2018 – Year One – No CVS

2018 one year no cvs

Welcome 2019! It’s a brand new year! A time of celebration! A time to remember the year past and set goals for the future.

But for me… this year is different… this New Year is truly special, and it represents more than just the change of calendar year and making resolutions…

I’m extending my personal celebration this year because… well, I deserve it! I refuse to put away my dancing shoes… because as of January 1st, 2019, and after more than a decade of suffering through CVS episodes occurring on average every 1-3 months, I’ve completed an entire calendar year without having one!!!

That’s my longest remission since the onset in 2006! Once, I made it 6 months… but just once, several years ago. An entire year feels different somehow… It feels like I’ve broken through some invisible barrier of healing… Some switch has flipped. I really can’t describe it any better than that.

This post is about how I (think I) did it…

I haven’t been to a traditional western medical doctor regarding CVS in over 3 years. Haven’t been to the ER in even longer. They generally don’t help me, and I grow weary of experiencing the effects of stigma… not to mention the wasted time and expense. I have no prescribed pharmaceutical medications for CVS. They haven’t been necessary for several years now.

I also have a decent amount of my own medical knowledge, because… well – I am a doctor too. I’m a veterinarian. And in case anyone doesn’t realize it, many animals are physiologically similar to humans. I’m fortunate that I can use my own medical knowledge to research and help myself to a large degree.

But when I need the ER to prevent dehydration and electrolyte depletion during an episode – usually neither my medical knowledge nor my doctorate help me. Unfortunately, I’m rendered helpless by my symptoms and treated like shit in the ER too, just like many of us are. Treated like an annoyance, a burden, a malingerer, a liar, a drug-seeker, and even a criminal.

I think some medical professionals don’t realize the emotional anguish and mental damage that occurs when they treat sick, scared, desperate, helpless people as if they’re faking or exaggerating or drug-seeking. I know how I feel when it happens to me… I feel frustrated, confused, and terrified I’ll be tossed out untreated and will later die. Consumed with anxiety. Afraid of death and also afraid of a life spent suffering. I simultaneously feel helpless, then hopeless, and then angry… so angry.

Anger is what fueled my motivational fire. And while it was anger that gave me the initial motivation I needed to make changes, I soon realized that anger makes my condition worse. Anger is nowhere to reside, nor is it a place from which sound decisions can be made. I needed to find peace. “Physician first heal thyself”. I needed to heal myself…

I had already been experimenting with holistic treatment beginning a few years after my diagnosis, and over the past several years I’ve noticed a clear pattern… My body and my disorder respond exceptionally well to holistic therapy, while only minimally to pharmaceutical therapy. In fact, pharmaceutical therapy caused as many new problems and side-effects as I was trying to eliminate, while the only side-effects of holistic therapy have been continually improving total body health and generally feeling better than ever before. To be fair, some pharmaceuticals helped me in the very beginning, because they helped me to break the negative feedback cycle of anxiety and the fear of vomiting leading to more vomiting. Once the cycle was broken, it then became important to initiate holistic therapy in efforts to heal, eliminate episodes, and reduce the need for pharmaceuticals gradually over time. That’s what I did, and that’s where the real healing began for me.

And if I’m making it sound easy… it’s not. It takes years and is extremely gradual and it is not like taking “magical” pharmaceutical pills and expecting to feel better instantly. The holistic route requires patience and the ability to think outside the box. It requires research and a willingness to operate outside the medical and insurance “systems” to a certain degree. It requires faith and hope.

I realized that I already have the tools to research, learn, understand, and to a large degree – treat myself holistically. I made a firm decision. I would find peace within myself and wouldn’t rely on others to provide it to me. I would use my medical knowledge and personal power overcome my disorder on my own.

Just making this decision caused a positive change in my mentality. I went from riddled with anxiety, helpless, and afraid – to feeling in control of my own situation and life. As my physical health improved the anger faded and a purpose emerged. My general attitude towards life improved. I began to enjoy exercise and even crave it. My body is changing in a good way and the positive results keep me wanting more. The more I exercise – the better I look and feel. It’s nearly easy to keep going when the rewards are so great. Now I love exercise and feel bad when I don’t get it! I’ve found a certain happiness within exercise and I now give mental focus to that rather than my disorder.

The continual improvement of my health, the gradual reduction over time in episodes, and the feeling in shape and fantastic in general have provided all the motivation I need to continue down the path of holistic health. My goal for several years has been to have no need for the medical system and bypass them entirely when treating myself for CVS. For the most part, I have accomplished that.

CVS is complicated. Research can’t yet answer all our questions about what causes it, and the causes are multi-factorial. I don’t simply focus on one thing or another when it comes to staying healthy. My approach to healing is dynamic. It changes as I change. I’m learning to go with the flow, adapt, and overcome. As my body heals I’m finding the things that help the MOST, and I’m learning to focus on those things. I let the other things fall away. When those things change – I change… go with the flow… I adapt… I overcome.

That said, the general focus of my holistic treatment is on my nervous system and trying to calm it.

CVS is dysautonomia (a general term which basically means the nervous system goes haywire). It’s a bit like a seizure of the brain-gut-neuronal axis, for a lack of better way to describe it. Our nervous systems lose the ability to regulate their speed or put on their brakes. The pedal is stuck to the metal. The vehicle spins out of control, and crashes. Instead of having an epileptic seizure, CVSers commence full force vomiting.

There are probably about a trillion things which affect our nervous systems. Some of those things originate in the environment, and some within our own bodies. We’re unaware of many of these things despite that they’re a part of daily life. Some of them we know a lot about, and some we might not even know exist. Some of them help us and some of them harm us. Some we embrace, some we reject, and some we treat indifferently.

All people – especially CVSers – are affected by those factors to different degrees. That’s why we all seem to manifest this disorder a bit differently and have different triggers, and why different things appear to help people who have the same disorder. That’s why I think no has “figured it out” yet.

Our nervous systems need care and maintenance just like the rest of our body systems do. Our muscles need exercise… we must eat food to provide energy for those muscles to be able to exercise… energy from also food creates chemical reactions in the body which allow our organs to operate and function normally. Higher quality nutrients and food means better functioning body. Everything is connected, and the support of one will support another. Your brain, spinal cord, and nerves require energy and exercise just like muscles do.

Weak muscles shake – weak brains are anxious. I’ve lived my entire life with hundreds of thoughts spinning out of control simultaneously within my mind, feeling fearful, and constantly trying to please others. I thought that was normal. I thought it meant I was a “thinker” or “smart” or “considerate”. Maybe I am those things – maybe I’m not… but my failure to recognize and address my own severe anxiety was detrimental to my health. I completely believe that compounding anxiety is what triggered the emergence of my disorder at age 26. My attempts at meditation and calming my mind since then have improved it.

How does one exercise the nervous system?? I’m so glad you asked!!

Proper care of the nervous system is to keep it strong – which keeps it toned – which keeps it calm. There are several activities in which a person could engage which help support and calm the nervous system.

For example… to attempt meditation is to “give the brain a workout”. Trying not to think is flexing the brain muscle. Just like lifting weights makes your muscles stronger, meditation makes your brain stronger. Below is an excerpt from an article which does a good job of explaining why that is.

Typically, doctors prescribe medications to combat inflammation. However, there’s growing evidence that another way to combat inflammation is by engaging the vagus nerve and improving “vagal tone.” This can be achieved through daily habits such as yoga and meditation

Healthy vagal tone is indicated by a slight increase of heart rate when you inhale, and a decrease of heart rate when you exhale. Deep diaphragmatic breathing—with a long, slow exhale—is key to stimulating the vagus nerve and slowing heart rate and blood pressure, especially in times of performance anxiety. A higher vagal tone index is linked to physical and psychological well-being. Conversely, a low vagal tone index is associated with inflammation, depression, negative moods, loneliness, heart attacks, and stroke.

…and/or CVS…? Connections everywhere. Click here to read the entire article.

You know how people rarely meditate because they think they suck at it? Well I suck at it too. I’m constantly thinking about something when I was supposed to be thinking of nothing. Only people who meditate all day, every day, are good at it. Like monks. The rest of us are in the same boat of meditative sucky-ness. Hardly anyone is good at this. That’s beside the point. Meditation is essential it is for health. It’s something that must be done, and you may as well look at it like brushing your teeth. So no more excuses… Just do it.

Like I said, being good at it isn’t really the point at all. It’s true that the better you get, the easier it gets… but the magic happens when you simply TRY. Meditation trains the brain and nervous system to calm down. Just TRYING to meditate does this… You don’t have to be good at meditating to receive the benefits from it.

The good news is the more you practice meditating, the better you get at it – just like anything else. And the only contest is with yourself to get better. There is no need to match anyone else’s ability.

You don’t have to sit in a pretzel and chant “Om”. You can lie flat in the bed or sit upright in a chair. You can walk or run or hike when you meditate. Simply try not to think and focus on your breath. That’s all. The magic is in the TRYING, so just do it… just TRY. Try for 5 minutes. Then 10. As often as you can. Increase gradually to 30 minutes or even an hour! And then keep trying no matter how good or bad you are. This is a life skill, and there’s no giving up allowed.

Try meditating during or after an intense physical workout. You might find like I do that it’s easier to sit with a quiet mind in a state of relaxation during or after physical exertion.

Another example is yoga. Practicing yoga stretches and tones the spinal column and nerves just like it does the muscles. Yoga teaches a focus on breath and ability to control it. I meditate while I do yoga.

Also running… When I run it’s very easy for me to focus on deep breathing, and it’s hard for me to think about anything other than the exertion. That’s meditation. It’s a period of time when my lungs breathe my body works, and my mind goes quiet. Running tones my nervous system just like it simultaneously tones the muscles in my body. Running eliminates the excess pent up energy within my body which leads to stress and anxiety in the first place.

Hiking is my personal favorite way to tone my nervous system. I get to spend all day enjoying the spectacular scenery of the Pacific Northwest while simultaneously toning my muscles, breathing deeply, clearing my mind, and allowing nature to be my teacher and healer.

I recently came across an article claiming that “Leg Exercise is Critical to Brain and Nervous System Health“. Check it out by clicking here. It’s a fantastic article and it has everything to do with CVS, even if it makes no mention of the disorder. Here’s an excerpt:

…The research shows that using the legs, particularly in weight-bearing exercise, sends signals to the brain that are vital for the production of healthy neural cells, essential for the brain and nervous system. Cutting back on exercise makes it difficult for the body to produce new nerve cells — some of the very building blocks that allow us to handle stress and adapt to challenge in our lives…

…The researchers gained more insight by analyzing individual cells. They found that restricting exercise lowers the amount of oxygen in the body, which creates an anaerobic environment and alters metabolism. Reducing exercise also seems to impact two genes, one of which, CDK5Rap1, is very important for the health of mitochondria — the cellular powerhouse that releases energy the body can then use. This represents another feedback loop…

Notice any more connections? Stress? Mitochondrial health? All things which we know are factors in CVS. So get up and get moving people. If you are limited, do what you can and push challenge yourself every day to do a little more. No matter how little. Every little bit helps.

There are non-exercise and non-pharmaceutical related things which will calm and repair the nervous system. Like cannabis. Cannabis is full of endocannabinoids which also happen to be natural substances produced by our very own bodies’ endocannabinoid system which are vital to the proper function of all our body systems and especially our nervous systems. Stress and sickness deplete the body’s natural store of endocannabinoids. Cannabis is a medication which provides the ability to replenish endocannabinoids when the body is stuck in a negative cycle and needs help.

Depending on the state you live in you may have access to different cannabis products which could help you. There are many ways to use and consume cannabis, and it can treat many disorders. It has been unfairly stigmatized and I encourage conversation to combat that.

