Hello sweet souls, how are you? As many of you know, it has been quite a year for me! Many of you have written me asking for me to share my latest health update. You’re right, it has been a little while!
Last year around this time, I started The Sensitive Soul blog as a way to chronicle my health journey and all the discoveries that came along with it.
I was just starting on a robust supplement regime after learning why my body felt like utter misery. What I thought might be Lyme disease due to the symptoms, turned out to be a few other things.
Everything from parasites, toxin overload, bacteria overgrowth, various pathogens, and 14 year old breast implants were breaking down my body. I suffered from 30+ symptoms (you can see my symptom list here) and could barely muster energy to get through each day.
Most of my severe symptoms hit hard in the end of May last year. I just remember one May weekend not being able to get my fatigued body off of my couch. Typically in a weekend, I’d be out playing with my husband and son or running miscellaneous errands, but I literally could not stir up more than an hour’s worth of energy to be upright. Something was definitely wrong.
The intense fatigue then snowballed into so many more troubling symptoms that I had never experienced before. Things like: a sensation that bugs were crawling all over me, tingling and numbness in my fingers and toes, ridiculously sore soles of my feet, burning in my calves and shins, dry eyes, joint aches, brain fog, sharp pain in my left breast, etc.
I Never Knew What Brain Fog Felt Like
The symptoms worsened by the day. There was a day when I drove to Michaels, a local craft store, with a very specific agenda. I only had to get one or two things. As I walked into the store, within seconds, I found myself inside the front door just staring at the shelves and aisle signs. Why was I here? Why was I at Michaels? For the life of me, I couldn’t remember why I drove there. It was a really scary feeling. One that I remember so vividly.
I left the store empty-handed because I simply couldn’t remember what I had gone to buy. My brain fog was so overpowering. My usual quick wit was lessening too. Suddenly, I was having trouble retrieving words or remembering what I wanted to say. I would initiate conversations with people and stop a few words in completely forgetting what I wanted to discuss.
What was happening to me?
To say I was scared and disturbed by these changes in my health is an understatement. I was confused and at a loss for what to do. Terrified.
Designing My Healing Path
So as many of you know from reading my story, I contacted a functional medicine practitioner, a Lyme-literate doctor (LLMD), a neurologist, and a plastic surgeon to address the distressing symptoms I was experiencing.
In June 2018, I started taking multiple herbal supplements and tinctures to address the findings of my GI-MAP and Organic Acids tests. I was on this journey by myself more or less. My husband, of course, was supportive and wanted to see his wife get better, but no one really understood what I was experiencing or why I sought out herbal remedies.
To some people my choices were unconventional, even hokey. Heck, even the neurologist felt I was being exposed to quackery with the supplements I was taking. Did he even know that herbs have been used to treat illnesses for centuries?
I had a lot of people asking me what I was doing and why. I love people’s curiosity, but I don’t love people’s judgment. Judgment seemed to come from all angles and I had to push through it and trust my path for better or for worse. Even I wasn’t sure if it would work, but I had to try.
Things got worse before they got better while taking the supplements. I had major flares of symptoms. The intensity heightened and I was crippled with pain. I thought, “This isn’t working, it’s getting worse!” But I stayed the course and diligently continued to carryout my protocol.
What I learned was that my body was having a Herxheimer reaction. Basically, I was pushing out so many toxins and killing off so many pathogens that my body was writhing in pain.
The Sun Always Shines After the Storm
I am so glad I pushed through the hard parts because there was improvement on the other side! After weeks of agonizing pain and uncertainly of whether all the herbs would help, I finally felt some relief. Some. Not fully, but any little improvement beats nothing at all, right?
Next was my breast explant surgery to get my 14 year old saline implants out. They weren’t ruptured or damaged in any way. They simply were not agreeing with my body anymore. Over the years, my body was fighting hard to acclimate to these foreign objects in my chest lying against vital organs such as my heart and lungs.
My body’s systems (endocrine, immune, nervous, etc.) were compromised. My health started declining and my body was more susceptible to viruses, pathogens, toxins, and such. This is my theory any way. There is no way to truly know if this was the case, but it makes a whole lot of sense if you think about it!
Making the Choice to Explant
I was encouraged by the stories of thousands upon thousands of other women who had had implants just like me and were experiencing the exact same debilitating symptoms. They watched their wellbeing change and decline gradually without understanding why. But, once they explanted, miraculously, most of their symptoms dissipated. I wanted that to be the case for me, too.
So I explanted. I had a total capsulectomy which took out the implants and the entire chest wall tissue around the implants.
The surgery and its recovery was not a walk in the park by any stretch of the imagination. It was hard. It hurt like hell. I was plagued with anxiety and uncertainty of whether it would be the miracle I was praying it would be in my life. I just wanted my health and vitality to return.
The Healing Process is Not Linear
I was very deliberate in eating an organic, whole foods diet accompanied with juicing during my early recovery. Of course, I also took probiotics to restore my gut microbiome after all the pain medication and IV drugs too. I wanted to give my body the best chance possible to rebuild and re-calibrate.
