Now that you know all about my education and training, professional experience, background, and a little about my family constellation, it's time you know that EXTRA something that fuels my healing efforts:
The extent of my knowledge regarding the balance of holistic healing within a medical model includes a much more personal component, too.
In the winter of 2013, I was hospitalized for a simple medical condition that was further compromised by Lyme's Disease. My health deteriorated rather quickly, resulting in a trip to the ICU for two weeks, a full month's stay in the hospital, a return visit for another infection, and then finally concluding with the simple surgery I was admitted for in the first place.
(Photo Right: I lost a LOT of hair by the time of my second hospitalization, but my husband was quick to remind me that I still have more than he does.)
With the assistance of a ventilator, feeding tube, and lots of medications; smart and vigilant medical staff; a remarkably loving family, supportive friends and rock-steady clergy; the power of prayer from all traditions; and an amazing team of colleagues from the Integrative Medicine Department (with whom I worked) and throughout the hospital (where I worked), I survived the septic state that overcame my body. I was remarkably lucky: the fast-moving nature of sepsis is such that it can wreak devastating havoc that is too severe to reverse. I personally know more than my share of those who have succumbed to its quick and dirty work, which is why I strive to live each day to its fullest and teach others to do the same. Nonetheless, on some days my cup runneth over, and on other days it remains a bit parched.
I fully understand how fortunate I am to have survived this adventure in critical care. From the moment I woke up and began to understand where I was and how I got there, I felt safe and encouraged by the people around me. I have no doubt whatsoever that the complementary therapies I received -- as well as all the personal support from a network of wonderful people, many of whom I've never met -- provided me the with the opportunity to truly heal. My doctors not only cared for my physical well-being, but they also happened to be a group of extraordinary individuals who were willing to join my team, treating me with compassion and hope as well as modern medicine. By seeing me as an individual with context, and by respecting the value of my friends', family's and co-workers' efforts in complementary and alternative medicine, they exponentially strengthened my potential for thriving as well as surviving.
Above: me surviving & thriving...and enthusiastically winning a game of shuffleboard. Picture -- and shadow -- courtesy of my husband.
I've learned quite a bit about "healing into wellness" over the years as an allopathic and integrative healthcare practitioner, a parent, and now as a critically ill patient myself. The value of complementary and alternative approaches added to traditional Western medicine is more profound than I could have ever imagined...and I've been doing this a LONG time. I've always understood the benefits of a mind-body-spirit approach to healing; now after my survival and thrival (yes, I just made that up...), I have a newfound respect for its necessity.
I was discharged from the hospital with a variety of parting gifts, including a plethora of medical equipment. Thus the inevitable birth of "Syringe Man".
The people around me were determined to keep my spirits high, continuously reminding me of who I am and for what I've been advocating all these years. Those cheerleading efforts helped bring me back to myself. But after the crisis and chaos quieted down, I knew that it was ultimately up to me to choose my state of mind. And, just to be clear, it was NOT easy. I struggled with frustration, disappointment, and rebellion against "the happy sick girl" -- a haunting, fictitious and unrealistic expectation of myself. There were times I could find my groove and ride the wave of trust, faith and humor, but there were other moments when I felt like I was drowning in a sea of fear and self-doubt. It took a little while, but eventually I remembered and re-learned that all the rockin' and swayin' is part of the journey.
Of course that timeline was longer than I hoped or expected, but that's part of the journey, too. Moving forward from the point of general medical stability was just as scary as landing in the midst of the storm. However, as many clients and patients have taught me over the years, healing and resolution eventually reach us in whatever form we need. They may not arrive in the manner we'd like or according to our preferred schedules, but we can always count on them to show up. As I've been telling my son for years, there is always something better around the corner.
That's me weathering a storm...
What I'm trying to say is, I know a little something about which I speak, having witnessed healing from a multitude of perspectives. But that doesn't mean I have all the answers. I was sick and I lived -- that doesn't make me an expert at anything other than tenacity. However, added to my training, observation and personal experience with traditional and integrative medicine over the years, I carry a unique set of professional and personal tools to share with just about anyone who'll listen, and even some who won't.
...and this is me not having all the answers.
I respect that your journey is your own -- I don't walk in your shoes, I don't wear your skin, I don't live your day-to-day life. But if you'd like, I can teach you strategies and approaches that will help you find a sense of ease, comfort and acceptance that may not be as accessible as you'd like right now. Just remember, a phone call or email does not a contract make. If you don't like what I have to say, merely hang up the phone or hit delete. It wouldn't be the first time, and I'm guessing it won't be the last.
Either way, by doing something and making a decision, you actively take one step further on your path to resolution. If I can help you gain some momentum in that process, let me know. I'll be waiting over here on the interweb.
© Hayley Kamis, MA, RM/T, IARP, CCC-SLP