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Katherine Willow N.D.

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Jack in the pulpit

After a year of cleaning up, restructuring and tending to family, CREWC will re-open this fall with programs on health, healing and sustainability; spaces to rent for holistic health practitioners and workshops; an online store; and a holistic assessment service.

For those of you who haven’t visited Carp Ridge EcoWellness Centre, it’s on 190 acres of rocky wilderness overlooking the Carp River valley, about thirty minutes northwest of downtown Ottawa. Trails wind through magical wetlands filled with wildlife. White pines, ash, spruce and ironwood are home to songbirds, hawks and owls. There is a holistic clinic, a learning centre, a yurt, two straw bale cabins, a pond cabin and three colourful office cabins as well as two tents on platforms, each with their own woodstove and composting toilet which practitioners can rent for treatments or workshops. A large deer-fenced garden awaits planting and is growing wild medicinal herbs in the meantime…

Over these last eighteen years we have run programs ranging from holistic family retreats to professional development courses for doctors of all stripes. CREWC hosted the first Forest School in North America, which continues in the form of Ridgewoods Outdoor Programs for 3-6 year old children run by experienced teacher Sara Raeesi.

However, the central activity at CREWC has been the Carp Ridge Natural Health Clinic, now simply Carp Ridge EcoWellness Centre, where many conditions were treated, including cancer. For several years we also offered a Healing House where patients could stay, be nourished with healthy food according to their body type and condition, and cared for by a team of holistic practitioners.

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Lady slippers

The results we saw amazed even ourselves. After starting to use a new concept of disease and healing called German New Medicine, we witnessed many cancer patients recovering without their treatments. In ten years we saved our provincial health insurance (OHIP) over two million dollars. Now we would like to put our experience into programs to pass on this extraordinary knowledge, both to the public and other health care practitioners.

Starting this fall after an open house in September, there will be classes such as meditation, body types & cooking; health assessment services; and products for health, healing and a sustainable lifestyle. We will begin offering monthly healing circles by donation in the village of Carp to introduce the idea of emotional work being as important as diet, exercise and adequate sleep. And I’m pleased to announce that the Ask a Naturopathic Doctor column will restart in Tone! Please email your questions to katherine@ecowellness.com.

The  Carp Ridge EcoWellness Centre will be offering programs for all ages on healing, healthy lifestyle, nature and sustainability starting this fall.
A calendar of events will be made available on our website and in future newsletters.  Anyone interested in collaborating is invited to contact Lori at 613-839-1198 or lori@ecowellness.com.

Sitting in the clinic kitchen and looking out over the cold, white landscape, it’s hard to tell that it will be April next week.  It makes me think of our northern inhabitants and wonder how they manage their long winters every year.  Maybe lots of whale blubber full of vitamin D…  At least the sunlight has significantly increased, bringing in the cleansing season again.  Time to cook up some kitcharee and break out the milk thistle, grin.

Life continues to be intensely focussed on loved ones struggling with illness.  If you’ve been following me since summer, you might have guessed that my sister in New York has brain cancer.  It happens to be the same kind to which my late husband succumbed in 2002, glioblastoma multiforme, GBM.  Lili is bravely going through chemo and radiation with naturopathic assistance.  It’s almost surreal because she is so strong and healthy…as was Mickey.  However she has a better prognosis and expects to live for decades.  All of us pull together to get through this intact, even if it means healing through loss and death.

Mickey’s eldest son is recovering from flesh-eating disease and will need to live in a long-term care facility.  It is astounding to me how he keeps his spirits up.  It’s like visiting an angel.  Last Saturday I went to a Salvation Army store and bought a bag full of movies, books and CD’s which I will deliver to his bedside tomorrow.  It’s fun to visit him, not something one usually feels in a hospital.

My daughter’s partner is still disabled with some unknown illness, which is maybe the hardest, the not knowing.  We go from doctor appointments to the pharmacist to the hospital and keep getting more tests.  Her doctor has been stellar, helping us feel that eventually we will figure this out.  And my good friend who had the heart transplant and is staying with us is having complications that don’t allow him to move forward in his life.  Utter frustration and yet he powers on.  The good news on this illness front is that the family member with mini-strokes is doing fine and back to regular life.

