Category Archives: natural remedies

Taking the Plunge – The Great GAPS Do-Over

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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.

 

Accupuncture, Herbs, and Kooks

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When I first began I knew nothing about so called “natural health”.  I ate a mostly organic diet, I believed, but this is as far as my understanding went.  Many years earlier, with the use of a book called Reversing Fibromyalgia, I had my only experience with ‘natural health’ and it included hundreds of dollars of vitamin and mineral supplements with unpronounceable names and throat gagging pills, powders and tablets.  I failed.  Even in Dallas 1999 did not provide a useable selection of organic foods and food allergy substitutes. The idea of going down this road again, even with access to many huge, well supplied Organic Natural Food stores like Whole Foods, was unpleasant.  But down it I went, taking my family with me.  Though my father, who lived with us at the time, did not choose to join us and continued to stock the house with his usual foods, the kids and husband were along for the ride.

I started by calling around town (Austin, TX) to find an acupuncture clinic that I could afford since my insurance did not cover such things.  It was days of tears and defeat as I called office after office to find that treatements averaged $75 per visit, and that they weren’t as likely to help unless I went at least every week, if not twice every week.  It was again a friend who told me about ‘group acupuncture’.  In a seedy part of town I found a low cost clinic that provided acupuncture to multiple patients during the same appointment.  We each arrived 15 minutes apart and were placed in cushy recliners behind japanese style screens in a large, perfectly tempered, zen inspired room.  Spa like music played quietly, everyone whispered, and the earthy smell of herbs floated around the darkened space.  There was nothing familiar about this experience.  I was afraid of the needles, afraid of the herbs, afraid of having a flare up during treatments, afraid that I would suffer for the rest of my life.  It took everything I had to go into this new world, but very quickly it became my world… my new comfort.  I was not alone anymore.  I could now give all of my fears to a person who did not share them, and believed, fully, in my ability to be free of this disease, even when I could not.

The treatments were working, but the improvements were short lived.  Sometimes hours, sometimes days, but they worked none the less.  Very quickly my acupuncturist discovered that I did much better with a very simple ‘opening’ treatment.  Complicated, symptom specific treatments were too much for me.  They overwhelmed me with sensations, energy, and sometimes flare ups, so we backed off of that and stuck with what worked.  I even began learning to meditate with the use of a favored guided meditation by Jan Bennett Collier.

With a taste of what could be possible and a growing belief that I may actually find a life of complete health I started moving forward with great intention.  I began trying every single thing that was suggested to me.  Faith healing? Sure!  Body Talk?  Why not! Chinese medicine?  Okay!  And why the hell not?  I no longer cared how kooky it seemed.  In fact I couldn’t care less whether or not I could believe in it.  I did it all anyway.  I did it all with complete commitment. The things that seemed to work got more of my time/money/effort, those that didn’t moved to the back burner and fit in where they could.

I started learning about sleep, the process, the theories, even the new agey stuff.  I started trying to pinpoint the place where sleep was going wrong for me.  I was consumed with discovering the answer to the deeper question… the question beyond the label of Fibromyalgia… What is wrong with me?  Then the real question, How do I fix what is wrong with me?

All the while I had to continue to tackle the now lessened, but still present, symptoms.  I started researching western herbalists and what herbs I could take to help me with the still flaring symptoms.  Susun Weed’s philosophy spoke to me, and I picked three herbs (in tincture form) that seemed right in doses that she recommended: Skullcap 3-6 drops, St. John’s Wort 25 drops, and California Poppy 15-25 drops.  I learned things about these plants, what they did, how they worked, what elements of them were being used to create bastardized and adulterated forms in prescriptions.  St. John’s Wort turned out to be much more that a mood lifter.  It was a powerful anti-inflammatory and treated nerve pain.  The Skullcap, also a nervine, eased the fear and stress present in every day life as well as in living with this disease, but it also treated nerve pain!  California Poppy?  Powerful, good stuff.  The more I took them the more I could start to see how they effected me, when my body needed them, and how I could use them best.  There was no road map, but in taking responsibility for my body, owning my own self, I started to trust, bit by bit.  Gradually I realized that my body was communicating with me in more subtle tones than just pain and tired.  There were are myriad of smaller, more specific symptoms that had blended into a huge noise that I called Pain and Fatigue.  Smaller, more specific symptoms that I could manage.

