I have been debating whether to share this part of my life or not. While it is personal, that is not the reason that hindered me. I am generally open about triumphs and struggles in my life. But this, seemed too strange and “Uncertain” to divulge. However, I considered, if my personal journey to a solution, might help someone, it is necessary I include it here. As well, it now affects our homestead, how we eat and what we will raise….so I shall disclose. This is my fight for life.
Yv and I have been dreaming of growing a beautiful life together since we laid eyes on each other. Some of those dreams included a homestead of animals, and some farm fresh crops.
Starting anew this year, felt joyful, exciting and brought certain trepidations. But we had an idea of what we wanted to raise, from plans we made over the years. One of those animals, was a Jersey to give farm fresh milk. I have always thrown my whole appetite into dairy. Unabashedly, too much. I want 35% cream in my coffee if it’s available, and butter spread thickly. Don’t get me started on my obsession with cheeses.
But, when the opportunity for a gorgeous Jersey surfaced this year…we had to turn it down. Along with my dreams of drowning in dairy. I knew I needed to begin a journey to fight for life…a better version of health and wellness than I ever fought for before.
Before this fight for life, for better health entered my vision, I had battled health issues for years. For as long as I can remember I have had some strange ‘symptoms’…physical hiccups that interfere with my life. When I was a child, I would occasionally collapse from heat exposure. The ‘collapsing’ would continue throughout my life, and rear its head at the strangest occasions.
Horrific body pain, frequent headaches, dizziness, foggy brain…the random collapsing…would come and go.
Innumerable doctors over the years came up with inconclusive results. And told me to just “monitor” my symptoms. I had scans and blood tests galore. Some of the doctors told me to “stop thinking about the pain, and it will go away”. Another literally told me, “Go home, and you will probably collapse until you just stop collapsing. There is no way to determine when that will be.” But many, genuinely concerned, attempted to find a solution to no avail. I would return home, hobble around on shaky legs, until a few months down the road, things improved. I would exercise however I could to grapple at mobility, even if it meant sitting on a stationary bike and peddling away. But even with improvements, I never felt quite right…and symptoms would resurface.
Thankfully, I have never been in a position that endangered our children in any way. But, these symptoms I battled off and on, have been more than inconvenient and took time away from us working towards our dream of homesteading.
A Specialist’s Perspective
Three years ago, I was privileged to see an impeccable specialist. I was sent to him, after many other doctor’s were unable to uncover the root cause of my collapsing. Neither was he…entirely. But he came to the most reasonable conclusion.
He told me to rest. He encouraged cardio vascular exercise, activities to reduce stress and to drink a LOT of water. I was given salt pills to help my body retain more liquid and told to purchase compression leggings. None of these things actually inhibited my symptoms, but having something to focus on helped. He did not promise it would change my life, but to help manage symptoms. Before I left, he said very gently,
“I don’t want you to stress about it. Right now you need to focus on getting better. In the fall you will likely improve a bit when the weather cools off. But down the road, you might discover more symptoms. You might end up with Multiple Sclerosis. ”
Three years later his words were an eternity away from my thoughts. I let go of them almost immediately and told myself, “I am too healthy to have a debilitating disease like that. He doesn’t know me.” But one afternoon this year, my foot began tingling…then I lost feeling in it. The tingling and numbness moved all the way up my leg and stayed like that for many hours. I thought it was a bit odd, but let it go. Then, over the course of the next couple months, I began noticing tingling and numbness in my face and arm and leg more frequently. It was as if I had a shot of novocaine from the dentist in different parts of my body. I realized something was off. Maybe a pinched nerve? I have lower back pain.. but that does not explain the other symptoms I have had for years.
Then it came flooding back to me, one evening. The doctor’s words came crashing into my thoughts. It might be an autoimmune disease.
“Let Food Be Thy Medicine” -Hippocrates
While I await an upcoming MRI, I have been doing my own research. There are no certainties with diagnosis. MS is apparently a very difficult disease to diagnose, with thousands of testimonies of people who had repeated spinal taps, MRI’s, blood work with negative results. Then one day, years later, positive results appear.
In no way, do I desire to live with Multiple Sclerosis, or any other debilitating disease. But I am also not awaiting the doctor’s visit to stock up on prescription drugs. I am ALREADY battling symptoms that interfere with my life, and I need a solution that heals. I have never been one to rely on medicine, though I understand it’s critical and necessary role in life when needed. But the majority of people living with autoimmune diseases do not thrive on medicine. They merely survive and spiral downwards. I need a solution that helps my physical wellness improve and evidence indicates diet is EVERYTHING. (Wahls Protocol, Wahls M.D.)
