This story is longer than others I have posted so far. But that is the nature of a journey–long and winding– I will try not to be long-winded as I share with you my journey to the land of health.
Like many of you, I am sure, I have suffered health issues—worse than others but better than some I hear about. You can always hear about someone worse off than yourself when you are down in the dumps about your own situation. Some folks, like my husband, are blessed with resilient bodies and seem never to have any health problems that last longer than the common cold. Then you have someone like me who has multiple health concerns—autoimmune disease, ….well let’s pause here a moment before continuing the list.
When you say autoimmune disease, you might as well break it down even further. If you have one, you most likely have more than one. In my case, I have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, Sjorgen’s and possibly fibromyalgia. I experienced symptoms of fibromyalgia years ago before making lifestyle changes that caused the symptoms to disappear. I’ve dealt with the hypothyroidism for about 15 years now. I believe it began after giving birth to my son but wasn’t diagnosed until a few years later. What I thought was hormonal changes after giving birth was probably hyperthyroidism. It is common to swing that way first after giving birth and then settles on the hypo side.
When you start thinking about your health and look back, you begin to see the dominoes as they fell. I thought I made good health choices. I ate salads and my veggies. I got exercise and sunshine before they started telling us we are Vitamin D deficient. But as I aged and entered my 30’s, my body began to lose its ability to handle what I was being exposed to—be it through food (even ‘healthy’ food), processed foods and environmental toxins. I started having severe stomach pains. I passed it off as gas pains and avoided eating foods that triggered the attacks. I had several really severe bouts with the pain in my gut, so bad one night that I thought I would have to get my husband to take me to the emergency room.
About this time in my early thirties, I became pregnant and was given iron supplements which constipated me. Now I look back and realize I had some serious gut problems going on already(not just gas pains) and then the iron totally stopped up the works. One of the most important things for good health is to have your digestive system in good working order. You should have one or two bowel movements per day. It is called waste for a reason and you don’t want it stagnating in your body. It needs to be flowing out on a regular basis.
Six months into my pregnancy, it all came to a head—my appendix ruptured. Baby boy and I made it through the surgery and 10 days in the hospital and following recovery. A few months later when he was born, the doctor gave him a perfect 10 on the APGAR score. I felt that meant he had survived unscathed and it was all behind us.
Years later, and with a more educated hindsight, I can see what was happening. A huge problem was compounding and growing in my health and that of my young son. I knew nothing of probiotics. I am sure that the high tier antibiotics I was given to save our lives, wiped out the lives of all the good bacteria in my gut. So my son was born with a deficit. He should have been inoculated at birth and by breastfeeding. But I had none to give. He would have a bowel movement about every 10 days. Books I read said it can be common in breast fed babies and the pediatrician said nothing about it. Common perhaps, but definitely not normal, nor healthy.
As he grew, we noticed he had tics and OCD type behavior. After one immunization in particular, I noticed a radical change. I wrote in my journal that I felt like they had switched my son. He was no longer the sweet lovable child. But for a few more years, I kept taking him back for more vaccinations. I know now that he is so fortunate not to be further along on the Autism spectrum. His poor body was being attacked by all these ‘foreign bodies’ and he was in a constant state of immune response. He had gut issues for years along with brain fog. After eating most meals, he would have to go and lie down because of the pain. For his chronic constipation, I was told to give him Miralax. (Do not take Miralax and certainly do not give to your children) Do some research before taking anything or giving to a family member, or pet, or livestock, or plant…
During this time, my health deteriorated. I began researching early Alzheimer’s. I would forget how to spell a simple word such as ‘door’. My brain did not function well. Through all these phases I chalked everything up to: I’m getting older, I’m pregnant, I’m postpartum, I’m not getting enough sleep, I’m dealing with an infant/toddler, I’m busy, and so on. I never really delved into the ‘why’ of my problems. Those things may have been contributing factors, but they were not root cause. After a trip to my doctor about these issues, I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism. No tests or anything to find out why I was having low thyroid function. Just take this little pill the rest of your life. About that time I began to search for answers. But it was years before any would come and damage was being done in the mean time.
