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 Spring/Summer 2011

In Print

The A Cappella Singer Who Lost Her Voice
& Other Stories from Natural Medicine

book cover

I devoured my earliest Oliver Sachs book when I was nursing my first child. I was captured by his eloquent descriptions of patients, their lives, their illnesses, and his unique experiences of and with them. Sachs brought patients to life and provided my first exposure to narrative medicine…. In a brazen move, fueled by enthusiasm and a strongly affiliative nature, I sent Dr. Sachs a copy of a journal I was working on at the time; it was a neurology issue of the New England Journal of Homeopathy. I sent it because I felt a kinship, an affinity; because I, too, met with patients for long initial visits and took time to understand their lives. I worked with people over years and decades. Due to the nature of my work, I too, necessarily had to understand my patients’ pathologies in the context of their life experiences. And I have been similarly engulfed and moved by many of my patient’s stories…. They helped me to grow into a more compassionate and patient doctor, drove my understanding of humanity, facilitated my ability to see and experience the breadth and depth of suffering that individuals endure, and offered me insight into the inspirational resilience of the human body and spirit.

In this book, I aim to do the same for you. My field, naturopathic medicine, is the state-of-the-art complementary and alternative medicine field burgeoning at the beginning of this millennium.... Alongside therapeutic nutrition, botanical medicine, and lifestyle recommendations, I utilize homeopathy with almost every patient....How a patient fits into the environment where they live, work, and play becomes as important as how they are influenced by, and in turn influence, their surroundings. I try to understand symptoms as an expression of a predictable and patterned way a particular patient responds to stressors in their life....

The cases and stories in this book present a wide breadth of patient experiences. You will ascertain the strong and underlying philosophy that informs my work. You will start to see what kinds of things are important to this practitioner of natural medicine. You can start to understand the sorts of results, in terms of symptoms, in terms of lab work, in terms of pace of healing, that are part of what I do. You will see that not everyone can be helped, that alongside celebrated successes, like most every doctor, I have some stunning failures. It is those people who do not get well who keep me up at night and keep me learning, trying to understand new applications or new approaches, that I might better assist a suffering person.

I hope what emerges is a greater understanding of how I practice as well as an appreciation of the gentle effectiveness and power of natural medicine. At this time, many patients are looking to complementary and alternative approaches for both prevention and treatment of all manners of illness. There are many answers and many paths to healing….

I have not aimed to be comprehensive in this volume, nor is it a “how to” book. Rather, I am offering a serious glimpse into the life of a naturopathic physician, both in and out of the office. I began as an educated, ardent doctor, newly married, without children, in the plains of Nebraska and landed some years later in the idyllic and stimulating life of Amherst, Massachusetts, where I have put down roots and raised a family.

If I can create a kind of world for you to enter, for information or diversion, clinical pearls or understanding, I am happy to do so. If this book inspires you or someone you know to consider a career in medicine or CAM or encourages you or a loved one to seek out medical care, my work is, at least for the time being, done. And that is not something most women can say!

Excerpt from the preface of the book by Amy Rothenberg, ND, ’82. For further information, please see www.amyrothenberg.com.