5 tips to boost your mind.

Brain based research has been around a very long time.  I remember the first time it came around when I was teaching…how can I use this information to better my teaching?  To engage students more?  I used techniques that were thought to be ahead of the times…each and everyday in my class.  I never thought that as I got older I would be applying that same idea to my research in depression and what causes us to become depressed.  I found so many links to neurotransmitters in the gut I was astonished.  I was finally getting somewhere and like each and every time I have found something important, I get this tingle.  I knew that I was on the right path to helping others like me.  Here are a few things I learned to boost my head:

  1. The dreaded word exercise.  You know the whole a body in motion tends to stay in motion theory?  Same for a body at rest. A 2010 study on primates published in Neurosciencei also revealed that regular exercise not only improved blood flow to the brain, but also helped the monkeys learn new tasks twice as quickly as non-exercising monkeys, a benefit the researchers believe would hold true for people as well.”  I just wanted to throw that in because sometimes I read scientific research for fun.  But let’s suppose you have brain fog like I do…it comes from things like fibromyalgia as well as my hemochromatosis.  Sometimes, I can’t remember things, so on days that I do yoga, I feel amazing and notice I have less brain fog.  I know this is the day I can read up on new things and process better.  So if you have a hard time learning new things, exercise before.
  2. The good fat…coconut oil.  Sooooo.  My family has a track record of some pretty ermmm crappy genes.  I have inherited a few, but the thing I am concerned about it that at such a young age, I started showing signs of the above brain fog I mentioned.  The brain needs glucose and it actually manufactures it’s own insulin to convert glucose in your bloodstream into it’s food…if it is starving, think Alzheimer’s patients.  What I would like to know, is where was this research about 17 years ago that I am about to share?  Maybe it was known…maybe not.  BUT, I wish I could have slipped my grandpa some bulletproof coffee.  What am I talking about?  This!  According to research by Dr. Mary Newport, just over two tablespoons of coconut oil (about 35 ml or 7 level teaspoons) would supply you with the equivalent of 20 grams of MCT, which is indicated as either a preventative measure against degenerative neurological diseases, or as a treatment for an already established case.”  P.S. That link is to one neat coffee recipe I found.
  3. Fix your gut…but seriously.  I will never forget the day I started my second brain research.  It was amazing to me what my doctors had missed when they had put me on proton pump inhibitors, and I started telling everyone who would listen to get off them.  For those wondering, that’s acid blockers like omeprazole.  Anyway, my gut was a mess, my acid reflux was a mess, but the pills actually were making everything worse.  I got off them, and learned what gut health meant.  It could actually be it’s own post…and oh, it was.  Up there I linked it.  But seriously…your gut bacteria is actually closely linked to food.  That is why I counsel all my clients, ALL my clients, to tell me how they are eating.  We really get into it and I start to get them to see a pattern.  Because let’s face it, when you tell people your food is actually making you crazy, they get a little mad at you.  Even if they know they need to eat better and get off processed foods, and white sugar.  Probiotics are your friend.
  4. Vitamin D.  This one is quite easy, but often overlooked.  I went for years before anyone even thought to check my levels..and here I am not supposed to go out of the house without SPF 50.  But let’s not check her levels.  Hmmm.  Moving on.  IF appropriate sun exposure is not an option, cough porphyria, not an option, then get on readily available vitamin d.  Basically it’s liquid form.  Just get checked.  Don’t skip this.
  5. Meditate.  You knew it was coming probably.  Since I completed my 200 hours of Vinyasa yoga teacher study…I know that I need quiet time.  Okay, well, I kind of have a problem with noise now that I didn’t have before fibromyalgia anyway, but seriously, meditation is superb.  After only 20 minutes, we start to show a decrease in beta waves, which is basically like we are learning how to halt the processing part.  I know that I have probably put this in here at some point, but one such interesting brain researcher who I love is Jill Bolte Taylor.  Her understanding of the brain after her stroke is outstanding and I cry every single I watch it.  I can’t explain why…it’s just wonderful.  Okay, maybe I can explain a little.  I think about the part where she talks about not having to process and how she can just float…and everything seems to be a beautiful experience and that my friends, that is what meditation at the highest form would be like for me.  If I was there.  Which is why I keep practicing.  Because sadly, I have a hard time.  Imagine that.  This point is technical, but it’s really interesting. The more we meditate, the less anxiety we have, and it turns out this is because we’re actually loosening the connections of particular neural pathways. This sounds bad, but apparently it’s not.

I created my own way of healing and invite you to join us in the Head|Heart|Health Club to learn more.

Quiet the mind

Save

How I beat bloat…

This might seem like a strange title, but I get asked this question all the time.  So the way I navigate my blog, is just like you.  I have written about many topics, so I type in the word I am looking for using the search button.  When I type in “bloat” a bunch of old posts come up, but specifically, the one that most people need to read is My break up with sugar and gluten.