Click here to check out this great podcast of a “self proclaimed goody-two-shoes mom” who changed her tune after cannabis was the only thing to prevent the death of her teenage son with severe Crohn’s disease. Her son’s name is Coltyn and he is is a very intelligent young man who said two things which I think are very share-worthy:

  1. “I’d rather be illegally alive than legally dead”.
    • Discussing the time his parents were afraid to take his medicine across state lines and he became sick again after a long remission.
  2. “From the Devil’s Lettuce to God’s Medicine”.
    • Discussing the reversal of his parent’s perspective of cannabis after they relied on their own experiences with it as opposed to listening to those without knowledge, experience, or research who demonized it and the use of it.

I understand Coltyn will soon be doing his own podcasts. Click here to watch a video where he answers questions about the treatment of his disorder with cannabis. Takes him a few minutes to get rolling, but when he does it’s great and very educational. He and his mom are both excellent advocates who deliver their message in a positive way. I hope more CVS advocates gain the same speed!

**When used knowledgeably and properly, cannabis is medicinal for nearly all adults – even those without any medical diagnoses. Cannabinoids are like vitamins. Cannabis improves health and is a medication, not a gateway drug. Please vote for across the board legalization which allows for more extensive research and easier access for patients. Even if you don’t need it or want it, rest assured there is someone near you who does. Research what cannabis products could help you and experiment within your own ability to do so.**

I could go on for hours about things which help the nervous system, but for the sake of focus on how I accomplished an episode free year I’ve outlined below for you the things I currently incorporate into my routine which I believe to have the most positive effect on my CVS.

For those of you asking me, “How did you do it?”  – THIS is how – at least… this is how I currently THINK I did it:

Running – 3-4 miles per day, 4-6 days per week

  • After work each night I go to the gym and bust it out on the “dread”mill.
  • I believe that for me – running is hands-down, considering time per effort, the most effective treatment for my anxiety.
  • There was a time I couldn’t run more than 0.3 miles without needing to lay down and die. I hated running and it hated me. I have arthritic issues, peripheral vascular disease, and sometimes suffer symptoms of compartment syndrome when I run. That means significant pain which can prevent me even from walking for several minutes. Sometimes I need to slow down. Sometimes I need a break. But I never quit or give up. It always improves. If I can do it, so can you. No more excuses. Start with short distances. Increase gradually over time. It’s about consistency – NOT quantity.

Hiking – 5-15 miles, 1000-3000 ft elevation gain, once per week if possible.

  • Hiking is more effective for me than running for stress and anxiety, and I enjoy it much more… but my work schedule prevents me from doing it as often as I would like. If I could hike every single day, I would.

Walking – 2 miles per day, 5 days per week.

  • I walk to work every day. It’s my favorite time of the day. I think of it as “walking meditation and my goal is 30 minutes of peace and calm, to collect my energy and quiet my mind, prior to the taxing workday.

Drinking Kava – 3 tsp in small mug of lukewarm or room temp water, once per day

  • Kava is a supplement made from a root which only grows on Pacific Islands. It has properties which calm the nervous system and balance hormones. You can order it on Amazon completely safely as long as you do your research and make sure only to purchase from reputable sources. I like Kalm with Kava.
  • Prior to trying Kava I was experiencing peri-menopausal symptoms (in my mid 30s). Since beginning this regimen the fibrocystic knots in my breasts are nearly gone and my menstrual cycles have nearly normalized.
  • Even though I haven’t mentioned hormones previously in this post, it is widely known that hormones affect both the nervous system and are a factor for many in CVS… so Kava kills two birds with one stone for me.
  • It tastes like dirt/muddy water. And it might make your tongue a bit numb and tingly like Chloraseptic spray for sore throat… But it’s honestly not bad when you don’t think of it as bad. I’m used to it. And I don’t care. Because it helps me and the flavor only lasts a few seconds anyway.

Fresh, clean, plant-based diet – daily

  • Highest quality fuel = highest quality performance. Not just cars – bodies too.
  • I’m not perfect. I eat crap too. The key is to eat as little crap as possible and make healthy decisions every time you eat.

Acupuncture – Once per month.

  • It’s fabulously relaxing. It’s scientific, and it’s Chinese Medicine – not voodoo. It treats many body systems including the nervous system. It doesn’t hurt, and it’s not scary once you know what to expect. Open your mind to something you might not understand. Step outside of the box and visualize energy flowing through your body with no blockages or interruptions. Allow negativity to exit and positivity to enter. Do it and thank me later!!

Chiropractic adjustments – as needed.

  • My chiropractor and I suspected bulging disc and intermittent pinched nerve in my neck. He has provided me with natural treatment in the form of spinal adjustments for that condition. It works.
  • Regular adjustments also help keep the spinal column and nerves in proper alignment for proper functioning. It’s maintenance of the body just like you might align your car tires. I find that the more I run, the stronger the muscles surrounding my spine become, and the less adjusting I need.

Energy Medicine – constantly.

  • It sounds like witchcraft – but it’s not. It’s scientific and its results are currently being consistently researched and documented.
  • Step out of the box with me on this one a bit… but it’s not even that far. It’s the power of positive thinking. It’s spontaneous and unexplained remissions. It’s the curing of cancer in mice through the Bengston Energy Healing Method® . It’s something we don’t yet understand, but we may have the ability to control.
  • If you’ve ever believed in the power of prayer for healing, or believed the universe provided you with healing energy, or believed with all your heart you would overcome your disorder, or visualized/desired a life without CVS (or another disorder), or participated in a drug trial and improved on a placebo – then you have already engaged in energy medicine.

Essential Oils

  • EOs are the natural essences found within plants from around the world. Plants are medicinal and essential oils are part of the reason. Sometimes we can’t grow the particular plant which would be medicinal to us in our area… Maybe we don’t know which plant to use… The ability to learn about and treat with multiple and various essential oils is like being able to travel to a far away country and benefit from the medicinal plants native to a different region.
  • Why DoTerra? I use DoTerra oils because they are 100% pure, organic, and are produced by a reputable, internationally philanthropic, and environmentally conscious company. Since I purchase them so often it benefited me to also become a distributor. This is a matter of convenience for me and those who I might help through sharing my knowledge of EOs. I don’t do it for financial profit. If you’d like to learn more there are a million online resources to choose from. I’m happy to answer specific questions you might have. If you would like to purchase them through me, you can do so by clicking here and only shopping through that link.
  • Lavender is hands-down my favorite oil for calming and relaxing the nervous system. But there are soooo many more…
  • I diffuse them, make them into lotions, drink them, and cook with them. I treat various conditions with them and I treat my animals with them. I use them when feeling stressed but enjoy them in general for the lovely aromas and healing properties.
  • If nothing else, they make me, and my house smell lovely – without harmful chemicals and carcinogens commonly found in perfumes and candles – while they are simultaneously heal my body.
  • They can be used safely in animals, children, and even pregnant women.

And last, but not at ALL least… Probably the most important thing….

Learning “The art of not giving a fuck”.

If the f-word offends you – my apologies… but please let “the word” go for a moment and focus on the intent and profound meaning behind the statement itself. This is about an elimination of anxiety. Yes, there is a book with this title – but I haven’t read it and I’m not referring to it when I repeat the phrase.

What does this mean for me? Several things… It means:

  • I’m not worrying about what people think of me – I simply don’t care. It is none of my business what others think of me. What others think of me tells a story about them – not me.
  • I’m not rehearsing conversations or rehashing mistakes in my mind – this is a waste of mental energy.
  • I’m not having a messy and embarrassing emotional outburst when I feel anxious and triggered – instead I’m creating space and distance within my mind from the emotion until it passes. I don’t react from within the emotion.
  • I’m actively listening and asking questions to improve my understanding of others and their perspectives. Regardless the topic. I’m not arguing. I’m openly sharing my opinion and not afraid for someone to disagree with it or otherwise judge it. I’m not afraid to examine my own thoughts or beliefs and consider that I have it wrong. I’m not afraid to say that I think I’m right either. I’m not afraid of someone having a different opinion. I try to gain insight from a different perspective and use differences to enhance understanding and build bridges.
  • I’m giving my best effort – I’m doing my best. In everything. To make right choices which serve the effort of love, communication, compassion, understanding, building bridges, tearing down walls. Since I’m not perfect, I make mistakes – a lot of mistakes. Sometimes big ones. When I make mistakes, I try to learn from them rather than dwelling on them or creating more mistakes which piggy-back off the first ones. I let it go and move on. I don’t worry about or focus on the mistake, but rather focus on not repeating the mistake.
  • When something is bothering me, and despite all efforts I can’t understand it – I tell myself I’m not supposed to understand at this moment in time, and I let go the concern. I move on.
  • When I feel the pain and anger of the world entering my aura – I breathe deeply and remind myself that I’m only affected by those things I allow to affect me. I attempt to separate myself from the outside world and have peace within myself.
  • When I feel deeply sad and angry about all the injustice and suffering in the world – I ask myself what I can do right here and now in this day and moment to help alleviate pain and suffering for anyone – and I go do it. Because THAT’S how I can make a difference.
  • When I feel inappropriate and overwhelming anxiety – I stop, breathe deeply, and remind myself that “I’m fine.” I force my thoughts to change and take charge and tell my body that it has nothing to fear. I BELIEVE that I’m fine.
  • When I feel “that feeling” … that deeply unsettling and indescribable feeling of the loss of control of my own self or my life – I remind myself again that “I’m fine.” And I believe it even if I don’t feel it. I tell myself that this feeling will pass. I BELIEVE it will pass. I breathe through it. I find a distraction to help it pass.
  • It means I don’t get upset if I have a bad hair day – instead I wear a cute hat.
  • It means I don’t care if people don’t get my style or think I’m weird, I embrace who I am and own it.
  • It means I wear what I want to wear. I wear what makes me feel good and happy.
  • It means I “do me”. I love myself. To thine own self be true.

If you’re wondering what the last section has to do with CVS… My answer is: EVERYTHING. The things I just listed under “The Art of Not Giving a Fuck” are the parts of myself I don’t always reveal to others. Those things are the factors of my deepest fears and anxieties. They are the source of much stress in my life. Everyone has fears and anxieties, and I’m not claiming mine are worse than others. But for some reason my nervous system doesn’t handle and adapt to stress properly. That’s part of the disorder that research hasn’t figured out yet. We don’t know why, but this is a matter of the nervous system not working properly. When my nervous system gets stressed it lacks the ability to properly modulate itself back down again.

Remember… what works for me might not work for you. And vice versa… I found the things that help me because they held a certain allure for me and my life. Hiking helps me but it’s also a true passion. For me it’s both recreational as well as medicinal. I choose it over other activities that I don’t enjoy as much. If you can’t run, maybe you can swim. If you can’t hike, maybe you can take your dog for a long walk. If you live near your workplace, maybe you can walk or bike there. Maybe you can purchase a treadmill and watch television while you walk indoors all day long. There are hundreds of activities to get you up and moving, indoors or outdoors, all abilities and strength levels. Yoga is simple stretching… you don’t need to be able to bend into a pretzel. Find your passion and immerse yourself within it. Find what makes your heart soar and embrace it. The earth can heal us just from enjoying it – so get outside! Go! You are all physicians and you can heal yourselves!!!

So, will you all please raise your glasses with me and join me in toast to another wonderful year of growth, health, and healing. Here’s to another year episode free! Because, oh yeah…. You better believe that I’m gonna do it all over again, because I certainly do. 2019 – you’re gonna be my year #2!!! Prost!!!

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I Was Interviewed by a News Agency About Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome!!

Veterinarian deemed attention seeker due to rare condition that caused her vomit up to 12 times an hour now cures herself with natural diet.

