The (health) Road less Traveled..... my story part 2
Well hello there!
I had no intention of leaving you hanging precariously on my life's edge, but the last few days have gotten away from me. Farm life is full of unknowns, and at times you must drop everything and take care of the business at hand.
So where was I? Last I left you, you were dealing with a 30's something gal with endometriosis, interstitial cystitis, osteopenia, and hypercholesterolemia. That makes it sound like I had one foot in the grave! Not so.... other than "that", I was pretty healthy and pretty active. I had given up Diet Cokes and coffee as my New Year's resolution in 1995 simply because my stomach couldn't take them anymore. (It's the only resolution I've ever kept!). That was probably the best unintentional health step I've ever taken.
The combined diagnosis of osteopenia and hypercholesterolemia was a rude awakening tho! I realized that something had to give in my life....but it wasn't going to be my cheese (I am a confirmed cheese-aholic). I started researching natural ways to decrease cholesterol and interestingly enough, I came across an elderly person, an article, and a book all about the same time. All three recommended raw milk. Say what? You can learn more about raw milk here and here and also by reading The Untold Story of Milk by Ron Schmid, ND. After doing some very thorough research, we drank the K̶o̶o̶l̶-̶A̶i̶d̶ milk and never looked back. Because I'm science-minded, I decided that we would be guinea pigs ourselves.. since we both had cholesterol issues (high LDL and low HDL and average Triglycerides) pre- raw milk. A year after drinking it religiously we both went back and were rechecked. No other methods of lowering cholesterol were used during that time. And by golly.... the proof was in the Quest Medical Diagnostics report. It was like our cholesterol had turned upside down. The LDL was now low, and the HDL was remarkably high and the triglycerides had lowered too. Hmmmm. I might just make it to old age after all. I was unable to get a bone density test at that time because our insurance wouldn't pay for it again. (stay tuned... we will revisit that in a big way later).
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, my bladder situation had improved a bit, but only with close diet control. In addition to my stomach, it appeared that I had a very finicky bladder too... my doctor had told me that certain foods would cause bladder spasms, but that everyone that has IC has a different set of food triggers, and I would have to figure out which triggers were mine. Oh boy.... here's what I found out immediately: citrus... all kinds (except for low acid oranges). onions (but not garlic). Tomatoes (but not yellow ones). Peanut butter (but not organic peanut butter). Pineapple (but not if I eat it in the country it's grown in!). Cantaloupe (but not Honeydew). Peppers of any kind....and many more. Yes, the list was strange. And frequently, I would avoid everything I thought I should, and I would STILL have problems day and night. It was very frustrating and I went for nearly 10 years with no REM sleep... at least not deep enough to ever dream. Heavy sigh.
In 2009 Charlie and I went on a business trip (for him.. pleasure for me) to northern Thailand. It was an amazing trip......even including the political uprising occurring while we were there which prevented us from leaving the country. Over the 3 weeks we were in Chiang Mai, we ate nothing but fresh clean food, and guess what...by the end of our stay, I had very few bladder problems. It was amazing. We talked it over, and came to the conclusion that eating fresh and organic food might have played a part in this dramatic improvement. So upon our arrival home, I did the "great kitchen overhaul" and threw out everything that wasn't fresh or that would qualify as being a processed food item. My eyes had been opened even further to food as a true healing agent. Interestingly, I had been an "above average" eater in terms of eating healthy before, so even the seemingly insignificant semi-poor eating habits were wreaking havoc on my bladder. The food changes I implemented really helped, but I was still getting up 3-4 times a night on a good night.
I had been dabbling in supplements and herbals for several years by now. We had discovered that exposure to chemicals of all kinds (including certain medications both prescription and OTC) had the tendency to set my bladder on fire, whereas I could usually achieve the result I needed (whether that be cleaning or needing to rectify a fairly common health issue) with a cleaner product. We discovered that we are actually pretty dang good organic gardeners....and that we really could grow what was healthy AND safe for us to eat. We also bit the bullet and got our own dairy cows (whom we LOVE). There is much more to this story, but for the FDA's sake, let me just say that I was introduced to a product that I ended up making into a face serum (for my 40 something year old farmgirl face) along with another product designed to "support recovery time and acute inflammation associated with exercise and overall joint health"..... both of which were NOT for my bladder. Serendipity is a wonderful thing when it happens....And that's what happened. I "serendipi-fied" my bladder, and woe and behold.... I slept thru the night, not just once, but fairly regularly from that point forward (late night farm noise notwithstanding). I understand now how and why each product worked as it did adding support to my bladder, but at the time, I was shocked at the beauty of sleeping without needing to constantly pee. Now, let me be clear. I am not cured, but my IC is nearly 100% managed when I abide by a good diet, hydration, my face (wrinkle) serum, and a joint supplement. Interesting, huh?
