Mary Katzke’s film explores the healing power of integrative medicine. We originally prepared a title with “integrative medicine” for this article. However, as we reflected on Mary’s story we realized she has the right title… Partners in Healing. This isn’t about any medicine really. It is very much about partnerships, respect, even human kindness. Health is holistic.
Experiencing the stark contrast between my first visit to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, and with my naturopathic practitioner is when I began this journey of integrative medicine.
The first thing I noticed in Western medicine is the donning of the uniform. The gown that is generically sized and designed, netting the immediate stripping away of individuality. Second is the room temperature: almost always cold. Sanitary disposable paper covering everything. Third is the clipboard with all the boxes to check — again because even though you just did it in the lobby, the doctor doesn’t have time to read it. Fourth is the lack of any interest whatsoever in the “rest of my life.” Then begins the poking, prodding, cutting and burning and poisoning. All of which hurt, not just immediately but for a long time afterward.
On the other hand, my naturopath met me at the door wearing a sweater and holding a warm blanket that he wrapped me in before personally leading me to a living room setting where tea was waiting. We spent an hour talking. Not about disease but about who I am, what matters to me, both now and in the future. Then we eased into the medical realm. His offerings of Chinese herbs to build my immune system, a referral for reflexology for hormonal balance and relaxation, meditation, and dietary changes — all felt good. They felt healing. I left feeling like I mattered, more than like the ticket to an insurance bonanza the front desks in other places had felt. I’m not saying it was free but I am saying everything added to my well-being.
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