Media is a big deal. Right? We all tend to watch and listen to it – even if we don’t like it, or don’t necessarily believe it. Awareness is a big deal too. And for those of us attempting to spread accurate information far and wide about our misunderstood and stigmatized disorders – the media can be an especially helpful tool for doing so. However, I can tell you from experience that sometimes you really have to put yourself out there for the sake of the cause… for the end game… and it’s not always easy to do that. The anxiety struggle is real. Very real…

Out of nowhere, I received an email from Nicolas Fernandes with Caters News Agency, asking me if I would be willing to do an interview with him regarding my experiences living with Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome. When I asked him how and why he chose me, he responded that he saw my blog, and thought I would be interested. After a quick search confirming legitimacy of the inquirer, I gladly accepted the unique opportunity to share my story with “the world”. After all – we need all the awareness we can get, right? And this is a golden opportunity!

After accepting, I immediately became nervous and full of anxiety about the whole thing… What will I say? How will I accurately and fairly represent myself and the CVS community? How do I decide upon which topics to focus? How will it be received by those with CVS and by those who’ve never heard of it? Will it be helpful? What if what I say is misinterpreted? What if I’m misquoted? How do a bring the best message I can bring?

With those thoughts racing around inside my head, I prepared by writing down what I would say. I created a speech for a 3 minute video and I repeatedly recorded it until I was happy with it. I spent about 2 hours trying to make that 3 minute video, 1 hour on the phone answering Nick’s questions,  and about an hour gathering pictures. I wanted it to be perfect, but was also well aware that the end result would largely be out of my hands. I then determined to let it all go, and relinquish the final result as something beyond my control. I simply hoped for the best.

And then it was published… And uhhggg…. I didn’t really like it. 😦

I was told the focus of the article would be how I’m improving my chronic illness through a well-rounded, holistic, and natural approach to medicine – as opposed to a traditional approach to western medicine. But after reading it for the first time, I was concerned that the message sent wasn’t the one I was trying to send… My immediate thoughts went something like this:

  • Holy crap, the title is a mile long!
  • It sounds fantastical.
  • I’m not cured! Cured?? What??
  • Oh no, this looks like “click bait”!
  • Ummmm, that’s not what I said…
  • …or how I said it…
  • That’s not what I meant…
  • My God, what have I done….???

My main concern is that the article misleads others to believe that changing to a healthy diet without doing anything else can lead to a “cure” for CVS. In reality, the improvements I’ve experienced are a result of many things I’m doing, and I perceive all of those things to be equally important (for me). My treatment includes a well-rounded holistic approach involving several modalities – including plant-based diet, hiking, yoga, meditation, running, natural supplementation, and use of essential oils. That’s not to say I think that list is complete or 100% accurate, but it’s what’s been working for ME.

You see, the first thing you need to know about CVS is that it’s complicated and multi-factorial. Meaning, it manifests differently in each of us according to our unique set of problems, and we are all helped by different things. Confusing? Yeah… to say the least. Hence, why no one can figure us out. Imagine being in our shoes… And when all the test results would indicate us to be “normal”, we inevitably are forced to cope with the accusations of exaggeration and malingering by the only source of help we have available to us. Those accusations (of me) were wildly incorrect. Which brings me to stigma….

They mentioned the stigmatizing experiences I was previously subjected to, but I thought the way the article was written made me sound like a “victim”, rather than a strong and independent warrior who has successfully taken her health into her own hands. Whine-ing is something I have avoided doing within my CVS journey, and it sounded whine-y to me. Perhaps I was reading too much into it, but honestly I was disappointed, and a little bit embarrassed.

But then I read it again… and for some reason it didn’t seem quite so bad the second time… Perhaps because I really wanted it not to seem so bad…. So, I read it again – but this time I pretended I was someone who doesn’t know me and has no idea what my goals were for the article… and that’s when I realized something very important: No matter what I wanted it to say, the article contains vital information about how to treat CVS in a natural way. In that moment, I realized how to overcome my anxiety about the whole thing and focus on the important thing…. which is AWARENESS!! I focused instead on how this article will suggest a method of treatment perhaps not previously considered by others which could help them… and that even though the method presented within the article isn’t an exactly accurate representation of what I’ve been doing – it doesn’t matter because they don’t necessarily need to do all the things I do anyway. The article will simply lead them in the right direction to research and learn about treatment of CVS through natural medicine, and they can experiment to see what works for them!

It was also an important reminder for me that anxiety is IN-appropriate. That’s why it’s a disorder. The most important thing was always to share information to the best of my ability, bring awareness of CVS to others, and hopefully help some folks along the way. When I brought my focus there, I was able to overcome the anxiety I was feeling.

It’s impossible for me to know how many total people this article might eventually help… But, I can tell you that since the article’s publication, I’ve had a handful of folks reach out to me – either for more information, or to tell me they were either helped or encouraged in some way through reading it. The traditional saying is: If it helps only one person, it’s worth it. I agree whole-heartedly. Knowing that anyone at all has improved the symptoms of CVS through information I provided is a powerful motivator indeed. I remember when I was the one searching for the same information… it was worth everything to me when I found/realized it. Because that information is what has given me the opportunity to live a quality life with a chronic illness.

In fact, I’m happy to report that I’m currently living a FANTASTIC life, and have broken my record length of 6 months between episodes, as of June 1st, 2018!! I’m going for the gold now… I’ve set my sights on making it one entire year without a CVS episode. I know I can, and I hope I will.

This article obviously isn’t my first attempt at bringing awareness to my circles about Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome… I’m a member of several Facebook groups, I created my own CVS Warrior Facebook page, I created this blog… I’ve previously been very active and shared my story in Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome Association (CVSA) message boards. My story has been published in a book about CVS which you can search (Rare But Not Alone) and buy on Amazon. I’ve designed t-shirts and created fundraisers selling them for CVSA, hosted a Run For the Bucket 5K to fund raise for CVSA in my tiny home town (I was the only runner), and I’ve shared my story on my own personal page to my friends and family. Not every effort has rendered the results I was hoping for, but each time there’s always been at least one person who reaches out to let me know it made a difference to them, and that makes it worth it every single time. With each new effort, more and more people are reached – not just one person. That’s why I’ll never stop sharing… Our numbers are growing. We are many warriors, growing into a formidable army of truth sharers and stigma squashers.

So, to recap:

  • a few short emails
  • one, hour long phone conversation
  • 2 hours making a video (only took that long because I’m an obsessive perfectionist)
  • 1 hour gathering pictures
  • 15 minutes creating 2 Facebook posts (warrior and personal)

That’s all it took to create an article which has now been viewed by over 6000 people from my Facebook page alone. That’s right folks, you heard me correctly! My stats show over 6K views on my little ol’ warrior page!! It’s received 69 comments and has been shared 59 times from my page source. I have no ability to know how far it’s spread beyond that, but one of my previous classmates from vet school sent me a message telling me my article made it to her Mom’s veterinary group that has over 9K members, and that I was famous! I was shocked! So, yeah, it’s circulating out there. People are seeing it, and people awareness is being accomplished! And THAT’S what was important in the end.

Click here to read it.  And don’t be shy, please share it!  Let’s keep it spinning far and wide, so it finds everyone who needs to read it! A very special thanks to those who’ve already shared. ❤ My heart is yours. #CyclicVomitingSyndromeAwareness

“Vomiting Seizures” CVS Awareness Day 2018

Another year… more episodes…

Usually for awareness day I choose a particularly brutal episode from the previous year, and attempt to convey the horror to you without scaring you away from the topic entirely. This year I had several topics to choose from… I could have written about:
· That time I booked my flight and secured vacation one whole year in advance… and flew home for the 10 year reunion of my graduating veterinarian class – only to miss the official night of the event due to an episode. Good news is I was able to see and catch up with most of the gang the following day.
· Or the time I booked my flight and hotel, secured leave a year in advance, and payed $400 of non-refundable fees for Continuing Education Conferences – only to miss the first day of the conference and several (paid for) CE hours due to an episode. Good news is that I didn’t miss the 2nd day, which contained some of the most valuable research and information I’ve come across to date on the science of “energy healing”. (www.bengstonresearch.com)
· Or the particularly difficult time my husband flew home to visit his family, and the stress of maintaining my normal routine plus accomplishing additional chores inevitably threw me into an episode while I was all alone. And I learned that a friend I thought I could count on really didn’t understand at all. Good news is that I have awesome neighbors.
· Or the super disappointing time an important friend from veterinary school happened to be in my neck of the woods, and we had the opportunity to hang out and catch up after over 10 years since seeing the other. And we chose to climb Mt. St. Helens together. And then 1.5 miles up, I began having an episode and had to come down – I then had to attempt walking downhill for 1.5 miles while an episode was beginning and intensifying. Good news is that I convinced my friend to continue onward and upward – and she still made it to the summit! While I meanwhile made it to the Jeep – which became my safe place to lie and vomit and await rescue.
· Or that time I spent Christmas Eve in Portland with a friend. And there was a sudden snow and ice storm which closed roads and prevented me from pickup up my husband from the airport that night. And then I started having an episode and couldn’t drive, and my friend had to drive on the ice to the MAXX station and wait with me in the freezing cold for hours while I vomited and shivered. And my husband had to get off the plane and ride the train to me and then drive me home on the icy roads for an hour. Good news is that some friends really are true friends, and can be counted on to help out in a sticky situation.

Rather than tell stories, what I really want to tell you about is my journey deeper into the world of natural, holistic, and energy medicine. But that could take ages, and would bore most of you to death. Suffice it to say that I am continually surprised at the arrogance of humans to ignore the wisdom and effectivity that lies within natural and alternative therapies. People are lazy. They want to simply take a pill and magically become better. That’s a ridiculous notion when you think about it with common sense. We must work for our health as we would work for anything worth having – and it is very hard work indeed.

Fun fact: Did you know your stomach and intestines contain over 500 million neurons? That’s 5 times more than the 100 million neurons making up your entire spinal cord! It’s an entity of its own called the Enteric Nervous System and has been nicknamed “The Second Brain”. It’s strangely gone largely ignored by the medical community until recent years. That’s likely because of how poorly it’s understood.

Do you care about this information? If not – maybe you should… Because knowing and understanding it could be the key to prevention and management of this disorder and many other chronic illnesses. And the truth is – even if you don’t have CVS – you or a loved one could easily become the next to be affected by CVS or a similar disorder.

I’ve decided to begin describing my CVS episodes as “vomiting seizures”. Because that’s something you can probably understand and relate to in your mind. As opposed to CVS… Most of us have either seen some type of seizure occurring in someone we know personally, or via an actor on television. We know (without truly understanding why) that those with epilepsy go “from normal, to seizure” like a light switch was flipped.

It’s similarly difficult to understand how someone with CVS who goes hiking on the weekends and is learning to be a mountaineer can instantly begin vomiting and become bedridden for no apparent reason, requiring intense care and careful attention for hours to days… But if you think of how the same is true for people with epilepsy who suddenly have a seizure, you might begin to be able to get an accurate glimpse of what this disorder can be like.

I lack the ability to describe with words the horror and torment that is “an episode” – but I’ll try anyway… It’s a seizure of nausea. Some have pain, but for me it’s nausea. It’s a full blown traitorous attack of my nervous system against my body – which causes each and every part of me to feel consumed with overwhelming nausea. I feel possessed, consumed, panicked, desperate, crushed, crippled, suffocated, useless, and incapable of normal function. The desperation for the intensity of the nausea to dissipate is likely the most intense feeling of all. That is – next to the nausea.

