My Health Journey
My health journey started when I was 15. Many girls might feel the same, it is usually a time of great change in a girl’s life! not so much the other female adjustments as we mature, but that I had been a woman (so to speak) for a good 4 years already. It wasn’t the nicest time in my life and at only 14 I was put on various pills to try and make things more bearable. Only a girl and already on contraceptives to control what possibly could have been managed by other means, but how was I to know this at this young age, the daughter of two very busy medical professionals and with no real knowledge in this particular field. I didn’t realize at the time but this was the beginning of my ‘endometriosis’ journey. When I came off the contraception to fall pregnant, lucky for me I did! I was one of the lucky ones ‘apparently’ so I try to think of this period in time as that of being lucky enough to conceive and I had two full-term, near normal pregnancies and births. This was very positive in my life as they are my Beautiful Children and my Life.
After my second child when I tried to go back onto the contraceptive pill, it was quite strange as I kept feeling seriously sick on each and every pill that was prescribed to me. A clear sign that my hormones were perhaps back into balance and my body was screaming at me to not even have any association with these synthetic hormones. My body just didn't want that anymore and so this is when I decided to discontinue with contraception and this was such a good thing.
I was now almost 29, single from just before my second child came into this world! and I started to experience terrible abdominal pains and bladder symptoms, numerous tests, laparoscopies and eventually (7 years later) a hysterectomy was to be my decision taken in life. It was a HUGE decision and I really needed to consider ‘long and hard’ - since 36 was very young to be considering such a 'final' act and removal of such an important part of the female anatomy - an extremely stressful decision for me.
Then my health took yet another turn, more abdominal symptoms and kidney scans, this time I was having terrible urinary symptoms including bladder inflammation – a bladder cystoscope reveals a very angry looking bladder with no signs of a bacterial infection. This is the beginning of my inflammatory journey and my joint pains, along with bouts of eye inflammation and terrible exhaustion.
It was very hard to know what to do, but pain (at this time) finally decided for me!
The laparoscopies showed endometriosis and now I had a decision to make, STRESS - in the form of the decision – and STRESS in the form of pain everyday - an instigator and determinant. I had two young children now, one 7 and one 8 – and now I also had an amazing boyfriend (of seven years!) and we had not long moved into a new home together. The outcome of my surgery successful - in that I never looked back on my decision! I never questioned myself as to why I did this and I knew it was definitely what I needed to do - I moved on forward with much less pain. As it turns out the uterus lining was thickened which was not a good sign. I don’t promote surgery as an answer to anything but for me at this time it made my life so much more bearable and this decision back then worked for me. The hysterectomy helped me enormously with regards to daily pain, I still had my ovaries, thankfully my ovaries looked healthy and so I wasn’t thrown into immediate menopausal symptoms.
With less pain I was able to Nurse again, I somehow managed to do my BScN study as well which I’m so grateful for. I really enjoyed this time of nursing and bringing up my two children and Getting Married to my husband Greg in 2002. This for me was a good time even with the beginnings of my ‘Rheumatoid Arthritis’ diagnosis – I loved life and things were looking great.
Many life traumas happened after this time and the stress I endured may have led to my ‘inflammatory arthritis’ getting worst, but upon further investigation, a blood test revealed a recent infection of ‘parvovirus’– human parvovirus B19 - you will note that it is common to have an ongoing form of joint inflammation with B19 infection, particularly in adults. However, my arthritis never subsided and to this day I still deal with inflammation.
I have found through years of research and living with this autoimmune disease, that I can influence how I feel by way of my lifestyle choices. I have family members in my tree who suffered with ‘psoriatic arthritis’ and ‘rheumatoid arthritis’, my close family have dealt with ‘osteoarthritis’, ‘pituitary adenoma’, ‘Alzheimer’s disease’, ‘severe diverticular disease’, ‘rectal cancer’, ‘melanoma’ and ‘atherosclerosis with myocardial infarction’. With this history, I consider myself quite fortunate – in fact very fortunate – but also to have found my guide and mentor in the Nutritional Therapy Association (NTA), as without my journey I may never have chosen this career path and found the relief that I have found.
