A Time for Healing
My hope for sharing this is for you to know me better, but most importantly, I hope you hear my triumph, my never ending resolve to keep going. I hope that through my story you realize you have one too. May you put those pieces together and share the gift of that story with the world!
“Women are inherently abundant by design, and nearly every function of our body replenishes life.”
This is my story of healing, self-realization and growth. It has been one that I thought was isolated, but I have come to know that it is deeper and more shared than I could ever have known.
The turning point of my health for me came shortly after the birth of my second child in the spring of 2016. I experienced symptoms that began to change me viscerally and mentally. What I can only describe as manic-depressive feelings like I was “on speed” and then moments later experiencing “bone crushing fatigue.” It started as mastitis (breast infections) three times during my 4-month nursing period. I couldn’t shower or nurse without tears and blood.
I went in for a regular checkup and remember being panicky and on edge, full of symptoms I could not explain. I begged for whatever test would help me and my thyroid was tested. These lab results were the first sign of hypothyroidism and launched me into a quest of knowledge spurred on entirely by frustration. This began a grave mistrust of medicine for many years because I was shooed out of offices, told there is nothing for me, no treatment, no resources, no changes in diet, nor ever given an explanation as to why my body was behaving this way. The end result was medications and that was it.
This did not sit well with me so in December of 2016, I began visiting a naturopath. She told me to do weird things, like to drink clean water and to eat iron rich foods, things I had never heard conventional doctors speak of. She supplemented me with simple vitamins and gave me homeopathy. I was so desperate to feel well after dealing with insomnia for almost a year. She told me to stop eating white flour and white sugar and I did, and the world slowly began to gain its color. I visited a chiropractor and she let me borrow her book titled, “Why do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms? When My Lab Tests are Normal: a Revolutionary Breakthrough in Understanding Hashimoto’s Disease and Hypothyroidism.” There were so many things that I didn’t understand during this time period, but what I did understand is that there were many pathways that were working to connect my thyroid to my body. These experiences began to propel me into the health and nutrition field with alternative thinking.
In the fall of 2018 began and I started hitting a wall of noticeable fatigue and inability to concentrate while on my nursing shift. I was forgetful, my brain being almost blank at times. I blamed it on the day/night rotating shifts that were required of me. Maybe I was just a young inexperienced nurse who was nervous about making a mistake? I talked amongst my peers and wondered if they were as tired as I was? Bone crushing tired? Did they feel the headaches and stomachaches that pained me every night at 2am?
I headed back to a chiropractor because that’s all that I knew. I was in distress and unraveling! Blood tests confirmed antibodies to my thyroid. October 2018, I received my first official diagnosis of Hashimotos Thyroiditis. I did not accept my diagnosis, yet, but it gave me direction. I read everything I could get my hands on, I searched podcasts with anything mentioning Hashimotos Thyroiditis. I listened for hours and became familiar with all the names and verbiage. Reading continued and I found documentaries like The Paleo Way and The Magic Pill. Strange things were beginning to show a theme, grain free, food as medicine and remission. Sarah Ballentyne, Terry Wahls, Danielle Walker and Isabelle Wentz provoked deep thoughts as I began to read their stories, their books and recipes.
I have always loved food and cooking is a must for eating so I headed to the kitchen. It was sloppy, but I gave up dairy and grains and felt a veil lift. My energy came back, sleep was better and I began to work on the unit with a clear head.
Eventually progress peaked and my lifestyle couldn’t sustain me. I left my job because of my husband’s career change and it was a welcome respite because I was not getting better. I began to take the weekdays to continue cooking, and find an endocrinologist. The familiar dialog continued for me as it had all the dozens of stories from women who hit the same wall and fought the same battle wanting health and remission, but with no resolve from conventional medicine.
I knew enough and was sick enough to step out and launch into alternative medicine. I found a Functional Medicine doctor, trained in multiple modalities of both western and alternative medicine. The treatment began with supplements, tests and working on my mind/body connections. She used the term puzzle piece as if I was made up of all of these things instead of led to believe they were parts of me that were broken.
I was pregnant in March of 2019. My second trimester hit and I noticed blatant pelvic floor dysfunction. I was in another shadowy arena I had never been before. A voice entered my life, via podcast when I began to feel a growing internal shame about my pelvic floor symptoms. Sarah Smith began to implant in me the deep necessity of nutrition and gut/ pelvic floor health.
As I grew, my physical ability to work out, even walk fast, dwindled. I would experience continuous vaginal pressure, leaking and pressure until delivery. This spiraled me deep into frustration and negativity. I delivered my baby in a quiet birth center surrounded by my husband and the tenderness of midwives and nurses.
I remember getting up from bed the morning after birth and my stomach felt distinctly different, fatigue immediately washed over me and I said to myself, “my immune system is back on.” I had not learned that autoimmunity is not a switch you can turn on and off with pregnancy.
December of 2019 sped quickly past and around early March the stress in my body that was growing, came to pay the piper. My breast was sore and mastitis came for me again, this time raging. Day 3 came and with that a higher fever, I walked out for some sun and began to feel as weak as a stick and the pain relievers laughed at me. I broke.
That Friday the entire country would begin to face the COVID-19 pandemic. As the country began to buy out hand sanitizer, I felt numb to it all and relieved to be at home because I had nothing left.
That summer would be the darkest, hardest, weariest, most discouraging, most painful, sleepless and anger filled time of my life. I would spend almost the entirety of the country’s stay-at-home order fighting myself, literally and figuratively as I would go back and forth between acceptance and denial of my disease. I felt chronic muscle pain, every GI symptom you could imagine, intense anxiety and crippling depression and as a bonus, pelvic floor disfunction.
I then found myself reading The Autoimmune Wellness Handbook and I was moved by the words that explained what I had been feeling for years. The things described on those pages would empower, shape and ultimately change who I am. I felt reprieve as I finally accepted my diagnosis, almost two years later!
After healing from my infection, I continued to work with my Functional Medicine doctor and began gut healing treatment. There were immense nutrient deficiencies that were all tied together, stirred around by difficult social times and tangled up with the needs of three small children.
Connection is a great theme of my healing journey. I realized that as I healed one system, it eased the work load on other areas. I was as broken as I felt, but more broken in entirety than I ever realized. But even though I was broken as a whole being, I would heal as a whole being. In May of 2020 I revisited Sarah Smith and in combination with care, she had a vital impact on bringing me slowly back together. Sarah gave me a place to start connecting. She helped me to move again and to trust my body for the first time and believe it is strong despite all the negative things I had said to it. I began to work diligently, days and into the months, breathing, rocking and telling my body it was safe.
Resilience is not strength, but it is the ability to quickly recover from difficulties. I began to heal at an unknown time, on no particular day in late summer of 2020.
My hope is that you join me and all the women who have gone before us and have struggled and healed autoimmunity and pelvic floor dysfunction.
What would happen if you took the first step in the journey of 1,000 miles?