A patient story...
I have been working with Boaz Brizman for 18 months. I first came to him in desperation. I now return weekly with hope and determination to continue improving the quality of my life, and by extension, the quality of life for my family and friends. My journey with him has been characterized by dramatic improvement (in my physical health), eye-opening revelation (of my emotional realities), and slow (sometimes painfully so) recognition (of areas where I need to take responsibility for my own wellbeing). He has been a wise and sympathetic guide who never points out the path but who helps me discover it, then convinces me I've found it on my own. Here is my story.
Two years ago, I was struggling through my worst allergy season ever. Asthma-prone for years, I was well equipped for the onslaught of pollen, dust mites, and even the mold that lurked in the dim corners of my acting class. I dutifully increased the frequency and dosages of my inhalers, but this time they failed in their mission to "pry open my airways". Shortness of breath turned into terrifying bouts of gasping for air.
Three trips to the Emergency Room later, my allergist decided I had a persistent lung infection and needed more drugs (antibiotics) and stronger inhalers. My new inhaler opened my lungs but also caused rapid pounding in my heart, a shrill whistle in my ears, and loss of all sensation in my hands, feet, and lips. When I related this to my doctor, he didn't even look up from his chart as he said, "Yeah, that happens sometimes".
By August I had a constant hacking cough. Each breath caused the phlegm in my chest to rattle audibly. I dropped my classes and took a leave of absence from my massage work. I believed it would be a brief break. However, my breathing got worse. I stopped going upstairs in my home, and had to sleep sitting propped up. Most nights I got about two hours of sleep. My digestion degenerated, I ached all over, felt flushed and feverish by afternoon, and was drastically losing weight. I decided to get a second opinion. The next doctor gave me two different inhalers, oral steroids, and diagnosed my condition as fibromyalgia and irritable bowel syndrome. She noted my agitation, sympathized with the scariness of not being able to breathe, and wrote a prescription for an anti-depressant to "take the edge off".
I tried the new inhalers and the steroid pills, but skipped the anti-depressants. Within two weeks, I was afraid to leave my house and afraid to stay alone. I had so many drugs in my system, with
so many weird side effects, I was perpetually anxious. I took 2-3 naps a day and wrote letters because it was the only thing that didn't wear me out.
I lost more weight and went back to my allergist. I saw the alarm on his face when he looked at me. He ordered a battery of tests, told me there wasn't much else to do for my lungs, explained tha my immune system wasn't working properly, and sent me home with an electronic nebulizer to take breathing treatments every four hours. Fourteen vials of blood and one barium swallow X-ray later I was assigned to a gastroenterologist who suggested exploratory surgery and a painful 72-hour nasal/upper GI monitor. He also suggested my breathing difficulties were all in my head. Despite this, he put me on a strong pneumonia drug, Zithromax, to "see what happens". I stalled for time.
In despair of ever getting better physically, I decided to focus on the only thing I had left - my soul. In my prayers, I sought guidance and in my self-examination, I sought the cause of my illness. But I still avoided looking inward. I sincerely wanted to "get better", but I wanted to apply the bandages without having to look at the wound. I was about to learn a lot more about myself.
A few weeks later, at my best friend's birthday brunch, a friend heard my cough from the next room and came in to see the source of the "death rattle". She told me about her own struggle with lung ailments and about miracles she had experienced in the year since she started seeing an acupuncturist/herbalist. I believed that acupuncture worked but felt if wasn't for me. Desperate, I asked for the doctor's number. Nervous about trying something "alternative", I sought my M.D.'s approval. Surprisingly, he gave it, sheepishly adding, "Since Western medicine had done all for me that it could, I might as well give it a try".
I approached my first appointment with excitement and dread. The intake process took two hours. I have never had a doctor ask so many questions and actually listen to my answers, questions, and concerns with such attentiveness. After I explained all my "unrelated" symptoms and expressed my frustration at being so "screwed up", he began to explain Traditional Chinese Medicine's view of body harmony and disharmony.
In that first meeting, I learned a new view of health and the body that didn't tear each symptom into an individual pathology that needed to separately medicated or cut out. He explained how many seemingly unrelated symptoms could all be part of a pattern of disharmony, and once back in balance, many of these manifestations disappear at the same time. We talked abut manifestations that bothered me most, and what emotional factors might be involved. I was surprised by his ease in addressing both psychological and physiological issues, discussing the ways certain emotions, like grief, can have impact on organ systems, like the lungs. He also taught me simple deep-breathing exercises that would calm my spirit and strengthen my lungs. He then gave me herbal tea pills. I was so worried I might be allergic I was afraid to swallow them. But I did, and I slept through the night for the first time in six months. After three weeks of treatment I was able to sleep lying down.
In the first five months I received acupuncture treatments and herbs, my health improved dramatically. I got off all the medications I thought my life and breath depended on. I caught one cold, but with the help of herbs and acupuncture, I was able to keep going while barely noticing symptoms. My energy returned, and I felt a calmness I never knew before. My anxiety still surfaces occasionally but is easier to handle because of the breath work I now do regularly.
The most amazing part of my physical recovery is the spiritual journey it made possible. With each treatment that brings my organ systems back into balance, I bring more of my mind, body, an d spirit back into balance as well. The insight and guidance Boaz has shared with me week after week is helping me learn to acknowledge and experience my emotions without fear or judgment and without letting them throw me into disharmony. As my body has become stronger, I am rediscovering my sense of purpose in life and feeling connected to developing my knowledge, talents and compassion. In other words, because of working with Boaz, I have my life back.
Valerie - Los Angeles