My health transformation

I know some of you have read this from our website, but I realize that many have not discovered this area of the website. Here is my version of my health journey…

Always happy, always positive . . . that was my internal dialogue when I asked myself who I was. It wasn’t just lip service. I felt it in my soul. Maybe I got lucky? There were plenty of other people I had met in this world that didn’t operate from the same safe place. I had a track record of leaving people feeling better about their day after they hung out with me and I loved it. It filled me up. Sure I had down days just like everybody else, but they were few and far between.

Fast forward a couple of years. When I look back and reflect, I’m not really sure when it changed. It seems as if it was very gradual and completely justified by me. “I am in a demanding, stressful job,” I thought to myself. “Surely anybody in this situation might be struggling the same way“, but my struggle was different. My body was slowly breaking down on me. I just couldn’t see it.

After all, I worked out three times a week with my buddies from work. These were hard workouts . . . I was in good shape . . . so why couldn’t I catch my breath? I held out for a couple of months, but it only got worse. Finally I caved. Maybe I had some sort of chest cold that wouldn’t go away? I had chest colds that wouldn’t quit the previous two winters, so maybe this was more of the same? It wasn’t.

One day after visiting my general practitioner, I was being escorted by a lady in a hazmat suit down a hospital corridor. She was informing me that if I did indeed have Tuberculosis that I would immediately be placed in isolation. Twenty minutes and one CT scan later; I was told I could go home. I wasn’t; however, told anything about what they had discovered.

Next, a rather pathetic experience in a plastic surgeon’s office where I had a nodule in my arm biopsied (remind me, I’ll tell you the tale sometime). They didn’t find what they were looking for. Later, it was a biopsy of my lung tissue. I remember quoting Airplane to the two doctors who were about to snake instruments through my nostrils, past my vocal chords and into my lungs, “I just want to say good luck; we’re all counting on you”.

Apparently they found what they were looking for this time. They even had a name for it, although it was nothing I had ever heard of before – Sarcoidosis. “The good news is that it is VERY treatable.” This seemed to be the first thing in the handbook to tell a patient with my condition because I heard it a lot. This sentence represented a lot of different emotions to me over the next two years. In the end, it has become my source of hope and of truth, but not in the way it was ever intended from those who told me.

So I did what I thought I needed to do. I listened to my doctors. I went to a pulmonologist who started me on a high dose of prednisone, 60 mg. My lungs were in stage 4, which meant I had fibrosis (scarring in laymen’s terms). What else would I do? These people knew what they were doing. They had seen this before.

Four months later, things were different. I was different. I had put on weight, was distant from my family and I was still in full blown denial that this was really happening to me. Soon after, a bacterial infection showed up on my shin. This worried my doctor. He started me on an antibiotic and had me begin the taper off of prednisone. Three+ months later, I stopped the prednisone and the antibiotic. I was taking an inhaled steroid now – Flovent.

A lot happened over the next year. I worked a lot. I endured a lot of stress. I drank a fair amount with my coworkers to deal with the stress we were enduring. I learned about meditating. I tried a few different antioxidant juices. I experienced panic attacks, depression and anxiety (or the magical trifecta, as I like to think of them). I had a short stint with a counselor. I tried two acupuncturists and eventually settled on a third. She has helped me in ways I never thought possible.

Then the hives came. It was my arms. It was my legs. It was my stomach, my chest, my butt. I seemed to be allergic to my clothes, my bed, my carpet, even my underwear. My body was breaking down on me. I was barely holding it together at work (although my coworkers had my back and were picking up the slack). Somehow, I was still denying that anything really needed to change on my part. I was still detached from this experience. I didn’t want to accept that any of this was real.

It was real. My pulmonologist said he couldn’t help me with my hives or fatigue. I told him about my shortness of breath and how it was the reason I came to see him, but my blood oxygen level was fine, so he sent me home. When my acupuncturist said she wanted me to go get my heart checked out, because she was concerned about the signs my body was giving her . . . EVERYTHING CHANGED. I went home and I sobbed and I wailed. I don’t remember ever crying like this before in my life. It sounded like a walrus giving birth to an elephant (or what I imagined it might sound like). My body was releasing everything. All of the things I had packed away in my denial trunk over the past two years were suddenly coming to the surface and I had to face it all.

That was the moment I took ownership of what was happening to my body. It was clear to me that I needed to start fighting, but I was worried I was too late. I was desperate. My mother, wife and a coworker all suggested a naturopath for my hives. I was willing to try anything. What I got that day in my ND’s office was the glimmer of hope.

I wanted her to fix my hives; she wanted to focus on why my immune system was so out of whack. A couple of tests later, it was clear I had a gluten issue and that my adrenals were under performing. She started me on a paleolithic elimination diet and an adrenal support supplement. An amazing thing started to happen, I began to improve.

