With the pile of work I’ve had on top of me, I blinked and two weeks went by since my last post. Everyday is a constant reminder that my chronic inflammation would heal quicker if I was an unemployed and independently wealthy, or a mega millions winner who could afford to rest around the clock with reoccuring interuptions of yoga or meditation. But that’s not my life. And most likely, that’s not yours, either.
Beyond the work, I have a confession to make: It’s been a very rough two weeks, and maybe, just maybe, that’s another reason that I didn’t post. I would come home every night, sometimes even at 6:00, and go straight to bed. My exhaustion started to overtake my life, and I started waking up in the morning again with some pains in my arms. Nothing too bad, but just enough to be annoying and disheartening when I have my eye on getting 100% better.
I knew something had to be wrong. There had to be a reason I hit a plateau at 75% with no increase whatsoever. Sure enough, I found out yesterday at my doctor’s appointment that 1) I have full-blown reactivated mono, and 2) I have a severe h. pylori infection. H. pylori is a bacteria that lives in the lining of your digestive system (contributing to leaky gut/ permeable digestive system) and if gone undetected can cause ulcers and stomach cancer. It is directly related to your immune system and can be very damaging. Many people have h. pylori and never know it. I am so fortunate to have a doctor who thought to test for it – it turns out that my h. pylori was the highest the doctor has ever seen. All it takes is two weeks of antibiotics to get rid of it. I started them today – wish me luck!
The doctor also adapted the supplements I am taking to focus more on the immune system and building it back up. I tested very low in copper, zinc (which helps the thyroid and immune system fight), and vitamin B12. The doctor added a great multi vitamin to my daily regimen and also vitamin B12. (*Vitamin 12 also is known for removing water/ swelling. Shocking, I know.*).
Because of the stress on my adrenal glands, I have been instructed to resume eating meat and fish (the fish is really good for the inflammation). As much as I protest this, I would do anything to get better. I will still be consuming a mostly raw diet, but will be incorporating meat in the evening. I apologize to anyone who is offended by this, but frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.
Fish is a really sticky subject, even moreso than meat. People who eat any fish and a lot of it can be really sick due to the heavy metals and pollutants found in fish. The best fish for me to eat right now are tilapia, white fish, mahi mahi, wild salmon (MUST be wild), and sardines (yuck, but at this rate, I’d turn into a sardine if it meant lower inflammation). In terms of meat, I’ve been instructed to always look for grass fed, organic meat, and not just “vegetarian” fed. Because that means corn. And I can’t have corn right now. (Corn = inflammation = I’ll jump out a window). You’re also avoiding the pesticides, hormones, and other crap that your meat is eating. Lastly, beef is sort of a no-no; it’s known to have a lot of hormones and cause some inflammation. I’ll stick with chicken, turkey, and other things.
Trauma, the Silent Trigger
The awesome thing about my doctor is that she has a nutritionist on staff, who is incredble. She’s insightful and just an overall caring person. At the end of our session yesterday, she paused, looked at me, and asked this question: “Your system is just so sensitive right now. We usually don’t see this kind of violent reaction to food and a crash of the immune system unless there was a trigger that brought it all out. Is there something that happened last year before this started that was traumatic?”
I sat there, froze, looked at her, and began to tear up. Yes. There had been something traumatic that happened to me. And I can’t believe she picked up on it.
On January 29, 2012, my fiance (then boyfriend) and I went to New Haven to visit our good friends who were getting married. We had a wonderful dinner at an Asian fusion restaurant where we laughed for about two hours and just overall had a great time. After the meal, we got into our friend Ryan’s car, Rich and I in the back seat, and were heading back to our friends’ apartment. I don’t remember what was on the radio. I don’t remember what we were talking about. But I remember the screams, I remember the numblingly loud smashes of metal on concrete. I remember my body flipping and flipping. And in the slow motion of the flipping, I remember calmly thinking: “I can’t believe this is how I am going to die.”