Fast forward again to 2015. I had a run in with our bull. Literally. He charged me, and pretty much knocked my left foot off of my leg. By the grace of God, I did not bleed to death right then and there in the pasture. AND, by the grace of God, an excellent EMT team, and a great surgeon, I was able to keep my foot despite the destruction that had occurred..... tendons severed and complete external dislocation of the tibia, and fracture of the fibula among other things. Wait. Back up. Did you notice anything peculiar about the last sentence? That girl who was osteopenic 15 years prior who should have now been osteoporotic.... was charged by a bull who knocked a bone literally out of her leg, that didn't break? The surgeon's comments were these: "Your leg should have shattered upon impact given your history. I think it's time for another bone density scan.". And yes, the scan revealed that I now (as a 48 year old) had the bones of a healthy 18 year old woman. Shut up. Yes, really.
So what was my secret? Again, serendipity stepped in. The raw milk I've been drinking for 15 years for my cholesterol and the magnesium I've been taking for the last few years have done their job well..... better than I had imagined they would. People, proper food heals. Elimination of chemicals in your life heals. Listening to your body and correcting problems before they are out of control are life sustaining actions that heal. Exercise heals. It's that simple. (and yes, I do walk without a limp, have participated in multiple 5K's, and work out weekly with a P31 bootcamp sisterhood... and my EMT friends who saw me that day think THAT'S miraculous)
I want to shout from the rooftops! Being healthy is really not that hard. I see people every day at the pharmacy who come in looking older than me, or struggling just to make it thru the day. Who are on disability..... ENORMOUS numbers of people in our country on disability. That limits their income, and limits their life and their life's dreams. Don't tell me it's too hard to be healthy. Watching them, I'd say it's much harder to be "permanently sick" than to constantly strive towards good health.
This is my heart song.... to help others find their way back towards health.
Want to join me in this journey? Come on in,..... and Welcome!
The (health) Road Paved with Good Intentions..... my story Part 1
If you want to ask something nearly impossible of an introvert, ask them to write a blog about themselves. Sheesh! This is going to be a rough one for me to write.
Yes, I'm an introvert and don't normally air my health laundry...... but my passion to promote great health is bigger than my privacy issues.... and YOUR health is just as important as mine.... so I'm here to spill the beans on how I came to be "a healthy me" at the age of 50. Perhaps you can glean some inspiration, knowledge, and hope from MY story....and then maybe you too can turn your health around. I going to dissect my life into two halves, and will post the first half today... the second will come by the end of the week.
Life is full of lessons. I have been fortunate in that my profession of choice (pharmacy) has given me the gift of continuous learning. I LOVE learning, researching, digging up and exhuming hidden facts. It took me many years to piece together my health story, but once I did, everything made perfect sense. If I had not made some conscious choices to change my life habits in my early 30's, I likely would be one of the statistics (one of the "one in two" people in the USA with an active chronic health condition).
I was not a chronically hospitalized kid growing up, but I had my share of chronic issues. I was the kid in the family that the pediatrician saw frequently for fairly severe allergies, bad asthma, and for some odd reason, strep throat regularly. I had a steady diet of (prescription strength) Dimetapp, steroids, and antibiotics in the early '70's. When I hit puberty, my cycles... tho regular... were excruciating. It took a few years, but I was finally diagnosed with endometriosis. This was in the early '80's, and not many doctors were well studied on this female disorder. I will abbreviate the story here.... 2 surgeries later, and after being told to 'have children quickly or good luck with that'..... we found a way to manage the ongoing problem with a prescription. Meanwhile, I still had allergies to many things. Sadly, the things I loved the most were the things I was most allergic to!..... animals and the great outdoors (pollen, grasses, trees, etc)! My allergies were severe enough that they prevented me from entering Vet School (my life long dream). I was crushed, and after some deep thought, switched directions to pursue a pharmacy degree. Many years of college (and working while in college), poor diet, too much coffee and Diet Coke and not enough sleep eventually gave me some fairly significant stomach issues. I graduated in '91 with my degree and a diagnosis of (ICD-10 code K59.9) 'functional intestinal disorder, unspecified' as an added bonus.
