Growing up I did what everyone did. I ate the Oreo’s with skim milk and Burger King Big Mac’s. Doritos and Mt. Dew was my favorite snack. I shopped at Bath & Beauty stores and bought all the heavily scented (and highly toxic) perfumes, body washes and foot scrubs. I bought generic bath soaps with an ingredient list a mile long. I used toothpastes, kitchen soaps, floor scrubs, nail polish, shampoo, makeup, shoot anything and everything with one thought about what was in it. I was vaccinated my entire life and took every antibiotic ever prescribed to me and it was A LOT! I popped ibuprofen and Tylenol like they were mints.
I was never shown another way of doing things. I grew up like the vast majority, blind to the truth. We are brought up to believe there is one way of health and that is through Western Medicine. Now, don’t get me wrong, I think it has it’s place. But for the way we depend on it for every ailment and answer is a little crazy to me. I did that for years! I called my doctors office probably multiple times a week for every ailment I was having. The nurse knew me on a first name basis. I have struggled with feeling well for so long and just wanted answers. From headaches to back problems to insomnia and extreme exhaustion to stomach problems of all kinds, I have been sick for as long as I can remember. And with every doctors visit, I was offered drugs of all kinds and was brushed off as anxiety, heartburn, just headaches, depression, constipation, and my favorite – HYPOCHONDRIAC. Never ONCE did these doctors ask how I ate. Incredible. Food is where it begins and they don’t even address it! When you KNOW there is something wrong with you and doctors tell you it’s in your head, you need to go somewhere else. Nobody can truly help you like you can. Be your own advocate and search for answers. Until you have them! And that’s what I’ve done.
Fast forward to November of 2014. I had just had my last baby in August and ever since his birth I could not regain feeling well. I was having so many problems. I had a very severe case of anxiety and worry that kept me from living my life. I mean constant. I had migraines all the time, my back was always in pain, my neck hurt constantly, my stomach was always upset and I had SEVERE Gerd. Like I couldn’t stop burping, ever. Just all the time and it hurt horribly! I wanted to see if there was something specific wrong with my gut and against every cell in my body I went to a GI doc and they did exactly what I expected. They told me to get on a PPI, which is a drug used to reduce acid. But the reality is there isn’t enough acid but that’s a whole different post. I declined and actually had to sit and argue with them that what they were offering me would not help me heal my problem. I left discouraged but confident in my choice to not continue my search for in Western Medicine as this has always been my experience. I started seeing a chiropractor for a couple months in hopes of getting adjustments would help. And they did a little but it didn’t stick. He said he could tell my body was very inflamed so he ordered some blood tests.
At this time I was diagnosed with Hashimoto's with antibodies over 1000 and hypothyroidism. I began to research “Natural Thyroid Specialist” in my area as I was not interested in getting on medication or seeing an endocrinologist. I wanted to heal my body for real and I knew it was going to be a lot of work and judgement from other people but this is my body, my journey and I chose to do it my way. I found one who was also a Functional Medicine doctor and Chiropractor. He was 2 hours away from me but my husband took off work ever 3 weeks to take a day to drive me down there. So worth it. He introduced me to the Auto Immune Protocol diet and I immediately went on it.
That meant NO: nuts, seeds, legumes/beans, grains, diary, artificial/alternative sweeteners, dried fruit, processed food, nightshades, eggs and chocolate, alcohol, some herbs, tapioca, vegetable oils (olive, coconut and avocado are ok) and gums like guar gum in nut milks. I personally didn’t remove EGGS, CHOCOLATE, GUMS OR TAPIOCA. I followed this for 9 months. I wanted to see how it was going after a couple weeks so I went to get my thyroid checked.
I also eliminated all toxic household and beauty supplies. Shampoos, body wash, hand soap, household cleaners, perfumes, deodorants, etc. I threw out the bad stuff and immediately invested in natural products that didn’t have harsh chemicals. There will be a post on that later.
