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Grace & Grounding: The Gospel of Healing

Good, Intentional Care

By Shereá Denise

But through it all I remember

that He loves me

and He cares.

And He'll never put more on me

than I can bear.

Song - More Than I Can Bear by Kirk Franklin

In late August, I had my first visit with a Holistic Practitioner who practices acupuncture and other Chinese modalities. The initial appointment and intake lasted for three hours and was extremely thorough and informative. The appointment felt more like a genuine and intentional conversation focused more on healing than diagnosing. As it is illegal for those who practice anything other than Western Medicine to formally diagnose you with any diseases or illnesses, I did not leave the appointment with a formal list of diagnoses. I did - however - leave with some ideas of what was happening within my body, how I could approach it, and how this particular Holistic Practitioner could support me with that approach. 

 

We discussed herbs, noting that they may not be the best course of treatment for me at this time and that some acupuncture sessions and energetic work would likely be the best place to start. The research that I had done and the diet modifications that I made based on that research and my body’s reactions to things made it very easy to isolate what specific things may be making me sick/causing inflammation within my body. 

 

The holistic approach included talking to my body about what it was experiencing and using non-traditional testing means to help my body identify where needs/weaknesses existed.

 

Based on the preliminary energetic testing done during the visit, there appeared to be no ongoing concerns of SIBO, but there were concerns of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), interstitial cystitis (IC), food allergies, and alpha gal. There were also some red flags regarding my vitamin (B7, B12, D, E) levels and some minerals/metals. According to the practitioner, most of my health challenges appeared to be connected to food allergies/intolerances that had been developing, possibly due to SIBO and alpha gal. My hope was that - if I treated the alpha gal, then the food intolerances - I would be much closer to healing.

 

I was genuinely excited following the initial appointment. This was a first for me. I felt heard, assured, and hopeful. I received so much confirmation that the research I had done and the symptoms I had experienced were not my imagination. Most importantly (and excitingly), there were ways and a plan to address most of what was happening. 

 

Acupuncture Session One

I began the energetic work on August 27, 2023 and had my first auricular acupuncture session on September 1, 2023. From September 1 - September 23, I had 18 3-millimeter needles in my right ear intended to address the alpha gal concerns. (Additional information about alpha gal is available here. Testimonies from those living with alpha gal are available here.) While going through the alpha gal treatment, I stopped taking my bariatric vitamins because the vitamins are in a capsule that includes gelatin and magnesium stearate, which could prove problematic for my system. While I did not notice an overall change in how I felt, I was uncomfortable not taking some form of a supplement. This led me to explore vegetarian bariatric multivitamins. (The brand I have been trying is Naturelo.) I also utilized a MtlSolA spray intended to address what was becoming toxic to my body (caffeine, shrimp, tuna).

 

A week or so into my auricular acupuncture treatment, I became extremely ill. I could barely tolerate food, spending approximately nine days only consuming protein shakes with Ancient Nutrition Bone Broth and small snacks in an effort to soothe my stomach and still reach my protein goals. Initially I thought I was eating something that was contrary to the diet that I had been given. I had been told that I could have poultry and salmon, but - no matter what I ate - I remained sick, in pain, and extremely fatigued. My back and hip pain returned with a vengeance, leading me to schedule an appointment with the Chiropractor. My stomach was in shambles, leading me to reach out to the Gastroenterologist and to stop using chia seeds. The prior authorization for the medication that they thought would help was denied by my insurance. Thinking that the only thing that could be causing an issue was the needles in my ear, I reached out to the Acupuncturist’s office to see if I may need to remove the needles. When I contacted them I learned that they had recently been made aware of an issue with the Ancient Nutrition protein powder ingredients. At some point bovine (cow)/beef bone broth had been added to the product, which interfered with alpha gal treatment. Relieved that discontinuing the protein powder may allow me to feel better, but continuing to feel exhausted and overwhelmed by all that my body and mind had experienced for the last week, I went into a lowkey panic. I began asking myself so many of the questions that I had been avoiding: Would I ever fully recover? Was I going to have to start treatment over? Why did it seem that I was always poisoning myself unknowingly? Would this (whatever THIS was) be what ended my life?

 

I also became somewhat critical of my own personal hypocrisy. Despite my enthusiasm about holistic practices and “Eastern Medicine,” look how quickly I returned to Western Medicine in moments of despair. I criticized myself for how willing I was to go back to the Chiropractor and to a Gastroenterologist even though I knew they may not be able to actually help me.

