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By Taft Coghill Jr., NSWCDD Corporate Communications
Paige Lynch’s health was in disarray nine months after giving birth to her son.
The former firefighter and paramedic was diagnosed with a severe bone infection in her jaw that required three reconstructive surgeries. Doctors informed her that she had insomnia, severe anxiety and irritable bowel syndrome. Her hair was falling out in clumps and she lost weight rapidly. She also struggled with eczema, acne, a torn ligament in her shoulder and inflammation.
“If you asked me at the time how all this happened, I would have sworn that it came out of nowhere,” Lynch said. “Now nine years later I recognize there were so many messages my body was sending me way before I received those diagnoses.”
Lynch transitioned from her career as a firefighter and paramedic and worked to become a triple board certified nurse practitioner. She served as the guest speaker for the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) Women’s History Month Observance at the University of Mary Washington – Dahlgren Campus March 22.
Women’s health was the focus of the event and Lynch delivered a powerful message, encouraging NSWCDD’s workforce to become aware of warning signs that lead to serious health problems.
“As a woman who is a wife, a mother, a full-time employee and was in school full-time getting my master’s degree, I was conditioned to put my head down and ignore all of those messages because I had things to do,” Lynch said. “I had people to care for and goals I set for myself. I didn’t have time to look into those things.”
Lynch, who owns and operates Functional Health and Wellness, a telemedicine practice based in Fredericksburg, instructed NSWCDD employees to not only listen for warning signs that could trigger a health crisis, but to take note of positive indications as well.
“If you wake up feeling great, what did you do the night before or the day before?” Lynch said.
NSWCDD Strategic and Computing Systems Department Head Shellie Clift provided statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that were eye-opening for the employees in attendance and those listening online. Clift noted that 44 percent of women in the U.S. live with heart disease and one in three will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime.
Clift, NSWCDD’s senior diversity champion for federal women’s programs, quoted author and abolitionist Harriet Beecher Stowe when she said, “a woman’s health is her capital.”
“As women, we have a tendency to put the well-being of others around us before our own well-being,” Clift said. “It should be the exact opposite. How can you take care of the ones you love if you aren’t healthy?”
Lynch provided insight on the practice of functional medicine, which determines how and why illness occurs and attempts to restore health by addressing the root cause of disease for each individual.
Functional medicine’s focus on preventative measures was attractive to Lynch, who completed training at the Institute of Functional Health and now serves patients across the country. In 2021, she published a journal that includes a breakdown of her practice’s foundational habits of health and worksheets aimed to help readers identify goals, emotions and stressors among other features.
“I want you to have the skills when you leave here today to recognize the messages your body is sending you,” Lynch told NSWCDD’s employees. “I want you to hear the whisper from your body long before your body starts screaming.”
NSWCDD Deputy Technical Director Darren Barnes presented Lynch with a certificate of appreciation. Lynch also met with NSWCDD Deputy Director for Equal Employment Opportunity, Diversity and Inclusion (EEODI) Sheba Godbey and Federal Women’s Special Emphasis Program Manager Angie Headley.
“We are very happy to honor Women’s History Month with our event featuring Paige Lynch,” Godbey said. “Our efforts and objectives from EEODI are to foster a workplace inclusive of all and to utilize efforts, such as today’s program, to educate the workforce.”