I am 33 years old and very proud to say the healthiest I have ever been! My life has been spent in and out of countless doctor’s offices and hospital after hospital. I have a very complex medical history. I have a bleeding disorder called Aggregate Platelet dysfunction. I have Sphincter of Oddi Dysfunction, Systemic Lupus, and Chrohn’s Disease.
I am not going to bore you with every little detail or about every single surgery. To be honest, I am not sure I can tell you how many surgeries I have had. I lost count around the age of 20. So instead, I want to share with you my “Aha” moments… the moments in my life where everything suddenly made sense!
My first “Aha” moment wasn’t a good one. When I was 16 years old, I got really sick and was taken to the E.R. They started the first surgery in a series of 8 surgeries and the first three platelet transfusions of 25. After the last surgery, the end result was a removed gallbladder and the removal of the muscle in my bile ducts. I over- heard the doctor tell my parents I wasn’t leaving the hospital this time. My first “Aha” moment was that I was going to die. My health is killing me! My teen years continued on the same path. Sick, sick, sick. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I was told “You need to put your affairs in order. You won’t be leaving the hospital this time”.
My second “Aha” moment occurred when I was 22. I was not prepared for what I was about to hear. I heard my Doctor tell someone in the room next door, “I am sorry but there is nothing else I can do for you. You are going to die and you might have two months to live.” I was floored and felt horrible for that family. A few minutes later the doctor entered the room we were in. He was very shaken up and sad. He gave me a hug as always ( he had been my doctor since I was 13) and asked how I was feeling. The doctor looked over my tests, stood up, looked me in the eye and said “Look…we know you are sick. You are going have these symptoms off and on for the rest of your life. You are dying, but not today. I just told an 8 year old his life is over. You are still alive now, so what are you going to do with it?”
That moment completely changed my life forever! He was right. He and all the other doctors couldn’t seem to be able to tell me how to get better nor could they tell me how much time I had left. It was all up to me! Everything I was told as a child went through my mind like a recording. I came to one big conclusion… Everything the doctors have told me has been wrong. I am still alive! If everything they said was wrong up until now, I couldn’t believe anything they said! At that moment, everything any doctor had ever told me became a challenge for me to prove them wrong!
I accepted that challenge!! After years of medications and doctors, I decided that knowledge was my only power. The only hope I had of living a good life in my body was to figure it out on my own. My research has been focused around fitness science and nutrition for over 10 years now. This is my story and what I have learned.
Now before we go any further, there has always been another side to me other than going to doctors and hospitals all the time. This is the Physical side of me. Being born with a club foot, I was very blessed to have a corrective surgery when I was two days old.
Even though my club foot was corrected, it has always been a constant source of pain and a weakness. My parents believed if I worked it out, I could live a semi normal life. They put me in dance class at 2 years old. I loved to dance! It was painful, but it worked. My ankle got stronger, I grew up active, and I continued to dance as much as I could. I was able to do most of the things that other kids could do as I just wore a brace.
The one thing I was never able to do was run. Running from one base to another in softball was really hard for me. I eventually quit trying to run and found a passion for kick boxing at age 13. Oh how I loved it! I could use my left leg to stand on and kick with my right leg where my club foot was. This kind of took the right foot out of the equation. My right ankle was isolated and I didn’t need to use it much. It was difficult, but like dancing, I loved it and it made it easier to deal with the pain. As time went on I realized I was very adaptable to pain. It just became an everyday part of my life for as long as I can remember. I learned, however, to build a tolerance with time, allowing me to continue doing the two things I loved.
I worked really hard my entire life to earn a dance scholarship. Earning that scholarship was always on my mind, so I kept my grades up to a 3.5- 4.0. I danced as much as I possibly could and took every dance class that was offered. Dancing takes a big toll on a healthy body and for me it got harder and harder. When I was in high school I remember soaking in the bath tub for hours just crying as I was in so much pain. The older I got, the sicker I became. The loss of energy and strength made it harder to do the things I loved. Still, I kept pushing my body to dance . My scholarship was in reach.
