While we were preparing for a four-month trip…
I had a shoulder injury that turned into a particularly severe form of frozen shoulder. I couldn’t move my body without excruciating pain.
Western medicine doctors said there was nothing they could do for the pain (except give one, and only one, pain relieving shot).
Physical therapists said the only remedy was intense physical therapy (but in my situation the exercises exacerbated the injury, increased the pain long-term, and caused nausea).
They both warned that it was imperative I do exactly as they said, as it wasn’t looking possible to heal my shoulder in a few months, so I needed to brace for 1.5 to 3 years of pain while healing the shoulder.
There was no way I was going to be able to endure this pain for 1.5 to 3 years.
The pain was unbearable.
I also didn’t want to take heavy-duty pain medication.
But I couldn’t move without writhing in pain.
There had to be a better way.
In the past, when all else has failed medically, I’ve headed to Bastyr Center for Natural Health.
I’ve made appointments with Bastyr medical practitioners who teach in the student teaching clinic, because:
this gives Bastyr students a chance to practice their skills, as a team, while supervised by medical practitioners/doctors
I can use my health insurance, when my health insurance covers the appointment
if my health insurance does not cover the appointment, I’m charged a discounted rate (and a much larger discounted rate is gifted to students, seniors and those on medicaid/medicare)
However, truth be told, I was in too much pain to believe anyone could actually help me. I feared that the Western medicine doctors were correct and I was going to suffer for the next 1.5 to 3 years in extreme pain.
After some research—and because the thought of needles plunging into this pain actually sounded like it might bring relief—I chose to see Bastyr’s East Asian Medicine and Acupuncture team. Miraculously, they had a bag full of relieving medicine to apply to this situation:
fine, sterile needles inserted into the skin
topical herbal medicines
Chinese herbal tea
After the first appointment, there was such significant improvement—less pain, more range of motion—that I cried and told them I loved them.
So I asked if they could throw the most intense treatments possible my way, at future appointments, because there was only a short amount of time to heal the shoulder before heading out on the road.
Their concern was whether I could handle intense treatments. I assured them that I was already enduring much worse and they were my only relief from it.
(At that time, I also believed it possible that any improvements could be due to the placebo effect, and if so, that was just fine. Because the placebo effect is legitimate healing. Let the brain believe and the body might follow.)
For weeks, Bastyr gifted kindness with each treatment. Nothing was too intense (compared to the pain I was already feeling). Everything just kept feeling better.
Even a deep manual treatment that felt as if they’d just inserted their hands directly into my scapula, and where bruising was part of the healing, wasn’t too intense. The results were so helpful, I wanted more.
Then it was time to hit the road.
At this point, nearly all of the excruciating pain was gone. To treat any remaining pain, and to keep improving the range of motion, it was suggested I bring the following on the road with me:
I also brought along a pretty sleep mask.
(With all of these goodies for sale, it was hard to drive away from Bastyr.)
Then there were some surprises.
As soon as we landed in our new location, the remaining pain almost immediately disappeared and my range of motion improved to near normal (thanks to the very dry air, it appears).
It’s amazing how our location can impact our healing.
(Months later, when I returned to moist air, some pain returned, but it took just a few treatments to fix it.)
I was very lucky.
This injury occurred where I could access health care I trusted, which helped me feel safe trying East Asian medicine and acupuncture for this injury. This also made me feel safe about using East Asian medicine and acupuncture while on the road, should that ever be needed.
I do make sure my health care practitioners are certified, licensed, and overseen by a regulatory body—no matter where I’m located—and that I know what my health insurance and travel insurance will and will not cover.
There are not enough words to adequately thank Bastyr for all they have done.
In addition to healing my frozen shoulder, I have since been fortunate to trek back to Bastyr and have their incredible team work on things like:
Insomnia (I now sleep through the night)
PTSD (their prescribed herbal tea and acupuncture was so helpful)
Neuropathy (I’m so grateful for the improvements)
To receive medical care from those who are so kind and calm is healing in itself.
To receive medical care that does not require pharmaceutical medication is such a relief.
To receive medical care that balances the body is quite logical, but so rare in the west.
Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, Bastyr.
There is a very special additional note to share:
My certain someone has played a vital role in this healing process, too. He has been the most amazing support a human being could ask for throughout this healing. Here is just a sampling of what he’s done:
he’s gently held me
he’s gently comforted me
he’s gently listened to me and wiped my tears
he gently massaged my injury
he gently applied pain medicine
he gently dressed me and fixed my hair
he gently fed me and made sure I drank my tea
he lovingly made sure I was warm and that I applied heat to my shoulder
he lovingly protected my shoulder from others bumping into it
he lovingly helped me do my exercises like the East Asian medicine practitioners instructed
he lovingly reminded me to not do my exercises like the Western medicine practitioners instructed
he continued to ask me what he could do to make me feel better
he’s carefully driven me to and from appointments
he lovingly helped me in appointments (getting me dressed and undressed)
he carefully propped me up so we could try to snuggle at the end of each day
he’s gently held and massaged me through the night
There are not enough words to express my gratitude for his sweet, tender care. I am so deeply blessed to know a human being who actually wants to lovingly care for their partner in their time of need.