Part One - The Symptoms
First, for those of you that know me, you may have been wondering why I suddenly fell off the side of the planet. No more networking lunches or events, no more workshops, no more speaking engagements. Why? It's because I've been sick. Really sick. I want to explain this so you know where I'm coming from in some upcoming blog posts.
I've been sick for a lot of years. Like 18 years to be exact. But over the past six months, it quickly escalated in both the severity and sheer number of symptoms. The pain had became unbearable.
To make a long story short, my first symptom started 18 years ago and I was diagnosed with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). Doctors blamed it on stress. I'm quite certain I did not have constant debilitating stress for 18 years straight, but I was reassured by my various doctors that nothing could be done. I was even told that I could safely take up to 6 Immodiums a day to control it - SIX!!! That was crazy!
More and more symptoms appeared over the years, and they all progressively got worse.
All together I made a list of 61 separate symptoms that I saw my doctor for in the 9 months prior to seeking alternative health care.
The ones that I was sent for a standard blood test were: perimenopause (irregular periods, severe PMS, irritable, mood swings, wicked hot flashes, night sweats), thyroid disease (chronic fatigue, hair loss, lethargy, weight gain, and depression), as well as kidney and liver disease. All blood tests were negative.
The most frustrating part was that my doctor just wanted to write me a prescription to alleviate the individual symptoms, creams, nasal sprays, anti-inflammatories, etc. I was labelled a hypochondriac. I made the connection that some of my problems may be diet related and self-diagnosed as lactose intolerant back in 2015.
But it was more than that and I knew it. After many requests, she grudgingly sent me to a dietician, who despite my repeated reminders that dairy was the enemy, she sent me home with some recipes and 5 bottles of dairy-based Boost.
Often the only way I could go up the stairs was to sit on the step and go up backwards on my bum. I simply could not lift my legs high enough to climb a step. My balance was also off, I often fell or bumped into things, frequently injuring myself and those injuries weren't healing anymore. I felt like an 80 year old woman, but I was only 48.
Over the past 6 months, insomnia, chronic pain and chronic fatigue set in. I would usually go to an event or put on a workshop and go home to bed for the rest of the day.
I was wrought with severe depression, overly emotional and very mentally unstable. I cried uncontrollably every day for 2 weeks straight after the Humboldt crash. My kids reassured me that it was a very sad event but reminded me that I didn't know any of the people involved and I was overreacting. I just couldn't stop sobbing. Concentration also became a problem so I increased my ADHD medication to no avail. I finally resorted to the fact that I would soon need to ask my doctor for anti-depressants.
I was in a downward spiral with no end in sight.
I wanted answers. I knew I was really sick and I was afraid, but according to my doctor, there was nothing wrong with me. I finally sought help outside of the traditional medical system. I had blood work done for food sensitivities and sure enough, I had epic results. In fact, my results were so bad, they were the worst my healthcare practitioner had ever seen.
Disclaimer: Now keep in mind that I am not a doctor, a scientist, or healthcare practitioner of any sort, although I did take a first year university biology course in the summer of 2015, so for one summer I fancied myself "practically a doctor." The results I mention in this blog are my interpretation of what I heard and what I've read, they may not be 100% accurate, but they are how I understand them. Remember this is my story, not a scientifically accurate medical report.
These results delivered a devastating blow. Yes, I know it's not cancer, but it had come to the point that without a drastic intervention it would be just as deadly. Luckily for me, a significant amount of recovery is possible with immediate action. That means overhauling my entire lifestyle and eating habits.
It was one of the easier decisions I've ever had to make, but probably the most difficult to implement. That's part of the reason for the blog; for people going through any kind of upheaval, crossroads, or lifestyle change, I get it. I hope this resonates with you and inspires you to keep at it. I really want to share with you what I've learned. Tune in to the next blog entry for Part Two - The Start of the Recovery to see what changes I'm making, the frustrations those changes cause and the amazing results I've already experienced. You won't believe it!
Recently, I've been asked several times, "What's your story?"
I smirk and say "Which one? I've lived a thousand lives already."
You see, I'm usually the one asking the questions, helping people tell their stories. I am infinitely interested in people's personal stories. I am a psychology junkie at heart! I am utterly fascinated by human behaviour guided by psychology and sociology; the events that happened in our lives that taught us who we are.
My own story doesn't come out a lot. Well, you know, bits and pieces come out, random highlights revealed in rapport-building moments. I'm very good at giving just the right amount of information to make people feel like I've revealed something private without me ever scratching the surface. I'm actually quite a private person... except when I'm on stage. When I'm on stage, I become a teacher. I use my own experiences with the intent to help others. There is no greater teacher than a well-told story.
I am a die-hard people watcher. Because I have ADHD, I usually look like I'm not paying attention, but in truth, I absorb far more than the conversation at hand. I read people well and my first impressions usually prove accurate. I notice body language, hesitations, lip twitches, posture, speech patterns, eye movement and subtle nuances that tell me far more than your words ever could. I love the above quote "Don't underestimate me. I know more than I say, think more than I speak & notice more than you realize." Which got me to thinking, how would I view myself?
My life is messy. It's chaotic. It's uncertain. And sadly, it's currently in disrepair. I'm definitely at a crossroads in many areas of my life, but few people know this because I have an entertaining sense of humour and use it well to distract people. This isn't the first merry-go-round for me, I've spent a lifetime making messes. Every time life gets messy, I seem to get myself back on track, or more accurately, on a new track.
So, for once, I thought I would share. This blog will be random. It will be full of life lessons and crazy topics. It will be about relationships, parenting, what I ate that day, top ten lists, people watching, education, #metoo, work, divorce, health, grief, what I watched on Netflix, the book I read, ADHD, my quirks, my sense of humour or who I talked to yesterday. I'm also ready to talk about my addiction, recent health diagnosis, and how I have lost everything.... twice. Basically, I plan to share my life lessons, in the hope that they can help someone else navigate their way through the messes and crossroads and come out on top.
Some days it will be about my struggles or my funny observations (like going to an 80's concert) and other days it will be about the events that taught me who I am. Some are my experiences, others are taken from people I know. Some will be funny, some thought-provoking. Hopefully most of them will be both. Each story represents one small part of the thousand lives I've lived. Stay tuned...it's about to get far more exciting than this!
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