even manage to keep my feet underneath me when I was on it. Mom took me off of that when the school nurse gave me my dose, and next period was recess and I literally walked off a 3 + food concrete pad on the playground and had a goose egg on my forehead the size of a grapefruit coupled with a concussion. Problem with it was, I couldn’t even “LIE” about having the headache when they would occur, because it was uncontrollable vomiting and the pain was so excruciating that all I could do was lay down and moan, crying made it worse so I learned really quickly not to add insult to injury.
At the age of 10, I experienced my 1st go round with a “blocked bowel”, I hadn’t had a bowel movement in at least 2 weeks and I became septic. My fever shot up, and my body was trembling uncontrollably, coupled with a migraine. Folks, during these young ages I spent a LOT of time in the E.R. and doctors offices. I also struggled with lots of upper respiratory issues, it got to when I felt the urge to cough or sneeze, I’d hurry up and leave the room so mom couldn’t hear, because instantly she would give my cold to “Contact, or Dristan”, (remember those commercials way back when? I hated taking those because they made me feel jumpy inside, and I quickly learned after taking those, then I’d end up with a UTI, (Urinary tract infection) because it would dry EVERYTHING up!
So now being in the E.R. and mom being told I had a severely blocked bowel, the only course of action would be to remove my colon and have a colostomy bag. I remember my mom crying, but conceding, the doctor left the room to put the surgery team together. God being supreme and in control, had placed an E.R. nurse in my room during the doctors conversation with my mom, (I was pumped up on feel good juice of some sort), but I do remember the nurse telling my mom, she could lose her job for what she was about to suggest and that they didn’t have much time, but she didn’t want to see this baby (meaning me), lose her colon, did she have my mom’s permission to try to save it before surgery. My mom didn’t even ask “what” she wanted to do, she just agreed. What she gave me was a high enema, I remember them trying to muffle my screams, and massaging my belly, and using tools to help the stool exit, and demanding that I PUSH with everything I had…. Yes I gave birth…. birth to the petrified stool, and gave birth to my 1st go round with hemorrhoids, what a way to welcome the age of being “10”…..I had another go round with a blocked bowel when I was 17 yrs. old. But to this day, thanks be to God, this lady still possesses her proper set of pipes given to her at birth!
Now after the stool birthing process at the age of 10, I distinctly remember dreaming of an evening, and it was so prominent of a dream that I actually wrote it down in my little girlie diary at the time, which I had forgotten about, until my mother who for whatever reason saved the diary (not sure if she save it with intention or it just got shoved in a box of misc. stuff, but shortly before she died in 2005, she gave it to me, of which I didn’t end up reading until 2 yrs. after she passed). But I DO remember that dream set a ball in motion for me that put me at odds with both my parents from that point forward. My dream told me to pay attention to my foods! God’s honest truth… the exact words in my diary ” a voice in my dream told me to pay attention to my foods, I don’t know why, maybe doing this will help me”. I don’t think I completely understood, but things began to make sense after that. I began to realize that after I ate certain foods, I would get a migraine, that was the 1st place I began to connect the dots.
Remember those cookies that looked like windmills? I’d get a horrible headache after eating those, or when dad would bring home Arby’s roast beef sandwiches for lunch, I’d be sicker than a dog after eating those. Or doubled up on the floor after drinking a glass of milk. My mom loved Chinese food, so we’d frequent a local Chinese restaurant, and Migraine from hell would occur after eating there. Slim Jim’s same thing, Doritos, Funyuns, White Castle hamburgers, my list kept getting bigger. Of course back then I didn’t know that MSG. was the culprit, or being lactose intolerant. I just knew after I’d eat certain foods, I didn’t “FEEL” good. Now being raised by a father who insisted you eat whatever was placed in front of you, becoming defiant and refusing to eat certain things, well that boat didn’t float too terribly well. Same with liver and onions, I couldn’t digest it not to mention couldn’t stand the taste… but there was a huge turning point for me in 6th grade when I remember standing up, (being the last Mohican at the dinner table), and Liver -n- onion was the main dish, coupled with left over Chinese and a big glass of milk. I remember staring at that and thinking “you’ve got to be kidding me”…..
