Naturopathic Doctor specializing in Women's Health, Hormone Balance, Weight Loss, Fertility, and Holistic Medicine.

Opening Hours : By appointment only
  Contact : 913-888-0331

All posts by Alicia Johnson

A Second Chance

 

Some of my health care experiences in my life have helped me understand what it’s like to be a patient.  To want answers right away.  A name for a symptom to make it real to the people around me.  To make it separate from my identity.  To want someone near me who understands that people who are chronically ill don’t have to be inspiring, uplifting, or handling it well.  I’ve learned that sometimes people just need to say “I feel bad and it’s hard”.  Illness isn’t a Hollywood inspirational adventure.  After years of practice and half my lifetime of studying the body, medically I can still find myself in helpless situations where no one hears me.  It blows my mind that I’m speaking the language, I understand the system, and yet I hit roadblocks that crush me emotionally.  When that happens I’m reminded of how hard it is for all of the people I see as patients who have an even harder time navigating the system.  On days when I’m tired or don’t feel well, I remember that I chose my job to be there for those people.  I learned a few years ago that I had a genetic heart condition that could cause me to die suddenly at anytime.  I had a very rare circumstance—I inherited 2 separate genes that could cause my heart to develop differently.  The problems associated this have caused other problems along the way that make everything I love harder.  I do everything I can to stay physically strong, but it has been an uphill battle.  Recently I hit a point that I couldn’t fight uphill anymore and it was time for intervention.  It was time for open heart surgery followed by another surgery for an implantable device that can rescue me when my heart stops.  

I’ve mostly kept this process to myself because I know these things make others uncomfortable.  The signs of this challenge are visible on my chest now, and it seems like a good time to share my experience and thank you for your patience.  

At the beginning, I laid awake every night thinking.  Thinking about how I didn’t need more out of my life.  I didn’t want more or better, I just wanted to keep what I had.   Children who I feel proud of every day because they are funny, patient, and kind.  Walking them to school in the morning.  People in my life who make me laugh and lift me up.  Work that gives me purpose.  Opportunities to study and travel and teach the things that inspire me.  Time to dance and practice yoga.  Chickens living in patches of wildflowers in my back yard.  The best dog ever.  A husband who looks out for my family.  I have wanted to be a grandmother since the day my first son was born.  I’ve always wanted to know what weird quirks my kids will make fun of when I’m old.  I just wanted to be here.  Most days I don’t project my experience on to others.  Every now and then I did.  Some moments it was so hard to hear people say they hated exercise when I was desperate to keep moving.  Sometimes it was impossible for me to listen to people get focused on what they didn’t have when every day I just wanted to keep what I had.  Every now and then it was hard to listen to people talk about not wanting to get the kids ready for school when all I wanted was to keep waking up to do it every day.  I wanted to walk them up the street to school without struggling.  

One of the first things I started to do was make my world smaller.  I had sensations all day that served as reminders that none of us will be here forever.  Small things mattered less.  My energy became limited, and I saw that I had to be conscious of who and what I gave it to.  The biggest thing I noticed was that the people who patiently waited for me to have time and energy were the ones who I wanted to give it to the most.  But I didn’t.  They were waiting while I gave my energy to the loudest problem.  I also felt torn.  I wanted to give my kids every moment, but I wanted them to see that dreams and passions are part of your life and you can’t give them up.  You don’t quit.  Ultimately, though, my life didn’t change that much from knowing that my time could be limited.  I didn’t quit my job because I love it.  I didn’t go spend money because I have enough things.  The small things that made my life meaningful didn’t change.  There was no bucket list.  Actually, more than ever it was clear that external experiences wouldn’t be on that list.  My list was just to experience the small things.  Connecting with strangers, listening to music I love, petting my dog, doing yoga, dancing, trying to help people, and sitting with my closest people talking about nothing.   That’s all I wanted.  The toughest thing but the most valuable was to try to be ok with where I was every day, good or bad, and knowing that I have more control over my reactions my circumstances.   Sometimes my reactions were terrible, but life constantly gives you new chances to react differently.  Fortunately, most people that love you do, too.  

