Category Archives: GAPS

Taking the Plunge – The Great GAPS Do-Over

Standard

More than four years ago, with the help of the Gut And Psychology Syndrome diet I carried myself over the distance from merely keeping my Fibromyalgia symptoms in check to living wholly without symptoms and able to do anything that I liked.  It was a leap that I took like all the others before it from dropping the prescriptions to returning to my acupuncture appointment after my first experience was powerfully new and frightening… it was based on inspiration, an absolute need to be healthy, and shear guts, and it worked.  Better than I even hoped it would.

But, healthy is a tricky thing, or rather, the mind is a tricky thing when it comes to health.  When we are feeling healthy we are often feeling indestructible and brave. We are feeling certain of our enduring health. Like a teenager who believes in their own immortality we take risks, we test limits, we fall for lies, and we slip into the crowd.  I did just this.  After less than 6 months of pure health and freedom we took off for an epic trip around the country that would last more than a year.  The trouble began just four weeks later when we arrived in Taos, NM.  Lured in by the promise of “the most amazing pizza” we leaped off the wagon and never looked back.  From that point on we loaded our RV with healthy organic food, and ate out at every pizza joint we crossed (or could seek out) in 27 states.  There was a time in the summer of 2009 that I could eat pizza two times in a day and 7 times in a week.  Pizza.  From any kind of restaurant, from the hole in the wall sliceries to the fanciest pizzerias.  Made with god knows what kind of ingredients, and stuffed with gluten, hormones and preservatives.  Feeling strong I didn’t actually worry about it.  Then when there were no repercussions I we emboldened and moved out with wild abandon into my reckless crash back into the S.A.D. (Standard American Diet).

It was two months before I was willing to recognize that I was not feeling perfect anymore, but my psyche was all too willing to rationalize it away.  I was healthy after all… look at all the things I could do!

Four months after falling off the wagon ( a full 18 months before I should have even attempted to start adding foods back into my diet) I was having pain again and no longer woke easily in the morning.  I was heading in the wrong direction and clinging to the lies my mind gave me to make it okay.  I was living freely for the first time in memory.  I was traveling the country and wanted to experience everything with no limits, and so I did.  Here’s the kicker, the GAPS diet that I gave so little time to had given me so much healing in that short time that I was able to get away with this for more than a year, until my body succumbed to the major taxation of pregnancy and could no longer handle both things.  By the summer of 2010 I was again experiencing the full range of Fibromyalgia symptoms, with a new baby, a temporarily crippled husband and a house torn down for mold remediation and renovations, we turned again to a dependency on restaurants and easy foods.  I actually cringed when I watched myself feeding my children boxed organic cereals for breakfast, and there I met the end of my reign of health and perception of it.

I cleaned up my act.  We cut out all the major offenses from packaged and restaurant foods, to flours.  It was a definite improvement.  I felt my health return fairly quickly and regained a sense of control. But, since then I have had this lingering feeling of fatigue, sensitivity, and general poor constitution.  It follows me around at all times making me question what I am capable of… what I can get away with.  I have felt strained, anxious, weak, uncertain and afraid of the occasional flare ups.  It sucks.  It has sucked for more than two years now… that fear, uncertainty and doubt.  The hard but unlabeled limits to my health.

And so, after years of hemming and hawing about it I am going to take the plunge and begin all over again with my eye on utter and complete health… fearless freedom in my physical existence.  I have tried all things on the scale from deep disease to absolute health and every compromise in between.  I think I needed to know the limits.  I think I needed to know the truth about my choices.  I know now.  No amount of food freedom is worth living with the threatening shadow of disease.

I am going to do my best to document the whole process here.  I’ll include the good, the bad, and the (inevitably) very ugly.

Let’s go ahead and begin with where I am: The Preparing/Planning Phase.

On the intro diet of GAPS I will be limited to bone broth and boiled meats and vegetables.  Last time we had the whole family on the diet.  This time, for now, I will be going it alone.  Each week, as always, I will make a breakfast/lunch/dinner/snack menu for the family, but I will plan a different menu of broths and soups for myself.

Since I know that I have digestive issues I will be taking both a Pepsin-HCI supplement as well as a pancreatic enzyme supplement.  I have been taking Bio-Kult brand Probiotics, so I will continue with that with the goal of adding in fermented veggie juice to my broth and ultimately fermented vegetables like homemade pickles, kimchi and sauerkraut.

In addition to the probiotics, and enzymes I have tinctures of Skullcap (a nervine), St. John’s Wort (an anti-inflammatory) and California Poppy (for pain).