But my mission now, is to be proactive in bringing healing to my body through diet. Hippocrates once said, “Let food be thy medicine,” and what was true in his ancient time is still true today. People with autoimmune diseases are living symptom free (though not “cured”) by managing their disease with a regimented diet.
This is something I am very familiar with, as I have studied nutrition independently since my early teens. I was fascinated by how food can heal the body. I even spent 13 solid years as a vegetarian (albeit an irresponsible one gorging on refined carbs and dairy galore!). Though I was not always practicing what I studied, there were long stretches of my life, where I adhered to strict life altering nutrition. Thinking back on those moments, I realize how little I experienced body pain, and how energized I would feel.
Thankfully, we can raise and grow our own food. Quality of ingredients is everything. And regardless of the results on my MRI, Yvan and I have decided that we will try to help rid my body of symptom though a diet change.
“Paleo”: A diet That typically includes lean meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds — foods that in the past could be obtained by hunting and gathering
Yes, it is hard for me, I drink cream in my coffee twice a day. I LOVE LOVE LOVE all things grain, and pastry, usually dripping with butter and cheese. Dessert? My Friends know I can polish off a few slices of cake without blinking. But What I love more is health. What I love MORE than cake is mobility and running after my children. Dairy and Bread cannot compare to living my life actively. If a fight for life, requires I give up a few of my favourite foods, I will cling to the good, and find new foods to love.
So we are going to incorporate a “Paleo” nutritional approach (which I will explain further in a future post) as it seems the most coveted option in the Autoimmune and Chronic Symptom World.
We will strive to raise more lean meats, such as Rabbit, chicken and others in the next year.
Same Homestead, With Added Nutrition!
We are still continuing on with our growing and raising of animals! But I will be experimenting with what foods work best to improve health here! My husband Yvan, has had a lot of inflammation and Chronic pain in his body as well over the years, so he will join me slowly on this journey of a new paleo based approach. Hopefully, for those of you seeking healing any ailments (migraines, chronic pain, thyroid issues, etc.) through diet change, perhaps you can glean some ideas, and learn from my mistakes and successes!
We have to be our own health advocate! If you are tired of living with chronic annoying ailments, do something about it! We have to be fed up enough to change, to fight for life! And we have to be willing to give up, grow and fight for our health! Do not settle for chronic fatigue. Migraines should not be our “normal” forever. Find a solution to your pain however long it takes and however hard you have to rally! Some of us will have a disease no matter the effort we put in, but that does not mean we give up! Instead, we battle alongside each other and share information to help us grow beyond our symptoms. I will not settle for being a “Sick, symptom riddled mom and wife”. I am going to fight for my life, so my family can have the best version of me.
Mostly, my hope is that my children see a fight for becoming our healthiest version of ourself amidst struggle.
So, as a part of my new regime, I will share recipes I am trying, to help stimulate positive changes in my symptoms and I will keep track and share along the way. If you battle any health issues, I would love to hear how you manage, what you are learning, what you what to change, or if you have any questions for me, do not hesitate to leave a comment or email me!
Here are some resources I am currently studying, that are some of the inspiration for my Fight for Life, lifestyle changes for better health. I HIGHLY recommend them if you battle any kind of Chronic ailment or autoimmune disorder. Even if you do not, the lifestyle changes are excellent preventive measures to avoid disease and ward of future health complications, including diabetes and obesity:
- The Wahls Protocol
- The Wahls Protocol: Cooking For Life (Cookbook)
- Eat What You Love (an incredibly modern approach to delicious recipes that heal your body! Check out the Author, Danielle Walker’s website, Against All Grain.She was diagnosed with an incredibly painful autoimmune disease at age 22, and has managed to live her best life symptom free through diet change!
- Against All Grain: delectable Paleo Recipes to Eat Well and Feel Great! (Another of Danielle Walker’s four books)
- The Paleo Approach:Reverse Autoimmune Disease, Heal Your Body, Sarah Ballantyne Ph.D
- The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook
Join Me in this Fight for Life!
- Sit down and write out a physical list of physical changes you want to make in your life this year.
- Choose to take one step at a time. Make a conscious choice to change something this month, that will become a “life habit”, such as, walking in the fresh air 15 minutes a day no matter the weather. Replacing Dairy Milk with Almond, taking a few minutes of uninterrupted reflection every morning.
- Follow along as we learn some new ropes of nutrition and as we try recipes to find what we love!