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My Mother, My Disease, and Me
Reposted from an article on The Atlantic in December by Christine Schrum -
"Doctors told me cystic fibrosis would kill me by age 15. My mom told me I just had allergies. After a childhood of Ayurvedic treatments, I've embraced Western medicine as an adult, without abandoning my alternative roots.
In my memory, I am 11 years old, lying on a massage table in a dimly lit room. Two women are rubbing herbalized oil into my skin. At first, I’m a little insecure about my bony ribs and chest, but as the women’s hands sweep across my body, I settle into a state of deep relaxation.
I’m at an Ayurvedic spa—the first of its kind in Northern Ontario in the 1980s. This is decades before yoga and Lululemon will become household terms throughout North America. My mother has learned about Ayurveda, an ancient healthcare system from India, and has driven me through several hours of January snow to a spa in Huntsville, Ontario, where she hopes the words cystic fibrosis will be abolished from our vocabulary.
I was first diagnosed with the fatal lung disease when I was just a few months old. I’d been a healthy, hefty 10.2 pounds at birth, but the weight gradually whittled away as I failed to thrive on Mom’s breast milk and developed a croupy whooping cough. By sheer coincidence, her best friend, Gloria, happened to catch a TV program on babies with cystic fibrosis. She immediately called my mother and told her to lick my forehead to see if it tasted salty. It did. That was my first CF diagnosis, albeit an informal one..."