Over the next couple of weeks I will build up a supply of meaty bones (for soups/stocks).  Right now we make (and use) around 17 quarts (4.5 gallons) of bone stock every 7-9 days.  When I am eating in for all three meals a day and snacks I will likely need more as I will be consuming around three quarts per day.  To manage this we buy our organic bones in bulk from a local rancher and have a 9 gallon lidded stock pot to brew the 4.5 gallons of stock in.
I will also be ordering (discounted) bulk amounts of celery, onions, and garlic from the farmers at the local farmers markets.  Luckily I have a ton of carrots, beets, tomatoes and squash growing our our gardens to add to the soups and won’t need to purchase these for a few months.

I have also purchased 5 lb bags of Celtic Sea Salt and Organic Peppercorns.  I will be using these along with dried herbs to flavor broth and soups.  This week my order of 2 gallons of organic unrefined coconut oil arrived with my 5lb bags of Nettles, Raspberry Leaf, Oatstraw, Horsetail, Comfrey, Elderberries, Rosehips and others that I will outline in another post that includes their useful properties and their preparation.  Many of these provide essential vitamins and minerals in addition to their ability to ease certain symptoms.

What I am presently lacking is a supply of detox bath ingredients.  I did not do detox bathing last time, but I would really like to do it this time to ease the process.  Baths have long been my safe space, if I am feeling ill, overwhelmed, nervous, tired, angry, sad, anything, you will likely find me in the bath.  It eases all ills.  This time I will be adding things like sea salts, baking soda, and clay to the water to draw out the toxins that will be looking for a way out once I begin the healing process and cutting out the foods that supply these toxins into my body.

Right now I’m feeling a little more powerful and certain a shift that always comes when I shift from worry to action, but I am also nervous about managing the cost, dealing with the cleansing symptoms, sticking to my prescribed diet while my family eats my favorite foods, and remembering to take my supplements consistently.  I can not afford enough Fermented Cod Liver Oil to keep a consistent supply of it, so I will take it when I can and forget about it when I can’t.

For right now I will be going without the acupuncture support that I had last time, as well as the medicinal marijuana to manage the die-off and cleansing pain and panic attacks.  This cleansing and healing of the gut can have pronounced effects on the way that the world feels, looks, seems, so it can create some very intense emotions.  For this I will be turning to herbal teas, a safe space to work through intense moments and support from my husband when I need the reassurance that I will need, for even having experiential knowledge of how this works and what it feels like and how it will turn out in the end, in those intense moments it can all go out the window in a quick panic.  I want to be prepared for that.

One last thing.  I have obtained a prescription for eight  5/325 Hydrocodone from a local clinic.  These are my last stronghold against the fear that can cause me to fail to begin or to quit when the going gets tough.  The goal is to not take them at all since they will extend the cleansing, healing process, but I have them for peace of mind.  Whenever I feel that fear, that worsening (before bettering) of symptoms I will have my silent promise to myself:  You can handle this, and if you can’t you won’t suffer it.  This is a choice, not a sentence.  This is a choice, not a sentence.  Make the right one.

 

But, WHY Am I Sick?

Standard

One of the questions that I carried around for nearly two decades was “Why am I sick”.  The medical community had nothing helpful to tell me… could be hereditary… that was the most helpful answer I got to the ‘why’.  Why then is it so much more prevalent now than it was a generation ago?  Why is it SO much more common now than it was a mere 20 years ago when I was first diagnosed?  20 years ago you had to find a specialist who actually knew what Fibromyalgia was.  Now you can stop five people on the street and at least one of them could likely tell you what it is and who they know that has it.

Why?  Well, I’m no doctor (thank god) but in my experience, and that of every other Fibro Survivor I have met, it is a case of toxic overload of the body.  Our chemical and food environments are wholly different than those of our grandparents.  In a single generation we have dramatically altered the world that we live in.  There are more than 7,000,000,000 recognized chemicals in existence, and more than 80,000 of them are in common use, though the EPA and FDA have no idea how many chemicals are in use in consumer products, what products they are in, nor what these chemicals actually do.  Thousands of new chemicals are approved for use in consumer products each year and the EPA and FDA can only request a small amount of information about these chemicals because the actual content and actions of the chemicals are protected.  80% of these new chemicals are approved within 3 weeks with no information about what they are, how they will be used, or what they might do to life on the planet or inside your body.

We rub our bodies with known carcinogens.  We clean our homes with hormonal disrupting chemicals created in a lab.  The most affordable foods available are also created in labs and factories, and then when we turn up sick, exhausted, depressed, afraid, we are treated with chemical pills created right along side our cleaners and pesticides.  To prevent illness we saturate our entire environment in antibiotics and antimicrobials.  The fundamental problem here:  We ourselves, our comprised of bacterias.  Without them our bodies cease to function, cease to be able to digest and use the food we eat, cease to be able to defend against and then get rid the toxins that we take in.

