Mary Smith: Holistic healing supports busy lifestyle

Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:28 pm

Mary Smith: Holistic healing supports busy lifestyle

By Elizabeth Geldermann, SBT Reporter

When you’re as active as 38-year-old Mary Smith, flexibility is essential, and there is little room for stress. The self-proclaimed epitome of a Type-A personality, Smith fills nearly every hour of her day with a different hobby or occupation.
Smith is primarily a single mother of two and an independent representative for Excel Telecommunications, but the Bay View neighborhood resident also is passionate about music, teaching and participating in triathlons.
When pressures in her personal life became too heavy in 2001, Smith found her normally enjoyable daily responsibilities to be a physical chore.
In June 2001, while training for Mrs. T’s Triathlon in Chicago, Smith discovered she could not run faster than a 12-minute mile or run farther than three miles without developing excruciating back pain, neck pain and headaches.
The pains lasted nearly the entire day and nearly immobilized her.
"I won’t say that I couldn’t pick up my kids, but I was in immense pain," Smith recalls. "For me to be slowed down significantly when my life generally works like a well-oiled machine, it was an incredible challenge."
As both regional director and regional training director for Excel, Smith analyzes customer phone bills and recruits entrepreneurs seeking to begin a home-based business like her own.
Smith also writes and records a combination of Irish Folk, children’s and Christian songs. She performs in nearby Milwaukee cafes, churches and private parties with her trio, Trillium, and she recently finished recording her second full-length album. She also teaches music part-time at Milwaukee Montessori School.
With her schedule just as full in 2001, Smith continued to train for the 0.5-mile swim, 40-kilometer bike ride and 10-kilometer run, despite the problems she was having.
"I made it through the triathlon, but needed a 2-1/2 hour massage afterward to deal with the pain," says Smith.
Smith searched for a year and a half for a resolution for her pain, seeking treatment from medical doctors, chiropractors, personal trainers, physical therapists, dentists, and the like.
She finally approached her primary physician, Dr. Gary Lewis, as a last-ditch effort earlier this year. Lewis’ family practice at the time offered alternative therapy such as acupuncture.
Because of the growing popularity of complementary services, Lewis transitioned in August from his solo practice in Milwaukee to become the medical director of the new Covenant Healthcare Center for Complementary Medicine in Mequon.
The center concentrates solely on complementary medicine and holistic healing approaches such as acupuncture, massage therapy, chiropractic, energy medicine, holistic lifestyle coaching and holistic nutritional counseling.
"I was near tears by the time I saw Dr. Lewis," Smith says. "I told him everything I thought he should know, personal, professional and physical. He said, ‘You came to the right place,’ and immediately suggested acupuncture."
Lewis says he sits down with every patient before deciding treatment to find the patient’s "basic constitution," or how the individual handles stress, to help find the cause of the condition.
"Headache and back pain was how she responded to stress," Lewis says about Smith. "One of the parts of her lifestyle that was contributing was her intake of caffeine. She was also showing signs of sleeplessness and anxiety."
Lewis says medical acupuncture treatment is a contemporary version of the traditional Chinese practice and is practiced exclusively by physicians. His treatment is a two-pronged process, which treats a patient’s current condition but also teaches the patient life skills to handle stress in a positive way.
"I was trying to work through a lot of emotional, financial and intellectual problems at the time," says Smith. "The answer was pretty simple. I was so stressed and tense all of the time. And when I ran, I wanted to run as fast as I could, so I was leaning forward without realizing it. The pain was a combination of the tension in my muscles and a change in posture while running."
Her condition improved by 70% after the first two sessions, according to Lewis. After six or eight sessions, Smith was symptom-free, able to function normally, and could run without restriction or discomfort.
"The beauty of Dr. Lewis is that he looks at the entire situation," says Smith. "I felt like I couldn’t be free of pain, free to stand up straight and breathe. With acupuncture, I felt like the sun was rising."
Whenever she feels physically off-balance, Smith says she returns to Lewis and trusts him to tell her what she needs to change.
In the meantime, Smith has taken up yoga to keep her mind and body in synch.
"Dr. Lewis is knowledgeable, gentle, progressive. He treated everything and made it in balance – my body, my mind and my soul," says Smith. "I believe they can do anything. Being a medical doctor he can help, and he has incredible contacts and can refer me to someone if he has to."
Smith is glad to be free of pain and has found she is also more efficient in every aspect of her life.
"I try to bring a child’s sense of wonder into everything I do," says Smith. "I rarely turn down an opportunity for work."
Smith says treatment for her pain was essential, both mentally and physically, because of her dedication to two jobs and her two children, Sage and Ian.
Smith turns to a song she wrote, titled "Savannah," in describing the way she lives her life:

"If you think you’ve done all you can do, think again.
If you think you can’t ever succeed, just begin.
Like throwing a starfish in the sea, it’s all a matter of degree.
The difference you make is just begun with the difference it makes to just one."

"Savannah is how I feel as a teacher and when I help someone lower their phone bill," says Smith. "I know it is how Dr. Lewis feels when he helps just one of his patients."

Dec. 26, 2003 Small Business Times, Milwaukee

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