NOTE: This post is long. Don’t read it if you don’t want to. It’s mainly a post about my health journey since living in China, because I’ve tried a lot of things, had some good experiences, some bad experiences, and am currently having some great experiences. I want to share some of the great stuff, but it helps to know where I’ve been in order to understand my gratitude and willingness to do what I’m doing now. Feel free to skip this if you want. I’ll do a separate scripture thought post later today.
Change is part of the natural order of things. As I look out my window I can see the snow melting to reveal green grass underneath. I think somewhere, the crocuses are blossoming, and I realize that I need to plant in the fall if I want to have color in the earliest days of spring. I’ll remedy that this year, I hope.
This blog has seen me through a lot of changes. Sometimes I’ve posted very infrequently. Life can get overwhelming, even with good things, and it doesn’t always leave time for description. But I love creating descriptions of adventure and mundanity. (I’m a writer – I make up words.) This post is about some of the health changes that have happened to me over the course of this blog. Not that everyone needs or wants to know, but I’ve seen some great things happen for me lately that might help someone else in a similar situation.
Some of you remember back in the early days when I blogged about my family’s adventures while living in mainland China. I learned and grew a lot from that experience. I also got very sick while we were living there. During our last few months there, I honestly wondered if I was going to survive the time until we moved home. In addition to having lung problems from the pollution, I was having “woman problems” and that last November I had times I thought I might be bleed to death. I felt a deep kinship to the woman in the New Testament with an issue of blood (Luke 8:43-48).
We moved home December 2010. I immediately went to the doctor and was diagnosed with pneumonia. I didn’t say anything to him about my heavy bleeding. (I know – WHAT?? Was I Even Thinking?!) I was hoping I could make one last try to regain my health, so in a last-ditch effort to avoid surgery, I changed my diet, took special supplements – and didn’t get better. In February of 2012 I had a medical procedure intended to stop the heavy bleeding. It didn’t work either, and so a year later I had a hysterectomy. Finally, I didn’t have to be perpetually anemic. What a relief.
The end of anemia cleared up some problems and revealed others. Although I had exponentially more energy than before, I still struggled to find the energy to do, well, anything that required a lot of energy. I forced myself to hike with my family, plan weddings, exercise as much as I could and still have energy to do daily tasks (barely), and neglected a lot of things. I was still so scatterbrained that I couldn’t believe myself. I gained an understanding of what it’s like to have attention deficit disorder. It was a huge struggle to focus on anything for an extended period of time. I missed my brain and my personality. I felt trapped in my body that seemed to be betraying me at every turn. I continued to gain weight for no clear or explainable reason.
I could tell my hormones were still out of whack, so I did a green smoothie cleanse for a month. And then a raw food diet for another month. And then a vegan diet for another month before switching to a vegetarian diet for almost two years. By the end of that time, I was craving beans and meat ALL. THE. TIME. All I wanted to eat was rice and beans, but especially beans (until I finally reassessed and decided it was time to stop the vegetarian diet). To this day, I’m still like, “Dude, step away from the rice and beans. THOSE ARE MINE.” Tapas restaurants are not my favorite places. A Southwest or Mexican restaurant is a disappointment to me if they don’t serve rice and beans – and they’d better be good.
Surprise. Hormones don’t necessarily fix themselves when you stop eating meat or dairy. It might work for some, but not for me. More surprise. I was pretty sure part of my trouble was heavy metal toxicity. You can chelate a lot of heavy metals by eating dark leafy greens and cilantro, but you won’t get all of it that way. Not even close. Those bad boys hide in the most secret places of your organs and don’t let go easily.
And then last fall the migraines hit full force. I had a migraine almost every day for two months. Drowning night sweats, hot tsunamis (those could never be called hot flashes), extreme irritability. No energy. I was terrified to get too far from a bottle of Excedrin. I just wanted to hide in the dark and not talk to anyone. Ever.
Plus the bonus: Rapid and unexplained weight gain. Unrelenting food cravings. Never a sense of being full. Even more loss of ability to focus.
Fast forward to our family Christmas party December 2016. It was held at my house. I came late and left early, because I had my first consultation visit with a Functional Medicine doctor. It took me six weeks to get in to see him and I wasn’t going to bypass it for anything. Plus, it was a we-don’t-take-insurance-and-you-pay-in-advance thing $$$. As in, don’t break this appointment. There was a TON of paperwork, blood work, and survey-type of tests to do ahead of time. I had a hint I’d like this doctor though, because of the sardonic humor in all his legal documents. He let me split the appointment in half so that I could be in attendance at the Christmas party we were hosting at my house. What a guy. He cared more about it than I did at that point. Together, we celebrated the win that I’d managed to miss out on both the set-up and the clean-up. Which I wouldn’t have been able to do anyway, but I would have sat around feeling stressed and guilty for not helping.