Let’s break for a moment a learn a couple of interesting and important things about our bodies:

EPIGENETICS – what are they and what does it have to do with Fibromyalgia and other environmental illness?  Here’s where we return to that oh so helpful thing we get told about Fibro, “It appears to be genetic”. Epigenetics affect how a gene (your DNA) is expressed, or “turned on or off”.  Many, many factors can affect your epigenetic tags from the food we eat to the chemicals we are exposed to.  Some epigenetic tags can be passed down from your mother or father.

Why is learning more about epigenetics important? Everything you’ve been taught about genetics is wrong! Well, it’s not completely wrong, but if you weren’t taught about epigenetics, you weren’t told the whole truth. The genes were born with do change. Our DNA is not set in stone.”  The good news is that also means that you can CHANGE yours.  In the pursuit of simplicity, let’s turn to this quick Nova video explaining Epigenetics.

“As the chemical tags that control our genes change, cells can become abnormal, triggering diseases.”

“One of the main findings of research is that epigenomes can change in fusion with what we eat, what we drink, what we smoke, and this is one of the key differences between epigentics and genetics.”

I have all the reason in the world, my health, to believe that a person can, on their own, repair their epigenetics in the same way that they sustained the damage: what we put into, onto and around our bodies in the form of food, drink, vitamins, minerals, and chemicals.

How the guts work:

All disease begins in the gut” -Hippocrates

“And the more we learn ,with all our scientific muscle, is just how right he was, just how correct he was.  When we talk about the digestive system, we have to talk about what lives there and what takes care of it.  We have to talk about the housekeepers of our second brain and our major immune system organ, and the organ which feeds us and protects us and detoxifies us.  We have to talk about gut flora.  The scientists recently, in Scandinavia, have established the fact that about 90% of all cells and all genetic material in your body is your gut flora. So we are just about 10% of our bodies, we only are a shell that holds this microscopic world inside us and we ignore that world at our peril.  It’s role of our physiology, and our psychology, and functioning of that 10% of us, is so fundamental that because we have ignored it for such a long time our health status is in a bad way at the moment.” -Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride

Here is Dr. Campbell-McBride on why a healing diet is fundamentally necessary to the reversal of diseases such as Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

What we eat, what we put into our bodies, and on them… the chemicals we choose to clean our homes, our laundry, our hands and our hair, to scent our air… the chemicals that are applied to our foods without our knowledge or labeling laws to protect us… these things are the things which are making us sick. These things are the things which we can choose to eradicate from our lives.  Knowledge is power my lovelies, and as you begin to fill your brain with all the truths of the matter of why we are sick you will find that therein lies the power that you need to manage everything that you must do to reclaim your life, your health.

So, here’s to our health!

Or as my father says, “Eat as if your life depends on it!” because, after all, you are what you eat 😉

Get Cultured!

Standard

cover

“Born of necessity and waste-not-want not attitude, probiotic foods have nourished the human race for thousands of years and appear in one form or another in traditional cuisines cross-globally.  Fermented foods are rich in probiotics – those beneficial bacteria that keep our immune systems and digestive tracts running smoothly and healthfully.”

Get Cultured: Probiotic Foods from a Nourished Kitchen, the first of many e-books detailing tried-and-true nourishing recipes, Get Cultured details thirteen recipes from classics like pickled jalapeños and real sauerkraut to the exotic like Vietnamese preserved limes, green salsa and cortido.

Each recipe in Get Cultured focuses on nourishing pro-biotic, naturally fermented vegetables and all the recipes are dairy-free.

>>> Check it out at nourishedkitchen.com/get-cultured/


Healing Beef Stock

Standard

Broth, made from the bones of animals, has been consumed as a source of nourishment for humankind throughout the ages. It is a traditional remedy across cultures for the sick and weak. A classic folk treatment for colds and flu, it has also been used historically for ailments that affect connective tissues such as the gastrointestinal tract, the joints, the skin, the lungs, the muscles and the blood. Broth has fallen out of favor in most households today, probably due to the increased pace of life that has reduced home cooking in general. Far from being old-fashioned, broth (or stock) continues to be a staple in professional and gourmet cuisine, due to its unsurpassed flavor and body. It serves as the base for many recipes including soup, sauces and gravy. Broth is a valuable food and a valuable medicine, much too valuable to be forgotten or discounted in our modern times with our busy ways and jaded attitudes.  – Allison Siebecker

Throughout my healing journey broth and stock have played starring roles for everything from Fibromyalgia to the most severe stomach flu.  It is humble, unassuming, and so easily dismissed, but it is a true healer.  It took me a while not just to give credit to the benefits of broth, but to implement it as a mainstay in my daily life, but the process has been well worth it.  Not only does it help to heal the body, but it soothes the rough patches of the healing process like die-off, stomach irritation, fatigue and inflammation.  While chicken stock is considered the cream of the stock crop, it is beef stock that we prefer around here because it is easier for us to acquire great bones.  We have made stock from everything from Yak (yes, yak!) to fish and even combined poultry and beef bones.  Each family member has their favorite, but all stock can be wonderfully beautiful in flavor while it does it’s healing work.

