I’ve had a long history of illness. From the age of 17 until 26, I spent 3 months out of every year with bronchitis, tonsillitis, strep throat, and an upper respiratory infection. In 2006 I made the wise decision to move from Michigan to Fort Lauderdale. Fortunately, the humidity and sun seemed to give my body what it needed to fight these infections, going forward, I would barely get sick and when I did it was for a few days and not 3 weeks.
When I was I 27, I switched jobs, was short on cash and for 3 months went off the birth control pills that I had been on since I was 14 to manage my, at that time, suspected endometriosis. I had changed the type of birth control I was taking so many times due to side effects such as weight gain, acne, anxiety, depression, and heavy and painful periods (the reason for which I was taking the medication initially).
After that, I experienced 6 months of chronic sciatica that worsened with my cycle. I was diagnosed via laparoscopy with Stage IV Endometriosis, there were several cysts on my right ovary that would swell during my cycle, inflame my pelvic area and irritate my sciatic nerve.
What followed was 6 months of Lupron injections to shut down my estrogen production (sending me over a span of 10 days into full-tilt menopause at 28), then another surgery, this time a Laparotomy lasting over 5 hours where the doctor removed cysts, endometrial tissue and adhesions (scar tissue) from my uterus, ovaries, bladder, intestines, and bowel. I was told my bladder was completely fused with scar tissue to my uterus, stretched up over it like a tube sock.
The doctor came very close to resecting part of my bowel and covered many of my organs in a surgical mesh to retard further growth of the disease, which was later found to be largely ineffective. I was given a Mirena IUD and put on constant (no sugar pill) birth control to try to stop the endo from coming back. I lived for years after this on laxatives and ibuprofen.
I had constant pain in my abdomen and many of my joints, my digestive system just stopped working. I was an emotional wreck from the constant assault of artificial hormones, I was always exhausted and incapable of thinking clearly. It became impossible to make long-term plans or commitments, I never knew from day to day what way my body would find to betray me.
No procedure performed on me and no medication prescribed to me for this disease did anything to improve it. Most procedures and medications did, however, leave me with symptoms worse than the disease. When I finally came to this realization, I stopped taking all my medications, made changes to my diet and focused on doing things that would support and bring balance back to my body. I experienced considerable improvement, more energy, reduced pain, regular and mild menstrual cycles, clear skin, ease in maintaining a healthy weight without always feeling like I was starving and improved digestion.
I’m not saying this is the exact path that everyone should take but I would beg both doctors and patients alike to take the time to consider a treatment that interferes with your body’s natural process versus one that would support it back into proper function and the possibilities of utilizing nutrition and lifestyle strategies to improve the effectiveness of conventional treatments and over time, lessen the need for medications.
I became a Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner to be better able to identify and monitor the imbalances in my body and to help bring it back to optimal function in a more expedient and targeted fashion based on my individual health needs at the time. This was crucial for me as the scar tissue, due to simply having the surgeries in the first place, has once again formed on my bladder and on the right side of my abdomen.
When my body would become inflamed (even due to natural circumstances such as ovulation and menstruation) it caused pain up and down my right side, this eventually lead to stress and malfunction on several systems in my body (hormone, digestion, immune, detoxification). The knowledge I now have keeps this cascade in check. There aren’t many options out there to eliminate scar tissue.
I had another surgery to clear up the new adhesions, but finding a doctor that didn’t just simply want to remove all my reproductive organs was not easy. I was lucky because this time I knew a lot more about what was happening and I had doctors that really listened were willing to explore other options. It wasn’t perfect but I recovered much, much faster from this surgery and I’m confident that what I have learned will increase my chances of not needing another surgery like this one.
Why I Do What I Do
I started my practice to help others with chronic illness, autoimmune disorders, hormonal imbalance, and digestive disorders. Having chronic pain and discomfort becomes exhausting and can take a significant emotional toll on anyone.
Being sick for months or years often without explanation or understanding can easily contribute to the severity of any illness and isolate a person from loved ones, who become frustrated because they can’t fix it and are unable to relate.
There were times when I could no longer stand hearing myself complain about my health but that’s all there seemed to be left of me was a disease and I wouldn’t want to burden anyone so I’d just stop talking. Whole days were spent trying to figure out what I was doing wrong… What should I be doing instead? Should I spend another small fortune on going to see another doctor or practitioner, trying another supplement or medication?
How could I further ratchet down my life to avoid the disappointment of not being able to meet life goals and fulfill obligations? For someone who bases most of their self-worth on how productive they are, this was absolute misery, so much of my life spent wishing I could be living it. The gift in all this misery is the perspective it brings. You realize the possibilities a day brings when you feel well, are truly endless.
That is why I’m so passionate about learning how to help myself and others, no one should have to do this alone, no one should have to worry that it won’t ever get better. I am constantly researching strategies for improved health, from the hard science to the woo – woo, looking at all aspects of a person’s life. There’s no magic diet, supplement, medication or treatment that is right for everyone, but there is always a unique formula that can improve every individual’s quality of life.
Functional Health Practitioner, FDN-p --- I overcame chronic illness to make my wildest dreams come true. Now I’m on a mission to bring that same relief and opportunity to others.