Some injuries are small, and some are “turn your life upside-down” large. Some injuries come on quickly with a specific event, and others brew under the surface for weeks, months or years and arise suddenly and unexpectedly. All of them are inconvenient. Injuries also provide an opportunity to turn inward, realign, and listen deeply to our bodies. Chinese Medicine has incredible insight into what kind of injuries and lifestyle factors can contribute to our deeper imbalances.
My “turn your life upside down” injury occurred when I was hit by a drunk driver in 2015, leaving me with severe physical injuries and traumatic brain injury. How obscure it was to find myself, a neuroscientist and acupuncturist, waking up in the hospital and being told that I was coming out of a six day coma, with a severe diffuse axonal traumatic brain injury. I didn’t know what day it was or how I got there, and wasn’t even sure who the president of the United States was… but I knew what “Diffuse Axonal Traumatic Brain Injury” meant.
I immediately understood my level of responsibility that was going to be a part of my healing journey. I found myself grateful for the power of neuroplasticity, my youth, my health, and Chinese Medicine.
Three steps I took to implement Traditional Chinese Medicine into my recovery process:
1 - I received acupuncture treatments immediately and regularly. I knew that acupuncture’s effect compounds and builds on itself if given routinely - much like a workout. Spaced too far apart, the treatment effects would be too small, and too close together, you risk over-treating. I started acupuncture right away, and could feel my digestion regulating, my sleep returning to normal, and my pain diminishing. These treatments were profound and life changing.
2 - I used Chinese herbs, like turmeric, ginger, dang gui and frankincense to nourish me, give me strength and vitality, decrease inflammation, and feed my brain while it recovered. These herbal treatments showed me just how profound Chinese Medicine as a system is, and helped me lean into it’s truth for my own strength. This is a gift I love bringing to others, on their own journey’s every day now.
3 - I eliminated the dairy-based formula the hospital was giving me through my feeding tube. I knew that I have weak Spleen Qi and am susceptible to phlegm formation when I eat too much heavy, greasy, or sweet foods. I advocated strongly to have the tube removed because I knew that historically, dairy gives me phlegm. I had to advocate strongly, and it was with a good amount of skepticism that the doctors finally let me try to go without the formula, but three days after removing it I was phlegm free. The doctors allowed me to continue my own plan for a liquid diet -freshly juiced vegetables and fruits and a brown rice protein shake my husband would make me to sustain me.
With every injury, we have a choice. A choice to listen to our bodies and grow, or a choice to engage in the struggle and be defeated. At JADA, we are here to help you understand the bigger story that surrounds your injury and provide tangible steps for you in your recovery process to overcome it.
~Sophia Bouwens, L.Ac