From ediblearia.com..

“…if there’s one preparation that separates a great home cook’s from a good home cook’s food, it’s stock.  Stock is the ingredient that most distinguishes restaurant cooking from home cooking.”  -Michael Ruhlman

Here, then, is a proper yet relatively easy way to make a rich, delicious, and (most importantly) healing beef stock at home..

Beef Stock (makes about 1 quart) (informed by recipes by Ruhlman and Darina Allen)

6 cups (more-or-less) cold, filtered water, divided
2 pounds meaty beef bones (shin bones with meat attached are ideal) from a clean, non-industrial source
1/3 pound unpeeled yellow onions, roughly chopped
1/3 pound carrots, roughly chopped
1/3 pound celery, roughly chopped
5 cloves garlic, unpeeled
1 large fresh, ripe tomato, cut into wedges
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
2-3 whole cloves
1 bouquet garni of parsley stalks & leaves, fresh bay leaves and fresh thyme

Arrange the beef bones on a roasting pan or in a large cast iron skillet, allowing plenty of space between each (as you can see, I wasn’t able to find any bones with meat attached, so I rummaged around in the freezer and found an old tri-tip to add to the pan).  Place the pan in a 400 degree oven and roast until nicely browned, about 45 minutes.  Take care not to let the bones burn, or the stock will be bitter.

Remove the pan from the oven and scatter the chopped vegetables, garlic and peppercorns over and around the bones.  Return the pan to the oven and roast until the vegetables are browned around the edges, about 20 minutes.

Transfer the roasted bones, vegetables, garlic and peppercorns to a clean stockpot or Dutch oven.

Pour the grease off from the roasting pan and deglaze with 1 cup of the water.  Bring the water to a boil, then use a wood utensil to scrape up the fond (the brown bits) from the bottom of the pan.  Pour the liquid over the bones and vegetables in the stock pot.

Add enough of the remaining water to cover the bones, then add the cloves and bouquet garni.

Bring the pot to a rapid boil, then lower the heat to a bare simmer.  Skim and discard any foam that may be present on the surface.

Partially cover the pot and allow to simmer for 6-8 hours, skimming and adding water as necessary to keep the bone submerged.

Turn off the heat and allow the stock to cool in the pot for 30 minutes.  Strain the stock through a cheesecloth-lined fine mesh strainer to ensure a clear and clean-tasting stock.

Store stock in the refrigerator and use with 3-4 days, or freeze for up to 6 months.

GAPS For Beginners Series

Standard

While searching for something I came across this blog that contains a nice GAPS for beginners series.  I thought I’d pass it along.

It’s not the first thing listed when you go to the link, but scroll down a little and there are links to the whole series.

http://wholenaturallife.com/gaps/

Inflammation, Leaky Gut Syndrome, and the Food We Eat

Standard

The Toxic Truth About the Gluten Free Diet http://scdlifestyle.com/2012/04/the-toxic-truth-about-gluten-free-food-and-celiac-disease/#more-3490

I’ve just come across this and thought I’d better share.  The fact is that it has been more than 4 years since I read Gut & Psychology Syndrome which helped me to understand why I was sick.  It has been more than four years of forgetting, and I have never since felt as completely healthy and strong since.  I have been wondering why, when I no longer have most of the FMS symptoms I still get occassional feelings of flare ups, and just a general feeling of fragility despite my lack of symptoms.

I’ll admit, I eat a lot of brown rice.  Most of it is sprouted to eliminate the problems that this article talks about, but some of it (that contained in the brown rice crackers and the brown rice pasta) is not sprouted.

Alas, I think it is time for me to read the GAPS book again so that my choices can be made from an informed place again.  For those who have not yet looked into the GAPS program, I highly recommend it.  It was utterly integral to my healing process.  For those who have, but are overwhelmed try reading a bit about the SCD (Specific Carbohydrate Diet).  There is a lot more information and support for this one, but they are essentially the same, with only a few minor differences.

I picked up the GAPS Guide companion book a few years ago, and would like to recommend that one too.  It goes a long way in the hand-holding department.  For those utterly new to healthy eating, you might also like the Internal Bliss Cookbook.   I got mine here:  http://www.shop.gapsdiet.com/category.sc;jsessionid=9C6FB7D261DFF619D218B7A5483565ED.qscstrfrnt06?categoryId=7

I don’t get any kickbacks or anything like that.  It’s just where I picked up my copies.

