Autoimmune Disorder, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Dysautonomia, Hashimoto's Thyroiditis
No evidence of disease
I used conventional and non-conventional treatments at the same time to overcome my challenge.
Imaging (CT, PET, MRI, Mammogram, X-ray, etc), Blood Testing
Hormone replacement therapy, prescription drugs, IV antibiotics
Yes, I'm definitely open to it
Diet Change, Herbs & Supplements, Increasing Positive Emotions, Releasing Suppressed Emotions, Following Your Intuition, Deepening Your Spiritual Connection, Increasing Social Support, Finding Strong Reasons for Living, Taking Control of Your Health
Colonics, Energy Healing (e.g., acupuncture, reiki, kinesiology, etc), Exercise, Massage, Psychotherapy, Sleep (getting more of it), Qigong, Cranial Osteopathy, Cleanses (wheatgrass, lemon juice, green juices), Neural retraining
Lab tests, helped
Radioactive iodine uptake scan, helped but was toxic (and unnecessary, in hindsight)
Propranolol as needed, didn't help
Chronic fatigue syndrome, dysautonomia--
Lab & radiologic tests, didn't help
IV hydration, helped temporarily
Hydrocortisone (low-dose), helped temporarily early on
Self-diagnosis by symptoms (I'm a doctor)
EBV treatment with valacyclovir, helped
I’m a doctor of internal medicine, trained to think critically and methodically. A pragmatist. A skeptic of anything that might fall into the realm of "miracles."
But several years ago, I found myself desperate. I had been suffering with complex autoimmune conditions, including Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, and dysautonomia—the “shadow” conditions of Western medicine. Despite conventional treatments, my health continued to worsen. At one point, I was bed-bound for 6 months, housebound for 2 years. With my children young and a marriage held by its last thread, I was forced to surrender my classical medical training and rebuild my knowledge from the bottom up.
I decided first to address the perpetual vertigo, because it kept me from reading and researching. A friend recommended acupuncture. Low risk, high potential gain, I reasoned. A gifted acupuncturist did indeed help reduce my symptoms. What's more, he encouraged me to try qigong, a moving meditation practice, to improve my strength and stamina. Given how brittle I was, I started with 15 minutes twice a day, mostly visualizations. When I could stand erect to do the movements, I realized I could stand with my eyes closed. Given my history with vertigo, this seemed a small miracle. Gradually, I committed to practicing 45 minutes every morning.
As I understood it then, mind-body practices were just another slice of the total pie of integrative and functional medicine. The other slices were made up of nutrient-dense diets, a rainbow of vitamins and minerals, a pocketful of herbs, sleep hygiene, gut healing, cranial osteopathy, you name it. Over time, my health would improve in measurable ways. An increased appetite. No need to urinate throughout the night. A stable weight. Reduced aches. Improved energy. To navigate the maze of seemingly infinite healing modalities and treatment options, I also studied with mentors to develop my intuition. And dove into soul-centered grief work. I was laboriously but gratefully moving toward 100 percent.
Then my health crashed. Again.
Despite all I’d done, my entire stress system plummeted. I endured a 3-month period that felt like a prolonged near-death experience, terrifying not just because I was at the edge of life, but because many of my experiences fell into “mystical” or “energetic” realms, of which I wanted no part. Given that I was already on the forefront of internal medicine, integrative and functional medicine, intuitive medicine, I realized more information wouldn't save me now. What I needed, in fact, was a miracle.
The only thing I could do was to surrender. Completely. And begin letting my spirit guide me, instead of my mind.
I dove deeper into qigong, ramping my practice up to 2-2 1/2 hours a day. Initially, it felt like a lot of time and effort. But the other option was to lie miserable on the couch, staring Death in the face. I also bought my teacher Master Mingtong Gu’s textbook and Luke Chan’s 101 Miracles of Natural Healing, poring through and highlighting them as though medical textbooks. The 101 testimonials from the Medicineless Hospital in China reminded me that our bodies store the subconscious, complementing the theories I knew of epigenetics (how our thoughts and emotions and movement dictate the folding patterns of our DNA) and neuroplasticity (how the same factors change how our nervous system wires and rewires). In the framework of root-cause medicine, I realized I hadn’t gone deep enough. Down below the physical and emotional factors that cause disease and promote health, lay some mysterious life force energy. It wasn’t a slice of the health pie; it had the potential to be the whole pie itself. This life force surrounded and infused me, seen and unseen. But its potential depended upon two things: my capacity to tap into it with my consciousness (the mind and heart), and my ability to activate its flow within my trillions of cells (the body).
After a while, something shifted. I went from doing the practice as transactional (“I will practice in order to get better”) to transformational (“I want to practice because it connects me to the energetic source of all life”). Healing, then, became a side-effect. A side-effect! I’d done so much soul- and mind-centered work prior, but had somehow compartmentalized mind and spirit from the body. As a doctor, my ultimate goal for myself and my patients was always to heal the body, too!
Since the plunge into qigong, the trajectory of my health, for those who have witnessed it up close, would be categorized as a radical remission. It defies all medical explanation. I also tapered completely off my levothyroxine, which I’d taken for 14 years. My husband, astonished, couldn't fully grasp what happened, because on the outside, it seemed I had always been doing everything “right.”
Last summer, my family took a river rafting trip in the desert canyons of eastern Oregon. For over a decade, this kind of trip was something I had to sit out. This time I went. I paddled through rapids, hiked the shale hillsides, and slept under the twinkling of the Milky Way, feeling both like me, and not me, too. Perhaps this was a truer me than I’d ever known. All my husband could say was, “Whatever you’re doing, keep doing it.”
Whatever I’m doing, I’ve entered yet another paradigm shift. That is, learning that when we tap into the energetic realms, complex prescriptions can distill into golden simplicity. Food and air and water are sources of this life force energy. So is the invisible qi field.
There's so much I can't explain. And I hesitate to ever tout one practice as The Method, because like anything else in deep healing, it’s not one-size-fits-all. We’re unique beings with unique lineages and gifts and callings. Wisdom Healing Qigong connected me to my Chinese heritage in a way I’d never been before. It also transformed the trauma I experienced growing up in an evangelical community in Texas (the dualism of good and evil and the fear of being left behind) into one of the most powerful healing forces in my life now (God as pure consciousness, as the common originator of life force energy, and Jesus as the embodied, mortal form of pure consciousness).
As I understand it, what we call miracles don't defy nature's laws. Those laws are immutable. "Miracles" just access laws higher than we’ve previously encountered.
Editor's Note: As of April 2020, Dr. Li is thriving post-diagnosis. Her update:
I tune in closely with my body to maintain balance in my health. One thing I hadn't written about earlier b/c it was still relatively new and ill-defined was that, in addition to deepening my qigong practice, I had returned to my natal religion-- I was raised evangelical in TX. Being shaped by my life's experiences, I returned to the Christ in a wholly different way. Christian mysticism has deepened my qigong practice and also deepened my healing experience.
Stress from childhood: trauma, poor coping skills
Poor diet during high school, college, and medical school
Stress from the rigors of medical training
The loss of a partner in my 20s, and suppressed grief
Environmental chemicals and pollution
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