Fast forward.... Charlie and I got married in '92........ and in 2001, after 4 doctors and many months of seeking answers for my new issue (the incessant need to pee both night and day) ... I got diagnosed with interstitial cystitis (a bladder condition that has no cure). Thru trial and error over the next several years ( that's another post/another day) we found a definitive pattern regarding food triggers. Using diet modifications, I was able to 'somewhat' manage my IC without the VERY EXPENSIVE drugs or the daily self- catheterizations that are common among people with this condition. Thank God! Let me tell you.... there is no incentive like the prospect of daily self-cathing to change your diet!
About the same time my IC was diagnosed, I had a fairly minor fall (tripping over a wheelbarrow) and broke my wrist. I was 33. My orthopedist suggested a bone density scan, and I was subsequently diagnosed with osteopenia. He told me to take more calcium and warned me that I would probably need to be on a medication to prevent further bone loss before I turned 40. It was the same year that Charlie and I both were told that we both had high cholesterol (over 200), and that if we didn't attempt to lower our cholesterol levels soon we would both need to be on a cholesterol med.
So you see..... I was right on track with the "not so American Dream".... to be good and unhealthy by the ripe old age of 40. I was set to join the ranks of the 50% who drew the genetic short straw and got to be on the losing team of the "one in two" who have a chronic health condition. Yay me! Not.
And this is where the baby steps of change truly began occurring.
Fast forward to 2017....so how did a sickly, allergic, asthmatic .....who became a young adult with endometriosis and a messed up gut.... who then became an adult with interstitial cystitis, osteopenia, and hypercholesterolemia on top of all the previous ailments (at 33) become a healthy 50 year old? That, my friends, is what comes next..... how I slowly worked my way backwards out of this health hot mess train wreck I was going to be the older I got.
Stay tuned.... You truly ARE what you eat..... and drink.... and expose your body to (or deprive your body of)!
According to the CDC, approximately 1 in 2 adults in the United States suffers from at least one chronic health condition. The comorbidity (having more than one chronic condition) is even more probable once a condition is identified. Why is this? Well, for starters, one condition tends to breed another simply by body system design. If you have gut issues, chances are high that you will eventually have chronic emotional health issues as well as emerging chronic skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis.
But there is another issue at hand once a condition is identified by traditional western medicine..... you see, all medications have some sort of side effect, and the more potent the medication, the more likely a side effect will occur. Something as innocuous as using as steroid cream for eczema could lead to a fungal infection.... or a cholesterol med whose little known side effects lead to dementia. This is not myth... it's reality and I see it happening daily in my pharmacy practice. How many people actually DO read independently about the meds they've been prescribed?....digging deeper than the padded information the drug companies make available? Would you be willing to take a medication that may affect your memory?....and yet millions of people do. Every. Single. Day. This tells me that they neither read the fine print OR dig deeper on their own.
Medication is helpful in certain circumstances (especially emergencies!) , but it should not be used as a band-aid or quick fix if other options are available first. We Americans are guilty of a quick fix mentality as a rule. "What's the easiest way I can continue my life.... as I like it....?" There is no quick fix towards achieving good health. It requires work, perseverance, and application of knowledge. People tell me "That's too hard". After 25 years of watching patients, I can tell you that it is a much harder to be sick (in the traditional western medicine sense) than to actively work towards a healthier lifestyle. I know this intimately because I was once there too. Stay tuned..... my health story is coming.
Thanks for choosing to find out what "this" is all about.
As a healthcare professional, my first thoughts are always "What is the current state of health of the people involved?" whenever a disaster strikes. As a fellow prepper, my husband and I have done our share of getting ready for whatever may come. We have our food, water, shelter, protection plan, and tangible asset management plans in place and are constantly updating them.
But who has a backup wellness plan in place? This is a problem, and a big one.... considering that over half of all adults in the United States has one or more chronic health conditions. We need to get back on our feet BEFORE disaster strikes and work towards wellness. I'd love to help you do that.
Some health issues simply can't be prevented. When the poop hits the fan, what are you going to do about supporting weakened body systems if/when your normal resources are not available? If you'd like to hang around, I'll be discussing natural ways to support our body systems and emotional health in weeks to come. Information can also be found throughout my website .