It's a Journey - A Health Update

Hi guys! Today we're talking all about health because this is what is at the very top of my mind currently.
I've been struggling with my health now for years. It's a long story that maybe I'll share another day, but for right now I just want to share what I have going on and a little recap of this year so far in regards to my health. And since I am so passionate about advocating for yourself and continuing to seek out help when you know deep down that something is wrong with your body I am going to discuss all of the things today; details of my health issues, costs of things, supplements, my current diet, etc. because as someone who has scoured the internet trying to find a little glimmer of hope in what is a long journey towards health I would have loved to come across a post just like this.

So lets get to it!

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I have been struggling all year with truly feeling and being healthy. In March I struggled with the flu and lingering symptoms for weeks, the first time getting the flu and MANY years. Probably like 10 years, honestly. In April some skin issues popped up; hives and weird rashes taking over my body, something that I'm still dealing with (thankfully not as badly) to this day. All of that combined with stomach issues that have been a thing for the better part of 12-15 years of my life. Oh, and extreme bouts of anxiety. But more on that later. 

At the end of April I was desperate for answers. I was ready to do whatever it took to truly heal. I went to my PCP and ordered all of the tests that I could that were covered under insurance. Everything except my Vitamin D came back "normal." After that I scheduled a relatively expensive appointment with a functional medicine doctor. I waited a month for the anticipated appointment and showed up so relieved to finally have someone on my side who would be able to help me. Well, that's not at all what happened. I paid over $400 to visit with this doctor for an hour, I filled out extensive health history questionnaires and sent all my blood work to them in advance. I expected that the experience at that appointment would be to go over everything, get a bit of clarity on what they thought was going on, and to go from there with a treatment plan. I thought I would at least get some answers or at least a theory of what could potentially be going on. I went to the appointment and talked to the doctor for an hour about everything I had going on. They were super attentive and personable. Throughout the experience I was impressed and really could see myself going through with treatment at their office. Until the end of the appointment. As we're finishing up they tell me that they're going to write up a treatment protocol and then we can talk about it. I wait. They come back with some paperwork of the tests they thought I would need to "truly assess" what was going on as well as a plan for treatment. I flipped through the paperwork which seemed pretty decent but didn't tell me anything in details about my health and issues. Oh, and the total of less than 6 months of treatment with their office was totaling over $7,000 and they thought I would need to be with them for AT LEAST 12-14 months. I know that health is a priority and without your health that you really don't have anything but yikes. That's not something I can do right now, well maybe I could but then I’d be worrying about money all the time and that doesn’t seem like a good recipe for healing either. Keep in mind that when I set up the appointment they were unable to give any sort of costs for treatment due to each patient being different. I understand that. But you can't tell me that from my health questionnaire, their experience with patients everyday, and the entire process I had to go through to even make this appointment that they couldn't have given me a base cost or range of cost. I paid over $400 just to be told that I'd need to spend another $7,000+ before they'd even talk to me about what I had going on. Sorry, but your average person can't be spending $7,000+ every 4 months to try to heal their body. They wouldn’t even let me take home the paperwork to “think things over.” They took it back from me and told me to call when I made a decision.
I left the appointment feeling super discouraged and upset about the whole thing. I didn't follow through with treatment and I felt like I wasted $400 for literally nothing, because well, I did.

I tried to let that go and move on. I let my anger and disappointment fuel me to educate myself even more and try to heal my body on my own… again. I submersed myself into education on soooo much health stuff. One week I'd be down the rabbit hole on gene polymorphisms and mutations, then I'd move on to Lyme disease and it's various co-infections and how they affect the body, mycotoxin poisoning, heavy metal toxicity, leaky gut, sibo, etc., etc., etc. I have learned more this summer about health and nutrition than I'd ever even wanted to know. But now that I'm down this path, it's something that I want to keep going down. I'm just not sure in what aspect, yet.

Anyways, I tried to figure out the root cause of my issues and heal my body on my own because time and time again I feel like I'm being let down by the countless number of doctors that I've seen over the years. I know that there are amazing doctors out there. I absolutely respect doctors in general and am so grateful for all types of doctors. But if you've struggled with chronic health issues for a majority of your life and have continually been let down by doctors time and time again then you get what I'm saying. It's tough. And I sympathize with anyone who is going through the same struggles as me and many other people go through.