So, I’ll be over here while you catch up.  Now that you know I have thoroughly done my research, I want to tell you about the next steps.  First, go to your pantry.  The one with all the yummies that perhaps the kids eat.  Maybe you eat them too.   But put them way out of sight.  Or buy bins and label them Kids snacks, but don’t go there for yourself.  I know, I know.  But believe me, you will feel better.  Next, make yourself a snack shelf.  Read the label of everything you put there.  Everything.  If the first ingredient is sugar, it goes in the kids bin.  If it includes any sort of wheat, etc.  Click my hidden links on those words if you don’t know how to figure this out.  it takes practice.

I’m sure some clients get mad at me…and I say GOOD.  Get mad at me for telling you that includes diet sodas.  It’s like Hell’s Kitchen up in your pantry.  But for real.  You want to feel better?  Do or do not.  There is no try.  Imagine tiny Yoda up there if it makes you feel better.  Use the force.  Push the food away.  Erm.  I went off on a geek tangent.  But I know this is hard.  I detoxed like I was having withdrawal symptoms…for real.  And you know what?  I lost 25 pounds.  My back was bending, my stomach was bloated, and I was actually shrinking.  I lost an inch in height!!  Can you believe that?  I did.

Me_1_yearWhen my friend took this before photo, and lied like a good friend, and said oh girl, it’s not that bad, I wanted to cry.  I kept saying something was wrong.  Why won’t doctors listen to me.  25 pounds in 6 months was not normal.  I was swollen, and working out.  I wasn’t losing a thing.  I never would have either.  If I hadn’t started researching what happened to my body after eating white bread.  Then the IBS symptoms.  Then the stomach pain.   You get it.  I thought I was doing great with the gluten-free, nope.  Sugar was still causing bloat.  The after photo is after 3 months without sugar as well.

I did start using things to help.  The “skinny” pack.  Why did I buy into it?  Here’s why…the wraps are completely all natural phytonutrients.  I looked up what everything did and saw that it could work to help relieve my bloat.  I needed to be on it for 3 months as well as do the above to really get the harmful effects of sugar and gluten out of my body.  My lymphatic system has slowed down to almost no movement.  I was sore in all 18 trigger points for fibromyalgia.  I knew I had it.  But, quite frankly, I had enough to worry about. If I accidentally ate something to cause bloat, I would take a fat fighter to stop the carbs turning into sugar.  It also helped to balance my blood sugar.  Next, I would take a hot shower and wrap every single Sunday night and leave the wrap on.  I felt amazing on Monday.  I would rub on my defining gel because my veins were doing weird things in my legs too.

I continued to research ingredients and put myself on the greens due to the probiotics I needed to fix my gut lining.  More research into leaky gut…you may use that and search on this blog.  I also took a ThermoFit if my gastroparesis (food just sat there for a million years) was doing it’s thing.  Again, I went to doctors and had tests so I knew what was wrong…they had not one suggestion on how to move forward that didn’t include drugs with horrible side effects.  Being on acid blockers like omeprazole would make me worse over time…so I took myself off based on more research.  I drink apple cider vinegar (unfiltered) now.

As you can tell…it does take hard work and determination to fix your gut.  If any of this sounds like you, I have more tips on my Facebook page Vitalize You, plus the tab at the top of this blog talks about more.  I had an open mind when I started this process because I truly believed I could help myself with all-natural products.  That’s why I started my business.  I believe you can do this!  Hashimoto’s, autoimmune, leaky gut, gastroparesis, IBS whatever you want to name it, it starts in the gut.  Don't quit

Author’s note:  I have now developed a new program, and it does not include any supplements, but will help you learn everything that I researched for years, in the space of 4 Weeks!!!!  <<< click there to learn more.

Save

Tips for living with pain…

Oh great.  Here is yet another blog article trying to tell me how to live with pain.  What does this writer know?  This writer lives with 6 invisible diseases…and all of them have caused pain.  Hereditary Hemochromatosis (iron overload), Porphyria Cutanea Tarda (sensitivity to light, skin blisters), Hashimoto’s Thyroid (autoimmune…caused extreme stomach issues), Epstein-Barr Virus (felt entire vertebral column flare-up), Depression from pain, and Fribromyalgia (when anyone touched my skin, it felt like a slap).

Over the last three years, the pain continued to get worse.  I opted not to be on the pharmaceutical drugs due to the fact that HH is a genetic condition and no doctor could tell me for sure if the drugs would make my liver worse.  So pain it was.  But I wasn’t going to stop there.  I continued my search for things to help me cope that were going to work with my body naturally.  What did I find?