I stumbled across the AIP diet long before my studies with NTA and found this quite challenging. I began to restore my body by simply removing processed foods and focusing on nutrient dense foods, gut healthy food choices and finding out my sensitivities and removing them. I concentrated on restoring healthy bowel habits by way of restoring my gut flora as I could see that my gut health was particularly poor and inflamed. This meant finding out what I was reacting to and eliminating certain foods for 3-6 months - to this day there are foods I cannot tolerate and I still avoid these foods. Over time I have developed lifestyle habits that really help me to relax (this has been a BIG factor in my health journey) which helps me to digest, absorb and remove and clear my body of waste naturally through my now healthy bowel habits. This was the hardest part of my journey, settling my irritable bowel down, I concentrated on my intake of fibre foods and removing individual triggers which only exacerbated my discomfort and fed my immune disease! It was all about my Leaky Gut.
Inulin – Fibre found in chicory plants, psyllium husk, wheat (if tolerated), onions, bananas, garlic, asparagus and Jerusalem artichokes - helps to lubricate the digestive system to improve bowel habits, produce healthy bacteria and as it passes through the large intestine ‘unabsorbed’ it removes chemicals, unhealthy and potentially harmful yeast, parasites and bacteria species that may be living in the gut creating and triggering inflammation. Inulin takes with it - waste, toxins, fat and cholesterol particles that are no longer required.
With time, I could feel that I was starting to feel relief and I couldn’t believe the change – for one thing I had much more focus and clarity as to what I wanted to achieve for me and for my future. I removed all my medications (with guidance from a medical doctor) and felt like I was in control of my body - there is nothing more motivating than to feel that comfort and to gain control back into your life.
My journey has been a long and painful journey and I now know it could have been very different had I met someone with the skill-set of a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (NTP) back when I began to feel so unwell. So, after my discovery of the Nutritional Therapy Association (NTA) and completing the course I decided to continue with my business goals so I could help others to not suffer with pain and inflammation as I had – to find some relief so that they too could Smile, Move and Enjoy being with Family and Friends again – and no more of this suffering in silence.
Autoimmune Conditions come with many different Symptoms:
Joint Pain, muscle pain or weakness or a tremor
Weight loss, insomnia, heat intolerance, rapid heart beat
Recurrent rashes or hives, sun sensitivity, a butterfly-shaped rash across your nose and cheeks
Difficulty concentrating or focusing
Feeling tired or fatigued, weight gain or cold intolerance
Hair loss or white patches on your skin or inside your mouth
Abdominal pain, blood or mucus in your stool, diarrhea or mouth ulcers
Dry eyes, mouth or skin
Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
Multiple miscarriages or blood clots
If you suspect something is not right and want a thorough assessment along with your doctors assessment, I encourage you to give me a call and we CAN work as a team. My approach to clients who present with any of the above symptoms is a thorough history, investigation by way of a Functional Evaluation and Dietary recommendations to support removing inflammation and encourage improved chances of healing - particularly of the Gastrointestinal tract. 80% of your immune system is in the gut, GALT - Gut Associated Lymphoid Tissue - working on healing the small intestine of 'leaky gut' can be achieved by:
addressing known allergens and sensitivities
actively instigating gastrointestinal repair
enhancing a balanced microbiome; and
addressing known environmental toxin exposures
An overall wholistic approach!
We can see significantly good results, by seeing a good functional medical doctor for appropriate blood tests and faecal analysis if required, we are able to work on the area of root cause of illness rather than the conventional methods of only treating the symptoms as they occur. The medications that are prescribed often fail to address the underlying cause and while they may be effective in the short term, they are not a long term solution. Treatments involving immunosuppressant drugs increase the risk of infections and cancer when taken for long periods of time - therefore we need to consider this in our overall support strategy. Consider a wholistic approach! as working in a team is a much better approach to getting ultimate results.
"I know from personal experience how overwhelming and confusing and even scary the diagnosis can be!"
I also know what medicines can offer and that the symptom relief is only short-lived before either an increase in dosage is required or yet another medicine needs to be trialled. This process can be very taxing and impacts on being able to function from day-to-day.
Today I have finally found a place of healing for my body, with very few medications and a wholesome nutritious diet!
My lifestyle has improved dramatically and I am able to work again, travel and spend quality time with family without any unexpected turns of ill-health or infections. This is why I urge each and every one of my readers to seek and find a functional medicine physician who is happy to work alongside your desired achievements to seek better health. I am very happy to work alongside your doctor in an effort to find root cause and where your body requires extra assistance in achieving your goals.