Thursday, November 6, 2014

The journey isn't always easy...

Good morning!
Parts of this post some of you probably read before on the old's my story and the whole point of blogging for me is that maybe my story helps even just one person.

Almost two years ago now, I decided to make a change to my diet that was pretty drastic. A friend of my ex had a slew of health problems before starting a new way of life, and since, they are miraculously gone and he is in the best shape of his life. From picking his brain I started researching the Paleo and Primal lifestyle. I also started learning all that I could about the benefits of juicing. A couple of weeks before Christmas 2012 my present from my parents arrived--a juicer!

So let me go back now to how my story really begins, and I swear I'll shorten the story as much as I can!

When I was 13, I started having a lot of sick days. Initially, I was having migraines from time to time. Then one day they seemed to be happening on a very regular basis. I started seeing different doctors, and they couldn't figure out why I was having them. By this time I started vomiting sometimes multiple times a day, but it was every single day. I also started having trouble sleeping. When 8th grade rolled around, I was seeing doctors all over the place, having weekly tests done for a million different things, but still nothing showed. I was on a lot of different medications that no child should ever have to take, and the only thing that happened was extreme weight gain basically. My every day life was hell. On top of being so sick, and having no answers, I was tormented daily at school which didn't help. Before I knew it I was also on anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medication and had begun therapy.

After two and a half years of constant testing, continually being sick and getting no relief, we had a diagnosis: Lyme Disease. My blood tests were off the chart high. I began seeing a specialist that was eight hours away from home. During this time (and through the majority of high school), I had to be homeschooled, and I hated it. I was on nearly a dozen medications from extreme doses of antibiotics, to pain killers (morphine, vicodin...), migraine medication, sleeping pills, anti-depressants, anti-anxiety pills and the same anti nausea meds they give to chemo patients. At this point I'm 17, and getting weekly injections of the strongest antibiotic you can get.  My nurses had me call them when I was on my way so they could warm the serum and change the needle to a smaller one because they couldn't stand the thought of sticking me with the needle that came with it...yes, it was that big. It literally took a couple of minutes for them to push all of it in to me. At the end of each injection I was left with a rather large welt and bruise that would last until the following week when we would switch hips. The injections lasted for more than a year. I never got better. I think in time I simply became used to feeling like absolute hell day in and day out. This was my life. The only good things I had were my family, my friends, and my faith. All I could do was trust that if God brought me to all of this, eventually HE would get me out of it. That is all that held me together, because believe me, I didn't want to live. I wasn't living. I was a zombie.

In time I got off of most of the medications because they no longer helped me anyway. From time to time over the next several years, new symptoms would show bringing a new round of doctors, tests and sometimes medication (all while being uninsured mind you). More often than not, I tried to ignore my health problems because they were all I had known for so long.

By the end of April of 2009, at the age of 23, I had moved to Florida in search of finding myself again. Shortly after I moved down (and in with my parents who had moved there when I moved to Chicago), my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. I remember thinking to myself, "Hey life, it's been a while since you've turned upside down, so why not?!" I was devastated and so scared. In time I found out that I never should have been put on a medication I had been on for a decade, so that was thrown out. Insert a new onsite of health problems. Here I was 24, and now on top of my normal health problems, I was scared out of my mind that I was going to have cancer someday because the odds are SO high that I will. I starting having excruciating migraines again, I couldn't sleep, and was now dealing with heart arrhythmia. New tests, new doctor, new meds, same ol' song and dance.

I won't bore you with unnecessary details so let's flash forward to 2012. I'm now 26 and living in Washington, D.C. and by all accounts I should have been loving my life. The one thing I had been able to count on for thirteen years health wise was that I could deal with and on most days tolerate certain levels of wanting to throw up all day (and thank God I no longer actually did every day), migraines, and bouts of insomnia. In April, I sprained both ankles at the same time. Seemingly once I was fully recovered from that something else started. In September I would have rather been dead than feel the pain I was in every day. I had multiple emergency room trips, and the pain was chalked up to being pinched nerves. I did everything suggested and nothing helped. I was throwing up pretty well daily again from the pain, pain killers weren't helping, I couldn't sleep, I couldn't do anything it seemed. I'm sure my ex was ready to be done with me and I felt like a burden to him. I became really depressed...again.

During this time, my mom was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, oh, and p.s., she also was diagnosed with Lyme's after I was...we like to do everything together. Her doctor said you can be genetically predisposed to it and after telling him all of the ongoing problems I was having, he seemed to think it was very likely I could have it as well. I started seeing a doctor again after how bad the pain had gotten. I became obsessed with researching it. Because I had the Lyme's diagnosis, we just chalked ALL problems up to being related to that. In reality though, Fibro made much more sense. During this time I began having such horrific joint and muscle pain that I cried throughout the day, and eventually cried myself to sleep every night. I would wake up in the middle of the night, practically screaming in pain. I wasn't working and it was truly Hell...again.