In the middle of all this, I do my best to help and regain some sort of balance.  Normal life happens in between crises and hospital visits and trips to New York.  And yet I’m generally at peace.  It is deeply satisfying to be of service and growing into acceptance.   My own health is improving beyond my expectations and I am booked for a long-desired breast reduction tomorrow, armed with remedies and pain techniques, which will allow me to exercise more comfortably.  At this point I’m looking forward to the two week recovery—my turn to rest!!  My joints are slowly getting better, my eyes are stable with days of actual improvement, my hair is shiny for the first time in decades and my back is no longer keeping me up at night.  My guts are still the resistant area, leading me to deeper awareness of how I hold tension and emotions.  I am definitely not as enlightened as I thought, laugh!!

Yesterday I had a phone consult with my German New Medicine teacher, Ilsedora Laker, about these guts of mine, embarrassed that it’s taking me so long to figure out the trigger.  She took me in the direction of looking for a “lack” and led me to see that because of my guilt around having so much, I deny myself many things, especially time to relax.  In the conversation, I could clearly see the issue but couldn’t imagine not feeling guilty.  Later in my meditation, I asked myself what it would take.  The answer came: to accept that I DO MY BEST to share and contribute all that I have.  I don’t have to be a super-human or beat myself up or drive myself to the brink of exhaustion to justify my existence as a person with wealth.  A beautiful light flooded me and I realized that I’ve cracked the code.  Now to continue reinforcing it gently.  Eureka!

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Katherine performing her solo at the ice show.

In the middle of all this intensity there have been many fun moments: taking slow walks with my sister; participating in the ice show with Felix (see photo); sleeping in the yurt with grandson Felix and our friend Jessica—until 2am when we rushed back home through the woods in the dark because I couldn’t get us warm enough with the wood stove; trying out ecstatic dance with the regulars in Ottawa; cross-country skiing at Fitzroy Park; and simply enjoying the privilege of being well enough to do my daily tasks of cooking, laundry and looking after Felix…who is trooping through all the stress around him with courage and kindness.

The best part of my own healing process is that night is no longer a time of horrific visions and terror but growing into a delicious experience of relaxing and coming home to myself thanks to the ongoing work with EMDR therapist Mary Ann Carmichael.  Decreasing my constant anxiety and increasing my awareness is the central piece that allows everything else to change.  The main thing I need to be careful of is that much of the energy I seem to have may be due to being in a shock state because of my sister’s illness, a long surge of adrenalin that will take me to exhaustion as it did with my late husband.  This time around I need to take better care of myself.

And underneath everything there continues the dream of the centre.  Every time someone is helped with a remedy or a healing technique I fantasize sharing it in a class or workshop.  With the spring sun comes new visioning and soon we will be able to let you know what we will offer here.  Patience all around!  I do realize that I have a compulsive tendency to overdo and am committed to moving forward slowly and thoughtfully.  I think that will be easier with the recent insights.

Here’s to your own visions and dreams–

katherine

It’s an evening after putting grandson Felix to bed, reading his night-time story, listening to the events of his day. He was made bus monitor, helping the other children with the bus rules, and he is proud of himself.

As I lay beside him, listening to his breathing calm down and move into sleep, I wondered how our future will unfold. There is such a burning desire in me to get back into the healing work. At the same time, there is an equal burning need for personal and family healing. It’s not a new problem, laugh! The conclusion always comes back to having enough faith to move slowly, one step at a time, one day at a time. Not a new solution either!!

This week Felix and I move into the basement of the clinic while my daughter Coral and partner Ashley move into my house on the same property. We’ll be neighbours for the sake of a six year old boy. A therapist has been enlisted to help us grow through the inevitable rough patches. We are all excited and nervous; family relations haven’t been spectacular over the last two decades. Fortunately they have improved markedly these past six months due to ongoing efforts on both sides and some breakthroughs in my personal trauma work with experienced EMDR therapist Mary Ann Carmichael.

These breakthroughs and retirement have come at a good time—just as my sister Lili needs support for her health, as I described in my last blog. It’s meant driving or flying to New York City or upstate NY five times in the previous two months. And the results are so far wonderful: her last brain MRI was totally clean. Thank you to all the people who have responded with such kind, thoughtful and uplifting messages. It has meant a lot. The next MRI is at the end of October.

As for the birth of my friend Stephen’s first grandchild, I missed the birth. All is well—Sophie and son Francis are strong and healthy. I so look forward to seeing him. This connection with other families and their children is new to me, a long-time dedicated loner, and I marvel at the strong feelings of affection that are increasing in my life.

All this would have toppled me even a few months ago. Yet I have never felt as strong, even and clear, leading to a sense of awe and humility. In the past my meditation practice would have bitten the dust; instead it has magically deepened. I can only acknowledge and thank Grace. Now it’s a matter of setting up a new home, continue supporting my sister and start going through my work papers with the intention of finding my next step. The obvious thing would be to finish my book on German New Medicine and move forward from there.

