Natural Healing

Holistic Healthcare For Fur Babies

If you don’t know by now, I am basically obsessed with my dogs. I spare no expense for their health, well-being and happiness. [I also spare no expense for their fashion – stylish collars are a must!]

A little over a year ago, I started going to acupuncture. My best friend, who has battled Endometriosis for all of her adult life, has found so much improvement in health and pain relief through holistic healing. She is diligent about exercise, receiving acupuncture and cupping, eating right, and using essential oils to improve her overall health and body. [I keep encouraging her to write about her health journey – it’s truly extraordinary. once that happens, I will link her blog here :)].

I had no expectations for how my body would react to acupuncture. I really didn’t know anyone else who had ever received it, so the only review I had was a good one. Honestly, acupuncture changed my life. It got my body back on track and reset my system. I went from having migraines, excessive stress and panic attacks, to having none of the above. I still stress sometimes, but my body doesn’t even come close to the levels that it used to.

After having such a positive experience of my own, I decided to do some research on holistic healing for Miss Bella. Even though we were running three to four miles, five to six days out of the week [and still getting her out for exercise on the seventh day], she never seemed to be tired or relaxed. She would never truly settle down, and any time I’d get up from the couch or move from one end of the room to the other, she’d be my shadow. She was on constant high alert, growling or barking at any sound she heard. It got to a point where my fiancé and I couldn’t settle down or relax either. I figured that since acupuncture worked for me, perhaps it would work for her, too.

I was so fortunate to find Marilyn Koski [she works out of Marqueen Animal Hospital in Granite Bay]. She is the exact type of human you want doctoring your pet. She is empathetic, honest, and extremely knowledgeable. Something I have learned is extremely important since Bella came into my life. It’s the reason I drive to Sacramento to keep seeing her primary vet, Susan Barrett at Watt Avenue Pet Hospital. Both women are consistently and constantly educating themselves on new practices in animal healthcare. They don’t just regurgitate information that they learned back in veterinary school. They also sit down with their clients and share their knowledge; they try to explain what they’re doing, why they’re doing it, and how it will benefit the animal.

Anyway, back to Marilyn. She is an absolute dream. When Bella and I met her, she sat on the floor and let Bella approach her and sniff her. She chatted with me while Bella mosied around the room and sniffed here and there. She asked about why we were there, why I was seeking acupuncture for Bella. She asked about diet, about the amount and type of exercise Bella gets. And then, once she’d gained Bella’s trust, she performed a series of physical tests on her. She tested the range of motion of Bella’s limbs, and poked and prodded in different places to test her reflexes. She moved a treat around to test other parts of the body for stiffness and ease of movement. She also massaged different muscles in Bella’s body to check for swelling, asymmetry, and other oddities. It wasn’t until all of that was completed that she gave me her overall diagnosis of Bella: healthy, happy, well-cared-for [pat self on back], and just generally a basic Doberman. They are an alert breed with a natural tendency to protect their home and the people in it. The things that my fiancé and I felt were high stress, were actually just normal behavioral attributes for a Dobie.

After the physical tests, Marilyn proceeded to perform some needle acupuncture on Bella to see how she would respond to it [she responded very well – she slept for 12 hours after we got home that night]. In addition to the needles, she also used a form of laser acupuncture which penetrates a little deeper into the system [it’s not harmful to animals or to humans]. She was also very knowledgeable in regards to supplements and medications that can be purchased through the internet. Animal products are generally not monitored by any sort of food and drug administration, so there are no restrictions for what goes into them. SCARY. There are some products, however, that are made by well-known companies, and, on top of that, are actually tested and monitored [huge eye-opener – I felt like such a bad dog mom after years of purchasing random crap for Bella online]. Marilyn recommended a great joint supplement made by Bayer called Synovi G4, which you can buy on Amazon here.

Two weeks ago, we made a return visit to Marilyn after an early September injury that Bella wasn’t healing from. Again, I was blown away by her kindness and knowledge and her ability to give me peace of mind. She explained everything she was doing, how Bella was responding, and what that indicated for her. She performed laser treatment, set up a follow up appointment, and I kid you not, Bella was cured. No more limp, no more swollen shoulder [which were her initial symptoms]. I can’t tell you how much my heart lifted knowing that her “old age” [she’s six] wasn’t the culprit. And it made me that much more sold on acupuncture and how it can really do wonders for the body.

If you’re in the Sacramento area, I highly HIGHLY recommend both Marilyn and Susan. Marilyn is a specialty vet, so she does not perform regular veterinary tasks like vaccinations and surgeries. But she is absolutely amazing at what she does, and the fact that she can relate to both human and animal is extremely important [so many veterinarians seem to have a disconnect with other humans]. Susan Barrett is a great veterinarian if you’re looking for a regular, day-to-day doctor for your pet; and she is especially knowledgeable in breeds with ear crops, as she does also perform those surgeries [and extremely well, I might add]. Another reason why I love her: she knows all there is to know about Dobermans. She is also great at communicating with humans and does everything in her power to share her knowledge and education with her clients. Seriously, I cannot say enough about both women – they are two of the best.