 

Is American Medicine Working?

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“US health care spending reached $1.6 trillion in 2003, representing 14% of the nation’s gross national product.26 Considering this enormous expenditure, we should have the best medicine in the world. We should be preventing and reversing disease, and doing minimal harm. Careful and objective review, however, shows we are doing the opposite. Because of the extraordinarily narrow, technologically driven context in which contemporary medicine examines the human condition, we are completely missing the larger picture…A definitive review of medical peer-reviewed journals and government health statistics shows that American medicine frequently causes more harm than good…What you are about to read is a stunning compilation of facts that documents that those who seek to abolish consumer access to natural therapies are misleading the public. Nearly 800,000 Americans die each year at the hands of government-sanctioned medicine, while the FDA and other government agencies pretend to protect the public by harassing those who offer safe alternatives.”

Death By Medicine by Gary Null, PhD; Carolyn Dean MD, ND; Martin Feldman, MD; Debora Rasio, MD; and Dorothy Smith, PhD

Let’s Be Clear

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I’ve just had a member of the board of the Fibormyalgia & Chronic Pain Association publicly dismiss me and warn people against anyone claiming to have cured their Fibromyalgia.  Her reason:  If there were a way SHE would know about it.   It seems that in order to have truly eradicated my FM I needed to have held a press conference and been validated by the all knowing Association.  Not that I think they would have paid me any attention…. after all, where would someone like that be if people suddenly ridding themselves of their pain and symptoms all on their own.   Otherwise they may have noticed that there a quite a few people claiming to have cured their Fibromyalgia.  A quick #Fibromyalgia search on Twitter will quickly overwhelm you.  You could get buried for days following the symptom elimination links on the internet.

But, to be fair.  Let’s just be more impeccable with our words from now on.  “Cure” is a word that is now owned mostly by the establishments that have done little but tell people that they need millions of dollars to “find a cure” but never have.  Let’s let them have the word.  We don’t “cure”.  We “Heal.”  We “Eliminate.”  We “Terminate.”  We “find the way to live free of symptoms and return to a level of health that we may not remember ever having had.”  We cast out, count out, cut out, defeat, discharge,  dispense with, dispose of,  do away with, drive out, drop, eject, eradicate, evict,  expel, exterminate, get rid of,  knock out, phase out, put out, rub out, rule out, set aside, shut the door on, slay, stamp out, take out,  waste, or wipe out.

We don’t “cure”  We Annihilate.

While we are it, let’s look at two more words.  Just to be clear…

Heal:

–verb (used with object)

1. to make healthy, whole, or sound; restore to health; free from ailment.
2.to bring to an end or conclusion
3.to free from evil; cleanse; purify: to heal the soul.
–verb (used without object)

4.to effect a cure. <whoops there it is again! let’s change that.  4. to dispense with symptoms
5.(of a wound, broken bone, etc.) to become whole or sound; mend; get well (often followed by up or over).

Rebel:

–noun

1. a person who refuses allegiance to, resists, or rises in arms against government or ruler of his or her country.
2. a person who resists any authority, control, or tradition.

I’d like to warn you all to be very aware of any one or any organization telling you that something isn’t possible.  It’s always “impossible” until someone does it.  Then, somehow, it’s still impossible until they do it.

Rebel!  Take control of your own health!

Oh, and let’s not forget to be clear here:

I am NOT a doctor.  I have NO legal right to tell you what to do.  In fact, you would do well to always CHECK WITH AS MANY SOURCES AS POSSIBLE before you do anything to your body. Check with your acupuncturist, your doctor of oriental medicine, your certified herbalist, your nutritionist or any healer of your choice.

