Thursday, November 7, 2013

Thankfulness Project: Day 7

Sitting in a tiny taupe office with a big red bookcase in south Lexington, herbalist Andrew Bentley gives people plant-based concoctions.  He also gives them that rarest of commodities in the medical world: time.
- Cheryl Truman, Lexington herbalist offers alternative medical care

Desperate times call for desperate measures.  That's what led me to the office of an herbalist I heard about at my local farmer's market where I bought herbs that I had just researched online. 

I had talked to several doctors.  They all seemed to agree that I most likely had a hormonal imbalance.  Yet none of them would actually measure or test my hormones.  They all said that would be too difficult.  And they all said my only treatment option would be hormonal birth control anyway. 

Because hormonal birth control would only potentially fix some of my symptoms, and would most definitely make others worse, I felt as though I had no option.

When I finally made it to Andrew's office and he asked what brought me in and I recounted this whole story I ended by saying "I was hoping you would offer me something other than hormonal birth control."

"That's not even something I can offer you," he said.  And it only got better from there.

After more than a year of paperwork and appointments, time spent in waiting rooms for five minutes with a doctor who didn't even listen or seem to care and shelling out hundreds of dollars after health insurance, I had finally found someone to listen.

There was no paperwork to fill out.  No forms to sign.  Months later, this doctor still doesn't even have my home address.  When I call his office, he answers the phone.  That's because he is also the receptionist.  When I have blood taken, it's by him.  He's also the phlebotomist.  And then he analyzes it.  No trip to the pharmacy after I leave.  He mixes the medicine at the end of the appointment and sends it with me.

I had never felt as much sympathy from a doctor as I did when I told him what I was going through.  And he has been the only person to offer me anything that makes me feel like I did before I felt sick.

Today I am thankful for my herbalist.  In his office this afternoon he asked me about each symptom I had mentioned during that first appointment.  Some I had even forgotten about myself.  And each question made it obvious that he not only listened, but that he had great insight into the things going on inside of me.  I'm not sure if he reviewed his notes before our appointment, but he wasn't looking at them as we chatted.

I told him about the two migraines I had since my last appointment.

"That's really unacceptable," he said.  "We'll make sure to treat those.  I'll give you something for that.  If you have to have migraines at all you should never have more than one or two a year."

Wow.  That is so much better to hear than "Sometimes people have migraines and you really need to find your triggers and try to control them."  Or, "Unfortunately when your migraines are related to your hormone levels, there'll just be times when you have more migraines and there's not much we can do than give you medicine to help with the pain."  Migraine treatment has only ever been pain management, not prevention methods.

And that's not the only symptom I've told him about that he has tackled with that level of conviction and intensity.  I am thankful to have found a doctor, though much different than current mainstream medicine, who is devoted to making me feel well.

I am thankful that he has spent his life learning natural, herbal medicine and practices and that he is compassionate and passionate about helping people, listening to people, healing people. 

For all his thoroughness and diligence, I am thankful for the one area he always lets slide. It comes during that awkward moment at the end of our appointment when he looks at me and asks nonverbally, "Why are you still standing there?" 

"I haven't paid you," I say.

And he sighs and rolls his eyes and thanks me for reminding him.  "I always forget that part."

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To learn more about Andrew Bentley visit www.kentuckyherbalist.com .