Wednesday, May 8, 2019

This is My Story: Part I

Photo Credit: A bowl full of lemons


If you follow me on Instagram, you will know that I am currently going through my own little health journey. As I stated in my post, I have always had a love for health, nutrition and fitness. It started back when I was recovering from anorexia at the age of 13; I had used it to recover in the healthiest way possible. Ever since, my passion has always been the one thing I could count on to keep me afloat during the toughest of times. For example, it helped me through years of depression. It also taught me self-love when I was healing through emotional trauma. Fitness and health have also always been my go to for learning and education. I could listen about it, study it and practice it day in and day out without ever getting tired or annoyed of it. I guess that’s why they call it a “passion”.

I live to workout!

But being a health and fitness guru doesn’t leave me completely immune to downfalls such as nutrient deficiencies, overtraining or the like. Sometimes, we health and fitness enthusiasts don’t always practice what we preach and as a result, we’re given something new to fix or resolve: ourselves.

Now, I’m not going to go too far back into my past to explain my current condition, although, it is important to understand the whole picture to include past relationship with food (I had an eating disorder at 13), emotional traumatic experiences (school bullying and relationship struggles), genetic predispositions (for me that would be hypothyroidism, diabetes, high blood pressure, just to name a few), etc. Instead, I’m going to start from where I believe things started going “down hill” and how they contributed to where I’m at now.

At the end of 2017, we had just moved to a new state during one of the most hectic times of the year: Thanksgiving/Christmas. Not the best time, but at the beach, it’s sort of the only time, so, we rolled with it. It was definitely a stressful time between moving and having to make sure all the gifts were purchased, but isn’t that why Christmas time always involves alcohol and cookies? It’s guaranteed to be stressful! And so is moving! But we made it through. The holidays passed, we were settled in, life was good. That was until my husband lost his job just a couple of months later.
This is home

At first I didn’t stress because he was given a pretty nice payout that could hold us for at least a good 4-5 months. But as months passed and no job found, I began to worry. On top of that, my children were still home full time (as I worked from home full-time) and I was still in the process of healing from past emotional trauma. I was going through quite a lot, but I was maintaining a morning beach meditation practice, working out daily and eating really well, so my body was able to handle the stress. At least, so I thought...

Several months after the job loss, I discovered I had an infection - the first one in over a decade. I figured it was just an anomaly, so I thought nothing of it. I made a few attempts to heal it naturally, but I was being really impatient, so I went straight for the antibiotics. My thought process was, my body is healthy and strong, so I could just use the antibiotics, kill the infection and reinnoculate my gut with good bacteria/probiotics right afterwards and everything would be fine. But I was wrong! All I did was start a chain reaction of issues that would eventually lead to what I have today.

While on antibiotics, I had contracted what I believe was bronchitis. I had it all: congestion, cough, mucus build up, etc - it sucked, but I pushed through it, doing what I knew was best for my body. At the same time, we were preparing for our family trip to Disney that we were leaving for in a couple of weeks…

Yeah, I know! Talk about timing! No job, expensive trip, sick body, airflight – Great combo of stress overload! Add to it more news that my company had just been purchased by another company – which means I just lost a sense of job security – and yeah, you could say I was slightly stressed and chronically worried about EVERYTHING.

At the tail end of my sickness, we took off on our flight to Disney – and my ears would not pop. Instead, it felt like fluid was pushed into my ear canals the moment the pressure changed. I spent the entire flight trying to get them to pop, with no success. Talk about painful! I spent the entire week with muted hearing and this constant feeling of things moving in my ear every time I swallowed or yawned. Just when I thought I was getting better from weeks of bronchitis, this occurred. Now I was really getting annoyed. I was supposed to be this model of health and fitness, so why the hell was my body falling apart on me!?

After our trip, my sinus cavities were still congested and my ears, still clogged and painful. So I decided to seek answers. My first stop, the ENT. I was so positive that I was going to get some answers during my appointment that day. But after an exam and a hearing test, all that was concluded was that my hearing was near perfect, even though I struggled to hear, and that the “trapped” fluid could just be from tight jaw muscles pushing against the ear canal and causing blockage. The cure? Don’t yawn, no excessive chewing (bye, bye gum) and eat soft foods…what!? That’s it? All I could think was, something is just not right. And so I continued to dig…

At that same appointment, I was beginning to show signs of something even worse occurring in my body…but what, I would not find out until a few days later.

It was November of 2018 when my body said enough was enough. What started as a cold turned into a multitude of unexplainable symptoms: Facial edema (my face was swollen), fever, shakes, fully body pain, nausea, vomiting, dehydration, loss of appetite, asphyxia or tightening of the throat, ear pain, pain in my abdomen where my liver was located, among several other symptoms. It. Was. Awful. I didn’t know what was going on, although based on my research and symptoms, I had it narrowed it down to a possible EBV viral infection. Of course, being the person that I am, I tried to recover from it naturally through rest and hydration. But after over a week of seeing no changes, my husband finally forced me to go to emergency care.
Not even a filter could hide the swelling
The doctor could not figure out what was wrong. She said she believed it was just a combination of multiple infections taking over my body. I had told her I thought it was the EBV virus and asked her to test for it, which later on, came back negative. Since she was unsure of what was going on, I was given fluids and prescribed antibiotics and steroids as well as given nausea reducing medications so that I could attempt to eat. She also withdrew blood to check on my liver enzyme count and gallbladder since both were swollen and/or tender.

Being as sick as I was, I wasn’t going to turn down the antibiotics and steroids - even though I debated several times. After all, it was the use of antibiotics that had gotten me to this point! After a few days of being on the prescriptions, most of my symptoms had disappeared and I felt almost normal again... except for the consistent sinus irritations and the tight feeling in my throat.

I returned for a follow up and to review my blood work, which at the time I had very little knowledge about. I was told simply that my liver enzyme count was up and that I was borderline anemic. This was shocking news to me considering I just had my iron counts tested only a few months back and was told that they looked great. She prescribed me proton pump inhibitors with the assumption that my tight throat was related to acid reflux, more steroids just in the case the swelling returned and asked that I get an ultrasound done on my liver to make sure nothing was wrong.

After a couple months, I never touched either meds, but I did finally decide to get the ultrasound done. Based on my research, I was sure the elevated enzymes were related to me being sick, but in my mind I was thinking, better safe than sorry. So I went. Finds out, nothing was wrong with my liver and my gallbladder was just a bit sludgy. Hmm ok. So still, no answers, but at least I was somewhat better.

Even though I had mostly recovered from a majority of the symptoms I was experiencing, I was still dealing with minor chronic symptoms such as sinus congestion, post-nasal drip, muffled hearing, ear pain, tightness in the throat, digestion issues and insomnia. But between the holidays, birthdays, new careers (yes, we both started new jobs/positions at the exact same time in January of 2019!), and other things going on, I just didn’t have the time to address them, so I just “dealt” with them, hoping, that through proper supplementation, healthy eating and good habits, they would eventually resolve themselves.

During this time, I also started listening to health podcasts and reading health related books. I figured I could at least educate myself on the underlying root causes of many dis-eases of the body and, in the process, learn about what I could do to heal my body. And THAT, I did!

To be continued in PART II...

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