In the meantime, the monthly Carp Dinner Talks are back and I am presenting on Sunday, October 19th on how to do a fall cleanse if you need to hear it again, smile…

Back to packing boxes and trying to keep the threads of everyday life during the move.

By next blog I hope to be settled and preparing to write. And I do intend to get back to everyone who is still waiting on me for a reply—so sorry!

happy autumn transitioning,

katherine

Katherine Willow N.D.

Brain cancers are relatively uncommon in adults, accounting for 2% of cancers world-wide but second only to the incidence of leukemia in children with a rate of 20-25% of childhood cancers. There are a variety of types of tumours depending on the kinds of cells involved, each with its own prognosis.

In a brief summary of the approach by mainstream medicine, brain cancers are considered abnormal growths that start primarily in the brain or spread from another cancer in the body (metastases). They can be safe and left alone or fast-growing and needing treatment, usually surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. Prognosis can be decades or months. Symptoms vary depending on the location of the tumour and whether it grows enough to create pressure in the brain.

Forty years ago in Germany a physician named Dr Geerd Hamer discovered marks on brain catscans that led to a radically new way of understanding brain cancers and disease in general. He eventually called his discoveries German New Medicine.

In short, he found that the brain is immediately affected when a shock occurs, resulting in a target ring, a series of concentric circles that can be seen on a catscan. Cell loss or ulceration causes these lesions.

The location of the rings is related to the nature of the shock. For instance, sudden worry for a loved one in a woman will affect her breast gland relay and stimulate growth in a gland on one side. The side is determined by the kind of relationship involved: mother and children worries affect the non-dominant side, for most of us the left; worry about anyone else will affect the dominant side, for most of us the right.

For each shock, there will be a mark on the brain and symptoms in the organ or tissues affected by that area in the brain. Often we don’t notice this; many of the organ/tissue results are asymptomatic or below our radar and we resolve the shock without any obvious physical symptoms.

Back to the brain: when the shock is resolved, the rings fill in with new cells which eventually re-integrate with the existing brain tissue, leaving a small mark. Most often this process goes unnoticed unless the shock is large, in which case the rings are bigger, affect more tissue and could cause symptoms.

It is this tissue regrowth during the healing phase of the rings that receives a diagnosis of brain cancer.

When one considers that these lesions are not a disease but a process of repair, it is understandable why treatments for brain cancers are often unsuccessful. If the person is vital, their brain cells will keep attempting to finish healing the damage from the shock; this is interpreted as a cancer recurrence, resulting in more treatment and strain to a person’s immune system.

Even if the original healing process is completed, the damage from the treatments themselves, especially the radiation, will at some point require a new healing process which will again be understood as disease and treated. It is not uncommon for brain cancer patients to undergo multiple surgeries and rounds of chemo-therapy and radiation in this frustrating cycle.

This leaves us with the question of treatment within this new paradigm.

German New Medicine is not a treatment but a revised understanding of medicine. Each patient needs to be individually assessed to determine the most intelligent treatment plan. This could be mainstream medicine and/or alternative treatments, or even taking a wait and see position to ride out the healing phase.

Ilka3Sat, Jun 14 from 10am to 4/5pm
Location: Carp Ridge Ecowellness Centre
Register with Colette: 613-839-1198 or reception@ecowellness.com
You will receive information by email about what to bring.

Newcomers welcome!
Suggested donation is $40; maxium 20 people
Optional meal afterward by donation of any amount at Katherine’s house

Before I start, a note about last month’s blog: Sara’s school, Ridgewoods Nature Programs, is an utterly safe place for young (or any age) children.  When Felix bumped his head while there, it was nothing to be concerned about, the Telehealth nurse was simply covering all the basics.

Easter Sunday evening.  Felix is at his mother’s and I am peacefully sitting at the kitchen table watching a wild turkey pecking away on the front lawn.  We have had a congenial family get-together with our traditional treasure hunt and vegetarian brunch.  My ex-husband brings his two lively dogs and provides impossible clues that no one can guess but everyone loves.

After the folks left, I spent the afternoon in the garden with my usual fake spring gardening energy which lasts all of one week, if that, and involves elaborate plans that rarely come to fruition.  After three hours of digging and mulling over possibilities, I decided to rip out the large garden and keep only the small ones around the house that I already maintain.  Amazing, another sign of reality kicking in after a lifetime of delusion.  Also, this was the wedding garden for Mickey and myself.  After his death in 2002 it has not been maintained well and is a mass of weeds.  Time to let it go.  More closure.  I’m only keeping the peonies, symbol of new love.

