I suppose I have always had an inclination towards the natural. As a Family Practice resident in the early 80's I was convinced that childbirth was a natural phenomenon, not a physician-directed surgical event. Much to the chagrin of my residency faculty and later my colleagues, I developed a thriving practice based on "natural childbirth". They were particularly miffed when I didn't show up at the hospital for the birth of my first child, but instead had a lovely, uncomplicated homebirth.
In 1989, a year after my second child was born, I reached critical mass in my personal life and finally had to deal with my drug and alcohol addiction. Thus began the journey of my own personal healing. Unable to deal with both private practice and staying clean and sober, I started working in the Emergency Department. I was angry and resentful of patient demands, but after several years of AA/NA meetings, psychotherapy, and later breathwork, I began to approach people without such a threatened attitude. Gradually, I began to feel my heart open, seeing in retrospect how shut down I had been.
In the spring of 2000 I went to Peru with eleven other women who I did not know. We spent the first week in the jungle and bonded as a group immediately. The second week we went to the Andes: Cusco, the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu. While in the Sacred Valley I had a strong sense of spirits present. I had a reading while I was there from two curanderos who chewed a lot of coca leaves! They immediately knew that I was in the health care profession and told me that I would meet some people, change careers, and make a lot of money! At the time I was a happy little ER doc so I was quite puzzled.
Ten days into the trip, the morning of our second day at Machu Picchu, we hiked Waynapicchu, which means "young female mountain". This is the mountain one always sees in photographs of Machu Picchu. The trail is quite narrow, wet, steep and treacherous, with ropes and rails hammered into the side for assistance. On the way down one of the women in our group fell 75 ft down the mountainside, fortunately landing on her back on a ledge below. When we got to her she was conscious, but unable to move her legs, bleeding profusely from her scalp and complaining of chest pain and difficulty breathing. I sent for help and stabilized her as best I could. Some locals brought a rudimentary stretcher up and we bundled her into it.
Meanwhile, our group leader, Milli, was hiking on a different mountain nearby. A large green hummingbird kept buzzing around her legs. A runner, a young boy who spoke only Kkechuwa was sent up to get her. In Incan mythology, the hummingbird is a messenger. So when Milli saw the boy running, she knew it was serious! She tore down the hillside, getting there just in time to fly out with us.
There is no EMS system in Peru so everything had to be paid for in advance. For $4000 a helicopter flew her to Cusco where she finally got an IV and some pain medicine.
The 'clinic' we were at was quite primitive. I took care of her for the next 36 hours with the help of the local physician (who was actually quite good), while her partner and Milli got some money together and arranged for a flight to Lima. It was incredibly stressful. We were so glad Milli was there! The x-rays were poor and didn't show much. The CT was broken and the neurosurgeon was out of town (it was Easter weekend). Meanwhile her breathing slowly worsened and her hematocrit began to drop. We finally flew her to Lima the next day where she got ICU care and an MRI. The MRI showed multiple thoracic fractures and a severely compressed spinal cord. Four days later an air ambulance flew down from the States to take her home. She is now paraplegic and in a wheelchair, but completely independent. Needless to say, we are bonded for life.
Somehow, in ways that I still can't fully explain, that experience transformed me. Perhaps it was the abundance of spirits that inhabit Machu Picchu. As I resumed my work in the Emergency Department, I noticed that I was changing. I became much more compassionate and connected with patients. By that fall I was identifying as a healer.
Then, two events occurred which again changed my life. Some friends who had been my spiritual teachers tricked me into going to church. I hadn't been to any church since a very bad experience as a 15-year-old. It was a New Thought church and I was completely overcome with the message and spirit there.
Then, the ER group I was working for decided to eliminate my position that I had had for the last six years. Surprisingly, and despite the fact that I loved my job, I was upset for only a day, knowing full well that something better was in store for me. I still can't remember where the idea came from, but I decided to open a Holistic Healing Center. This, from someone who six months ago would never have considered going into private practice! It had always felt like too much work, too much responsibility and too much risk.
The rest of the process was totally spirit-driven. The minister at church was doing a six-part series on Visioning. This woman (me) with no business knowledge suddenly knew everything she had to do. It all fell into place. I found a beautiful space where the landlord really wanted me. There was so much love and energy behind me. Fresno was begging for a Holistic physician and I felt a huge amount of community support.
I opened my practice in July 2001. It has been a huge success.
To be an effective Holistic physician requires much attention to one's own healing path. And so, of course, the Universe provides. In the same month I opened my practice I decided to start rolfing in an attempt to cure my chronic neck pain, which only partially responded to repeated massage, acupuncture and chiropractic manipulation. On August 2, 2 days after my first rolfing appointment, my mother died unexpectedly. She was my last parent to die and it opened the door for me to resolve some pain I still held tightly to me. The rolfing process was my gateway in and became quite the arduous passage. The more I cleared, the more I grew as a healer. And I no longer have neck pain.
As part of that process I gave up sugar and caffeine, and completely changed my diet-- no easy task for a recovering addict. The nutritional healing was every bit as intense as the emotional and gave me a clear understanding of what I would be asking my patients to do.
I now understand why so many physicians are ineffective: they are unable to provide a mirror for their patients. Physician and patient are two sides of the same coin.
In November of 2002 I took my boards in Holistic Medicine following a 4-day review course. What a fabulous experience! Being in the energy of so many other loving physicians passionate about Holistic Medicine has deepened my connection with my patients and with myself. Frequently, since I opened my practice I have wondered if I was doing the right things for my patients. The instruction I received not only added tremendously to my knowledge base, but confirmed for me that intuitively I have been doing a pretty good job all along!
I continue to have many marvelous moments with my patients. One woman with chronic pain, with whom I have been working for over a year is finally starting to improve. Many therapeutic interventions and referrals later, she came in one day and with tears in her eyes, thanked me for not giving up and allowing her the opportunity to heal. I thanked her, for me, too.
So that is the origin of the logo. The mountain is Waynapicchu. The hummingbird is drawn from a photograph of Milli's hummingbird.