My last post ended with my being accepted into the doctor of naturopathic medicine program at NUNM while simultaneously working with my local veteran’s service officer to get into the vocational rehabilitation program. Once in vocational rehab, the VA committed to paying my tuition and providing me with a housing allowance. Without this program, I do not believe it would have been possible to attend medical school with a family unless I decided to take on a very large amount of debt.
I am highlighting this part of the process because not many veterans are aware of this program and the opportunities it can provide. Any veteran that has a professional goal that requires additional training or education should find out who their VSO is and go talk with them about this program, especially if you have already used most of or your entire GI bill.
Another Stepping Stone
At this point it would be great to say that everything has gone smoothly and that my health has continued to improve, but unfortunately, life likes to continually throw curveballs your way. During the summer between my first and second year, I had to have all of the silver fillings in my teeth replaced as there was significant decay below the fillings. If I had known that silver fillings were toxic, I would have never allowed the military to put them in my mouth to begin with (more on this in another post).
About two months after getting my fillings replaced, my energy crashed, and I felt like my body was made of lead. My mind shut down and the mental fog was so bad that I was struggling with simple tasks even studying for class was nearly impossible. However, the anxiety and depression were the worst. I would be driving home and just have mini breakdowns in my car, sometimes to the point where I was crying and couldn’t figure out why.
After seeing my doctor (who is an ND), she wanted to test me for heavy metals, especially since I had recently had five silver fillings replaced with composites. The lab test showed that I had very high amounts of mercury hanging out in my body.
I am now slowly working on detoxing my body. As I work on detoxifying, I am using the principles of naturopathic medicine, nature cure, and the information presented in my classes to develop a detox program that works with and strengthens the body’s innate process for removing toxins and restoring health to the whole person.
While my symptoms have improved, it has been another bump in the road that has to be overcome. I am one of those people that believe everything that happens in life is an opportunity to learn about you or find inspiration, etc. If given the choice, I would not have chosen to go through all that I have; however, it has given me purpose and direction for when I finish school.
Why share my story?
Writing about me and then putting it on display for others to read is stepping way outside of my comfort zone and definitely not something I would voluntarily have done. But, I believe that naturopathic medicine and the Veteran’s Restorative Center have the potential to provide invaluable services to veterans and their families.
There is healing that begins when the doctor takes time to hear all that you are dealing with. That alone can be the difference between disease and health. Having that very doctor coach you through everything from diet and lifestyle habits, to properly addressing and dealing with stress is working at a much deeper level than the rest of the medical community who gives lip service at best. These simple plans help change the internal terrain. When the terrain is optimized, disease can not exist.
Therefore, I hope my story has done two things. First, that it has inspired a sense of curiosity about what naturopathic medicine can provide to you, the veteran, which you haven’t found in the halls of the VA community clinics and hospitals, in urgent care centers, or at your typical medical office. Second, I hope that it demonstrated how naturopathic medicine offers both the conventional and unconventional tools and support necessary for embarking on a journey to optimal health.
Note that I did not say, “back” to optimal health, because we can never go back, nor should we want to. In life we are continually moving forward, and so the path to health isn’t behind us, but instead, it is out there on the horizon waiting for us to unceasingly pursue every day of our lives.
~ Austin Brandt, Veteran & 3rd Year NUNM Student