One thing that has slowed me down in moving forward in certain areas of my life has been my own personal healing journey. I was chronically exposed to toxic mold and then had a significant acute exposure on top of that. That has made healing in all areas of my life challenging.
Health and healing are made up of so many different things and they all interact with and affect each other. My journey has had its ups and its downs. As all our journeys do. I thought I’d begin sharing my own journey to demonstrate that we all have challenges and that each of our journeys are so personal and unique.....and that healing always happens. Just not in our own time frame sometimes.
My health has been good overall, according to doctors and the medical profession. The things that plagued me the majority of my life were not definable diagnoses, just inconvenient blips on my radar, according to them. They prevented me from living my life to the fullest, but because I was successful, no one really cared. It was not on the doctor’s radar unless he could tag a diagnosis with it. But it was on my radar and often made me feel less than optimal and function less than I could normally.
So what was wrong with me? Well, as a preteen, I began to have headaches. The kind that interfered with your life and that you had to lie down for. I remember taking Tylenol all the time for them and never really feeling better. In my early teens, I began to have cravings and gained quite a bit of weight my freshman year, which I was able to lose the following summer through self taught yoga and ballet and using art and reading. Part of the weight gain was psychological ~ I was using food to comfort myself ~ and the other part, as I look back on it, was physiological.
As an older teen, I had exhaustion that was overwhelming at times. I always felt tired. I felt cloudy in the head, but no one paid attention because I was at the top of my class. When my mom brought me to the doctor's, he thought I could be pregnant. That in itself was a trauma to my Catholic values and beliefs! I had other bothersome symptoms with brain and my gut, but again, no diagnoses.
In college, I still had exhaustion, but the hustle and bustle of classes, activities and all the new experiences kept me distracted. I frequently had sore throats which led me to the nurse’s office on a regular basis for a strep test, which never came back positive, though my throat was always swollen and red. I still had the fogginess in my head which made it hard to think straight and focus at times. Yet I still performed well and no one, other than me, was concerned.
When I graduated with my nursing degree, I was told I had to receive the new Hepatitis B vaccine. I didn’t seroconvert (develop antibodies) after the first round, so I had to receive a second round. I still never seroconverted, so they gave me one more round and said I’d probably never develop Hepatitis B since I wasn’t developing antibodies to the vaccine. But then I started developing sinus infections. I developed night sweats. I tested negative for all the autoimmune diseases and TB, so no one was concerned. Except me. I developed a period of high blood pressure (average 156/106) and was monitored closely on the unit I worked on. I eliminated salt (I read labels fanatically) and within a period of time, it went back down to normal. Eliminating the salt in my processed food (I took frozen "healthy" meals to work with me for lunches) was enough to make a difference.
Periodically, I’d get tension migraine headaches and eventually they got to the severity that caused me to miss work periodically. The fogginess, forgetfulness and lack of focus continued to worsen. The exhaustion was intense at times. Increasing my sleep caused me to be more tired, so I began to think I didn't need more sleep. I didn't understand about adrenal fatigue and that when my adrenals finally turned off (when I got more rest) No one really had an answer for this and since I was able to work and be productive and successful, it wasn’t a concern for anyone but me.
Then I became pregnant with my sweet son. I developed new symptoms. The exhaustion was unbelievable since I had a sweet boy who was extremely sensitive to every sound and situation. I eliminated wheat (gluten), corn and dairy when he was 6 months old to help with this. It did help him, but what was more remarkable was that when I finally got off of gluten (the Italian in me had a real hard time with the pasta and bread, let alone the hidden sources of gluten), my stomach issues mysteriously went away. I realized that gas was not a normal part of life. My stomach flattened ~ the bloating went away. And what was most amazing was that one morning weeks or months later, I woke up and went to the pantry and realized a clarity in my head that I couldn’t remember since I was a young child. The brain fog was gone.
When my boy was 2, my mom asked me to read The Maker’s Diet by Jordan Rubin. I thought it was a hokey title to lure you in and catch you, but after scanning the table of contents and perusing the beginnings of a few chapters, I realized that this was no ordinary book and I wanted to read it. I devoured it in a day. The chapter titled “Life and Death in the Long Hollow Tube” was about the gut and it sealed the deal for me. I had taught pathophysiology and pharmacology at the undergraduate level and everything I had questions about was answered in that chapter.
