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I’ve been meaning to post a status update for quite a while now. The many inquiries have motivated me to do so!

I have been working with many skilled professionals in support of my own healthcare, and have worked together with them to achieve the care initially started with Dr Zoranovich. Most consistently for the last several years, I had the profound benefit of working with Dr William Haffenreffer – a chiropractor with a background in rolfing who brought his decades of healing experience to the table, and dovetailed it seamlessly with my own guidance about what has worked for me in the past. He also suggested what has turned out to be a perfect term for the time it takes my nervous system to integrate an adjustment: my refractory period. Years ago, it could take 20-30 minutes for my system to calm down after a single adjustment before another level could be adjusted. It would sometimes take a few hours for a single office visit! At this point, my refractory period (nervous system reactivity) is much much less – anywhere from 10 seconds to a minute or two. I also received excellent craniosacral therapy from Dr Emily Miller, a naturopath with pediatric focus in Dover, NH.

Functionally and symptomatically, I have continued to improve dramatically over the last several years. In fact, when I go back and read about all the symptoms I used to have, I realize I’ve forgotten even feeling that terrible! The one thing I still have a bit of is hypersensitivity – especially to loud sounds. That is, when I go to a concert if I wear earplugs then I’m fine but if I forget them then I will get a headache after a few minutes. I used to have a headache 24 hours a day for 5-6 years (before diagnosis) that was about 6-8/10 pain level. In contrast, I now get headaches maybe every few weeks and usually in the range of 1-5/10 level. So much better! When I do have a headache, my nervous system becomes more reactive to all sensory input, and I have a tendency towards nausea.

I’ve lost count now of the many times I’ve “leveled up” – that is, gotten to feeling and functioning MUCH better than before. I even gained 1/2″ in height last year after finally getting release of a very old holding pattern in my lower neck which allowed me to hold my head up straighter than I can remember.

I still get frustrated when I get tired on a hike that my friends perform with ease, or when I can’t stay at a party because I forgot my earplugs. But I continue to remind myself how far I’ve come: there was a time when I couldn’t run more than 5 feet without collapsing with muscle weakness. Last winter, I went cross-country skiing for 2 hours! I’ve taken up barre (the conditioning classes required for ballet – quite challenging for anyone) and in it found a practice where I can exercise and become stronger than ever before.

The key has been knowing and honoring my limits; resting when I need rest, and maintaining regular care with my team. Having just moved to a new city (Portland, Oregon), I’m still piecing together that team. Currently it includes chiropractic, craniosacral therapy, and gentle neurologically-focused rolfing. My daily yoga practice helps tremendously as well.

I look forward to continuing to “level up”. Dr Haffenreffer described healing to me in a way I find quite insightful: as we live, we are spiraling upwards; we will come around and see the same point again, but each time we are a bit higher up. This has been most helpful to me when I get frustrated over feeling an exacerbation of symptoms in response to some stressor; I remember that they are less severe, and I recover more quickly.

This journey has challenged me to grow in so many ways. Because I have experienced and worked through this – quite common yet underdiagnosed – health challenge within the construct of being a doctor myself, I have had the privilege of working with many others with the same condition. Some people have come to me knowing they had CTE, and others I have diagnosed myself. Every one of them has seen incredible improvements in their lives because of the care I was able to provide based on my experiences. I have started teaching seminars to chiropractors so more of us are equipped with the gentle, finessed, specific techniques to care for individuals living with CTE. This approach is the safest, most effective way I know of to improve function and overall quality of life.

If you have any questions, I am always happy to answer them via email at

Yours in health,
Satya Sardonicus, DC, CACCP


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