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Hello! My name is Kat and I’m the program administrator at the DIY Healthy Lifestyles Center and editor at Healthy Lifestyles Media, an independent online publisher of health and wellness media.
I live in Northern Minnesota with my two cats, Celeste Yvette La Lune and Soleil Marie L’Etoile. When I’m not writing websites, I like to do arts n’ crafts projects, go bicycling, kayaking and motorcycle riding, attend arts festivals, attend community events, and shop thrift stores and garage sales.
You’ll see bits and pieces of these interests mixed in with health and wellness information as you visit the Center.
Healthy Lifestyles Media’s publications include (to date):
The DIY Healthy Lifestyles Center – an online health and wellness center
The DIY Healthy Lifestyles Journal – the Center’s research journal and e-magazine.
- The Community Hub – the Center’s conference and social hub at Facebook
So, I’m a baby-boomer who’s been managing fibromyalgia, degenerative disc disease, sciatica, digestive disorders with Barrett’s Esophagus, and other challenges for the past 20+ years.
My story begins in the late-90’s, when I was among the first at my local clinics to present with this mystery ailment that no one could diagnose.
From a few basic tests they could tell me what the problem wasn’t, but had no idea what is was. I was among the first examples in the area with this condition that no one had ever seen before.
The doctors in my small community didn’t know what to do with me. I told them I’d done some research and found some information about a syndrome labeled fibromyalgia and I was pretty sure that’s what I had. I asked if they could check me out for that. They told me they weren’t sure how to do that.
The doctor I saw told me that he had a colleague at the clinic who had what I was describing and was now on medical leave. He said she left a book behind in her office with research about this phenomena.
We went into her empty office and the doctor took the book down from a high shelf and blew the dust off it. No one had looked at that book in the year since the colleague left.
“Hmmm…you’re right, it does talk about the symptoms you’ve described.”, the doctor said, flipping through the pages. “Oh, here’s where it says that excessive fatigue is a factor…and widespread pain with no known cause…it says it’s just been recently labeled fibromyalgia. I think you’re right, you might have fibromyalgia.” (Thank you for your concurrence, doctor!) . Then he asks me, “So what do you think we should do?”
I told him, “you’re the doctor, what do you think we should do?” He told me the book says he should test me for a few other diseases. I told him the diseases he needed to test for and he looked for that page. He then looked at me and said, “You know more about this than I do.”
That’s what you want to hear from your doctor. I knew more about a condition than someone who went through eight years of medical school and had been practicing for the past twenty years. This was long before I’d taken up studies for a degree of my own.
I did not have a good feeling about this.
He then dismissed my suggestions about reading the rest of that book or the medical journals I’d told him about. Without further conference with me, he secretly decided the plan should be to treat my variety of symptoms individually as the various conditions they appeared to be.
Muscle-relaxers for the back, antidepressants for the fatigue “because that’s really depression when you sleep too much” and not a beat later, added “and a little something for the pain so you can sleep”. Somehow he completely missed that being able to sleep was definitely not my problem! Staying awake was another story but he wasn’t as enthusiastic about giving me drugs for that.
After a while when one pill-cocktail quit working, they’d try something else. I was given behavior management medications because it was believed–and some said it right to my face: ”There is nothing clinically wrong with you! It’s all in your head!”. This said while patting my hand, giving me that knowing look that says “I can see you’re crazy but don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone.”
To say I was over-medicated is an understatement. It eventually resulted in the digestive system problems I have now, to add to all the other issues.
The conventional health care of the 90’s and early 00’s made me feel much worse before I finally took control of the medication merry-go-round.
When I finally tired of being a pharmaceutical lab experiment, I switched clinics. Twice. Unfortunately they all had the same ideas about treatment. Each doctor swore he knew just what I needed.
By that time, I’d lost a very good job in health insurance. I was a customer service representative and of course my insurance was through my company, so it wasn’t like my employer didn’t know what I was going through. Their only concern was their bottom line and I wasn’t contributing to it so they gave me my pink slip.
It wasn’t a good time, to say the least.
An Angel Appears
After leaving the first clinic and it’s drug experimentation, I moved to a completely different clinic system. I experienced two more years of the same treatment I’d had at the first clinic. That system was a training ground for new physician’s assistants so they did their one-year internships then they were gone. These interns were also being supported by kick-backs from the pharmaceutical companies and before long, I was back on the pill cocktail circuit.
Then I received a letter that the clinic had hired a new physician’s assistant who was accepting new patients. I was not happy with my current PA-du-jour so I thought I’d give this one a try. On our second visit, he asked if I’d ever tried fish oil. I looked at him in shock–which he took to be confusion–and began to explain what fish oil was.
I said that I knew what it was and had been trying it. He asked why the odd look and I told him that he was the first and only provider at that clinic who wanted to me to try supplements instead of drugs.
He was as amazed to hear that as I was to hear him talk about fish oil. I told him to take a look at my prescription record. He did and was soon exclaiming, “What?? Why did they give you that?!” and “Wow–they had you on six medications all at the same time? That’s just crazy!”
Prior to meeting this PA, I’d already gotten myself somewhat out of the worst of my health issues from online research into natural health.
I told him about what I’d been reading and trying and he supported it 100%. He confirmed that I was visiting reliable sites and getting correct information. He told me he was impressed with what I’d learned on my own. I was beginning to like this guy a lot.
He then helped me get into a pain management program that used natural healing along with conventional medicine. They would prescribe medication but only after other therapies had been tried and proved not to be helping.
The pain clinic helped its patients to develop their own plans, choosing therapies from the program that would be the most beneficial. I outlined the plan I’d told my PA about and they too agreed it was a good one. They also completely supported natural healing over drug therapy. Unfortunately, it was a 120 mile round trip twice a week and my transportation system fell through so I was unable to complete it.
Although I can’t claim that my plan has the support of the American Medical Association, I can say it has received support from a few of its members. 😊
A Plan is Born
As my health began to improve, friends and family members with similar issues began asking me to write down what I was doing so they could try it. And as they say, one thing led to another.
All this research got me very interested in health and wellness management so I went on to enroll in a Bachelor of Science degree program. My adviser saw my previous Associate credits in media communication and marketing and suggested I put together an independent study plan.
I researched similar programs at other universities and found a degree in Health Communication at Johns Hopkins medical university and patterned my program on theirs.
My mission became to help others find ways to get healthier more simply and affordably through natural therapies. I created my business plan for Healthy Lifestyles Media, a health and wellness media self-publishing company. Then I began publishing my personal research and academic studies into a series of what I call ‘eGuides’ tailored for a general audience.
People who write about health and wellness are often asked for their credentials. For those who ask, here’s a brief resume:
- 20+ years personal management of fibromyalgia, degenerative disc disease, and related ailments
- 15+ years personal research in natural health and healing
- 2-years non-accredited online degree courses in naturopathy and herbalism
- 20+ years in customer service and management in:
- Medicare/Medicaid health insurance programs.
- Internet technology
- Retail sales
- Direct sales
- Catalog marketing
- Associate of Applied Science degree – Marketing and Management
- Bachelor of Science: Health Communication (2016)
- Patient-graduate of 8-week clinical Pain Management Program (2018)
Well, that’s my story for now until I follow in the footsteps of the late, great Louise Hay and become the next great American wellness media mogul. It’s good to have goals.
Now it’s your turn. Share your story and/or tell a little bit about what you’d like to learn in these pages.
Post your story, questions, comments or requests here:
If you prefer not to share right now, you can click here to learn how the DIY Healthy Lifestyles plan was created.