Reclaiming Her Eyesight, Life through Wellspring Clinic

Written By: ingridricks - Mar• 25•13

You wouldn’t guess by observing her that Lindsey Lee Bradford has Retinitis Pigmentosa.

photo (2)During my brief introductory visit at the Wellspring Clinic in Vancouver last month, I watched with envy as Lindsey glided through the small, bustling office with ease while I tentatively made my way around. Later, talking with her, I discovered that she’s a competitive runner (as in running while packed like sardines with thousands of other runners) and recently qualified for the Boston Marathon. Her other hobby, I learned, is backpacking through countries like India and Nepal, or heading out on safari in South Africa.

Lindsey, now thirty-five, rarely thinks about her RP anymore. But eight years ago, it was a different matter. Back then, her eyesight was so bad she was convinced that complete blindness was just around the corner.

“At the time, I was remodeling a building that my parents own,” recalls Lindsey, who lives in Edna, Texas, a town of about 5,000 people located south of Houston. “I remember sitting in a chair and talking with one of the guys who was helping me with the remodel. He was standing beside me and I was looking up at him. I had total blackness in my peripheral vision and could see only part of his face. I went home and was so upset I just lay in bed and cried. I thought, ‘This is it.’ What I had feared since my parents told me I had RP as a teenager was starting to happen. All I could think about was that I had so much to see and so much to do.”
Lindsey, who  has a great great aunt, brother and cousin with RP, was diagnosed at the age of five, after her parents noticed that she had trouble getting around in the dark. They didn’t tell her about her blinding eye condition until she was a teenager. For a while, Lindsey says the reality of having a degenerative eye disease that doctor’s said was untreatable and incurable didn’t sink in. But that changed in her early twenties, when she started noticing her side vision closing in on her. Making matters worse, she suffered from leakage in her retina that was impacting her central vision. Lindsey says her visual acuity was gong downhill so quickly that she was returning to her eye doctor every three to six months for a stronger prescription for her glasses.

Just when things felt bleakest for Lindsey, her parents received an out-of-the-blue phone call that would change her life.

lindsey and niece“It was this random call from a lady who was a friend of our next door neighbor’s daughter,” says Lindsey, still marveling that a complete stranger would reach out in that way.  “She said, I’m calling you from Vancouver, Canada, and I know this will sound crazy, But I’m in my 40s, was recently diagnosed with RP, and have found this Chinese doctor who claims he can help RP patients. I’ve seen him a couple of times and have had good results. You should look into it for your daughter.”
When her dad told her about the call and asked her if she wanted to give the treatment a try, Lindsey jumped at the opportunity. In the spring of 2005, she headed to Vancouver to seek help from Dr. Yu. Over the course of the ten-day treatment, she underwent a series of intensive acupuncture sessions. She also spent time in an oxygen chamber, stared into a tube with colored lights and ingested Chinese herbs.
While there, she met other patients who shared inspiring stories about the improvement in their vision. But Lindsey says she didn’t experience any change. She returned a second time three months later and still didn’t notice much difference in her eyesight.

Despite her disappointment, she was determined and kept with it. Along with the treatment at the Wellspring Clinic and ingesting the daily Chinese herbs Dr. Yu prescribed, Lindsey completely revamped her diet and lifestyle. She cut out coffee, became a vegetarian, started eating more leafy greens, taking yoga, and doing the acupressure and eye exercises recommended by Dr. Yiu.  Lindsey began feeling better physically. She also noticed that she no longer had a problem with glare or the severe eye pain that she often experienced. And slowly, she says she started seeing better.

But she says it wasn’t until her third visit to the Wellspring Clinic that her eyesight really opened up. It started with stars and squiggly lines appearing in the areas where she had lost her vision. Then the stars and squiggly lines gave way to clear bright eyesight in areas that were once black.

Scan0020“It was a huge relief,” notes Lindsey, who admits to having a competitive streak and says she felt frustrated with herself that she wasn’t experiencing the same progress other patients were having.  “When I started to see a difference in my vision, I knew I could do it.  I knew that if anyone could treat my Retinitis Pigmentosa, it was going to be Dr. Yu, and that I would give everything I had to fight it and hopefully keep my sight stable until there is a cure for RP.”

Over the next two years, Lindsey continued to see Dr. Yu every three months. By her third year, she was seeing so well that she says she decided it was time to stop—despite Dr. Yu’s warnings that her eyesight wasn’t yet ready. From her view, the treatment was no longer necessary and she wanted a break from the cost and time commitment. But Lindsey learned the hard way that Dr. Yu was right. The year off was a setback to her eyesight, and since then she has been a regular at Dr. Yu’s office three times a year, though on a six-day treatment program vs. the initial ten-day program. She says she is now doing so well that she will soon be transitioning to a twice-a-year regimen.

