Rising above pain with Whole Health
A U.S. Army Veteran and VA employee is living her life to the fullest after suffering with multiple health issues for years. Sabrina Jacobs attributes VA’s Whole Health for helping her make dramatic improvements.
Jacobs served more than 26 years in the Army, both in the U.S. and abroad, including 4 combat tours as both enlisted soldier and commissioned officer. Years of running/jumping with a heavy pack and the daily physical requirements of being a soldier resulted in multiple service-connected illnesses and injuries.
In 2017, Jacobs decided it was time to look for alternative ways to manage her health conditions. At the time, she lived and worked in Washington, D.C., and was a single mom. “I had been prescribed opiate pain medication, which could have affected my driving,” she says. “I could not be falling asleep at the wheel, so I wanted something else.”
Her Whole Health journey included complementary and integrative health (CIH) practices and her own self-care. The Washington DC VA Medical Center offered acupuncture, a CIH approach for pain management, and Jacobs decided to give it a try. She is thankful she did because now she is able to better manage the nagging health issues that once plagued her.
Jacobs said she quickly noticed that twice-weekly acupuncture decreased her anxiety, improved her sleep, and made her pain manageable. Living a healthier lifestyle also led to her losing 40 pounds, which gave her the energy to live her life to the fullest.
“You have to be consistent — this is a lifestyle change,” Jacobs said. On the advice she got from a VA nutritionist, she created a plan to avoid foods that trigger inflammation. She swore off soda, fatty, spicy, and fried foods and instead chooses raw vegetables, lean meats, and herbal teas.
It’s not just the food and the acupuncture though. Jacobs has made a commitment to herself to dedicate time to meditate, work out, and walk. Leaving D.C. for Florida in 2018 allowed her more time to devote to her health and well-being because she no longer spends 2 to 3 hours in the car every day which she did for 13 years.
Her focus now is on quality of life, and she takes that very seriously. Accompanied by her now-grown daughter, Jacobs finds time for hot air balloon rides in the desert and vacations, including the vacation of a lifetime — a trip to Greece.
Jacobs is a communications specialist with the Veterans Health Information Exchange (VHIE) Program Office, and she travels nationwide throughout the year to educate Veterans, VA staff, and Veterans Service Organizations about the program. VHIE allows Veterans to share electronic health records between their VA and non-VA health care teams.
Whole Health is a one of the top six priorities in the Veterans Health Administration. Learn more about Whole Health for Veterans, caregivers, family members and employees here: www.va.gov/wholehealth.