The nausea is everywhere, not just in my stomach or throat. The intensity is greatest in my upper abdomen. Instinctual behavior takes precedence over conscious control. “Survival” is the only thought that can occur. Making it to the next moment seems like an impossible feat, when simply moving causes my body to wretch, convulse, and expel the contents of my stomach every few minutes. My skin is crawling, and my muscles are twitching of their own accord. I can’t be still no matter how much I want to… not matter how hard I try. Breathing is the only thing upon which I can focus. When there isn’t even a few moments respite from the most intense nausea known to humankind – after several hours, and then days – it becomes hard not to wish for death. I try within my mind to shrink into a tiny ball and find a deeper place within myself to hide from the horrendous reality which my senses have created for me. Mentally, I’m in a fog. I won’t choose to speak unless I think what I have to say will lead to an immediate or eventual decrease in my suffering. I can respond when spoken to, but it is at great cost. The toll of achieving formed thought and the effort of response are nearly always a spike in the nausea and vomiting. I can walk, if I must, but the toll is great when I do. I can drive, if I absolutely must – but this is a terrible idea for many, many reasons. And, again, the toll is great. I’ll then beg and pray to God and every power within the universe for quiet, peace, dark, still, calm, rest, and sleep to come – and for the episode to end, but these things aren’t always easy to obtain even in the best of settings during the best of times. And they’re next to impossible to obtain when the body is exploding with constant nausea and uncontrollable muscle movements. I’m cold, then freezing, then shivering and shaking. Then I’m hot, then sweating, then claustrophobic and suffocating from the heat, and soaking wet from the sweat. Then I’m freezing again, and now I’m wet and so are my clothes. Now the sheets are soaked. I’m even colder now. I get dry and warm, but quickly become hot again. I need to be naked with blankets and towels available. I need fluids rich with electrolytes and a bucket to vomit it immediately back up. I need to maintain my hydration and potassium at all costs to prevent a trip to the ER and a hospital admission. I can’t always control my surroundings, and despite occasionally being able to influence them – I can never control the attitudes of those around me. I know from history I must be prepared to breathe and ride this gnarly wave for another 12 -24 hours… I must learn to accept the episode as it happens, while still hoping it will soon end. I must learn to detach from time, and find that deeper place of survival…

This disorder still is largely unexplained, but we’re making advancements in the research. Some think it’s a form of anxiety disorder – which is an astute observation on their parts – but it’s so much more complicated than that… This disorder is multi-factorial. That’s why we all seem to manifest it a little bit differently. We know now that this is a form of dysautonomia of the brain-gut axis. That’s basically the medical way to describe a seizure of the stomach and guts.

I look forward to the day this disorder is given a new name… To one which better describes the etiology of CVS with regards to neurologic involvement. I’d love it if I could somehow cause the term “vomiting seizures” to become popular within the physicians of the CVS medical community. I’ll be sharing the term with my doctors, and I hope you’ll consider doing the same. You might additionally consider using the term to describe the disorder to friends and family. I think that presenting the information in a way which others can relate will be helpful to dispel the myths which arise from the “fear of the unknown”. I hope that doing so will lead to a decrease in the phenomenon of “unexplained” disorders becoming stigmatized. Ultimately, I hope patients of these disorders no longer fear becoming the subjects of stigma.

It’s my personal opinion that future CVS research should be focused on investigating if these episodes should be re-classified as a form of seizure disorder which is connected with mitochondrial, emotional, and hormonal health, while also linked with anxiety and hyper-excitability of the nervous system.

Have you ever heard of a Focal Onset Aware Seizure (aka Simple Partial Seizure)? It is described on www.epilepsy.com as:
· A seizure that starts in one area of the brain and the person remains alert and able to interact.
· Usually known to be brief, lasting seconds to less than 2 minutes.
· Many treatment options available, including medications, dietary therapy, surgery, and devices.
· Anyone is at risk to get these, and the cause is often unknown.

The article mentions that nausea and migraines can be mistaken for partial seizures. Well… maybe that’s not actually a mistake after all… CVS is known as a migraine variant in some circles. What I’m suggesting is that it’s possible CVS should be reclassified as a previously unseen form of partial seizures. The similarities between my mentation during episode and those described in partial seizures are uncanny. Perhaps we got it wrong (as we often initially do) when classifying these types of seizures as typically brief… Perhaps these longer episodes of dysautonomia should be considered as being a different form of partial seizures…

Perhaps the modern paradigm of western medicine will soon shift to include awareness and equal incorporation of the natural techniques and therapies which prevent and treat the majority of the illnesses which we see occurring today. Perhaps most of us will soon be herbalists, yogis, Jedi masters, Zen Buddhists, channelers of healing energy, vegetarians, or climbers of Mt. Everest. Perhaps there will be a balance between that and what currently is. Regardless of which way others choose for themselves, I know that the ancient (and not so ancient) world of natural medicine combined with the technology of today could produce worldwide and life-changing medical advancements.

Throughout this journey of CVS, I’ve learned that our bodies are much smarter than we are. I’ve learned that the mind and body have powers of which we are largely ignorant, but which we can learn to manipulate for the intent of healing and increasing happiness in the lives of myself and others. I’ve learned of many phenomenons which are unexplained by current scientific knowledge – yet are reproduced consistently in a prestigious research setting, and I’m hungry to learn even more. If you also find these things intriguing, you might enjoy perusing the following websites: (www.scientificexploration.org) (www.princeton.edu/~pear) (www.issseem.org) (www.energypsych.org)

With each new installment of understanding I gain new insight, strength, power, and hope. Even with the devastation of each new episode, I still think I’m getting better each and every day. I think I’m getting closer to my goal of living CVS free. Those are empowering thoughts, since before I was simply resigned to a life of being a prisoner to chronic illness.

I’ll soon be learning all about Traditional Chinese Medicine, and will have my first acupuncture appointment next week. I’m excited for the possibilities which lie therein!

These are the things I’ve found to be helpful for me. I don’t claim they’ll be helpful for you. But I hope they will. That’s why I share the information. Please remember that this is multi-factorial. We’re all different, and we respond to things differently. Don’t take my word for it. Or anyone’s… You are just as smart as they are. Read. Learn. Experiment. Keep what works for you, and put the rest aside. Consult with your doctor, but also learn what they know about the topic for yourself. You can. Listen to your body, and don’t let anyone change your mind when you know something is right/wrong or good/bad for you.

To all my CVS Warriors: You’re all my brothers and sisters in sickness and in hope. I hope this finds you well. I hope this inspires you to find your own way to empowerment and healing. I hope everyday people and also doctors will read this. I hope they care. I hope they listen. I hope things change for the better. I hope these hopes to God and the powers of the universe with the great silent voice which is within me.

Hear my hopes… Please.

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Puke on a Plane

March 5th is the official International Awareness Day for Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome, aka CVS. If you’ve never heard of it, you’re among the vast majority. Those of us who are familiar with it – well… we wish we weren’t.

To learn the basics about CVS, you can refer to this page of my blog. However, the purpose of this particular post is to spread awareness, so I would like to make you aware of some of my recent experiences with this debilitating chronic illness.

On two separate occasions recently, I was that person on the plane. You know, the person who is vomiting, and no one wants to sit beside. The person who is retching violently with her head stuck inside 2 layers of garbage bags. The person everyone is terrified is spreading a dangerous disease among the passengers. But this isn’t airsickness… it’s Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome.

The image comes to mind of a person using the index fingers of each hand to make a cross in front of their body, in order to create a “barrier” between them and some perceived evil. Like a priest holding up a cross to the demon in front of him. I felt as as if all the other passengers were doing this towards me, even though none of them actually did. Sometimes it’s not even stigma, but perceived stigma, that can cause a Cyclic Vomiter to suffer the consequences of that stigma. It sometimes can also cause us to stumble upon some nugget of insight, or into a pool of misery.

Please allow me to re-create for you how these experiences unfolded, and how they made me feel. No, this isn’t a pleasant topic. But it’s the truth. It’s what happens to me. I desperately want others to understand what it’s like. Not to gross you out, or make you feel sorry for me. Simply to make you aware. This happens. CVS is a real thing. It’s not in our heads, and we haven’t done it to ourselves. Our voices deserve to be heard, and we deserve the support and awareness that is deserving of ANY chronic illness, regardless of how it is named, or what it does to our bodies.

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I prepared and organized everything as best I could to reduce the stress involved in this travel situation. However, if you’ve ever attempted to move from Alabama to Washington State, and purchase a home – sight unseen – due to a timeline limitation, you’d understand that there isn’t much that can reduce the stress of that situation except for careful planning, motivation, attitude, and simply attempting to stay on top of the details. But stress is a part of life. I can’t avoid it, and I’ve done well with this. I’m proud of how well I’ve done this far, and my husband and I will get through it eventually. It’s not going to be easy, no matter what I do or don’t do. I can’t hide from life, and will live it to the fullest, despite my disorder. Regardless, I was completely (and perhaps overly) confident I would make it through the ordeal without incident. – until this happened…..

I chose a salad from the menu of the random airport restaurant, thinking it was a safe dietary decision based on past triggers. It’s a “meal” type salad, and when it arrives there is a mountain of quinoa on top and I notice that it looks “heavy”. After a few bites, I began to feel “that feeling”. “That feeling” that is all too familiar, easily recognizable, and impossible to confuse with anything else. Subconsciously, I began to plead with the universe and pray my soul’s prayer that it will “just go away…. just go away….”. It didn’t just go away…..

Rewind to last summer… when I flew to Washington State and worked there for a month. While I fell in love with the area, and had some fabulous weekend hikes, I was a mess of stress during the 13 1/2 hour weekdays in an unfamiliar work environment. I had been misled by my superiors about my duties for the month, and was expecting a maximum of 10 hour days. I was also left virtually unsupported by my temporary supervisor, and felt very alone in my predicament. I expected an episode to occur at any moment during my time there as a result of the high stress. I was pleasantly surprised when I completed the month without incident. I thought I was home free! It also felt like a major accomplishment to make it through such a difficult and stressful period without any episode whatsoever. I saw it as an improvement in my condition, and saw it as proof that I can still tackle the opportunities in life that are made vastly more difficult by my disorder.

When I arrived at the airport in Seattle, I learned that my flight had been changed, and I would have to spend the next 12 hours in the airport waiting for my flight. But – I was headed home after a whole month, and nothing could get me down! It’s all about attitude, right? I was happy and healthy. I decided to walk and visit the entire airport. After 10 hours, 3 meals, and about 4 alcoholic beverages, I was feeling very content, sitting in my airport chair at the departure gate, waiting for my plane to arrive. Until – I felt “that feeling”.

It hit suddenly after eating what should have been a benign salad. I immediately felt the panic and terror, because I knew somehow that it wouldn’t “just go away” this time. It was already too intense. I visited the restroom several times prior to boarding. When I’m nauseous, and before the vomiting is uncontrollable, sometimes all I have to do is bend over at the waist, and the vomit comes without effort. Occasionally, once I’ve emptied the contents of my stomach, the nausea will simply subside. I desperately gave this a shot, knowing it was my last chance to stop the episode, but to no avail. With each trip, I felt the intensity increasing. I was about to board a 6 hour red eye flight at 10pm, and I was actively vomiting. My options were limited. I was on my employer’s dime and official work travel. I could either board the plane, or request hospital care to get out of it. I didn’t need hospital care at that point in time, so there was nothing to do except to board that plane. I’m scared, but my brain has also slowed and I’m not thinking clearly. I suddenly felt that someone I love should know I’m sick, in case of something going wrong. I text my husband in a moment of weakness to tell him that I’m nauseous and scared. But, the flight crew directs the passengers to turn off our cell phones before he has gotten a chance to respond. The flight is full. I have the window seat, and a young couple near my age are in the 2 seats beside me. Before the flight has taken off, I’ve already begun actively vomiting. It’s happening about every 5 minutes. The nausea is relentless and there is no relief from it, even for a second. I feel my body heating up. I begin to drip with sweat and hyperventilate…

It’s not the best thing for me to be alone when in episode. I go into what is called a “conscious coma”. My episodes are very “seizure-like, in the sense that I’m a prisoner within my body while it goes haywire. I no longer have fine motor control, and my mental status is a stupor at best. I can’t seem to stand up straight, and must stay bent over at the abdomen in attempt to quell the nausea. I begin to sweat profusely, hyperventilate, and sometimes panic – depending on the intensity of the nausea. I’ll normally sit or lie down if possible, curl into a ball, hang my head low, and attempt deep breathing. The desire to do this, and the inability to do anything else will commonly cause me to sit or lie just about anywhere, without care for the surface. I’ve been known to lie on a public restroom floor in a desperate attempt to escape the nausea. I know that’s repulsive, and would never, ever do such a thing under normal circumstances. This is a testament to the intensity of the nausea, and how it’s so strong that it changes my mental processes enough that I simply cannot care about the things I normally care about.

