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Is Integrative Medicine Affordable?

This is the first post in a series regarding common misconceptions about integrative medicine. Integrative medicine combines the best of Western medicine with Eastern and holistic theories and practices. Although more and more people are gradually experimenting with holistic medicine, Western medical theory and practice is still very dominant in our society. When is the last time your endocrinologist suggested anything other than adjusting your insulin rates for better blood sugar control at your appointment? Has your physician ever suggested alternate ideas to lift your mood or calm your anxiety other than handing you a prescription for antidepressants or anxiety medicine? 

Over the last ten years I have successfully implemented integrative medicine into my life. I have gradually increased my use of holistic therapies and turn to them first as situations arise with my health. You can read more about my integrative medicine journey here.

Over the coming months I will be sharing wisdom I have gained and personal experiences, both positive and negative, as I tackle myths about integrative medicine. Today I will discuss what is probably the most prevalent barrier, preventing individuals from exploring the many wonders and healing benefits of holistic medicine. 
 
When I speak of the ways I have benefited from the holistic therapies I practice, these are the words I most often hear:
 
"I cannot afford anything beyond my regular doctor visits and prescription medications. I really wish I could. It's just too expensive to think about holistic treatments."
 
I hear this a lot and it makes me sad. Often times, it unfortunately might be true. Living with diabetes---the expense of our regular medications, insulin, test strips and possibly insulin pump and/or continuous glucose meter supplies can be exorbitant. It can even be stressful while waiting at the drive-thru window of the pharmacy to receive the total or being invited to a baby or wedding shower and needing to come up with money for a gift. I get it. Plus, co-pay amounts can really add up and insurance premiums and deductibles seem to increase year after year as well. The cost of prescription medicines seem like they are rising dramatically too, don't they? ($300 for a month's worth of insulin??). 
 
People will often put a heck of a lot of money into their vehicle to keep it running. How many times do we throw hundreds of dollars at repairing our car without batting an eye? Yet what happens when we experience a health problem---if our emotional or physical body breaks down and becomes compromised in some way? This is often the area people do not invest unfortunately.. Yet we are only given one body to inhabit our life on earth.
 
Maybe instead of buying lunch out each day, you pack a lunch allowing yourself to experience a fun treat with a lunch out on Fridays. My husband and eat out just once a week on Friday night. It is our date night and I look forward to it all week. It not only keeps our costs down as eating out is expensive, but it is generally healthier too.
 
Cut back on visits to coffee shops and think of it only as a special occasion treat. I'll never forget the lesson I learned at a budgeting workshop I attended in my first year after college graduation. She spoke about how much those daily cups of fancy coffee drinks can add up to (think $4/day x 30 days/month = $120!!). Throw in a muffin or scone and that amount only grows.
 
Are you able to modify housing expenses? A good friend of mine with Type 1 diabetes downsized from her spacious apartment and has now been able to add in homeopathy, counseling and energy work. Her health is flourishing and she is on a healing journey! I am so proud of her as the transition to a smaller residence, requiring her to sell some of her possessions was not easy.
 
One area I have had to cut back to fit in the cost of integrative medicine is travel. I LOVE traveling and miss it dearly. I have not left the country since traveling on a January term class to Mexico in college 15 years ago! I dream about all of the places I long to visit, but... I put my health first. 
 
My health is my very top priority. I buy many of my clothes at Target and generally spend no more than $10 - $15 each on the shirts I wear. Long & short sleeved t-shirts in almost every color of the rainbow are what I buy when they go on sale for my wardrobe. Thank goodness for colors to mix it up a bit! 
 
Many of us, if we look hard enough, are able to modify our budget somewhere in some tiny way to be able to fit in the cost of even one holistic therapy. One holistic therapy that can dramatically improve our lives to live in greater health and wellness---with diabetes. 
 
Whether it is one yoga class a week, (Seek out different studios & even explain your situation if needed - some studios are more reasonable in price. I pay $10 per class) 1 - 2 acupuncture treatments per month or a massage every four to six weeks. 
 
Be creative and flexible and look at multiple options--- rates for holistic treatments can vary widely and differ among a practitioner's level of knowledge and experience. However, do not necessarily limit yourself from seeking the care of a wise practitioner due to expense. Sometimes the knowledge and experience of a seasoned professional can carry you much farther in your healing journey than someone just starting out and offering lesser rates. 
 
Find out what you need to do and make it happen. Put your health first and receive the many benefits integrative medicine offers in mind, body and spirit.
 
 
In Peace & Wellness,
Cynthia
 
 
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