That being said, my real introduction to healing diets was from the Nourishing Traditions Cookbook and the Wild Fermentation book.  Nourishing Traditions will teach you how to eat some of these dangerous foods in a way that renders them not just safe, but nutritious as well.

The Past 5 Wks – Post Detox – LIFE RETURNS

Standard

Writing the details of what you’re going through while you are suffering it can be a bit much.  It was for me this time.  If I was feeling well enough to write the last thing I wanted to do was recall the symptoms so that I could write about them.  This time around was hard.  Much harder than the first because it was done over a much shorter period of time.  The last time I began eating a fully organic diet a few years before I started eating a whole food diet.  The whole food diet was almost a year before I began the GAPS restrictions, etc.

This time I already knew what I had to do and began it all, cold turkey, at the same time.  The repercussions were pretty severe.  The detox was awful, and not knowing how long it was going to last was difficult to manage.  But, alas, a mere two days after I thought I couldn’t handle the severity of the symptoms anymore and went looking for help, they began a hard, fast decline.  So fast that I was left feeling like it couldn’t possibly have been as awful as I thought it was, or that it was just a lull and would come back.

It hasn’t.  Four weeks ago I took a big plunge and enrolled in a beginner’s ballet class for adults.  I won’t lie.  I was scared.  I almost backed out over and over again.  I almost left during class for fear that I was going to overdo it.  When the instructor told us at the end of class that we were now going to do one full minute of situps every part of my brain went NOOOOOOO.  No!  Bad idea!  Don’t do this!  But I did.  I did it.  I never expected that I could even do it, just that I would try and either hurt myself or plain not be able to DO a situp.  I simply could not believe it when I did it.  I got tears in my eyes.  The music ended, the class clapped, the teacher beamed at us and told us how proud and excited she was to do this class and we walked out the door into the sunny parking lot.  My family was waiting in the car, expectant, wide eyed.   The class had gone 1 hour and 45 minutes.  They couldn’t believe it and as I watched them watching me walk across the parking lot I knew in that moment that even if I did suffer the next day that it was worth it.  The way that I felt in that moment; the strength, the pride the freedom… even if it was never to happen again, it was worth it.

As if that wasn’t enough for a happy ending.  If that wasn’t just almost too much to take it… the next two days came and went uneventfully.  No flare ups.  Nothing that said Fibromyalgia.  I felt what I assume every other dancer felt the next day: the muscles that I hadn’t used before.  When I told my husband I did cry.  I cried because of the relief.  I really was so scared.  I cried because I felt like an ass.  I cried because I had lived without symptoms for sooo long and then made choices.  Choices that I knew I shouldn’t make.  I made excuses.  I felt guilty for where I had put myself again and where I took my family when I went there.  I cried for all the food I ate that polluted my body, for all the times I stayed up watching a movie instead of going to bed.  I cried for all the times I should have made infusion instead of buying a cup of coffee.  I cried and got all the crap out and then let it float away because they didn’t blame me.

It’s hard.  In the world we live in, in the culture we live in: it’s hard.  Even when you know, from personal experience, what you need to do – it’s hard.  And that’s okay.

I’d like to say that I won’t do it again.  That I’ll never let myself feel another Fibromyalgia symptom again, but I know that that’s a lie.  I know that it’s been a matter of weeks since I proved to myself that I have control of whether or not I experience Fibromyalgia and I STILL had an ice cream cone in the historic center last night while sitting with friends.

That’s who I am.  There is some part of me that needs to understand exactly, exactly what I can and cannot do.  Exactly how far I can go.  Exactly how much, how long… I just need to.   I first proved to myself that I could live for years without symptoms.  Then I needed to know how much of the restrictions were certain and how certain they are.  Now I know.  I really do.

I’ve learned some new things this time around too.  Playing with specific types of foods to see my level of sensitivity to them.  Watching which symptoms are affected by what choices.  Knowledge is power.  It’s enough for me to be able to say that I will likely never eat gluten again.  I will never eat anything that contains an additive, binder, or “naturally derived” adulterated ingredient again.

I want to do more than survive the ballet class.  I want to find strength and grace that I have never known.  I want to dance in the recital next year. :-p  Yesterday I hiked for one hour straight up the side of the mountain next to our cabin.  We barely stopped as the thunder clouds rolled in.  My kids wanted to make it “all the way to the top” and so did I.  Just as we reached the summit the sky opened up and rain poured down on us.  We were on a new trail with nothing beyond a sense of which direction would be a sure trail down (rather than to an impassible gorge).  We’re adventurous and never take the same trail down that we took up.  We follow the elk paths and we have real adventures.  It was another hour down the mountain via a valley that a spring fed creek ran through.  It was like a different world in there.  The ridges rising a hundred feet over our heads and the grass and flowers grown as tall as my daughter were so different from dry desert mountain all around it.