The poor, poor people beside me. I’ve left my seat for the restroom as often as the captain will allow the seat belts to be unbuckled. But that isn’t as often as was necessary. Not only have these nice folks had to witness at close range my retching into garbage bags, but now I’m sure they can smell that I have also soiled myself. It’s something that typically happens in the early stages of the episode. It’s coming out both ends for awhile, until I’m completely void of contents within my GI tract. I’m absolutely unable to control it or hold it in. Normally I’d sit on the toilet with a bucket, or put on an adult diaper. I can do neither in this situation, and I pray for the “dry heave stage” – which is another type of torture altogether, but at least no one can smell it. This might be the worst and most embarrassing moment of my life, yet I’m too sick to be truly embarrassed. I have crawled over both of them clumsily numerous times now. I consider asking one of them to switch seats, giving me the aisle, but the truth is that I can’t bear to sacrifice the window seat, for the ability to lean on the wall. I can’t hold myself upright. I absolutely must be able to lean over since I can’t lie down. Plus, the cool feeling of the plane wall against my face and neck is soothing. They are gracious people and neither question me, nor act annoyed at being woken so often to let me pass. Actually, they don’t even act as if anything is out of the ordinary. I’m thankful for their attitudes. It comforted me that they seemed to be unaffected. I’m sure they were very affected, in fact.  I clamber over them yet again, in order to visit the restroom and dispose of my favorite pair of panties in the trash bin. I stuff as much toilet paper as I can into my pants to catch any future surprises. Improvisation on a reduced mental capacity can be interesting….

airsick

I can accurately describe both of my “plane episodes” as 2 of the worst experiences I’ve lived through. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had worse and more intense episodes than these. What makes these worse than others is the lack of control I have in the situation, and the complete inability to get comfortable, treat myself properly, or find any relief. Over the years I’ve learned several “tricks” that help me cope when in episode. I’m unable to do most of these things in an airport/airplane situation. Some of those things include, but aren’t limited to:

  1. getting naked and wrapping myself in a terry cloth robe to wick the sweat, and prevent chills and shivering
  2. placing a fan so that it blows on my face only
  3. hanging from the waist down off of the side of the bed, upside-down with head hanging down nearly to the floor inside a bucket. I brace myself from falling off the bed by placing my hands lightly on the floor (I’m not sure why this helps, but it does. Perhaps it’s blood pressure related. My husband says this seems to be my “favorite” way to throw up.)
  4. having the ability to lie flat, curl up, spread out, or flip-flop around at will to aid with comfort
  5. if it is possible for me to lie perfectly still and deep breathe I have the best chance for sleep, which will stop the episode

Becoming perfectly still and relaxing, in order to fall asleep, is the #1 most important thing I can do to help reduce and/or eliminate the symptoms of a CVS episode. Those are also the things that are next to impossible to accomplish. My nervous system is over-firing, and is stuck in the ON position at maximum speed. Aside from a terrifying dosage of intravenous chemical sedation with Chlorpromazine (aka Thorazine) in a hospital setting (which seldom works anyway), I’m at the mercy of the things I have available to use in the moment. A public setting is never conducive to stopping an episode, and an airport setting makes it virtually impossible. Keep this in mind when reading about the actual episodes. In many instances I have no chance to stop an episode, and am sentenced to serve the time suffering, until it stops on its own.

I’ve been in the bathroom on the airplane for nearly an hour by my best estimate (which isn’t a good one, because I’m time warping in my mind). I need to be still and relax. The only time I can accomplish this is on the toilet in the bathroom. I sit there, lean over, hang my head low between my legs towards the floor, and manage to lightly doze off for several minutes at a time. I wake frequently, wondering if anyone is waiting outside for the restroom, but I don’t leave. No one has knocked. I’m in a “conscious coma” at this point, and will seek comfort at all costs. Since it is around 2am, I assume that most passengers are asleep, and not many need to use the restroom at this hour. The plane is large, and there is another restroom directly across from me. Plus two more at the front. I figure that people can use the others, and I decide just to stay in the restroom until someone forces me to leave. Looking back, it feels disgusting and appalling that I felt so comfortable relaxing and sleeping in the tiny airplane restroom. It just goes to show exactly how much misery I’m in while in episode.

The plane episode last summer was more intense than the plane episode I just went through a couple of weeks ago. The most recent episode felt less intense than the one from last summer, but the reason might have been that having been through it once before caused me to feel “more practiced” in the scenario, and thus less anxiety was present. The first time it happened, I felt helpless and doomed to my fate. I felt exactly the same way the 2nd time – but I also knew what to expect. If you know anything about anxiety you understand that “unknowns” will always cause an increase in anxiety, while knowing what to expect can vastly reduce anxiety in any setting.

I’ve been actively vomiting every 15-30 minutes for over 6 hours now. I’m weak and dehydrated. I’ve been sipping water and ginger-ale frequently to prevent dry heaving, which usually leads to my vomiting blood due to the constant stress and irritation to my stomach. (Most of the time there’s not much blood, but if there’s an increase I’ll be concerned that I’ve torn my esophagus or stomach.) I’ve also supplemented my water with electrolytes to prevent a dangerous drop in my potassium, which is common for me in an episode. I barely have the mental capacity to reason these things out and remember to do them. I know if it doesn’t stop soon I’ll need hospital intervention for an electrolyte imbalance. I need to change planes in Atlanta airport, and don’t have much time on my layover. ATL is huge, and I’m not likely to make the flight if I attempt the walk alone. The stewardesses are aware of my predicament at this point, and have offered their help getting me to the next plane. I’m rolled in a wheelchair across the airport to my next gate. At the gate, I’m unable to sit upright in the chair, due to the nausea and abdominal pain, so I lie in the floor next to the wheelchair, which is located next to the gate desk. The attendant notices me lie down and asks which flight I’ll be on. I thought she would tell me I can’t lie in the floor, but instead she promises to wake me if I’m asleep when my plane arrives. I’m grateful, because it removes another element of anxiety for me. I relax as best I can and close my eyes.

I’m on the last leg of the flight. It’s a short flight – less than an hour, and my husband will be at the airport waiting to drive me home. I can see the light at then end of the tunnel. Even though I’m still sick and feel horrible, at least I’ll be with someone who knows how to take care of me, and I’ll be able to do the “tricks” that might help this episode to pass. Fate has smiled on me for the moment, and my assigned seat is near the rear of the plane next to the restroom. Another stroke of luck has prevented anyone from being seated next to me. The flight attendant is seated behind me, and I ask him if I can lie across both seats. He follows the rules and tells me I can only do so until take-off, at which point I’ll have to sit up – but when take-off occurs he sits behind me while I continue to lie down, and says nothing to me. I’m grateful yet again for another person’s ability to be reasonable. Turns out that although I’m near the restroom, I’m not allowed to use it for any of the flight, on account of the flight being so short that we won’t reach a cruising altitude, and as a result won’t be allowed to unbuckle our seat belts. I’ve loosened my own belt enough that I can lie down, and I’m grateful for that much. I’m still actively vomiting, but the frequency has slowed to every 30 minutes or so.

The flight attendant sitting behind me begins to ask me a series of questions to determine if I am contagious and posing a threat to the other passengers. I’m typically unable to communicate effectively during an episode, because any attempt to speak causes the intensity of the nausea to spike suddenly, and I’ll usually vomit on the spot. I do my best to gather my thoughts and explain to him that I have a chronic illness that isn’t contagious. I manage to tell him the name of the disorder. I have documentation that he can read about in my backpack – which is right next to me, but in my current mental state of “conscious coma” I’m unable to remember that I carry this important document around for moments just like this one, and I fail to give it to him. Looking back, I’m at an utter loss for an explanation to how I could fail to remember this, but it’s always like this. My brain just won’t work while I’m in episode. The flight attendant grills me enough throughout the flight that I’m positive that the airline has discussed coming to my house to quarantine me if I infect the entire plane with some deadly disease. I wish I could reassure him, but he won’t take my word for it, and I guess I don’t blame him. I know I’m not contagious, so it doesn’t matter.

When I finally land at my final destination I’m taken in a wheelchair from the plane to the baggage claim area where I gather my bags, and am then wheeled outside to my husband who is waiting in the car. He has put the back seats down flat, and added a big puffy comforter and pillows for me to lay on for the hour long drive. The second I get into the car and lie down I can feel the anxiety begin to unravel. I can finally relax in a private environment. I can finally take on or off clothes at will, and I can finally flip or flop around at will. I only vomit twice during the ride. When I get home I fill the bathtub with the hottest water I can stand, and I soak for 2 hours. By the time I’ve gotten out the nausea has subsided nearly completely. I’m unable to eat for the next 24 hours, and it takes nearly a week for me to feel that I have a normal energy level again.

The more recent plane episode had a slightly different outcome, since I got sick on the flight that took me to the place where I still needed to accomplish something in a timely fashion, rather than on the way home after it was all said and done…

So… the salad from the very beginning of this post… I ate it. I felt “that feeling”. And – it didn’t just go away….. I’m devastated to know I’m about to go through this process yet again less than 6 months since the last time this happened. Solo air travel is becoming a source of anxiety and I’ll likely be afraid to fly alone after this. I don’t want to go through this again. No one will be waiting to help me this time when I arrive at my final destination. I feel that familiar panic, and feel very alone in my predicament, yet again.

It happens pretty much just like it did with the first plane episode. This time there is an empty middle seat, and I ask the person in the aisle seat if he minds if I lie across the middle seat. He is aware of my vomiting, since he can see my head in a bag every 5 minutes or so, and he nods to me without question. I thank him and my lucky stars. This time the diarrhea is minimal, and I’m able to control it more. I only have to disturb him to pass by for the restroom a few times during the 4 hour flight.

The plane makes another stop, but I won’t have to deplane. I’ll sit there while the other passengers de-plane, new passengers board, and then we’ll fly on to my destination. I’m grateful yet again for small miracles. I get to sit down rather than be forced to move or walk. There’s not much that could make me happier right now (except for the nausea and vomiting to subside, of course). Several new passengers ask if the seats beside me are taken. I respond with “no” and promptly begin to vomit into the garbage bag from the effort of speaking. Every single person reacts with a faltering smile, tentatively sits in the aisle seat while looking very concerned, and then gets up after about 3 seconds and finds another seat. The flight is not full. Another miracle. No one who sits beside me stays. I now get 3 seats to lie across for the last 3 hours of flight. The universe seems to be helping me and I’m yet again grateful. Vomiting is occurring every 15 -30 minutes now.

I arrive in Portland at 9pm. I’ve never been to this city, I’m actively vomiting, and I now have to take a shuttle to the rental car place before driving alone for 45 minutes to my hotel. It’s not safe for me to drive. I know that. I don’t condone this for others. But I don’t know what else to do. My current mental state is to seek comfort at all costs. It’s an intense drive that I’m unable to ignore in my misery. The episode won’t stop until I can relax and sleep. I have to get to a place where I can take care of myself, and there’s no one with me. I don’t have another choice. I can’t afford to pay for a 2nd hotel right here, and I have just flown across the country to meet with a real estate agent and house hunt in 12 hours. My time and options are very limited. Luckily, the “conscious coma” isn’t as intense as it normally is. I manage to stand straight and communicate effectively for long enough to pay for my rental car at the counter. I excuse myself for the restroom at least 3 times in the middle of the transaction. The whole time I’m thinking, “You’ll be in the car soon. Then you can be alone and able to vomit in peace.” Just getting to the car seems to be a monumental task, that when completed feels very significant.”

