Improving Birth Outcomes for Women of Color in Illinois
Because my passion is supporting teens and women throughout their life cycles, including through pregnancy, I want to bring attention to the startling facts that African American and Indigenous women face when they become pregnant:
They are 2-3 times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women, and that goes up to 4-5 times for women over 30, according to the CDC in a press release last September.
And guess where the US ranked in 2015 for maternal mortality in the world? Not in the top 20 or even the top 30 of best outcomes. We ranked 45th meaning 44 countries have better birth outcomes per 100,000 births than the USA.
It is a risk for a black woman to be pregnant and give birth in the US, just as it’s a risk for a black man to be out after dark in the south, or out in public anywhere for that matter. Recent events are rightly bringing back our national attention to the racial disparities that persist into 2020. But we can affect change!
There are local grassroots organizations dedicated to supporting black women during pregnancy, birth, and postpartum, but it’s a big undertaking. They need our support.
For the month of June, I will donate a portion of every new patient appointment to Chicago Birth Workers of Color and Chicago Birthworkers Collective Care Package campaign as well as to Black Mamas Matter. Click on the links for info on donating if you feel compelled.
The more we focus on this issue, the more light will shine on it, and the faster we can change maternal outcomes for the better!
I’m about to get real. vulnerable. with you…
10 years ago I was rather a wreck. I had a toddler-preschooler and a baby and zero energy. And rage. I did my best. We all do right? We’re all always doing our best, but when your best is yelling at your kids and constipation and bloating and inability to gain weight and fatigue so bad that sometimes you can’t get through the day vertically – then it’s time to take a look at what is going on.
At first I tackled the low energy. I invested in a personal trainer because the idea of exercising enough to cause a bit of huff and puff on my own was like thinking of climbing a mountain. So that’s where I started. Twice a week, I met with a young encouraging woman who slowly but surely got me moving again.
Then, I continually worked on digestion. Having come from being told I had an incurable disease that would require a variety of medications to control for the rest of my life, as a teen, to having just manageable constipation and some bloating – it was all in perspective and not as daunting. I’d been cured of Crohn’s for over 10 years, but still very sensitive to food which is good because the things that set me off the worse were foods no one needs. Cakes, cookies, pizza, etc. I had been used to a gluten-free dairy-free diet so it was no longer an inconvenience, just a way of life.
It wasn’t until my youngest was about 5 that I realized the rage and anger and fatigue I’d experienced after my second son was actually a form of post-partum depression. It had never dawned on me because I was not the prototypical depressed mom. I was sad when I realized this. I had been struggling on my own. I didn’t know – I was the one who helped others with their hormonal health and yet I was not attuned enough to myself to seek help. Thankfully, I had started working on decreasing my reactivity and improving my self care overall, so every year after my son was born things improved. I became more of the mother I wanted to be.
It’s the dilemma of the cobbler’s kids have no shoes – the healer isn’t looking after herself as much as she looks after her patients and family. At my low point, about 5 years ago, I was a scrawny 82 lbs. I ate a lot but could not gain an ounce. I was diagnosed with primary hypothyroidism for which the medication (levothyroxine) did not work for me. Meanwhile, my marriage was at its unhealthiest, and I knew something had to change. I was ready.
About the same time I decided to get divorced, I had also been receiving herbal therapy and acupuncture treatments, and I did homeopathy to address Lyme Disease (yup that too). Suddenly it seemed, my health blossomed. I was able to gain weight, and my energy improved even more. And I am so happy to say that I’ve been at my healthiest the past 3 years. I have continued to work out regularly, I have gained muscle and a bit of padding, and my energy is better than ever. I started a daily meditation practice, and I continued with Chinese herbs. This past year I got the news that my thyroid numbers were normal- no more hypothyroidism! My digestion was better than ever! – until again, it wasn’t, and I realized the missing piece – I wasn’t doing acupuncture regularly. I had been getting treatments from colleagues but they moved away, and so fell off that wagon because it is just not as wonderful to treat myself as it was to be treated. So now I’m committed to treating myself regularly because it does still work, and seeing my patients improve with their digestive symptoms really is the best motivation to give myself the same benefits!
I hope that hearing my very personal story of my own health journey has been helpful for you. We all have our Stuff! I’m all about the real stuff. In the treatment room, I want to hear about your struggles, and I want to do whatever I can to help you be your strongest. It doesn’t matter how old you are – I am feeling vibrant and energetic and strong in my 40’s – stronger even than for much of my teens and 20’s and 30’s.
