The Holistic Nurse: Origins

This is the story of the holistic nurse.

It really began in 1980, when I was born without a thyroid gland. (Odd, I know.) Thanks to a delayed diagnosis, the prognosis for my development was quite grim. Through a combination of committed physicians, occupational and physical therapists, devoted parents and a whole lot of luck, I turned out just fine. I am thankful.

But I am also aware. I was the first of three children to be born with some form of birth defect, ranging from mild to life-threatening. Today we are all grown and healthy.

And then there was my father. Caring for him was my first introduction to a multidisciplinary, multimodal healing process. Dad used acupuncture, energy healing, and a multitude of herbal supplements and vitamins in his quest for wellness.

Our family also sought new methods to heal ourselves during his illness and after we lost him. My sister took up yoga in a big way. My mom adopted Healthy Healing as a personal bible, which she gave as gifts to friends and family. I started seeking a new provider to manage my thyroid issues after by-the-book endocrinologists saw my normal TSH, shrugged, and attributed my sluggish symptoms, depression and weight gain to a myriad of other conditions (none of which I actually had).

I found a new doctor, who relied on an entire thyroid panel rather than the elusive and misleading lone TSH results, adjusted my meds accordingly and helped lead me out of a 3-year funk. I learned about functional medicine and Richard Shames, and lost almost 40 pounds by adjusting my activity levels and intake. I discovered Zumba and found a personal trainer to help me hit the ground running.

Then it was time to move away from home, this time for nursing school. Alone in a new city, I struggled to find my way. And the challenges continue even now. Nursing school has (ironically) proven to be one of the most unhealthy and toxic environments I have ever encountered.


But in the midst of the struggle, there have been glimmers of hope. Thanks to our required Integrative Health courses, I have experienced yin yoga, the Feldenkrais Method®, reflexology and qi gong. I have become a regular acupuncture enthusiast for everything from stress management to pain control. Energy medicine has offered more therapeutic support than years of antidepressants. My primary care provider is a naturopath and manages my thyroid levels more effectively than any provider I have had.

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I certainly don’t claim to have all the answers. On the eve of graduating, I am the heaviest I have ever been and I struggle with physical and emotional stress that has manifested in new, painful ways. My pursuit of wellness will never end. Nor should it. But along the way I have learned important lessons:

  1. You MUST take care of yourself. Whatever that means for you. Those of us in “caring professions” tend to forget ourselves. To the detriment of our patients’ and our own well-being.
  2. It isn’t easy. I know this. Boy do I.
  3. You are not alone.

The Holistic Nurse series will be my attempt to share some of the knowledge and wisdom that is out there when it comes to health and healing. Some of it you may already be familiar with. Some of it may be completely foreign.

If there is one thing I have learned over the past four years, it is this… Health is a personal, lifelong journey. It is about the whole person. And if one post in this series encourages you to try something new or take an important step in your own healing, then I have done my job.

The journey starts next Friday.

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