I am 30 years, 9 months, and 22 days old today. I am 1 month and 18 days into my new life. For 30 years, I lived with the idea that all of my health problems were "normal" and that there was never going to be anything better for me. Sure, I went to the doctor. Lots. Sure, they ran tests. Many. But to my detriment, when the tests didn't show what they expected to see, I was sent home with a "You're perfectly normal. There's nothing wrong with you." Eventually, I believed them.
My symptoms have included:
dry, itchy skin - since age 7 (especially on the scalp - since age 10)
allergies and chemical sensitivities - noticed as early as age 3, worsening over time
allergy induced asthma - age 22, if not before
exhaustion, especially in the morning and around 2-4pm - since age 9, if not before
trouble sleeping/insomnia - my mom says this has been since infancy
digestive problems galore - since age 6, if not before
migraine headaches - since age 22, if not before (it took us a long time to figure this one out because mine start with nausea and vomiting and end in headaches rather than the other way around)
intense menstrual periods - since age 14
reactive hypoglycemia - since age 16, if not before (reactive hypoglycemia is basically low blood sugar shortly after eating)
dependency on sugar, caffeine, and food to make it through the day - since age 15, if not before
extreme irritability when hungry - since infancy
forgetfulness - since age 23, getting progressively worse
salt cravings - since childhood
extreme sensitivity to cold - since age 15
depression - since age 15
thinning hair/excessive falling hair - since age 22
(The reason I note some ages, "if not before" is because my earliest confirmed memory of a symptom is at the age listed, but it's possible it was a problem longer and I don't remember or I can't confirm it was related.)
I was tested for mono (I did have it my freshman year of college, but I was in recovery by the time I was diagnosed), hypothyroidism (three times - normal results on all three tests), and probably a mess of other things I don't remember, because they were convinced I had hypothyroidism until my tests said I didn't, and then they gave up.
I have been prescribed numerous medications, but I rarely take them, because my dad is an immunologist, and staunchly opposed to prescription medication. Plus, I find I generally dislike the side effects more than I dislike my original symptoms. I don't understand why western medicine insists on treating symptoms, which are your body's signals to you that something is wrong, rather than finding the actual causes, and then treating that. Blows my mind.
So after failed lab tests, unpleasant prescriptions, and years of unresolved medical complaints, I finally gave up, like my doctors before me.
Then, on 9.25.11, I read a facebook post by Sarah Morgan, one of my dearest inherited friends by marriage. That post changed my life.
I originally went to Sarah's blog, to read about why she would be doing such a dangerous, drastic, intense diet, and wound up wondering why I had never been told to do it, too. I contacted Sarah, and she sent me a link to Dr. Kharrazian's book, which I promptly bought for my Kindle app on my iPad. I read about 1/3, and knew I was finally on my personal road to wellness, after 30 years and counting.
On 10.2.11, I began my elimination diet - no gluten, corn, dairy, soy, eggs, tomatoes, sugar, sugar substitutes, caffeine (including "decaf"), processed foods, or alcohol. Some of those were easy (I've never been a big drinker), some were painfully difficult (I'm a huge sugar addict). And I never knew how frighteningly hard it would be to not eat corn - it literally is in everything. Luckily, my husband was a huge supporter of my desire to get well, and was an enormous help with the food shopping and cooking while I figured this all out. Plus, we have great healthy friends like Dylan and Michelle who had already prompted us to make some of these changes to our diets before I embarked on this new journey.
After just a few weeks, the number of symptoms that had improved was staggering. I lost 10 pounds without even trying (other than the dietary restrictions), I was sleeping through the night (I'd never done that before in my life), and the week of 10.17.11, I woke up every morning at 6:30am feeling awake (I used to wake up dragging at 9 or 10am). I thought something was wrong - that's how backwards my concept of health had become. Then I realized, it wasn't wrong - it was the health I had been craving for the last 30 years, finally becoming a reality.
After reading Dr. Kharrazian's book, and doing some research, I decided to see a doctor who could help guide me through this quest. I found Dr. Reiff through Dr. Kharrazian's website. We set up bloodwork for analysis on 10.12.11 and a first visit for 10.24.11. After analyzing my bloodwork, my health questionnaire responses, and doing some biofeedback (which is by far the coolest thing you can ever have done), he informed me that my thyroid is functioning at ideal levels. It's my adrenal fatigue, reactive hypoglycemia, and malnutrition/malabsorption/dehydration that's mimicking all of the symptoms of hypothyroidism I've been experiencing, which is why no one could ever figure out what was wrong. He put me on several supplements, including essential fatty acids, told me to stay on the elimination diet, but to add things back and note whether or not any symptoms returned, gave me more specifics about controlling my sugar levels and adrenal stress, and told me to do some follow up testing for the adrenal response and my immune system's inflammatory response (which causes adrenal stress and perpetuates the problems).
Then, on 10.25.11, I found out I was pregnant with our first baby. I was thrilled, but also worried about continuing my testing/supplements. Dr. Reiff told me what not to do from the list, and congratulated me on the little development. I continued to see great results, and continued losing weight daily.
Then, on 11.15.11, my life ground to a halt. We had our first ultrasound, and discovered that our little bean had no detectable heartbeat. They told us not to worry, that my due date may have been miscalculated, and to schedule another ultrasound for the following week. Unfortunately, later that day, I began bleeding, and I miscarried at 7 weeks. My midwife assured me that pregnancy loss that early was not due to anything I did or didn't do, but more likely a natural response to a pregnancy that ultimately wouldn't have been viable.
The miscarriage is just about the most painful thing I have ever endured, both physically and emotionally. But I think my little bean knew it would be best to wait until I could be a totally healthy incubator. I can now continue my testing and supplements, and try to get myself totally healthy for our next pregnancy, which is a sliver of a silver lining in this blackest of clouds, but it's there.
So I continue on this road to wellness, in memory of Bean. Thanks for joining me for the ride.