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UPDATE Sept. 2018 – While the info I share in today’s blog post (and all of my “Let’s Get Personal” blog posts) will be helpful to those who are starting out on their healing journeys, I felt it pertinent to post a quick update as to where I am now in my healing journey. It has been quite the adventure with all sorts of ups and downs, twists and turns. I got to a point where I no longer felt drawn to share so many intimate details so I stopped writing the Let’s Get Personal series in 2016. If you would like to get the most recent update on my health and healing journey, please read this post, 3 Reasons Why I No Longer Share About My Healing Journey Online. or watch the video below. You are always more than welcome to email me with any questions as well! Cheers! ~Jessica
Welcome to this month’s health journey update! I’m not going to lie — this post was hard to write, for many reasons. The last month and a half have been a real struggle for me. It is really hard for me to talk about this stuff in public, but here it goes. And a shout out to my husband, Nathan. I have been a MAJOR pain in the ass to live with, yet he still puts up with me and loves me unconditionally. He is quite a wonderful man and I am honored to have him as my husband. ♥
DISCLAIMER: The content shared on this site is for informational and educational purposes only. Statements/products discussed have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent any disease or illness. Please consult your own certified health care practitioner before making changes to your current diet or before beginning any herbal or vitamin supplement regimen or exercise program.
Dealing with the Blues
Since the middle of December, I have been battling some depression. It never really set in as a full-blown depression, but it was enough to make me melancholy about pretty much all aspects of my life. I know that this was all related to my health and in particular my adrenal and thyroid issues. But, even with that understanding, it was not enough for me to keep from falling into a slump.
The slump started when I hit a point in December when I just couldn’t take the constant influx of information and varying opinions regarding my health. None of the practitioners I was working with (save for my nutritional therapist Lydia) had any idea how to treat me. I honestly do not feel like I have made much progress since I started on my health journey (even though I know I have made a lot of progress) and it started to get me down. My labs are, for the most part, the same, but more importantly, I don’t really feel better. As a matter of fact, over the last month, I have started feeling worse. I know that we must all take control of our health, but for me, I mentally cannot handle the amount of information that is thrown at me every day. I get overloaded and then … I shut down.
One of my biggest struggles thus far is finding a doctor, be it an MD, ND, or anyone else, who really understands what I am going through. My MD flat out told me that he does not know how to treat me. My ND’s idea of how to treat me was to put me on a low dose, time released synthetic T3. While she did agree that in order to address autoimmune issues, you must first heal the gut, that’s as far as we got. She really pushed the T3, saying that she believed it would help me feel so much better. But, after much, much, MUCH contemplation, I decided that that was not a good option for me. So, I bid adieu to her and started looking for someone new. Lydia did not like the idea of starting on yet another synthetic hormone (and I was in complete agreement), so she encouraged me to continue the search for someone who could help me. Sometimes we have to turn over a lot of rocks to find the hidden key.
Some of the symptoms that were getting worse were:
- Lack of focus and motivation
- Brain fog and memory issues
- Fatigue at random times during the day
- Not feeling rested, even though I would get plenty of sleep
- The feeling of constant stress about just about everything
- Loss of interest in being social
- Loss of interest in yoga (I have not practiced more than 2-3 times in the last 2 months)
- Lost of interest in food and cooking (eating has become a chore, hence the reason I am not regular about adding new recipes to the site)
- Massive amounts of hair loss (which makes me feel like crying every time I shower)
- An overall sense of melancholy
I knew that I had to do something, as I could not let this continue to ruin my life. I could not let this affect my day job, which I need in order to pay the bills. And I was so, so, so scared that it would. At the same time, I kept having this thought that this was “all in my head”. Maybe I just needed more sleep, more exercise, less exercise, more vitamins, blah, blah, blah.
The Search for a New Practitioner
Several months ago, a childhood friend of my father’s was talking about how she had found a lot of success working with a chiropractic neurologist on her thyroid problems. She sent my dad a link to the doctor she worked with and he passed it along to me. She lives in another state, so I couldn’t go to her doctor, however, it did start me on the quest to see if I could find someone similar here in Denver. I had never even considered seeing a chiropractor about my issues. I actually had no idea the extent of conditions that some chiropractors specialize in.