The first time he retested me I had cut them in half! IN HALF! I was told by so many people autoimmune diseases HAVE to be medicated, I’ll live with it forever, may have to get my thyroid removed or I’ll have cancer. But in 6 months I was proving modern medicine wrong and on my way to healing my thyroid. Healing my immune system and all those symptoms that have kept me from living for too long.
At this point in my healing I had to make a decision. For well over 8 months or so, I had felt that I was stuck in my healing progress and was not thriving. In face, I was having A LOT of symptoms again and overwhelming exhaustion. I was in constant pain and eventually diagnosed with fibromylagia and hip burstitis. I was also muscle tested twice by 2 different holistic doctors resulting in positive Lyme diagnoses. I couldn't stay on this path anymore and decided to dive into a plant based lifestyle. It was the end of November of 2016 I decided to eliminate all animal products from our diets. This meant a HUGE change in food. I initially went on the recommendations from Medical Medium to heal my thyroid and found the world of plant based foods to be DELICIOUS and fun!
This is what our diets looked like for about 2 years: A LOT of fruit, veggies including nightshades (yay potatoes and peppers!), whole grains, nuts and seeds. LOTS OF SMOOTHIES! I have always included some lentils, rice, quinoa and pinto beans! I made sure to mix it up, add a lot of veggies to almost everything I cooked and make sure I provided a variety of foods so my family enjoys eating and was excited to be a part of this lifestyle! This was how I cook for my whole family and we all benefited! My son's eczema was healed by 90% as well and a story for him is found HERE! I was feeling better than I had in YEARS up until about that 2 year mark. At this time I felt that maybe this diet wasn't for us long term. I was struggling mentally with my relationship to food, I was having severe fatigue and depression again, I had gained over 40 pounds and I just started researching other diets and opinions. My oldest son was also struggling with his skin again and this made me question if he was missing something nutritionally. We have since added in organic pastured animal products and I think my family is very happy about this. It is taking my body some time to adjust due to unforseen circumstances that followed shortly after this diet change.
In February of this year I came in contact with toxic mold. I was living in a temporary situation with my family and knew within days something was wrong. We all became very ill, Njomai going to the ER twice due to not being able to catch his breath from coughing and I ended up with pneumonia. For 6 weeks we were sick. I was disoriented, confused, I couldn't remember words at times, extrememly depressed and had just a deep level of despair at times. I also had a lot of skin rashes and insomnia. I ended up testing the house we were in for mold and the results came back with terrifying levels of all kinds of mold species. Immediately I packed up our belongings and left. We bounced around from friends and family for 8 more weeks until landing in our home now. It was very trying and very scary at times but we made it through. I was not really getting better after leaving and made an appt with a functional medicine doctor in TN who specializes in chronic illness, especially mold and Lyme. After 5 years of being sick with various diagnoses, after thousands of dollars spent, I was finally finding my root causes. This whole time I was dealing with Lyme. It's what has brought my health to this point and while this is new territory for me and I'm just learning everything all over again, I'm thankful for what happened to get me here. It's been hard and I've been a wreck at times but without it I wouldn't have my answers. I am on a protocol to detox the mold and MARCons which is a type of staph colonization in the sinuses. Then I will tackle the Lyme. Thankfully my kids have no lasting illnesses and have recovered from the mold. Now we just prevent future exposure and move on.
We all are VERY different and not everyone will choose to do what I do. I only know my story, my body and what I choose to do. This is the best road for me and my family. It has changed at different seasons for us. But that's what healing is. It's listening to your body and doing what it needs. And when I say healing, that is mentally, physically and emotionally on so many levels. I will never tell anyone to stop their medications as I am not a doctor. I only know what has worked in my life and what hasn't and in that, maybe you will research for yourself alternative options toward healing. I am here for you if you have any questions. If you need any help on resources or finding information to help your situation, I’ll try my best to help.
Hopefully you can find something that resonates with you! I share my story, my holistic remedies, essential oils and skin salve!