I was taught to always carefully research any health treatments before agreeing to participate.

The more I learn -- about many things being offered -- the less I want to participate in what our current predominant medical system has to offer.

My health freedom is based on informed consent -- making an analysis of possible risk versus possible benefit related to any form of treatment. This process requires asking questions.

I have been asking questions for many years. And after seeing my parents go through their end stage of life, I became even more conservative on this subject.

My mother was on 14 different medications until my sister and I took over her care. We found a doctor that would make visits in her California home.

He was willing to partner with us and listened to our concerns. He helped us wean her off almost all of the medications. Her cognitive ability improved more than we thought possible. This made me question what many doctors do.

My personal experience as a birth advocate, owning a natural childbirth organization, has also been an eye opener for me. The rate of unnecessary medical intervention, during birth, escalated during the 25 years I have done this work.

About one third of mothers nationally, and even higher in many Chicago hospitals, are having c-sections. Reasonable rates would be 5–10%. This is just one example.

I bring this experience with me into our current health crisis. As a traditional Asian medicine practitioner, I'm aware that anything we put in the body has the most influence on our health. This includes medications of any kind.

I'm grateful that I'm not teaching school or needing a job right now. The medical system has made many efforts to get rid of midwives and other alternative holistic practitioners.

I've noticed that many people only trust doctors, but I believe that is changing.

Some medical practitioners are saying there is nothing you can do to stay healthy and protect yourself from illnesses except what they have to offer. That is not true. I have a high deductible and plan not to use my insurance unless it's major or an emergency.

I have been interested in healthy eating for many years. I'm grateful to be living in an area where there are many farmers growing and raising the highest quality foods. Self care routines are keeping me healthy.

My moderate exercise program was embraced many years ago. I've actually increased my strength, stamina and flexibility -- even as I age. I also have great genes from my Scandinavian ancestors. Neighborhood trails, in natural areas, make bike riding and walking a joy for me.

Getting regular preventative acupuncture treatments and massage helps keep me in balance. My practitioners suggest many simple but effective lifestyle changes to support my health. There are seven branches to the Asian medicine tree of health that offer true prevention.

Chinese herbs and homeopathy also support my health and well-being when needed. I get the best results when working with a qualified practitioner. I'm learning more about Ayurvedic medicine too.

I believe it's far better to stay healthy than to expect someone to fix you once you are sick. I find comfort in systems that have been in use for thousands of years.

I get information from as many sources as possible. Some are books, consulting with friends and my practitioners. I've got the advantage of having worked with my own clients who have taught me many things about our mind, body and spirits.

This has all helped me find my health freedom.

Making a fully informed decision is easier due to internet research. I take my time and carefully consider what I hear and read. It takes time and effort but I know these decisions need to be informed decisions.

My body matters and it's my choice, and responsibility, to take care of it. I also have to live with the consequences of my choices.

My health freedom matters very much to me. I'm grateful that we have many options for help and support.

Jo Ann Lindberg is a City of Verona resident.

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