Since it’s been 5 months since I experienced a very serious health crash (Click to read the backstory), I figured I would update you all on what’s been going on, and talk about my experience with one of my favorite practitioners, Megan Rand of Ginger Newtrition.
This post could very well be the length of an entire novel, but I’m going to try to keep it short (didn’t do a great job at that). Maybe one day I will write in more detail about what this experience has been like for me, but for now I’ll just keep it to the basic bits and pieces.
For those of you who need a little backstory, I started experiencing different health issues right around the release of our first cookbook, Make it Paleo. Most people, including family don’t know or realize that things with me actually go back that far, but they in fact do. The most pronounced symptom I’ve had throughout all of this was increased anxiety that kept getting worse as the years went on, but other things I experienced were bouts of depression, weight gain, night sweats, and hypochondria, to name a few. All of these things started happening when Bill and I moved into a house together right before the release of our first cookbook, but it took up until recently to finally piece it all together and connect the dots.
Our book release party for Make it Paleo
I distinctly remember being a little down at our book party for Make it Paleo, despite the excitement of the evening, and some of our friends being in town with us. The following month was Bill’s sisters wedding, and I remember being so uncomfortable in my dress because I had started putting on weight, and just feeling miserable the entire wedding which is not a nice memory to have of yourself at one of the most specials days for your sister in law. After that I ended up trying Celexa suggested by a family member, and seeing a therapist, neither of which helped, and by the time the very first Paleo FX rolled around I had put on a lot of weight, and was miserable. I thought it was all due to my thyroid, and spent the last morning in Austin crying to Bill, and took myself to my functional doctor as soon as we got home. I was tired all the time, could barely get off the couch, really depressed, and overweight. I started getting night sweats, where I would wake up every night soaking wet, and needed to change into different pajamas. I remember telling our friend Diane about it, and thinking it was just from sleeping too close to Bill.
I got off my 4 month run of Celexa by the help of specific amino acids, cleaned up my diet, stopped doing intense workouts, and got on thyroid hormone, I started losing weight, so I thought everything I had been experiencing was thyroid related. I was wrong. At that time anxiety started getting even worse, and I had to keep dropping the dosage of thyroid hormone. For months I had a physical feeling of a lump in my throat that never went away (not due to the thyroid medication, but I was scared that it was). I remember being at my in-laws for dinner, and sipping gin and tonic or white wine thinking it would go away once I calmed down a little from the alcohol (PS I am not a drinker at all, nor someone who has ever self medicated with alcohol or drugs, so it was totally crazy that I thought that in the first place. A couple sips and I’m done when I actually drink something). I started getting a racing heart at times. I would see a mole on my body that I thought looked funny and break out into a sweat thinking I had skin cancer, I would obsess over the smallest things, and developed a lot of fear around health, the list goes on. Crazy things were happening in my head, and I didn’t understand it.
The house we lived in at that time flooded at least 3 times while we were there. One of those times a remediation crew come out to take care of all the water, but there was no remediation done to the structure of the house, and we didn’t throw anything away. The house had some very serious sewer problems, but it was a rental, and the owner had no intention of fixing it while we were there. Four months before our wedding we were kicked out. Literally the day we picked up our wedding invitations we got a call that the owner wanted us out immediately, because he wanted to live there. We were able to find a place to live quickly, thank goodness, but had to have the response card envelopes for our invitations all reprinted with our new address. Our wedding was when things really changed. I had a massive panic attack at our rehearsal and tried to leave. It was one of the most embarrassing moments of my life. I spent the entire wedding day freaked out and unable to eat, and even though our wedding was everything I ever dreamed of, I don’t have very fond memories of it.
After the wedding I spent most of the next year and a half trying to figure out why I was experiencing such extreme anxiety, and why I had a lot of trouble eating. Food, and meals with friends and family are my favorite, and it was taken away from me. I really want to have a family, and I knew that I couldn’t be a mom like this. I had to fix it.
