Tag Archives: Healing

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.

 

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 😉

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.

A Quick Summary

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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