Sometimes you just know something isn’t right.
The second year of my full-time graduate program in 2010, I juggled a counseling internship at one school and a part-time teaching job at another. Night sweats, constant bloating and fatigue, brain fog, as well as headaches and dizziness were some of the worst symptoms I struggled with during that time. The several doctors I went to asked me if I was stressed. Um, yes, of course I am! I wanted to scream. Get some rest, work out, eat right–those words were my prescriptions, but they made no difference.
I went to three medical doctors and left frustrated every single time because no one seemed to really know what was going on, and I didn’t feel like anyone heard me. Anxiety? Stress? And the best of all…(no joke) PMS? Do you know what PMS is? I really wanted to slap that nurse in the face. Um, thanks, but I’ve been having periods for decades.
Finally, an amazingly kind doctor listened (she listened!) and tested my hormones, finding that my progesterone was low. Immediately I went into research mode and bought Dr. Lee’s What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Premenopause. I felt like the book was all about me (reading about “premenopause” freaked me out a little bit, since I was in my mid-thirties and did not have children). I read that practically any crisis situation during our lives can cause some of these issues later, which made sense, but the tears flowed when sexual abuse was listed as a potential culprit.
That was the beginning.
Things seemed to clear up a little after using bioidentical progesterone cream for a few months, as Dr. Lee suggested in his book. The off-and-on dizziness remained, as well as a full-body aching that didn’t easily subside. Thinking that I needed to work out more to relieve stress, I continued to go to yoga classes, strength training and cardio. What I found though, was that I actually felt worse after working out–not it in the usual sore kind of way. I had shooting pain down my legs, my hips ached, and I had headaches that only went away with sleep. You wouldn’t think I had been getting chiropractic adjustments practically every week. I was bewildered when I had to walk out of a yoga class because my leg pain was too intense to continue. Really? Yoga is even too much?!?
In May of 2011, I began juicing and started a detox regimen. For years, I had reactions from dairy, so I cut most of that out of my diet. During that time, I kept a food diary of everything I ate each day, and I noticed I still had some adverse reactions. At Brian’s request, I agreed to have allergy testing done. Through that, I found I am sensitive to chicken, beef and dairy among other things like vinegar and mushrooms. So, essentially, my entire way of eating changed that summer, and now I am vegetarian (ovo pescaterian to be exact, since I eat eggs and fish). The hardest thing to let go of was dairy–cheese…no more chicken nachos smothered with queso or our weekly pizza. What I miss the least? Chicken and beef, without a doubt. I also removed gluten from my diet and I found that with a meals of mainly fruits and vegetables, my symptoms–all of them–subsided.
As you can probably guess, changing my eating habits has changed my life. Not only am I a healthier person, I feel better, think better and have more energy. Looking back, I honestly don’t know if the hormone issue came first and caused the problems with food, or vice versa. Without a doubt, the crises in my life and resulting unforgiveness in my heart created years of constant and underlying stress (all the normal stress from other areas of my life just made it all worse). I was on the fast road to disease. No medical professional has confirmed that, and you know what? I don’t need confirmation.
I believe it with all that is in me, and that is why my healing journey continues.
(I wish I had impressive before and after pictures, but they would look practically the same. My changes have been made from the inside out. And clearly, I am not a medical professional but simply sharing my experience.)