Friday, March 26, 2010

A Healing House

I can see you now. You're sitting on the patio at Onion Creek, enjoying a cold St Arnold's and across the street you see a green house. The house has a sign with a colorful tree and the words "Heights of Health." You sip your Texas Wheat and think I wonder what that house is all about?

I kind of thought I knew what it was all about. When the business first opened a couple years ago, there was some chatter about it and I was left with an impression that they sell vitamins. I was mistaken. 

Over a decade ago, Tracy Southwick was young, just married, living in Fredericksburg, TX. After returning from her honeymoon, she became sick. Bedridden. She saw many doctors and they concluded that she had a viral infection that couldn't be cured. She would be, they said, in and out of bed for the rest of her life. At 23, they told her she would never be able to hold down a job and never live a normal life. There was nothing they could do, they said, outside of some Prozac to help her deal with seeing her life shrink before her eyes when it was really just beginning.

Luckily for Tracy, she was open minded and when a friend suggested she visit a health food store in Marble Falls, she decided there was nothing to lose. That trip changed her life and, subsequently, the lives of the many people she has helped since her own experience. With a combination of dietary changes and homeopathic remedies, Tracy's situation took a 180degree turn. Within two weeks Tracy felt the best she had ever felt and she has been healthy ever since, never confined to bed in pain and not on Prozac. She is plenty happy with the way things turned out.

After her own experience, Tracy became very passionate about traditional medicines and homeopathy. Understandable. She decided to make it her work as well as her passion. More than a decade and several certifications later, Tracy works to help people in all aspects of their life, starting with their health. her job, she says, is "to empower [people] to take charge of their own health." She gives them the tools to help make changes, make a difference and effect how they "experience life everyday." Everyday, she says, she sees "miracles."

Tracy was living and working in Fredericksburg until 2003, when she returned to Houston with her family. She grew up in Houston and upon her return, settled in to Montrose but eventually life brought her to the Heights (sounds familiar, no?). She wanted the family aspect but also desired a walkability and wanted to be in a place where the people are "interesting." Living here, Tracy loves the multi-generational aspect of the neighborhood and that "people who live here take pride in the Heights."

For a few years she was doing what she had always done- working out of her home. However, with a young toddler at home and working 50+ hours a week, she needed her own space. She didn't even consider anywhere but the Heights and in 2007, Heights of Health opened.

When I talk to people about their businesses in the Heights, I always ask "How has the neighborhood supported you and your business?" Tracy is one exception where the great majority of her clients are actually from outside of the Heights. Still, the Heights works for her and her business. Her work is "out of the normal range of experience" and she feels that being in a less mainstream sort of area helps her. Clients coming from the suburbs or even farther have an easier time accepting "alternative medicine" in an alternative neighborhood. They find it "charmingly appropriate." Oh, I know it's a little strange but, you know, it is in the Heights... Plus, Tracy says she loves bringing people from all over to the Heights, showing it off a little. I know that feeling.

So, what do all these people come to see Tracy for? She is certified in nutritional counseling, is a traditional naturopath and a certified herbalist, among other designations. People come to see her to find out "what is out of balance" in their body and get it back in working order. One of the tools of her trade is an amazing machine called CoRe, which is a bioresonance machine. Based on the technology used by NASA to determine what moon rocks were made of, the CoRe (one of several biores machines on the market) can detect vitamins and minerals in your body. It produces a read out that can give Tracy an idea about what might be out of whack, like a vitamin deficiency, and what kinds of changes, dietary or other, may help get someone back in balance.

One of the interesting things that really got me interested in the CoRe is the fact that it is supposed to detect things like food allergies, sensitivities or intolerances. Both my sons had lactose intolerance as infants (meaning that as a nursing mom I had to be the one to give up cheese and ice cream) and my younger son still has some GI issues. Come to find out, a similar experience is what got Tracy working with kids on food allergies as well. Her daughter had a severe lactose sensitivity and Tracy knew that there had to be a way to help her. She travelled to LA and worked with a well known doctor out there who also works with alternative- sometimes called 'complimentary' these days- medicine. When the treatments she did for her daughter worked, she expanded her practice and allergies have become the biggest part of her business.

Toward the end of my chat with Tracy I was so amazed by her stories that I started to run through my whole family's list of ailments and see what she knew about them. From food allergies to headaches to GI concerns, she had suggestions for many of the issues I threw at her. However, she said it's really hard to say "this means that" since each body is so different. Because each person's needs can be so different, Tracy's methods differ for each client. Treatment plans are highly individualized; there is "no one answer."

I actually did return to see Tracy with my Wee One. He held the wand of the CoRe machine and it said a couple of interesting things about him. I am as cynical as the next person but I a good friend in the neighborhood who has taken he daughter to see Tracy and sings her praises. Wee One has so many tummy issues and my pediatrician hasn't really had any answers except a severe elimination diet for me. What Tracy does is actually work with the body, through things like acupuncture points, to help retrain the brain to not have a negative reaction when substances you're intolerant of enter the body. She teaches the body to react differently. I thought "If she can figure out what is wrong with the Wee and make life easier for us, why not try it?" Sure enough, one of the things she determined was that there was basically yeast in his GI system. This made perfect sense after being on antibiotics for ear infections for 5 months. She gave me some very stinky drops to give him and warned that it would get worse before it got better. That night and the next, he barely slept... but we were used to that. The 3rd night he slept the longest he had since he was 3 mos old and got his 1st ear infection. We have had consistently better sleep since he has been taking the drops (and probiotics) she suggested. So, no it wasn't a total fix but yes, we are in a better place than we were.

I think that it's so wonderful that we let modern medicine and traditional medicine work side by side. As I mentioned before, traditional medicine is sometimes called "complimentary medicine" these days. This is what MD Anderson called it when my grandmother was being treated there. As far as I am concerned, there has to be something to it if one of the top cancer research and treatment facilities in the world uses traditional medicine to compliment their modern treatments. It's nice to know that a leap of faith in a different direction may help when other methods are exhausted, or even before then.

Have questions? Stop in and see Tracy at her little house of healing. I'll meet you for a beer at OC.

540 Frasier Street

Houston, Texas, 77007 

1 comment:

  1. Viula, this is a great post. What an incredible story. I admit, I first read it shortly after it was posted, but didn't comment. But it stuck with me. As a result, I decided to look for someone similar near me, but before I got that far, a friend gave me a recommendation for an OBGYN that practices holistic medicine. Since I hadn't found an OBGYN yet, I decided to give her a shot. I saw her on Wednesday, and I just loved her. She took my medical history and saw an obvious link between all of the issues I've had over the last 10 years, and we've made a plan to get me healthy through nutrition and vitamin & mineral supplements. I am more postive and excited about my health than I have been in years.

    Anyway, that is a long way to say thank you. Thanks so much for sharing Tracy's story.