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

Opening Hours : Monday to Thursday - 9am to 5pm; Friday - 9am to 12pm

  Contact : Lenexa, Kansas 913-888-0331
Hiawatha, Kansas 785-742-7606

News

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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The Miracle of the Mangroves

Big Potential: How Transforming the Pursuit of Success Raises Our Achievement, Happiness, and Well-Being by Shawn Achor

Chapter 1 Excerpt: The Power of Hidden Connections

The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn. –Ralph Waldo Emerson

When dusk slowly crept upon a mangrove forest lining a river deep in a jungle in Southeast Asia, a biologist far from his home in Washington State looked out over the lush, alien landscape lining the snake-infested waters. While drifting slowly in his boat, Professor Hugh Smith surely heard the calls of the nocturnal creatures uncoiling from their dens or taking flight from their nests and beginning their nightly hunts. I can envision how the water must have shimmered under the light from the stars, unspoiled by the light pollution that existed in the remote cities. What happened next on that humid day in 1935 is part of recorded academic history. Smith looked up at one of the mangrove trees, and suddenly the entire canopy glowed as if a lightning bolt had shot out from the tree instead of striking it. Then all went dark, leaving a burned image on his vision.

Then lightning, as it sometimes does, struck twice. The entire tree glowed again, then went entirely dark again twice in three seconds.1 Then, in a reality-bending moment, all of the trees along the riverbank suddenly glowed in unison. Every tree on one side of the river for a thousand feet was flashing and going dark at exactly the same time.

Something deep inside me warms at the thought that such a patient, careful, and scientific observer, whose curiosity about the world led him so far away from his normal life in the Pacific Northwest, could be rewarded that night by such a magical moment of nature.

Once his capacity for mental reasoning returned, he realized that the trees were not, in fact, glowing; rather, they were covered with a critical number of bioluminescent lightning bugs, all illuminating at the exact same time. Upon returning home, Dr. Smith wrote up a journal article on his discovery of the synchronous lightning bugs. It seemed too good to be true, like something out of a storybook. I’m sadly unsurprised by the next part of the story. He was not believed. Biologists ridiculed his account, even calling it fabricated. Why would male fireflies glow in unison, which would only decrease their chances of distinguishing themselves to potential mates? Mathematicians were equally skeptical. How could order come from chaos in nature without a leader to direct it? And entomologists asked how millions of fireflies could see enough other fireflies to create the exact same pattern, given the limited visibility in the mangrove forest. It seemed physically, mathematically, and biologically impossible.

Yet, it wasn’t. And now, thanks to modern science, we know how and why. Turns out that this puzzling behavior actually serves an evolutionary purpose for the fireflies. As published in the prestigious journal Science, researchers Moiseff and Copeland found that when lightning bugs light up at random times, the likelihood of a female responding to a male in the deep, dark recesses of a mangrove forest is 3 percent. But when the lightning bugs light up together, the likelihood of females responding is 82 percent.2 That’s not a typo. The success rate increased by 79 percentage points when flashing as an interconnected community rather than as individuals.

Society teaches that it’s better to be the only bright light than be in a forest of bright lights. After all, isn’t that the way we think about success in our schools and companies? We want to graduate at the top of our class, get the job at the best company, and be chosen to work on the most coveted project. We want our child to be the smartest kid at school, the most popular kid on the block, the fastest kid on the team. When any resource–be it acceptance to the most prestigious university, an interview with a top-ranking company, or a spot on the best athletic team–is limited, we are taught that we have to compete in order to differentiate ourselves from the rest of the pack.

And yet, my research shows that this isn’t actually the case. The lightning bug researchers discovered that when the fireflies were able to time their pulses with one another with astonishing accuracy (to the millisecond!), it allowed them to space themselves apart perfectly, thus eliminating the need to compete. In the same way, when we help others become better, we can actually increase the available opportunities, instead of vying for them. Like the lightning bugs, once we learn to coordinate and collaborate with those around us, we all begin to shine brighter, both individually and as an ecosystem.

But pause to think for a moment. How did lightning bugs even do it? How did they all coordinate their flashing lights so perfectly, especially given their limited visibility and vision? Researchers Mirollo and Strogatz from Boston College and MIT found in the Journal of Applied Mathematics that, amazingly, the fireflies do not have to see everybody to create coordinated action; so long as no group of fireflies is completely out of sight of any other group, they can sync up with one another’s rhythms.3 In other words, it only takes a few nodes to transform the entire system.4

Our new understanding of “positive systems” teaches us that the same is true for humans. As you will discover in this book, by becoming a “positive node” in your workplace, company, or community, and helping those around you improve their creativity, their productivity, their abilities, their performance, and more, you are not only helping the group become better; you are exponentially increasing your own potential for success.

There is one final important detail to this intriguing story. Biologists who have explored these jungles now know that the glow emanating from those mangroves can be seen for miles. This means it is even easier for other fireflies to find their way to the light. So the brighter it shines, the more newcomers join and add their light. This is true just as much for humans as it is for fireflies: The more you help people find their light, the brighter you both will shine.