Sure I knew that what you put in your body affected things, but I ate pretty healthy . . . didn’t I? Seeing my diet change my health conditions opened up a whole new world of possibilities to me. I was like a sponge, reading websites, books and watching movies. I suddenly realized that maybe it wasn’t too late to fight this disease. What other information could I find to help me out of this health spiral? I learned about monitoring my pH balance. I learned about juicing vegetables. I learned the importance of diligent hydration (my horrible issues with dry eye literally disappeared overnight!). I learned about the studies correlating cancer and heart disease to eating animal products.

As week has stacked upon week the changes in me are dramatic. As of May 24th, 2013, it has been 5.5 months since I changed my diet. I have been on a strict vegan and no grain diet for the past 3 months which is where the most dramatic changes have come. I am taking no medications. I have no dry eye. I have no hives. I have no depression, anxiety or panic attacks. I have little to no fatigue. I am energized at work again. I am happy and I am present for my children and my wife. Most importantly, I now have hope that this disease IS treatable. The main repercussions of this new lifestyle have been dropping 50 pounds and feeling healthier than I can ever remember. Now those are side effects I can live with!

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Good Karma!

Sometimes you just need good karma . . .

I feel like I have some little guardian angels watching over me this morning.

Yesterday, I was feeling extremely overwhelmed by all of the food, meal prep, planning that takes place in my little world.  I think part of this has to do with the fact that my almost 11 year old son has also decided to be a vegetarian. While I support this wholeheartedly, the reality of this is a different issue.  My son has never, ever, been what people would call a “good eater”.  Don’t get me wrong, he likes to eat, but he is the pickiest little guy I have ever met . . . and vegetables have NEVER been on the list of things that he willingly eats.  As a mother, I want to make sure that he is getting what he needs to grow and to be strong and healthy.  And then there is my 9 year old daughter, who will eat anything and everything that is in the house.  So I have to make sure that the snacks are healthy, but more importantly that she is making good decisions and not eating out of boredom, anxiety, stress.  Wait, there is more . . . oh yeah, my husband.  Trying to integrate something more than a salad into his dinner repertoire so that he doesn’t get bored with the food and also invites variety for a healthy diet and life.   Hopefully that explains the “extremely overwhelmed” statement, sorry it was a little lengthy but this is my therapy!

Every day is a new day and I am thankful for this one.  I received two links to blogs, one from a co-worker of Ryan’s that had a recipe he tried and the other from my sister-in-law’s friend who has heard about our struggles.  These two blogs are amazing and I’m excited to try some of the recipes they offer. But more importantly, I just needed a little nod from the universe that I’m on the right track . . .

Here are the blog links, just in case you are interested:

http://triplantstrong.blogspot.com/

http://www.alkalinesisters.com/

 

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How an Amazon recommendation changed my life…

phMiracle

In February of 2013, I had recently started on a paleo diet and I had begun to notice changes. The positive changes ignited my curiosity and my desire to find out more about how I could tweak my diet even further in that direction. Somewhere on the internet I read about monitoring your pH balance and how you should be slightly alkaline if you were healthy. It mentioned you could get pH strips to test your saliva and/or urine. I figured it couldn’t hurt to determine where I landed on this scale. So on to Amazon I went for pH strips…

I found some basic strips for a decent price and I got the standard ‘people who bought <product A> also bought <product B>’. It recommended a book, ‘The pH Miracle, Balance your diet, Reclaim your health’, by Robert Young and Shelley Young. It was reasonably priced. I bought it.

The book taught me about how our bodies are slightly alkaline by design and acidic by function. Eating, exercise and stress all produce acid in our body. Our body has natural ways to deal with this acidity. If this acidity gets built up too much and our body can’t rid itself of it, it can be in a constant state of acidity. If this occurs, you are creating an environment in your body where bacteria and disease can take hold and thrive. It also becomes difficult for your immune system to function properly.

Well, this all hit pretty close to home for me. When I tested my pH balance it was not good (5.5). It seemed that everything they were saying might indeed be true for me. The book listed dairy products and meat as the top two sources of acidity from food. It also broke down the basics of how to eat extremely alkaline to start to re-balance your pH levels. This meant little to no meat and lots of vegetables (this is where I was introduced to juicing vegetables). It also stressed the importance of drinking lots of alkaline water (which has had the biggest impact). It also stressed getting healthy essential oils (extra virgin olive and coconut to name my favorite) and mineral salts (salts can be good? this was news to me). The book is also full of testimonials from people who were in dire states of health and turned it around by switching to this lifestyle.

The punch line is this, it has also worked for me. I won’t say I have taken every detail in the book as gospel, but the fundamental ideas and direction makes sense to me. More importantly, it has completely changed my life!

Meat is no longer a part of my regular diet (I will have fish once or twice a month) and I eat lots of green vegetables, nuts, seeds and legumes. I eat fruit as well, but as this was third on the list of dietary acid sources, I try not to overdue it. My pH balance hasn’t moved a ton. I’m between 6.0-6.5 most mornings (7 is neutral, 7.2 is ideal). The difference in how I feel, however, makes this lifestyle worth it each and every day!

To check out my entire story, visit
http://wanderingtowellness.com

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