Wholesome Thoughts


This Week

When you are “health conscious” and need to take medications, you can be resistant, possibly even holding a false belief of being a traitor to the values of natural healing and health. Resistance lowers the immune system and can amplify or cause negative side effects. You will be able to hear clues for resistance in the language, such as, “I hate taking medications,” or “I know this is not good for me,” or “I wish I did not have to take this.”

We hope you will enjoy this little video presentation:“Healthy Way to Take Medications” with Debra.

Hildegard’s Medicine

(Debra’s article, Hildegard’s Medicine, was originally published in the December 2012 Beyond Mastery Newsletter. You can access the PDF file at the Newsletter Archives link on the right side of the SCS-Matters.com home page.)

It seems like much of my focus in life has been around health and healing and hospitals. When I was little, I thought I would grow up to be a nurse. However, expecting my daughter, Stacey (high school in 1966) moved my life along another road. My educational forum would be the University of Life. Over the years, I have sometimes experienced pain around all of that, feeling as though doors were not open to me because mine was a nontraditional path. At the current time, I am quite relieved my work has been (and continues to be) outside of the institutions. Even my ordination allows me to minister in a church without walls.

Recently I have been reviewing all of this from an even more expansive lens as I have been reading Victoria Sweet’s book, God’s Hotel: A Doctor, A Hospital, and a Pilgrimage To The Heart of Medicine. Dr. Sweet worked at San Francisco’s Laguna Honda Hospital, a facility that just a couple of decades ago was still more the model of care from the Middle Ages than modern medicine. When she arrived there, Laguna Honda was nearly as ancient as the medicine Dr. Sweet studied while earning her Ph.D. in history and social medicine. Much of her studies were around the amazing life work of (now Saint) Hildegard von Bingen, 12th-century German nun.

While many people remember Hildegard as mystic, theologian, and composer, God’s Hotel also contains a wonderful snapshot of her premodern medicine. You come to realize Saint Hildegard was also a first-rate health care guru who understood not only disease, but also and more significantly, healing.

After spending a year in Europe reading Hildegard’s medical journals (in their original Latin), Dr. Sweet returned to Laguna Honda Hospital, where she was assigned to work in the “dementia” ward. What we study changes the world we see. Victoria Sweet had now been educated in the old ways—including the work of Dr. Philippe Pinel. In the early 1800s, Pinel had become interested in those patients for whom, “the memory was impaired, the feelings quenched, and the intelligence enfeebled or extinct.” Pinel named this condition démence—dementia.

Her patients whom she believed actually might have Alzheimer’s disease (characterized by neurofibrillary tangles in the brain), she used drugs. What she mostly saw was what she had learned from premodern medicine: the actual medical reasons for the loss of faculties including: “strokes, head trauma, syphilis, mercury poisoning [for treating syphilis!], alcoholism, errors of regime, and trials, disappointments, and privation.” (p. 162)

In the days before “activity therapy” was necessary to get patients moving around, Laguna Honda was an amazing place where patients found meaning as they worked in the gardens, the greenhouse, the kitchen, and the laundry. As they tended to the plants and the animals, people found medicine and healing that was not from drugs and surgery. Dr. Sweet was not against drugs or surgery, she just realized there was more.

I am not one of those who is busy wishing for the good ole days. I do, however, offer thanks for this doctor who was inspired to look beyond this tiny window called modern medicine and the even smaller window of “health care.” As we anticipate the amplified changes sure to come our way in the new year, join me in holding open the window in our hearts for all doctors to rediscover the amazing truth expressed so clearly in God’s Hotel: “Because caring was what created the personal relationship between patient and doctor. And that relationship was the secret of healing.” (p. 82)

Sacred Stories

The most recent addition to the SCS website, Sacred Stories, is your invitation to again be enchanted by stories. As we honor our experiences—especially those that do not fit neatly into our logical structure of thinking—you let the soft animal of your body relax into a larger meaning of life.

The Right John

Right John

She was facing surgery to remove an aggressive mass from her abdomen. Feeling a bit desperate, she sent off a quick email asking for help. She gave him her cell phone number as she was logging off and making the hour drive to work.

Moments later, he called, quickly giving her some suggestions. He asked her to call him late that evening.

His suggestions made an amazing difference!

He had more helpful information to share that evening. He kept in close touch with her over the next several weeks. His expert knowledge of integrative medicine, and his genuine caring for her, supported her through some incredibly frightening times.

She thought she had written to a medical doctor in Texas. His name was John. It was days into the process before she realized that her message had actually gone to another John! The person who knew just what she needed and was there to guide her every step of the way was also named John—a holistic dentist in Wisconsin.

However it had happened, the wrong John was the right John!

For more Sacred Stories, use the link on the left margin of this page. You may email debra@scs-matters.com to submit your sacred stories for consideration.