Of course, I’m by no means perfect.  But I found myself being aware every day.  If I sent my kids off to school or bed and it was the last time, what would they remember?  Would their memory of me reflect that I think they’re the most incredible little humans in the world?  I stopped reacting to spills and lost gloves.  I wondered, would they remember strain and exhaustion or would they see what was deeper in my heart?  I had to accept that I don’t get to dictate that, but I could try to show the love and patience I felt.  I started to trust them to be strong.  I trusted that they’re able to see that they’re deeply loved, and believe in them to be capable fighting their own challenges with or without me.  I started to try to replace my fears for them with trust in them.  I know they’ve seen my light fade a bit over the last few years, but I’ve learned to trust that they still see the love.

These last few weeks have been a whirlwind in some ways.  I’ve listened to so many people tell me that I have a very high risk of sudden death.  I’ve felt it for years and the words are just words now.  I don’t feel anything anymore but gratitude that I’m not suddenly trying to process what that means to me.  I have had time to process it.  It means remembering to love the people near me every day.  It means knowing what I love and fighting for it.  And now, finally, it means that someone will fix it.  A second chance.  

The surgeon thinks that with a more normal heart, I can do more of the things I love again.  A second chance to be grateful for the one body that carries us through this short life.  A chance to feel the joy of moving it.   I want that so badly I can hardly stand it.  My specialist said that my implantable rescue device will almost certainly save me at least once.  But then I’ll get up.  Statistically a lot of people get anxious about being shocked.  I was surprised by how different I feel about it.  It’s an amazing thing to see that my lens has just changed.  It’s no longer a lens that reminds me that every day is uncertain.   Now it’s a lens that reminds me that I’ll get something weird and amazing that most people don’t get.  At least once, I’ll get a second chance at life. Instead of wondering what will happen to my family and my work if I disappear suddenly, I wonder what it will be like to open my eyes and see what a second chance feels like.  In some ways, I already do.  I’m healing and waiting to see what lies ahead with a stronger body.  I won’t say that this process hasn’t been painful.  The pain has been brutal at times.  But the pain of the fear leaving my boys without a mother has been replaced with the physical pain of being born into a new beginning.  One thing I know is that I wouldn’t trade the hard parts for anything.  It’s hard to imagine myself without that challenge reshaping me.  No book or movie or lesson could teach me to experience the moment like recognizing that life is fragile.  

I’ve struggled a little bit with hiding it all, being vague and overly positive because that’s what people want.  Putting energy into hiding things isn’t high on my personal list of priorities.   I just know it’s easier for people to just see me as a healthy person and not a person overcoming challenges like everyone else.  I’ve struggled a little bit with knowing that the rest of my life I’ll have to decide if I want to try to hide the little box on my chest and my scars.  I’m grateful for this gift, but it feels like I’m supposed to hide it. My gift of remembering what matters to me, my gift of a new chance to use the body I have again, and a pending gift of a second chance.  Maybe I don’t need to hide that.  I know it’s ugly for my eyes.  I won’t lie and say that it doesn’t hurt to wear that vulnerability on the outside now.  But maybe I can get to where can look in the mirror and see it all showing and be ok with it.   Maybe I’ll see what it represents.  A fresh start.  The opportunity to have access to the best intervention in the world.  A normal lifespan.  A chance to look deeply into what matters and come out ok.  A chance to get excited about getting old.  A chance to know what if feels like to open my eyes to a second chance.  I’m so grateful for everything I have, and it’s amazing to give myself permission to feel hope again.

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Glyco-Kinetic Update

Integrative Therapeutics has discontinued one of our favorite products, Glyco-Kinetic Complex.  We have been comparing a few items for a replacement and have settled on Glycemic Formula from Mountain Peak Nutritionals. We still have a few of the Glyco-Kinetic Complexes left, but have also received our first shipment of the new formula and it is available for purchase.

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Online Supplement Store

We are launching our online supplement store today!  This service is available through the Charm Patient Portal and can be accessed on the Order Supplements page.  We will be offering 25% off all orders and FREE shipping through August 17th.  The 25% will be refunded to your card after the order is placed.  This new service will allow you to order directly from the inventory in the office and choose to either pick it up or have it shipped to your home.  After August 17th, shipping will be $7.25 for orders under $50 and FREE for orders over $50.  We use USPS 2-day, so you should receive your package within 1-3 business days of ordering.  If you don’t see an item listed or have other questions, please give us a call at 913-888-0331 or send a portal message to the Front Desk.

