Could a headache be a brain herniation?

I originally wrote this article for Lifelines, the school paper at Life Chiropractic College West, in 2010. The original audience was, therefore, my classmates – future chiropractors. I realize that many of you reading this blog are not chiropractors, but I still think the information is valuable for any individual to recognize the possibility of this condition in themselves or a friend. This information is not intended to diagnose or treat anyone, and you should always seek the attention of a licensed healthcare professional – preferably (if this clinical picture sounds relevant to you) a chiropractor who has experience with this condition. Further, I am happy to answer any questions by email at [email protected].                        – Satya Sardonicus, DC, CACCP

As chiropractors, our patients will often come in to the office with neck pain and a history of motor vehicle...

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Feeling the Fear and Doing It Anyway

Uncategorized Mar 26, 2022

Anyone who has hugged me in the last 8 years knows that even the slightest pat on my back sends enough shock up my spine to rattle my brain and drop me like a puddle to the floor as my muscles turn to mush. So you can imagine my incredulity when 2 months ago I had the thought: “I think it’s time to go back to karate and kickboxing” (something I haven’t done for 20 years, due to both muscle weakness and extreme sensitivity to impact).

Feeling extremely tentative, but inspired to follow my intuition, I called a karate dojo and found myself in a class 2 hours later (before I could freak out and not go!)

I’m already in sensory overwhelm the minute I walk in the door. The dojo itself is lit with fluorescent lights that make me feel disoriented and weak when I stand under them. There is a cacophony of sound: background music, various groups of people working out and yelling KIAH and other fight sounds, and more conversations than I can count. Most of my mind...

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A Plea for the Preservation of Choice

An open letter to event organizers, business owners, and community leaders


Our collective hearts are hurting. Now more than ever, communities are leaning on your leadership to provide places of safety. We are all exhausted by living in “unprecedented times”, and we are all yearning for a sense of normalcy, stability, and a return to activities that bring joy both personally and interpersonally. You likely feel a strong sense of responsibility to create policies that foster collective safety, both physically and emotionally.

Perhaps the most significant policy consideration these days involves blanket mandates of covid “vaccines”. There is extremely strong social and governmental pressure to require these mandates. However, I urge you to consider some of the hidden ramifications of adopting such a policy, as it is a much more complex issue than media soundbytes would lead us to believe.

While requiring these shots for attendance at your event,...

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Hello From the Floor: Dancing with a Brain Injury

Dancing feels about as necessary as breathing to me. My first love was lyrical jazz, then Gaga movement language, and finally - Brazilian zouk partner dance. Each style has enough structure to give my brain a scaffolding of stability, while inviting creative flow and play in a way that nourishes both my spirit and this crazy human body.

On my best days, you can find me gliding and flowing and spinning like water across the dance floor . I feel a profound sense of safety and celebration and ease in this body that has gone through unimaginable trauma. But just as likely, I’m somewhere on the floor in a collapsed mess.

I was 16 when I first fell down for no apparent reason. It felt like every muscle in my body suddenly turned to mush, including those for breathing and speaking. That first episode lasted maybe 30 seconds. Doctors told me I was simply “doing too much” and prescribed rest and adrenal support. But the falling continued, increasing in frequency and...

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How I stay sane amidst the chaos

Uncategorized Apr 11, 2021


A friend recently asked me:

How do you stay sane with all of the chaos happening in our world today? What keeps your hope alive that it’s worth pressing on despite so much darkness?

I do absolutely recognize that we are in a time of great difficulty. But the thing is this: we in our western culture struggle deeply with the concept of destructive forces.

In both indigenous and Buddhist traditions (which heavily influenced my upbringing), this energy is simply considered part of the life cycle. Trees lose their dying leaves in the autumn. From the outside, transformation always looks like complete and utter destruction. A seed sprouting looks like an explosion. The caterpillar inside a chrysalis liquefies before reconstructing as a butterfly.

It is this resistance to death and destruction that amplifies suffering. The greater destructive forces I experience, the more lightly I learn to feel the things. To clarify: it’s not that I go numb or bury my head in the...

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Last week, I lost my beloved. He had been in the hospital with a covid diagnosis, but it’s not what you think.

