Learning About Health, Learning about Diabetes
What do I know about health? TONS! For me, learning about health started when I was diagnosed with diabetes at age 5. I had to learn what I could and could not eat, I learned to love fruits and veggies over processed snacks. My primary education was based on holistic principles and the school owned a biodynamic farm across the street, where I learned about taking care of dairy cows, sheep and goats. In the 4th grade, I learned what was biodegradable and how to compost and growing crops.
In high school, biology was not dissecting frogs, but it was learning about the mechanics of the body and how nutrition played into the principles for a healthy body. I learned the pathology of disease and how to reduce my chances through healthy habits. Even though I lived with diabetes, I still needed to learn how to maximize my health!
When I went to college, my 101 biology class felt disconnected and primitive. Very little formed the basis for taking an interest in your health and most students snoozed through the lectures. I floundered to figure out what I wanted to do and feeling lost, I decided to take a year off and travel.
When I returned from my travels, I found myself on a path of self-discovery. I was fascinated by my experience of rehabbing a back injury with physical therapy and massage. Massage had more depth into the emotional component of pain, as well as the physical pain. I eagerly jumped into studying the body from the body mind connection. I looked for mind-body teachers who had long been in practice to teach me. I visited places such as Esalen, Omega Institute, Pennsylvania School of Gestalt Therapy and finally entered into a massage certification program at Kripalu Yoga Ashram. I spent a month at Kripalu exploring eating macrobiotic, meditation every morning, followed by an hour yoga class and then 6 hours daily of massage classes.
But massage had so many disciplines that one certification was not enough. In the following year, I enrolled in 4 more certifications and leaped at the chance to take a cadaver course. My client base was as intense as my need for knowledge on feeling health and illness through my hands. I embraced working with cancer patients, MS, ALS and to explore the deep mind-body connection, I worked with incest survivors.
I think that learning about the body through health and wellbeing is a life long process. I believe that anyone can do this and everyone should! Even with diabetes, what is health if you don't understand the body, mind and spirit?
Recently, I learned that Georgetown University Medical Center offers and 8-week program called the Mini Medical School. For $100.00 you can sit in classes with med schoolteachers and learn some of the fundamentals of anatomy, physiology and pathology. Classes are created for the layperson and include: gross anatomy, mind-body medicine, pharmacology, radiation medicine, diabetes, dermatology, medical history and the physical, and hypertension.
As it turns out, NIH has a directory of mini med schools!! Since it's diabetes awareness month, I would like to suggest that we include PWD learning month! If we are to be better patient advocates, the more we know about the body and ourselves, the better the advocate we will be! Check out the list of mini med schools and don't be late to class!