  1. Turmeric milk.  Turmeric has been used in India for thousands of years for its anti-inflammatory properties…due to the active compound curcumin.
  2. Relief.  Building on that, I take this product because it has ingredients such as glucosamine and chondroitin, but even more than that it also includes turmeric root extract, as well as yucca root, which has long been used for osteoarthritis as well as inflammation of the intestine.  Ah-ha.  Hmm.  Remember my stomach pain before?  Better within weeks of getting on this.
  3. Restorative yoga.  Yoga has been shown to decrease the stress hormone cortisol.  Do you think I might have been stressed when I moved if my whole body felt like it was on fire?  Yes.  Just a little.  The difference in restorative though, is that you get to use comfy bolsters, blocks and blankets.  So we made little nests, and sat in that pose for 5-15 minutes depending on what it was.  I had a hard time at first, but learned to let go of my expectations of what my body used to be able to do.  The poses became second nature.
  4. Vinyasa yoga for back pain.  I graduated to Vinyasa…honestly, only because a friend pulled me in the direction my mind was afraid to go.  When she suggested restorative, I gave it a try.  When she said that I could do Vinyasa and possibly teach one day, my mind shut her down due to the pain.  “She has no idea how much moving hurts.”  Said the mind…but the heart wanted to get better.  Thankfully, it’s pretty strong, and said “Let’s do this thing!!!”  And so I did.  Almost 200 hours later…the girl on fire.  Literally.
  5. Meditation-like thoughts.  When I felt myself go into the dark place of pain, I would literally stop and say things to myself like “I am breathing in.  I am breathing out.”  I didn’t come up with this on my own.  I read part of a Thich Nhat Hanh’s You are Here, except at the time, I didn’t want to be there.  ha.  So I never finished it.  But it did teach me to focus my breathing.
  6. Friends checking in on you.  This part became difficult.  Not many people were in this category.  When you are in pain, people slip away.  They do.  It’s not their fault, but it is in the human nature to be uncomfortable when you don’t know what to do.  Most don’t climb down in the hole with you.  Watch this short video to get the full meaning of “The Power of Empathy”.  Rarely can a response make something better, says Dr. Brown, what makes something better is a connection.

So my friends, I leave you with my connection to you.  I am in the hole with you.  I have climbed down there.  I will hug you.  I will give you that love and connection to your pain, but the next step is on you.  The best advice I have for you is to read more about my 4 Weeks to Wellness course and take that as your next step.  The program was created based off what I did to get my life back, and it truly and honestly saved me.

Read moreNew, “Work with Me” tab has more options to help you from home!

Save

Save

The yo-yo mood…

So it just takes one thing…just one for me to start my yo-yo mood.  The other day, I was doing whatever random things I do on the computer.  Mostly making quotes for a few pages I run, and a friend sent me this article in a message called It’s Not Fibromyalgia.  I read her message and was surprised that she too suffered…but when I started reading this post, my head went to the place it goes to when people write about their experiences.  It kind of goes like this when people talk about how bad it is living with pain…I hear you sister.  I understand this.  It sucks, but damn this is depressing to read in someone’s voice other than my own.  Do I sound like this?  Crap. This is messed up.  Sigh.  More depressing things I have been through.  I could be her…she could be me.  Wait.  Wait a minute.  She just said something I need to hear.  Someone actually listened to her.  Hold on and back up to that part because the rest is the same as my life.  Except this part.  This part where she finds HOPE. 

So I get to the symptoms, you know the part where invisible diseases can’t be seen except for the fact that I have lots of those symptoms…and doctors don’t really know what to do…so I kind of stopped talking to them about what’s going on.  And I get to the part where she prayed she had this thing because it actually explains something.  Black mold.  Wow.  Who knew?  Well, obviously someone did, but not anyone else most of us have ever come across in our long line of 18 different specialists.  So I messaged my one advocate in this fight…Dr. Marion who I have written about.  And she says yes.  Yes we can do this test.

For those of you who might be new, I gave up on regular doctors after getting diagnosed with fibromyalgia by a man who was a nervous wreck and a top rheumatologist in the area.  He said he understood why I wouldn’t want to be on pharmaceuticals given the side effects of the “medicines” and the possibility of a liver compromise with hereditary hemochromatosis (see my tab at the top about that genetic disorder).  Not to mention the other possible complications with those “drugs”.  I decided to go all-natural using plant based phytotherapy (see my tab Vitalize You at the top).  So that brings me to where I am.  No doctors listen to my intuition.  None.  I know for a fact that something deep down has made so many things spin off…and it’s only a matter of time before we find the link.  So if this isn’t it…we keep going.  But it’s one more thing to cross off.  I will let you know what happens.

