Farewell, Mind-Body Institute

A few weeks ago I heard some surprising and sad news: the Athens Regional Mind-Body Institute as we know it is set to close in early 2012. For people outside of my town of Athens, Georgia, this may not seem like a big deal. But trust me, it is.

In 2008, I had gone a year or more without getting any specific migraine treatment. I felt tired of trying out different preventive drugs, all of which seemed to come with a bevy of unwanted side effects. I was tired of not being listened to at my doctor’s appointments, and I was tired of spending hundreds of dollars and driving, round-trip, over a hundred miles to see my headache specialist in Atlanta. Most of all, I was tired of my migraine but felt as if I’d hit a dead end.

Through all that, I decided to take some matters into my own hands. I started exercising more and noticed a correlation between the number of pain-free days and the number of walks I’d taken that week. I started feeling as if there really were lifestyle changes I could make to get to being healthier, that I didn’t need to feel like a guinea pig on many medications a year. That I could really empower myself.

After hearing about a doctor named Richard Panico for quite awhile, I finally made an appointment with him. Dr. Panico founded the Mind-Body Institute and was heralded among many trusted friends and community members as a fabulous complementary care doctor. He lived up to every single expectation. From taking two full hours to talk to me at that initial appointment to using lamps instead of overhead lighting to working with me on what I was comfortable changing in my life, he showed me that I could get migraines under control. I started doing yoga, I started mindfulness practice, and I started treating my body better by exercising regularly and watching what I put into it. I don’t always stick to the guidelines he recommended, but I am so much more aware of my body, my health, and myself since becoming a patient at the Mind-Body Institute.

It’s disappointing to me that the parent organization, Athens Regional Medical Center, has decided not to search for a director to replace Dr. Panico, who is retiring at the end of this year. From what I understand, they were going to hire a new director but changed their minds very recently.

In light of this, it may be a good time to thank any healthcare providers who have helped you get through some tough times. You never know how your words of encouragement and thanks might help them.

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