In the last month, I’ve encountered three women whose health stories have captured my heart. My career choice as a pharmacist puts me in the direct path of people who have body system dysfunctions of varying degrees…. I mean, unless someone is asking me about a supplement or a probiotic (a rarity I might add), I am there to aid and abet a health woe.

The further I get down my own life’s path, the more I see the Jekyll and Hyde aspects of ….well…. me. It is a difficult thing, being Mrs. Jekyll & Hyde in the healthcare industry…. and more and more frequently, I feel like Mrs. Hyde once I’ve donned the white coat and become the purveyor of tonics, brews, and pills that have been blessed by the FDA. I still believe that there is a time and a place for medication intervention, but for the love of all things that are holy…… those times should be much rarer than they are.

Healing takes place not with medication, but from rooting out the source of the problem and working towards organic corrections (organic being defined as: “denoting a relation between elements of something such that they fit together harmoniously as necessary parts of a whole”) . Organic in this instance means altering diet and lifestyle, adding exercise, decreasing exposure to toxins, and removing chronic stress for the good of the body. 

The more I delve into natural solutions for healthy living the more I (really) see people struggle with some pretty debilitating conditions. In so many instances, these body dysfunctions can be addressed if the choice were made to manage instead of mediate a dis-ease (ironic isn’t it…. mediate/medicate?).

Bravery comes in all forms. I am at ease talking about diet, lifestyle changes, exercise, exposure to toxins and chronic stress when I am NOT in my white coat (Mrs. Jekyll)…. but once I’ve got the white coat on… the Mrs. Hyde comes out… and for decades, it’s been about representing drugs and their side effect profiles, interactions, and none of the talk about the aforementioned changes.  And I’ve grown to be disappointed and even disgusted in myself. Who am I, really?

I am a girl who grew up with an innate love of nature and science. I’m a girl who worked hard, and got a degree in pharmacy 25+ years ago (and oh was she proud to have gotten that degree!)….. but whose true aspiration was to live simply on a farm in harmony with the land and with the animals. I am forever grateful for the knowledge and the gifts I’ve been given to be able to decipher science, medicine, and biology to benefit myself and others, but sometimes I feel that this white coat of mine is a curse.  Biblically this is called the gift of discernment.

Discernment holds a heavy responsibility. To know better but to keep what you know better to yourself becomes a burden emotionally and physically, and sometimes that can bring you to your knees (Alas, isn’t that what God wants from us ultimately?).

I have been on my own wellness journey for more than 15 years, and am much better for it. The fact that I started in earnest in my 30’s meant that I likely avoided health issues that plagued those with my genetic heritage (thyroid, emotional illness, and other ailments I’ve mentioned in past posts). My husband has followed along behind me for years, but now walks beside me as he has come to understand the truth of it all. We all have choices to make in life that will ultimately affect our health outcome. We can go willingly with the flow, or we can buck the system (you know, the one where the average American adult age 45+ is on 4 prescription medications a day). We chose to buck the system as our eyes were opened and the scales removed (so to speak).

Choosing involves knowing you have choices, and I guess what has hit me the hardest in the last month is the grim reality that so many people Just. Don’t. Know. How can you choose if you don’t realize that there is a fork in the road??? The Mrs. Jekyll in me poked that bear a few times this month accidentally, and it nearly brought tears to my eyes because it happened while I was wearing my white coat.

They didn’t know.

And the others in their white coats weren’t telling them either.

For the sake of assuming that those other “WC” wearers don’t know either, I’m going to give them a pass. Or perhaps their bravery has not kicked in yet.

To the three women who have captured my heart: 

  • To the woman who has suffered from an Auto Immune disorder for years…. who lives with pain…. and who never knew that the toxins we expose ourselves unknowingly to (in the form of basic skin care products, household cleaners, plug in fragrances, processed foods, etc) have a direct affect on her disorder: I am sorry that your health care providers failed to mention this to you as a form of self care. I praise God that your pain level is now a manageable 4 out of the usual 9-10 that you lived with ON MEDICATION.
  • To the woman who has chronic digestive distress and hormone/thyroid dysfunction…. who never knew that toxins we unknowingly expose ourselves to (in the form of basic skin care products, household cleaners, plug in fragrances, processed foods, etc) had a direct effect on gut and thyroid function….. I am sorry that your health care providers failed to offer holistic alternatives and proper education on self care. I praise God that you and I both had the time to have a 10 minute conversation at the pharmacy on just this topic, and that you are embracing and chasing what you did not know….. that you had a choice. And that you and your family are now feeling hopeful in recovery of mind, body, and spirit.
  • To the woman who has the Auto Immune disorders (yes, multiple) that are slowly robbing you of a healthy and passionate life…….I’m sorry that your health care providers have failed to mention that the aforementioned daily toxin load you add to your bucket is at the overflow point…. and THAT is why new Auto Immune disorders keep creeping into your medical chart. I am especially sorry that this doctor recommended a 4 packet a day regimen of Splenda (don’t ask, I can’t even believe it  myself) as part of your treatment. THAT almost brought me to my knees….. your bucket is overflowing, and that doctor of yours just turned the spigot up full blast. I gently suggested using maybe raw honey or agave to sweeten the bitter potion he prescribed you. You asked if Diet Dr. Pepper could be aggravating your conditions, and when I said yes… you asked me why none of your doctors had ever explained toxin load before. I had no answers for you. None that I could speak without fear of reprimand, and for that I am so sorry.

The more I look in the mirror, the more uncomfortable I become with the white coat. It is supposed to be a symbol of honesty and trustworthiness. Some look upon a white coat as a godlike robe…. one that it certainly is not. When I took the oath of a pharmacist (way back in the day) it included a statement about ‘doing no harm’. I pulled up the standard oath of the pharmacist recently, and was surprised to see that it had mutated (irony again… mutate/mutilate) into something more nebulous. Failure to be properly educated on holistic care is a travesty of the current healthcare industry. Speaking only from a pharmacist’s perspective, it’s not something easily found within Continuing Education programs. Just like you all, we must educate ourselves on our own time.  Sadder still, holistic care is frequently denigrated or minimized in pharmacy publications. Big Pharma at its finest.

The huge benefits (sans side effects) of holistic self care is one of the reasons we use alternative health products ourselves, on our animals, and on our farm. Choices. The pharmacist in me sought out the most transparent, trustworthy, and therapeutically minded oil company available to any of us. I sought out Young Living…. they didn’t seek me.  Discernment. 

I don’t really see myself shucking the white coat entirely anytime soon…….. but I do plan on seeing less of Mrs. Hyde, and more of Mrs. Jekyll in the white coat……making a concerted effort to show people they do have a choice in the matter (their own health). It’s not all about genetics like people think (that’s another post for another day). It’s about our environment and the toll (or benefit) it can express on our body depending on the choices we make.

I felt a huge release in my spirit by sharing the lifestyle choices (that they do have) with the three ladies mentioned above. I literally felt and saw their shift in thinking…. in realizing that there was no road sign at the fork in the road until I gave them a roadmap…. and that felt better than anything I’ve done in pharmacy in a long time.

Be well~ Liz