Fast forward to this past winter. I had hit my lowest low. I spent 5 months doing a candida cleanse that wrecked my adrenals and threw me into full blown hormone imbalance. I tried Nystatin, and herbal antifungals, was way too low carb, and had almost no appetite to eat anything, and I just kept getting worse. For the first time in my life I felt like a sick person, and it scared the crap out of me. I was slowly disappearing, and the person I used to be seemed farther and farther away. I hit rock bottom when we tried to go on our book tour for Make it Paleo II, and that week still haunts me.
At our book release party for Make it Paleo II
I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t see straight at our book release party. Everyone was having fun, and I felt like I was crawling out of my own skin, and counting the minutes until I could leave. I didn’t know what was happening to me, but I knew something was really wrong. We lost a family member, and almost another, and I couldn’t be there to support my family through those times. I couldn’t watch TV or movies because anything good or bad threw my entire body into a state of alarm. The smallest things were overwhelming, and nothing felt safe. I was living in my own worst nightmare, and it was 24 hours around the clock.
I took myself to a new doctor. Dr. Nori Onishi. Someone who specialized in the Walsh method of treating methylation, and who Bill has a huge man crush on (funny, but totally serious. He loves the guy). When he heard my symptoms he said, “I’m testing you for mold and Lyme.” I would take any testing at that point, because I just wanted to figure out what was happening to me. At that point Megan reached out. She told me she had been through something similar, and she thought she could really help me.
Since working with Megan, and my new doctor, I have found out that I did in fact have mold toxicity, likely from our previous house which had water damage and where the symptoms started, and I tested positive for Lyme disease. These two things are likely the root cause of the hormone and neurotransmitter imbalance that I have been experiencing, not to mention they are both biotoxins. Getting a postive Lyme diagnosis didn’t actually surprise me considering I’m now one of 4 people in my family diagnosed with Lyme, and I’m guessing there are more than that. Lyme is a very old bacteria, and it’s passed from mom to baby, as well as sexually transmitted, and I’m not sure I know anyone who has Lyme and doesn’t have the MTHFR genetic mutation, or mold sensitivity, so I think there is more to the story than a tick bite, but that’s just my speculation. Despite the diagnosis not surprising me, it was devastating. I cried when I found out, and was terrified. The paranoia I felt has since lessened, probably partly due to getting more in balance and getting mold out of me, and partly from seeing myself improve before even starting to treat Lyme.
At Dr. Onishi’s office with his sweet dog who usually sits on my lap during the appointments
If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I successfully got all of the mold out in 3 months, when my doctor said it could take a year, and am now on to treating Lyme. My doctor still has me on the mold protocol and I will retest again in a couple months to be sure. He said he wants to see two good test results before saying I’m completely in the clear, and he smiled when he said, “be careful where you live now.” My doctor likes to treat mold first before Lyme, because he finds Lyme treatment to be easier on you if mold is a problem. This was actually a relief to me, because the mold treatment was a piece of cake! All I had to do was take binders, and I just started feeling better from it. Lyme treatment is different, because you are killing the bacteria, so die-off or Herx reactions are common, and I have started to see some of those just slightly.
Okay, so if I have such an amazing doctor, where does Megan come in? Megan is a Functional Diagnostic Nutritionist. She uses lab work in her practice to help diagnose her clients, and offer the proper treatment protocol. So the experience is similar to working with a functional medicine doctor. Megan has been in the trenches herself, and came out on the other side, so she knows what it’s like to go through all of this, which I feel is a really key part to being a great practitioner. Of course you can be a great practitioner without ever being sick yourself, but I think having gone through something that your clients are, and really knowing that healing is possible is a powerful thing.