 

My frustrations with my body all came back much louder and more extreme than they had in quite some time. I was disappointed in myself, possibly because I blamed myself, my bad habits, and my decision to have gastric bypass for all that my body was going through. I felt like my body was shutting down and no one else seemed to understand how urgent, how embarrassing, how confusing, or how painful this was. I could sense doctors getting frustrated with me. I was equally as frustrated with them for continuing to prescribe things that harmed me or for acting like it was completely logical for actual diagnoses to take almost 3 years. I was tired of having the same conversations over and over again. I was tired of the trips and costs associated with specialists who could tell me nothing. I was tired of spending my little bit of spare time researching all of the things that may be wrong with me. I was also tired of being at home all of the time because going places - especially new places - put my anxiety through the roof.

 

After taking a few days to let the protein powder work its way out of my system, I returned to consuming various foods for breakfast and snacks in an effort to continue to increase my calories per the Gastroenterologist. I also started using a new protein powder. My body became fully inflamed from my hips to my toes. Again, my stomach was in shambles and I felt like I had failed myself. This particular setback seemed to have been a food allergy that developed in response to oats. Here I was - yet again - experiencing a food-induced setback. I was reminded of a TikTok video about alpha-gal where a woman said, “It is so alienating not to be able to just eat like a normal person.” Though my lab work for alpha-gal came back negative after my acupuncture treatment, I still shared her sentiment. I found myself fearful of food, of the reactions that my body might have to whatever I chose to eat that day or that week. As a person who grew up in a culture where food is an integral part of every experience - celebrating, grieving - to be afraid of food and to have an ever-changing diet was quite difficult. To not know or realize that something would make me sick until I had a debilitating, alarming, or embarrassing reaction to it was overwhelming.

 

In the weeks following my first acupuncture session and the bodily reactions to various foods, I suffered a foot injury that resulted in a crushed bone, eight stitches, and the subsequent removal of my toenail. It seemed like my body was (very loudly might I add) telling me to sit down and to calm down. Thankfully, my stomach seemed to calm down for the first few weeks as I learned to navigate life in a post-operative shoe and to care for my physical injuries.

 

Acupuncture Session Two

After taking time for the initial phases of healing for my foot, I returned for my second acupuncture session on November  4, 2023. Three more weeks with needles in my right ear to address tree and grass mix food allergy concerns. These allergies appeared to be affecting how my body responded to most foods that come from the ground, such as oats, vegetables, and peanuts. These allergy responses also appeared to be connected to the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, interstitial cystitis, and leaky gut. SIBO is believed to cause food intolerances/sensitivities, which - for me - leads to an increase of inflammation in my body. Inflammation shows up as muscle pain, joint pain, interstitial cystitis, irritable bowel syndrome, and - apparently - hormone imbalances.

 

Around this same time I had some hormone testing at the encouragement of my OB/GYN. Surprisingly, my OB/GYN is quite familiar with alpha-gal and recognized how the chronic inflammation and gastrointestinal issues that I was having could negatively affect hormones. The testing confirmed that my hormones were slightly off and my OB/GYN provided me with information about medicinal and herbal options to correct these issues.

 

Acupuncture Session Three

On December 9, 2023 I returned for another acupuncture session. Based on some symptoms that I had been tracking, the acupuncturist tested me for reactions to preservatives, some prior trigger foods, and SIBO. Unfortunately, SIBO had returned and neither Western Medicine nor herbs seemed to be the appropriate treatment. The acupuncturist suggested some additional energetic work that had proven successful for addressing SIBO for other patients in the past. She provided me with an EntrSol spray to address the SIBO symptoms.

 

The spray proved quite effective early-on. Though I was continuing to have some abnormal symptoms, it had become somewhat easier to identify triggering ingredients and to find food options that would not further frustrate my body.

 

Acupuncture Session Four

I returned to the acupuncturist on January 13, 2024. I learned that the prior set of needles had been somewhat successful, but there were some bodily reactions that had not been alleviated. At this session we focused on more preservative testing, as well as testing some of the foods that appeared to be causing the most gastrointestinal and inflammatory distress in my body. 

 

Though I had accepted early-on that I had to stop expecting every medical or acupuncture or therapy appointment to be the one that healed me, that would diagnose me, that would “fix” me, I also recognized that I was becoming annoyed with how long this healing process was taking and how few results I actually felt that I was experiencing.

 

Recalibrating

I have had to “recalibrate” on more than one occasion over the last three years. Recalibrating has included adjusting my spiritual practices to ensure that they still resonate with me and picking up some of the tools that have aided me in the past. Listening to gospel music continues to be a major aspect of my practices. I often wake up with particular lyrics in mind, finding that those lyrics are seemingly given to me as a form of comfort or assurance. I also receive a lot of unexpected messages through numerology and symbolism. Other practices that I have circled back to have been breathing exercises (which I use to help me to listen to my body and regulate my nervous system) and documenting different parts of my journey so that I can pinpoint my digestive issues and what may have caused them.. (For Bariatric patients, make sure that you are tracking what is happening and when. Responses to food can take hours or days. What you have labeled as Dumping Syndrome might be something else entirely.)

