My Health Journey: Part 3 – Turning to the Holistic World

On to Part 3. If you need to catch up, you can read Part 1 on GI Issues and Part 2 on Joint Pain.

I had been seeing a chiropractor since my joint pain started in 2006. We would chit chat during each appointment about how I was doing. Each time I would see him over the years he would always find a way to plant little seeds of thought with me that he had come across in an article or heard about from another colleague. He would ask me, regularly, if I had ever considered looking into changing my diet to help my joint pain. I would roll my eyes and say, “No, I could never change my diet” I never followed a diet in my life. I ate whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, with in reason. I knew what junk food was and didn’t over-indulge but I definitely had never limited foods. I didn’t think I had the will power to stick to a diet. The appointment I had with him after I heard about the news of Methotrexate and expressed my frustration he passed along an article talking about the highly inflammatory foods: sugar, wheat and dairy. The premise of the article was to remove those foods from your diet to calm the inflammation going on in your body, specifically my joints. I looked at that article with such turmoil inside. The idea made sense but I wasn’t sure I could stick with it. What were my other options? Go through life miserable and damaging my joints? Go on Methotrexate and pretty much be on chemo for my arthritis? Neither was a good option for me so maybe looking into my diet was my better option.

There was a functional medicine doctor in the office with my chiropractor so I decided to start there. A functional medicine doctor will look for the root cause of your symptoms rather than try to simply treat the symptoms. They will run a series of tests through blood work to try and get a full picture of what is going on in your body. After meeting with him he suggested I do a food sensitivity panel. I liked the sound of that considering it would be easiest to avoid the foods my body didn’t like rather than eliminate everything all at once and try to reintroduce foods one at a time to figure out what my body didn’t like. The test was going to be over $600 and wasn’t covered by insurance. I was shocked at the cost! I went home that night to discuss all of this with Brandon. I really wanted to do the food test but just couldn’t stomach spending that much on one test.

I knew my brother-in-law had recently done the same food sensitivity test. I reached out to him and asked him where he had it done and, if he didn’t mind, would he tell me how much did he pay for the test? He saw a holistic nurse, Jennifer Darling, in Batesville and had the test completed for a little less than $300. He told me to check out this nurse… Just go see her and meet her, see if you like her and see if the test would be the same as the one the functional doctor was going to do. The cost of an office visit with Jennifer was significantly less than seeing the functional doctor so I thought, why not?

Meeting Jennifer

I had no idea, at the time, what this relationship would become. I have been seeing Jennifer since that day in May 2013. For the past almost 7 years she has helped me so much in turning my health around and helped me through all of the health hurdles I didn’t know were coming.

I sat down with Jennifer and went over my entire health history. I explained where I was with my arthritis medication. I really wanted to see a day where I no longer needed the medication. I definitely didn’t want to go in the opposite direction by moving on to stronger and stronger medications. I also told her that I had two beautiful little girls, 1 and almost 4 years old at the time, and I would like to try for another child. I, however, didn’t like the idea of being on the steroids during my pregnancies. Brandon and I were kind of on the fence about having more children and I used this opportunity to help us make the decision. I told her that if she could help me get off of my arthritis medication by working with my diet, then I would try for another child. If I couldn’t get off of the medication, then I wasn’t going to have anymore children. I just didn’t want to go through another pregnancy dealing with the joint pain, because it would get worse during pregnancy, and then having to keep taking the medication just to function. She told me we could try and see what happens but she thought it was possible to get off of the medication.

The first thing she suggested was to remove wheat and gluten from my diet. Even before I had the food sensitivity test completed. She said wheat and gluten were such highly inflammatory foods that if I really wanted to calm down the inflammation, those had to be removed. It was the topic I was dreading the most. I loved breads, pastas, pizza, cookies… I dreaded giving them up but I knew I was out of options. It was time to give this whole diet thing a try.

Once we had the results of the food sensitivity panel back we looked at other foods my body didn’t like. One of the highest sensitive foods was poppy seeds, so random, I thought! When do I ever eat poppy seeds, how could I be extremely sensitive to them? I have later put a few things together and wondered if it was the fact that I’m allergic to morphine?

poppy seeds come from the seed pods of opium plants, they can be contaminated with opium milk, which contains morphine.

Anyway, I avoided the higher sensitive foods including, for me, oats. I ate oatmeal every morning when I was pregnant with Nora, my first, because I had such bad morning sickness that it was the only thing that would sit well in my stomach. There were days even the oatmeal didn’t sit. After that experience I hadn’t eaten a bowl of oatmeal since, and she was almost 4 years old at the time. So it wasn’t a big deal to stay away from oats. The hardest food was the wheat/gluten. At that time there wasn’t gluten free foods everywhere you turned. I was making special trips into Cincinnati to go to Jungle Jims and Whole Foods to find healthier options. My first trip to Jungle Jims was glorious! I found gluten free pasta, ice cream cones and pie crusts. It was summer time and I thought I was never going to eat an ice cream cone again! At that point I thought I could make this whole diet thing work. Today, it’s so much easier being gluten free. Even Kroger carries so many options that I haven’t needed to make those special trips to Cincy in a few years!

Eliminating the different foods from my diet did help initially but I was still having some joint pain and was still taking the medication. I knew that it probably wasn’t going to fix everything over night and I knew I needed to give it more time.

Jennifer also works with the energy flowing in your body. She explained it to me that everyone is made up of energy and that energy should be flowing at a certain speed and direction throughout your body. If it’s not, that’s when your body starts to present problems. Obviously my joints were a problem. I was seeing her about every two weeks at first to work on the energy with my joints. She would also try different supplements to help my joints and my body would fight back and my joint pain would become worse. It was tricky trying to find different supplements that my body would tolerate. After about two months of seeing Jennifer I was initially diagnosed with breast cancer. At that point, my joints took a back seat and we started focusing on the cancer. More on that in the next post …

So, finding a different path to treat my joint pain lead me to the holistic world. I am SO grateful for God opening that door. It set me up to be able to look at my cancer diagnosis differently. The way I lived and my family lived all changed for the better. It was definitely a God send. Now that I’ve been on this journey for so long I can’t imagine my life being any different and have much gratitude for all that I’ve learned.

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