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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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Leptin – a master hormone you didn’t know about

Originally posted over on Dr. Megan’s site

Leptin was discovered in 1994 as a hormone that is secreted by adipose or fat cells. It is the major signal from the body to the brain letting it know what the energy stores are like. It plays are role in metabolism, regulation of reproductive and thyroid hormones as well as satiety. Leptin has receptor sites in multiple places in the body, but we primarily consider it the satiety and starvation hormone. When fat stores are decreased leptin levels are also decreased, and it signals the brain to eat more food. However, when fat stores are increased, more leptin is also secreted. If too much leptin is secreted for too long, the brain can have a hard time recognizing that it is elevated, and the end result is that you feel increased hunger, this is called leptin resistance.

What Causes Leptin Resistance?

1. Inflammation: Generalized inflammation can harm the hypothalamus in the brain, making it less receptive to leptin signals

2. Free fatty acids: elevated triglycerides block leptin transport across the blood brain barrier, blocking signals that the body has enough fat stores and does not need to eat more.

3. Genetics: There are some genetic mutations that are correlated with higher rates of leptin and individuals carrying a mutation on LEPR gene could see higher serum leptin levels than those without the mutation.

So What Can We Do to Lower Leptin Levels?

1. The Basics: Eat real food in moderate amounts, exercise and get adequate sleep. All of these contribute to a balanced and healthy body. This is the foundation work to getting your leptin corrected.

2. Adipo-Leptin Benefits by Davinci – This supplement contains 4 ingredients known to help with lowering leptin levels and help patients lose weight.

a. Green Coffee Bean Extract: contains two compounds to provide an energy boost without giving you the stimulating jittery feeling that coffee often does.

b. Brown Seaweed: Contains a carotenoid, fucoxanthin, which may serve as an antioxidant specific to adipose cells.

c. African Mango: It uses its unique properties to support the function of Leptin and Adiponectin, which help to reduce the conversion of complex carbs into sugars. Leptin and Adiponectin also support fat burning and hunger management.

d. Green Tea Phytosome: Potent antioxidant activity and for weight loss support.

DaVinci Formulas Adipo-Leptin Benefits is a one of a kind formula that isn’t available from other supplement companies. It has a unique combination of ingredients that supports the reduction in leptin levels when combined with good dietary habits and exercise.

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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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Why You Need a Nighttime Routine

Check out this post, originally on Dr Little’s website

Ideally, we will spend up to 1/3 of our lives sleeping from the time that we are an infant to becoming an older adult. Infants regularly sleep between 11-19 hours a day and the average adult should be sleeping between 7-9 hours a night, and in some cases up to 10. However, the demands of life including work schedules, responsibilities at home, and activities with friends are often put ahead of sleep, causing us to drop below 7 hours a night. It is a debt that must be paid back. Americans prioritize healthy eating, exercise and hobbies over a good nights’ sleep. And as many as 40% of Americans are sleeping less than 6 hours a night. According to the CDC, 31% of adults in Kansas and 34% of adults in Missouri report sleeping less than 7 hours a night.

 
If you accumulate between 5-10 hours of sleep debt by only sleeping 5-6 hours a night during the work week, you will not be able to make it up on the weekend without consequences. Taking long naps on the weekend might feel good in the short term, but often can result in poorer sleep once Sunday rolls around, setting you up for worse sleep throughout the rest of the week. Dr. Anthony Panettiere, MD, and neurologist and sleep expert has a short video on YouTube where he explains why trying to make up sleep debt on the weekend is problematic. So how do we start to take back our evenings and get into bed at a reasonable hour?
 
We have to make it a priority. Cleaning up your sleep habits by practicing good sleep hygiene will go a long way to improve your sleep and reduce the sleep debt owed. Going to bed as little as 15 minutes earlier can make a difference in how you feel the next day, but even better, would be setting a regular sleep schedule. Setting a wake up time and a bed time that is the same every day is an important part of this. Put it in your calendar, just like you would an appointment. Set intentions, making it a priority to begin winding down for the night at least one hour before you plan to go to bed.
 
Try including some of the following tips to help your mind and body prepare for bed
· Put away your electronics: phones, tablets, computers and TVs all emit blue light, which can decrease the production of melatonin, making it more difficult to fall asleep
· Dim household lights as much as possible, this will signal your body that it is time to start winding down
· Listen to soothing music: This can help you calm your mind and destress from the day
· Take a hot shower or bath: The body’s core temperature must drop at night to be able to sleep and taking a hot shower can actually stimulate your body’s cooling system, making it easier to fall asleep
· Journal: if you don’t journal, even reflecting on the day, the things that went well, things you still need to do, and the things you are grateful for can help get thoughts out of your head and calm your mind
· Gentle stretch or yoga: Releasing some of the physical tension in your body can help you to relax your body as well as your mind.
 
It is all about your mindset and creating a night time routine is just as important having a morning routine. Having a pattern to follow will help to minimize sleep debt and make it more likely that you will climb in bed at a reasonable hour giving your body the rest it needs.
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