I wanted this to be one of those cases where you walk into the doctor’s office after doing “the work” (meaning all your nutritional and holistic protocols) and she says, “Wow, I don’t know what you’re doing to heal but whatever it is, keep up the good work. Your blood work looks amazing!”
I’m still living this perfect storm so bear with me. I don’t have any tips for you about how to bridge the gap between modern medicine and holistic health care. I don’t have the words you need to say to your doctor to get him/her to see you, I mean REALLY see you. I don’t have the “perfect” protocol for an autoimmune flareup or a depleted immune system. I don’t even have the story (as in, I’ve got it all worked out now and this is how I healed). Holistic practitioners LOVE to share those stories.
This is a different story. It’s a story about money and relationship. Boundaries and truth telling and stress. A little dab of vanity. And how sometimes it takes a very long time to get to the root of a chronic problem and really know “what’s going on in there.” It’s a story about being willing to live in the mystery while using every resource and wisdom available to you—even a Facebook thread. Oh how I love those Facebook threads.
And more often than not, it’s about having the courage to stand up for yourself and seek assistance from your doctor, your lover, your friends … and anyone else who will listen.
It’s about asking … and receiving.
Would you believe me if I told you this narrative began with a Leaping Leopard?
I have suffered with chronic sinus issues for as long as I can remember and I have tried every diet protocol known to man to resolve them. I even enjoyed a raw food vegan diet for a few years until I craved a bowl of steamy soup so badly I’d visit the soup bar in Whole Foods and lift the lids just to bask in the aroma. That’s what I remember most about the raw foods diet … the absence of aroma, which for me, was so much more … it was the absence of Grandma’s kitchen. I didn’t know it then but I was deeply missing meals rooted in tradition and in my family history.
Eventually, I decided to just live with the discomfort. There are worse things in life than a chronic sinus condition. Then, in 2013 I garnered the courage to have one of those pin prick tests thinking if it’s not the food it must be an environmental issue. Plus, I like data. Over forty needles in my back. Ouch. Turns out I was highly allergic to several grasses, dust mites, and cockroaches (??????). Thankfully I didn’t have to worry about cockroaches but clearly it was time to pull out the thirteen-year-old carpets in my home and replace them with hardwood flooring. Good bye dust mites. Hello BIG investment.
Unfortunately the chronic sinus condition persisted because, well, how do you remove all the grasses? You don’t. This past spring my discomfort escalated and all kinds of strange and unnerving symptoms showed up. I’ll spare you the details. I avoided having this conversation with my husband because the investment in new floors was a big one and we both hoped that effort would remedy the situation. Basically, I suffered in silence.
I turned to my SoulCollage® deck for guidance. Leaping Leopard had a very strong message for me. Leopard is an extraordinarily powerful animal totem and much like Artemis the archetypal hunter, Leopard carries the energy of a warrior god or goddess. When I created this card, I couldn’t imagine why Leopard chose to hang out among all those books until the day I engaged her in a reading and realized she was calling on me to awaken the hunter within. Her message?
And so it began, the hunt. I started assembling my team: primary care physicians, ENT specialist, allergist, and … Google University. When I decide to pursue something I am unstoppable. And that was certainly the case until a throbbing pain showed up in my mouth and cheekbone one day preventing me from chewing. I assumed it was another sinus infection but I decided to check in with my dentist. A similar incident following air travel a year prior had turned out to be a sinus-related toothache. This time the dentist detected a crack in the (same) tooth and sent me to an endodontist for a root canal.
Root canals are very hard on the immune system. I know that. There is a 50/50 chance that they won’t be successful at all and the tooth will have to be extracted eventually. I opted for the risk. Here’s where vanity comes into play: I didn’t want a gaping hole in my mouth nor did I want an implant. Ugh. Turns out there was much infection that needed to be scraped away and treated. A week later, after a two-part root canal procedure, I was scheduled to have a crown attached to what was left of my tooth. My dentist took one look and said, “No can do.” The tooth had cracked some more. He sent me next door to schedule a tooth extraction with the oral surgeon who confirmed that, in addition to the crack, there was still some infection there. Goodbye tooth. Don’t even ask how much I paid for the root canal.
Around this time my test results started coming in. A CT Scan confirmed an infection in the sinus cavity above the cracked tooth. My blood work and ‘Visual Contrast Sensitivity Test’ showed indications of mold toxicity and also an autoimmune flareup. Good old Hashimoto had been relatively quiet and in remission for almost a decade; not any more. At least I was getting somewhere. Next step on my warrior goddess path was to convince my husband that we needed an environmental engineer to come in and evaluate our living space. (Eyes roll. Not mine, his.) Here’s where money comes into the picture. Money conversations can be challenging in a marriage, yes? I suspect I’m not alone here.
Our crawl space is covered in Aspergillus and Penicillium. I don’t know how long I’ve been breathing in this toxic chemical soup but I suspect it’s been at least eight years, as that’s how long I’ve been working from home. The environmental engineer tells us he’s seeing a lot of this in our neighborhood; it was a VERY wet spring.
Undetected infection in both the root of my tooth and also the adjacent sinus cavity + the trauma of the root canal procedure + tooth extraction + compromised immune system due to undetected infection in the body + autoimmune condition flareup + stress (can we say election season?) = THE PERFECT STORM.
Here’s what I’ve learned thus far:
1. RabbitAir makes the very best air purifier. While we are waiting to get the mold extracted from our home (two more weeks and counting) I am literally carrying this contraption from room to room so that I can breathe.
2. You cannot rebuild your immune system with ongoing infection in your body.
3. Sometimes you have to go beyond the providers your insurance company covers and pay out of pocket for more holistic approaches to healing.
4. Doctors are VERY busy people. You have to repeat yourself a lot and ask many questions. You also have to commit to becoming a participant in your care rather than a “good patient.” That doesn’t mean you can’t be kind, it just means YOU are in charge of the team. And your body.
5. If you suspect you are having an adverse reaction to a prescribed medication and your doctor diminishes your intuition, YOU are still in charge and you can very kindly but firmly say, “I’d like to remove this medication for a while and approach my healing in a more natural and holistic way to see if my body responds. How do you feel about that?”
6. The very best “medicine” you can self-administer involves nourishing your body with WHOLEsome food (and loving self care practices). Sometimes you have to give up the foods you love most (can we say chocolate?) until your body has a chance to restore and replenish. Therapeutic diets are temporary; embrace them. My mantra is: I love myself deeply. I feed myself well.
7. Smoothies are a wonderful way to get a whole lot of veggies into your diet. Ten servings of veggies per day may sound like a stretch but remember, you’re a warrior goddess now.
8. Google University can be your best friend. It can also drive you to distraction.
If you take nothing else from this post, take this: you’re worth it. When you feel as though your health is at risk, don’t wait in silence afraid to ask for what you need or to spend the money. Be that warrior goddess for SELF.
Okay dear friends, I’ll be sure to share more of this story as it unfolds. Be well. I hope to see a few of you in my online SoulCollage® PLAYshop on Sunday!