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But the present medical system is an archaic, outdated model set up to treat acute symptoms and your medical doctor has limited tools to really find out what’s going on in a chronic illness situation.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: 🙆🏻♀️STOKED! Behold my plot for my inaugural entrance into the world of community gardening 🙌🏼🌱👩🏻🌾Cuz I never ever have enough space to grow everything I want to grow at home plus this year I have zero places to grow anything just yet and I am dying to get started on some early season veggies.Patience? Wtffff is that, my seedlings are bursting out of their homes and I need to get my hands in the dirt.🌱How cool is this— you rent a plot for the season, but with that rental you are given 2 plots— one for you and an adjacent ‘community’ plot that you commit to caring for as well. And the food harvested from the community plot is donated to the local food bank!!!!! 🙌🏼🙌🏼🙌🏼Gaddddamn genius. Cuz who the f**k actually wants to just eat Kraft Dinner and canned beans? No one, and no one should have to—fresh, nutrient-dense food is so important for everyone and I’m so, so thrilled to give a lil’ back while doing what I LOVE to do.…Can you tell I’m excited?🌱Side note: there is a SERIOUS shortage of community gardens / plot availability around here.I contacted every single one of them anywhere nearby looking for a plot (there are quite a few) and every one has a 1-2 year waitlist 😭.The dream? Start my own community garden…But for now if you know of anywhere around Dundas / Hamilton / Waterdown / Ancaster where I can grow stuff, please hit me up.🌱 - April 19, 2019
- IG: Growing season is in full swing and that makes me so happy! 🌱I seeded these tomatoes on March 16, so a month ago today, and they’re busting out of their homes now. I have now moved them all to bigger pots where they will remain until they are planted, but I’m quickly running out of space in my grow light shelf, so I need to get some of my cold weather seedlings planted like spinach, arugula, lettuce, pal choy and onion to free up space. I also need to direct seed round 1 of carrots ASAP! Problem is, we don’t have anything built for me to grow in yet 😭 - April 16, 2019
- IG: My sweet sidekick as I water a bazillion seedlings ❤️❤️❤️@truffletheblacklab - April 5, 2019