It’s a snow day here in central Massachusetts. I’ve spent the morning on the phone with some really incredible women involved in the cannabis industry. I’m getting organized for a very eventful February. And I have some very exciting news to share with you in this regard. I was gonna write about all of the above today.
And then this kiddo crawls on to my lap and reminds me that she’s not gonna be this small forever. She will not want to crawl on my lap and give me this look forever. Okay, she might give me this look forever, but it will most certainly mean different things as we progress through this life thing together. Today, she just wants her Mommy to play, to do yoga, and to snuggle. So I’m going to get us bundled up and outside for a little snow play, or a trip to the mall for some non-snow play in the indoor playground. Whatever Little Miss Personality decides. If you were faced with this look, wouldn’t you step away from the laptop and realize that these moments won’t last forever?
As always dear readers, wishing you a bright and beautiful day! Even if the sky won’t stop spewing snowflakes. Lots of them. Much love, many hugs. Namaste ❤
Crohn’s disease and colitis are chronic inflammatory conditions of the gastrointestinal tract. These diseases can be lumped into the category of irritable bowel disease (IBD). It is estimated that 1.6 million Americans struggle with IBD. Symptoms related to inflammation in the GI tract include abdominal cramps, pain, constipation, diarrhea, urgent need to move bowels, weight loss, fatigue, night sweats. People who experience such symptoms are often greatly debilitated, their quality of life negatively impacted. They become nutritionally depleted, their fluid/electrolyte balance is thrown off. Severe dehydration is common. Basic functioning is severely altered and impaired. And as if these symptoms aren’t enough to cope with, the diseased GI tract often results in an abnormally functioning immune system. People struggling with IBD also tend to struggle with autoimmune symptoms that include fatigue, severe joint pain, skin irritation, and the inability to fend off infections.
Conventional treatment for IBD conditions includes several categories of prescribed medications including antibiotics, aminosalicylates (anti-inflammatory agents), steroids, and immune modifiers that work to suppress the body’s immune response. Over the counter medications may also be a part of the regimen including antidiarrheals, analgesic medications, and nutritional supplements. Managing an IBD condition can be challenging and overwhelming.
Sherri Tutkus is no stranger to the debilitating nature of IBD. A registered nurse with over 25 years of experience in the healthcare field, Sherri found herself on the other side of the sick bed in 2012. She had contracted a type of acute colitis that is caused by a contagious infectious bacteria. This condition is often an adverse reaction from taking prescribed antibiotics, but she became infected from exposure to this bacteria while she was working. She started with flu-like symptoms such as fevers, sweats, chills and altered bowel patterns alternating between diarrhea and constipation. She developed severe urgency, cramping, had difficulty defecating, and had a feeling that she was retaining stool. A CT scan revealed that her colon was indeed swollen and after a colonoscopy she was diagnosed with pseudomembranous colitis.
As her disease progressed, Sherri experienced pain upon eating, suffered from regular and unpredictable bouts of painful diarrhea. Her belly was distended and filled with air. The abdominal pain she experienced was immense and effected every aspect of her life. She was prescribed the most powerful opioid medications and steroids. She had the strongest IV antibiotics infused to combat her disease. A single mother of three, she was unable to work for months. When attempting to return to work her symptoms would worsen and she would develop another medical problem. Sherri the nurse had become a critically ill patient.
Because of her condition, Sherri experienced significant depression and agoraphobia. She didn’t want to leave her home for fear of not being able to control her bowels. Panic, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, and pain were symptoms she experienced regularly. Sherri felt isolated, depressed, and disconnected from her community. She was in a constant state of fight or flight and she continued to struggle with side effects from taking several prescribed and over-the-counter medications. Sherri had exhausted conventional and holistic therapies at that point. She began to experience a cognitive dissonance of wanting to live and die at the same time. Her thoughts scared her and prompted her into seeking out something she hadn’t tried before. She turned to cannabis.
Sherri became a medical cannabis patient in 2014 and started administering cannabis to treat her symptoms and try to wean off of the medications that were causing her side effects. She vaporized cannabis, took tinctures, capsules, and edibles. Her symptoms were improving to the point where she realized “wow, this works!” Through her own trial and error, Sherri was able to wean off of all her IBD meds within 6 months. Sherri had effectively bridged the gap from what she was not getting with her conventional treatment and the holistic therapies that she was utilizing to help herself. Her condition had greatly improved, and she felt connected to her community again.
