Family, Food, Learning, Self Care

Navigating Allopathic Medicine With a Holistic Heart

Driving home from my massage therapist on March 25, a seemingly harmless Podcast about boosting my energy defined the persistent pit in my stomach. At 17:36 of the show I’m pulling on to I-264 and I burst into tears.

“The conventional wisdom is that loneliness is a condition experienced by others – the Eleanor Rigby’s of the world. There is very little acknowledgement that vibrant, successful, motivated, attractive people can feel loneliness too. One aspect of loneliness that you didn’t touch upon is the loneliness of having a secret. I am going through this right now. I’ve had chronic health issues that people wouldn’t’ know from observing me in the world. I just recently got some very bad results that MIGHT signal something very serious or might just be a bump in the road. Until further testing it won’t be clear what it is. This has triggered an intense loneliness. I don’t want to share this information with loved ones just yet, because I don’t want to cause them potentially unnecessary distress. After all, maybe it’s not too bad. I don’t want to share with more distant acquaintances because it’s boring and I hate to say it – a potential sign of weakness…” – Gretchen Rubin’s Happier Podcast

Thank you Alicha Harris for capturing these. These moments required more strength than you’ll ever know and it helps to have them as a reminder.

Hey… Where’d you go?

So let me start out by saying, “Thank You!”

Thank you for letting me disappear for a few months.

Year Thirty-Five came in like a wrecking ball. A vicious, mean and obtrusive wrecking ball. Sans both Miley Cyrus and Eric Church.

The first photo of 2018 I posted on Instagram was a foretelling of exactly what I would need to survive. Though the caption got it all wrong.

2018. We are not friends… Yet.

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Gratitude is exactly what has gotten me through the past six months. That and the greatest most gorgeous and brilliant husband on the planet.

It’s been six months since this chaos all started and I’m finally starting to feel like I can talk about it. Or rather… write about it without crying.

If you read my past blog entries or follow me on social media you will likely see a trend of self-pep-talks. And then it just stopped. I needed a break from trying to be titanium all the time. I was not titanium. I was gluten-free marshmallow. The kind that uncontrollably loses their sh*t during Easter Sunday service sandwiched between two unassuming and very confused friends.

There was a period where I didn’t think the good days would outweigh the bad. There were sleepless nights and more boogers than I care to think about. Luckily my Glaucoma drops were a good coverup for the red puffy eyes.

So what happened?

2018 began like any other New Year. I was full of hope and promise for another wonderful year of life. I convinced myself in the beginning that what I was experiencing was injury from overworking my body. A year of macro-counting and working out 6 days a week had caught up to me.

I signed up for a group challenge at my gym and realized halfway through that I likely should have bowed out. I’m an “obliger” so you know I wouldn’t think of quitting.

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Instead, I signed up for the CrossFit Open as a Master and verbally committed to doing each workout Rx.

Insult to injury much?

The first week of the open, I knew I was going in with physical pain and new “injuries”. In addition, I was diagnosed with Glaucoma – which in hindsight seems laughable that I even let that be a concern in my life.

The weeks (and now months) to come would deliver dozens of doctors appointments, countless vials of blood and indescribable physical and emotional anguish. Only a handful of close friends knew about the physical pain. And because I would solely express my emotions alone in my car on my commute to and from work only my husband (and a few concerned passersby) saw the emotional.

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As the pain persisted and the symptoms worsened, I began shutting out just about everyone I knew. Not talking about it was far easier than explaining myself. I found the gym and working out – previously my place of respite and love and joy – to be unbearable. I showed up once a week. I did one workout. The Open. and then I would spend the entire weekend in pain fearing Dave Castro would announce anything that required the use of my hands (or cardiovascular system for that matter).

Doctor after doctor would send me to a different specialist with a pile of new tests they wanted to run. Each doctor wanted to prescribe me a new medication to mask the symptoms. None of them wanted to talk nutrition, “There is no evidence that nutrition has an impact on autoimmune disease.”

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One doctor told me to, “Quit CrossFit” and that it was “as bad as cigarette addiction.” Exercise and Nutrition are not only priorities for me from a wellness standpoint, but they are at the center of who I am mind-body-soul. My world is integrative nutrition and functional fitness.  My marriage, my social circle, my education, my career and my joy are centered around this world.

How about addressing the fact that I was unable to pull my own socks on?

The day I received a positive test result for a potentially life threatening condition my world stopped.