So, you know what happened around Christmas of that year. I got the juicer and I started researching natural fibromyalgia treatments. One day I just made the jump. I began reading The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson, and was astonished. Everything made absolute sense. What I haven't told you is that before I started Primal, I had managed to lose more than 50 pounds from March to December. I had struggled with my weight for more than a decade, and was finally able to start losing, yet I still felt horrible as you've read. By going Primal, I had cut out virtually all dairy, all grains, all legumes, and all processed foods. I juice (though you don't have to in order to be Primal, but I do because I love the energy that comes from the extra doses of fruits and veggies) and eat incredible tasting foods. Within the first two months of these changes, I had gone without a single prescription pain killer for the first time in literally 14 YEARS. I had a mere 3 migraines in those two months, and they palled in comparison to what I used to experience with them. I began sleeping well every night for the first time in 14 years. A bad night consists of maybe 15-30 minutes of numbness or tingling sensations going up and down my body, but even that had become rare.

By May of 2013, I was down 104 pounds from my highest weight. I did my first Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure (5K, but still) and felt great. I traveled a lot that summer. I stopped blogging, hit a huge plateau and then God started shaking up my life...again. October of last year brought changes that I never thought would happen. My ex and I moved out of our apartment and into separate places, I stopped being pseudo step-mom to the child I loved as my own. I fell late that month and tore multiple ligaments in my foot and stopped working out for months because of it. My depression came back tenfold and I stopped caring. I stopped caring about making sure I was living the life that I knew made me feel better. When you are THAT depressed though you don't care and it's all you can do to get up, put on a happy face, go to work and not fall apart until you get home. In time we finally broke up and I made the decision to leave DC and head back to my roots. I needed my people.

May 2014, I moved to St. Louis, which is two hours from my hometown and has been a second home to me for most of my life. By the middle of June I had spent more time with my family than I had in the three or four years prior. My heart needed that. Towards the end of that month, a very old friend that I grew up with was taken from this Earthly world far too soon. His death made me do a lot of soul searching. Through the rest of the summer, I realized just how much of myself I had willingly given up and/or had taken from me and decided that was no loner happening. I made the decision to embrace all of the good things that I had in my life. I had a pretty brutal fibro flare that lasted for a couple of months. One of my "bosses" (it's weird to call her that because she's definitely family) and I started juicing together in September. Of the 27 pounds I had gained back in the last year, I've now lost 18 since then.

I met someone that month who has given me a much needed new perspective on the pain that has plagued my life for so long. He ran a series of tests on me and we discovered that half of my spine is misaligned. There's the Lyme's, the Fibro, and the ridiculous car accident seven years ago that put me into physical therapy for seven months, oh, and the smaller one four years ago that probably pulled some of the old injuries front and center again. How about the decade plus that I spent taking a myriad of drugs that for the most part did nothing more than treat symptoms? Sigh. Take your pick as to what's caused all of my problems. In the last month I have been researching (like crazy) the effects of misalignment so that I can understand it all to the best of my ability

My C1-6 have issues. My neck vertebrae curve opposite of how they should, the discs are thinning and I even have a bone spur forming. I'm one week shy of 29 years old. How on God's green Earth is this possible?! Guess what symptoms are extremely common with all of that? Essentially all of mine, not to mention things I just chalked up to life, my genes, weather, etc.. My T4-6 and 10 are messed up. L3-5...they're a mess, too. I have vertebrae in my shoulder area and lower back that pull of to the right instead of being aligned to the center which has created nerve and muscle damage, too. I have pinched nerves, which wasn't surprising to me at all.

Below is a chart with a list of all of the vertebrae, areas of the body they correlate to and the effects of misalignment of each vertebrae. I highlighted all of my problem areas.

Guess how many of the effects I deal with on a very regular basis...35. THIRTY FIVE. And essentially all of them could be tied to Lymes or Fibro yet even through all of the medications that I've taken over the years, it has never cleared up. And even though those are the "only" vertebrae that are misaligned, they are all connected. I have muscles and nerves overcompensating and all of that combined can cause so many other issues. Some of the vertebrae that are next to the ones I do have problems with, have effects that I deal with,'s all connected.

I am off of all medications except for Claritin and Prevacid. The goal is to get off of those as well. I have my adjustments, do a lot of stretching and am throwing myself back into clean/Primal eating on top of juicing. I have realized this week how much I've allowed other people, including doctors to take from me--hope probably being the biggest one. I have classes that I am going to take the same days every week to help me get back into a routine, and scheduled times for other work outs. I'm a long way from where I want to be but I am so far from where I was and that's pretty awesome. For a long time now, I've still told myself that it wasn't enough and it's like I was mad at myself for that. I was in such a funk and so unhappy with myself that I just didn't care.

This summer was a deeply healing one for me. This fall has been one full of hope and happiness. I have hope for the first time that what has been my "normal" for nearly 16 years is NOT how my life has to be. One month from now I will be in a better place than where I am today. I know that. It's incredibly freeing.

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