Difficult times

My break up with sugar and gluten…

FYI…I originally wrote this for a magazine, well actually an e-zine that has published me before, but I am not sure if they actually published this piece, and quite frankly, I like it.  Plus, sigh, I write for free anyway.  So here it is:

A little over three years ago, I began to notice food was not my friend. It was a difficult concept and one I ignored for a long time in hopes that my instincts were wrong. Sadly, they were not. I started to have stomach pains, headaches, irritable bowel symptoms and more. Never in my life had I bloated from eating bread…until now. I was beginning to see a pattern so I scheduled an appointment with a gastroenterologist. The only thing he could really say was my stomach appeared to be having problems digesting food…and that I was NOT celiac. Okay, but that didn’t answer my questions at all. He put me on an acid blocker and sent me on my way. Why would someone who had been able to eat bread her whole life suddenly develop gluten intolerance? He could not help me. Not a clue. The idea came to me that perhaps I had developed gluten intolerance since I had also recently learned of my Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis diagnosis.   When you have an autoimmune disease, your immune system attacks healthy cells in your body by mistake. So for whatever reason, I knew that food was setting this off. I just couldn’t explain it.

I learned that the best way to figure out what was triggering my reactions was to start an elimination diet. First up, and one of the hardest things ever, was to eliminate gluten. To do that, I had to educate myself on what that meant. From the Celiac Disease Foundation: Gluten is a general name for the proteins found in wheat (durum, emmer, spelt, farina, farro, KAMUT® khorasan wheat and einkorn), rye, barley and triticale. Gluten helps foods maintain their shape, acting as a glue that holds food together. Gluten can be found in many types of foods, even ones that would not be expected (see Sources of Gluten).

I recently read that Celiac disease currently afflicts about 1% of the population, but the prevalence is increasing. 80% of people with celiac disease are unaware of it. So if you were to try to go gluten-free because you are experiencing some symptoms, it might actually help you. Because I am classified as having gluten-sensitivity, the side effects are actually very serious. And in this same article, it states that there is no clear definition of gluten sensitivity, or a good way to diagnose it, the only true way of knowing is by eliminating gluten temporarily from your diet, then reintroducing it to see if you have symptoms. More can be found from 6 Reasons Why Gluten May be Bad For You: http://authoritynutrition.com/6-shocking-reasons-why-gluten-is-bad/

Several disorders have been proven to show improvement when gluten was cut from their diet. When I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, the doctor did not even try to help me. No diet changes, no mention of it being autoimmune, nothing. He was talking into his tape recorder and sent me on my way. RIGHT then he should have said “I want you to eliminate gluten for 30 days, and let me know how you are feeling.” But the thing is, 30 days is NOT enough. Over and over again in these support groups on autoimmune diseases, people say things like “Whew, that 30 days was hard, but now I am going to eat gluten again.” Stop!!! No!!   Wheat is completely different from what our ancestors ate back in the day, and adding it back in will just re-contaminate that tiny amount of work you did to start feeling better. After 6 months of being gluten-free, if I slipped up once, just once, I felt very sick the next day. I was in more pain, my stomach would bloat and I was back to running to the bathroom. My eyes, which had cleared up, would go back to red and itchy. From that same wonderful source of information I was reading about gluten, I found out that Modern wheat was introduced around the year 1960. It was developed via cross-breeding and crude genetic manipulation, which changed the nutrient and protein composition of the plant. This is a very interesting read: http://authoritynutrition.com/modern-wheat-health-nightmare/

It also HIDES in everything. Everything. I had to make my own salad dressing, muffins, cookies, chips, basically, if it came prepackaged and had even one word that was something I couldn’t pronounce, I stopped buying it. But it wasn’t enough to help me. Something was still wrong. I had long suspected there were other allergies. So back to the drawing board with my allergy doctor, who also said not one thing about autoimmune disease and allergic reactions. Not. A. Thing.   You can read more about that here: http://theburnedhand.com/2013/04/16/teaching-tuesday/

Absolutely every food I had ever loved was attacking me. It was unbelievable…but one thing struck me as odd. SUGAR. Who is allergic to sugar and what could that mean??? That led me down my path of research into people who have drastically cut sugar out of their lives and the benefits of what it does for your body. Whether or not you have autoimmune diseases, this is something that everyone needed to hear about.

Ok, so my GI track appeared to be a mess. It was getting mixed signals from everything and messing up my entire body. I was getting closer to my answer of pain, headaches, bloating, IBS issues, weight gain, stomach pains, etc. I had intestinal permeability, inflammation, and my good bacteria were completely off kilter, so I learned I had to remove all things causing this inflammation.