I was desperate for help but barely able make my mind focus on a conversation for more than a minute at a time. This makes consulting with a doctor difficult. Somehow we managed. I received bio-identical hormone implants. He gave me a Meyer’s IV (it feeds your mitochondria and helps with – stuff). You know I wasn’t feeling quite myself if I let anyone, even a doctor, stab me with a needle in order to give me a treatment I haven’t fully researched. I still haven’t researched it much, but I know those IVs make me feel better and I’ve had about 3 so far. My headaches went away for the most part. I only had a migraine every couple of weeks instead of daily.
I’ve started IV chelation treatments to dump high levels of mercury, lead, and cadmium from my body. I don’t like IVs. But suck it up, Buttercup, because I’m getting better. Doc had me do a week-long liver cleanse that actually helped, although I was skeptical about it. He told me to go straight into a candida diet, which I was willing, but not very excited about. He didn’t give me much information about it other than a page of instructions about what not to eat.
By this time, I was feeling enough better to sit down and research this diet a little more. The more I read the more I wanted to say bad words. But those drive away the Spirit, so I repented and prayed for guidance instead. It was hard and discouraging, because the more I read, the more I realized that I’d already done something just like this, and it didn’t help. Then I started seeing people’s comments that the candida diet didn’t always work, you may need to do the GAPS diet – for THREE YEARS. I read about that and got even more frustrated. It just felt wrong. If every cell in my body had a voice, the collective shout, “DON’T DO THIS!” would have been deafening. I didn’t swear. I wanted to, but I prayed some more.
I started noticing a lot of links associated with what I was researching, that mentioned Intermittent Fasting (IF). I began to follow those links and discovered that this particular way of eating is linked to relief of almost all the health challenges that I’ve been dealing with. I remember studying this and doing it for a little while about three years ago. I had excellent success with it, but couldn’t quite figure out how to make it work in my own lifestyle, so it fell by the wayside. I realized that during the recent liver cleanse, I’d been doing IF without realizing it. So I’m back at it again, and it is working much better now because I have read more, and figured out how to make it work. The studies are pretty solid that it’s safe (See The Obesity Code, published in 2016). For the first time since I can ever remember, I’m not thinking about food all the time. I’m not wondering if I ate too much, or too little, or the wrong things. My version of IF is pretty low-key compared to some. I eat during one 5 hour window of time around dinner. I eat whatever I want, however much I want. I try to focus on healthy foods and not “junk food”. I also take a doctor-recommended vitamin supplement, and an adrenal support supplement that he gave me. Some people eat during a 5 or 8 hour window, some fast every-other-day, some fast two days a week. Me, I like to eat every day, go figure. What can I say, I’m a foodie. Plus, it can be hard to sleep if you don’t eat before bedtime. I like sleep, and I’ve been sleeping better than ever since I started this.
(Medical disclaimer: I’m not a doctor. I’m not giving you medical advice here. Work with your doctor on this. If you know me, you know I don’t say that lightly. This is not for children or teens. Also IF is not recommended for people who have had an eating disorder like anorexia. Because, hello! Don’t go there again, please. Nothing is worth that hell.)
I’m losing weight. I’m losing my body aches. I haven’t had a migraine in at least the last three weeks and only a couple of small headaches. That’s a miracle. I have more energy, more focus, and my brain fog is gone for the most part. We’ve had horrible air pollution here over the last couple of weeks, and I barely noticed it. In the past, this bad air would have put me in bed with a horrible cough and a sensation of an elephant sitting on my chest. I’m still working on my memory. It’s improving, but I just realized I forgot an important event this morning – my friend’s daughter was baptized today, and I completely brain-fazed it. (Sorry, Amy.) At any rate, I can focus long enough that I read three different books on Intermittent Fasting. (See Delay, Don’t Deny, The Fast Five Diet and The Fast Five Lifestyle, and The Obesity Code I am not an affiliate. I don’t get a thing for sharing this information except knowing I may have helped someone else out.)
I had a doctor appointment yesterday, and I was nervous about what he’d say about me choosing IF over the candida diet. He was so amazed by how much better I’m doing, that he was just fine with it. He was pretty stunned, actually. He was so happy to see my progress and I am so happy to be in this place. I’m glad my doctor will be able to monitor my progress and help me if any problems do crop up.
Prayer is real, people. I thank Heaven I prayed instead of saying bad words (imagine that). I’ll continue on with the other things that have helped me to get to this point, and do some things that will help my knees heal from what I’ve put them through in the past. Doc might actually get me able to go back into martial arts again! Regardless of that, I plan to stick with IF.
If you made it this far, thanks for reading. I don’t really like to blat all about everything “me” so much, but it just seemed like I owe God and the world a bit of a pay-back. In spite of all the physical health stuff, I have an amazing life with more blessings than I could ever deserve, and so when I find something that I think might help someone else, I want to share it.
Thank you for being so candid about a long, hard journey.
I love your writing style and am so glad you’re starting to feel better!
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I am intrigued…going through my own health journey as well. Love and miss you!!!
Good luck with your own health journey. I miss you, too!