Let’s talk about your goals and dreams – I want to help you get there! A free consultation is a phone call away 630-335-1069.
My personal story: Healing You, Healing Me
February has been an unusual month for me. I’ve had to take off a couple weeks for family matters, that I’d be open to share if you ask but I’ll keep it open ended for this blog. I had neve
r had a “family emergency” before thankfully, so it was not something I did casually or felt easy about.
I want to say here, that all my patients were incredible! They were all SO understanding and caring. I absolutely love what I do and I feel I really received during this time. You know?
This week I resumed my normal schedule, which felt good. Right. In giving we receive. Love. Strength. Understanding. Healing.
Read more about what I do and my Services here.
So, I just want to say, that if you feel you are struggling physically or emotionally or mentally, to reach out, ask for help, and take comfort knowing that what goes around comes around, and your receiving today, will be someone else’s receiving tomorrow.
And the ability to be vulnerable is not a minus but a normal human experience.
So know that I’m here if you need me, not because I need you, but because it feeds my soul.
I love this quote from the first chapter of the classical foundational text of acupuncture titled The Divine Pivot (Ling Shu):
“Whether meeting it or following it, by means of one’s attention, one harmonises it.
Those who understand the way of the dynamic, will not impede it and thus it manifests.”
We – acupuncturists – must focus our attention on “it” – the qi. We must get out of its way but by learning where it wants to go and where it is, we can understand it, and facilitate a state of balance – harmony.
Here’s another profound quote from The Divine Pivot that is loud and clear:
“ The (unskilled practitioner) attends to the form (aka physical). The superior (practitioner) attends to the spirit (aka nonphysical).”
What do you gather from this? To me, it says, an acupuncturist doesn’t just stick a needle in your boo-boo – we are assessing and nuancing the unseen energetics of the body. That’s why people don’t come to me to fix a dislocated shoulder or a torn meniscus. They come to me to assist their body in regaining harmony and balance to enhance their own healing abilities. We all are born with mechanisms within us to continually heal ourselves. Every second of every day our body is rebuilding and repairing. Sometimes we sustain an injury – whether due to physical trauma or inflammatory response to our diet or environment or stress hormone overload – that finally creates an imbalance upon imbalance that makes it hard for the body to find its own homeostatic rhythm again. We often don’t see symptoms until the root cause has been actively damaging us for years.
The cool thing about Traditional East Asian Medicine (TEAM for short) is that we have ways to measure the state of our Qi that don’t rely on how high the pain level is or our own mental perception or even the physical manifestations. We can ask the body in it’s own language – what’s wrong? where do you need me to come in and help? That is why this medicine has endured and why it is so effective. Yet it is the burden of the practitioner to develop the skills to do this best. They don’t call it a practice for nothing! My teachers from each of my courses is a practitioner in practice – they are always practicing. All of the great practitioners and teachers are always students of this medicine. So I thank you for coming with me on this journey to discover acupuncture and it’s wonder and wisdom.
I am a learner. Learning fuels me, keeps me going. I’d be dead if I wasn’t always learning. While I’m most interested in health topics, I also care about world affairs and cultures, animals, nature, physics, chemistry, and more. But I’m not interested in knowledge for knowing’s sake. I want to seek information that I can apply to help myself, my family, or others.
Over the years, I’ve come to realize that while I’m driven to seek the wisdom set forth by others before me, that I, and each of us, has an inner wisdom that should not be discounted or overlooked. However, I’m not saying that my inner wisdom is like having an Albert Einstein or know-it-all at my disposal. The wisdom I refer to is the heart of Chinese Medicine – the way that we fit into nature and the universe, and that somewhere inside me I know the best choices and that it’s my mind that bars the truth from being manifested.
Instead, I believe we must mine our inner selves for the buried knowings we carry with us as part of our divine nature. Quiet introspection, whether in formal meditation or through mindfulness, allows our inner wisdom to bubble up to the surface of consciousness, where we can harvest it with our minds. I find this to be a daily exercise, the process of getting to know myself. I have been kind of amazed at how I feel like I’m just really getting to know myself now, in my late 30’s! But with that realization came the understanding that it will take my lifetime to really get to know myself fully, if I’m lucky enough to live that long!
I am happy that in my field, I can tap my intuition, that inner wisdom, when I interact with my patients. I can use my inner eye to see my patient more wholly, and go beyond the facts to catch underlying aspects and really get deeper with healing. A big part of what I love about holistic medicine is how intimate it is. I believe that connection forged between myself and my patient becomes part of the healing.