 

Presently, something is continuing to inflame my legs and my hip; however, I am not quite sure what it is. My frustration still goes and comes. Most days I try to actively move past my symptoms while still paying attention to my body’s warning signs. These long stints of inflammation typically cause fatigue and - emotionally - they leave me feeling a little downtrodden and defeated. The back-to-back medical issues have taken a physical, mental, and emotional toll on me. The icing on the cake was beginning the new year testing positive for COVID.

 

While attempting to catch all that I felt kept being thrown at me I began revisiting some of the disagreements that I had been having with my body early-on, thinking about how there seemed to be a language barrier, which often caused my body to feel like it had to scream to be heard and honored. While it is true that we can create or recreate our own meaning for things/experiences, I still have not quite pinpointed what the meaning of all of these health challenges is for me. I know - in part - that I needed to ground myself, to learn how to communicate with my body, and to reprioritize some things in my life. I find myself reflecting on what was said in Divination Readings from years past, readings where I was told that there were some things with my body and my nervous system that I needed to address before those things sat me down. I thought I heeded the warnings, yet here I was. Sat down.

 

In these moments where I am sitting, I do my best to be mindful of what has my attention. It is far too easy to go down the rabbit hole of researching symptoms and causing internal panic. 

 

Recently, one thing that caught my attention and helped me to recalibrate was an interview with Melanie Fiona. In the interview, Melanie discussed losing her singing voice and how this was a wake-up call for her. She specifically addressed how her energetic/health issues highlighted the fact that she was not grounded and that she was not being mindful. She considered the loss of her voice to be her Higher Power attempting to get her attention. Melanie Fiona also utilized Reiki and acupuncture for her healing. She shared that - through these practices - she learned a lot about the importance of surrender and the need to embrace change.

 

The interview was very relatable for me. In a way, it altered my thoughts around why I was experiencing so many challenges and led me to wonder whether the small changes that I had made were really enough or if they were my attempts to pacify my body rather than to really address what I was doing that may be harmful. Melanie Fiona highlighted the following points:  

 

  • Normalize sharing your trauma because this shapes how your story is told.

  • Practice authenticity.

  • Treat information as a gift.

  • Unlearn limiting beliefs and focus on a growth mindset.

 

As I thought through these points, I realized that I had not made as much progress as I may have originally thought with regards to my mindset. I was very much so revisiting bad habits and focusing on things that were actually of no consequence. I am not sure if any of what I was doing was intentional. I also was unsure of how to go past a surface level to genuinely shift my mindset, to be authentic, and to further unravel the limiting beliefs that were proving to have a not so great effect on me and my healing. I took some of these concerns to my Therapist, but worked on processing the others myself until I could find the words that I needed to explain what I was thinking and feeling prior to and since having these health issues to show up. 

 

As you can imagine, the processing can be somewhat daunting and discouraging. Over the last month I have made it a point to look for encouragement and positive signs. I recognize that I may not be the only person in need of both, so I am sharing some of what I have found below. My hope is that these messages prove beneficial for those of you who may be in a season of despair or illness:

 

  • “When this happened to me, especially the second time, it was a very clear rerouting of priorities. I had such limited energy during the bulk of my bouts with cancer treatment that I had maybe about three good hours every day… When you have only two to three good hours in a day, you have to get very clear on what is most important to you—what you want to do in those hours and who you want to spend it with and how.” –Suleika Jaouad on prioritizing

  • Tabitha Brown

 

"Sometimes you look exactly like what you've been through and that's the testimony." -Tabitha Brown

 

For some reason I had convinced myself that this post would be the conclusion to this series. In this moment, I recognize that - in thinking that - I was still operating in the mindset that I have more control over what is happening with my body than I actually do. I am not quite sure when this series will end, but I continue to be reminded of the Hope card from last year’s Reiki Session. There is a balance between hopefulness and control that I am still working to find.


I will conclude this post  by sharing a reminder with each of you that was given to me by Donnecia Brown:

 "Take good and intentional care of yourself."

 

One day at a time, sweet Jesus, that’s all I'm asking of you.

 Just give me the strength to do - everyday - what I have to do. 

Yesterday's gone, sweet Jesus, and tomorrow may never be mine.

God help me today, show me the way, one day at a time.

Song - One Day at a Time by Lynda Randle

 

Read Part Four: Having the Last Word

Part Six: Coming Soon

Find additional posts and resources here.

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