I change the way I ate. I had been making my son’s food since he was an infant, but I added fermented foods that I now made. I made raw milk kefir and bought grass fed meat. I eliminated all sugar. I felt great! My son was thriving, though still not sleeping as well as he could have, but there were other factors playing into that as well.
Then, when he was around 4, he began to get sick often. So did I. Mostly respiratory issues with high fevers. I had chills and at times couldn’t get warm enough. I began to develop the night sweats again. I even had a 105.5 fever at one point (probably higher since I took the thermometer out of my mouth because I was terrified). Later on, I had weight gain no matter what I ate or didn’t eat. My skin was rough and blotchy. I discovered mold on the window sills and no one paid attention to me. I tried to convince the builder and others that this was not normal. Finally, the wood began to turn black. Spots weeped. A few sills began to rot. Mold was killing us.
Long story short, we are out of there and are now in our own place and it is time to heal. I am starting with rebalancing my gut. I’ve not been able to make my kombucha or my kefir or other fermented foods. Now I can. I need to remove the metal from my mouth and heal from the mold. I need to heal my liver ~ I have serious abdominal discomfort in my right upper abdomen. I need to heal my son. He’s a strong boy and my challenge is to make him understand that he really CAN feel and perform even better.
More layers of the story will come out. But I want to encourage you. Be strong. Continue despite setbacks. When you don’t heal as you expected, it just means there is some other piece to the puzzle that is missing. And remember, your mind and your body and your heart are all connected. They all affect one another. In the near future, I’ll discuss the effects that your mind and your spirit have on your entire well being. It can be significant.
Best wishes on your healing journeys and join me in the next 14-Day Take OWNERSHIP Real Food and Wellness Coaching and Cleanse program. There are several coming up to help you make real and sustainable lifestyle changes and not just live with broken resolutions. Hope to see you there!!
In Health and Healing!
Recipe time! The photo does not do this justice, but we are dishing up Stewed Italian Chicken. Yum! I do my best to eliminate simple starches and grains overall, but this pairs nicely with mashed potatoes or rice. Moving into summer, pairing it with rice is the lighter option. For a paleo version or a healing diet version, serve alone or with a side of additional veggies or salad. If you choose rice or potatoes, serve the finished dish right on top of them. Yum! Oh wait, I already said that…..
As I say time and time again, always use the best quality meat you can find. If you know a farmer you trust, get your meat there. If you are in the process of choosing a farmer, meet your farmer whenever you can. Face to face. It is really nice to look the person who produces your food directly in the eye. If you don’t have a farmer, choose pastured animals whenever you can. Free range next (the definition of free range is not what you may think) and do your best to avoid conventionally raised animals whenever you can. These animals are rarely raised humanely and are not fed a proper chicken’s diet. This negatively affects the quality and nutritional profile of their meat. Not to mention it negatively affects the world in general and the environment when animals are treated that way.
Another important point is to choose organic over conventional produce and groceries whenever you can. This decreases your toxin burden and often increases the nutritional profile of the food. When foods are raised organically, the soil is often better nourished (though not always ~ it depends on how the land is cared for and what it was used for prior to farming it) and therefore provides greater nutrients to the plant. Farming will deplete the soil of nutrition as the plant takes nutrients up for the fruit it produces. When the plant is harvested, the fruit or vegetable has greater nutrition also.
So, enough with the lecture. Here is the recipe:
Stewed Italian Chicken
Add the crushed tomatoes, garlic powder, thyme, oregano, and additional salt and pepper. Mix carefully since the chicken legs are in the way.
Add the zucchini and push them below the tomatoes.
Heat to a boil. Cover and lower heat. Simmer 45-50 minutes until zucchini is tender and chicken is cooked through.
Serve over mashed potatoes, rice or on its own.
This dish is one of the recipes in my Take OWNERSHIP Challenge, a 14-Day Wellness and REAL Food Coaching and Cleanse program. On the program, you would not serve this dish over any starches or grains, but alone or with a nourishing side of vegetables, if desired. This dish on its own will sustain and nourish you. If you would like some help getting your health jump started and to get yourself ready for summer, join my 14-Day Take OWNERSHIP Challenge. There are many program start times to choose from. Rebalance and restart.
If you need additional or more personal help, check out my individual coaching by the hour or an 8-week coaching package. You’ll get more intensive and personal coaching to survive and thrive during the rest of the year.
Whatever you choose to do, eat right, get proper sleep and move your body. Enjoy each and every day and be well!