I’m excited to introduce my newest guest poster, Stephanie from Aroma Mama! She writes about healing from chronic illness and has amazing essential oil tips- check her out!
I have been “into health” ever since I was a little kid. It all started as a pre-teen when a couple of my siblings would call me “pleasantly plump.” My desire to lose weight as a kid in middle school began my journey into nutrition and fitness. I remember counting my calories, exercising nearly every night in my basement, and meticulously charting what I ate and how many calories I burned during exercise. You see, being a health enthusiast doesn’t come easily.
I went on to high school still watching what I ate, and started working out at a gym as soon as I was old enough to join. My first job was as a caregiver in a retirement home which inspired me to become a nurse. I exercised a lot in college and met my husband in the gym since we both worked out before our classes. I had practiced a life of health and wellness for most of my life.
When my health changed
I wasn’t hospitalized for anything; no broken bones, disease, or major illness. I got regular physicals and vaccinations through nursing school and into my nursing career. During my physicals, the doctor would do a physical exam, I would get my blood sugar, and cholesterol checked. Everything checked out normal, and my doctor would tell me I was a picture of perfect health.
However, as I began to get older, had a child, and experienced the near death of my husband followed by years of him dealing with chronic pain and dysfunction, I began to notice that I didn’t feel as good as I used to. Sure, by most anyone’s standards, I still seemed to be in great health – I exercised, generally ate a healthy diet, didn’t drink, or do anything else that I thought would put my health at risk. But something was just…off.
I fired my doctor
I remember thinking that I had a thyroid issue because of some symptoms I was having that are typically related to low thyroid function. My doctor told me that my symptoms weren’t severe enough so my insurance wouldn’t cover the lab test. Then, as years passed by, I noticed an increase in anxiety, sinus colds, joint pain, and difficulty losing the baby weight I had put on after my second child. I wasn’t getting answers from my regular doctor, and that is one of the events of many that opened me up to the world of natural health, functional medicine and becoming my own advocate.
Once I left my job to be a stay-at-home mom, I decided to take things to another level. I finally had the time to cook, prepare my meals and baked goods from scratch, research where and how to get the best organic meat, produce, and other products. I went on an elimination diet and realized I needed to eat a gluten-free, dairy-free, and sugar-free diet. I changed out my toiletries and cleaning products in favor of more natural options.
I started seeing a Naturopath and felt better
Living out a healthier lifestyle helped and I dropped my baby weight when I started eating a gluten-free, sugar-free, and dairy-free diet. I still felt my thyroid function needed to be addressed, so I saw a Naturopath. I went on a natural thyroid supplement, called Nature-throid, and within weeks I felt a huge improvement all around. I lost even more weight, felt confident, my energy increased and overall felt great. I had no complaints.
My big mistake
After a couple of years, I got lax about my diet and went off my thyroid supplement to save money. That was a big mistake! I had another child, and my symptoms started to spiral out of control. This time they were worse! I was experiencing more anxiety than ever before; I was getting frequent dizzy spells, my heart would go into an abnormal rhythm making it hard to breathe, and felt at times that I was going to pass out after seeing black spots. Also, I was concerned about my thyroid function once again and concerned that I had a major leaky gut issue since I was growing a long list of food intolerances and sensitivities.
Gut Thrive in 5
In a nutshell, I felt awful and felt like something was seriously wrong. I did so much research and study to regain my health. To save money, I was trying to treat myself and found a 10-week detox program called Gut Thrive in 5. Becoming a health enthusiast takes so much research and time. It was a challenging, but a rewarding experience. The program made me feel so much better, and I felt like I had saved myself from a premature death.
Functional medicine to treat the root cause of my symptoms
Months later after eating dairy and grains now and then, my symptoms started to come back. I knew it was time to pay out of pocket to see a functional medicine doctor, a professional to get my labs checked and to find the root cause of my illness. I felt my life was worth it!
My shocking news
Thankfully, I found a local functional medicine doctor and had extensive lab work done. My CRP, which is a marker for inflammation, was so high that I was at risk for a heart attack, blood clot or stroke. My doctor told me that I had such a bad case of yeast overgrowth in my gut (some call it SIBO) that it was spreading to the rest of my bodily organs, most importantly, my heart. Also, my thyroid function was low and I had severe adrenal fatigue.
I was tested for food intolerances and my list was so long that I had more food intolerances than foods I could eat. This was a result of severe leaky gut and genetics. My doctor explained that I am not allergic to all of these foods. Some of these reactions developed as a result of all of the inflammation I have going on in my body. Some of the foods I will be able to eat again, in time, after avoiding them and correcting the inflammation.
My happy ending
I am finishing up a 6-month program with my functional medicine doctor. I have been on a tailored program specific to my needs for healing. This has involved following doctor’s orders for my diet, supplements, and chiropractic care. My labs have drastically improved. I recovered from my severe adrenal fatigue, and I am no longer at risk of a heart attack. I have so much more energy, confidence, and no longer feel anxiety over daily tasks.
I feel that taking an active interest in health and wellness, and becoming a health enthusiast, caused me to look further than what my conventional medicine doctor was saying was okay. I sought out a doctor that could help me to get to the cause of my symptoms, and because of that, I know my life has been saved from a premature death from life-threatening inflammation and autoimmune disease.
I believe that if I had stayed with my conventional medicine doctor, my health would continue to fail and possibly end up dropping dead one day from a heart attack or stroke. This hits close to home because I knew someone that recently died from a sudden heart attack and he wasn’t much older than me. Also, a friend recently had a serious heart attack and she is even younger than me.
This is my story of how being a health enthusiast has saved my life.
I feel that I am in good hands now and feel hopeful for my future!
It’s interesting how when our bodies suddenly don’t work right that we turn to natural options to get better. That’s the stage I’m at. You’re experiencing a lot of the symptoms I’m experiencing. I find that I’m also having a more limited and limited diet.
That’s interesting that not all of them may be due to allergies but inflammation. I’ll have to look into that. also, this Gut Thrive in 5 looks interesting.
Where would I be able to find the Naturethyroid? I think that’s something I need.
Out of curiosity, what do you mean by functional medicine doctor? I’ve never heard of it before, and I’d be very interested in potentially trying to find one where I currently live or where I’m moving to.
Thank you for this article!
Stephanie Donahue says
I’ve heard from many people that they turned to alternative medicine after conventional medicine failed them. It’s great to find a community where we can find support like this one. My diet has become limited as well which is why I post recipes on my blog for people in my situation that need to eat clean. I love Stefani’s recipes as well and have become a big fan of this blog! You can find more information on Gut Thrive in 5 at this link. https://thewholejourney.com/programs/gut-thrive/gt-enroll-now/?cfid=3
Naturethroid is considered a prescription supplement and I got that from my naturopath. Functional medicine doctors are becoming increasingly popular and there will be more offices opening as time goes on. They are known for finding the root cause of an illness and target that. Then, the other symptoms seem to disappear on their own or they will target a secondary issue when needed after the primary issue is cared for. Many of them specialize in autoimmune disease, Diabetes, and Hashimotos. There are also holistic doctors or naturopaths that you can search for if there are no functional medicine doctors in your area yet.
Thanks for the comment!
Please forgive me, but I’m still confused what a functional medical doctor is. I think it must be a regional term that I’m not familiar with. I’ve never heard of it in my region. Maybe in my region, it goes by a different name?
Stephanie Donahue says
Hi, Crys! I found a functional medicine database that you can use to try to locate one in your area. Just type in your city and state. I wish you the best! https://ifm.org/find-a-practitioner/
Thank you very much!