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Price Change

Many of you have already asked about our new doctor and services.  We appreciate your interest in our growth!  I was in Banff last week working on an intensive program teaching business owners how to take care of themselves so they can perform better.  I will be back this week, then I will be in Santa Fe leading a women’s retreat with Tina Sprinkle.  Having time for complete health immersion is a passion of mine, and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to do it.  While I’m gone, Dr. Little will be carefully making sure your needs are met.  She will be in contact with me daily.  If you need a consult while I’m out, she will relay all the details to me.  Our goal is to make sure your needs are met faster and addressed by a licensed doctor under my supervision.  She also takes her own patients.  In addition to her thorough training, she spends time daily learning specifically about the methods and treatments I have developed.  So far, having an extra doctor in the office has been so helpful that we hope to make this “teaching position” permanent.   Our goal is to make those visits more affordable for everyone.  Starting in August, my rates will increase.  This was a difficult decision, as some of my most treasured patient relationships include bus drivers, school teachers, and phone operators.  However, it will allow us to provide the staff that can care for you the way I want you to be treated.  We have an acupuncturist with 35 years of experience for second opinions and complex neurological problems.  We recently added an engineer / data analyst for office management, technology, accuracy, and process improvement.  Jay is excited to combine is passion for health with his analytical skills.  We are increasing hours with Sam, our admin with a heart of gold, who has over 10 years of experience in holistic health.  Sam cares deeply about every detail with every person she helps.  We are able to staff our lab with an on call mobile phlebotomy expert for your appointments.  LaVita runs Caresticks and manages nearly all the mobile phlebotomy in Kansas City for nursing homes and medical facilities.  We are fortunate to have her personal service from our office and sent to your home.  Dr. Little is helping with all the details on the back end, which means you have a fully trained doctor helping with things that are typically assigned to a medical assistant or nurse.  Adding experience to the staff is an exciting time for me.  As some of you know, my first and hardest experiences in medicine started as a patient.  My biggest dream when I began school was to provide a space with compassionate care where the complicated people don’t slip through the cracks.  We have had a bumpy road, but we work every day to try to shift a broken system to achieve that dream.  Every policy and change that we make is ultimately an effort to work toward that goal.

Since I’ve been asked, I want to reiterate to everyone that I am not discontinuing care with anyone.  My schedule has been tight and I want you to have someone you can call if needed.  I also want to offer a more affordable option for those who need it.

Rates will increase in August.  ANYTHING booked before then for ANY time in the future will be honored at the previous rate.  There is no limit to the number of visits or type of visit you can book at the previous rate.  It applies to appointments booked over the phone or online.  I hope that makes up for anyone who is overwhelmed by this change.  My new follow-up rate will be $250.  Dr. Little will be available for follow-ups at $135 and new patient consults at $275.

Some of you have been with me for many years and have my personal contact info.  I LOVE being able to help when you need something.  My hope is that I can do that more as we grow.  For now, please use the patient portal for anything that is not urgent.  This allows us to utilize Dr. Little when I am traveling internationally so you don’t have to wait.  It also cuts down on my inbox so I don’t miss urgent messages.

If you’ve stuck with me this far, thank you!  It’s truly a pleasure to watch your journey of personal growth, improved health, and to see you be able to feel better and do the things that matter most to you.  Your soul / spirit only has one vehicle for this life, and you will have this body for the remainder of the ride.  Learn to drive what you have, appreciate the parts that work, and take care of it because you won’t get another one.  You need your body to carry you to do the things that mean the most to you.   Keep up the good work with your self care.  Thanks for supporting our continued effort to improve!

Dr. Alicia Johnson, ND

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woman-getting-acupunctured

What is Acupuncture?

My favorite thing about using traditional Chinese medicine is being able to individualize treatment. There are acupuncture points for dry mouth, dry eyes, TMJ, numbness, and other things that are quite difficult to address
with conventional medicine. There are diagnoses that simply don’t exist in Western medicine, so we can address and explain things that have been missed by other providers. There are countless ways to treat problems with stress, head pain, sleep, or hormones.

This video can help explain acupuncture for people who are curious. In my office, most of the acupuncture I do is for sleep, mood, stress, hormone balance, and fertility. Of course, acupuncture is great for pain and I try my best to fit you into my schedule if you have back pain or neck pain that can’t wait.

If you have other questions or comments, please feel free to share!