Uncategorized Jan 31, 2021
I’ve been breathless and wordless for days. Early Wednesday morning, the man with whom I was preparing to start a family took his final breath in this body. His fight is over. I have been devastated with the tsunami of grief, shock, anger, and more grief.
Early this morning, after another sleepless night, these words poured out of me. It’s never enough, but this is what’s on my heart to share in this moment.
We met dancing. Alfredo would always ask me to dance, one song after another. Unabashed in his pursuit. Unstoppable in his adoration.
One night, he dipped me at the same time as another couple, and I crashed heads with the other follow. It wasn’t that hard - she was fine. But I collapsed, and was driven home. Alfredo had no idea that I have an old brain injury making me susceptible to concussion (I was okay after resting!)
The next day, he found out where I worked, and brought a huge bouquet of the loveliest...
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Ready for Change

Uncategorized Jan 19, 2021

During my first consultation with someone, I ask, “On a scale of 1-10, how much does sh*t need to change? Where 0 is it doesn’t matter at all, and 10 is sh*t needs to change YESTERDAY.”

Because in order for me to help someone in their healing process, you have to really be ready for change. You need to NEED change.

Change is hard. ALL change is hard - even in the right direction. This is why people keep smoking or drinking (or eating sugar), and even why some people stay in abusive relationships. Because change is UNKNOWN. And current pain is at least familiar. Of course, life is complicated ... but these are some major driving factors to resistance to change.

There is a quote I saw once that says,

Pain pushes you until vision pulls you.

By the time people have asked for my help as a doctor, they are often in incredible pain. They have suffered for an extended period of time. They have likely tried the western medicine approach (which mostly tries to silence...

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How I’m tending to the chaos...

Uncategorized Jan 13, 2021

As a young child, my parents taught me that my external environment is a reflection of my internal environment. As I look around the chaos of our current world, and I increasingly feel the spiral out of control, I remember that the only true solution is to redouble my commitment to tend to my insides.

It seems easier to point fingers outside - at politicians, at money-hungry businessmen with dubious interests, at medical doctors committed to toxic dogma, and at neighbors who we judge to be doing wrong. In fact, it would appear that this is what most of the world is busy doing. But while we’re fighting each other and arguing about who is to blame ... I think about what I can actually control. What I can actually DO. And the only thing I can truly control is my response to this chaos.

The most incredible thing has unfolded for me in the last few weeks ... the more absurd everything becomes, the less attached to the drama I feel. It feels a bit like a theatrical event....

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Today my identity changed.

Uncategorized Dec 22, 2020

This morning I woke up on an island off the coast of southern Brazil (Florianópolis) and set out to hike to what I’d been told is the most beautiful beach on this island.

The thing is: I’m not a hiker. I’ve spent the majority of my adult life with extreme muscle weakness, headaches, dizziness, nausea ... my daily life is confined by my physical limitations. Don’t get me wrong - I’m stronger now than I think I’ve ever been. The last few months, I’ve finally felt stable standing and dancing on one leg (thanks to my wonderful Lyrical Jazz dance teacher Tracey Durbin teaching via zoom twice a week!). And thanks to practicing relevé (tippy toes!), I was nimble on my forefeet to navigate the slippery roots and steps

Three hours later, we arrived at the peak of this crazy overlook above the beach.

Three weeks ago, I sold my home in Portland, Oregon, put my belongings in storage, and set out for a journey around South and Central...

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How two women - perfect strangers - helped me fall apart

Uncategorized Mar 05, 2020

Upon discovering two aggressively growing and incredibly painful tumors on the left side of my body, the surest knowing I had was that I needed to rest. To just stop doing things. As part of fulfilling that intention, I traveled halfway around the world to Tel Aviv, Israel. People ask me, “Are you here for work or for vacation?” and the answer doesn’t fit in either category.

“I am here to heal,” I say. I am here to move. I am here to unravel the places within myself that are binding me and creating dis-ease. I am here to fall apart.

Each day I wake up in the morning and walk to a dance studio offering classes in Gaga movement language. Not a dance class in the way most people would imagine, it is more of a moving meditation driven by deeply experiencing an allowing of one’s own body to simply exist - through movement.

After class one day, I snapped a photo of the studio with beautiful light pouring in, and in that moment one of the other students...

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