At times I like to pretend that I’m the superhuman glowing epitome of health and wellness.
But like you, I’m on my own humbling health journey and it’s been a bumpy road.
Let me explain, because it’s a little confusing. I’m a very health-conscious person and do my best to uphold a healthy lifestyle and make healthful choices. I practice what I preach and I probably put more energy and money into my health than most care to (but if you don’t have your health, what do you have?!)
I look pretty healthy on the outside and according to my family medical doctor (and all the extra blood marker testing I’ve had her do for me), I would be considered to be “in excellent health”*.
(*minus my LDL cholesterol levels).
But the present medical system is an archaic, outdated model set up to treat acute symptoms and your medical doctor has limited tools to really find out what’s going on in a chronic illness situation. We have all grown up to have such trust in our doctors and to listen to their advice, as if they know everything there has to do with our own health, over our feelings or own intuition.
But a medical doctor can’t tell you the true state of your health based on a few blood test markers. Sure, they can tell you whether or not you might probably drop dead in the next little while if a general marker is REALLY OFF, but when your body is slowly showing subtle signs of disease, they just aren’t equipped.
YOU are the only one who knows your own body, what you are feeling like, and that something isn’t right.
Where it All Started
Illness typically results from the accumulation of many, many micro assaults over years and years of unconscious or conscious body abuse. It’s a multi-factoral process. Dysfunction builds and ‘brews’ over the years from physical and emotional stress, poor dietary choices, chronic exposure to toxins in bodycare and household products, poor quality sleep, and more… sometimes resulting in no symptoms, but often and more commonly beginning as those little annoying symptoms like skin issues, fatigue, digestive issues and mild brain fog.
So it’s tough to say exactly when my issues started, but I know when I started to really notice the annoying little symptoms that my body was using to signal distress.
I began to notice my proverbial health ‘cup’ overflow around 2014, after I ended a very dysfunctional 7.5 year relationship due to (his) infidelity. My world turned upside down, everything changed in an instant, and it was among the most stressful and emotionally taxing events of my life (stress 1). A few months following that I became very ill for many months with a virus that took over my body (stress 2). At the time, I was back in school and in the process of getting my diploma in Holistic Nutrition, and working at the same time (stress 3). This went on for a while, and then the next year my mom’s breast cancer came back (stress 4), and my only grandma died (stress 5, I was VERY close to her). Then just over a year later, my mom died (stress 6 + she battled for about 7 years, more stress).
And there was more that I won’t even mention, but you get the picture; STRESS, STRESS, and more STRESS.
So, when my body could no longer deal with the chronic and overlapping stress I was experiencing, I began to experience the first symptoms of dysfunctioning health. This included the inability to digest anything (bloating, IBS-like symptoms) anxiety, nasty itchy skin rashes/eczema, insanely high bad cholesterol, yeast overgrowth, mega fatigue, lack of motivation, muscle soreness, lack of stamina… the list goes on.
As someone well educated in holistic health, I knew that these symptoms weren’t normal and were my body’s little signals indicating that something was not right on the inside. I also knew that these little symptoms could, and usually do, turn into more serious problems if ignored and that it was best to seek health assistance.
So I did, and knowing that these were problems my family medical doctor or other medical doctors weren’t equipped to help me with (I didn’t want to ‘fix the symptoms’, I wanted to find the root cause of them) I went the natural route.
I saw naturopaths, a homeopath, a Traditional Chinese Medicine doctor, acupuncturists, chiropractors, massage therapists, more experienced holistic nutritionists, and even had a sleep study done. I followed all their protocols very diligently.
I also did biofeedback, took a million supplements, herbs, did parasite cleanses, enemas, colonics and more. I spent hours and hours and hours on appointments and thousands of dollars.
I experienced some relief and improvement here and there over the years, but no real substantial healing. Much of my treatment was based on ‘educated guessing’, where the practitioners would recommend diets and supplementation based on my reported and obvious symptoms.
And yeah, sometimes that works, but
despite my best effort, my issues were always still just there. I was functioning, but not optimally.
I still hadn’t found the true root cause and just knew something wasn’t right with me.
Fast forward to September, 2017. I still needed answers and a more efficient treatment path. Guessing wasn’t working for me, and it was costing me a lot of money and frustration.
I decided I needed to bring some real science in, and have some functional medical testing done.
Turns out, this isn’t an easy thing to have done in Canada. Functional medicine is hard to come by, and on the costly side. But I was desperate, so I bit the bullet and decided to commit to The Living Proof Institute’s Essentials Program where I would receive both the functional medical testing, interpretation of the results, guidance and support along my healing journey. Yesssssssssss!
After the first appointment with my Functional Medicine practitioner, I immediately had two key tests done: The GI MAP test and the Organic Acids Test (Yup, I sent my poop and pee to Georgia).
To summarize, these two tests showed the following:
- I am reacting severely to gluten
- I have an overgrowth of the opportunistic bacteria Streptococcus spp.
- I have a parasite called Blastocystis Hominis
- I have a massive H. Pylori infection in my stomach
- I have an overgrowth of Geotrichum spp. Yeast in my gut
- I am insulin resistant (basically pre, pre-diabetic)
- I am not digesting carbs or protein
- I am severely amino acid deficient
- I am severely b-vitamin deficient
- I have problems with some neurotransmitters
- I have big issues handling stress
- I am detoxifying poorly
- I have intestinal bacterial overgrowth
- I have a lot of inflammation
- I don’t have sufficient enzymes to break down my food
- My immune system is very compromised
I was a bit shocked to say the least, but at the same time, not that surprised. It was such a relief to know that I wasn’t crazy and that there were actually scientific reasons why I was feeling so shitty.
