Living Proof: How I Learned to Heal & Regenerate My Body
As a child, I constantly battled ear infections, high fevers, colds and flus. It seemed that there was always a pink bottle of penicillin in our refrigerator. I thought it was a condiment! By the time I was 11 years old I had folliculitis, tiny pimples all over my legs. At 13, I came down with a bad case of mononucleosis. It was accompanied by a Staph and Strep infection as well as the Epstein Barr virus. I missed a lot of school that year and was unable to regain the energy I had prior to the infections.
By 9th grade I was headed down a bad road. I started getting severely painful, golf ball sized boils all over my body. My doctors used the strongest antibiotics they had available but I was unable to get rid of the boils. One of them was so large on my eyebrow that the doctor feared I would lose my vision. Another IV antibiotic drip suppressed the infection temporarily until another set of boils emerged.
Cystic acne developed on my face as well so the doctors prescribed more topical and internal antibiotics. One doctor cautioned me about the overuse of antibiotics but I felt I had no other options. My dermatologist told me that diet was not related and that I would eventually "grow out" of my acne.
By the time I got to college I had taken Penicillin, Erythromycin, Tetracycline, Minocycline, Doxycycline, Keflex, Duricef, Bactrim, Cleocin and one of the heaviest hitters out there, Rifampin. Rifampin was freaky because it turned my urine and tears bright orange. I stayed on these types of antibiotics almost all the time because if I stopped, my skin got significantly worse.
I can't blame my poor health solely on the antibiotics. I was overscheduled, exhausted and constantly stressed out. I drank six cokes a day, enjoyed alcohol and was eating a high animal protein and high white sugar diet. I felt hopeless about my skin. I was a marketer's dream buying every skin lotion and potion I could find. Unfortunately none of them worked and many only worsened the inflammation and redness.
My gynecologist recommended birth control pills and they helped my skin for a short time but they also led me to gain weight. When I stopped taking the pills my skin looked horrible again. I was desperate to find a cure to my problem and prayed that one day that I would finally "grow out of it" like my doctor said.
A friend of mine had beautiful skin. She had taken a prescription drug specifically for acne. It was one I hadn't heard of but it sounded too good to be true. She had dry lips and webbed skin between her fingers but other than that she had no complaints. The drug was called Accutane and I was determined to get a prescription for it. A new dermatologist tried to talk me out of it but I pressed and begged him for it until he reluctantly gave in to my demands.
I did not realize it at the time, but by taking Accutane, I was making a deal with the devil. Within a few weeks, my skin cleared up but I also developed severe bowel inflammation. I thought it was just stress or that every restaurant was giving me food poisoning. My body was turning on me. I was even more exhausted and could hardly get through my days. I would go on to have these severe intestinal symptoms for the next 17 years. I went to numerous gastrointestinal doctors over the years but they all told me that I would need to learn to live with the symptoms. I had no idea that Accutane was involved in the deterioration of my digestive system and overall health.
A year later, the acne came back with a vengeance so I found another dermatologist to write another prescription for Accutane. My health continued to decline but it was so insidious that I didn't realize how bad it truly was until later in my life.
By the time I was 25, I stopped sleeping. I needed some type of sleep aid to get any kind of rest. I tried prescription sleep medications like Ambien, Trazodone and Rozerem and also Flexeril for my back pain. If any drug made any claims that I thought my help me then I was ready to give it a try. When I couldn't get pharmaceuticals I abused over the counter sleep aids like Nyquil, Tylenol PM and Benedryl. Finally I moved on to the natural sleep aids like Valerian Root, homeopathics and Melatonin. I must have tried more than 50 different sleep aids over a decade but nothing ever worked. I was a zombie with bad skin, terrible periods and a non-functioning intestinal system.
I kept searching for answers with no luck. More doctors gave me more prescriptions but they only led to more side effects. One drug gave me such terrible acid reflux that I had developed five cavities in one year. Another doctor treated the acid reflux with Propulsid (pulled off the market because of fatal events!) and that led to a hiatal hernia. I was on a downward spiral going nowhere good fast.
By 33, I had my hormones tested only to find that I had entered peri-menopause. I had almost no estrogen, progesterone or testosterone. My doctor said, "Congratulations! You have the hormones of a much older person." It was depressing to say the least. My cycles were horrible and I only felt decent about 2 weeks out of every month. Taking Accutane had robbed me of my best years and on top of it all I still had painful cystic acne.