What I am is a person who suffered for nearly two decades; buried alive beneath a crushing “disease” and drowning in treatments that always made me feel worse and often added new symptoms.   If Fibromyalgia where caused by what the authorities suggest then there would be little hope.  But, as usual, symptoms are being mistaken as causes.  There are root causes alright and they can be “eliminated.”

What I am is a busy mom, a survivor, a homesteader, a traveler, an artist and a person who has carved out time to offer up anything that I have to share in response to the hundreds of emails I’ve received asking for just that.  It’s taken me three years to put this together.  Three years to tear myself away from the new found ability to LIVE my life and return to thinking about something that I never intend to experience.  I hope you find what you need here to help you go out and heal yourself.

Detox blues

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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

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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.

 

 

Healing Fibromyalgia

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I thought I would post a link to the mini documentary that I was the subject of a few years ago.

It began when I was contacted by a graduate student from the University of Texas who was wanting to make a documentary.  The premise was telling the story of surviving life in America as a family dealing with chronic, debilitating illness.  We did not know that during the course of the filming I would discover the secret and finally cure myself of said disease.

Perhaps it was putting a spot light on what we were dealing with, perhaps it was serendipity, I don’t know.  I’m just so very glad that it turned out to be called Healing Fibromyalgia rather than Living with Disease in America.  Oy.  I never watch it.  I haven’t watched it since the first time.  I think I have always been afraid of jinxing myself.  I think I have always been afraid, unwilling to look back for this reason.  This is why I could not write about healing from Fibro until I was in the deepest throws of it again.

I have always believed that everything happens for a reason.  I have wanted to make this site for three years and I am finally doing it.  I am grateful to be making a journal of what it’s like to go through this, of what I have to do and what is hard to do.

Anyhow, here’s the video:

Update – Week 2 Beginning

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We took a trip to Santa Fe this past week to pick up the pasture raised meat we buy from a farmer in West Texas.  It comes out to be ever, ever so much more nutritious than the meat we can buy at market, and even with the trip to Santa Fe it is considerably less expensive.  This time we brought home 82 pounds of meat and soup bones.

Because it is about two hours drive, and we have two small children and an infant, we prefer to stay the night,  take in the museums, and get the shopping done that we cannot do in Taos where we have only a small Walmart for most necessities.  This can pose a problem for a family that is working with severe diet restrictions, a budget and supplementation.  Sooo, we use an online booking site to score our favorite time-share hotel/condo.  The units come with a bedroom, full, stocked kitchen, dining table, and living room, for around $70 in the summer and $62 in the winter.  This allows us to prepare breakfast and dinner at our hotel and keep our food ready for packing a healthy, on the go lunch.

This time we opted for organic, homemade granola and plain yogurt with honey for breakfast so that we could just lounge in our PJs and have a lazy morning before taking in the town.  For lunch we had sliced Applegate Farms Peperoni, raw organic cheddar, rice crisp crackers, apples, and  oranges.  For snacks we had apples, oranges, dried figs, dried mango, raw almonds, pecans, peanuts and raisins.  Nichola had an extra snack of Wild Planet Sardines in marinara sauce and Quinn had the lemon variety.  They will each eat about 2/3 of a can and share some with Simone and Jeff.  Packed full of healthy omega fatty acids, and lacking in the mercury found in larger fish like tuna, this is a wonderful, not too expensive snack for them to be having.  I’ll be honest.  I can’t eat them straight.  Marinara sauce, or no, they wig me out.  I prefer to have them mixed in canola-free mayo with spices and served on crackers, just like tuna salad.

For dinner we took a jar of pre-soaked chickpeas and made soup.

Because of the fridge in the hotel (most come with at least a mini-fridge these days) we were able to take our cod liver oil, and I used my ceramic lidded coffee cup to take my tinctures through-out the day.  I found though that I only felt like I needed them once.   Sticking to “the rules” is helping a lot faster than I had expected.  I also noticed that the city water did a real number on the kid’s skin, and everyone developed a stuffy-head feeling as we entered the city that dissipated as we got about 45 minutes outside of the city on our way home.  I guess there really is something to say about clean country air and water.