It turns out that in the flash of a second, someone else’s choice to either drink and drive, or text and drive, or just not pay attention (I don’t think we will ever know why she did what she did), another driver ran a red light at 45 miles per hour and smashed into Ryan’s jeep. It caused our car to flip, and then spin 35 feet on its roof. I’m afraid of enclosed spaces, so you can imagine my fear when we stopped spinning, I was dangling by a seatbelt, the roof was smashed in so bad that it was an inch from my head, and the doors would not open. I had no idea if everyone had lived, I couldn’t hear sound, and I wasn’t sure if I had actually made it. A group of Yale graduate students had to open our doors from the outside so that we could make it out. Rich was able to get out first, and the first thing he did was crawl back in and get me. At that moment, I should have known that I was going to marry him.
I suffered an anxiety attack so severe at the scene that it caused the ambulance people to put all four of us in stretchers. All I knew was that the driver of the other car had been arrested. The paramedic told me that if I had looked back at the car, I would’ve jumped into the stretcher willingly. Upon arriving at the hospital, I heard the doctor whisper that she was shocked we had all lived with the magnitude of the accident. Needless to say, my body and mind were put through a trauma like nothing I had ever experienced. Is it any wonder that a few months later I started having stomach issues?
I’ll spare the rest of the story, but the doctor and nutritionist recommended that I go through a trauma relief therapy program once my health was under control, as they are confident my body is still holding on to the accident. Because I cry everytime I talk about it, I’m pretty sure they’re right.
For now, since strenous activity is out of the question, I signed up for a month of yoga at a place near work. I need to do some serious clearing my mind and relaxation while I mitigate the stress on my own body. I’m so glad that I went to the doctor yesterday at this juncture, and so glad I only have 13 and a half days left of the antibiotics for the h. pylori. It’s time to get somewhere and head upward.
Easter, Boston, Changing My Perspective, and the Reason for this All
Easter was two weekends ago. Rich and I packed (multiple) bags and headed to the Jersey Shore with his immediate and extended family. It was our first time away since I got sick, and therefore it was no surprise that we travelled with a cooler full of fresh food, a magic bullet, tea, and all my supplements. We looked like we had just had a baby and were coming home from the hospital with bags and bags of junk. Rich’s whole family welcomed us with open arms and were all willing to learn about the raw/ healthy lifestyle. Multiple fruit smoothies were had by all, and we even made raw brownie bites and raw chocolate pudding. Although we had some skeptics, the majority was pleasantly surprised by how RAWSOME we were. Definitely a confirmation that the family I’m marrying into is super amazing.
Last weekend we were away again in Boston for our one year anniversary of being engaged. We had no agenda, but walked a lot and got to nap a ton which evidently with the mono that I didn’t know I had, I really really needed. Rich took me to an amazing restaurant in Cambridge called Rialto that catered to food allergies. The most memorable was dessert, where we ordered almond limoncello cake which is both gluten and dairy free. YUM.
After the weekend, I worked late on Tuesday night, and work ordered food which seemed to be gluten free. Boy, was I wrong. I was accidently “glutened” which was a freaking nightmare because the swelling in my body only finally went down this morning (4 days later). I cried to Rich when I got home and said that I didn’t know why this was happening to me, especially right before the wedding. He responded that this whole journey was meant to happen, because it was a huge confirmation to me that I was supposed to marry him. And I needed to know this before I walked down the aisle. Talk about clarity and turning my frown upside down! If this was meant to happen, maybe it really was meant to happen now. I’ll have to remember that the next time I’m accidentally glutened and remind myself of that as much as I can.
Lastly, it’s amazing how this stuff changes your outlook on life and your needs. Prior to getting sick, I always thought I wanted to move to the city after getting married. I lived in a city when I lived in London and Rome, and just overall loved the fact that it was so busy with the hustle and bustle of life and people everywhere. Two weeks ago, I acknowledged the fact that this actually may not be what I want. That in fact, I may actually want a home where I can walk in the grass when I wake up in the morning with my cup of tea. Where the whole world doesn’t revolve around night life and drinking alcohol and staying up as late as you can. This revelation really really surprised me. I never thought I’d change my mind about living in the city. Unfortunately, at the moment, the thought of it exhausts me. I’m not saying that it won’t happen, but I am saying that not living in the city is a possibility for me now. I don’t know what the future holds, but I want it to be new, to be an adventure. And it’s going to start with me taking care of myself.