The value one places on their health is extremely important. I think about that when I talk to patients and hear accounts of their health and how it impacts their lives. Even, the wealthiest person cannot just purchase good health. From the injuries I sustained, health problems I have dealt with, learning to care for my health, and the stories of patients, I have come to value the worth of health. There is one moment that stands out for me, when I would have given anything to not suffer in agonizing pain. 

When I was in high school, I invested in my health through diet and exercise. One night, I hurt my back by picking up my backpack off the floor from my bed. I was extremely fit, so it wasn’t a matter of core strength but improper body mechanics. That injury created a lifetime of pain and problems that impacted my health which affected my life. There was no visible injury indicated on MRI. The night of my injury I was able to move around some, I leaned over to look in a mirror. My entire back seized up in pain and started spasming. All my life I have been pain tolerant, but this pain was more than I could withstand. As I was stuck standing there, I cried because the pain was unbearable. In that moment, I would have given anything to feel better. If I knew the impact of that injury on my life, I would have given even more. It is from that injury and others to follow that has made me sensitive to all my patients’ pain.

The couple years following that injury, I was placed on a multitude of pain medications. All the medications did was mask the symptoms and cause a multitude of adverse side effects. One of the medications that I was prescribed, helped with the pain more than the others but inhibited my ability to function normally. When taking the medication as prescribed, I was so high one day that I had to hang onto someone to help walk me to my classes. My art teacher at my high school was ready to drive me home if I didn’t feel better by the end of the day. Fortunately, the side effects wore off so I could safely drive home, which I let my teacher know before leaving that day. Because of that, I would drive to school and take one my pain pills of that medication in my car so I could function through the day because otherwise the pain was too much. There were still side effects but not as severe with taking less than my prescribed dosage. I was fine first period, high second period, and fell asleep third period. Thank goodness for a rotating schedule, that I was able to do well in all my classes. It’s because of the need of pain medication and hating the side effects that I turned to acupuncture when I hurt my back years later.

When I was in college, I hurt my back again. I had a friend, who was an acupuncturist. I was always fascinated by acupuncture but never thought much about it. After this injury I texted my friend about my injury and let him know that I wanted to try acupuncture because I didn’t want to go through the ordeal of being on pain medications again. At the time, I didn’t have much money. I used most of the cash that I made tutoring to pay for my acupuncture treatments. The acupuncture didn’t just alleviate the pain but healed my body. In addition to healing my back, there were other improvements to my health, including, better sleep, improved mood, relief from my allergies, strengthened immune system, migraine relief, and more. What other medicine can treat so much at once? I enjoyed taking an hour out of my week to relax and heal my body. Instead of taking a multitude of medications with side effects, my body was healing.  This enabled me to do more to enjoy my life and be productive.

I was so fascinated by acupuncture that I had to study it and help people in the same way that it had helped me. I went to the same college as my friend and included in my studies the same style of Japanese acupuncture under the same professors as he did. Acupuncture transformed my life.

While in school getting my master’s degree, I started to care for my health with diet and exercise. I invested in my health like the way I did when I was fit in my teens. At one point, I was so fed up with constantly being tired and wanting to take a nap all the time that I gave up gluten. It really helped to clear that brain fog and decreased inflammation within my body. I ended up spending less on groceries because I was eating more fresh produce and less processed food as I cut out gluten. Before my initial injury in my teens, I felt best when I exercised regularly. As a teenager I would rollerblade for miles during the week. This helped me think through my problems and vent pent up energy of my frustrations. This time I wanted to spend time with my dog, so I took her for walks during the cooler months. It was good for both our physical and even social health as we met a lot of people as we eventually walked up to 3 plus miles a day. When it got too hot to walk her, I started going to the gym at my apartment complex until I tore my calf muscle from not stretching properly after I doubled my workout. Acupuncture really helped to heal my torn calf. The day I got off crutches from my calf injury, I was in a car accident that injured my back. Acupuncture once again helped in my recovery process. After my pain resolved, I found myself constantly tripping because I never did any proper physical therapy from my calf muscle injury. I started doing daily yoga and incorporated different workout challenges such as planking and squats. I took the time and energy once again to invest in my health.

Yes, I have gotten injured fairly frequently. I haven’t included them all. I enjoy exercising. When I eat healthier, I feel better and enjoy it. Unhealthy foods that I once enjoyed don’t taste as good and make me feel awful. When I needed to spend money on my health, I have found things such as acupuncture are worth more than a financial investment.

Feeling healthy, not being tired, feeling less stressed, and not being in pain is extremely rewarding. I have never regretted investing in my health because of all the benefits to my life. When I was healthier, I was able to enjoy a theme park with a friend without getting tired and sore. I am not out of breath while hiking. Sleep comes naturally, so for the first time in my life I fall asleep minutes within lying down for bed. I have more energy to do chores around my home instead of stressing about it. I am happier when I feel healthier.

Some people would rather spend their money and time on things that provide instant gratification.  I have done it. Then I have wasted time that I won’t get back and money on things that I don’t need nor care much about past a certain point. I have found much more satisfaction and enjoyment investing in my health because I value my health and the positive impact it has on my life. As I age, I want to be able to take care of myself instead of needing to depend upon others. Of those older patients who I have treated all the way up in their nineties, the ones who have eaten healthy, exercised, not needed an extensive amount of medications, and used natural therapies such as acupuncture are doing extremely well and are healthy for their age. So, why not invest in your health? What is your health really worth to you?

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