I drive in the rain, at night, in an unfamiliar city, with a garbage bag stretched from my fingers on the steering wheel to the fingers under my chin. I force myself to hold my eyes open while I vomit on the interstate. I take my foot off the gas each time, maintain the steering wheel, and stay in my (far right, when possible) lane. I’m actually glad that it’s night for one reason – the passing cars can’t see what’s happening behind my wheel. It’s the longest 45 minute drive of my life. My head is filled with the mantra – ” Just 40 more minutes to a bed… Just 39 more minutes to a bed…. Just 38 more minutes to a bed….” for the entire journey.

I have finally arrived at my hotel. The check-in procedure feels like torture that occurs within inches of the finish line. “Just 5 more minutes to the bed…” When I finally close the hotel door behind me it’s as if a huge weight of anxiety has been left in the hallway. No one can see me. Finally! I drop my bags where I’m standing in front of the door. I begin to pull my clothes off layer by layer. I don’t have the strength to stand in the shower, so I lie in the bathtub with hot water for about an hour. I get out and get into the bed and wish for sleep to come. It doesn’t. I attempt deep breathing. I try to quiet my mind. It’s impossible. I cannot remain still. The nausea is not relenting and is causing me to flop and writhe around in the bed, the way I wanted to do on the airplane but couldn’t.

It’s midnight, and I’m supposed to meet the Realtor to look at houses in 9 hours. I just want 3 hours of sleep, but more would be spectacular. I don’t get any. I flop and twist around in the bed like a tornado of nausea. The sheets are all over the room. It looks like all of my bags have exploded. I had to throw everything out haphazardly to find what I needed immediately. There is no relief from the nausea. I don’t know what to do about the fact that I likely won’t be able to function in the morning to perform the task I flew here to complete. Thinking about this isn’t helping me to relax or sleep any…

I finally doze for an hour. When I wake, it’s a glorious moment. The nausea has passed. I’m so thirsty I could drink a lake, and I feel hunger, but know it could be a trick…. I drink some water and eat a piece of apple. The nausea returns immediately and I’m vomiting all over again….

Repeat the above paragraph 3 times before 8 am. I’m beginning to think I’ll never be able to eat or drink again without triggering the nausea. I call the Realtor at 8 am to ask to reschedule our meeting for the afternoon. He agrees. I attempt sleep once more. This time I sleep for 3 hours. That’s my magic number: 3 hours of sleep = episode stopped.

The Realtor has brought me chicken noodle soup and Gatorade to the hotel. He is my angel. It helps. I’m utterly exhausted, but at least I’m not nauseous or vomiting. I can do this. It will be hard, but I can. I have to.

And I did. Like the Cyclic Vomiting Warrior that I am – I did it. It’s hard to believe that I could get in a car with someone and look at houses for several hours – only a few hours after a 24 hour long CVS episode.

But I did it. Because I’m a Warrior. Because I won’t let this stop me from living my life. Because I’ll never quit fighting.

Please be aware of my fight.

*Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome Awareness Day*

March 5th, 2016

 

 

Nutritional Supplements for Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome Warriors

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Welcome to the 3rd post in my series of posts about the Holistic and Natural Lifestyle for Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome!

In case you’ve been waiting for it – this is “The Supplement Post”! I’ll go into detail on which supplements I started with, how that protocol has changed, and finally, my current supplementation schedule. (If you need to go back and catch up, click “The Power of The Holistic Approach” and “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy Food” to read the 1st and 2nd post in this series.)

Before I get discuss my current protocol, I should mention what supplements I have taken previously as recommended for CVS sufferers. You can click “My Supplement Regimen“, to read a previous blog post for more detail on my previous supplement protocol before embarking on the “Natural Lifestyle”, but here are the major supplements I have focused on taking for the past couple of years to help with the mitochondrial dysfunction aspect of CVS: (The heading links will take you to the Wiki or Home Web page for each supplement. Click on the pictures for the links to purchase the products.)100mg-activeq-180-softgels-uses-ubiquinol-the-active-antioxidant-form-of-coenzyme-q10-7

  1. CoQ10 – This product is responsible for my first major increase of energy, and change from a life of chronic fatigue, to a life of energy and motivation! carnispan-timed-release-l-carnitine-fumarate-880mg-60-tablets-5
  2. L-Carnitine – Helps our mitochondria function properly, and should be taken in conjunction with C0Q10.
  3. B-Vitamins and Magnesium – In a product called “Preventa-Migraine”. I highly recommend this product, especially if you have migraines associated with your CVS episodes. I actually do NOT have migraines with my 7164avr6sdL._SY679_episodes, but I found that after 2 months of taking this product regularly, my episodes had begun to 611p157I78L._SX522_decrease in intensity and frequency. I feel this product played a role in that improvement. I’ve included the supplement ingredients label for your convenience. The other ingredients are natural substances that have been shown to help individuals with migraines. Click the pictures for a link to purchase the product.

But – here is what I’ve been doing lately, and I feel that the changes and additions are making a major positive difference:

I began the new initial supplement protocol at the same time I began my “30 Day Detox Diet”, which was discussed in my last post. This protocol was prescribed for me by my Naturalist Doctor. I have not altered it in any way from what she recommended for me. I’ll begin by listing the supplements and familiarizing you with how they help. The heading links will either take you to the product website, or to a site with further information on the product. You can click on the pictures to be taken to a link to purchase the product.

  1. Cell Food – Oxygenation, mineralization, detoxification, metabolic efficiency and respiration; helps increase energy levels, enhances brain 61neW9wqPwL._SY679_61yU6xUIWAL._SX522_functioning, alertness, and concentration; supports free radical removal, provides electrolyte activity, supports allergy relief, helps balance metabolism, helps improve metabolic efficiency with metabolic enzymes, aids in digestion, protective against microorganism overgrowth, includes amino acids. (8 drops, 3 times per day, for 3 months)
  2. Vitamin D3 (2000 IU) – Supports endocrine system health, supports proper blood sugar regulation, thumbnail.asp thumbnail.asp2supports proper function and health of the cardiovascular, immune, musculoskeletal, and nervous systems; has anti-cancer properties, helps overcome cravings and fatigue. (1 capsule daily, with food, ongoing)
  3. Pro DHA – DHA is the fatty acid that supports a healthy brain, eyes, nervous system, and mood. In 81bJleS6z5L._SY679_ 81gcNIDlaDL._SY679_fact, at least 20% of the brain is composed of this vital fatty acid. Research shows that DHA supports memory, cognition, and emotional well-being, in addition to promoting healthy eyes. (2 capsules daily, with food, ongoing)
  4. Ultimate FloraMax – A probiotic. Enhances immune system response; supports digestive, 71ZP7CEqPPL._SX522_ 71ZqxsevGaL._SY679_immune, and respiratory systems; helps increase the ability to simulate the nutrients from food and supports improved gastrointestinal support. (1 capsule daily, until finished)
  5. Pancreatin & Ox-Bile Extract – Digestive Aid. Improves the body’s 7917ability to utilize nutrients through enhanced digestion. Digestive enzymes help the body break down and absorb nutrients, and reduce the chances of toxins being released by putrefaction and fermentation of undigested foods. It also helps enhance immune function, improves circulation, and helps counter inflammatory and degenerative conditions. (1 capsule, with each meal, ongoing)
  6. Intesti-Max – Helps strengthen and support the protective intestinal lining, promotes healthy digestion and nutrient absorption, promotes 11a8-RONU6Lintestinal cell health, provides powerful antioxidant support, helps to maintain and restore proper intestinal permeability, specially designed to help assist repair in the mucus lining that coats the digestive system; may be used for stomach or duodenal ulcers, bleeding intestinal lesions, and any irritation or ulceration of the GI tract. Contains L-Glutamine, n-acetyl d-glucosamine, gamma oryzanol, and soothing herbs. (1 scoop in the morning, 2 months)
  7. Bach Flower Remedy – Emotional balancing and healing; support relief from depression, anxiety, stress, trauma, and other emotional factors that impede healing; helps when feeling generally tired and unwell. My naturalist makes the mixture for me, and gives it directly to me. (4 drops, 4 times per day, ongoing, as needed)
  8. Grapefruit Seed Extract – Broad spectrum natural anti-parasitic, antiviral, anti-fungal, and antibacterial properties. Powerful concentrate cardiovascular-research_gse-grapefruit-seed-extract-CR2oz_main_60x60 cardiovascular-research_gse-grapefruit-seed-extract-CR2oz_side1_60x60that aids the body’s natural defenses against flu and colds, sore throats, and even allergies. (15 drops, 3 times daily, until finished)

So, now that you know a little about what I’m taking, here’s a clearer picture of the daily dosing schedule I must maintain to ensure I take all these supplements properly:

Upon Arising:
  1. Morning Drink – 8 ounces
  2. Cell Food – 8 drops in morning drink
  3. Ultimate Flora Max -1 capsule
  4. Grapefruit Seed Extract – 15 drops in morning drink
  5. Intesti-Max – one scoop in morning drink
  6. Bach Flower Remedy – 4 drops under tongue
Breakfast:
  1. Pancreatin Ox-Bile – 1 or 2 tablets
  2. Bach Flower Remedy – 4 drops under tongue
Lunch:
  1. Pancreatin Ox-Bile – 1 or 2 tablets
  2. Pro DHA – 2 capsules
  3. Vitamin D3 – 1 capsule
  4. Cell Food – 8 drops in water or tea
  5. Grapefruit Seed Extract – 15 drops in water or tea
  6. Bach Flower Remedy – 4 drops under tongue
Dinner:
  1. Pancreatin Ox-Bile – 1 or 2 tablets
  2. Cell Food – 8 drops in water or tea
  3. Bach Flower Remedy – 4 drops under tongue
  4. Grapefruit Seed Extract – 10 drops in water or tea

Some of the supplements are easier to take than others. In particular, the ones that are drops meant to be diluted in another liquid before drinking have proven not to be the tastiest things I’ve consumed. The Grapefruit Seed Extract is very bitter, and not surprisingly tastes exactly like chewing on a grapefruit seed. The Bach Flower Remedy tastes a little like I would think a flower petal might taste. But I’ve actually grown to enjoy that one with time, and I’m happy about “tasting a flower” 4 times daily. The Cell Food tastes like I squeezed a little lemon in my water, so that’s not hard for me at all, and is actually very pleasant to drink. The Intesti-Max has no flavor whatsoever. But it doesn’t dissolve easily, so I end up drinking water with powdery globs floating in it. Not very appetizing to the eyes, but once I got used to the consistency; it was easy to put it down the hatch with the rest. I have gotten used to the other “flavors” with time. The pills are easy, of course.

The hard part is making this all a part of a normal routine, and ensuring I have all these things with me to take at every meal throughout the day. I sit down once a week to organize the pills into doses for the week. This takes me about 30-45 minutes total. In order to accomplish this I have purchased multiple pill dispensers, as well as millions of plastic pill packets to separate daily doses and put in my purse or lunch box for work. In case you aren’t aware, most supplements are the size of horse tablets for some reason. My husband likes to joke about my most recently purchased pill dispenser, since it is about the size of a large laptop computer. He calls it the “death bed model”. Not really in good taste, I realize, but it makes me laugh all the same. If I don’t take the time to separate the doses ahead of time, I learned that I’ll be rushed, and might fail to take things properly. It also would take nearly 5 minutes to dig out all the pills with each dose, so it saves a ton of time being able to grab the pre-separated dose, and go.

