IMG_2101_SarahCroppedAbout Sarah Hayes

Why I Practice Chinese Medicine in Portland

I love what I do because the medicine works so well. People get amazing results and often walk away with a lot more change than they had ever imagined was possible. To be a catalyst for such change, to enter into healing alliances like these — how else to say it? — I am thrilled and gratified to be a part of people’s lives in this way.

There are so many things that we just take for granted after a while, like not being able to sleep as well as we would like, like being fatigued, like having stomach cramps after we eat. When viewed from a fresh perspective, these are the signs of imbalance, and removing imbalances like these is the unique and empowering contribution of Chinese medicine. Specializing in this medicine brings me great personal and professional rewards.

How I Got Started

I had always wanted to be a healthcare professional. Actually, I wanted to be an MD. Then, when I was 23 I had my first experience with serious chronic pain. My hip hurt so much I couldn’t believe it! The doctors I went to told me that there was nothing wrong, and that rest and Advil was all I needed. Well, that didn’t seem like such a good solution or long term plan so I sought out other treatment options. Eventually I ended up getting acupuncture and my hip pain was resolved in four treatments. I was blown away. And so thankful to feel better and have my life back. And I kept thinking to myself, there must be so many people who have pain or fatigue or allergies or chronic headaches and they don’t even realize they don’t have to live with it. I decided I wanted to be a different kind of doctor, I wanted to treat those conditions that Western medicine tells us we should learn to live with.

One College Degree, Then Another

After I graduated from the University of Oregon with a pre-med degree in Biology and Environmental Science I moved to Seattle to work for non-profit organizations for a year, found the work interesting but unsatisfying, and decided to follow my heart to become a healer.

Being a native Northwesterner, I was delighted when I was accepted to one of the premiere Chinese medicine colleges in the country — Portland’s own Oregon College of Oriental Medicine. The years 2002 to 2005 found me immersed in Chinese medicine. The program included training in acupuncture, herbs, Western medicine, tuina style massage, Qi Gong, and a clinical internship. I feel so fortunate to have chosen this path. The skills and insights of my training and subsequent practice have prepared me to offer exactly what I had once only dreamed of offering – healing.

Personal Insights

It’s been said that one can think of Western doctors as the firefighters of the world’s healthcare providers and Chinese doctors as the housekeepers. Break a bone or come down with acute appendicitis, call the hospital. Suffer from symptoms that make everyday life unpleasant, call a specialist in Chinese medicine. I like this idea because it captures something of the distinctiveness of each, while at the same time reminding us that the approaches of each can be mutually beneficial and complementary in their treatment of the whole individual.