In about the middle of 11th grade I watched all my dreams go down the drain as I was in the hospital so much. My body deteriorated so much that I couldn’t dance anymore. I was taken out of school and put on home study. My scholarship was gone. I would still kick box every chance that I would get. This was my only outlet for my anger. Not being able to dance changed me. In my mind, all my hard work was for nothing. What good was a dancer that couldn’t dance? The only thing I could do was fight and fight. Every day was a constant battle in my body. I felt like my body had taken so much from me.
I would start to feel better and start to exercise again, rebuilding the muscles and strength. Then I would get sick again and start all over. The process was daunting to say the least. I was bored and losing my passion to do it again. So I found someone that needed to lose 80 pounds of baby weight.
This was “Aha” moment number 3. I was 26 years old. It was so much easier to focus on her than me. I became her personal trainer. I taught her how to eat right, all about nutrition and healthy alternatives. I also put together a complete workout routine for her. Together she lost the 80 pounds. I gained back my strength and stamina. This was the start of another chapter of my life. My quest to helping other people get healthy. I found success on others success. When it came time to start over it was much easier with someone else to help.
I decided it was time to try and dance again. I started out with simple dance drills with the person I was helping. It felt so good to be able to do these drills. Over the next 5 years I slowly incorporated more and more dance into the workouts. It was very effective for all of us, but still very painful for me. At this point I had such bad arthritis that I would put icy hot all over before and after a work-out. In addition, I used a heating pad and took a lot of hot baths, and used pain medication when needed. At that point in my life, I was on a LOT of prescription drugs! I took drugs for my Crohn’s (including steroids), two different blood pressure medications, nerve blocker medications and pain medications. I was, also, on estrogen due to a Hysterectomy at age 22. I even took medicine to sleep. Altogether, I was on a total of 12 prescriptions drugs!
A year and a half ago I started working with a group of kids at a local high school. Watching these kids pushed me another step into looking for answers once again, but this time not only for me, but also for the kids. I have always encouraged the students to eat healthy and to stay active.
I started to study my body again and started “journaling”. I wrote about everything I ate, how it made me feel, and I wrote down all my symptoms. I read it over and over again. Working with the kids and creating food logs made me think about how I ate as a kid. It was horrible. I lived off Dr.Pepper, pizza, and nachos. I began to see patterns and learned how food negatively affected me. I then began mentoring sick kids, researched their symptoms and conditions, and found more and more info on nutrition and the conditions they had.
My next “Aha” moment occurred. Food!! It all tied into the way I had been eating my entire life. I started researching and reading anything I could get my hands on about nutrition once again. I began an exercise program with the kids again and I did it all with them. Over time I learned what I could and could not eat. Making changes over the years helped me get a bit better, but still far from where I wanted to be. I still had my flare ups and still had a lot of down days. I was struggling to keep up with the kids.
On June 1 2012, I finally found answers! I began my health recovery program by taking the essential nutrients that my body needs. It has been heaven sent! On top or that, I went gluten-free. It was a little hard going gluten- free at first, but as I began to find alternatives, it made it easier.
I noticed immediate results in the first week!
My blood pressure went from 178/108 to 138/98. I was ecstatic!! I also noticed my club foot wasn’t hurting as much. I was taking Aleve for arthritis and other joint pain twice a day for years. All of a sudden I didn’t need Aleve any longer. I also noticed I was starting to have more energy.
I continued to have more energy. The Chrohn’s had settled down to a manageable point. I continued to feel less pain from my Club Foot and Arthritis.
My blood pressure was 122/81, the lowest it had been in years! I worked out with the kids at the High School for 5 days this week for 2 hours straight each day without my ankle brace or Aleve. This was the first time in my life that I have ever done anything physical without a brace!
I went to the doctor for my standard check up. My blood pressure was 130/80 which is perfect! All my blood work came up good. For the first time ever on my medical charts it said “blood has thickened”. Never have I read that before!
My health continues to get better!