After a lot of research, I finally found a practice that I felt would meet my needs. They specialize in the three overlapping areas of immunology, endocrinology, and neurology. They specifically mentioned that they treat autoimmune conditions like Hashimoto’s (me!) and they work with those who feel like they have no other options (me!). They are knowledgeable about real food and good nutrition and they see the importance of treating the body as a whole system, rather than just isolated parts, like my MD, who only treats my thyroid. So, I called and set up an appointment.
Meeting the New Doctor
During the initial consultation, I met with the new doctor, let’s call him Dr. Q, and got a feel for how they work and what they believe. From the first time we met, I felt like he “got it”. Turns out that he is friends with, and lectures with, Dr. Datis Kharrazian, author of the amazingly important book called “Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms, When My Lab Tests are Normal?” I love this book so much that I think I will do a review and giveaway of it in the near future. But anyways, back to Dr. Q. He actually understands the workings of an autoimmune disease and how to treat. Autoimmune can be very tricky to treat, for a number of reasons. While there are some fundamental elements that are present in all autoimmune diseases, every person is unique and different, so if your doctor just goes with a “one size fits all approach”, you’re not going to get anywhere. Treatment HAS to be customized to each individual’s needs.
After the initial consult, I went home with the paperwork, financial breakdown, etc. It took me a couple weeks to make the decision to go ahead and schedule my appointment at the new practice. There were many reasons that I was wavering, but the biggest was the financial aspect of it. They are not in my insurance’s network, so I will have to pay for everything out of pocket and then submit it to my insurance for partial reimbursement. Even when I called the insurance company to learn more about that, they could not guarantee me that my claims would be accepted. So, I just have to submit the paperwork and then cross my fingers and hope that I can get a little money back. In the grand scheme of things, the overall cost is not bad, it’s just the fact that I have to come up with the funds up front, rather than letting everything be submitted through insurance and then getting a bill later.
During this time, I spoke to one of my dear friends about all of my thoughts. I actually suggested that she set up a consultation with them to see if they could help her. While she is dealing with different issues than me, based on the research I had done of the practice, I thought that it was worth a shot for her to try. She took my recommendation and became a patient before I did. What really solidified my desire to commit to this practice is when she and I were talking one day and she said, “Jessica, I really think that Dr. Q can help you“. Having her “seal of approval” so to speak really boosted my confidence that this was the right decision. I assessed our budget and figured out a way to make it work. Will it be tight? Yes. Will it hurt each month when we look at our bank account? Yes. Would it be worth it? Yes.
So, I called and made my appointment.
The Return of Optimism
The first thing I had to do was fill out an intake packet that was about a gazillion pages long. Actually, it was 15 pages, but the print was TINY. I have never filled out that in-depth of new patient paperwork before. Every possible symptom that you could imagine, they ask about. Pages upon pages of medical history questions some of which I really had to stop and think about.
Then, it was time for my first appointment The first exam was a two hour, in-depth exam. It was awesome — something I never thought I’d say about a doctor’s appointment! I’ve never had a neurological exam done and I am totally fascinated with it all. There were all sorts of tests on brain function, eye function, nerve function, balance, smell, sound, etc. It was so cool! So many of the things discussed in the exam started to make many things clear to me. Some of the symptoms that I had been noticing were real! They weren’t all in my head — there was an actual explanations for why I was experiencing some of the things I was. Honestly, it felt like SUCH a relief.
After the initial two hour exam, I went home and felt excited. FINALLY, I felt like I was working with someone who could help me. I felt (and still feel) very optimistic about it all.
A couple days later, I went back for my “Report of Findings” meeting. This is where they go over all of the results of the two hour exam and my blood work. We went through the labs line by line, I kid you not — I’ve never had a doctor explain my labs to me in such detail and it was wonderful. Normally the doctor just give them to me with no explanation at all, and I’d go home and spend time Googling various things to try and figure out what it meant. For this meeting, we discussed primarily the autoimmune treatments, such as continuing to work on digestion and balancing my blood sugar. I learned all about TH1, TH2, TH3, and TH17 and how we will first figure out where my dominance lies, and then we will proceed with getting those areas balanced (more on this in a later post).
