My new naturopath is German. I will call her Dr. Hildegaard von Stingen, and I’m telling you, that is not an exaggeration. She is wiry and strong and likely in her sixties. Urbane ethically sound clothing, cut beautifully simple. Sharp white hair. Aquiline nose. Efficient with all her movements. She asks my name and I get the impression that’s about as personal as she wants to get.

“Why are you here?”

When I start in explaining my elimination diet and suspected allergies and chronic skin irritation she interrupts me. “And how is the self diagnosis going?” (subtext: you are a moron) “You see, not so well. Now you appreciate the experts.” (I don’t tell her I was actually under the guidance of another naturopath…) “Come. Sit. I will fix this for you. Finally. Don’t you think you’ve gone through enough trouble?” (subtext: you are a moron)

I sit, stunned that she so boldly states she can “fix” me.

She pulls out a mysterious kit and gives me jumper cables to hold onto, a positive and a negative. She says something about the body being a battery and I’m afraid she’s going to try and jump start me. She speaks quickly, and with an accent, but I catch words like “energy”, “sensitivities”, “check your organs”.Unknown

She pokes a wet blunted pricker into my thumb and the little energy dial needle goes to five, which apparently means good. “Good spleen. That is beautiful. I don’t have to worry about your spleen.” She says. “Beautiful for me, simple.” She says. And I am relieved I have made her job easier. “Good heart, good lungs, good lower intestine…” she goes through it all and I’m feeling more and more youthful and hopeful as I continue to pass the human battery test. Then we get to my liver and the needle nearly shoots off the dial. She says very calmly, “Okay. Problem with the liver.”

Problem with the liver?! What does that mean?! Cut back on the wine or I need a transplant?! Would Dr. Hildegaard von Stingen even bat an eyelash if I had sclerosis? I decide not to panic. She mutters, “If there is a problem with the liver then the gall bladder…yes…” the needle flies off the dial again. “Gall bladder too. Ah. That explains everything.”

She puts down her needle and looks me in the eye for the first time and says, “We need to work on the flow of your bile.”

I can’t say as though that sentence has ever been uttered to me before. Do I have bile? Apparently. Do I want it to flow? I wouldn’t have thought so. But Hildegaard insists I wish this. She says, “And you want to lose weight I suspect (without me having said as much) so I will rule out the foods like avocado. Not for you. Not for ten weeks. You haven’t been able to metabolize fat well. You probably know this.”


Hildegaard von Stingen is putting me on a diet AND getting my bile to flow. Next she asks me to remove my socks and shoes. I am a little bit frightened to do so. But the thought of not obeying is worse.

She pulls out of her very cool desk a series of little drawers with hundreds of little vials in them. She sticks the needle into my foot and compares my energy to the energy of whatever is contained in the vile. It’s sort of like allergen speed dating. Click click click she goes through them all rapidly and pulls the ones that fly off the dial. This is called electrodermal screening and I find it to be dead accurate. She identifies all the things I already know I am sensitive to based on my elimination diet. And then she efficiently parses out all the other foods, bacterias and minerals for me and with her other hand, prints off the results.

She says, “Lungs are affected by grief, kidneys are affected by fear, guess what the liver is.” And I think to myself, “Well, she has that wrong. The other major emotion I know she wants me to say is anger and I am not a person who has issues with anger.” She waits. “What is the liver, come on. You know it. You have known it for a long time now.” Oh f#$%k off. Honestly. “Anger” I say. “Yesssss” Says Dr. Hildegaard von Stingen, eying me with what seems like…suspicion. And why not? Nobody likes an angry woman.

I say, “I think I deal with anger very well.” She says, “Tell that to your liver”. She pulls out a bunch of homeopathic medicine for me with detailed instructions. “And an itch belongs to someone who is restless. So you are angry and restless.” Oh great. Thanks. “I don’t feel angry or restless, I wouldn’t use those words to describe me.” She says “Hmph.” (subtext: you are a moron in denial)

As I head to her desk to pay the bill that SHOCKS me, she assures me I will stop itching in ten days and my liver will be all better, if I follow directions, within ten weeks. I gasp, “That’s in time for my trip to Italy. Does that mean I’ll be able to drink wine and eat tomatoes and cheese by April?!” She says, “We shall see. But I think you will be pleased…”

She squints at me as I put on my black jacket with the hibiscus flowers. She is puzzled. “I don’t understand, you seem so…gentle. Settled. And yet…your liver. I don’t know how to put these things together. When did you say this started happening?”

“Three and a half years ago…I think I am gentle by nature. But-.”


“Well, it’s personal.”

(silence. subtext: what is more personal that needing to get your bile flowing?)

“Three and a half years ago, I was attacked by a stranger and my symptoms started immediately after that. To the degree that I thought perhaps he had given me a disease.” Then it dawns on me. “I guess that made me angry.”

She looks me straight in the eye and says, “Ya.”

“I guess, because I don’t know who it was, I don’t know where to put that anger.”

“So you put it in your liver.”

Then quite surprisingly, she gives me a very efficient and yet warm hug. She says very matter of factly, but with bright blue kind eyes, “You are going to be alright. This I know for sure. See you in ten weeks.”

I smile at her and say, “I believe you are absolutely right.”

I walk out the door with my pretty jacket, my little pills rattling in their bottles, my expanded list of foods I CAN eat, and my hands and feet pricked like watering cans. I tell my bile I will get it flowing. I thank my liver for protecting me. The sun shines and I am so very glad I have met Dr. Hildegaard von Stingen.images


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  1. Trisha Lewandowski

    Cia, we all need to meet this woman. or her Alberta equivalent. my prayers follow you and your liver.

    The Ironing Maiden

  2. Sandra Vander Schaaf

    Well told, Lucia! “Allergen speed dating” is brilliant. Blessings on your bile, dear one.

  3. Jenn Oh.

    I find myself wanting to see this doc as well. Must be the direct and solving German in me. As usual your writing is beautiful. But mostly I find myself wanting to wrap you up. Of course an attack leaves you angry and your body is part of the process. I am angry along side you. May you clean up that ugly bile. May divine arms wrap you up and healing come.

    1. Lucia Frangione

      xo dearest Jenn and Sandra and Trisha. I will happily pass on the real doctor’s name to you in a private message and will definitely keep you all posted! xo

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