Preface: I wrote this a couple weeks ago for the Harmony Healthcare Newsletter. We were so excited about the new office opening up and all the people we’d be able to help. Less than a week ago, tragedy struck and dashed those hopes when my beloved boss, mentor and friend, Dr. Mark Chirila, unexpectedly passed away on Saturday, January 31, 2015. I’ve taken so many lessons away from this and I have countless more coming. Also, I’m incredibly lucky that I got to work alongside such an exceptional human being and feel like I was in exactly the right situation with exactly the right people around me. How many people really get to have that? Lucky me. Truly. I’m so glad I wrote this when he was alive to read it. He told me almost daily how much he valued and appreciated me there. I told him a lot less, because that was a pretty new thing for me. But I’m really glad these weren’t posthumous thoughts. It’s how I felt when he was here. And he knew that. <3
Jacki Keys: Meet Our New Practice Manager
How did I get here? I spent nearly 20 years working in IT. In the mid 90s, I was a transcriptionist at Harding Hospital, a local mental hospital back then. I went from that to being their sole computer support person and spent the next 8 years in tech support at various places, mostly in the healthcare industry. From support, I transitioned into database work and was a DBA (Database Administrator) for about 6 years, then tried to become a programmer, then a user experience designer, and this past September I found myself at Harmony Healthcare just wanting to do whatever I could to help.
I’d heard Dr. Mark’s name mentioned for years before I finally got myself to his office. Most often I’d hear “he changed my life” or “it was a miracle” mentioned in the same breath. I’d even met him and his amazing wife, Brielle, socially. He’s one of the few people I’d heard unanimously great things about, and I trusted the opinions of those who gave them. But I always thought to myself “I’m not as sick as they were. I’m doing OK. I know more about food than most. I’ll go when I can afford it.” I made really good money as a DBA. When I quit that job and career in January 2012, that changed dramatically, and I’ve struggled to make ends meet since then. I’d never been happier, but money was still a concern.
This past July, the signs pointed to me having Lyme disease. I didn’t go through whatever they do to officially diagnose it, but I had a tell-tale 8″ bulls-eye rash on my thigh and accompanying chronic fatigue and a host of other weirdness going on. The doctor put me on a round of strong antibiotics and Prednisone. Oof. I hadn’t taken antibiotics in years, but knew that Lyme disease was nothing to mess with, so I complied. If only I’d known then what I know now… But that’s always the case in life. You do the best you can with the information you have at the time, and that’s all you really can do!
I felt so messed up after a few days of taking that stuff. But I knew I had to finish it OR ELSE. You don’t just stop taking antibiotics or steroids. That’s when the message to go see Dr. Mark seemed to come from everywhere. This time I listened. I didn’t know how I was going to pay for it, but I knew I needed to go. And that may well be the best decision I’ve ever made.
My first appointment with him was the most comprehensive wellness experience I’ve ever had. Dr. Mark asked me all sorts of questions to get at the root of what was really going on with me. Over the course of that first meeting, I learned that I didn’t actually have Lyme disease, but rather a collection of symptoms stemming largely from food sensitivities. He was able to show me what my body needed and what it reacted badly to. It was a LOT of information. And there are a lot of things I thought I knew that turned out not to be true. At that first meeting, I wasn’t sure that was really the case, but everything he told me was so accurate that I decided to give changing my diet dramatically and adding whole food supplements a shot.
It’s important to note that he wasn’t advocating for a one-size-fits-all diet. He was telling me what worked specifically for me. He said I should see a real difference within 8 weeks, if I really made those changes. Some people might hear that and think it’s a long time. It’s not. When you’ve been eating things most of your life that you didn’t know your body was sensitive to, 8 weeks is nothing, and boy did I ever see changes!
I still had a few days left of antibiotics and prednisone, and my body needed more recovery and repair work as a result. Even so, within 6 weeks, most of the symptoms I had associated with Lyme disease were gone. As a bonus, my lifelong allergies to dogs, cats and most furry creatures were GONE. Completely gone. There’s a cat that sleeps in my bed now GONE. Dr. Mark hadn’t even mentioned that as a possibility until I said something to him about it. The thing is, it’s different for everybody. But he’s seen that happen many times. It is truly amazing what your body can do when it is no longer under the constant stress of foods that aren’t right for you.
My first appointment was in August, I started work in his office on September 19, 2014. I’ve worked a lot in tech support and customer service, but I had never done anything like this before. He said I was welcome to do as little or as much as I wanted. It would’ve been fine if I wanted to just stay in the office, deal with paperwork, the computers and filing, etc. But I wanted to learn as much as I could about nutrition and how to empower people the way he had empowered me to heal myself. He got me training sessions with our local Standard Process rep on my third day working there, which was a huge vote of confidence. He’s sent me to several such sessions and training workshops since then, and I’ve soaked it all up like a sponge.
It’s crazy when I realize I’ve only been working there for about 4 months. I’ve learned so much and feel so much better! I had my 40th birthday in November and I looked and felt better than I had… I was going to say in 20 years, but really I’ve never looked or felt this good! My energy level is high consistently throughout the day, I don’t have the constant cough, stuffy head, throat clearing I used to, my skin has cleared up so dramatically that most people who’ve known me for years have commented on it. I just feel better, and my changes were almost completely based on changing my diet (for me, part of that was adding some meat back in after many years of being a vegetarian and avoiding the soy and wheat that were my daily staples as a “carbitarian”) and adding Standard Process and Medi-Herb supplements.
Tomorrow is my last day on the Standard Process 21 Day Purification Program with my boyfriend, Shannon. We’ve both experienced an amazing transformation from that as well. I love working at Harmony Healthcare! I fully believe in what we do here. I don’t have to put my morality aside when I come to work the way I did for most of my adult life. It’s an incredible feeling to love what you do for a living. As Practice Manager, I’m figuring new things out every day. And with our new office, there’s a whole other set of new things to explore and grow into! We’re so excited to move into this new space. I hope you’ll come and check it out soon!
Note: Obviously, you can’t come and check out the new office anymore. I just wanted to repost that as it was published originally. If I started changing things, I’d probably change almost everything. That’s a snapshot in time back to Thursday, 1/22/14. It came from a place I can never go back to. And so I move in the direction he’d want me to most… Forward. <3
And to help his family move forward, please donate to his memorial fund to help cover the costs of his medical bills and funeral costs. Even a little means a lot! Thank you!