So, as of that meeting, the initial game plan is to start me on some new supplements and also do the TH1 / TH2 challenge to see which side I am dominant on. Once we know that, we will have a much better idea of how we can proceed with treatment. Based on my labs, they started me on some new supplements:
- A supplement blend to support blood sugar balance and insulin resistance (which my labs still indicate).
- An supplement blend to help support my adrenals and stress respond (an area I need A LOT of help on).
- An supplement blend to help support my buffering system and help boost my CO2 levels (which are really low).
- An supplement blend to help support my immune system, circulation, and bring down inflammation (which in turn will help calm my overactive TH17).
- A cream that I rub directly on my thyroid, three times a day, that will help with my immune response and calming TH3.
They had me stop taking my hydrochloric acid and digestive enzymes for a few days, just to see how I did. I did notice some discomfort, bloating, and gas after meals, so I have incorporated those back into my regimen. I still take vitamin D and my fermented cod liver oil and will start adding in a regular fish oil as well.
At my next appointment, we will discuss the results of my neurological exam and also the proposed treatment plan to strengthen those areas that are weak and need some work.
The one thing that I LOVE about this practice is that they have a team-centered approach to treating their patients. While my primary doctor is Dr. Q, whenever I go, I am meeting with at least two people (Dr. Q and their nutritionist/metabolic expert), and sometimes three. It’s an awesome environment that allows you access to a wide range of knowledge. That is probably one of the things that I really appreciate about working with them so far.
Where Are We Going From Here?
I am still at the beginning stages of this new journey, but I am so excited and very optimistic. I know I’ve said it a couple times in this post already, but to feel like the doctors you are working with actually “get it” is HUGE. This is where I have really been struggling over the last few months and have been feeling very much alone.
I also want to take a moment to give a shout out to my nutritional therapist, and friend, Lydia from Divine Health. Without her help, I would not have made it this far. Not only did she get me started down the right path, regarding blood sugar balance, food allergies, healing the gut, and more, she has offered emotional support more times than I can count. While I am excited to be working with the new practice and am committed to their treatment plans 110%, I know that I will still utilize Lydia and her vast amount of knowledge. She is an indispensable resource and a true asset when it comes to taking charge of your health.
I will keep you posted on how my journey progresses. By the time next month’s report rolls around, I should be well underway and should have lots of interesting things to tell you, so stay tuned!
If you want to check out my journey so far, you can read all of my past posts here.
If you are interested in learning more about how Lydia from Divine Health can help you start on your journey to health, I encourage you to contact her here.
Now, I’d love to hear from you. Have you ever worked with a chiropractic neurologist? How was your experience? Do you have any success stories to share? Leave me a comment below and let’s start the conversation! This is how we all learn! 🙂
Health Journey Update – 8/18/15
Here are a few videos of my current progress. To see even more up-to-date info on my personal health journey, check out my YouTube channel here.
Support Your Stress Response, Adrenals, Thyroid, and Whole Body Through Herbs
When it comes to supporting overall wellness, herbs are a great tool to have in your toolkit, especially those who may be dealing with chronic illness of some type. Since 2009, when I started this site, I have met thousands upon thousands of people through my work and by far, the #1 health complaints are:
- adrenal fatigue (or adrenal dysfunction of some sort) (click here to read all of my adrenal health articles)
- thyroid disorders (hypo-, hyper-, or autoimmune) (click here to read all of my thyroid health articles)
Because of this, I wanted to add in a section into this post about the benefit of using herbs with chronic illness. Adaptogens are by far one of the most used herbs when it comes to working with people who have low energy, fatigue, and overall imbalance in the endocrine system (thyroid, adrenals, and blood sugar).
While the benefits of adaptogenic herbs extend far beyond just supporting that one system, this tends to be one of the main reasons people turn to adaptogenic herbs in the first place. That said there are a lot of other herbs out there that offer amazing support for the body, especially those dealing with chronic illness which is why I wanted to share this section today.
