Then came the next challenge: eating. Turns out, my son hated it. I finally discovered three foods that he’d usually take: oatmeal, yogurt and green smoothies. So I packed that oatmeal with extra-virgin coconut oil (high in “good” fat), loaded up his smoothies with avocados, kale, spinach (one of Time's “10 Foods You Can’t Get Enough Of” because it’s loaded with nutrients), Greek yogurt, bananas and berries, and instead of giving him a steady dose of Miralax for constipation, tried ground organic flax seed instead.
The results were amazing. My son gained three pounds by his next visit. And his hard, uncomfortable stools came out much easier and more frequent. Now, four years later, hardly a day goes by that we all don’t have a green smoothie in the afternoon.
When I found out I was pregnant with my first, I decided to take a hypnotherapy class. I was convinced I could mentally handle the pain if I were to train my brain to go to a “different place.”
Well, after four hours of drug-free labor, I was begging my husband — between severe vomiting fits — to give me that “evil epidural” and give me it now.
What followed was a great numb, drug-supported birth, but it led to a terrible recovery. Because I had no feeling from the waist down, I couldn’t work with the contractions and ended up pushing much too hard for much too long. I was miserable for about six weeks, and even though the memories of the contractions were still burned in the back of my brain, I thought maybe, just maybe, next time I’d try the whole mind-over-body thing again.
“Guided imagery, the practice of controlled mental visualization, is often used to reduce stress and anxiety, but it also fights pain by refocusing attention,” says Lori Oliwenstein in the article “Pain, Pain, Go Away.”
A 2009 study published in the journal Pediatrics “found that children with abdominal pain who listened to audio recordings to guide their visualizations were more than twice as likely to have lower pain levels than kids who used standard treatments.”
Using mind-calming techniques and successfully making it through a second birth drug-free was one of the most exhilarating moments of my life two years later. Recovery time? I was at our annual Halloween party five days later.
There were many other great articles in the magazine, including those that covered chiropractic care (something I’ve just discovered and have already seen great benefits from), massage therapy, musical therapy and even four-legged therapy in which it mentions service dogs being trained to detect seizures in their companions and call for help.
This got me thinking about my brother again, and the wide, perhaps somewhat still undiscovered world of alternative and complementary healing.
“If the long arc of medical science has taught us anything,” says Jeffrey Kluger and David Bjerklie in their article “A History of Hooey” for Time's “Alternative Medicine” edition, “it’s that healing — for all its fitful progress — can come from the most improbable places. True wisdom means keeping a mind that’s both open and skeptical, empirical and intuitive — admitting that we can never be entirely sure what it will take to make us well, but resolving to take advantage of it when we see it.”
One day, that could mean upping my brother’s meds.
Or, it could mean getting him a trained service dog and sending him to yoga class.
Carmen Rasmusen Herbert is a former "American Idol" contestant who writes about entertainment and family for the Deseret News.
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