The Green Nurse Group is Born
Because of everything she had been through, Sherri saw a great need in her community and beyond. Another gap that needed to be bridged. This time for other people. She had to learn how to medicate with cannabis on her own, without anyone to guide her, or help her make informed decisions. It took her a very long time to find what worked for her. Navigating the medical cannabis community can be challenging, and there can be a steep learning curve that patients have to overcome in order to relieve symptoms consistently, effectively, and in a way that doesn’t impair them. Sherri had to learn all of this on her own and felt that cannabis patients shouldn’t have to, especially in the face of debilitating disease which can be overwhelming enough.She founded the GreenNurse™ Group, an action oriented, non-profit organization of dedicated professionals and nurses who seek to relieve suffering via the safe use of medical cannabis and other natural, holistic therapies. The GreenNurse™ Group utilizes a medical-based, patient-first approach. Through their services, they strive to bring the same excellence of trusted, quality nursing care to the medical cannabis industry.
I’ve said this to my patients. I’ve said this to my clients. I’ve said this to my loved ones. If it helps, then that’s what matters.
What am I talking about? I am talking about the care and services that people seek out when they are not well, struggling with an illness, or managing a chronic condition. The help may come from the mainstream medical field by way of working with a physician or nurse practitioner…it may be a medication, a therapy, a surgery. Or the help may come from outside of the mainstream medical field such as massage therapy, yoga, acupuncture, chiropractic, etcetera. In this message that I convey – I want these people to understand that we as human beings have the right to heal and that the avenues of healing are many. There is no right or wrong way. There is only the way that serves the person best, to be determined by the person who is struggling and the health providers they choose to work with.
I feel strongly that we are interconnected, physical, emotional, energetic, spiritual beings. Those components are not separate, but deeply integrated and tangled to the point where healing cannot take place in one component alone. Therefore, it is fair to say that I believe that healing happens when the these interconnected components are balanced, in harmony, and served equally.
Unfortunately, there seems to be this battle between the mainstream medical field and the complementary/alternative/integrative/functional health fields. I have been a holistic health practitioner for nearly 18 years and I thought that the two sides of the healthcare field were endeavoring to build a bridge. And I am not sure why we’re here. Why this battle seems to be ramping up. So I wanted to explore this notion a bit today. I’m not going too deep, but I’ve got to explore to get this little gnawing sensation out of my brain.
In my opinion, there was never meant to be one or two designations leading the charge for the field of medicine. There are many walks of life, there are many types of medicine. But the American Medical Association does a good job of stamping out any health practice that hasn’t completed the rigors of medical school, residency, and beyond. The AMA’s main mode of action is to call any practice that veers from the medical field quackery. Which is significantly confusing for patients, especially if the quackery in question is THE THING that is helping them feel better!
I get it…there are questionable practices out there. In great numbers. In BOTH the mainstream medical field and the complementary/alternative/integrative/functional health fields. My confusion comes from this lack of a bridge between the two sides. Why haven’t we evolved and adapted? Most of us entered into the health fields because we wanted to help people. So if we really are motivated to improve the health of our communities and actually help people, then we should really stop opposing each other and be willing to learn from each other.
Again, my opinion…The monopoly on healthcare is a failure. Our medical system is horrifically broken. We the People have never been so sick. So in my mind, it’s all hands on deck. And perhaps it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to shift the mindset away from the battle toward a more accepted view that holds space for these two sides of the health field to work in harmony? Would it be so hard to agree that if it helps, then that’s what matters? I really don’t think so. But that’s me.
2017…The year ended scraping and scratching it’s way out the door. Somehow, I got that door closed, locked, and barricaded. I am grateful for all of the good that 2017 brought me. And I will be grateful for all of the challenges that 2017 presented, but I am still recovering. Honestly. I am still recovering. It’s all good though. Onward and upward.
2018 is gonna be a good year. I’ve been on this learning curve. I’ve been learning about myself, learning how to be a Mom, learning how to be a better wife, friend, family member. And I’ve been learning how to integrate my passion for all things health, healing, wellness, and cannabis into a functional career. It’s been a whirlwind. And I honestly didn’t feel like writing about it until now. So here I am…writing about it. If you’ve missed me, just know that I will be back to blogging on the regular. Because I have a lot to tell you.
For now, I just wanted to say hello. And that I’ve missed you. And I hope that this New Year has invigorated you, lifted your spirits, helped you dust off from anything that might have knocked you down last year or beyond. My goal this year is to be present. To be here now. To not get lost in anxiety land, or to get thrown back into the past where depression lingers. It’s a goal that I need to achieve to live my best life. So you’ll see me planning, goal-setting, and creating strategies for success here.
As always dear readers, I hope your days are bright and beautiful and full of warmth. Seriously. It’s absolutely frigid here in my home state! Anyway – Much love, many hugs. Namaste. ❤