So I'm trying to heal own my own and then August happened. August was a HUGE struggle for me. I mean, it was super rough and I am so grateful that it's over. I was on a trip for the beginning of the month, a hiking trip, and I got the absolute worst cold. A summer cold!! What?! I barely even get colds in the winter and here I am on a hiking trip with a cold. I was so sick, oh my god. I hiked and did all the normal things that you do on a trip, while hitting up juice bars and pounding down immunity elixirs and countless green juices. I got home from my trip and my cold was gone but I still didn't feel right. I serendipitously came across another functional medicine doctor and impulsively made an appointment. This one was very upfront and clear about the costs for treatments and even gave me a discount for already having blood work. In the meantime I was feeling so terrible that back to my PCP's office I went. My goal was to get more testing done from the research I was continuing to do. I had horrific headaches, what felt like swollen lymph nodes from inside but weren’t swollen when you touched them, and I was really tired all the time. He claimed that I had allergies and didn’t think any tests were necessary at this time, prescribed me an antibiotic and told me to get Claritin after that was done. Lol okay, no. I didn’t get the prescription filled and I didn’t argue with him anymore. I just left because I was feeling so defeated and ignored. My appointment was at 9:00 a.m. and I was in the car at 9:13 a.m. Our medical system makes me sad.

After that experience I waited for my appointment with my functional medicine doctor the coming week. I paid less than $400 for an hour appointment where we extensively went over my blood work, what was good and bad, how to fix it, other lifestyle factors, supplements, and a treatment protocol. I walked out of there with all of the supplements I needed to start out on, an overview of what all we went over in the appointment in regards to my blood work, and a protocol on what to do to heal my body from the foods I needed to eat to detoxification methods I needed to do to heal my body. That day I also took home a testing kit to do further tests, which I’m still waiting to hear back on. Once those tests come back then I will make another appointment (less than $300) and go over everything and go from there.

I’ve been following this protocol now for about 3 weeks and I must say that I’m somewhat feeling better but I am still dealing with the same old issues. Healing takes time though and I finally feel like I am with someone who can guide me in the right direction.

PROBLEMS

I got 99 problems and they’re all related to my digestive dysfunction… we think.

Digestive issues forever and ever. I think it’s throwing off everything else and so does my doctor. I’m unable to absorb nutrients from food properly and if I’m not looking 6 months pregnant from bloat then it’s a darn good day. This will probably sound strange but for the past year I have been able to feel something wrong with my digestion. I feel like something is going on that just isn’t right. It’s hard to describe but I can definitely feel somethings wrong. As of right now my doctor is calling it digestive dysfunction. She has some ideas of what is wrong but we’ll know for sure when my tests come back so I’ll save the details for that.

Vitamins. My Vitamin D is low, super super low. Healthy Vitamin D levels start at 60 and mine is 26. That’s slightly concerning! Especially considering how much time I spend outside without sunscreen. I only wear sunscreen at the beach, which is like once per year. All of my other time outside is spent sunscreen free.
I’m working on getting that up to a regular level though, especially before winter! I have malabsorption issues and other deficiencies in general but personally my Vitamin D was/is my main concern in that regards, at least currently.

Toxin overload. This has been interesting for me to really work on and I talk all about why later on in this post! But I know as a society that we are so exposed to toxins each and every day. I consider myself pretty aware and knowledgeable of such things and take as many precautions as possible to avoid toxins but it’s just not possible to be 100% toxin free in this day and age. That’s taken it’s toll on me and I’m excited to continue with treatment to really rid myself of the toxins that are holding me back.

This list goes on and ranges from liver disfunction to adrenal disfunction to dehydration to low blood sugar. Basically I haven’t been feeling good for a long time and seeing all of this stuff wrote down on a piece of paper can be overwhelming but is also relieving. It means that I have some answers and guidance towards healing my body.

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DIET

I’m following a strict plant based diet. No dairy, eggs, soy, or gluten. I don’t eat meat either so that’s a no-go, too. I’m able to eat sweets sparingly, which I haven’t done as of yet but definitely will be doing because this girl has a birthday next month and while I can deal with a gluten-free, soy-free cake I certainly won’t be missing out completely on celebrating that! What I eat though is plants; an abundance of fruits, veggies, legumes, grains, plant milks, nuts, seeds, etc.

