I used to think homeopathy was for a bunch of hippies. In my mind, medicine was the answer to ailments. If natural remedies worked, then why did our ancestors die of so many sicknesses? (On the other hand, I don't think our ancestors had many of the chronic illnesses we now see in our society). Since my mom's diagnosis, I've had a few friends approach me with the idea of using a naturopath doctor to help mom with some of her troubles. While I appreciated the gesture and concern, I admit that I kind of rolled my eyes. No way could a naturopath doctor help my mom in any way when the big wigs over at UCLA couldn't even figure it out!
I've mentioned briefly on a previous post that I was diagnosed last year with an autoimmune disease, called Hashimotos. It wasn't until I faced my own health issues that I began to understand that there are, in fact, natural ways to help your body to heal. This wasn't a conclusion I came upon quickly or easily; it was a long process...a process where in desperation I finally began to take my health matters into my own hands instead of fully depending on doctors to make me better. Through a lot of hard work which has included changing my diet and other lifestyle factors, I have been feeling so much improvement in my overall well being; I feel as though I've gained my life back.
Now, I'm not knocking medicine-let me make that clear. There is most certainly a time and place for medication. I am on medication for my thyroid and I know that my body needs that right now, but I do believe that medication is over used in today's society and medication alone is not the answer; it is only one piece of the puzzle. After nearly a year of no success with medication, that is when I researched and tried other methods to heal myself. One of the action steps I took, after many frustrating and unsuccessful visits to the doctor, was that I consulted a naturopath to help me. There's way too much information to relay on here, but the short part of the story is that the naturopath, along with lifestyle and diet changes have really improved my health. So much that my thyroid levels have finally stabilized and my enlarged thyroid has actually shrunk in the past 6 months!!
With all of the research and things I've learned over the past 6+ months, I really feel like there is so much more to mom's dementia. It's not just a genetic defect but I (personally) believe there are a number of factors that have contributed to it. I'm not an expert, I'm not a doctor. Maybe I'm way off base. But based on everything I've learned, I do think a "perfect storm" is what brought on mom's dementia. Certainly a genetic factor is present. Perhaps her heart condition and surgery played a role in it as well (which I most definitely believe). I do, however, think that certain diet and lifestyle changes could have helped her had we known more in the beginning. They say hindsight is 20/20. I know some people think I'm kooky for my theories; but then again, I've been doing the research.
So...how does my autoimmune issues relate to mom's dementia? I'm getting there. :)
My dad has been wanting to get my mom off her meds for a long time. They didn't seem to be doing her any good and if anything, they were harming her liver and causing even more side effects that have to be treated with yet another pill. I brought the idea of a naturopath to the table and dad was on board to try anything. I admit that deep down I was kind of hoping for some sort of magic cure, even though I knew better than to believe in that. Still, at the very least, we both felt that doing this might be able to eliminate the hard core meds that mom was taking.
Over the past two months, dad (working with both mom's doctor as well as the naturopath) has been decreasing mom's dosages of medicine and replacing them with homeopathic remedies. Mom is now officially off all of her pain meds, sleep meds, etc and guess what? Mom is NOT complaining of aches and pains. Mom has been sleeping better and has more energy (which may or may not be a good thing, ha ha). Most notably, though, is that mom's speech has improved. While I was with her on a Monday a few weeks ago, I was thinking that she seemed to be speaking a little more clearly. Not sure if it was just my imagination, I didn't say anything about it. Later that evening my sister remarked,
"Is it just me, or is mom's speech improving? It seems like I've been able to understand her a little better today."
This past weekend, my brother's family came out for a visit from Arizona. Before they left, my sister-in-law said,
"I've noticed that your mom's speech is a little better...I was able to understand a lot more of what she's saying. And Joe actually had somewhat of a conversation with her yesterday."
With so many setbacks and defeats with this disease, I feel like we've had just a tiny victory. It's too bad we didn't know to try some of these things before her dementia escalated to the point where it's at. But...I think that through it all, we are all learning and paving the way for ourselves to live a healthier life. Some things are out of our control, it's true. We don't know what the future will bring for any of us and who knows when (or if) a cure will ever be found. What we can do is educate ourselves now, be aware of symptoms and try to prevent from the get go with the proper lifestyle interventions. I know this post could undergo some scrutiny, but this is our journey, and this is my take away.