chronic illness: how i connected the dots to my own health story

Date
Feb, 20, 2020

This information is not a substitution for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your doctor or other trusted health provider if you are experiencing symptoms. Your health is precious and serious!

I’ve done a deep dive into my health story. I want to share how I’ve pieced the fragments together, because I know how it feels to be SO sick and not have answers. If I can bring light to even one person’s confusion and pain, I’ve done my job.

So many people have health issues, ranging from mildly disruptive to extremely debilitating. It can feel very lonely. I’m here to say, you aren’t alone. I see you. And if that applies to you, know I’m writing this post for you. You are my reason.

Also, disclaimer: I am in no way anti-conventional medicine. It saved my life more than once, and I deeply respect nurses, doctors, researchers. Most of them are walking angels. However, I recognize the limitations of conventional medicine, and the urgent need for drastic change within the system.

I also believe that nothing external can truly heal us. Healing happens thanks to the intelligence already present within every cell of every human body, and our own willingness to support it.

now, my health story.

When I was 4 years old, I almost died. A severe mastoid infection was traveling into my brain, and doctors gave my parents 3 days for me to live. Miraculously, with the help of IV antibiotics, they were able to stop the infection and save my life.

At age 6, I went completely blind in both of my eyes (my vision had always been fine before that). I don’t remember it, but I’ve been told that I couldn’t see a hand in front of my face. The diagnosis was optic neuritis – which is inflammation of the nerve that connects the eye and brain. The theory was that “for some reason” my body was attacking its own optic nerve, but nobody knew why (aka “autoimmune”). Doctors put me on steroids to completely shut down my immune system, hoping to stop the sabotage. Due to lack of immune system, I couldn’t go to school (or anywhere), as even a common cold could have been deadly. Despite the prognosis that my optic nerves were damaged beyond repair, after months, I regained full eyesight. However, episodes of vision loss continued every few months, then every few years, eventually stopping altogether around age 11. 

By the time I was 12, I had severe anxiety and clinical, suicidal depression. Soon after, doctors put me on an adult dose of psychiatric medications as an attempt to help the symptoms. At age 14 (less than 2 years after starting the psych meds), I had gallstones, prompting doctors to remove my gallbladder. One year following that, I had yet another surgery for the removal of a large but benign cyst on my right breast.

Since my teenage years, I’ve dealt with brain fog, debilitating chronic fatigue, disproportional stress responses (as in, very high cortisol levels and anxiety even from mild stressors), “IBS” (to sum it up), headaches, sharp spasms in my liver area, chronic UTIs, and most recently 3 bouts of kidney stones, among other symptoms.

piecing it together.

Until very recently, these events were a bunch of puzzle pieces I always knew fit together, but had no idea in what way. I’ve been following Medical Medium, who talks a lot about the harm of chronic streptococcus (which he claims, most people carry some strain of). I learned through conventional websites that strep is one of the main bacteria responsible for mastoid infections! As well as a contributor to UTI’s.

The following is my hypothesis (and has not been confirmed by medical professionals of any kind): IV antibiotics undeniably stopped the mastoid infection from killing me, but (I hypothesize) didn’t eliminate 100% of the strep bacteria from my body. The mastoid is a bone behind the ear, which is relatively close to the optic nerve. It makes sense how even a small amount of that bacteria could have migrated and settled around the optic nerve. My theory is that body was never just randomly attacking itself (which is a silly thing, when you think about it). It was attacking that inconveniently-located streptococcus! And it continued to do so for years: likely as the strep infection flared, so did my immune system, and my eyesight suffered as a result. It’s also worth noting that I had strep throat very often as a child, and of course took antibiotics each time.

According to Medical Medium, strep gets contained in tiny pockets deep within the liver, which deliberately “quarantines” the strep there, constantly working very hard to prevent it from wreaking even more havoc. Additionally, our livers carry a buildup of toxins from medications, contaminated food, polluted air, water, household & beauty products, other viruses/infections. It’s possible that we can inherit toxins from our parents, who got them from their parents. (Think of some of the now-banned pesticides and toxic heavy metals, like lead in pencils and mercury in thermometers.) On top of this, the liver has to do its normal, daily functions. It’s no wonder our livers are overloaded, and exhausted.

The liver primarily eliminates through the gallbladder (bile), kidneys (urine), and blood (as a last resort). If you look at my health story, the gallbladder was the first to “go,” and later, I began suffering from kidney stones. (I even think the UTIs were actually co-infections of small kidney stones, the co-infection strain likely being strep.)

Now, it’s clear to me that all of this is my liver crying for help. After years of doubting myself and feeling like my body was broken and defective, I finally have an explanation and solution to make it better, which is so freeing.

gratitude, anger, compassion.

I am beyond thankful for the conventional doctors who saved my life and eyesight so long ago. I feel that everyone did an amazing job. Especially my parents, who must have been so scared. They went through so much. As an adult, I know they broke down in private, but in front of me they were nothing but reassuring. That energy is what allowed me to survive. I believe in the power of positive thinking, prayer, and hope: which by the grace of God(dess), they never lost for me. Thank you, Mom and Dad.

With that said, I also have felt very angry and violated by the conventional medical system, especially from the removal of my gallbladder as an underage child. (Considering that the surgery was not to save my life, which would have been very different!) I can eventually detox the medications, pathogens, and heavy metals, but that surgery is irreversible. Not having a gallbladder has lifetime implications on my ability to properly digest even healthy fats (forget a huge cheeseburger), and to assimilate vital nutrients. My body will forever have to work that much harder because of its absence. And I’m angry that no doctor told me this, that I was left to figure it out on my own.

And yet, at the same time, I have compassion for the fact that everyone did their very best with the information they had and what they knew. Doctors included. As you read this, please understand that most medical schools don’t teach nutrition. AT ALL. They absolutely should. But that surgeon didn’t necessarily know better, she was just following protocol. And that wasn’t her fault, or anything malicious. She was trained by a broken system.

Despite what I’ve been through, I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m grateful to have a voice that can spread light to others. Grateful to make it to the other side. Grateful to be alive. Grateful to have a reason to pursue optimal health, instead of coasting along and ending up with a more serious illness at an older age.

moving forward.

Right now I’m making some MAJOR lifestyle and dietary changes. As well, I’m under the guidance of a wonderful herbalist, using the power of plants to support my body’s ability to heal, detoxify, and eliminate. Notice I said “my body’s ability” — it does this intelligently, all on its own. Herbs and healing professionals are simply allies.

I truly believe that even after all the abuse and toxic buildup, even without a gallbladder, my body can and absolutely will fully recover to a state of total vibrancy, unlike anything I have ever known. The human body is resilient like that. It wants to feel good and to serve, it just asks for the right tools. And trust me, if it has them, it gives back tenfold. The body is so generous. I know it, because I feel it already: my quality of life is genuinely improving.

final thoughts.

Know that gallbladder removal is one of the most common surgeries in the USA, if not the #1 most common. It does have serious, lasting effects. And even without any mysterious childhood illness or major surgeries, so many of us suffer from fatigue, anxiety, digestive distress. Even if it’s occasional, even if it’s low level — that’s your body crying out to you for help. It deserves your attention.

I would love to hear if this story helped you, and feel welcome to share your own journey in the comments, or on instagram. There is power in numbers, and you are absolutely not alone. We can heal together. It is possible to heal. Thank you for reading. Sending much love to you. xx

ps – if you’re interested in Medical Medium, this podcast episode is a great starting point!

lenazell

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