Editor’s note: This post is the second half of a two-part series begun here.
And, so yes. Rampantly, this MS frolicked through my neurological system, wreaking havoc on quite seemingly every tiny twist and turn of my neurological system. Paresthesias were usually unilateral. Sometimes an entire quadrant of my body. Other times, just a limb or even a digit. Entire organs would even go numb. If you’ve never felt the precise outline of your stomach because it’s tingling, well, you’re very fortunate.
But then, each symptom that appeared would, after peaking in one horrid point at which it was most intense, begin to diminish. And then, disappear.
The physiological and emotional roller coaster left me incapable of maintaining my job as a copywriter at a KC-based agency, but quitting also meant losing health insurance completely.
Suddenly finding myself without insurance coverage in the midst of this crisis not only elicited a sense of abject terror for what could come (and not being able to do anything about it) but also anger: What a horrific healthcare model, that when an individual is rendered unable to work due to illness, she not only loses her ticket to insured healthcare, her income bids an immediate adieu, too.
Only in retrospect, of course, has the blessing-in-disguise quality of losing access to orthodox healthcare become evident.
It is said that necessity is often the mother of invention. In the throes of a bout with severe optic neuritis, I found myself Googling naturopaths in the KC area and, on the recommendation of a former colleague, found myself sitting in the beautiful, peaceful waiting room of acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist Chelton Kleitz, founder of The Jade Bamboo Wellness Institute in Mission, Kansas.
Offering me tea and a serene place to sit while I waited for Kleitz to finish up with his previous patient, the receptionist–who I later learned was the incredibly talented yogi Xo Nguyen–was a far cry from that to which I had grown accustomed in the countless hours I had spent in doctors’ waiting rooms.
My first session with Chelton Kleitz was quite literally more informative and enlightening than any of my other experiences theretofore–as he worked gently along my body’s meridians, he was also a constant flow of information and calming reassurance.
Tears of release–and hope–ran down my cheeks as he reached down, clasped my hand and pulled me to a seated position.
“But Dr. Kleitz: My brain is riddled with lesions… How can you tell me acupuncture and Chinese herbs will heal those?” I asked in genuine wonder, considering the myriad options I had received, all of which basically amounted to the fact that there was nothing I could do to heal the lesions. Instead, I could halt the power of my immune system using potent immunosuppressive drugs that would leave me not only vulnerable to contract anything to which I was exposed but also in need of several other drugs to counteract the side effects of the powerful CRABs drugs.
Kleitz’s response would serve as the beginning of my paradigmatic shift, from a place of powerlessness and concession to one of hopeful empowerment and even excitement and joy for the road back to health I suddenly found myself poised to commence.
“Oh, Alicia… Those lesions aren’t as scary as you believe them to be. Yes–you have MS, but that is simply the name of the symptom, which means ‘many scars,’” he said with an assertion I will never forget.
“Those lesions are wounds, and they will heal as any other in our body, if we give it the right tools.”
Kleitz sent me home with an herbal concoction he prepared for me right there on the spot, a pack of goji berries (a mega immune booster that’s been used for more than 2,000 years) and an ignited passion to educate myself on the possibilities of teaching my body to learn to heal itself. Wrapping my mind around the information Kleitz had just imparted, I began to wonder why traditional, Western medicine practitioners had never put it that way.
If “multiple sclerosis” was merely the name of the symptom, what, then, was the root cause? And therein lies the most pervasive symptom of Western doctors’ way of thinking: Treat the symptom, ignore the root cause.
But from the moment I walked out of that neurologist’s office earlier that year, I had already rejected that notion. It was time to fight to find the root cause.
Lucky for us inhabitants of KC, there are many high-quality, reputable Chinese herbalists in the area, including Mary Zhang and Boulevard Yoga, to name a few of the area’s most renowned.
What, Dear Reader, have you experienced in the realm of Chinese medicine here in KC? Tell me your story–I’d love to hear.
Alicia McGarry’s journalistic endeavors began at The Chicago Tribune before her passion for all things Kansas City called her back to her roots. She has written for KC Magazine, The Kansas City Star and LakehomesKC and offers her unique perspective on holistic wellness each month for the readers of Good Health KC.