I stood my ground, and actually I was getting quite upset, my father was sitting at the table with me as mom was doing the dishes, and I got this lecture, Jodi Ann, I don’t care if that food tastes like it just came out of the freezer, you are going to eat it, there are people starving who would give their right arm to have what is sitting in front of you… Now being the bright 11 yr. old that I credited myself to be, I got up from the table and walked over to the “junk drawer in the kitchen, you know the one every household has”, and took out an envelope and remember walking back to the table, I placed what food I could in that envelope licked it shut and set it down in front of my father and made the statement, “Daddy, I am feeling like a giving person right now so you can mail this to them, and then they can save their right arm, cuz I’m NOT eating any of it.” As any of you parents that may be reading this, that brave stand didn’t fare super well for this brilliant 11 yr. old Joan of Ark, as a matter of fact I remember being quite sore for a day or too. However, I remember my parent’s arguing, and my dad saying if she isn’t going to eat what we eat, she need not be at the dinner table. Inside, I was doing my happy dance…
So here is where I impose my years of WISDOM on all reading parents….. LISTEN TO YOUR CHILDREN…. when I get clients who bring their kiddo’s for a consult, and are disgusted because they say their kids are being picky eaters, they are quickly corrected by ME, children are not BORN to be picky eaters, but they cannot always convey in conversation that when they eat something, they don’t feel right…I will tell you this though, Kids are way more in tune with listening to their bodies than adults. Let me also pose a question to all parents who take the stance that your children will eat what is placed in front of them… when you go to a restaurant, do you purposely order something off the menu because you know its GOOD for you, or do you order something that you actually LIKE? You have an element of choice, why shouldn’t they? Now I’m not saying you cave in and allow them to have crap food in place of something healthy. What I am saying is you need to sometimes allow them the freedom to choose in the different food categories. So if they don’t like a particular veggie, give them other veggie choices, and same with other food groups. Their taste will change and improve as they grow older.
As I stop and sift through looking back over the years, I lost a lot of play time, laying in a bed with a bucket and rag on my head. I missed out on spending the night at friends houses, (until my later teens), because I never knew when I was gonna have to use the bathroom, and it always meant I’d have to lay down for awhile afterwards. Not to mention I had no control over what foods would be served at friends houses, and didn’t want to bring on a headache. It was easier to just forego and stay home.
When I got married and became pregnant with my 1st child, I ended up with toxemia, and gestational Diabetes, after I gave birth to her via C-section. I made a solemn vow, the buck stops HERE. There has to be a better way forward, and there was no way my children were going to experience any of what I went thru. I began to scour thru the library and began reading everything and anything I could get my hands on that pertained to nutrition, I began to collect “OLD” cookbooks (pre-circa processed foods). Everything I could was made from scratch and if I couldn’t make it from scratch, we didn’t eat it. Well, I should say that didn’t roll super well with the hubs, so some concessions were made and his favorite junk foods were hidden, or he ate them at work. (we called it compromise). Not that our children never experienced any processed/junk foods, yes they did, however the moderation they received or were allowed to eat was greatly controlled especially when they were smaller.
One of the 1st life changing material that I came across was the book written by Dr. Henry Bieler, M.D. called Food is your Best Medicine, and the other was by Dr.Norman Walker’s book called Colon Health, those two books changed my direction in profound ways. So to end where I began with this post, I didn’t pick my field of practice, IT picked me! God had a direction, he had a plan for my future, I had to walk in the trenches for awhile, it developed within me a particular “bed-side manner”, and truth be told as with Paul and his “thorn in the flesh”, I have to still watch because I still succumb to migraines, and bowel malfunction when I drift off course. So I do not place myself on any particular pedestal of perfection. I believe I probably struggle less than most, but I do have my moments of weakness, like every other breathing mammal on the planet. Of which I usually pay dearly for when I cave into temptation.
Is there a better way to live? ABSOLUTELY… and it begins with realizing “Food is your best medicine”,,,, and restoring intestinal integrity, that many are lacking including our children.
Jodi Barnett N.D.
Harvested Health LLC
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