I want that more than I want any of the things that I can’t have.  I want that more.

To our health.

xoxo

Detox blues

Standard

It seems that cutting the wheat cold turkey and adding in more bone stock and coconut oil are causing some serious detox symptoms for me and pretty minor ones for J.  First it was breakouts and dry patches on my face.  Then I started what seems to be a cycle of 4 or 5 days of increasing nausea, exhaustion, intestinal struggles, dizziness and that general “I’m getting the flu” icky feeling.  Then it subsides and I have 4 or 5 days of increasing health before I start over again.

About four days ago I started to have this unpleasant tingle-hurt feeling in my lip where I found a tiny lump deep inside.  By the time I got home 5 or so hours later it was blooming into a cold sore such as I have never seen.  I have had about 5 small cold sores in the same spot over the past 10 years.  I know the drill and the look of this one was beyond my comprehension.  I knew it would be bad as it was clearly going to be some 6 times larger than anything I’d ever seen before, but I wasn’t really prepared for all of the symptoms of it to be multiplied so.  I spare you the details, but I’ll tell you that the pain literally brought me to the floor two mornings in a row.  On the afternoon of the worst day I nearly fainted from the intensity of the unceasing pain.  I’ve had three home births.  I can do a little discomfort, but this was wicked, searing, torturous pain that will likely have me quaking in my boot the next time I think I may be getting one.

Now that it’s winding down and on its way out I’ve got an absurdely large canker sore forming inside my lip near my gum line.

Oh the joys of detoxing.  The answer I suppose is to work the other lines of elimination a bit better… more detox baths, more skin brushing, more water…  Being that I’m still nursing little S, I cannot partake in any of the more rigorous detoxing methods, so this could drag out for me for a while.

I’m also planning to go ahead and get some blood work done with a naturopathic doctor or a DOM to see exactly what’s going on in my body and what I can do to ease symptoms and better support my body.  I’ll be meeting with a master herbalist as well to get the lowdown on what exactly I can and cannot take to aid this process of healing up my body.  This kind of thing is a bit beyond my family herbalist training.

Another thing that I have been thinking of, but not acting on is acupuncture. It was such a huge help through this process the last time and I went three times a week for several months.   We’re lucky enough to  have a group session clinic even in our small town and this is how I was able to afford the treatments last time.  As with anything, consistency and regularity make a difference when it comes to healing, and it would be best for me to get out there at least once per week right now.  However, even once per month would be better than nothing at all.

A little note: if you haven’t checked your household cleaning and beauty products with the Environmental Watch Group’s databases yet, I highly recommend it.  It is hard to clean up your body and begin the path of healing if the poisons are still coming in and piling up.  Also consider staying away from anything with Nitrates and Nitrites, even wine.  Wine is something that though I love it, I can really only handle one glass every few months without feeling badly.   When I’m in a state of regular illness like I am now and anyone just beginning would be it is best to stay away from it entirely.

I’m doing better with the sugar that I’ve been getting in my Alter Eco chocolate bars.  I’ve cut down to only one small square in the evening which equates to a fraction of a gram of sugar.  I’ve also added in a few doses of Motherwort tincture (5 drops) three or so times per day while the detoxing symptoms are present and leaving me feeling stressed and sleep deprived.

Are you out there?  How are you doing?

 

Walking the Walk

Standard

It is one thing to know what you have to do, and another completely to actually do it.  Consistency is a matter even beyond that.

Having successfully healed from Fibromyalgia and it’s corresponding depression, anxiety, exhaustion, etc.  I know what I have to do.    You might think that this would make it easier.  And yet, I still struggle with disbelief, and the myriad of other hurdles that keep people from making the choices that they want to be making.   I know that I feel dramatically better when I drink herbal infusions each day, when I take my fermented cod liver oil and probiotics consistently.  I know that sugar makes me feel sluggish with bouts of depression, irritability and heightened sense of stress and fear, and yet, I still eat bits of chocolate bar almost every night; telling myself that because it is dark, organic, fair trade and unrefined it is okay.  Well, it’s not likely to kill me, but it’s not going to allow me the feeling of health and strength that I want so badly.   The sometimes intense cravings for baked goods haven’t subsided yet either.

The healthiest I have ever felt was when my diet was completely free from all grains, additives and sugar.  I drank infusion and many glasses of water each day, took my probiotics and oils, went for regular acupuncture treatments, went to bed at 9 or 10, and listened to a guided meditation as I fell asleep. I was not only free from all symptoms, but also filled with a sense of vitality, peace and happiness that I had no memory of having before.  Simple it seems.  Easy even.   But beneath these simple things lies many lifestyle changes and a shakeup of belief systems.  It also takes the kind of will power and energy that we already feel deficient it.  It’s simple, yes, but not so very easy.