Years passed and at wits end with allopathic doctors, I finally went to see a naturopathic doctor. I had picked up her business card at our local health food store a year or so before and never got around to going to see her. Now I was desperate. It was at this point I was fatigued and my legs ached. I didn’t even want to get out and walk my dogs. When I did, I felt like I was slogging through deep mud the whole time. I was experiencing other problems, too. I thought I had breast cancer due to lumps in my breasts which I now realize were inflamed lymph nodes in response to food intolerances and probably toxins as well. I met with the naturopath and at the end of the two hour consultation, I realized I had a lot of changes to make and much to learn. I also realized what was wrong with my child—gluten intolerance along with other food intolerances we would find out later. I had fed him ‘healthy grains’ for years and it was killing him. He was able to receive a lot of relief, but is still on his own personal health journey.
I went home and cried. “What will we eat?” I was making homemade bread and I was really good at it. We loved it. We loved pasta, beans, dairy, eggs and tomatoes and potatoes that are in the nightshade family that we were told not to eat while on our Elimination Diet. We were to not eat certain foods for three months and then add them back in a prescribed manner after that time elapsed. But what if we reacted to them and could never eat them? It was a daunting task.
I spoke to my son about what I had learned and he agreed to do it with me. My husband benefited throughout the change, too. I threw out everything I had that was off limits. And we never looked back. The changes we experienced were phenomenal. Mood, weight, gut, and body pain changes sold us on this new lifestyle. We learned new foods to enjoy and new ways to prepare them. Later, after having a blood test that reveals reactive foods, I had to cut even more foods out. This time it was much easier since I knew that it would take my health to an even higher level.
I also had cancer during this time. I was a little upset that I had given up so much and kept so well to the lifestyle and was feeling great, yet still got cancer. But I know that my cancer was slow growing and began years ago. I had spent years living a different way.
The first flare up I had in my lymph nodes was after a tetanus shot. So it may have been the trigger as well as stress I had allowed to come into my life. There is more to it than just eating correctly for your body type. Sleep, stress, exercise, detoxing, adequate sunshine and more contribute to our best health outcome. I do know that what I had learned helped me to make good choices throughout the cancer treatment, aiding in enduring and recovering much better than had I not made the prior changes.
I still have ongoing problems—but many have disappeared. Several are side effects of the cancer treatment like anemia and poor vagus nerve function. But every day I try to learn and implement things that bring me to the highest plane of health I can experience at that point and then share that knowledge with others. Even with the health concerns I still deal with, I feel very strong and healthy. My faith grew throughout each struggle. I am able to do pretty much anything I want to do, for as long as I want to. My mind is free, clear and creative. I can live with that.
Things I have learned on my health journey:
Do your own research
Read all labels! (even if you are at a health food store)
Make up your own mind about what kind of health treatments you want to do.
Take counsel in many sources before making decisions.
Take charge of your own health. Do not let anyone else tell you what to do—not even that high paid doctor.
Be willing to experiment and do things different than the status quo.
Don’t let anyone talk you out of what you decide. It is your body. Let them make decisions for their own body.
Eat foods that work for your body–not what others say you should eat.(especially if it is on a pyramid)
Stick to your guns! Do not be swayed by skeptics and naysayers and “scientific studies say”. There is a lot of age-old wisdom out there and a lot of things that work that cannot be explained in a lab. At least not yet…
Spend time in prayer and ask people to pray for you.
For more information to aid you on your journey to health, check out these resources. (Some are links to products on Amazon that I have bought and recommend. I am an affiliate and would appreciate your purchasing through my link if you choose to buy. Thanks!)
A Facebook “cookbook” I created for my son when he moved to Austin. You may find some inspiration for meals, too.
My Facebook page devoted mostly to herbs, but other health topics as well.