After the intitial 30 day period, the following supplements were added to the protocol:

  1. Mito-ATP – This is an antioxidant, which also supports mitochondrial function. (2 capsules, 2 times daily, ongoing). I specifically asked for this supplement to be added, based on the current supplementation recommendations for Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome. This product contains lrg_MATP1CoQ10, L-Carnitine, B-vitamins, and more – all in one pill! I have tried several products over the years, and always had to buy “the mito-coctail” in separate supplements. I no longer have to do that. This product has all of the supplements necessary for “the mito-coctail” in sufficient doses when taken multiple times daily. It is also the most natural and purely made product with these substances that I have found to date. If you have Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome, and you take away one thing from this blog post, I would recommend that everyone purchase this product and try it to see if it helps you. You will need to take it for more than 3 months, at the proper dosage (higher than the recommended label dose for CVSers) to see results. From my own personal experience, I can tell you that while the results take time, they are worth the patience and waiting for them. My energy levels have been nearly child-like since taking this regularly. It’s absolutely amazing to go from chronic fatigue, to having the energy to conquer the world, in a mere matter of months! Click on the text link above to go to a website and see a full list of ingredients! Click on the picture to buy it on LiverMax_1013Amazon!
  2. Liver Max 1 & 2 – Aids in natural detoxification processes in the liver. (2 capsules LM1 in AM, 2 capsules LM2 in PM, until finished)INN-43000-2 INN-43000-1
  3. Coenzyme B Complex – (1 capsule daily, until finished)Adrenal_Health_Bottle_60ct AdrenalHealth_60ctSupfax_007-1191-0811-1346426883
  4. Adrenal Support – (2 capsules, 2 times daily, 3+ shoppingmonths)
  5. GABA – Inhibits stress, anxiety, and depression. Calming. (1 capsule daily, 1-3 months)
  6. Women’s One Daily – A natural multivitamin. (1 cap daily, 1-3 months)lg59 PU0139_label
  7. L-Glutamine – Aids with gut health and memory. (1 capsule, 3 times daily, until finished)

Here is how the new daily protocol looks after all the adjustments:

Upon Arising:
  1. Morning Drink – 8 ounces
  2. Women’s One Daily – 1 capsule
  3. Ultimate Flora Max -1 capsule
  4. Liver Max 1 – 2 capsules
  5. Coenzyme B Complex – 1 tablet
  6. L-Glutamine – 1 capsule
  7. Adrenal Support – 2 capsules
  8. GABA – one capsule
  9. Bach Flower Remedy – 4 drops under tongue
Breakfast:
  1. Pancreatin Ox-Bile – 1 or 2 tablets
  2. Mito-ATP – 2 capsules
  3. Bach Flower Remedy – 4 drops under tongue
Lunch:
  1. Pancreatin Ox-Bile – 1 or 2 tablets
  2. Pro DHA – 2 capsules
  3. Vitamin D3 – 1 capsule
  4. L-Glutamine – 1 capsule
  5. Mito-ATP – 2 capsules
  6. Adrenal Support – 2 capsules
  7. Bach Flower Remedy – 4 drops under tongue
Dinner:
  1. Pancreatin Ox-Bile – 1 or 2 tablets
  2. Liver Max 2 – 2 capsules
  3. Bach Flower Remedy – 4 drops under tongue
  4. L-Glutamine – 1 capsule

It was also recommended that I take 10 drops of Cell Food in water when I have a CVS episode, for nutritional support and electrolyte balancing.

I feel that I should mention that these supplements are not cheap, and insurance will not pay for them. However, paying for preventative medicine means you pay much less for treatment oriented medicine, and this is a concept that has held true for my experience. I have had nearly non-existent medical bills since I have consistently made and maintained this change in my lifestyle. When I put the pen to the paper, I’m saving more by spending money on my good health and preventing more costly hospital episodes and doctor visits.

In summary, I am taking many supplements which are meant to deal with various bodily processes, and optimize those processes. I believe these supplements are necessary in order to help detoxify, and to provide the body with optimal substances with which to function at optimal performance. I feel a vastly positive difference in the quality of my daily life. My CVS symptoms, and my health in general, began improving when I began taking supplements a couple of years ago, and has continued to improve in a significant way with each change I have made that I listed above. However, these supplements and protocol were specifically tailored for me and my body by my ND, and might not be exactly right for others. I highly encourage doing your own research, or seeking out a specialist to direct you to the specific supplements that will benefit your current, individual health the most.

Fellow Warriors, I hope this post finds you well, and gives you new information with which to work within your own life for optimal health!

Antioxidants Concept or Anti Oxidants or Antioxidant

Let Food Be Thy Medicine, And Medicine Be Thy Food

Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food. ~Hippocrates

Hippocrates had it right, so long ago, and it seems that we have all but forgotten this wisdom. It is my opinion that there might never have been truer words spoken than those in the quote above.

let food be thy medicine 7

In my last post I discussed how using the holistic approach to healing and dealing with my chronic illness (Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome). I promised to go into detail about my Detox Diet prescribed to me by my Naturalist Doctor, and I’ll make good on that promise with this post.

Let’s jump right into it. The following is an outline of my “Master Wellness Protocol”, designed by my Naturalist Doctor to fit my individual needs:

NUTRITIVE SUPPORT: Supports the body to heal, repair, restore, revitalize, and balance.

  • Daily Food Group Ratio: 60% vegetables, 15% fruits, 10% beans, 10% gluten-free grains, 5% nuts and seeds (30 days). (This is absolutely the most important part of the entire protocol. Let food by thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.)
  • Morning Drink: 8 fluid oz every morning upon arising. Lemon/Cayenne/Ginger/Honey mix upon arising. Helps complete elimination cycle, improves circulation, improves immune function, helps lower cholesterol, improves cardiovascular health, and supports weight loss. (This is a lovely drink. Not only do I enjoy it, I look forward to having it in the mornings with my supplements.)
  • Daily Water Quota: 60 oz purified water daily (MINUS water taken with supplements, teas, morning drink, etc. (This is my personal quota based on my weight. You can meet your own quota by drinking 1/2 oz of water per pound of body weight. It’s a lot of drinking, and a lot of peeing, as a result. But I really do feel much better when properly hydrated.)

let food be thy medicine 4

FOODS TO EMPHASIZE:

  • Antidepressant Foods: Organic raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, asparagus, avocados, cashews, walnuts, garlic, green tea, oatmeal, flax seed, wild salmon, parsley, organic carrot juice.
  • Vitamin E Foods: (Antioxidants, cardiovascular health, circulation, oxygenation.) Excellent sources of Vitamin E include: spinach, turnip greens, and chard. Very good sources of Vitamin E include: mustard greens, cayenne pepper, sunflower seeds, almonds, bell peppers, asparagus. Good sources of Vitamin E include: organic turnip greens, organic kale, tomatoes, cranberries, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, papaya, organic raspberries, organic carrots.
  • Manganese-Rich Foods: (Plays a major role in the functioning of brain and nerves, supports endocrine system and gland function, and necessary for metabolism of proteins and fats.) Raspberries, pineapple, grapes, beetroot, garlic, green beans, peppermint, oats, nuts, watercress, organic mustard greens, organic strawberries, organic blackberries, tropical fruits, lettuce, organic spinach, blackstrap molasses, cloves, turmeric, leeks, bananas, organic cucumbers, kiwis, figs, organic carrots, green vegetables, brown rice, coconut, almonds, hazelnuts.
  • Brain Foods: Almonds, avocados, bananas, garlic, chickpeas, dulce, blackstrap molasses, carrots, leeks, beets, brown rice, quinoa, millet, dark leafy greens (kale, collard greens, mustard greens, turnip greens, chard, spinach), organic strawberries, blueberries, sage, Swiss chard, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, black beans, cashews, seaweed, green beans, navy beans, tempeh, flax-seed, onions, peppermint tea, pumpkin seeds.
  • Flax Seed: 2+ tablespoons, fresh ground, daily. Strengthens and balances immune system, normalizes inflammatory response, strengthens cardiovascular health, helps with digestion/constipation, improves mental focus and clarity, helps fight depression, stress, and PMS, high in protein, rich source of Omega-3 fatty acids, improves brain health, anti-microbial and anti-cancer properties.
  • Antimicrobial Foods: 2 raw garlic gloves, onions regularly.

let food be thy medicine 6

FOODS TO ELIMINATE FOR A NATURAL DETOX/CLEANSE:

  • No Whites: no white sugar, white flour, white bread, white table salt. Bread substitutions include: Ezekiel bread, gluten-free bread, whole wheat bread made from unbleached flours, sourdough bread. Sugar substitutions include: stevia, pure maple syrup, raw honey, blackstrap molasses, rice syrup. Salt substitutions include: unrefined sea salt, like Celtic, Atlantic, or Himalayan. Rice substitutes include, black rice, jasmine rice, basmati rice, millet, quinoa.
  • No Dairy: Milk, cheese, ice cream. Substitutions include: Almond milk, coconut milk, rice milk, occasional goat milk/cheese, feta cheese.
  • No Refined Oils, Trans Fats, Hydrogenated or Partially Hydrogenated Oils: Substitutions include: olive oil, coconut oil, sesame oil, avocado oil, palm oil. Use coconut or palm oil for high temperature cooking.
  • No Flesh Foods For 30 Days: No red or white meat, seafood, or fish. Substitutions include: mushrooms, tempeh, beans, chia seeds, hemp seeds, flax seeds, other nuts and seeds.
  • No Fried Foods: No processed foods, GMO foods, junk foods, fast foods, or foods with artificial flavoring, coloring, or preservatives. (This eliminates nearly everything the majority of the population is eating about 90% of the time.)
  • No soda, coffee, or caffeine: Substitutes: MOSTLY WATER! Others include: herbal teas, Tazo chai, Teeccino, Erzotz, Postum, Catfix, Pitaya, Mama Chia, Celestial Kombucha, Kevita, The Republic of Tea, Isse Esque, Taste Nirvana.
  • No Peanuts, Corn, or Soy: Other nuts and seeds are fine.
  • Avoid Or Severely Limit Alcoholic Beverages

keep calm and let food be thy medicine

So, you might look at the title of this post, and think, “30 days!? I could never go that long without eating ________ (fill in the blank)!” Or, perhaps you might think, “30 days!? That’s nothing. I go much longer without eating __________ (fill in the blank)!” The truth is that the longer I continued with the detox diet, and continued learning about the ways of natural medicine, I realized that this is a change that, if I am serious about improving my health continually, I will make and continue this diet for the rest of my life. I think it would be much more appropriate to call it 30 days of “withdrawals”, as opposed to “detox”. I say that because the detox only lasts if one continues to refrain from re-poisoning themselves with the non-healthy food choices which are so readily available to our society. Otherwise, one would repeat withdrawals each time this diet is attempted.

