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After battling excruciating pain, single mom fights for her healer at the Capitol

After battling excruciating pain, single mom fights for her healer at the Capitol

Dustin Hurst
March 9, 2015
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March 9, 2015

A single tear slid down Miste Gardner’s cheek as she shuffled a tissue in her hands.

“Um, my little girl said it the best ‘I want you to be able to run and run as fast as you can,’” she whispered.

“It’s the little things; It’s not the vacations,” Gardner said, sitting on a couch at a downtown eatery near the Capitol in Boise. “It’s the little things I want back.”

Gardner is the single mom of four kids, a realtor and a property manager. She’s not, though, a usual face around the Capitol halls.

In the eatery, she’s sitting with Michael Kalfeldt, the Naturopathic physician who’s assisted in Gardner’s recovery from neuropathy in her feet and hands. The duo is spending the week pleading with Idaho legislators to reject a bill that would essentially outlaw Karlfeldt’s practice in the state.

“It creates a monopoly,” the physician said. “It would make it very hard to compete in the free market.

He’s referring to House Bill 181, a measure to license Naturopathic physicians. Legislators will likely address the bill Tuesday morning as they move closer to wrapping up their work in Boise for the year.

Gardner hopes her representatives in government will take a firm stand against the bill. She told IdahoReporter.com it would make it harder for her and her family to choose the appropriate care they want and need.

“It’s not going to be the same,” she said of her family’s prospects for care if lawmakers approve the bill. “It will never be the same again.”

The duo’s biggest criticism of the bill is the exclusionary language written into it. If approved, Idaho code would forbid anyone from practicing Naturopathic medicine without a state-approved license. Applicants would only receive licenses if they received approved training in accredited schools in the United States or Canada.

That would exclude Karlfeldt, who trained in Sweden, holds several industry certifications and an advanced degree, and at least 100 others like him. Only about 20 practitioners, Karlfeldt projected, would qualify under the proposed guidelines.

Fearing the loss of the man who brought her back to health, Gardner jumped to action. She’s meeting with members of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee this week in an attempt to derail the legislation.

She attempted to discuss the matter with House Health and Welfare Chair Fred Wood, R-Burley, but couldn’t get time with him.

Losing her doctor would mean painful hardship and tough choices for the single mother, who described the pain Karlfeldt has addressed through months of treatment.

“It felt like 1,000 bees were stinging my feet at the same time,” she said, adding that the excruciating sensation eventually made its way to her hands.

Traditional medicine offered her no solace or respite, as she went from doctor to doctor for a cure. She went so far as the famed Mayo Clinic in Minnesota to address her problems.

The clinic, without a clear diagnosis, she said, prescribed years of chemotherapy. The constant trips, medical visits and medications cost her more than $15,000 -- and that’s after her insurance picked up its part of her bills.

Besides the hit to her bank account, Gardner suffered the poking and prodding of curious and stumped doctors. “You wouldn’t believe the tests they did on me to figure out what was wrong,” she said.

After prodding from her friends, Gardner visited Karlfeldt’s practice in Meridian and found relief and comfort there.

“Within 10 minutes, they had diagnosed me,” Gardner said. Since then, she’s continued therapy for her health issues and is nearing full recovery, though she doesn’t have a time frame for that. She is slowly reducing large doses of medication as she works through her recovery.

If lawmakers pass the bill, the healing available to Gardner will be off-limits to others, or greatly restricted. For the single mom, that’s an injustice because she believes alternative medicine has given her new life.

“I couldn’t do anything,” she said, again holding back tears. “My baby couldn’t even jump up on my lap. My nerves were just shot. It’s like I had to have a protective bubble around me.”

Still, some believe the government must do its best to protect consumers through government licenses. Kris Ellis, a lobbyist for the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, is leading the charge for them.

“This will help move this profession forward,” Ellis said, telling lawmakers the measure will cut down on confusion for consumers.

Gardner rejects that, saying the licensure will only restrict her options for care.

“Now I’m trapped to going to one of these doctors,” she said, imagining what would happen under the bill.

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