Category Archives: Uncategorized

But, WHY Am I Sick?

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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 😉

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Healing Beef Stock

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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.

Healing Is Possible

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Learning to breathe through the pain, to meet it at face value and let the fear of it slip away… to find it’s limits and discover that I was still here when it passed was my biggest lesson.  It was the life vest that kept me safe as I ventured through the unknown, uncharted, lonely path that led to health.

The Past 5 Wks – Post Detox – LIFE RETURNS

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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

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.

Ramblings for the week

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I think I have a handle on the pain again.  It doesn’t come often anymore.  There are the threats, the little twinges that make want to panic… but so far I’ve kept them from going any further.  I’ve been taking the St. Johns Wort, Skullcap and Chloroxygen (have I mentioned that yet?) at least three times per day, and have just begun adding in Ashwaganda.

I’m tired.  Most all of the time, I’m tired.  I realize that I’m still not prioritizing sleep like I need to.  I stay up too late, despite what my body is saying about it.  I sleep in in the morning, but fitfully disturbed by the goings on, so that it doesn’t make a difference to how I feel.  I fail to take a nap when my body says that it’s necessary.

I am realizing how much I need sleep.  When I kicked the Fibromyalgia in 2008 sleep was a top priority.  I kept the lights off, sticking with candles, and this helped me realize when the day was over and it was time to let it go.  I rarely stayed up past 10, and usually went to bed just after the kids.  Silence is silence whether your awake for it or not, and the world did not come to an end when I put sleep as the number one priority.

I’ve been drinking a few cups of coconut water every day, and got a humidifier to help with staying hydrated.  It makes such a big difference.  Even when I think I’ve had enough, I always find that downing a quart of water or two when the pain starts to rise can make all the difference.

I remembered recently that in 2008, as I was coming out of the FM I was taking California Poppy pretty regularly.  I haven’t tried that this time, though I’m not sure why I feel resistant to it.  Strange.  I was so much sicker then than I’ve let myself get this time.  Stupid, really, to let myself get this far when I know how to make it gone, but it is what it is.  I couldn’t walk then.  I sometimes worried that the pain would rise and I would finally start to scream with it and not be able to stop.  I was afraid that the pain could literally break me in two.  That there would be no limit.  I think it was this fear that led me to the Buddhist writings on end of life pain.  The common depiction of cancer was all that I knew that was like the pain of Fibromyalgia, so that is where I started.  When I was diagnosed, almost two decades ago, no one knew what it was.  Now everyone knows.  There are drugs specifically for it.  Billboards and commercials. This scares me more I think.

I’ve been eating tamales from a cart in town.  I shouldn’t, and I know this.  I don’t know what is in them…. what kind of oil they use, what kind of corn, what contaminants could be in them.   It doesn’t matter really.  I know that cornflour it too taxing and I should stay away from it.  It’s just like me though, to get away with as much as I can.  It’s harder for me to convince myself of how much happier I am living a life of food deprivations, but filled with energy, vitality and ease of movement.  It’s too easy to fall into what I know.  To allow the pain, to accept it, to take the little pleasures where I can and believe that that is all that life can hold for me.

This week I’m focusing on keeping a quart jar of water with me all the time and refilling it at least three times before I go to bed.  And of not trying to drink two of them when I should be asleep already 🙂

I’m focusing on the life I want rather than the cheap thrills of food that will wear me down and entertainment that will keep me up when I should be sleeping.  I’m grateful that I dumped the TV so many years ago that I won’t ever bring it back and there is one less obstacle.

I’m seeing a physical therapist that is going to help me design a “workout” that my body can handle without causing pain… stretches and bends, simple things to begin.  We found one that would trade with us so that we don’t have to try to finance more things for my health.

I ran out of fermented cod liver oil about a week ago and I notice the difference.  I’m glad that the new bottles just arrived.  It gives me energy and eases the pain when it threatens to flare.

I really need to get back on with the herbal infusions.  I ordered the herbs from Mountain Rose Herbs, and they are on their way.  It’s just a matter of making the brews each day and then drinking them.

Sleep, water, coconut juice, water, herbs, water, sleep, water… recipe for better days…  I don’t know how I did it all before, not knowing how it would turn out… not knowing if I’d ever be free from the misery, because it is so hard now, even though I’ve done it already… even though I know that I will be free of it again.

To our health, Rebels

Sleep – Part 1

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I became aware at a fairly early age that I did not sleep like other people.  It was a difficult thing for me.  Difficult to fall asleep, difficult to stay asleep and difficult to wake up.  As a young girl I loved the late night fun of a sleep over, but hated, hated to stay the night.  I could never get to sleep, I woke up all night, failed to get back to sleep and finally woke up exhausted and wanting nothing but to crawl into my own bed at home.  When I hosted sleep overs I made it clear that sleeping bags were to be brought and no one would be trying to share the bed with me.  Sleep was already a major issue for me.

I traveled across and out of the state to show dogs with my aunt.  I never slept.  We often left before dawn and I had only just fallen asleep.  I couldn’t sleep in the hotels.  I couldn’t sleep when visiting relatives.  I just couldn’t seem to sleep.

By the time I was 12 I was already taking prescription drugs to “treat the insomnia, depression and fibromyalgia”.  It never really helped.  When my first baby was born I was awake for 6 days straight to say nothing of the attempts at finding sleep between night nursing sessions, teething, etc.  By the time I was 23 and he was 1 I was so deeply, painfully, awfully tired that I submitted to a prescription for the well known sleep drug Ambien.  A couple of years later I had a prescription for more than double the recommended dose and was still exhausted.  All. The. Time.

The pain?  It was out of this world.

It was during this time that I became aware of two things: one, that people who experience Fibromyalgia almost never achieve Delta wave/Stage IV/Restorative sleep, and that an experimental drug called Xyrem (also known as the illicit date rape drug, GHB) was now available for treatment of Excessive Daytime Sleepiness in people with Narcolepsy and being tested as a treatment for Fibromyalgia.  The belief was that both disorders are caused by the lack of proper sleep cycles.  It was also said that this was the only drug known to cause State IV sleep and that most others actually prevent that all important stage of sleep.

After convincing my doctor that it was for me, he had to become a registered Xyrem prescribing physician, write the prescription to appear as though it was being prescribed “on label” so that my insurance would cover the $3,000 per month prescription, and give me the benefit of the doubt in my ability to figure out how to use it, as there were no real guidelines.  It was a terrifying, sickening and painful process, but after a few weeks I noticed that though I was still exhausted, lost almost 30 pounds and had intermittent shakes, I was without pain.  For the first time in memory I was without pain.

I described it to my husband when the realization came upon me.  As we were riding in the car I told him that I was “feeling funny”.  I wasn’t feeling bad but I was definitely frightened of this wholly different feeling.  It was through trying to describe the feeling to him that I realized that what I was experiencing was a complete absence of pain.  “It feels like the world used to be made of cold, sharp steel.  Everything, clothes, beds, the air, it was all cold and sharp.  Now it feels like everything in the world is soft, like butter.”  This was the best way that I could explain it.  It was like the softness of a warm knife into butter had become me.  I wept.  Sleep. Who knew.

Almost one year to the day later.  I conceived my second baby and the gig was up.  This was not a pregnancy or breastfeeding friendly prescription.  I’m not sure I can describe the full belly feeling of fear that took hold of me when I realized that I was going to be quitting the prescription and that the pain would likely return soon after.

I had to find another solution.  Forfeit was just not an option.   Now that I knew how it felt to live without pain I could not consider a return to the old life.