1. What brought you to Portland?
I actually came here to be with the love of my life in 2001. We have been married for almost 3 years and just had our first baby - Lucas - in October of last year. We ended up staying in Portland because of OCOM, which I didn't realize was here until after I moved here. Funny how life is sometimes! I have decided to stay because it is a great area and most of our family lives in the area.
2. Why did you decide to become an LAc?
In 1996 I had suffered a repetitive motion injury that left me unable to move my neck and was in chronic debilitating pain. I come from a Western medicine family background and so when I finally decided to seek medical attention, I went to my MD first. The pain pills prescribed either make me violently ill or just did not work at all - usually both. So at the encouragement of my then co-workers, I sought out a chiropractor. My first visit with her reduced my pain from a 9/10 to a 3/10 and I could move my head from side to side. This first visit to an alternative care practitioner changed my view of health care for the rest of my life. She took the time to talk with me, to assess my work and life habits contributing to my injury and to educate me on how to do self-care at home. As part of my healing process she encouraged me to understand what was happening in my body and to connect to it.
Part of this healing journey included her encouragement/insistence that I finally try that "crazy" thing called Acupuncture. I had always wanted to experience Acupuncture, but I was very nervous. The Acupuncturist also took the time to explain to me what she was doing and why. She was patient and kind and really listened to my story. On one of my visits with her, she told me that while she is not in the practice of telling people what to do with their lives - she felt I wasn't entirely on the right path. She told me that she felt that I wasn't allowing myself to follow in the path I was meant to be on - which was why I was experiencing so many health problems. (I was very ill at the time with many health issues, not just my neck injury). She suggested I consider becoming a health practitioner, not just a health educator (which is what I was doing at the time).
To say this conversation changed my life, is an understatement. When she suggested that some of my illness could be a result of my limiting my own potential, I cried because in my heart I knew it was true. I had never had a conversation like this in my life and I really felt that for the first time someone finally believed in my potential to help others. It took another 2-3 years of having conversations with myself before I believed that I was smart enough to become a healer. In that time I had moved to Portland and then decided to start looking at various medical school options and lo and behold - there was OCOM! I let my instincts guide my decisions and followed the flow of what I now think of as Qi and applied to OCOM without any knowledge of Chinese Medicine, other than from the perspective of a patient. In fact, it didn't really hit home that we were going to learn about Chinese herbology until say, the second week of class - bit of a shock to the system when my Shen (mind/soul) finally realized where the Qi had taken me. I think it is rather funny that Chinese herbology has become my primary love and focus in my private practice. Ultimately, when I came to OCOM and started to learn this medicine, I found an inner peace and understanding that I had been craving my entire life and I continue to be inspired by this medicine everyday.
3. Tell me about your practice
I am located in the community of Milwaukie, Oregon and I love this area and the community! I have been working with a wide variety of health issues to date and while I don't feel that I have a specialty, most of my patients are dealing with pain, endocrine system issues (PCOS, Diabetes, etc), cardiovascular health (high blood pressure, high cholesterol), sexual function/infertility, immunity, weight management and mental/emotional issues. Generally speaking I tend to have a gentle and quick acupuncture technique and incorporate different styles of acupuncture like Tan, TCM and Japanese. While 90% of my patients take Chinese herbs, it is certainly not a requirement to have a treatment with me. What I love about my physical space is that it is comfortable and relaxing and best of all, my patients don't have to climb any stairs!
4. Where does your passion for the medicine come from?
I have always been curious about the health of our bodies and minds since I was a child. I was also inspired by my mother who studied to become a RN in my teens and is now an Oncology nurse. Yet, when it came time to decide what to do with my life I was greatly confused. I wanted to help people, but something about the Western medical philosophy and medical model just didn't work for me. As I mentioned above, I didn't know there were other options and so I ended up having a triple major in Environmental Studies, Music and Sociology and started a peer sexual health education program on my college campus. When I received my undergraduate degree, I still had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, so I followed my heart and began a career in sexual health education. I love working with people from varying backgrounds and experiences and this career allowed me to do just that. While this was a very rewarding time in my life, I still felt like I was missing something. When my injury led me to my first chiropractor and acupuncturist, I knew my life would never be the same. And it hasn't been - which is a really good thing! I am a happier, healthier and more full-filled person as a result! Now my passion comes from wanting to help other people along their healing journey (as I have been helped) and I feel like I have the experience, knowledge and know-how to do just that.
5. Any advice for patients? There is rarely one finite answer to health related concerns. While it will take work on the part of the practitioner to find the proper diagnosis and treatment, it is ultimately up to you to follow-through on the treatment plan given to you and the lifestyle changes that may be recommended. It is important to ask questions, trust your instincts and utilize all the different medical modalities that our community has to offer, which includes, but is not limited to: Acupuncturists (LAC); Chiropractors (DC); Naturopaths (ND); Medical Doctors (MD); Massage Therapists (LMT); and more. Believe in your ability to improve your quality of life and to live a happier and more full-filled life!
6. What is your favorite Portland restaurant and why?
I have a few dietary restrictions, so this is a hard one. When I want to eat something good and play by the food sensitivity rules - I love the New Seasons Wok bar. If I am going to break the rules a bit I love Beau Thai in NW Portland, Pastini on Division, Schvonne's on Division. Good food, locally owned businesses and great people!