Meditation, Breathing, Diet, & More

I have always been a very healthy person.

I’m one of those people who wildly loves the work I do. Of course, that means that I used to have trouble saying no to the great new opportunities and challenges that came my way…so I didn’t. I did much more than was genuinely healthy.

I say all this because I feel that (even though my western doctors denied a relationship) it all lead up to what happened to me in June (2003).

One day I was taking a large group of kids hiking (filling in for a friend on top of my own work and maxing myself out far too much)…and noticed when I got back that I was covered with small freckle like things all over my arms. I was confused by it at the time and basically I tried to deny being too alarmed, so I just wrote it off as “weird.” I had small bruises all around my shoulders under my backpack straps. I asked people what it was – was it chicken pox? No one knew. I had a blinding headache.

I went home and took an Ibuprofen for my headache (which turned out to be a very big blood-thinning mistake)…and I started blood blistering up like crazy. I woke up the next morning and I could barely talk or eat because of these bizarre blood blisters. My nose was bleeding (and had been for a few days on and off).

I went right to a doctor who after completing my blood tests…hospitalized me with a blood count of 4,000 platelets. They told me about the chance that I might have something called ITP, or it might be Leukemia. I’ll leave out all the emotional details – let’s just say it was really awful and basically terrifying being put in a hospital for 3 days and having all kinds of things put into my veins and having my bone marrow tested (!!!!!!). With the bone marrow test they confirmed that I had ITP. It took me almost a month to learn how to say the whole thing (idiopathic thrombocyto- penic purpura). With the Gamma Globulin infusions and steroids they had me on, my platelets went up enough to go home (24,000).

So, after I got out of the hospital I was on a rollercoaster ride, my platelets going up, up, up, to a high of 322,000 and then plummeting back to 99,000. Once the plummeting began I really lost it. I was on steroids and hating that. I never felt right on steroids, I’d have these moments of aggression (I could exercise beyond any prior ability) and I had to sleep sitting up or else I’d wake up with a weird physical-panic-like feeling in my chest. While sticking close to my hematologist I also was trying to work with an acupuncturist and looking into all the alternative info I could find on the Internet. But while the Gamma Globulin and steroids seemed to work great at first, I got to a point that nothing was working anymore.

My acupuncturist had me on an intense regimen of vitamins and herbs and diet changes. His intent was wonderful and he – much to his credit – went to great lengths to help me find out about this ITP thing. But it was driving me crazy. My moods – despair and anger – were not helped by the steroids, and they only got worse with the herbal/vitamin regimen 4 times a day. The treatments were horrible and unbearable and my platelet counts remained low – I wanted off of all of it. My hematologist and others were after my spleen. I became very fearful of both the surgery and the ongoing medication.

I realized what everyone was asking me to do was just simply NOT right for me. As soon as I figured out what I wanted, I felt a weird sort of relief. I asked my hematologist to stay with me while I tried out a whole new way of treatment and that he take me off of the steroids. It was against his best judgment, but he agreed. We picked a platelet count that would be the point at which I came back if it came to that and THEN I’d go their route. I told my acupuncturist I was going to work with someone in San Francisco I had heard a lot about.

It was the best thing for me without a doubt. Dr. Wang (pronounced Wong), told me to stop taking all the herbs and waited while I got off the steroids completely. He did a lot of very intensive work on my body – painful deep work, adjustments, meditation, breathing exercises. He kept the dietary restrictions that I started with my acupuncturist (no wheat, dairy, no coffee, I never drink alcohol). In addition he also put me on a vegan diet. He also had me drink a minimum of 1 gallon of warm/hot water every day before 6pm. Those were the things that I did do, although there were more things that he ideally wanted me to do. Dr. Wang is one of those highly unusual, very remarkable and gifted healers.

My blood count went up in August and stabilized. I’ve been in the mid 200,000’s ever since. Dr. Wang has since become inundated with so many clients that I have been to see him less and less, and I hope that I’m able to maintain my numbers in spite of that; so far, so good. I just had my one year anniversary from the beginning of all of this.

I guess one other helpful thing to mention might be that I did have to increase my protein intake due to hair loss (from the steroids??) and I make sure I have up to 60 grams of protein a day and the loss has completely stopped.

This has been more educational than I ever could have hoped for. I hope something in my story can help somebody going through this have some kind of clarity or a chance to get out of a bad place. Be careful not to follow anyone who doesn’t feel right to you. Don’t get caught up in the fear track that Western medicine can sometimes create in spite of all their good intentions. They pretty much only treat symptoms and not causes so the symptoms just continue, worsen or switch to another manifestation. They didn’t solve the problem.

My acupuncturist at one time created that one epiphany-like moment – my turning point where I finally just got so…well…angry that I finally saw exactly what I needed to do and who I needed to back away from. He saw my intense frustration, fear and despair and he told me that I had better not be afraid to stand up and leave any of my great helping doctors and healers to do what it was that I needed to do. Ironically, it meant my leaving him. I’m an intensely loyal person and I was surprised to find that that was part of my test and my “way out” of all this mess.

So, why did I get better and so stable (knock on wood!)? Was I going to get better anyway? Was it the diet changes? Was it the 5 service things that I stopped doing on top of my own business and a few more service things I won’t stop doing? Was it Dr. Wang? Was it just my FEELING safer with Dr. Wang that worked? Was it all the prayers that were said for me? There’s no way to tell for sure…probably all of it. I pray that I get to stay healthy and ITP symptom free.

Best of luck, many blessings to you and feel free to contact me if you would like to.

-- sashaizzo@juno.com

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