I was a disaster. I had rapid transit so I would lose my meals almost immediately after eating. I could no longer digest my food. I felt like a prisoner in my own body. I knew where every bathroom was in the tri-county area because I never knew when I would be in trouble. When you are going through this kind of thing it reduces your quality of life significantly. I didn't want to go anywhere or make any plans because it never felt like a good time to do so.
Around this time, I learned that Accutane (which has finally been pulled off the market) was originally developed as a chemotherapy drug. When the cancer patient's skin became clear the company decided to market it to acne sufferers which were predominately teens and young adults. I then learned of its extreme intestinal side effects and associated suicide risks. Learning about the horrors of Accutane helped me connect the dots. All of my symptoms could finally be linked. The worst thing was that I really had no one to blame. I did this all to myself.
My healing journey started in 2008, at 34 years old. I started to slowly take more responsibility for my health. I started to learn as much as I could about natural health and the role that diet played in healing. I met many wonderful natural practitioners and one in particular scared me into submission. After showing him my gastrointestinal test results he looked me straight in the eyes and said, "I want you to write this down. Okay, are you ready? I have two words for you: Colon Carcinoma." He told me I was dangerously close to a very serious condition. I couldn't sleep for days and I knew then that I was the only one that could take control of my destiny. No one was coming to save me. I had to change the way I lived immediately.
Over the last five years I have read every book and every journal, watched every film, lecture and video that I could find to help myself. Sifting through the information available is mind boggling and most folks do not have the time or inclination to do it. I started making the necessary changes: giving up sodas, processed foods and fast foods, reading labels, incorporating fresh juices and nearly eliminating all dairy, soy, white sugar, wheat and gluten. I say "nearly eliminating" because I am not perfect nor do I expect anyone else to be perfect. Focusing on quality foods helped me the most. Learning to get right back on the horse after going off track has helped me as well.
In 2011, I earned a certification as a Functional Diagnostic Nutritionist®. This program focuses on getting to the underlying causes of a person's illness and restoring the overall functions of the body. I continued to clean up my diet and made vast improvements in my health on the program but I still had a ways to go.
During this time, I continued to learn about the healing power of living foods and detoxification through the great naturopathic teachers like Norman Walker while also reading about the Gerson Therapy, Dr. Kelley's Cancer Diet, books by Yakov Koyfman, ND and any information I could find about alternative healing centers throughout the world. It was both amazing and disheartening to find out that so much wonderful information has been effectively suppressed from the common person. It's odd that we are living in such an advanced society yet we have effectively lost touch with the laws of nature.
Leonardo da Vinci knew this in the 15th century when he stated:
“Vitality and beauty are gifts of Nature for those who live according to its laws.”
In 2012, I had the good fortune to stumble onto a YouTube video from Robert Morse, ND while researching something for a friend. That same day I bought his book, "The Detox Miracle Sourcebook." This was life changing for me. I was skeptical at first because what he taught was so simple yet so effective. I was feeling better by incorporating the previous diet and lifestyle changes but I also realized that I had plateaued. I wasn't where I wanted to be physically so I decided to try his approach.
Within a few weeks of eating grapes, salads, drinking lemon water, blending smoothies and juicing veggies my skin cleared and my digestion normalized. I was in shock. I felt like I must be in a honeymoon period because I had never experienced those kinds of results with any other protocol that I had tried in the past.
Within that first month I went into my first "healing crisis". It was unsettling but after reading the book I knew what to expect and I also knew that it would only be temporary while my body was healing. The bottom half of my body became stiff as a board. I could hardly bend my legs to sleep. This lasted for 5 days but then it stopped and my energy was noticeably better. My body was starting to repair itself. It was quite an emotional experience.
I hadn't been on a plane for six years because of my extreme bowel issues but Dr. Morse was teaching a class across the country and I was determined to attend. Traveling was challenging but it turned out that going to the class was a turning point in my health and my career as a Holistic Health Coach. I am happy to report that I am 95% better today and I am now able to help friends, family and clients get well too.
Some may say that eating a diet high in living foods is extreme but please consider that I was at rock bottom. I couldn't take care of my basic needs. I was exhausted and couldn't eat much, sleep or go anywhere without worrying about my unpredictable gut. I was surviving but certainly not thriving.
Making the connection between what you eat and how you feel as well as understanding that living foods promote life are the basic things we need to know to start to change our lives for the better. If I can do it, as a former junk food junkie, then anyone can do it - including you!
Here's to your health and happiness,