Free Press Article – February 10, 2012

April L. Schulte-Barclay, DAOM, LAc

It is not uncommon for me to hear expressions from my patients like “this getting old stuff is for the birds” or “it ain’t easy getting old” or “do you have a needle that will make me younger again?”

I often reply to such comments with bits of wisdom that Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has provided for me throughout my training. My words are usually met with a silent moment of pondering and consideration. However, sometimes a client will remark back to me that I am too young to understand what it feels like to be old.

While I am certain I will experience further signs and symptoms of aging as I mature, I do already understand to some degree the painful effects of aging my patients are describing. Before I began my career in the healing arts, I worked hard to break into the entertainment industry as a professional dancer in Broadway review shows around the United States.

Knowing how rare it was to be hired as a professional dancer, once I “made it” I took my job very seriously and did what I could to stay ahead of the competition. Eating disorders that were budding since childhood blossomed fully while I was performing professionally. In addition to severely restricting calories, I performed 13 grueling dance shows a week and hit the gym almost daily. To address the pain my body was experiencing from malnutrition and overwork, I took NSAIDS like they were candy.

At the time I was in full denial that my physical pain was related to demanding too much of a poorly fed body and that underneath it all was emotional turmoil hiding in the form of food restriction, bulimia and over-exercise. The results of such betrayal to my body were elevated liver enzymes, a trashed digestive system, hormonal fluctuations that led to amenorrhea and hot flashes, arthritis, stress fractures, emotional distress, an overactive nervous system, and the threat of future chronic diseases such as esophageal cancer and osteoporosis. These physical ailments left me feeling old and decrepit.

It was my interest and pursuit of natural, holistic, and preventative medicine as a patient and provider that saved my life. Along with monitoring my health from a Western medical perspective, other modalities such as acupuncture, Chinese herbs, bodywork, psychological counseling, nutritional counseling, meditation, tai chi, and qigong formed a framework to help me piece my health back together. While admittedly my 36-year-old body still sometimes feels “old,” I am grateful to report I am a happy and healthy wife, mother of twins (13.5 months old) and owner of Healing Horizons Integrated Health Solutions.

After years of self-discovery and practicing as a Doctor of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, I have realized that the secret to finding the illusive fountain of youth is to appreciate that the present moment holds just as much value, beauty, innocence, vitality, and promise of potential as any moment in the past or future. While I may not be leaping through the air quite as high and turning multiple pirouettes as I once did in my younger years, recognizing the strengths of being in this stage of my life makes me miss those days much less.

Based on the wellness model I used to regain my health, Healing Horizons offers a collaborative and integrated wellness program in which the partnership between practitioners and clients form the basis for constructing and implementing individualized care to achieve optimal health. In this way, we are able to help clients with a wide variety of health-related concerns. To learn more about Healing Horizons and our health care providers, please visit our website or call our office 970-256-8449.

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April L. Schulte-Barclay is a doctor of acupuncture and Oriental medicine and is a licensed acupuncturist. She is licensed by the Colorado Board of Medical Examiners and is certified by the National Certification Commission of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. She is founder and clinic director of Healing Horizons Integrated Health Solutions, located at 2139 N. 12th St. #7. For more information, call 970-256-8449.