“How were my withdrawals”, you ask? Well, for me, you can fill in the first blank in the paragraph above with “cheese”. This was the very hardest part of this journey for me. I’m a freaking cheese addict. I didn’t realize until I began to proceed with this diet how addicted I am to cheese. I have put it on nearly every thing I’ve eaten since I’ve been alive. I love it, and it loves me. We cannot live without each other. Cheese really does make everything better to me. Also, at night before bed, I found myself craving sugar and carbohydrates. This one was likely a stress response craving, according to my naturalist, because I can take the sweets or leave them. They aren’t that appealing to me. The good news is that once I powered through the hard part with the cheese withdrawals, (I only cheated like one tiny time – I swear!), the cravings eased up on me, and then eventually all but went away. And I found that, just like any other powerful drug, when I cheated, it made it harder not to cheat again. I did much better when I stayed away from it altogether. And the longer I went without eating it all, the easier it got to stay away. If I start to cheat too much, my cravings will return with a vengeance.

feed or fight disease

LIFESTYLE AND ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGES:

  • Chewing: It is CRITICAL to chew each bite of food until it is liquid before swallowing. This aids your body in proper digestion.
  • Water With Meals: Limit to a maximum of 4 ounces of water or tea with meals. This prevents dilution of the stomach acid and aids in proper digestion.
  • Exercise: At least 5 days per week, 30-60 minutes each day, alternating days between cardiovascular and strength/resistance exercises. Be sure to include a few minutes of stretching.
  • Sunshine: Get at least 15 minutes a day of fresh sunshine (no sunscreen) whenever possible. Creates a reserve of energy in muscles and nerves, improves metabolic functions, brain function, and nerve function, etc… Also, sunshine creates Vitamin D within our bodies, which many of us are deficient in, due to wearing sunscreen and working indoors most of the day.
  • Cookware: Use only glass, enamel coated cast iron or stainless steel cookware. Store in glass as much as possible. Do not use aluminum foil or aluminum cookware.
  • Drinking Water: Avoid drinking water from plastic bottles, or only drink from BPA-free plastic if necessary. Use stainless steel water canteens filled with filtered water to transport your water. Learn to drink water room temperature. Avoid tap water when filtered is available.
  • Avoid Using The Microwave: Instead, plan and prepare your meals enough in advance so that you can use an oven or convection oven to cook and/or re-heat food.

eat to live don't live to eat

I challenge you to think about what would be necessary to make these changes in your life. This path isn’t easy at all. In fact, it is extraordinarily difficult for this gal. I struggle daily just to have enough time in my day to do the things that are required for this lifestyle. I work a full time job plus a lot of overtime and driving time, which leaves me little free time to plan or prepare my food. It has also put a huge dent in our wallets to buy fresh, organic, gluten-free food on a regular basis. It is my opinion that a huge and constant supply of internal motivation is of the utmost importance to actually live this lifestyle. Think about the food you buy in the grocery store on a regular basis. How much of it is already prepared, or processed so that you only need to reheat it somehow. How much of it did you purchase because it was cheap, easy, or quick? When one eliminates processed food from their diet, it becomes a basic requirement to cook everything you eat pretty much from scratch. I usually have to set a side one or two whole days per week to accomplish the cooking and preparation necessary to consume this type of food. That means I give away my weekends to this lifestyle on a regular basis. Here’s a rough look at my preparation list:

  1. Make a large jug of morning drink that will last me approximately one week. (30 minutes)
  2. Make salad. Chop vegetables. Fill large container with organic greens mix, onions, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots. Fill a separate container with diced tomatoes. (Approximately 1 hour) Refrigerate. When I’m ready to eat the salad, I only have to toss some of the pre-made mix in the bowl. But then, I add the things that would have made the salad get soggy if stored for any amount of time together, like the tomatoes. Also, I add sliced almonds, and cut and add half a ripe avocado (leave the seed in the other half for better storage until the next day). (Approximately 5 minutes). Now I’ll need to make my salad dressing, since I can’t find any to purchase without unwanted ingredients. I’ll cut a lemon in half, saving the other half for tomorrow, and squeeze half of it on my salad. Then I’ll drizzle olive oil, grind some sea salt and black pepper over it all, and finally I’ll use my garlic mincing tool to mince 2-4 cloves of fresh garlic. (Approximately 10 minutes). This makes the total time for the salad prep time break down as follows: 1 hour for pre-preparation every 5 days or so, then another 15 minutes prep immediately prior to eating. Not terrible at a glance, but much more than I was used to spending on preparation of my food.
  3. Boil rice. I make a large batch of rice weekly and add it to salads or use it as a side dish. It is also good to calm the night-time carb cravings. (Usually takes approximately 1 ½ hours).
  4. Soak and boil beans. This is a two part process. I start with dry beans and boil them for 2 minutes, then remove from heat and let them soak for 6-8 hours. Then I bring them to a boil again, reduce heat and simmer for approximately 1-2 more hours. This is a long stretch of time, but you only have to be around periodically when the timers go off, and to occasionally check the boil/simmer to ensure it’s still simmering or not boiling over. I usually do the long soak overnight to save time.
  5. Make hummus dip for veggies. After the chickpeas are boiled I must mix ingredients and put it in the blender. I actually burned my blender’s motor up with the last batch. Time to invest in a food processor! (30-45 minutes)
  6. My husband sautees vegetables in coconut oil and seasonings for side and main dishes for dinners. He does this for me a few times a week when I’m running short on time, but want something semi-quick and hot. (20 minutes prep and cook time).
  7. Fresh fruits and veggies only last a few days to a week, depending what they are. So I need to make a trip to the grocery store or farmer’s market several times weekly. Add in 1-2 hours for each trip I make that week.
  8. Potatoes. I eat a lot of sweet potatoes, and cook them in the convection oven. (Approximately 1 hour cook time)
  9. Consider the time it takes to cook and reheat food in the oven or convection oven, vs. popping things in the microwave constantly, the way most of us are used to doing on a daily basis. Think about how many times a day you might not have time to prepare food, so, in order to survive, you throw something in the microwave before you must dash out the door to work. This is something I must learn not to do. I must learn to think as if there is no longer any such thing as a microwave in my house. Yes, I cheat on this occasionally. Sometimes I must eat immediately, or I feel faint and lose energy, which could trigger an episode. But as much as possible I’m avoiding doing this. I must now anticipate that I will be hungry, about an hour before I’m actually hungry, so that I’ll have time to heat it in the convection oven.

medicine or poison

Some might read this and think, “I cook more than that every day!” I agree that what I’ve listed above isn’t an enormous amount of time. However, when you take into consideration that I am working an average of 55 hours per week, and that 50-80% of the time I am sent out of town to travel for work, leaving me no time nor a kitchen to cook with. Many times I’m trapped in a hotel room for a week at a time. My husband helps when he can, but he is attempting to start his own business, which leaves him little time for cooking. Sometimes things become impossible, and I have to cheat with something quick. I try not to fret when that happens, because I keep it to an absolute minimum. No one can be perfect. So I don’t beat myself up about it, and that’s that.

This is just a glimpse into the life. At any given moment in the day, I’m usually doing or thinking about something that has to do with eating or preparing to eat my food. It takes me 30 minutes to an hour to prepare my lunch and dinner that I take to work with me. I usually do not have the luxury of using anything except a microwave to heat food at work. I’m getting better at it, and learning some tips and tricks to save me time preparing the food. Sometimes it feels like my entire life is about what I do or don’t eat, and needing to make it. I must prepare a food bag and take one pretty much wherever I go. This includes work, hanging out with friends, visiting family, going on vacation, family reunions, holiday gatherings, going to the movies, etc… I basically carry a bag of food around with me everywhere I go, which isn’t easy either. I’m can frequently been seen lugging a cooler around, and trying to keep things cold, and prevent food spoilage while transporting things. When my food gets a little warmer then ideal, this means it won’t keep as long if I don’t end up eating it right away. When food is expensive, that matters. I’m always thinking about when I’ll need to get more ice, or when I’ll need to re-freeze the ice packs, or if the ice has melted and soaked into any of the food containers. I usually wrap the food containers in plastic bags, but things still sometimes get wet and/or soggy if they sit long enough in the cooler with melted ice.

let food be thy medicine 8

So… it’s hard. I think you might see that now. Just remember that it’s a lot easier in black and white than it actually is to put it all into motion. However, I believe that anyone who puts their mind and heart into this endeavor can accomplish it. You only need enough motivation to keep you going through the tough times. Learning to fight and eventually beat this chronic disorder of Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome is my driving motivation. My episodes are torture. Even when they happen infrequently, and/or are mild in intensity, they are still complete and absolute torture. I’ll do anything…. absolutely ANYTHING, if it will allow me to live a life without the torture of Cyclic Vomiting episodes. This natural way of life is now MY way of life. I embrace it wholeheartedly and love it for what it is. It is my path, and I’m happy to have the opportunity to walk it, regardless of the difficulty.
My next post will focus on my supplementation schedule, and how that has changed over the course of the past few months. Please check back for it. Believe it or not, this diet is NOT the only major change I’ve made that is affecting my health. Proper supplementation is essential for the process of healing and restoring balance to the body while in transition from and unhealthy to a healthy physical and mental state.

Thanks for reading, and I hope that this information can truly help other people like me.

let food be thy medicine 3

 

The Power of the Holistic Approach

Some of you know that I have been using a holistic approach to attempt to heal my body naturally. During the past 9 years of battling Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome, I have been swallowing multitudes of prescribed pills, none of which were making the difference I felt they should be making on a consistent basis. Yes, I did see positive results from some of my medications, but those effects generally decreased over time. I have realized, over time and with experience, that doctors were just prescribing “the next drug on the list”, as directed, rather than  taking time to think about the root of the problem, or how to address that!

As someone who can legitimately claim the word “doctor” after her name, (regardless of the species on which I am licensed to practice medicine), I am disgusted with the modern paradigm of medicine practiced in this country. There are only a few “doctor’s offices” in which I have walked in the past 10 years which have helped me and my condition. The others simply collected money from my insurance company, in exchange for documentation of a problem and a prescription written for said problem. There were rarely discussions of lifestyle changes, preventative medicine techniques, or holistic approaches to medical problems. In this country we reach for pills first, and seem to be stumped if they don’t help. We have forgotten (some never knew) that there are many other helpful approaches to medicine, that might in some cases, be much more helpful than what we consider to be traditional here in America.

Here is a list of Wikipedia links to some of these approaches, to help you become more familiar with what is available.

I’ve recently begun seeing a Naturalistic Doctor, and I have been happier with her as my primary care physician than any other I have ever had.  I filled out a small mountain of paperwork prior to my appointment, so that she could learn many details about my medical history. It literally took me days to complete it all. She wanted this information a month prior to my appointment. My initial consult with her lasted nearly 3 hours, while she diligently and attentively questioned me about my disorder and all things related or unrelated. I can’t tell you how I’ve yearned for a doctor to listen to me the way she does. She strives to understand the root of the problem, and how we address those problems naturally. All I want in the whole world is for someone to listen to me, and to understand. And she does! And it’s wonderful!

She prescribed many lifestyle changes for me, some of which were very different from my routine, but others were not so different from the natural methods I had been practicing myself for the past couple of years. I’ll go into the specifics of my changes in another post, but for now, I’ll tell you that I began an intensive detox program for the next 30 days. And then I have continued on through the next 30 days, with only a few minor changes and allowances from the first plan.

It has all changed my life in a very big way. Yes, I have seen positive changes occur gradually over the last 8 years of my learning and growing with this disorder. Occasionally I found a medication or two that took me from being mostly sick, to mostly well. But, the changes I have experienced over the previous 2 months have been more positive and more drastic than any changes that I have experienced thus far during this journey. In two months, my energy has returned to levels I don’t think I’ve had since high school. At 34 years old, I want to conquer the world, and I have the energy to do it. I also have the motivation, and clarity of mind it takes to cultivate mindfulness and focus. It’s absolutely amazing. Two years ago I was chronically and excruciatingly exhausted pretty much all the time. I never felt rested after sleep, no matter how much I got. Wow, has that all changed for me! Not to mention the happy little side effect of the needed weight loss that is occurring with a healthy diet. I’ve lost nearly 20 unwanted pounds in just a few months! I am not “skinny”. I don’t like that word. I am lean, muscular, and strong. I feel wonderful.

With regard to my CVS episodes – since beginning this regimen my episodes have dropped drastically in intensity. They are also beginning to occur less frequently. The loss of intensity is huge. It makes the episode nearly manageable. Oh, it’s still torture, but I haven’t needed to go to the ER in almost a year, which is an accomplishment that I am extraordinarily proud of, considering that has been my main goal thus far. Time for new goals??….

So, what exactly am I doing???….  Watch for my next post, where I’ll explain my initial detox diet in great detail! I’ll explain other aspects of my approach in other posts, also in great detail. It should be a good series, and I hope you find some helpful information within this and the upcoming posts!imagesCA29RVHK