Simply put, my body was over-run. In overload.
Stealth infections, deficiencies, toxins, inhibited metabolism of nutrients, inability to handle stress, inflammation, barely functioning immune system… a bit of a long list, but caught early enough that my body hadn’t given up the fight and succumb to ailments that are harder to reverse like autoimmunity or serious organ/gland dysfunction.
Where I Went from There
So I made some key changes and started a targeted supplementation program. I cut out gluten fully. I didn’t eat a ton of gluten before, but I definitely didn’t avoid it diligently.
I’m taking steps to boost my body’s digestion, reduce stress and eradicate the pathogens, starting with the H. Pylori (which was a shock by the way, because one of the biggest telltale symptoms of H. Pylori overgrowth is heartburn, which I NEVER had!).
And I’m IN PROGRESS, working towards healing. Progress is a process. Some days I feel great, some days I don’t, but that’s all part of the healing process.
I’m not ashamed to admit that this journey can be very challenging at times. Probably why I’m calling it my ‘journey’ and not my ‘skip in the park’.
Truth bomb: cutting gluten is tough.
It’s basically in everything you don’t make yourself, and you can’t just replace everything with gluten-free alternatives and expect it all to be fine and dandy. Most gluten-free alternatives are actually worse for you than their original counterparts. So you really have to make a conscious shift.
And on particularly weak days, I sometimes feel like an outcast when I can’t take part in the things that everyone else is eating. I also feel that people just don’t really understand why I’m doing what I’m doing– some people still think gluten-free is a fad I’m just following because I’m that weird “health girl”.
But I push on, and continue to do ME, what I need to do for me, and try not to care what other people think of me. I know what I need to do and that it will all be worth it.
If you’re struggling with chronic health issues, even those little nagging annoying ones, I URGE you first listen to your body talking to you via the symptoms, and then to seek out the functional medicine approach to healing. Whether your body is whispering to you with little ‘feeling off’ hints, or SCREAMING at you with big health problems, don’t just ignore them. You cannot truly address the root cause of any issue without the right testing.
And in case you were wondering, I’m not affiliated or selling anything here. This is my honest, personal advice based on my experience, in hopes that my struggle and journey will help YOU find answers quicker than I did.
01/31/18 – I’m about 3 months into the program now and will continue to update on my progress 🙂
04/06/18 – After about 8 months, I have completed all my appointments and am feeling like a new human!!
If you’re following along in my journey, I have written a detailed update post that you can check out HERE.
Wishing you the best health!
p.s. if you want to get to know ME better, check out 30 Random Facts About Me
She is on a legit superhero mission to empower as many people as she can to practice preventive health care and TAKE BACK THEIR FOOD POWER via cooking, growing and preparing their own food. She is currently based in Toronto, Canada.
Latest posts by Laura Franklin, CNP (see all)
- IG: Beets. Beets & Boots.Shutting down the garden today as we prepare to exit this house, which means harvesting all my remaining beets, carrots and green tomatoes, and pulling all my flowers because, well anyway 💁🏻♀️.It’s bittersweet (or is it BEETersweet?🤣) knowing this was my last rime growing in this garden and is the last time I’ll be shutting it down this garden, but that also I’m moving on to what is going to be a WAY more awesome garden which will be custom designed and built just for me 😍.Also, plans for a greenhouse in the next few years are in the works, cuz we totally have the room for that 😵😵😵.So as I say goodbye, I also give gratitude for all that this house and garden has given me over the years.Thank you house!!!!! - October 19, 2018
- IG: Those carrots and giant beefsteak tomato I just harvested in the last post? Yeaaaah, they went into this bone broth veggie stew to fuel me through this stressful AF time (even though I just wanna stress eat cake, guys 🍰).A 48hr crockpot organic chicken bone broth base plus onion, celery, fresh thyme / sage / parsley / rosemary, my garden carrots, tomato, Swiss Chard and baby zucchini and then some leftover sweet potato and organic ground turkey from the fridge + Himalayan salt & fresh ground pepper = a MASTERPIECE of health and flavour 🍲.OK, must eat so I can get back at it ✌🏼. - October 19, 2018
- IG: The gardener is still here! 👩🏻🌾Pullin’ up carrots today as I prepare for our big move on Sunday.I’ve had so many people say to me, “Oh, I thought you had moved already!”Yes and no. We have been living lots at our new place in Dundas because we absolutely love it there, but never moved our things over. It was chaos and minimalism at its finest. The Toronto house still hasn’t sold but we have decided to move out our furniture and personal items, anyway.Houses with furniture may be more appealing for buyers, but being in limbo for months sucks and it’s time to start getting settled and bringing some structure, familiarity and routine back into our lives.Moving is a real process that requires a lot of patience and radical acceptance.I am working on that every day as I tell myself, “this is just temporary”, you will have your safety, stability and order back soon, but we are both exhausted already and it requires constant self-reminding 🤦🏻♀️.But we will get through it!!Feel free to send us good vibes this Sunday and in the upcoming weeks as we unpack and hopefully get rid of a lot of things too lol).✨What are your tips for surviving and even thriving through the moving process?? - October 19, 2018