Nothing mattered. The day-to-day drama at work, irrelevant.  The concern that a girl at the gym didn’t like me, vapor. Whatever crazy antics our politicians were up to, unimportant.

There was and still is this odd balance of absolute terror and unbelievable appreciation for life.

I would wake up in the morning, assuming I slept, and be so thankful for this gift. My heart is beating (though unevenly). Breath is going in and out of my lungs (though sometimes labored).

I’m here, today.

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Listening to Girl Wash Your Face and attempting to get my sh*t together for work.

While I was living in la-la land of gratitude and appreciation for the ducks and purple flowers on my morning walk with the dogs, my husband was put into action.

He isn’t a bystander in his day-to-day life, why would he do so in a situation of crisis at home?

He had done his research. While I avoided the google machine, he embraced it. February and March had been energy vampires and he was going to make sure moving forward we were proactively doing everything we could to change this path – despite the lack of “evidence” nutrition and integrative health had offered.

First order of business, let’s work on food. Tim bought me a book on healing my Thyroid Autoimmune condition (I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s in 2011). The research in The Essential Thyroid Cookbook says that if you have one autoimmune disease, you will likely develop two more in your lifetime.

Let’s shut that sh*t down right now.

“Once you have one autoimmune disease, other systems of the body are up for grabs. According to Dr. Datis Kharrazian, ‘Eighty percent of those with a diagnosed autoimmune condition have antibodies to other tissues.'” – Jill Grunewald Functional Nutrition and Hormone Coach, FMCHC

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Tim went b-a-n-a-n-a-s at Whole Foods. I felt like Oprah. A hot firefighter doing my grocery shopping and cooking in an attempt to make me healthier and FATTEN me up. For the first time in my life I couldn’t put on weight. Avocados now come with every meal!

This is what telenovelas were made of! Did I mention I’m the luckiest woman alive?

Second order of business, some anti-inflammatory activities.

I also continued normal practices such as seeing my Chiropractor, Dr. Joe (aka the only doctor I trust in this world right now) every other week for realignment and cupping as well as visiting with my aesthetician, Allison, as therapeutic respite and a loving ear. If you haven’t been to the Beauty Barn, I highly recommend it. She may not be aware of it – her spiritual gift is healing.

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Third… I became a true advocate for myself.

  • Continue to seek answers that don’t end with “I dunno” or an Rx with more side effects than cures.
  • Find a Naturopath that specializes in Autoimmunity
    • PS – I turned this one into a “MediCation” to Arizona! That’s my cheesy word for Wellness Infused Vacation. 
  • Add to my “pit crew” of healers locally – I found an awesome Herbalist (Thank you for the recommendation Allison!)
  • Started seeing a shrink! My friend Nadette recommended seeking out a mental health professional who specializes in biofeedback and neurofeedback. Small world, Karla actually did some continued education at the same Nutrition School as me!
  • Joined two groups on Facebook: Medical Medium and Wahl’s Protocol
  • Continue to expand my “Lazy Learning” through videos and Podcasts

So where am I right now?

Well my time still involves no less than two doctor appointments a week. I have MRIs and an echocardiogram and X-Rays all thrown in the mix this month.

I have no immediate plans to share the test results or details of any diagnosis right now for one… this blog is public and I’m sure my life insurance policy would have something to say about this crap and two because my most recent visit to a new doctor ended with,

“It sometimes takes decades for an official diagnosis.”

Instead, I will be focusing on what I can control. I’m wrapping up my final two weeks at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (which has been such a gift this year!) and I’m becoming the CEO of my whole self.

“What I eat, what I drink, and what I think.” – Kris Carr 

I am so thankful for your patience as I figure this out.

As Allison said during my last microdermabrasion,

“This is happening so you can come out on the other side and help someone.”

She reminded me that there is a reason for all of this. Love you Al.

Special thank you to my hubs (the greatest guy alive), my Mum for the Friday morning phone calls, my neighbors and dogsitter for their pup-support, my college roommates for letting me just unload (and the AIP snacks), my coworkers for never questioning where I’m off to and always having my back, Dr. Joe for reminding me that I’m not crazy (at least when it comes to my health), to CrossFit for creating a space where we can build a family focussed on wellness, and to anyone who has just given me a pass these past six months.

Tara and Ryan. I love you both to the moon and back.

Finally, thanks Miley.

 

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