I became acquainted with the “nitty-gritty” of sugar. According to the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, added sugars show up on food and drink labels under the following names: Anhydrous dextrose, brown sugar, cane crystals, cane sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, corn syrup solids, crystal dextrose, evaporated cane juice, fructose sweetener, fruit juice concentrates, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, liquid fructose, malt syrup, maple syrup, molasses, pancake syrup, raw sugar, sugar, syrup and white sugar (See Reference 1). Other types of sugar you might commonly see on ingredient lists are fructose, lactose and maltose. Fructose is sugar derived from fruit and vegetables; lactose is milk sugar; and maltose is sugar that comes from grain. For more, read http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/different-words-sugar-food-labels-8373.html

Now that I know sugar in is everything, I cringe when my children read labels that say “High Fructose Corn Syrup”. However, I know I am doing something right, because we read labels now. I feel like I have made a huge move to keep them safe from those words on all the cans that could mean anything. Did you know From 2001 to 2004, Americans consumed lots of sugar: an average of 22 teaspoons a day, the equivalent of 355 calories, according to this section on How much sugar does the average American eat? I know not all the readers are American, but this particular report was AHA’s 2009 scientific statement on added sugars and cardiovascular health. Unfortunately, too many Americans are drinking sodas and other sugar-sweetened drinks. I have never been a soda drinker really, but since I live in the south, we drink copious amounts of sweet, sugary tea. I would be so tired during my day of teaching wee ones that I would occasionally go grab the largest size tea they had at a fast food chain near my school. That was the old me. The me before my body started holding onto weight.

Sugar, quite frankly, was making me sick. My body already had a few “hiccups”, many of which cause inflammation, leaky gut, and joint pain. In How Inflammation Affects Every Aspect of Your Health, Dr. Marquis states “The truth of the situation is that FOOD MATTERS. That’s right; it’s not just a movie (which by the way you should all watch!). Hyper-permeability of the gut, regardless of whether you can feel it or not is often a significant cause of an extremely long and ever-growing list of conditions.”

I would like to urge all of my readers to consider changing their diets, even if it was just for a month. Again, I must refer back to more of my research on the ever-changing food we eat. This said everything I needed to say and more: http://theburnedhand.com/2013/05/01/killing-me-softly/   When I watched that TEDx talk from Robyn O’Brien, I again felt validated. I kept finding so many pieces of this puzzle it was eerie. I’d like to conclude with some of the scariest facts. Friends around the globe are getting diagnosed with cancer before the age of 40 or close enough to it. I have five friends who I know of actively fighting. Two who have lost the battle with the big “c” and one newly diagnosed.   Wake up friends. Wake up. This is real. Start thinking about the bottom line: nutrition does matter.

Eat realAuthor’s note:  The road to wellness is paved with many pitfalls.  I learned my lessons over the years and now have healed my gut, my pain and am moving again.  I completed over 200 hours of yoga and additionally was certified in yoga for arthritis.  I also received my sports nutrition certification and created a plan off my years of research into the body and healing people using my Head, Heart, Health method.  Read more about it here.

Save

Woe is me…

Anyone remember Droopy the cartoon dog?  Just say yes.  Okay, well, there are times I feel like that.  I thought my less than positive feelings would eventually go away when I saw things I couldn’t eat.  Sadly, this is not the case around “Pumpkin” season.  Yes, it’s a season.  I love everything pumpkin.  Everything.  I want all the mixes, and batches of cake, cookies, drinks, icing, marshmallows, candy and whatever else I am not supposed to eat.  So, ahem, last year, when I went through my Grouchy Smurf phase, I deleted and unfollowed every single person pinning CRAP I CAN’T EAT on Pinterest.  SICE for short (replace crap with well you get the picture).

However, it was all I could do not to burst into tears at the grocery store with my little pumpkin last night.  She has a birthday coming up and we always make funfetti Halloween cake.  With the orange icing and sprinkles.  I know this is dumb to some people…clearly, I can live without this, but she looked at me with her big blue eyeballs and said “I wish you could eat this.”  So into the cart it went because it’s not just about me eating it, it’s about memories.

I mean, let’s face it.  I grew up with Taco Bell, Doritoes, McDonald’s and more, and usually, I have willpower.  OKAY, I WANT A MEXI-MELT, but can’t have one.  And flour tortillas.  But whatever.  I am trying to be kind to my insides because I was sick all the time.  All the time.  So I started my business Vitalize You and I try to help others like me.  Yes, of course, I offer suggestions based on my gluten-free all-natural supplements because I know they work (the tab is up top here on the blog).  And I have lost 17 pounds even though my mom is worried I’m not eating enough.  I am. I had put on 20 pounds with my new friend Hashimoto’s.  Not some new sushi place.

But I am not that mom…the one who sits around messing with gluten-free flours and making recipes up.  I wish I was.  Trust me.  I look in the cabinet like it’s magically going to mix itself together and jump out for me to eat.  I pin things, I do.  I even make most of them…if they take like minimal cooking times.  Lately I have been eating more fresh veggies, which I love!!  It’s much easier than trying to figure out what they are magically going to concoct themselves into.  I’m not going to lie, it still takes way more work than I really want to invest in.  But I am doing mostly Autoimmune Paleo, so I mean, the cavemom had to work this hard I guess.  She couldn’t run up to Taco Bell either.  That makes Sir Mix-A-Lot sad.  Me too Sir.  Me too.