Finally by February (my surgery was in late November), I was given the okay from my surgeon to start working out and getting back to life without restrictions. The end of February was glorious. I was back to running several miles a week for exercise, my energy was stabilized, and generally speaking, I felt great! I was happy, encouraged, and ready for my comeback!
Another Bump in the Road
At the very start of March, after a week of amazing exercise and a relaxing vacation, I developed a weird sensation in my throat. Something I have never felt before. It felt like something was stuck in my throat. I felt it every time I tried to swallow. “Perhaps I ate something that got lodged in there. This will pass,” I thought.
Well, here I am in July and the sensation has not passed, it has only worsened. What once was just an annoyance is now a daily painful experience and no one seems to know what is causing it. I find myself constantly rubbing my throat trying to find any sort of relief. By the end of each day, I no longer wish to talk. My throat just hurts so bad.
As you can imagine, my heart sank upon feeling this way. I was finally feeling AMAZING and then THIS started up. A month after this sensation arrived, so did a heavy dose of vertigo and a super tight chest making it hard to breathe.
Luckily, the tight chest passed after about a week but the vertigo lingered. I thought maybe I had some sort of virus causing all of this.
What ultimately ended up helping my vertigo disappear (I think) were weekly visits to a chiropractor who performed the Epley Manuever on me. It’s a physical therapy technique that facilitates moving misplaced crystals in our inner ear into their right positions.
So as if having the throat condition, vertigo, and tight chest weren’t enough, I then started having severe anxiety attacks with heart palpitations coupled with depression. I can’t blame myself for feeling depressed. Feeling sick or feeling any type of ailment for that matter was getting exhausting. I just wanted to feel amazing like I did in February.
Visiting the Dark Side
Anxiety and depression took hold real hard. I had not felt anxiety like this since my teenage years when panic attacks were part of my monthly existence. So, it has literally been over 20 years since I felt like this.
Working in a profession (I am a counselor) that treats anxiety and depression, I knew of self-care techniques that are effective for anxiety and depression. So I tried those. Some helped, others didn’t. Everything from meditating, saunas, acupressure, self-talk, journaling, grounding, tapping, prayer with crystals, essential oils, and simply allowing myself to cry did not seem to help.
I couldn’t help but intuitively think that a lot of this was hormonal and stress related. I had life stressors that needed tending to and the feelings in my body definitely felt hormonal. On the calendar, it made sense for the time of month (if you know what I mean).
My Current State
So lots of changes have been happening in my body. Many that feel out of my control, which I hate. I am sure many of you can relate to having something happening in your body that you simply want to understand better and ultimately want to go away.
I am trying to trust the healing process. For me, it’s not linear. It has peaks and valleys. My body is so intelligent. I am human and the human experience is not flawless. I believe that what I am experiencing is happening for a reason even if that reason eludes me right now.
Looking on the Bright Side
Well, here is the good news.
While these few symptoms are currently problematic for me, I am BEYOND grateful that most of my original 30+ symptoms are gone. Sometimes I am scared to even admit that, fearing that they might return. But what I can trust is how I feel NOW. And now, I feel sooooo much better than I did a year ago.
I do believe my healing path has worked in a lot of ways. It hasn’t been a cure-all, but it has certainly eradicated some of those debilitating, mysterious symptoms I was plagued with this time last year.
I am able to get up off of my couch. Hallelujah! I am able to run around at the playground with my son and play. Amen! I am able to exercise and enjoy family activities for more time than I could last year. Praise the Lord! Rolling out of bed in the morning isn’t met with aching joints and tingling sensations. Amazing!
Reminding myself of how far I have come and giving myself grace and patience to weather through current conditions has been challenging yet powerful for me.
Longing for the Day
Do I long for the day when I can answer my husband’s morning question of, “How are you today?” with a “I am symptom free today and I feel fantastic!” response?
Yes, yes I do.
I desperately want that day to come soon. It will. I just have to be patient.
For now, just like last year, I am staying persistent in my search for answers to my throat condition. While doctors can’t seem to figure it out, I know I will learn why it’s happening sooner or later. I have to be my own best health advocate. Only I know how my body is feeling. And when I know something is ‘off’, something is OFF. I look for answers psychologically, medically, and spiritually – ALWAYS.
I am so very grateful for the improvements that have taken place and I have faith that more healing is happening. Thank you for all the support you have given me throughout my journey. So many of you have asked me to write an update on my health journey, which means so much to me.
I write my story vulnerably because I know we can all learn from one another. Maybe you can relate to my journey. Or maybe you’ve been looking for alternative treatments to try. Too many people struggle in silence. Whatever it is that brings you to my blog, I thank you for reading.
I have loved hearing from so many of you about your own struggles, mysteries, and victories. We all have stories to tell without shame or embarrassment. So please continue to reach out and share yours with me too!
As always, be well friends.
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