By Dr. Jennifer Greer, ND
When I was a little girl, I told everyone I met that I was going to be a pediatrician when I grew up, just like my doctor. Nearly 40 years later, I don’t remember much about her, but she clearly left an impression on me that has lasted a lifetime.
I was that kid: straight ‘A’ student, strong, energetic, kind, compassionate, and a 3 sport athlete. I was also that kid: chronic migraines, allergies, digestive concerns, and menstrual cramps that caused me to miss school at least one day out of every month due to debilitating pain.
In the fall of my junior year of college, I began to struggle with fatigue. A pre-med major with a academic scholarship requiring a 3.5 GPA, I was beyond stressed. I was captain of the cheerleading squad, an active member of several student organizations, and I couldn’t keep my eyes open during class no matter how hard I tried. I suddenly gained 40lbs that couldn’t be explained even after seeing both my doctor and a nutritionist. I was exhausted, I couldn’t focus, and I wasn’t sure how I was going to finish out the semester.
Thankfully, I did finish, and I even graduated on time with my scholarship intact. Unfortunately, no one could give me answers to why I felt terrible, and the symptoms continued unchecked. I began searching for answers, reading everything I could get my hands on in regard to health. Every doctor I went to told me the same thing, “It’s probably your thyroid. We’ll run some labs and check it out.” Then a week later the same phone call would come, “The doctor says your labs are normal. There’s nothing wrong with you.”
I was beyond frustrated. How could there by nothing wrong with me? I knew the symptoms I had been suffering for years weren’t all in my head. There had to be an answer somewhere.
My answer came in parts.
It started with an allergist who diagnosed food allergies like wheat, peanuts, and beef.
Then there was a visit to a small town doctor in rural Arkansas who utilized some natural therapies. I don’t remember how I found her, but I do remember that I had to drive nearly 2 hours to see her. I left her office feeling hopeful for the first time. She didn’t give me any answers, but she did change my diet and recommended nutritional supplementation to help replenish nutrients depleted by years of allergy and digestive medications.
Several years passed where I felt marginally better, but the same concerns persisted: headaches, digestive distress, allergies, menstrual cramps, fatigue. Along with some new ones like hypoglycemic episodes. I was also seriously stressed with work, and in the back of my head that childhood desire to be doctor was constantly probing itself into my thoughts.
Around this time I moved to Arizona, and as luck would have it, there was a Naturopathic Doctor walking distance from my apartment. One day I decided to call her office and see if she could help me feel better.
She offered a 15 minute Discovery Session, during which I was allowed to ask my questions about naturopathic medicine, and she told me all about her approach to medical care. She didn’t give me any treatment advice, but she did give me confidence that she could help. I immediately scheduled a new patient appointment and rearranged my schedule to be there.
The rest is history as they say.
Within a few months, I felt better than I had in years. About 8 months into working with her as my doctor, I walked into a follow up appointment and started it off with, “I think I need to go to medical school now.” She replied, “I think you do, too, and I will write one of your letters of recommendation.”
I knew that I wanted to help people the same why she helped me. I wanted to offer answers, solutions. I wanted to give people hope and the tools to help their bodies heal, the same way she did for me.
The following year I started Naturopathic Medical school, and every single day I knew it was the best decision I had ever made.
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