So I’m not sure if you all will get this post, but if you are a gluten-free, sugar-free, food intolerance label checker, word.

 

Anew

Save

The Thief of my Youth.

The Thief…

I remember when it first started. Old age, I thought, was a bitch. Little did I know that it was not, in fact, normal aches and pains. The first sign was when my shoulders started tensing up. They hurt so bad I could not cross my arms in front of me. Each day I would get up, put on my “happy face” and work a full day with 18 tiny people staring at me. I sang songs, songs about being happy. I had to force the pain down each and every day. Doctors couldn’t help me. It was just a flare. Bursitis said one. Arthralgia with a question mark wrote another. Cortisone shot said yet another. So I agreed. I had the shot and was in the worst pain I have almost ever felt in my life. It froze my shoulder up even more and then I cried each time I moved. I had to prop my arm on a pillow that night. I couldn’t even change out of the clothes I was in.

Over time, the pain moved to my spine. It started at the base of my neck and went down until I could feel every single vertebra in my entire spine. I was never aware of my bones before. They were simply there. The pain radiated out to my shoulder blades. I became angry and more distant with people. I was coming home from work and just withdrawing into my own shell. I would put blankets all over me because I could not get warm. I had heating pads on my back and shoulders. I’d try to do things, but simply couldn’t function after working all day long.

Whenever I tried to sleep, I could feel the bones. I would toss and turn and try to get comfortable. By the time I got to sleep, my husband was bringing me coffee. Coffee was the only way to get me up in the morning, and yet it felt like I had just gone to sleep. The cycle was horribly draining on my well-being. Not just physical, but mentally as well. There was not one person I could tell this to. Not one. Do you know what they had called me at work? Mrs. Happy. I was Mrs. Freaking Happy.

I’d alternate between praying and being mad at God. He knew what I was going through. He knew, and yet there were no answers. None. One day a co-worker slapped me on the arm and I almost slapped her across the face for touching me. Yup. I did. It took all the self-control I had to say through gritted teeth “Never, ever touch me again.”   We were not particularly close, and she had a habit of thinking things were funny and slapping my arm like I agreed. The only thing I thought was funny at the moment was watching her face as I explained how much what she did hurt. Yes, it wasn’t nice, I know.  Pain doesn’t care.

Around that time I realized I couldn’t work around people and keep up appearances. That’s when a plan starting forming in my head that I needed to work on getting better if such a thing was possible. The pain, fatigue, and doubt about whether I would be able to hold down a job with my amount of pain wore me down. Every night I would cry. If I wasn’t crying, I was pretending I was fine…until I started getting sick to my stomach almost every single day. At that point, I could no longer pretend I was fine. Food was making me violently ill and I had not been allergic to any food before in my life. A thief came in and stole my youth. I looked like a 20 something year old healthy adult with the body of an 80-year-old woman on the inside.

This was how my story started, but by God it wasn’t how it was going to continue.  If this sounds like you, please read more under the search term Health.  If you want to start tiny baby steps towards your own change, check out 4 Weeks to Wellness.

 

Pain

Save

War on me…

The invisible war inside me threatens to take me down.

I suspect that if I were to take the posts about my food issues and put them together in a book, it would be helpful to many people.  I will briefly try to explain what has happened to my body as best I understand it.  When I was born, I was born with the C282y gene that the Irish people needed.  It not being the potato famine and all that, it continues to function in the way it would have by holding onto iron.  Basically, it is thought that this protein functions to regulate iron absorption, and mine is “broken” so to speak. Luckily, the porphyria cutanea tarda kicked in and gave me blisters all over and turned my urine dark.  Warning!  Warning!  Anyway, you can see other posts about all that.  Just use the search button.

So we have a kid loaded up on iron, fed by well water, eating collard greens like they are going out of style and taking her Flintstone vitamins.  Anyone see what’s happening?  Yes, you over there.  Poisoning myself.  That would be correct.  Because my body has no way of getting rid of the access iron.

Now let’s throw in mononucleosis at age 15 which left behind some Epstein-Barr virus and find out that EBV latently persists in the individual’s B cells for the rest of the individual’s life.  Hmmm.  Not sure what happened with this, but I KNOW it was reactivated about 4 years ago which started causing a number of problems and thus spawning more invisible diseases.

Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis was found when my body starting attacking itself several years ago.  To use a bit from the Mayo Clinic:  Hashimoto’s disease is a condition in which your immune system attacks your thyroid, a small gland at the base of your neck below your Adam’s apple. The thyroid gland is part of your endocrine system, which produces hormones that coordinate many of your body’s activities.
Read that part again about coordinating MANY of your body’s activities.  READ it.  MANY.  I exhibited every SINGLE one of the symptoms for all of these diseases, but never in my life had a light-bulb gone off as when my good friend told me to read about Hashimoto’s.  I’m going to let you use the link above if you want to read more about Hashi’s but seriously it was the worst diagnosis.  I just didn’t know it yet.