In our little community, I continually see support from sick person to sick person, which shouldn’t be undervalued, but I would advise everyone to proceed with caution. One of the things I tried to do, which helped me, was I only talked about what was happening to people who had been through it and came out on the other side, or my practitioners. I didn’t go on Google, or join Lyme or mold online message boards or Facebook groups, I didn’t hashtag the infection on my Instagram posts. In fact I wouldn’t and still wont even label myself as having mold or Lyme, and you can bet I will never call myself a Lymie. I don’t think any disease deserves the power of a pet name. I didn’t talk about it publicly. I do my best to not let it have any more power over me than it already does, and make sure that if I am scared or not feeling well, I talk about it with people who are treating me, and/or see me as healed. When I started Lyme treatment with my doctor, he had a very serious conversation with me and Bill about pregnancy. Not that it can’t happen, but that I need to be careful during this time, and I need to work with him when I feel ready for that step to protect the baby. If he didn’t think I would be healed, I don’t think he would have had that conversation with me, and I am so grateful that I have a doctor who is that passionate about health. It was really touching to see him so concerned about future children. This is something I hope to talk more about soon, and I’ve been talking to a few people about bring awareness and support to women who want to have babies who have had Lyme disease. Stay tuned for that. All of these things were really important for my healing, because it kept me from identifying with the infection, and believing as best as I could that I would get through it and get my life back. Megan was one of those people for me, and still is.
Megan has never once made me feel weird, or bad about what I am going through. She has always been supportive, and made me feel as though the things I experience are completely normal (okay they aren’t normal, but common in this circumstance), and helps me get through them. She has been one of my strongest supporters, and I’ve said many times that I don’t think I would have made it through my darkest days without her, and I stand by that statement. I am quick to blame myself, and and she was always quick to stop me, and remind me that I am out of balance, and when I am in balance again, I wont feel the things I currently (or was at the time) feeling. As the clouds have started to part, I can see that she is right, but when you are in it, it’s hard to remember.
Since detox is such a huge part of the healing process for me, Megan has really supported me through that. When you are actively killing bacteria or fungus, or doing something to rid your body of toxins, you really need to support those detoxification pathways, and help your body which is working so hard, 24 hours a day. Anxiety is very closely tied to liver burden, and when you are flushing things out constantly, it’s not unexpected to get anxiety or depression. You don’t know what sort of things you are stirring up that can cause your liver to be working overtime, or cause your adrenals to pump out cortisol. This is something very hard for me to go through, because anxiety is the thing I’m trying to heal by getting these toxins out! As every practitioner I’ve worked with has said to me, “these things get worse before they get better.” It is so true. It’s a hard thing to face when you are feeling so awful, which is why having a practitioner like Megan, or a great functional medicine doctor is so important because they give you tools to get through the tough days of treatment.
Green juice is my favorite detox tool!
I’ve come a long way since the darkest of days, but I’ve still got a long way to go, and I am so grateful that I have Megan during this time. Not only is she a wonderful practitioner, but she is a wonderful person as well. I have told everyone I know to try working with Megan if they can or need to, because she has helped me so much, that I want other people to see the same results with their own health.
Some of the things that Megan offers beyond her one-on-one coaching programs are seasonal detoxes. These detoxes have a strong online support community, where Megan is very active, so it is a great way to work with her if you can’t commit to the one-on-one coaching. I have participated in her spring cleanse because it is closely tied into the things she suggests for me personally anyway, and I will continue to participate in her Summer detox for the same reasons. I really enjoyed visiting and chatting with the people in the Facebook support group, and sharing meal ideas, and other detox tips, and success stories. It was really an enjoyable group to be a part of!
I hope you all know that I only promote things I believe in 100%, and that is why I am promoting another one of Megan’s detox programs. I really think these programs can benefit a lot of you, and if you are struggling with your health in any way, I would highly suggest looking into participating in Megan’s upcoming detox, so that you can hopefully see the same success that I have started to see. The tools offered in her detox programs are ones you can carry with you for the rest of your life to help keep the toxic burden in your body low. It’s really wonderful information, and easy to implement into daily life!
(Kicks off August 13th)