I step through the front door at the Firshein Center for Comprehensive Medicine and glance at the mirror hanging on the wall. I smile, finally recognizing the image staring back at me. The dark circles under my eyes, the 20 extra pounds, the headaches, sinus pain, thyroid issues and rapid heart beats, all of it... gone.
I had given birth to two beautiful children. As with most mothers, everything I do is for them. They inspire me to grow, love completely and live fearlessly. Children are the greatest gift this life has to offer.
Before pregnancy, I was rarely sick, able to work countless hours and travel between time zones effortlessly. However, my two pregnancies had ripped through my body like a brushfire, leaving me sick, depleted and more apt to care for a hamster rather than two tiny, helpless human beings. Each developmental milestone muddled with some strange illness: mastitis, pneumonia, colitis and ultimately dangerous rapid heartbeats.
As I met with various doctors and fired round after round of antibiotics into my body, I began to feel like I was on the front lines of a war and quickly losing the battle. Traditional medicine wasn't working. I knew it was time to search for the emotional off-‐ramp and rebuild my physical and spiritual self so I could be the woman and mother I always dreamed of becoming.
It does take a village and my mother suggested I see Dr. Richard Firshein at the Center for Comprehensive Medicine. She explained he had a philosophy that fused Eastern and Western Medicine. She went on to say he was sort of like a detective who would take a complete history and investigate the underlying issues that are causing the breakdown of my immune system. He used an inside/out approach to healing and focused on the connection between mind and body.
A breakdown. After so many years together, my body and I had stopped communicating. I was ready to sign the divorce papers.
As I sat in the waiting room on the day of my appointment, I leafed through a magazine and stopped at a post-baby picture of Christy Turlington Burns. I couldn't help but wonder how she could have the energy to save Haiti when I was barely able to get out of bed in the morning.
After a thorough examination, nutritional profile, battery of blood and allergy tests to check for chronic inflammation, hormone and environmental toxin levels, I sit down with Dr. Firshein to review my results. He is kind and compassionate and compares my post-pregnancy journey to the cartoon character, Wile E. Coyote jumping off a cliff -- at some point you've got nothing left to grab onto and you're going down fast.
"What's wrong with me?" I asked, holding my breath, the tears distorting his image like a mirage. He went on to explain that it wasn't one thing. My immune system was stressed and this was causing an overall malfunction. To an over-committed new mother, stress is the mac and cheese of our sensory diet. As I understood it, with the right blend of traditional medication, vitamin supplementation and acupuncture, I could get my mommy mojo back. I felt an instant connection and I trusted him enough to take the journey seriously.
I took home copies of Dr. Firshein's novels, including Reversing Your Asthma, Asthma-Free Child and most recently, The Vitamin Prescription (for life). Each book, insightful and innovative, illustrating the mind/body connection to today's most pressing medical conditions.
After several months of treatment, I started to experience a rebirth of my own. My immune system and energy started to improve dramatically. Each time my children brought home a new virus, I held my breath waiting for the fever and subsequent infection but it never came. I'm not invincible but I'm back to working a full day, taking my favorite exercise class, cooking healthy meals and spending quality time with my children.
Feeling beautiful and strong starts on the inside, and it's time for a new generation of mothers to speak up, reboot, and live strong.