When I started to feel like I had the flu every single day for the last 3 years, I should have known something more was coming.  The truth is, I did know.  I knew I had fibromyalgia, I knew I was living with pain and the swollen tender points daily, but what I didn’t know was that it was so hard for people to understand and/or believe.  From what I can tell, it is usually triggered by an underlying cause.  Read more about fibromyalgia here.

All this bring me up to date, but what I left out was what I did in between to feel better.  As the years went on, the extreme sensitivity to cold got to me.  My bones ached to their very core.  Still do, but cold is worse.  My stomach bloated like a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day balloon.  I would have to go to the bathroom more than normal people, but still couldn’t lose weight.  It was painful.  I went through all kinds of tests, again that portion is in the blog if you search.  Giving up gluten as BEST I could was not good enough.  I really had to be serious.  Then I suspected there was another trigger,  so I gave up sugar in November.  That was very, very, very difficult.  I felt like Paula Deen came over and took away my Southern License.

I am not teaching.  I actually could not continue.  The pain, fatigue, constant contact with infection had my body fighting hard just to stay alive.  Not to mention the phlebotomies, and the fact that now my blood cells are considered Microcytic Anemia stage.  I was dizzy, it was hard to get my breath, and my exhaustion was at the highest it had been since I could remember.

I will not go down without a fight.

I started a process by researching all-natural supplements and what would help my body.  I got off acid-blockers as my stomach was already having issues with digestion so that did not actually help.  I started taking apple-cider vinegar in water.  I added probiotics, see the tab here called Vitalize You for more on that, and I added vitamin D as well as a gluten-free supplement called It’s Vital.  I still have bad days.  Flare-ups, and days I stay in my pajamas, but the good days are now finally catching up to the bad days and for that I am thankful.  I am working with my all-natural supplements business and I am spreading awareness of “invisible” diseases because they sure as hell aren’t invisible on the inside.  Not at all.

Changed

Here is the Work With Me tab if you are interested in learning more on how I changed my life.

Save

My exquisite spell…

Brief overview of the last 17 years.  Phone call New Year’s Eve 1997, cancerous cells found so I had to have a few procedures on my cervix.  Sorry guys, but it’s true.  Told that if I had too many, might have problems carrying a baby.  I was engaged to be married.  A few months later, my urine was the color of a dark red wine.  Blisters appeared on hands, read more here.  Diagnosis that year was Porphyria Cutanea Tarda.  Told to stay out of the sun, not drink alcohol, and oh yeah, get off birth control.  I was about to go away on my honeymoon.  Awesome.  I happened to need/want all 3 of those things at the time.

Years later, blessed with a healthy baby girl.  18 months later, blessed with another baby girl, through a scary life-changing delivery.  Knew that I was only meant to have those two, but because of the scary news from 1997, I made my peace with it.  Because I was still loading iron, my doctor finally tested me for Hereditary Hemochromatosis.

I thought by now I needed a break in the department of “crazy shit no one can pronounce”.  So I got one for a while.  At this point, I had already been phlebotomized, or pints of my blood taken, for years.  I was always tired, and trying to teach.  After my little one went to pre-school, I was asked to teach again.  I was sought out, which was flattering, by a local principal.  She heard good things about me, but my gut said NOOOOOO, don’t go there.  I didn’t listen to it.  My mistake.  Things happened that were political in nature, and I left the school to work in a private school.  Another thing that erm, was not what I was expecting.  After a few years of a whole different ball game, I went back to public school and found somewhere I LOVED.  I taught pre-school.

As luck would have it, my body was continuing its cycle of let’s try to beat Aimee down because she’s too happy.  So my stomach started hurting profusely all the time, for what I thought was no apparent reason.  I went to the gastroenterologist and had things done…not so fun things.  A procedure I actually put off until the last day of school one year because as you can imagine, I had no more time off.

It also coincided with pain emanating from my spine as well.  Then my shoulder started hurting and freezing up.  I had absolutely no idea what was going on (side note, I was developing autoimmune diseases at the time).  Not a single doctor knew what was wrong.  I taught  the next year in complete pain and would come home and put heating pads all over my body and cry secretly.  This was 3.5 years ago.  I refused to be on drugs that would make me not function at school (side note, I was called Mrs. Happy before this point in my life).  We had no planning periods and it was a full day pre-school with 18 little eyeballs watching my every move.

I could not eat without getting sick.  I actually stopped eating any food before work.  I ate very little at lunch and started developing a plan.  I went gluten-free.  NOT because it was a fad.  I want to smash cupcakes on people who say that.  BIG giant cupcakes.  Anyway, it was not enough.  I still was bloated.  Still had pain.  Still couldn’t eat without getting almost violently ill.  I was tested for allergies.  A ginormous portion flared up, BUT not gluten (no Celiac’s as I was tested).  Sugar was a flare.