I am deliriously happy to be healthy again.  Even though energy is still fragile, I can get through my day mostly intact if I throw in a few corpse poses.  My appetite finally returned after some finicky fine-tuning of my diet and adding new herbs.  The block in my ear is gone, my sinuses are clear, weight is coming back after losing 12 pounds and I’m starting to exercise after three months of not being able.  Best of all, there’s something new arising that is more creative, clearer and bigger.  The healing phase did its job.

On a deeper level, the violent visions that have plagued me all my life increased with a vengeance over the last month, changing from involving complete strangers to people I knew.  I grew terrified and started to keep my cell phone beside my bed ready to call 911 and locked my doors for the first time.  Finally I realized that my terror was creating a negative feedback loop and I was able to turn things around by visualizing help from spiritual guides.  My terror gradually melted, leaving more energy for creative thinking, restarting my meditation practice and healing family patterns that have been stuck for generations.

I am preparing a lengthy referral list for my patients as well as a summary of my practice tips, many of which people can undertake on their own and some of which they can do with their new practitioners.  There will be a retirement ceremony on June 21 to celebrate the lovely connections we have had, allowing new growth to take place moving forward.

On a personal level, there’s the usual mid-life down-sizing of stuff that’s been accumulating over decades and simplifying my lifestyle to make more room for the important things.  The only project I have right now is helping with the monthly Carp Dinners.

It all feels deeply good and healthy and right.  I have never been happier.

As things get cleaned up inside and out, the next steps will emerge.  There is no longer big anxiety about the future.  Another first–a peaceful and safe present.

wishing you a gentle deepening of your own path,

katherine

It’s Friday afternoon and it’s raining.  Sort of how I feel.

For the last two weeks I’ve been sicker than ever in my life as part of my healing.  The persistent hacking cough and flu weren’t unusual for this time of year, but then an ear infection crept in.  Whoa Nelly!  More pain than labour.  Finally my eardrum broke, bringing some relief and a lot of pus.  And then the pain started all over again.  My mind went somewhere else, underground I think.  No vestige of faith, positive thinking or larger perspective to be found—I was crabby, whiny and negative with no energy for anything.  This is the mental and emotional detox part.

Finally last weekend, our massage therapist Jennifer offered me two Advil pills during the shamanic training we were both doing.  The teacher had told me I was purifying as part of the course and wanted me to stay in the class even though I looked and sounded like death warmed over.  Twenty minutes later, I was a different person, all pain gone, mind clear, VERY HAPPY.  I don’t do pain well, having the pain threshold of a mouse—a baby mouse!  It was like a religious experience—I had no idea drugs would work that quickly and that well.  I’m a convert, grin.  It’s the first time needing/taking pain killers in my adult life (except for medical procedures); even at the dentist I don’t take freezing (for some reason dental work relaxes me—go figure).  I have to admit feeling a little foolish that it was so easy and that I had caused myself (and the poor people around me) so much extra suffering for nothing, but there’s a reason I hung on for so long that I’ll get to in a minute.

The ear infection raged for five days and I finally went to my MD for some antibiotics.  After one week in bed or on the ground wrapped in blankets during the course, taking all kinds of natural remedies and yellow pus still pouring out of my ear, I was up for some modern medicine.  My big incentive was that I have a plane ticket for Germany this coming Thursday to honour the third generation naturopathic practitioner before me who recently passed away, my aunt Annina.

Now I am on two kinds of antibiotics, internal and external, since Tuesday evening, along with probiotics and immune boosters.  Another first in my adult life.  Pus is still draining, pain is still there and I was anxious enough to go in again this morning and get re-checked.  No worries, all is healing well, which is what I needed to hear to be able to relax into this process.  Now I can see myself getting on that plane, reuniting with cousins I haven’t seen in decades and paying tribute to my elder.  She took me into her practice for a few weeks when I was in my twenties.  I got to watch her apply leaches from the local pharmacy to break up blood clots (works in 3 days versus 6 weeks with the blood-thinning medication).  She had a machine that ozonated people’s blood.  And every patient would receive a back massage with essential oil before leaving the office…

It’s now evening.  On a whim I prepared a Thai meal with leftover fish, another first and SO delicious.  Appetite is back and creative energy is flowing through me.  I think the turning point has been reached.  My ear has stopped draining, there is no pain and I’m ready to whomp this cough with some high-powered suppressant as soon as I lie down, which is when it usually acts up (I didn’t need it and slept through for the first time in over two weeks).  The cough is a hanging healing symptom of fear: fear of not being able to take care of Felix; fear of not being able to see my patients; fear of dying.  And all healing symptoms act up at night when the relaxed nervous system (parasympathetic) is predominant.