If you are dealing with any type of chronic illness, I’m sorry to break it to you, but caffeine may not be your best friend. 🙁 While you can find lots of info online in both the pro- and the anti-coffee camps, the fact of the matter comes down to the fact that are a lot of people dealing with chronic illness, especially thyroid and adrenal problems, that simply cannot tolerate coffee and caffeine.
While those with sluggish adrenal glands tend to feel run down and in need of a regular pick-me-up (like coffee and other caffeinated beverages), in the long run, caffeine can do more harm than good while you are healing. I go into the “whys” around caffeine and your adrenals in this detailed post here. In addition to the caffeine, there are other constituents, molds, and mycotoxins that can show up in coffee that some people find they react to and can further exacerbate the toxic load on the body.
When I was diagnosed with autoimmune disease and adrenal fatigue, one of the first things that had to go was coffee. In addition to dealing with these issues, we suspected that I was having some detox pathway sluggishness so we wanted to also focus on supporting the liver and lymph systems. Most people who are dealing with chronic illness are also going to have issues with detoxification of the body, which is why herbs can play such an important role.
To be honest, I never drank coffee because of the caffeine. I drank coffee for the taste and aroma, as well as the emotional experience I felt to my morning cup of joe. For me, it was a ritual that I looked forward to every day (and sometimes multiple times a day). Whether I was brewing it at home or going to my local coffee shops, the experience was one that I clung to tightly.
But, when I was faced with new health struggles, I knew I had to do whatever I could to support my body and give it the tools it needed to heal. Giving up coffee and caffeine was one step in this direction.
And it sucked.
I turned to the coffee substitutes on the market in a desperate attempt to recreate the ritual I had grown so fond of, but nothing ever tasted the way I wanted it to. Nothing ever gave me that same experience that my cup of “real” coffee did. I knew there had to be something better, but I simply could not find it on my health food store’s shelves.
Necessity is the mother of invention so that is why I created my own coffee substitutes. They were made with organic, sustainably harvested herbs with zero grains, zero gluten, and zero caffeine. Just herbs.
Herbs that not only tasted delicious but supported my body’s function, like liver detox, bile production, digestion, etc. All of the herbs used in my “coffee” blends have been used for thousands of years to support the body’s normal functions and help everything work a little better — something we all need in today’s toxic world! (psst, dandelion is one of the herbs!)
When it came to creating these blends, if I could get something to not only tasted amazing (and helped me recreate my dearly loved ritual), but also did amazingly supportive things for my body, then it’s a no brainer!
I sold these pre-made blends on Etsy for awhile and the demand was more than I could keep up with. People literally LOVED these blends and were stunned at how much like coffee they actually tasted. Customers who had been dealing with a variety of chronic illnesses had given up coffee to heal their bodies, but like me were deeply missing their morning cup of joe ritual.
After careful consideration and work with some highly experienced advisors, I decided to stop selling the pre-made blends and instead share my proprietary recipes in the form of an eBook. That way I could arm people with the knowledge and recipes they needed to make their own caffeine-free, gluten-free, grain-free blends in the comfort of their own home.
That is why I created the best-selling DIY Herbal Coffees eBook: A Complete Guide To Making Delicious Herbal Coffees to Support Healing & Stress Relief.
Now in its second edition, this ebook features:
- All of my proprietary herbal blend recipes to you can craft a homemade herbal cup of “coffee” at home.
- A ton of researched information about coffee’s impact on the health of those dealing with issues like adrenal fatigue, blood sugar dysregulation, autoimmune disease, thyroid disease, and any other chronic illness.
- Information about all of the herbs used, why I selected them, how to source them, how to prepare and store you “coffees”, and much more.
- Access to your own personal coffee shop where I show you how to recreate your favorite coffee shop drinks and pastries with wholesome, nourishing real food ingredients. No junk here. Only real food.
This book truly is a comprehensive guide to supporting your health, reducing your stress, and bringing a little something special back into your healing journey. You can learn more and download your own copy of this revolutionary wellness guide here, or simply click on the image below.