Now at this point, I am not sure how the doctor, a ENT guy, didn’t think to say “Hey, wow, these are autoimmune flares”, but he didn’t.  I ended up getting worse off, and more sick after the allergens were introduced into my body and had vertigo for 3 weeks straight and was throwing up so bad I couldn’t keep anything down.

When all of that passed, I came to the decision last year that I could no longer carry on my regular duties as a classroom teacher.  I was tired from the phelbotomies (they had made me somewhat anemic), in pain, and not myself.  Life was, quite frankly, a struggle.  A month after school let out, my hip started going out.  I was now having pain radiating in my left hip and it seemed displaced.  In the fall of last year, I started seeing a chiropractor on a regular basis.  He helped get me moving again and my hip managed to get back in place.  When I realized I could no longer afford him on a regular basis as my insurance only paid for so many visits, I was sad, but I had to stop seeing him.

I spent the next three months under heating pads again.  Day in and day out.  At this point, I was still having stomach issues so I decided to stop eating sugar completely in all it’s forms.  I researched Hashimoto’s Thyroid, which I had finally been diagnosed with as my autoimmune problem.  I read everything I could about it and went “paleo” as best I could.  When I say “withdrawals” from sweet tea were the hardest, I am not kidding. 

Was diagnosed with fibromyalgia earlier this year as the result of the Epstein-Barr virus coming to life in my spine…oh yeah, that was why I was in pain.  I spent 3 months coming out of what you probably call depression/anxiety, but still was going to find a way to treat my symptoms without prescription drugs.  I want to perfectly honest here for my new friends.  I no longer like to eat.  I actually dislike the thought of food because it made me sick for so long.  So new girlfriend, I get where you are coming from.  I truly, honestly get where you are now.  The reason I wrote all of this is to let you know, you are not alone.  Thank you for asking me the questions you did.  I will always answer as honestly as I can so that you know it’s okay to feel this way.  It will get better.  So I hope I have caught you up to where I am now.  I am on all-natural supplements.  I did find a new functional medical doctor to look at me like a whole person and not one of my diseases.  I am feeling better, but I still have bad days.

Break

Redemption…

I read this post today and felt someone needed to hear it.  I am not going to beat a dead horse; however, I am going to say that unfortunately, a few people in my life have not understood where I was coming from or what I was going through the past 4 years.  I was quiet with my other diseases as I thought it was expected.  When my friend suggested I start this blog, well, I did so under an avatar because I wanted to be honest about what was happening.  I personally believe “normal” is just a setting on a dryer too, and too often people hide what is going on inside their heads for fear of repercussion.  That isn’t who I am, and never will be.

So today, a friend shared this:

I am grateful for my supportive friends and family who have gone out of their way to make special meals and take me to special restaurants.
I feel so blessed to be where I am today, compared to the beginning of my journey…when I slept under two blankets in my Los Angeles apartment, when I had constant brainfog and needed to sleep for 11 hours to feel rested, when I was anxious all of the time, when I was losing my hair, when I had carpal tunnel in both hands, when I was addicted to caffeine and sugar… when I felt that I couldn’t do anything.

“Just when the caterpillar thought the world was ending, it became a butterfly”

This is a very personal quote from my Hashimoto’s journey. I thought my life was over as a result of this diagnosis, but I now realize that Hashimoto’s has made me a better person, the person I am today.
Mark Hyman, MD once said: “I didn’t choose this type of lifestyle, my body chose for me”, and this really resonates with me.

The person who wrote this is Dr. Izabella Wentz.  I don’t know her at all.  In fact, I just found her site today.  What I like about what she said, is that it’s honest.  The doctor who told me about mine acted like it was no big deal.  Period.  No one, and I mean no one, put anything together for me.  They left me alone to hurt, and sometimes, I would cry in their office as I asked them what more we could do.  I got blank looks and was told perhaps I needed antidepressants.

So after copious amounts of research, I have finally put together a timeline of what actually went “wrong” in my body.  I know what happened.  I also know how to “fix” it.  The crazy thing is, this lady put it together around the same time too and I think she has a better understanding of What’s Really Going on in Hashimoto’s?

The bottom line is, because of my Iron Overload, and the push to make me anemic, it tipped the scale in the wrong direction.  Trying to “fix” (I use that word loosely as there is no cure) my PCT/HH by numerous phlebotomies led my body into a state of attack I was in no way prepared for.  Ever.  Because all of my conditions have the same symptoms, with the exception of the latest, the food intolerance, I didn’t know what was going on.  I have a path and I strongly encourage anyone out there suffering with Hashimoto’s not to wait too long to start healing yourself.

redemption