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friends-who-comfort-a-friend-with-infertility-problem

If You Have A Friend With Infertility, You Have To Read This

Do you have a friend who is trying to conceive?  Take a minute to read some stats and remind yourself that she is probably struggling way more than you think.  Give her a hug before that next baby shower.  Call her and ask her how she is doing when her sister gets pregnant.  Offer an ear, a hug, and talk to her about getting help when she needs it.  Don’t judge when she is angry with other moms or feels resentment.  Give her a safe space to express it.  Chances are (85% of the time) her husband is not agonizing like she is, so he may not be giving her the support she wants.

  • 48% of women report that infertility is the most upsetting experience in their lives. (take a minute to consider how many upsetting experiences women have)
  • 11% of infertile women meet the criteria for having a major depressive episode (this is debilitating)
  • 1/3 of all infertile women are clinically depressed
  • 80% of all chronic health problems are exacerbated by stress, so they may be experiencing other health problems from the stress.
  • Women with a history of depressive episodes are twice as likely to report subsequent infertility than women who are not depressed. This stat probably has to do with the fact that women with hormone problems are often depressed.  The take away is this:  chances are good that the depression and fertility are intimately woven together and she needs a friend.
  • Women who have a depressive episode before IVF have a 13% pregnancy rate, compared to those who do not have a depressive episode who have pregnancy rate of 29%. If she won’t get help for herself, maybe she will do it for the pregnancy.

female-friends-comforting-each-otherDepression associated with infertility is comparable to depression associated with terminal illness.  You may not be able to understand, but you can be there.  Many women with illness or grief report their friends and family not being there simply because they don’t know what to say or do.  Say something.  Do something.   Your friend / sister / co-worker needs you to be the one to offer some support.

Interested in receiving my information on fertility in a series of emails?  It’s free, and organized for your convenience.  Contact my assistant at DrJohson@aspirehealthkc.com and ask to receive the optimizing fertility series.  This includes the blogs on the website and a few extra tips.

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Kid-checking-his-teddy-bear-as-patient

Lifesaver for Little Childhood Illnesses

It’s that time of year! If you are worried about your kiddo getting sick, remember that there are tons of safe natural therapies that many people have not ever heard of. I created a short email series to help parents learn about home remedies to use. I learned these things from my 9 years of being a mommy and a provider. I did the best research I could on what doesn’t cost a lot but works really well. If you want to learn a little more,you can just email my office and ask receive the email about acute illnesses.It’s more than I can fit into one post. The one that I am MOST excited about this year was a really good find. Many of you know that I have recommended NAC for your kids to drain little ears, to thin mucus, and help with colds or coughs. The problem is that it tastes TERRIBLE and if they can’t take a pill, they couldn’t do it.

NAC is the component of breast milk that helps thin the mucus and keep little noses and ears unclogged. It is such a safe natural way to help thin theirmucus.

Finally, after literally years of looking, I found a company in Canada that makes a kid friendly version! It is called Pharma NAC. I am really happy to have some on the shelf and to be able to tell you about it!

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photo-of-a-pregnant-woman-doing-her-exercise

2 Things You Have to Know About Exercise and Fertility

If you are trying to have the best hormone levels possible, pay attention to 2 things.

First, don’t over exercise! Calorie restriction combined with heavy exercise causes huge drops in hormone levels.  The right balance of hormones is critical for normal cycle, normal fertile ground for the baby, and normal egg release.  If you think you might be exercising too much but you are not sure, consider a blood test to evaluate your levels.  You must be absolutely certain that the person reading the results knows HOW to interpret hormone levels with respect to optimal health.  If the doctor can’t tell you what a good estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, FSH, and LH level is, find someone who can.

photo-of-pregnant-woman-doing-her-exerciseSecond, don’t overdo the abdominal!  We want really good blood flow to the pelvic organs.  Studies show that overdoing the abdominal workouts actually restrict blood flow to the pelvic organs.  When you are trying to get pregnant, focus on whole body activity.

When your hormone levels are important to you, avoid the very trendy extreme exercise routines.  They will make it much harder to have a baby.  The CDC recommends a minimum of 30 minutes of ‘moderate intensity’ activity per day at least 5 days per week.  Strength training should also be included two days per week.  These are reasonable recommendations that should give you an idea of whether you are doing too much or not enough.

Interested in receiving my information on fertility in a series of emails?  It’s free, and organized for your convenience.  Contact my assistant at DrJohson@aspirehealthkc.com and ask to receive the optimizing fertility series.  This includes the blogs on the website and a few extra tips.

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