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

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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