Since we’ve been home I have only taken my tinctures in the morning and evening.  I’ve been going to bed by 10pm and waking up feeling a lot less achy.  Today I’m definitely feeling just plain tired, but altogether not “sick”.

I’m looking forward to homemade hot cocoa tonight and planning on a lazy night with a DVD (The Bucket List).  Neeka fell asleep (hopefully for the night) at 7pm.  She’s been fighting a bit of tonsilitis.  Here’s hoping that the baby will follow her by 8:30 and I can get to bed (post movie) by 10pm again.

To our health!

xoxo

Update – Week 1

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It’s been about a week with the aforementioned changes in place and there is a definite improvement.  I’ve been taking St. John’s Wort and Skullcap tinctures every 4-5 hours and it’s been sufficient to keep the pain in check for the past four days.

Friday was a pretty painful day and I wound up taking a dose of Vicodin in the morning while I had the kids at the park, which sucked.  I also had an 8oz decaf Americano on the way.  All in all not the best morning.  I over did it on account of the Vicodin, so that when it wore off a few hours later I felt positively wrecked.  Miserable.  I drank about a quart of water while we were out, but this was definitely not enough to counter the desert sun and wind, the dried fruits and nuts we were snacking on, or the diuretic effect of the coffee.  I had another pint of water in the car on the way home, but this was too little too late and I could feel the burning feeling that I get in my bones, eyes, mouth, nose and ears that comes of not enough water.

Yesterday was similar in the hydration department.  I tend to forget to drink enough early in the day, not noticing until I start to feel those icky signs of dehydration.  Then I have to drink a lot all at once to try to catch up and douse the rising pain.  This kept me up for an extra hour last night so that I could get in that last quart of water.  Which of course led to three trips to the bathroom in the first 90 minutes of sleep.  Again, not the best I could have done, but it was a productive day with very little pain.

Today I woke up completely free of pain after a fairly heavy night of sleep (after the initial interuptions) and feeling well enough to get ready for a trip to town straight out of bed.   I had the energy to oil my skin, braid my hair and dig through the summer clothes for a new T-shirt to wear.

I had dried fruit, nuts and tea for breakfast and followed it up with a quart of water dosed with a chlorophyll supplement called Chloroxygen, 25 drops of St. John’s Wort, and 60 drops of Echinacea.  I also took two capsules of probiotics, and a teaspoon of fermented cod liver oil.

I had a couple of slips with food this week that resulted in feeling icky.  Even though the package says “no ADDED MSG”, the organic Beef broth available here definitely has MSG derivatives in it.  I rarely have access to organic beef stew bones, so when I need beef broth we wind up buying it.  I always regret it though.  It’s not worth it and I will begin substituting veggie broth or chicken broth instead.  I always keep my vegetable scraps in a a bag in the freezer for making a no cost veggie broth and we have a beautifully rich chicken stock everytime we cook with chicken since we always buy it either whole or as bone-in pieces.

For more info on how I keep us (a family of 5)  in a totally organic, whole food diet for $400-$700 per month (depending on what I have to work with) you can check out this post. Or this one.  I’m planning to write a lot more about eating healthy on a serious budget, menu planning, dealing with food limitations, and the like.  Whenever I do, I’ll copy a link to the posts here.

Another slip I had this week was Alden’s Organic Ice Cream.  It has soy lecithin in it, which bothers me at this lowered level of health.  At healthier times when I’ve been living within the rules for months Alden’s Organic Ice Cream is an acceptable treat, but I have to limit to once or twice in a week and not repeat the treat too often in a month.

It seems complicated, but it’s rather like learning the same rules you learned as a child:  We don’t run into the road without looking, we don’t eat too much Halloween candy, ice cream for breakfast is not okay, onions and peanut butter don’t go together, etc.  Once you get it, you get it and it’s a choice whether you adhere or not.

To our health!

xoxo

Aimee

 

 

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