Sometimes I need the reminders of why these things work… in so many words.  Always I remember the underlying lesson.  Always I remember about heavy metals, deficiencies, sensitivites, dysbiosis, candida, fungal and bacterial imbalance… years and years of research fuels the affirmations that I make, but sometimes, I need a little boost.  Sometimes I need to remember the exact why of it all.  Sometimes I need to get real with myself and remember that if I don’t get a different life with the same old choices.

I have the most intensly desire inducing memory of having total freedom not just from symptoms, but also from feeling like a slave to the “lifestyle” and a soldier against cravings.   Food became a side note to my life, a means to an end.  Yes, I enjoyed the food, I made things that tasted good, but all in all I left behind that feeling of need attached to it.  Meals were not the highlight anymore.  I didn’t need chocolate or coffee even, and could hardly remember why I ever thought that I needed them.  I was grateful for the immensity of the feeling of freedom that I had.  That it what I want to get back to.   I don’t just want to be disease free.  I want more than that.  I want to be back to the person that was so alive, so healthy that I stood out in a crowd.   I didn’t have to talk to people about how I lived because they were constantly asking about my skin… the thing they assumed was the source of my “looking so healthy.”  I want to be back to falling asleep easily, waking up refreshed and ready, and filled with a sense of possibility through the days.  I’m ready to let go of being irritable and tired, short with my family, fearful of doing things and tired of life.

We have never juiced before.  It’s something that I never really researched, seemed expensive and possibly unnecessary, but today we decided to give it a try.  Last year I watched a documentary called the The Gerson Miracle and juicing has been on the back of my mind ever since.  We are planting almost 1,000 square feet of vegetables and herbs right now and juicing seems like a reasonable choice for us at this point.  Miso soup with sea vegetables is another thing that I would really like to get into our lives, but I am taking it in chewable doses.  Right now I’m working to continue with going to bed at the same time every night, remembering to stay fully hydrated, drink my infusions and take my oils.  I am recommitting to eliminating the sugar completely and increasing my vegetable intake.

I’ve also started taking 2 teaspoons of Bragg’s raw apple cider vinegar mixed with a heaping teaspoon of raw honey, and 8oz of water.

Currently I have a series of days without pain and oppressive fatigue, but I’m still getting bouts of exhaustion, pain and general feelings of illness ever 5 days or so.  I’ve been without any pain relieving prescriptions for too long to count now.  Months I think.  I’m getting there, and oh god I swear when I get there I will not look back again.  I have learned my lesson.  Nothing that I want to eat, nothing that I want to not be bothered with is worth feeling like this.  I will do what it takes to be healthy and I will remember.  I wish so much that I had made some kind of journal of the process the last time, but it is what it is.  I am doing it now and I know that I will be damned if I forget again.

To our heath, Rebels, to our health.

 

 

A Quick Summary

Standard

Aimee by Whitney Martin

Or not so quick as the case may be…

This is a copy of an email that I recently sent out in response to one of the many emails I get about what I do/have done to reverse the Fibromyalgia:
I so know the broken feeling.  I declared myself cured in the summer of 2008 and since then have been pushing the boundaries trying to figure out exactly what I can and cannot do… exactly what equals a life of physical freedom, what I can get away with a little bit, and what adds up to leave me feeling broken and scared.

I’ve recently landed myself at broken and scared and am now going back to what I must finally admit is ultimately necessary… difficult, but worth more than getting away with anything.  I expect (based on three years of trial and error) that it will take me 4-6 weeks to be completely free of pain and fatigue again.  If I had not abused the rules so much it would be less.  If I don’t get really serious about following “the rules” I will continue to suffer to some degree until I do.  It takes about 5 months of sticking completely by the rules before I can have a slip up without suffering immediately.  When I live inside of these restrictions I live a life free of pain, fatigue, depression, stiffness and “brain fog”.  It seems like a no-brainer, but as a mother, a woman of the age and culture, and a lover of food and overdoing it.  I seem to require a painful reminder that it may be a choice, but that my choices can lead to a world of hurt.

Before I go any further, legally, I have to tell you that I’m not a doctor, I have no legal right, certification or degree that allows me to give you medical advice.  😉

I know this:

I cannot tolerate gluten.  Even small amounts seem to get stored and build up until I feel like a painful toxic dump.  I start getting tired.  Then I start feeling a little stiff… followed by mini “flare ups” of pain, general achy-ness and eventually devastating, deep, widespread pain, exhaustion, inability to concentrate, etc. etc.

Other things that go the exact same way are corn, “natural flavors”, any derivatives of MSG
“binders”, preservatives, additives, dyes, sweeteners or anti-caking agents.