While her vision isn’t perfect, Lindsey says she now has nearly all of her peripheral vision and has greatly improved her central vision. Years ago, when her eyesight was at its worst, her eye doctor told her to stop driving. These days, on top of driving everywhere she wants to go during daylight, Lindsey says she’s even able to drive at night.

20130306_214436 (3)Lindsey stopped doing visual field tests after her first visit to Dr. Yu because her eye doctor got angry when she asked for one, and told her she was wasting her money seeking out Chinese medicine. She decided then and there that she didn’t need to put up with the hassle, or pay the money to have an eye doctor test tell her what she already knew. Now, years later, she wishes she had done them consistently over the years to show others who are curious about the effectiveness of Dr. Yu’s treatment. But she does have something that proves her steady eyesight improvement. Two weeks ago, during her regular visit to her eye doctor, her visual acuity measured 20/40 – compared to 20/50 just a year earlier. For Lindsey, it’s like winning the lottery.

“I just feel extremely lucky because I really truly think I would be blind, or if not, very close to it, had I not found Dr. Yu,” Lindsey says softly. “He has definitely changed my life. I used to worry constantly because I never wanted to be a burden to my family or friends. Now I don’t worry about going blind at all. I honestly don’t even think about it except for when I’m in his office getting treatments. And I never thought I would be able to say that.”

Lindsey is conscious about the treatment costs in terms of both time and money and knows she is fortunate to have the means to access it. But while she realizes it’s a hurdle for many people with RP, she’s committed to sharing her story whenever she can so that people at least know a treatment option is available. She says she now does what that lady did for her eight years ago. When she finds out someone has RP, she contacts them, shares her RP treatment success story and urges them to give the Wellspring clinic a try – or at least start on Dr. Yu’s Chinese herbs and eye exercises.

Asked what she would like to say to those with RP who read this story, Lindsey voice takes on a sense of urgency.

“I just wish there was a way to express to people that if they did have the opportunity to go, to not second guess it for even a minute – just go do it and experience it for themselves. But they also have to be willing to do it more than one time,” she cautions. “I’ve seen people who have come to the clinic for the first time and when it doesn’t work for them, I watch their body shut down. Dr. Yu can’t work miracles in one or two treatments.

“It also takes a personal commitment from them,” she adds. “They need to look at changing their diet and lifestyle. There is more I need to do, like get better at doing my eye exercises and not drinking so much wine. But overall, I’ve completely changed my lifestyle to better combat this disease.”

 

To contact Lindsey, email: lindseyleebradford@gmail.com

Or connect on Facebookwww.facebook.com/lindseyleebradford

 

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12 Comments

  1. juli saeger russell says:

    Ingrid, Lindsey’s story is so inspiring and I am so glad you found Dr. Yu!
    I know you have what it takes to see it through – hang in there and know that I’m always here for you.
    Love, Juli

  2. Shelley Srp says:

    I am Lindsey’s sister (the only child in the family without RP). I just wanted to thank you for writing such a wonderful blog. Lindsey is an inspiration to all of us, and we are all so thankful for Dr. Yu. You did an excellent job telling her story. I wish for you the same, if not better, results with Dr. Yu’s treatments. Thanks again for sharing Lindsey’s story. I hope it reaches a million people.

    Sincerely,
    Shelley Srp

    • ingridricks says:

      Thanks for your note, Shelley. Lindsey definitely inspires me. I hope a million people read her story as well – or at least every person out there with RP — to give them hope. I know that if Lindsey can do it, so can I. Thanks for your good wishes for my treatment.

      Best,
      Ingrid

  3. Alex Smith says:

    Very inspiring.. My fiancé was diagnosed yesterday, I’ve emailed Lindsey… They seem so similar based on the description of Lindsey in this article and it’s comforting to know my fiancé will be fine and will work to combat this.

    • ingridricks says:

      Thanks for your note, Alex. I’m so glad you’ve found Lindsey’s story and connected with her. I know how scary it is to receive the diagnosis – but if your fiancé starts working to combat it now, I know everything will be fine.

  4. Nicely written, Ingrid! I’m so happy for Lindsey and for you that you found Dr. Yu.

  5. Laura Pep Wu says:

    Great write up on Lindsey and her experiences, Ingrid! It’s always so motivating to read success stories. Hugs to you 🙂

  6. Kay Lewis says:

    I wish their was a way, to know which herbs, and vitamin’s to take. Plus, affordable eye excercise video, as some of us, living with RP, on disability income, can’t afford travel, and treatment’s.

    • ingridricks says:

      Kay — you can download his eye exercises for $87 from the Wellspring Clinic web site. You can also do a web search and find eye exercises for free. They aren’t from Wellspring – but I know they will help you. Supplements such as Lutein, Omega 3 and Bilberry are very good. You should also be eating a good diet with plenty of leafy greens such as kale. Blueberries are also good for you. And you can contact Wellspring Clinic to start on their herbs without traveling to Canada. Hope this helps.

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