I was gluten-free for 3 years starting in 2013 and while it wasn’t the worst thing in the world, it definitely is a lot more fun and convenient to eat gluten. I’ve known for a few months now that I should take it out of my diet again but have been resistant to doing so because donuts.

What really surprised me was how tough it would be for me to remove soy. I’ve never done that before and DANG. Soy is in everything. A lot of the “clean” sauces that I use for cooking have soy in them and I’m sure it’s in other things too that I haven’t come across yet. But for now I’m trying to focus on eating as clean and basic as possible. I’ll definitely be sharing more about this in the future!

SUPPLEMENTS

I am someone who couldn’t swallow pills. Seriously. For 25 years of my life I couldn’t swallow a pill to save my life. And now I take 14 pills a day. Yes, 14 pills a day!! I’m not going to go into super detail about my supplements because I do believe that supplements are so individual and that my problems could very well be different than yours. I don’t want to recommend anyone to take something that wouldn’t help them or even be dangerous to them. Not a doctor here! But with that being said, if you are super curious and really want to talk more in depth about this, just shoot me an email and we can talk!

Okay, supplements. I take a probiotic and prebiotic combo, liver support, immune support, Vitamin D, B Vitamin complex, trace minerals, electrolytes, and magnesium. This will probably change as I receive the test results for the one test I’m waiting for, but currently this is what I take each day.

LIFESTYLE

The thing with chronic issues is that you just can’t stop your life for a week and be healed. Chronic issues take a lot of time and attention and it’s hard to fit everything into daily life. For the past month I’ve dedicated my entire Sunday’s to self care as well as an hour or so a day to little things I can do as well.

I’ve started rebounding for 15 minutes a few times a week. Rebounding is jumping on a trampoline to stimulate lymphatic drainage. Luckily I have access to a full sized trampoline which works for now but in the winter I might need to invest in a mini one to keep jumping.

Dry brushing has become a daily habit. Dry brushing helps with circulation and stimulates lymphatic drainage. I love doing this before my shower each morning. It takes a few days to get used to the feeling but after that it feels amazing!

Epsom salt baths have always been something I enjoy and now I can really enjoy the full benefits of them! But not only am I doing Epsom salt baths, I’m also doing magnetic clay foot baths. These have been so interesting for me. I’ve done two so far, once per week, and the results have been crazy. The first time I was planning to do a 40 minute soak but I only lasted 20 minutes. My feet became SOOO itchy that I literally couldn’t stand it. I got out and they were itchy for probably 30 minutes afterwards. I covered them in coconut oil and then put socks on and tried to ignore the itch. What was super fascinating was when I was cleaning everything up, the bottom of the bath had little black specks all over. Heavy metals!? I did a quick google search and yep, correct. The clay pulled heavy metals straight out of my feet into the water. Crazy. The same thing happened this past week too, minus the itch, plus a headache. It feels so good to be able to actually see something like that working.

I now drink my water strictly out of a Berkey water filter or get spring water. So far I’ve been very strict with this. After researching deep into the internet world about water I am fascinated and disgusted at what I’ve found. I recommend doing water research if you haven’t already!

I haven’t introduced infrared sauna into my practices yet, but I’m doing to. I’m trying to rehydrate my body and fill it up with electrolytes before sauna therapy. But this is definitely in the future!

And of course my cleaning products, kitchen items, beauty products, etc. have almost all become toxin free. This is a big process that I’ve been slowly working at for probably 2-3 years now. I’m slowly getting there but it’s a process to find some good replacement products for my old go-to’s.

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I will definitely be keeping you guys updated on everything. I’m feeling okay currently. Not like myself 100% but that’s okay. I know that this healing process will take a lot more time than I’d like it to and that’s okay. It’s the perfect practice of patience. It just feels good to finally be able to get some answers and be on a healing path. I am so grateful that I’m able to afford to see a functional medicine doctor and to be able to still function and life a good quality of life. I’m grateful to have taken action now and to pursue a path that feels right for me. So far, what I’ve learned is that you have to listen to yourself first. You can’t let others persuade you into certain things that they believe and think is best for you. Only you know what is best for you. If you’re struggling with any kind of illness currently, please know that I am here to support you in any way that I can. Feel free to reach out and connect. Going through this stuff with support is a key component to healing.
I have my follow up appointment for my results in a few days, so you can expect another update soon!