Organic Antidotes

There few things I despise more in life than needing medication to feel better.

Truly. I don’t believe that there’s ANYTHING good in pharmaceuticals. Just because something seems to help.. Well, it’s probably just masking your symptoms with something horrendously bad for your body.

I don’t even like to take over-the-counter pain pills like Advil – mainly because they never seem to actually work, but also because it’s a drug and a foreign entity to the body.

I get that there are some things that we need medication for. Certain infections, for example, require antibiotics. I totally get that! And I strongly suggest medication for those types of health issues [because, honestly, to my knowledge, there really isn’t anything else that will make an infection go away].

A few months ago I started getting migraines. For the first time in my life! Now, as far as migraines go, I’m pretty positive that they are mild compared to what some of my friends have struggled through. I definitely haven’t seen spots, or been bedridden, or felt nauseous [some people actually get sick!]. No, mine have been relatively manageable. But they’re bad enough that the pain is distracting and keeps me from concentrating on work and keeps me from being able to work out.

Since I’ve never gotten migraines before, I found it odd that they came on so suddenly almost the moment I turned 29. So I delved a little bit in to my memory bank and tried to pinpoint what exactly may have triggered them.

After wracking my brain, I finally attributed the migraines to stress. Which, funnily enough, I haven’t been managing well at all the last several months. Imagine that.

I relayed my symptoms to a girlfriend of mine who had been having similar symptoms a year or so before. “Oh, just take a Xanax. That always calms my mind down.” I was so freaked out by the thought of taking it that I immediately nixed the idea without even a consideration. There had to be another way.

And that’s when I stumbled across the idea of acupuncture.

It actually just so happened that my boyfriend had started going to a masseuse shortly before I decided I couldn’t handle the stress or migraines anymore. We were lying in bed one Saturday morning, and he was in so much back and hip pain [he’s a chef so he stands for 12-15 hours every day] that he could barely get out of bed. I told him he needed a massage, and he said, “I need something that isn’t just a regular massage.” So I Yelped it, found a place, and booked him an appointment for that Monday.

Post massage, he had almost no more back pain, and had already booked an appointment for the next month to have his masseuse work on his hips. I went to check out the place online to see if maybe I should get a massage there, and that’s when I saw that they also offered acupuncture. And when I saw that they treat headaches, stress and anxiety, I knew I had to try it.

I had no expectations going into my first appointment. I know people that have had acupuncture [my boss, my best friend, my dad], but nobody can really tell you what to expect. Looking back, it’s probably best that I didn’t know what I was getting into. I had no reason to have any fear [although, I did have a little – my entire life I’ve had a horrendous fear of needles (I was 18 when I finally got my ears pierced)]. I did have excitement, but that was in the hope that acupuncture would help relieve my stress and headaches.

One of the things that I liked about my acupuncturist prior to meeting her was that, not only did she have an education in Chinese Healing [more specifically, acupuncture], but she also earned a business degree from UCSB. For me, that was a solidification in my mind that she actually knew what she was doing [oddly enough, because I don’t have a degree myself].

When I arrived at my appointment, I had to fill out a first time client questionnaire and health history survey [pretty standard for any doctor’s office]. Once completed, we sat down for a consultation – she asked me questions more specifically regarding what I had marked on my survey, and also inquired as to what may have triggered the migraines and stress [lifestyle, events, etc.]. She suggested cutting out caffeine, as that may be contributing to the anxiety and the headaches.

Once the consultation was over, it was time for the treatment. I got settled on my back on a table similar to that of a massage table, comfortably adorned with a soft “mattress” and pillow, and a prop to go underneath my knees. She wiped down several parts of my body with a cleanser, and then she began inserting the needles. She warned that there may be a quick pressure but that after the initial pin prick, I should feel no pain. Once she had completed with the needles, we did a breathing exercise to help relax me, and then she turned a heat lamp on over my feet, dimmed the lights, said, “I’ll see you in 25 minutes,” and left me be.

I honestly don’t know how to describe the feeling your body gets during acupuncture. I know that it’s different for everyone – some are more sensitive to it than others. For me, I became so relaxed that I felt like my body was melting off of the table. I found that I was unable to lift my legs [nor did I want to]. I had zero control over my body and my limbs. I could actually feel my blood shifting and moving inside my body; I could feel the pressure of stress being moved upwards through my body and out at my head. Odd, yes, but even more so, relieving.

Before I knew it, the 25 minutes were up. She gently plucked the needles out of my body, scheduled me to come back a week later, and sent me on my way.

Three weeks later, and my stress and headaches are still at bay. I did as she suggested and cut out caffeine, which, much to my surprise, has helped me to feel so much better! I no longer get energy crashes in the afternoon, I don’t find myself getting overly worked up at stupid things – I’m sure some of that is coffee-related, but I like to believe a lot of it has to do with my body getting its balance back.

I know acupuncture may not be for everyone, but if you have ailments and haven’t tried it yet, I HIGHLY suggest that you do. I can truly say that it has helped me and has changed my health for the better.