From a German New Medicine perspective, the issue that led to this left-sided ear infection was a shock of “I can’t believe I heard that” with my daughter.  And this whole process has been a spectacular detoxification: last week I ate the equivalent of one meal over seven days!  Now my body feels light, with appetite and energy coming back.  And all that back and joint pain I’ve been complaining about this past year?   Gone.  Although it remains to be seen if it is still gone after the antibiotics are done, as they actively suppress the healing phase, which is what those pains were.  This is where it’s important to understand the whole process as a healing of much more than an ear infection and why it was worth hanging in without drugs until the midpoint had been reached so I (hopefully) don’t slide back down after all that work.

I hear Felix calling from the bathtub.  Time for his massage and story.  And then blissfully to bed!

Let’s see if the healing sticks.  This is a vulnerable phase and it’s easy to relapse.

I’ll keep you posted in March and let you know how I weathered this trip.

Apologies to my dear patients for all the cancelled appointments.

And happy spring transitions, may they be easier than mine!

profoundly grateful,

katherine

It’s a PD Friday on a mild winter morning.  For those of you with children you know this means they are home from school.

Felix, my five year old grandson who lives with me, woke up with a croupy cough, postponing the skating and tobogganing plans we had.  Instead, I gave him a homeopathic remedy, some children’s echinacea drops, herbal tea with a light fruit breakfast and we played quietly.  The cough has mostly stopped, but it’s important to allow the healing to sink in—relapses take much longer to heal, with fluish symptoms sometimes hanging on for weeks!

The trick is rest, mental relaxation, light eating, immune boosting and staying really warm.  It’s now afternoon and Felix hasn’t wanted to eat anything since the fruit.  While I was away for a meeting, the cough started to come back, so I have given him another remedy, re-dosed the echinacea and added 2000 IU’s of vitamin D.  He was ready to eat some warm apple sauce, cucumber slices and a non-sugar fruit bar and is now reading with Sandy (who doubles as our coach at the clinic).  The fruit is actually too cooling, but was what he was willing to take.

Later we will go outside and pile firewood to get some fresh air and tempt his body to re-engage.

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I’m in a similar phase of balancing healing and everyday life.  Having the month away from clinical practice allows more repair to take place; as a consequence I’m in more pain and fatigue as my body repairs decades of a depleting lifestyle.  On the other hand, as I settle into myself instead of trying to prove something to others, a lovely gentle energy is rising: energy to clean my home, reorganize, de-clutter and cook new dishes; energy to play with Felix, connect with my family and deepen friendships.  All things that I never made time for while trying to save the planet…

Last week I received live cell injections, cells from embryonic sheep (thank you) to strengthen weak organs and tissues.  The shots hurt, there are two weeks of extra tiredness and the results don’t show up for months.  I am tracking my symptoms to clearly assess this treatment, hoping to use this modality for patients if it works well for me.

The other new aspect is a spiritual one.  I have enrolled in the three year program of inner development through Yogananda Paramahansa’s kriyas, similar to the practices that I learned from my original spiritual teacher but couldn’t do properly because of emotional imbalance and constant exhaustion.  It’s truly useless to meditate when so tired, better to sleep!

Other than that, lots of little breakthroughs, emerging out of more delusions (do they EVER end?!), and wondering who I will be after shedding these skins that I developed trying to protect myself.  EMDR therapy continues to help me feel safer and live from a more positive perspective.

That’s it for now.  Nothing too exciting, this isn’t a quick fix.  In naturopathic philosophy, it takes 1-2 months for every year one has been ill.  For me that’s from 13 to 54, when I started to let down into real healing; thirty years, over three years of work to recover, one year left if I’m disciplined (and lucky!).  This is nothing compared to the healthy decades that lie ahead; it’s a sound investment and a crucial part of saving the planet.

Here’s to your own healing, may it lighten the darkness of winter.
warmly,
katherine

1. We have amber glasses to wear in the evening in order to prevent the suppression of melatonin—which is required for healing!
2. Local organic sunflower oil from Kricklewood Farm to replace butter over vegetables, for salad dressings and for softening and conditioning the skin.  Great Xmas gift.

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