I have a low tolerance for potatoes, gluten-free flour products, and any salt that isn’t pure, air dried sea salt – such as Real Salt or Celtic Salt.

One of the things that brings me to my knees quickest is drinking much less than a gallon of water every day.  If I lived in a relatively cool, humid area this would likely be more like 3/4 gallon minimum.

Things that make my life easier and decrease my sensitivity are: quality probiotics like Code Raw Probiotics, Fermented Cod Liver Oil and high-fat organic butter, organic, whole milk yogurt (plain with honey or maple syrup), regular epsom salt baths with exfoliation, followed by oiling my skin (the skin is the largest organ of detoxification for the body), and whenever possible a cup of homemade bone broth.

Sleep is paramount.  I absolutely hate it.  I’m terrible at sticking to it, but I have to go to sleep at the same time every day, get up in the morning and take a nap if it feels necessary.  I know that as a mother you know that this seems impossible.  When I struggle with it the most I have to take steps to help myself.  I got rid of my TV years ago.  I turn the internet off at 8pm and I take a dose of Skullcap (4-8 drops) and Motherwort (10-15 drops) to help me fall asleep (and stay in a good quality sleep) while a guided relaxation plays on the computer next to my bed.  Sometimes the pain can make sleep so difficult.  When it does I add in a super hot bath, 5 extra drops of Skullcap and I replay the relaxation until I either fall asleep or I can listen to the whole thing.  By the time I have achieved either one of them the pain has lessened and I have a chance of waking up without pain.

I drink Nettle and Red Raspberry leaf tea every day, all day.  This helps with the energy and pain.

Herbal tinctures that I depend upon are as follows:

Skullcap (3-5 drops) as often as every 4 hours during the day.  Up to 10 drops when I’m ready to sleep.
St. Johns Wort (25-30 drops) every 4 hours, 4-5 times per day, every day.  No matter what.
If the pain is really bad during the day I will add a dropper full of California Poppy tincture to the 3 drops of Skullcap (and usual dose of St. Johns)  Until I got used to it the combination of California Poppy and Skullcap made e very drowsy.  If it’s at all possible I lay down until I at least feel a little better.

16 years of doctors and prescriptions proved to me that any prescription has the potential to lift some symptoms temporarily, but that they will usually return in a couple of weeks and they will be worse than before the prescription.  Sleeping drugs where particularly detrimental to my well being, and created a truly devastating cycle of pain and exhaustion after a few weeks.  Prescriptions for depression or anxiety wrecked everything, created new symptoms, and always, always led to additional prescriptions.

I make many sacrifices to eat a completely organic, whole food ingredient diet.  It took me years to learn how to manage it with children, fatigue and serious budget constraints, but it is possible and it feels like a key ingredient.  I recently managed to feed said diet to a family of 5 for less than $400 per month, out of uncomfortable necessity.

If I could not eat a totally organic diet I would check out the EWG’s Dirty Dozen list, eliminate any food that comes in a package with an ingredient list, and add in a whole foods based multi-vitamin such as Raw Code, Rainbow Light or New Chapter.

I have found acupuncture (at least once per week for 8 weeks) to be a huge help in getting over the initial hump of pain and fatigue.  There are many places that will work on a sliding scale or that offer “group sessions” at a steep discount.  Some people find relief in massage, but I have found it to be a mine-field of RMTs unqualified to deal with Fibromyalgia.   Cleanses and detoxes always help.

While I would have felt relieved to have received an email outlining all the changes I needed to make I’m sure an email such as this would have left my head spinning and me feeling a bit hopeless and utterly overwhelmed.

I hope that you might accept my deepest wishes that you find the peace and health that every mother needs to care for the most important thing(s) in her world.  If you need anything…  If you have any questions… someone to complain to… a shoulder to cry on… or are needing a gentle reminder… you can always reach me at this address.

I am opening up my online journal of recovery, Healing Rebel.

Sometimes it’s hard to find the energy to put all these ideas together and think about the pain they’re based on if there isn’t someone holding you accountable.  I’m always grateful for the women who email me.  They give me the push or reminder that I need.

Books that have helped me to understand what I’m dealing with:  Gut & Psychology Syndrome, Nourishing Traditions, Cleanse and Purify Thyself, and readings of Dr. Christopher’s Cure for the Incurables.   If you are of Christian faith, the last two will likely resonate with you on that level.  The first two are more scientific and helpful for learning how to live a new way.  Susun Weed, though totally eccentric, has the best grasp on herbs as nourishing tonics; especially for women.  Eckhart Tolle’s discussion of what he calls “the pain body” in The Power of Now has been immensely helpful to me when all else falls short of the pain.

All the best,

Aimee