and my eyes would itch and then swell when I rubbed them. My actual eyeballs would swell. It was torture, not to mention pretty embarrassing at times. And I remember having a lot of headaches and stomachaches as a kid, and fatigue, you know, just to keep things interesting. I felt like I never had the energy levels that I should, and that always made me feel like I was lazy.
Doctors always dismissed most of these issues, and only offered medication that worked about half of the time for the allergies. This always frustrated me, I felt like there must be something I could do to get better! But there wasn’t, or so I was told. I had those allergies, and the rest of it, well into adulthood.
Fast forward past college at U.Va., and just not quite being able to pull the trigger on grad school for counseling, or finish those premed requirements for med school and psychiatry. I could never go through with it because I wanted to give people more. At the time I didn’t even know what that really meant, but these pursuits made me feel a little empty inside so I kept looking for the career option that felt right.
A few years later, I had my first experience with Chinese medicine. When I was in my early 20’s someone loaned me a book called, “Healing with Whole Foods.” It’s a book that explains diet from a Chinese medicine perspective. This was a tome of a book and to me was nearly written in a foreign language, but I couldn’t put it down! I started applying some of its ideas to my life, by changing my diet.
My energy started to get better, and my allergies, and my digestion. Not cured, but much better. I was intrigued! I decided to see an acupuncturist for the first time soon after this. I felt like I wasn’t digesting food very well, and I had a lot of painful bloating. I had also just moved across the country, and I was pretty down about being so far away from home. My acupuncturist agreed to address these problems with me, and over a couple of months, we made major progress. I felt emotionally better – more “balanced” is the best way I can think to describe it. Also, it was years before I had any real digestive symptoms again. After a lifetime of those kinds of trouble, this was a small miracle to me.
My first acupuncture experience was completely wonderful – I felt like I had someone that was truly in my corner, that listened to me and helped me put the pieces of my health puzzle together. It was life-changing. It was the way I wanted to help people – by seeing people as a whole, not just a bunch of parts loosely stitched together.
I didn’t realize this until later, but I had a really funny “side effect” from the acupuncture and Chinese herbs. It cured my lifelong allergies. Spring rolled around, no allergies. The next fall rolled around, no allergies. A year passed, two years, ten. No allergies! To this day, sometimes that little skeptic comes alive in my head I almost still can’t believe that it happened. But I experienced this! It happened to me! And I hadn’t even asked my acupuncturist to help me with my allergies (goodness knows why I hadn’t done!).
To me, this is simply evidence of how all systems of the body are connected. Digestive irritation and inflammation can certainly overburden the liver and the immune system, and be connected to frequent allergic reactions. I see this type of thing over and over in my practice!
I know what it’s like to be told that your suffering is going to be your status quo. I know from personal experience, and almost ten years of clinical experience, that there is often so much we can do to relieve our suffering.
Maegan N. Hodge attended the University of Virginia, and got her B.A. in Psychology in ’03. She moved to Portland, Oregon in 2006 and got her Masters of Science in Oriental Medicine in 2011. She has been treating patients for over 10 years now. She is currently licensed and certified by the Virginia Board of Medicine.