I was thinking this evening that I walk many of my clients through some long and difficult health journeys but how have I gotten through mine. It has taken many forms. Some parts exciting and some feel like I’m walking through a desert only to have to climb a mountain.
I talk with my clients about having a goal for their health and a “Why”. Basically, what do they really want at the end of their health journey and why do they want it because it is going to be tough and if you don’t have a vision for that journey, why the heck would they ever put the effort forward.
Clients with autoimmune are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Being sick is no life but feeling that way and trying to take your life back involves many, many changes. Change can be hard.
How did I do it?
I reached my no more laying in that hospital bed on vacation. It was a very BIG No More. In that moment, I couldn’t imagine living like that one more day. I didn’t have a diagnosis but I knew that I wasn’t finding answers in the doctor’s office. The only thing that made sense to me was to take my skills for trouble shooting and research and to get after it. And man was it slow.
When I got home, I was riddled with yeast infections and UTI’s and I didn’t know what to do but to call the doctor. They were perplexed. I was on round after round of antibiotics. I didn’t understand then the problems that was creating for me. Every round of antibiotics, the yeast infections seemed to get worse. Eventually, she pulled down my lower eyelid to take a look and it was completely white. They tested my hemoglobin and said I had to get to a GYN-OB asap. Apparently my iron levels were dangerously low. And apparently the rounds of antibiotics from being in the hospital put me into a full body yeast infection. Now, for the record, that doesn’t happen overnight. I was probably already there from my years of eating sugar and other junk but it certainly triggered a full blown attack and the additional antibiotics weren’t helping.
The iron was low due to 10 years of heavy menstrual cycles, like mini crime scenes honestly, and my body was over it. It couldn’t keep up with the depletion and my stores of iron were nearly exhausted. The doctor wanted to remove my lady parts but lucky for me, they couldn’t. Surgery was way too risky, meaning a heart attack or a stroke, so they opted for an ablation. This meant they were going to cauterize the lining of my uterus and hope the bleeding would stop. Thankfully that was 7 years ago and guess what, it worked. Yay. I added a really good, highly absorbable iron and my body started to recover. Just so you know, iron doesn’t just refill itself overnight. It took me 3 years to get my levels back up to normal. And because iron is inherently difficult for us Hashi’s to absorb, I have to add it back in to my regimen every now and then for a while.
But beyond all of this bullshit, I was also doing good things. When I got home first thing I did was to go and talk to a friend of mine, Jessica Thompson. She is an Arbonne consultant and she had been asking me to come and see her presentation on their healthy living products. I figured what the hell. I had to start somewhere and so I dove right into their shake program which is gluten and dairy free, and I mostly followed their healthy living recommendations. I had a really hard time giving up my glutenous bagels and my chocolate chip cookies but everything else was gone and you know what, I started getting my energy back and I lost 15 lbs in two months. It was amazing.
I felt great but that was great compared to where I was before. There were still some things living at 6800ft that weren’t getting easier like hiking or playing softball at 8500ft. My breathing was not better under elevation climbing or running. But I was a beast at the gym. I was doing things my younger self could never have done. I took up kayaking and ice climbing.
I still at this point did not have my diagnosis. But the good news is I had found two wonderful women. Dr. Michelle Eads out of Colorado Springs had just converted her practice to more of a Functional Medicine approach and Marisa Wandeler who is an amazing medical trainer who also has Hashimoto’s. Between these two women, I was led down the healing paths that I needed and I was able to get my diagnosis through a hormone evaluation.
Was I scared or mad? At this point no. Up to this point it was an amazing adventure and I was determined to figure it all out. I hadn’t gotten discouraged yet. I addressed the yeast infection which was a complete bear. Really tough but I did it and I felt so much better. I was also so excited that I had a name for it, meaning Hashi’s, and I could do real research now. I also at this point decided that I wanted to help other women that were on the same sort of journey because there are way too many of us.
In the process of doing research I realized there was so much information out there. Tons and tons. Some contradictory, some only pieces of what is needed, some just BS, and some that was very structured and made complete sense. I also realized I needed a program that I could finish to give me credibility and help me walk through my own healing journey because although I had come a long way in the way I felt, my antibodies were still over 600 and I needed to get them under 10. Remission was my goal.
At this point, by complete chance, I found Functional Diagnostic Nutrition. I risked my health completely and finished the program in 6 months while working and also walking myself through the program. I completely absorbed myself in the AIP (autoimmune protocol) and began the process of testing and supplements.
By the time I found FDN, I have already been on my health journey for 2 years. When I started the next phase of my journey, I was starting to get tired of it all and I was moving forward by only shear willpower. I completed the initial tests and I was so disappointed. I thought all this hard work was going to take me to a better place and here I was, looking at what I considered to be shit. What had I just spent 2 years doing, for what?
I threw a 2 day pity party for myself and then I just asked myself, am I really willing to stop here at this point? No. Because I now know that if I don’t continue, I am going to end up with other autoimmune diseases and one was bad enough. That is unfortunately what research and learning will do, highlight all the crappy parts of healing. So, off I went again, onto a supplement protocol to support my adrenals, my protein absorption, reduction of oxidative stresses and liver cleaning. And guess what, I dropped my antibodies to just over 200. I was elated when I ran that test. Woohoo. I thought I just have to continue this for a little while longer and I will hit remission.
Unfortunately, I had not found all of my triggers and now I’m 3.5 years into my healing journey. The next test showed that my antibodies were creeping up, not down. Now, in my mind, that must have been due to a gluten exposure or something but I did decide to take a look at my gut health for any crazy pathogens and boy did I have a little mess. As I’ve said many times, healing happens in layers. The body can only focus on the biggest problems first. Everything else sort of takes a back seat and so as I did my hard work, I was also uncovering the next layers. I was pissed off and it was time for another pity party. It’s hard doing all that work and getting another set-back. At least that is what it looks like in that moment. Once I had some time to feel sorry for myself, I realized that it was so much more than just a set-back. It was a learning opportunity. It was going to keep me from being back in this place again. And it was going to be something I had in my tool of tricks when helping my clients. The sad reality is that each pathogen protocol can be from 30 days to 6 months. I was on the 6 month protocol and I had to do it twice. So, now I’m 4.5 years into my healing journey.
I’ve been writing like crazy and just realized I’m on page 3 already. I’m going to stop here and continue this next week. There is so much more to share, riveting I know but sharing all the same.
I hope you have a great week.