By Jenny Harrow
As a devoted patient of Vladi Starkov, I felt compelled to share how I came to work with her and how the experience changed me on every level: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.
My journey with Vladi Starkov at Flourish Integrative Health began a little over a year and a half ago and it altered my life direction towards my greater purpose. It all began when a scooter I was driving in Austin, Texas malfunctioned: the throttle was stuck in gear, and I was taken across four lanes of downtown traffic before being thrown thirty feet into a creek bed. Upon impact, I severely lacerated both of my knees, fractured my vertebrae, shoulder and ribs, punctured my lung, and experienced a concussion.
Luckily, I was found by a gracious soul who ran down to the creek and saved me from drowning in the 5 x 5 foot puddle in which I landed face down. I was rushed to the nearest hospital. The care I received, from the surgeries to the pharmaceutical drugs, saved my life and I am forever grateful for the miracles performed in the hospital. Yet, despite the necessity and efficacy of the care, the two weeks I spent in the medical hospital were incredibly confusing and downright scary. I had no memory of the accident whatsoever, so waking up in the hospital was a complete surprise to me. I was shuffled around from the ICU to the surgery floor several times within the first week and the doctors would only come to speak to me for less than five minutes at a time. The drugs and the trauma made my brain so blurry that understanding anything in general was difficult for me. The nurses and physical therapists were the most friendly to me, yet everything was so hectic and busy that no one in the hospital treated me like anything more than a body with injuries.
My first visit to Vladi’s office was dramatically different than my experience in the hospital. As soon as I met her, I felt safe. When I told her my story, she really listened with empathy and concern. As I settled onto the acupuncture table, peaceful sounds of Tibetan bells and chants emanated in the background. After she inserted the needles into different points around my knees, right shoulder and ribs, Vladi instructed me to breathe deeply and to silently send the injured parts of my body healing thoughts and energy. I remember very clearly those first few sessions, as I laid in the dark, unable to move and still so confused as to how this had all happened, learning how to send my broken bones love. Breathing deeply was difficult for me because of my punctured right lung and fractured ribs, but my breath began to strengthen when I brought concentration to it.
It was on Vladi’s acupuncture table that for the first time since my accident, I felt connected to my body, my mind, and the essence of my being. During those first two months of my recovery, I had a huge team of medical practitioners, from physical therapists to orthopedic surgeons. Every member of my team contributed to my physical healing a great deal, yet it was during the time with Vladi that not only did I feel the most safe, but it was also when I was able to heal my fractured soul. Traumatic events can change everything in a person’s life, from their physical capabilities to understanding their greater purpose on this planet. When treated delicately and with care, the time period after a trauma is an opportunity to retrieve any parts that feel disconnected. It is also an opportunity to open to a deeper connection to self and trusting your inner compass for guidance.
My body healed quickly and beautifully; I was able to enjoy some of my favorite activities, such as hiking and yoga, within four months of my accident. My soul took a bit longer to heal, however: after so many aspects of my life and identity changed so suddenly, it was on the acupuncture table and with Vladi’s guidance that I discovered my deeper purpose. Vladi helped me see that this traumatic injury was also an opportunity to grow, to become more of the person I wanted to be, and she was an incredible guide and mentor throughout this process. With Vladi’s support, I was able to explore the deepest corners of my soul and open up the gifts I am here to share.
At this point, a little over a year and a half has passed since I first stepped into Vladi’s office. Throughout this time, I have completely overhauled my life as I knew it! I quit my job of five years, I moved, I completed the first year of a graduate program, and I feel more connected to my purpose than I ever have before. I still receive acupuncture from Vladi, but only once or twice a month to address any lingering aches and pains from my accident, or to receive balancing and energetic treatments to help me handle the trials and tribulations of graduate school.
Sometimes we fall so that we can wake up with a deeper awareness of joy, love and gratitude. My fall in Austin shook me to my core, and with the help and guidance from amazing individuals such as Vladi Starkov at Flourish Integrative Health, I am happier and feel more whole and alive than I ever have been before. Today is a gift!
Jenny Harrow is pursuing her Master’s Degree in Integrative Health Studies at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco and is interning with Flourish Integrative Health. To learn more about how Flourish Integrative Health can assist you with your journey after trauma, guidance during life transitions, and pain management, visit: www.flourishintegrativehealth.com